Whether it’s in your business, your family, your wider social circles, or in the adventure into your real life, without relationships – good, healthy, solid relationships – you, and your endeavours, will never reach the heights you dream of.
And yet, especially when it comes to the adventure of your real life, all too often you find yourself walking a lonely path.
As you rock the status quo, as you challenge the social norms, and as you become who you are meant to be, you throw down a challenge to all who brush against you. A few will rise to that challenge, but most will run for the hills, leaving you alone in your victories and your failures, your highs and your lows. And, sometimes, being left alone to face those elements of your adventure sucks.
It sucks because you weren’t created to go it alone. You were created to be in company – to live in relationship with others,not to walk a lonely path. And, the longer you spend walking that lonely path – despite all of your best efforts, grit and determination – the less successful and fulfilled you will be.
Now, I’ll be honest, I love my solitude – in fact, I would go as far as to say that I often seek it out, and protect it with all my might. When I’m tucked away on my own, I find I am productive; I can think, and I can develop ideas. But then comes a time when solitude begins to bug me and get me down. I lose my focus, I become less productive and negativity starts to eat away at my thoughts.
When that time comes, I need to be around people.
The simple fact is that, however much you may like, on occasion, to have your own space and spend time alone, you don’t function well if you spend too long in isolation.
But why is that? Why is it that, however much you like to be by yourself, there comes a time when you need to be around people? What does company give you that being alone does not?
Well, one thing company gives you is perspective. You give perspective to, and receive perspective from, the people around you.
But it doesn’t end there. Good company helps you uncover, and retain, your true identity, and gives you a framework for the world around you and the life you lead.
But, if you are going to find your true identity and create a framework for life from the people around you, not just anyone will do. You need to pick the company you keep carefully, and deliberately.
It’s common sense: some people can be really good people, but really bad company, but the opposite is rarely true: a bad person is virtually never good – or healthy – company.
And it’s important to recognise that and, when you have to, take the tough decisions to can some relationships, while digging deep to protect others. You see, where good company builds you up, encourages you and carries you forward, bad company drags you down and holds you back. Where good company leads you out of isolation, bad company pushes you into a pit of desolation.
And yet, common sense or not, too often we make bad choices in terms of the company we keep. But, if you are going to flourish as a human being – if you are going to be all that you can be – your best self – you need to ensure that the only company you keep is good company.
But what does that look like? How do you know if the company you are keeping is good company? Well, here are a few pointers:
Good company isn’t one dimensional, focused only on what you do – it wonders who you are. It does not only give to you, but looks to receive from you. It longs to build relationship.
Good company shares your interests, but reaches far beyond them, too. It looks past your shortcomings to find your strengths. It is prepared to say ‘no’ or to ask ‘why?’. It smiles when you win, and is saddened when you lose.
It returns clarity to a blurred perspective and, on occasion, takes a step back to see the things you don’t; and then takes you to a place where you can admire the view.
Good company is flexible and responsive, yet rigid and resistant. It creates a scaffold around you, within which you can build.
It holds you to account, and keeps you honest and true to your task. It is not afraid to call you out on issues, or pull you back when it sees you going down paths you should not go.
It holds you to reality, yet stretches your boundaries and nudges you forward.
You need to find the people who embody some, or all, of the elements of good company. You may find it among your friends, associates, colleagues, or even in a chance encounter, but wherever you find it, and whatever shape it takes, you need good company, and it needs you.
So, today, make it a priority to find it, cherish it, and surround yourself with it. You, and your adventure, depend on it.