BNI Education Slots

The Company You Keep

Today, I’d like to tell you about a man who wanted to buy a donkey. This man went to a market and found a man selling a donkey. The donkey in question looked to be exactly what the man was looking for – it looked very strong and firm.

Now, the man wasn’t sure if he wanted to pay for this donkey up front. So, he said to the seller “is it okay if I take his donkey for a week’s trial to see if it works for me? If it’s great, I’ll come back and give you the money.”

The seller agreed, so the man took his donkey back to his farm and put it in his stables with all his other donkeys, before then going to bed for the night.

When the man got up the next morning, he saw that the new donkey had gone up to the laziest donkey in the barn and had made friends with him over night. The man said “right, that’s not good enough. I’m taking the donkey back.”

He got the donkey, dragged it back to the market and gave it back to the seller. The seller said, “you’ve got a week to try this donkey, why are you bringing it back straight away?”

The man replied, “look, this guy’s made friends with he laziest donkey in my barn. That’s not good enough for me – a man is judged by the company he keeps.”

This is a parable.

If you want to be seen as someone who’s successful and hardworking, don’t hang around with people who are lazy donkeys.

This works in the business world for entrepreneurs, and it works for employees too – if you work for a large company, your bosses won’t necessarily know who you are when you start. They won’t know how good you are, and so they’ll make snap judgements based on who you hang around with in the business. If you hang around with somebody who is particularly lazy or particularly late, they’ll assume that, by definition, you are that kind of person too. This is very true for entrepreneurs – if you want to be more successful in business, you need to mix in circles with people who are more successful with you – not equally successful or less successful.

Say you’re a property investor, and in your friend circle you get told things like “Oh, you’ve got loads of properties, that’s a huge number of mortgages, how do you sleep at night? I couldn’t cope with all that debt!” Or, maybe you own your own company, and people tell you “oh, how do you do that – why don’t you get a job, it’s so much easier?”

If you hear phrases like the above, quite simply, you need to get better friends.

Whenever I can, I hang around with my nephew. He’s far more successful than I am, and I’m not in the slightest bit jealous about it. When I tell him about the kind of business actions we’re taking, properties we’re looking to by and the like, he doesn’t turn around and say “oh, I’m not sure you should be doing that, it sounds expensive” – the sort of thing my sister would tell me. Instead, he comes up with ideas about how I could do it better.

Now to put this into perspective, let’s say you were looking to buy a property investment. There were two houses available on the street – one is the most expensive house on the street, it’s been done up immaculately, extended to the rear and in the roof. The other property hasn’t been extended at all, and it’s in need of a little refurb. The chances are, you’d pick the property in need of refurbishing.

Let’s now imagine you, the business owner, are the house. If you’re the most expensive house on the street, you’re hanging around with people who aren’t as successful as you are. As a result, you’re not going to be able to go any further or expand yourself. If you’re the less expensive house on the street, on the other hand, you’re hanging around with other houses that are better than you. This will help push you up.

You need to find people in your social circle who are more successful than you are, not less successful, so that you can learn from them.

Take a look at your social circle and think “am I the most successful person I hang around with?” If you are, you need to change that.

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