Why Successful People Leave Their Loser Friends Behind

Tony Robbins Marc Benioff, Richard Branson Successful Friends

We all want to be amazing. We all want to be successful, happy, and regarded as important figures in our fields. I am sure that you’ve heard all of the keys to success before: planning, hard work, perseverance, etc.

But today we are going to look at the one factor that will likely make or break your success: the people you surround yourself with.

“You are the average of the five people you spend the most time with.” – Jim Rohn





Want to be Amazing? Surround Yourself with Amazing People



The Make or Break List

A good friend of mine once told me of a man he knows who brought himself up from rags to riches.  Living paycheck to paycheck was a luxury for this man, and he decided that he was tired of being trapped by his own life. The poor man looked around at his friends, and noticed that one of them – who wasn’t particularly smart or more talented – had become quite wealthy. He asked this man how he accrued this wealth, how he was able to become a millionaire. The wealthy man’s response was simple: “keep the right company.”

The man took that advice to heart. He quickly noticed that all of the other friends he had hated hard work and had no desire to improve themselves. So he sought out new friends, he went around to conventions and seminars to connect with people who had made something of themselves. After he had completely replaced the people in his network, he decided to make a list. This list was simple. It had a column for people who would improve his life, and a column for people who would drag him down.

If someone could improve his life, he spent as much time around them as possible. If someone could drag him down, he never spent more than five minutes around them. After following his “make or break” list, the man was able to become a millionaire within three years.


No One does it Alone

Better Friends Help To Be SuccessfulThe five-minute rule may be a little extreme, but there is an important lesson to learn from it: if you surround yourself with positive people who build you up, the sky is the limit.

There is an ideal in our society of the “self-made” man – a man who is able to find success through his own efforts. Now, don’t get me wrong, success does require an immense amount of determination and personal grit. However, success also depends on the ability to connect with people who have already made it.

There was once a man named Ernest Hemingway. If you aren’t familiar with Ernest Hemingway, he was one of the greatest American writers of all time. Even a great writer like Hemingway didn’t succeed on his own. He worked at a newspaper where his boss – a writer named Sherwood Anderson – helped him get his first novel published. Hemingway then connected with other no-name writers like F. Scott Fitzgerald, Virginia Woolf, and James Joyce.

This community of great writers helped to influence his style, success, and drove him to write every single day and become one of the greatest authors of his generation.

Hemingway is a testament to the fact that innate talent alone does not equal success. It’s hard to keep up a strict schedule to perfect your craft or improve yourself if you don’t have people around you with similar interests. Your network – your five key people – will determine the way you think, the way you act, and the way you approach your life goals.


Three Essential People

A mentor once told me that no matter how many close people you have in your network, if you want to be truly great, you must have three essential people in your life at all times: 

  1. A person who is older and more successful than you to learn from
  2. A person who is equal to you to exchange ideas with
  3. A person below you to coach and keep you energized

A great figure of history who embodied this principle was Aristotle. Aristotle was one of the greatest minds to ever grace this beautiful Earth, but this was only so because he was constantly challenging himself and working to refine his talents. He exchanged ideas with other Greek philosophers in the “Academy,” learned from his mentor Plato, and taught a young boy named Alexander…who would later become “Alexander the Great.”

Better Successful People Around YouEvery great person was, is, or will be successful because of the company he or she keeps. They will make an impact because of a successful network of driven peers who provide both inspiration and healthy competition.

If you want to be remarkable, you must constantly challenge yourself and surround yourself with remarkable people. So think about what your goals are, and take a look around you. Do you need to write a “make or break” list?


Do you have the kind of people who are going to lead you to live the life of your dreams?

Don’t join an easy crowd. Go where the expectations and the demands to perform and achieve are high.” – Jim Rohn

Strive to be better. Strive to be more. Strive to be amazing.


Brenton Weyi is a writer and social entrepreneur with an expertise in creating social movements through business and encouraging inspiration through writing. His company, Groupe Weyi, works with villagers in Central Africa to create lasting change through fair trade of resources. He also has a website for personal development and storytelling called Orastories. Follow him on twitter @bweyi.


  1. simonsomlai

    October 13, 2014 at 7:30 pm

    Get rid of the people who bring you down and add more of the ones that lift you up! Great post!

  2. DAP

    September 8, 2014 at 7:27 pm

    If you really want authentic friends, don’t go out of your way to maintain a list of the three most important kinds. Especially don’t call your friends or even strangers “losers.” It’s entirely unbecoming, and it makes you a graceless loser. Even if you view your social standing as leagues above someone else if you resort to pointing that out for them or labeling them for others you are merely indulging in a vulgar display of power. I can agree that friends that drag you down are ones you have to not hang out with *in some very tactful way.* Disregarding the feelings of others because you think yourself better is what’s wrong with this world. Don’t judge people based on their progress in life. Your progress is yours alone to care about.

    You’re not going to get ahead in this world just by puffing yourself up and making a motivational website or a get-rich-quick book. Respect everyone even if they seem unworthy, and you’ll eventually find many people that do the same. Focus on the content of your life, and don’t turn everyone into a miserable competition, or you’ll have nothing of your persona for anyone to enjoy, not your friends, not you.

  3. Tom S

    September 4, 2014 at 9:22 am

    In this day and age of terms like “LIke Minded Individuals” and “Mentors” and “Paying It Forward”, I believe many folks are caught up in the Motivational and Networking hoopla or trying to reinvent the Napolean Hill concepts of Mastermind Groups, when in all honesty our lives are based on the following steps, no matter who you are or where you come from:

    1) HARD WORK
    5) ACADEMIA (Either Self Taught or College/University

    I don’t believe we all have or need mentors, but I do believe in our parents, our teachers, our coaches, and our family and friends for support.

    If you are that entrepreneur and innovative, then nobody is going to GET YOU, only you know what you are capable of achieving and it takes a lot of faith, courage, and action on ones part…..only in sports or other events do we have coaches pushing us.

    I don’t believe is the LIFE COACH bullshit…..that is just someone trying to make money off you and chances are, they are selling you a SERVICE to try and motivate you, but they have no product or real service other than trying to tell you what they believe.

    I do believe in HELPING OTHERS less fortunate, so in #3 of your blog post, I do believe in sharing what we learn or paying it forward with our family and friends if they ask for our help.

    If we have negative friends or family, I agree to get rid of the CANCER and NEGATIVITY and do things on your own. Be self sufficient, you don’t have to pay for some stupid SEMINAR, SUMMIT, or MASTERMIND GROUP event where people take your money, you can learn things on your own and make your life what you want it to be.

    To man SELF-HELP GURUS and know it all MOTIVATIONAL SPEAKERS try to tell you how to be successful, but they are making money SELLING THEIR SHIT….nothing more, nothing less.

    If you look at Warren Buffett, Bill Gates, Steve Jobs, Donald Trump, they have succeeded based on what THEY DO or WHAT THEY SELL……and when they write a book that we buy to learn their techniques or success in life, GREAT, but you don’t see these guys travelling the world doing fucking seminars or summits where they are trying to be a Tony Robbins do you? NO

    At some point, WE ALL have to take ownership of our own lives and DO IT ON OUR OWN, with the guidance of our FAITH, FAMILY, and FRIENDS that really care about us…..it’s that simple.



    • Jaron

      October 11, 2014 at 3:31 pm

      Totally my sentiments on the topic. Amen.

  4. Ashley

    August 8, 2014 at 6:14 am

    There is something true in this I do agree but there is also something fake in this too. I am only being your friend so I can get something from you. You are only being my friend so you can better yourself. Well some of my best friends haven’t achieved “much” in terms of material wealth sure but they sure have been there for me in my life and the amount of laughs we have enjoyed together has been well worth them not being rich or successful. And yes those people I do want in my life. Having said I also agree 100% that if I hang out with a motivated individual with a similar passion I will also achieve more. Its a balancing act.

  5. K

    July 15, 2014 at 11:44 am

    This article speaks the truth. No matter how much we don’t want to hear it. We are the average of who we hang out with.

  6. Mara

    July 13, 2014 at 5:50 pm

    You do realize that Ernest Hemingway was an unrepentant alcoholic who eventually committed suicide, right? Sherwood Anderson died as the result of swallowing part of a toothpick with a martini olive. Fitzgerald was a notorious alcoholic with more other problems than I can put in one post; read a few of the biographies that try to unravel it all. Virginia Woolf, another suicide. James Joyce? Like Hemingway, a raging alcoholic who relied heavily on the support of long-suffering friends. He died young of a perforated ulcer probably aggravated by the drinking. What a motley collection of role models!

    • William Henderson

      July 14, 2014 at 2:53 pm

      And you accomplishments are…?

      • BlackinBiz blog (@BlackInBiz)

        July 15, 2014 at 3:39 pm

        I agree with Mara, mine… founded 3 organizations (1 global), running 2 successful businesses, with a new start-up venture launching soon. 2 degrees from a top institution where I was also an All-American Athlete.

        • Osro

          July 16, 2014 at 2:16 pm

          And yet you’re on the comments board of a poorly written article seeking validation from complete strangers. Congratulations, you officially need actual friends if for no other reason than to seek validation from them and not internet strangers.

    • K

      July 15, 2014 at 11:41 am

      Nobody’s perfect! Those people weren’t recognized in this article because they were happy. They were successful in there craft. Success and happiness are two different things. Wealth doesn’t produce happiness and neither does success. That’s why there are a lot of unhappy rich and successful people.

      As you can see unfortunately, these people had another common bond. Yes negative, but it worked for them.

    • BlackinBiz blog (@BlackInBiz)

      July 15, 2014 at 3:36 pm

      Very well put… and in their dying moments, those ‘successful’ friends were likely no where to be found.

    • Macanondho Butros

      July 31, 2014 at 3:20 pm

      I was thinking the same than realzed, the article is about successful people in their specific endeavor and not their personal wealth or happiness. How ever, the point about the average of your friends holds true here also, they all closely emulated their their writing success, some later recognized as in the case of many creative artists, etc.

    • Fareed

      August 12, 2014 at 4:13 am

      But they all.became successful in what they do. No one said.they were perfect.

  7. Nicholas welch

    July 1, 2014 at 10:38 pm

    A “Friend” will be with you in good or bad times! Also meaning if you have a group of friends including ya self who are not successful in life and YOU are that one that finds a way for not only you but them as well to change their lives for the better a “friend” will 100% come with you. 12 months ago I joined a network marketing company and to my surprise many of my closest friends and family wanted nothing to do with it. At first I was down but as I kept introducing it to more people and eventually complete strangers were willing to join me and now we have built a team of over 600 people and yet my old “friends” are still living their normal lives I’ve learned they were never really my friends to begin with. I help people everyday understand this through my own experience and if anyone needs advice or help message me on FB Nick Gnc Welch and I’ll be glad to help

    • Daryl Wells

      July 7, 2014 at 4:33 am

      Trying to get motivated in my organization

  8. bdrome_13@yahoo.com

    July 1, 2014 at 5:49 pm

    Another thought. Become amazing first and you will attract amazing people.

  9. Sayer

    July 1, 2014 at 9:25 am

    i think the point he is making is” donot choose the awful company”. Whatever awful is near one- be it druggies, junkies, shallow or materialistic people or nerds and intellectual lot , atheists or religiously driven people or near some- being poor is awful enough. But basically like begets like.we dont choose our families but we select our friends. why would i befriend a person who isnt like minded, and good influence for me? a man is known by the company he keeps. so if one befriends a couch potato then perhaps one likes couch potatoes. Perhaps one is also a couch potato. If one befriends spiritual people then one holds them in esteem.May be he is on road to greater self awareness.Its true being surrounded by positive minded, productive people one develops a greater awareness of ones own endeavours. But success is relative.

    • BlackinBiz blog (@BlackInBiz)

      July 15, 2014 at 3:35 pm

      ehh, being around too many like-minded people stifles innovation. If everyone thought alike, nothing would ever change. You have to decide if you like the person themselves or ‘how they think’. The humanist in me would not allow me to simply reduce a human being to the latter. One must recognize the value of someone who thinks differently than you would. Those are the people that challenge you. Not the people that agree with you, which as you become more and more successful, you see more and more of.

      • Sayer

        July 18, 2014 at 10:09 am

        Hmm I don’t think like minded is being identical. We all have multiple dimensions. We all prioritize them as per our preference. Opposite attract at times a and at times they repulse too. Nonetheless the company we keep is an indication of our preferences in life. We aren’t indifferent to our immediately formulated circle. After all we formed it. How many people do you hold in your circle purely on the premises of challenge? Not many. This a general idea and a sound advice. Albeit I still hold that success is relative. Yes there are thrill seekers but mostly till they haven’t found a niche. Unless ofcourse the niche is to just trade new waters. But then again you would still aim for achievers of some new feilds rather than its losers.

  10. Feeroz Akhter Khan

    June 22, 2014 at 10:06 am

    I think, article has chosen the sacred word ‘FRIEND’ very wrongly. If success is at the cost of the friends, then its better to be a loser. I call a friend a friend, if he is with me not only in good times but in bad times as well, else he is not. Success is a relative term, for some it may be money, for some it may be power, for some it may be greater social acceptance etc etc. There may be conflicts of opinion between friends, as everybody is different. With friends I don’t think, it’s ‘If you are not with me, then you’re against me’. One takes a lifetime to make good friends, and takes just a minute to lose them.

    What I’ve learnt, everybody is selfish. Some people may be essential for my success, but they’ll be with me only if they’ve something to gain from me. So they may not be friends, but better called people with whom I do business. Yes, the debate is completely different, if your business starts with your friends.

    • Vishal

      June 24, 2014 at 6:23 am

      Totally agree with you

      • bpb

        July 12, 2014 at 1:50 am

        lincoln and fullerton mam

    • BlackinBiz blog (@BlackInBiz)

      July 15, 2014 at 3:31 pm

      I agree with you. Friendship goes beyond what someone can ‘do’ for someone. Also worth noting, no everyone who helps you on your journey to success is a ‘friend’. Not to mention plenty take the long fall from the top from success to failure everyday.

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