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Success Advice

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. david chikoani

    Apr 26, 2013 at 8:22 am

    Great and interesting article.

  2. Girish

    Apr 26, 2013 at 8:11 am

    I was with such bad company before and I used to blame everything and everyone for my bad financial status/my bad life etc… Eversince I understood the concept that your surrounding shapes your personality, I committed myself and swore to get rid of such friends… I din’t completely discontinue from them, but simply balanced by keeping myself busy… with that I can say my life is lot lot better now and I now have 1 perfect friend with whom I always feel uplifted and I’m thankful fo this 🙂 and its a great article, thanks!!

  3. Matt Evans

    Apr 26, 2013 at 7:34 am

    I like the spirit of the piece and I agree that you need to be aware of the company you keep. I think the author could reflect on Epicurus rather than Aristotle or Hemmingway however as a source of inspiration. Epicurus is often incorrectly associated with gluttony but his focus was directed towards on the company you keep and the meaning of life. This article has a tendency to ring a little hollow because it reads as if it’s looking at people as measured tools rather than their inspirational or deeper values. As an ex-pat in the nordics I know how important it is to surround yourself – it’s not easy to make a network up here – but I’m also aware of the need to hold and support those you love for no logical reason because leaving them for the wrong reasons can make you hollow inside; and no matter how much money you have you won’t fill that void.

    • Brenton Weyi (@bweyi)

      Apr 29, 2013 at 6:21 am


      I actually have an extensive academic background in philosophy. Epicurus is an interesting call — I do believe that his teaching were misunderstood. However, Aristotle was more applicable to the point that I was making, and Epicurus was a big advocate of avoiding pain. While I believe that no one likes to experience pain, struggles and challenges are the most effective teachers in life. And life itself is a struggle to make ourselves more able, more inspired, and more empathetic.

      A lot of Asian philosophy teaches that once we become happier with ourselves, we should actually work to seek the troubled corners of the world and use pain to relate to people and give something substantial back tot the world. Though, I do believe in Epicurus’ idea of surrounding yourself with the right people (obviously).

      Thanks for the comment, I really appreciate your thoughts!

  4. rosemary mckeon (@rosebudmac)

    Apr 26, 2013 at 7:06 am

    I think in life you must surround yourself with positive people, but they don’t have to be rich or successful. I surround myself with nice honest people, and don’t have negative influences in my can find your riches in the love and support from good friends and family,this I promise will make you successful in life.

    • Brenton Weyi (@bweyi)

      Apr 29, 2013 at 6:12 am


      I completely agree. “Success” means different things for different people. I think as long as you have positive influences, and continue to improve your life, you will find the richness of beautiful human relationships and constant progress in whatever life path you choose

  5. joe james

    Apr 26, 2013 at 4:43 am

    yes failur is a process of learning more.but another important thingis the opurtunity to retry if one fails.

  6. Tom

    Apr 26, 2013 at 3:57 am

    But if I’m just an average of the 5 people I spend time around, and they’re all just averages of 5 people they spend time with… Are we all just vague imitations of other people who are vague imitations of other people? If everyone followed this column’s advice, wouldn’t society turn into a collection of empty, fake people all trying to surround themselves with the same few people so they can convince other people (and possibly themselves) that they’re successful?

    • Maureen 'momo' Waithera

      Apr 26, 2013 at 9:02 am

      This is the same thing I was asking, dont get me wrong, I do not think the idea is silly but just putting it into practice. Aren’t you also a key factor in who those other people are spending time with… I guess its important to focus on adding value to those people and also finding new people on the side who are a represantation of who you want to be.

  7. Ron Hunt

    Apr 26, 2013 at 1:21 am

    This is so so true! Look at my on life. Once I change the my company my life changed

  8. david

    Apr 26, 2013 at 1:08 am

    Hemingway killed himself. Sweet example.

  9. Austin

    Apr 25, 2013 at 11:04 pm

    What about Jesus? He had his apostles, but mainly surrounded himself with the poor, sick, needy, etc.

    • Scott

      Apr 26, 2013 at 1:03 pm

      Actually. Jesus didnt necessarily surround himself with the poor, sick, etc. He made himself available to them in miniistry as needed. However, if you noticed almost everytime he finished ministering to them, he went off to spend time alone to pray with the father. Then out of his 12 Disciples, there were 3 that he was closest to and were his confidants: Peter, James and John. Those were the three that he shared things with that he did not do with the others. So there is a bit of work of this principle in his life also.

    • Joel D Valencia

      Apr 26, 2013 at 1:51 pm

      He was in contact with the Creator everyday. What a mentor!

    • jack

      Apr 26, 2013 at 3:26 pm

      he was crucified ….

      • Joel D Valencia

        Apr 26, 2013 at 5:37 pm

        And resurrected. His mentor was the Creator. GOD. What better company.

    • Kevlar

      Apr 26, 2013 at 3:34 pm

      Whole lotta good it did him…


    Apr 25, 2013 at 10:37 pm

    I agree with Daniel… in the professional sense, yes, you have to keep certain company. But a person’s friends and relationships shouldn’t all revolve around someone’s benefit to you in terms of career. Some people will never attain the same amount of success but it doesn’t mean that they don’t enhance your life in more personal, spiritual ways. As long as your friends aren’t bumming from you or trying to take advantage of your strides forward, don’t dump them. Business people tend to be all about business and when your interest no longer serves theirs they won’t hesitate to replace you.

  11. Ian

    Apr 25, 2013 at 9:53 pm

    Personally, I don’t see this as desirable. It sounds a little hollow at the core.

  12. Bal Singh

    Apr 25, 2013 at 9:39 pm

    maybe one of the so called looser friends should also one of the three who may become, (well lets hope not Alexander the —- not sure to call a plunder great) a great also.
    otherwise a good article

  13. Alabi modupeola Yinti

    Apr 25, 2013 at 9:37 pm

    Thanks so much for writting this!is full of truth.

  14. Tim Lam

    Apr 25, 2013 at 9:16 pm

    This is dumb. Leave your friends when you find better ones?

  15. Mike

    Apr 25, 2013 at 8:21 pm

    Jim Rohn had some fundamental but amazing knowledge that should be followed.

  16. Daniel Elrington

    Apr 25, 2013 at 8:14 pm

    Actually, “leaving your loser friends behind” sounds very negative. Personal success is great, but don’t be totally selfish. Compassion and care for all beings are very positive qualities and and need to be nurtured by all of us. Instead of leaving a “loser” behind, love and care for them selflessly until you help raise their consciousness. If you’re really a strong, successful and inspired (in spirit) type person, then you will understand this wisdom.

    • Ron

      Apr 25, 2013 at 11:32 pm

      What you speak of is the third aspect of what he is saying “A person below you to teach etc..”

      You MUST leave loser friends behind or risk taking on their characteristics. The people he is talking about are those that refuse to want to learn, who are stuck in bad habits and don’t see them as bad or are jealous of you and only bring negative energy. Those people do not deserve compassion from those they bring down, they deserve the cell of their own attitude.

      • Nemo Fishman

        Aug 10, 2016 at 2:12 pm

        Yes. The loser friends you described are the exact reason I’m on this article. Jealousy, negativity, uninspiring and lazy. I have one good friend as of now who constantly and genuinely looks forward to my success and he’s INVALUABLE to me. Over the years I’ve tried to convince him to get into business too, even offering to stake him if he chooses too but he’s a simple guy (just wants a few cars and a 2 story house with a picket fence). Would not trade our friendship for anything. Now I just need to find my equal and an older mentor and I’ll be golden.

    • robert

      Apr 26, 2013 at 12:26 am

      I do agree with Daniel.

    • Brenton Weyi (@bweyi)

      Apr 26, 2013 at 4:38 pm

      Daniel, I wholeheartedly agree with you. I think that fostering a sense of compassion and inspiring others is what everyone should strive to do. In fact, I just wrote a book about that, and base my entire website on the foundation of helping others to better yourself and the world.

      The only issue is that people are products of their environment — no matter what age. Some people in negative environments can rise above that fact because they are truly incredible people. But the fact is,those people are rare, and perhaps you are one of them.

      But for most other people, myself included, who you spend time with determines a lot of your character. My article isn’t just about “getting rich” or gaining success. It’s about being around people who will help you cultivate your desires and character as an individual. That’s not to say that you should never be around people who won’t advance your career. But you should spend as much time around people who will help you improve, as Ron rightly pointed out, so that you get better and better at creating meaning in the world.

      Thanks so much for your comment. Your perspective is an important one

  17. Peter

    Apr 25, 2013 at 7:47 pm

    I agree

  18. Natalie

    Apr 25, 2013 at 7:15 pm

    This is amazing. Thank you so much for writing this! There is so much truth to it!

  19. Ali Davies

    Apr 25, 2013 at 1:38 pm

    A great reminder that you become what you surround yourself with

  20. Stu

    Apr 25, 2013 at 1:27 pm

    Great article!

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