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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. Emmanuel Reeves

    Nov 30, 2015 at 9:58 am

    Don’t know why all of a sudden I find this so interesting because I have heard and read about this before. Probably because now is the time to do it. I will get back to you with the preliminary results. Good writing though.

  2. Exalar Her

    Nov 17, 2015 at 4:43 pm

    This is why I’m not afraid to go my own way.

  3. John Santiago

    Nov 12, 2015 at 11:23 pm

    The most useful article I have read in quite sometime . Thank you.

  4. Jagdish Kashyap

    Mar 27, 2015 at 5:02 pm

    If you hang around five confident people, you will be the sixth.

    If you hang around five intelligent people, you will be the sixth.

    If you hang around five millionaires, you will be the sixth.

    If you hang around five idiots, you will be the sixth.

    If you hang around five broke people, you will be the sixth.

    It’s inevitable

    – Peter Voogd

  5. saya

    Feb 12, 2015 at 6:30 pm

    If everyone were to stay with successful people, who would the successful people stay with? I mean, why would a successful person spend time with a loser?……and apparently, to grow the loser must spend time the successful person…
    so How is that going to work out?

    • Cat

      Feb 28, 2015 at 1:21 am

      Ha! Love it!

    • sean divine

      Mar 20, 2015 at 5:09 pm

      SIMPLE…..Successful people love mentoring people with the potential to do great…If i see someone interested in not only asking for money but the formula..I feel at ease helping them..Because since i was once in their shoes and made it..It would be my pleasure helping someone else succeed……

      • Nicole Truss

        Apr 29, 2015 at 6:29 pm

        Hi Sean, your response intrigued me. For one it is a true testament to the process. Moreover, your reply made wonder, what it is you do, and if you have truly found success, what is your secret.

      • SS Raju

        Jul 18, 2015 at 8:53 pm

        Well said.

    • syd

      Aug 22, 2015 at 8:43 pm

      “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:

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

      pay attention to the last line.

      you definitely made a good point though. it does run the risk of creating some elitist “successful” class, but not necessarily. it’s about drive and motivation, not where you actually are, methinks.

  6. Nuzhat

    Jan 28, 2015 at 2:49 am

    Fantastic article, it contains some solid advice. The title may come off as aggressive but the content is really good and true.

  7. rafa

    Nov 16, 2014 at 9:04 am

    i think what the article is trying to say is, you may or may not keep your less-than-successful friends, but you should choose your company properly. don’t stop being friends with your friends, especially the ones who mean a lot to you. but try to spend less time with them because their habits/mindset will rub off on you, if they haven’t already. you would want to spend more time with folks whose habits and mindset would influence you to lift yourself higher.

    nobody’s forcing anyone to do a complete overhaul of their friends. it’s probably not even feasible for some people. but if you want success bad enough, it’s not a super big ask. you would accept the wisdom behind the suggestion and act on it.

    • Cat

      Feb 21, 2015 at 9:24 pm

      I love this comment! So insightful and right on to what I was thinking as well. I have a sense of loyalty and some of my less successful friends have been there for me during rough times. While I don’t like to see them flounder, I could never give up on them fully, but I am in search of new friends who will inspire me to greater habits than I’ve had in the past. I deal with a couple of disabilities and am forced to lay low some days, but on my good days, I want them to start counting more and eventually find a way to realize a few more goals. After studying a lot of Jungian psychology, I realized that on some level, the people you are closest too are somewhat mirrors of things about yourself. I want the people I associate to be imbued with a real sense of action and determination, not just talk and stagnation – or excuses.

      • Cat

        Feb 22, 2015 at 12:37 am

        P.S. I also think that going forward, as one gets a better sense of destiny and what they really want to accomplish that the friends one attracts have a chance of being more positive of an influence. When I was really down and in a bad place for a long time, I just attracted a lot of crazy people with problems and spent a lot of time trying to help them when I most needed to help myself. Things are starting to pay off. I no longer hang out with people who are involved in active addiction either.

  8. Martine' Montalmand

    Nov 16, 2014 at 12:25 am

    I can really tell those who will be ultra successful vs those who will not by the nature of the feedback on this thread. It is really amazing on how wonderful advice can really turn itself to the negative minds that is reading and responding. I really appreciate the advice and it is just a reminder on whom to have around and who to run away from. This is displayed on this thread and I am quite sure the entrepreneurs with a positive mindset can clearly depict whom I am talking about. It does not matter how positive your words or advice maybe the naysayers and losers will find a way to negate it. The key to success apparently is reserved for certain people and only a small percentage gets the concept! Breyton Weyi gets it apparently. Those reading this article? Not too much….

  9. Tremendous issues here. I am very glad to look your post. Thanks a
    lot and I am taking a look ahead to contact you.
    Will you please drop me a e-mail?

  10. Negz

    Nov 2, 2014 at 2:41 pm

    Yes, find an uplifting company but never leave your first friends behind. They somehow need you.

  11. simonsomlai

    Oct 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!

  12. DAP

    Sep 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.

    • Theury

      Oct 28, 2014 at 2:20 pm

      A wonderful point to make in addition to this article. Thank you

    • Jose Gaurav

      Nov 14, 2014 at 10:01 am

      I agree with your point.If we want to achieve goals we should spend more time with those who are in alignment with our goals and not call the others losers.

    • yam

      Nov 19, 2014 at 2:13 pm

      DAP, that was a really really great perspective! Just becos u have a strong sense of humility n respect for mankind, including “loser friends” doesn’t mean u can’t make it big in future. U can still meet great mentors to guide u on your road to success yet stay connected with those that matter to u, even if they don’t hav d makings of a billionaire. D article is definitely useful, but should not b taken to d extreme. Wat good is success when all u hav in your life, r only people ranked in terms of their value to u? People like u DAB, will likely find both success n genuine love in your life 🙂

    • FRdS

      Feb 19, 2015 at 12:41 pm

      I disagree with the basic point you are making. I do agree that successful people are gracious and respect others. I disagree that this is as important as you are claiming it is, both for interpersonal relationships and for personal success.

      People who are not successful and aren’t committed to it generally haven’t cultivated the resources available to them to make them successful. A person could start by educating themselves, having an open mind, and being curious; all free and easy but how many of us have friends who actually do these things? Instead, as DAP seems to indicate, we should embrace the ignorance, laziness, and insecurity of the people around us because it just doesn’t matter somehow and we are all basically equal. Well that’s just not reality; if a person knows nothing of finance, has few employable skills, and can’t understand cultural concepts, then how is that “equal” to someone who does?

      Pandering to the thin skins of underachievers will do nothing for a relationship and just as little for society. The point the blog author seems to make is that a person would do well to identify qualities of success in others and participate in relationships on that level. Which only makes sense unless you want to be yet another neglected resource in your friend’s s life.

      And who wants to put up with the jealousy and interference that usually follows when someone who won’t prefers to throw stones or leech off someone who will.

      It’s how we measure success that makes the difference. Drawing arbitrary lines at income, education level, etc is not the measure of success and it would be naive and unkind to judge others on such grounds, but real losers can be found everywhere and are better avoided.

  13. Tom S

    Sep 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…’s that simple.



    • Jaron

      Oct 11, 2014 at 3:31 pm

      Totally my sentiments on the topic. Amen.

    • Inonge

      Nov 25, 2014 at 3:18 pm

      Wow!! Tom, thank you. Well said..

      God bless

    • francesco

      Oct 15, 2015 at 9:00 pm

      so true .but if u still hang around your the next one …
      i hang out with my friends bout twice week the rest i hang out
      with what works for me and has got me where i am today and bigger

  14. Ashley

    Aug 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.

  15. K

    Jul 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.

  16. Mara

    Jul 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

      Jul 14, 2014 at 2:53 pm

      And you accomplishments are…?

      • BlackinBiz blog (@BlackInBiz)

        Jul 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

          Jul 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

      Jul 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)

      Jul 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

      Jul 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

      Aug 12, 2014 at 4:13 am

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

  17. Nicholas welch

    Jul 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

      Jul 7, 2014 at 4:33 am

      Trying to get motivated in my organization


    Jul 1, 2014 at 5:49 pm

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

  19. Sayer

    Jul 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)

      Jul 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

        Jul 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.

  20. Feeroz Akhter Khan

    Jun 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

      Jun 24, 2014 at 6:23 am

      Totally agree with you

      • bpb

        Jul 12, 2014 at 1:50 am

        lincoln and fullerton mam

    • BlackinBiz blog (@BlackInBiz)

      Jul 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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