How To Be More Successful By Losing Your Friends
Some of you are going to have a hard time with this article. It’s because I’m going to be pressing hard on a raw nerve you may not be aware of. Whether you are cognizant or not, the discomfort exists. What will sting is that for some of you, to be more successful, you’re going to have to leave some of your friends behind.
Not all your friends are going to keep the same life trajectory as you.
These friends can become a hindrance to your life goals. The worst case scenario is they can ruin them, the best case is they are spiritually and emotionally exhausting like trying to shove 10 pounds of sand into 5 pound bags.
I’ll bet you’re thinking of one right now.
Was this friend from the past and you’ve moved on?
Is this friend impeding your success right now?
Your friend may be super talented or maybe super loyal and not very talented, but when he/she isn’t willing to fly as high as you, it will create stress and fissures in the relationship.
In plain English that means the more you grow, the more success you see, the more the microscopic cracks in the dam will become apparent which forces decisions to be made.
As you’re pulling away the relationship will become (or always has been) toxic and detrimental to your success.
Often it’s hard to recognize (or admit to) that toxicity because you are a loyal friend and despite the current imbalance, they have been a staple in your life.
It’s not uncommon that toxic friends are supremely devoted to you (which we all respond to) but only at a level they are comfortable with.
Sometimes shifting gears is a solution to maintain the relationship but on a far different level than in the past.
I have experienced this one before. I have a very close friend (we grew up together) that simply cannot seem to function or behave like the normal person (I know him to be) around some of my more notable clientele (or clientele he thinks is notable for whatever reason). This causes problems in my work environment.
I still love that friend but only deal with him in “small doses” outside of my world; it just works better like that for both of us.
Guess what? THAT’S OK.
There is a dynamic that exists in all of us, we are hard-wired up as humans to want to belong. The antithesis of this dynamic is fear of abandonment.
The fear of deserting a lifelong relationship is super powerful.
Have you ever slowed your momentum because you feared losing a relationship?
Have you ever blown an opportunity because a friend wouldn’t step up when it was time to shine?
We are emotionally and morally torn in that department because we want to do the right thing.
We want to be fair.
Do we support them as a friend and try to understand why they failed us (because they did) or do we call them out and demand accountability?
Which choice makes you a better friend?
Which choice is better for your life and career?
On one hand we don’t want to disrespect our friend and the relationship, but on the other hand we want to push farther, reach higher, and that person either won’t come along (if they’re part of the team) or makes us feel guilty for leaving (or wanting to break out) of the familiar environment we currently occupy.
Being a good, solid, loving friend does not mean that you hold yourself back to ensure happiness and quality of life for someone else.
Sometimes moving on means the relationship has to end.
Sometimes it just has to change.
Moving on is often better for the friend too, after all, who better than YOU to show a loved one what it means to work, excel, go for the good life, and strive for something better.
I have another personal experience that I will share with you.
I was struggling with this one in California when a mentor of mine recognized the dynamic and spelled it all out for me.
You see, a dear friend was failing me. My friend was one of the greatest salesmen I had ever seen. He was the one who made me aware of my sales skills and was the first to put me into a position to exercise that muscle; I capitalized on the break he gave me big time.
This friend recognized my skill set and presented an opportunity to experience success (that ultimately led me to a 25 year career path) at a level I never dreamt of.
He was a pretty good guitar player and we wrote several great songs together so there was an artistic bond between us as well. He originally introduced himself to me by commenting on a t-shirt I was wearing from a Miami rock club called The Button South so it was music that brought us together, in a roundabout way.
I always used to feel like he empowered me. The reality was he opened my eyes and I empowered myself.
Still, I felt I owed him.
I felt there probably wasn’t enough I could do for him to repay him for showing me my own gifts.
I met this friend in Nashville in the mid 1990’s and he ultimately followed me out to California.
I gave him an opportunity to step up his amazing talents and increase his success working with me. I had a relationship with a corporation that had an amazing zero damage bench-top soldering system mainly used for assembling electronic prototypes. This product was exploding in the industry would double my income 3 times in the 3 coming years. It also would leave me with an impressive customer list of valuable relationships with top engineers from the premiere electronics and aerospace companies on the West Coast.
That was so exciting!
My friend had all the talent but zero brains.
He didn’t, couldn’t, or wouldn’t grasp the subtle nuances of this new gig. Yes it was sales, and sales is always the same process structurally and conceptually (I was applying the lessons I learned from HIM to succeed at THIS gig), only the details of the products change.
My friend was focused on only one thing. Making his moronic, vapid, clueless, talentless, bloodsucking, girlfriend famous.
To perform at sales at his level required intelligence. I never understood how he could pair up with a person that was the OPPOSITE of intelligent in every way I could possibly imagine.
She wanted to be famous and he was drinking the Kool-Aid. He was doing whatever she told him to do.
If you can imagine (and maybe you’ve encountered) a person who is not interested in working in the arts, only the fame and perceived glory that comes from being a TV, film, or recording star. She was that girl, she felt she had everything she needed with blonde hair and big boobs and was soullessly prowling for actors, directors, producers, songwriters, musicians, etc. to help her.
How was he so unaware of this trait in her?
How was he tolerating this behavior?
She was always surrounded by an entourage of creepy, broken-hearted, hangers-on who were believing she was going to be “someone”.
Some of them were paid creeps and he was the one writing the checks. (They had an 800 sq. ft. office space and 2 assistants even though she NEVER worked because she felt it was more professional and made her look better to the industry.)
This was NOT what he preached in his line of work, you had to execute in sales or be gone.
I was bewildered by the dichotomy.
My previously stated mentor is the President of a hugely successful electronic OEM and former Director of Engineering at Rubbermaid’s heat department (which is a 7 billion dollar conglomerate [coffee makers, irons, glue guns, soldering irons, etc.).
He said, “Johnny, one of the toughest lessons I have ever had to learn is how to let go of some of my friends.”
I struggled with a response.
I began to make excuses for my friend, stuttering through the entire retort.
I wasn’t going to convince my mentor though.
Try as I might, at this point, I wasn’t convincing myself either.
I let the relationship go long enough that this former friend and his psychotic girlfriend almost ruined my wedding (after all it wasn’t about her so she tried EVERYTHING to change that; ugh, classless)
During the first couple days of my honeymoon I was in a trance, all I heard was my mentor’s voice about letting go.
Then my wife (at the time) chimed in to break the spell, “They tried to ruin the wedding and they didn’t, are you now going to let them ruin our honeymoon?”
That was it. I cut the cord. I let him go.
I’ve since learned that they’re coming along and pulling their weight, or their holding me back.
The dynamic is created through growth and I damn sure have learned how to recognize it and address it.
If they’re not playing at your level, the relationship has to change. It only has to end if it’s super toxic or if they demand it as an ultimatum.
This awareness has improved my life for the better.
I try to focus on what Tai Lopez calls the Law of 33%.
- You spend 33% of your time with your contemporaries that are friends, business relationships, and artists who are on your success level at the moment.
- You spend 33% of your time with people that are below your success level, you can teach (and also learn) from these individuals.
- You spend the remaining 33% of your time with people that are above your current level of success, in any way you possibly can. These gurus are found in mentorships, internships, books, paid coaching; you need to be LEARNING from 20/20 hindsight as much as possible.
YOU NEED TO SEEK THESE UPPER 33% RELATIONSHIPS OUT AS THEY WILL NOT COME TO YOU.
My most successful friends are always asking questions and interested in the truth.
My least successful friends are always bitching about how it used to be or telling everyone their opinion (regardless of how misguided it is) so they can feel better about themselves.
It really is true that you are a product of the company you keep.
If you aspire to be a carpenter, and you’re smart, you can learn to raise a barn through massive amounts of trial and error.
That’s going to take a lot of time, cost a lot of money, and consume your energy which is exhausting in all these areas.
But you’ll learn.
You might learn to quit as a result of avoidable frustration.
Do you see how this approach to learning can be fatal to a music career?
You’ll definitely learn how to do it the hard way provided you don’t give up first.
If you aspire to be a carpenter and you’re really smart, you will learn to raise a barn right the first time by studying a master craftsman.
As humans, one ability we have that no other species has is the capacity to simulate an outcome in advance of the actual action to determine if it will be successful.
Amazingly, we know what we don’t know and have the option of learning how it should be done before we begin doing it.
But most people don’t do this. They approach their career like a monkey with a gun and wonder why they can’t get ahead.
They suffer, their lives suffer
If we have the humility to know that we still need to learn then we are always improving.
The heights of our artistry and exposure is bound only by our egos and stubbornness.
Who’s holding you back?
Be mindful of your energy and don’t waste it on people who aren’t interested in improving themselves.
Learn to let go of your friends who aren’t playing in your league, they’re holding you back and you know who they are.
Stop telling people what you’re doing and start asking questions about your songwriting, music recordings, music marketing, and overall artist development.
Search for the truth in your relationships, in your music, and in your marketing.
PS: If you haven’t already downloaded my free Music Marketing On Twitter book, please enjoy it on me. Go to GiftFromJohnny.com put in your name and tell us where to send it. It’ll teach you how to get 1,000 new targeted followers every month for just 15 minutes per day.
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