Of all advises, suggestions, admonitions and popular sayings I have heard in this life, one stands out: mind your company/association.

One’s company or association is not just the people or friends within their circle. Defining company as that alone will be simplistic and rather limited. For company, when comprehensively defined, incorporates everything with which one surrounds oneself. By implication therefore, your company includes the books you read, the program you watch on the TV, the events you attend, for religious people – the church, mosque or temple you attend and expectedly, the friends you keep. Of course, some may advance the argument that almost all these can be influenced by the type of friends you keep but that will not be the whole truth. Whatever the argument anyone puts forth, we must not deny the fact that it is all the above – friends, books, etc, that define the quality of our mind and most times, how we eventually turn out.

There are many reasons for which this admonition stands out. One’s company remains a very important determinant of one’s success or lack thereof. The company one keeps contributes to shaping their worldview. The African adage “an apple does not fall far from the tree” is the traditional expression of this wisdom. Try as you may, you may never completely get over the influence of your company. Your company shapes even such trivial things as the way you eat, sleep, talk and many others. It shapes the more advanced aspects of your life – your enthusiasm towards pursuing life’s goals, your ability to keep to time or agreements and many other things.

“Bad company corrupts good morals” they say. Good company can also influence bad behaviour and transform it. The kind of books one reads contribute to shaping their worldview. Those who constantly listen to sermons that tie every misfortune to some supernatural force, may end up seeing the world through that lens. While I am not personally interested in motivationals, there is no denying the fact that people who always listen to motivational speeches and surround themselves with motivated individuals would normally undertake tasks with overwhelming enthusiasm and self-belief.

Workplace ethics can help fine tune one’s character, that’s true. But workplace ethics can only do very little for a person who delights in the company of ethically bankrupt people.

There is something about the people, places, events one associates with. There are people whose thinking are heavily limited by their own lack of exposure or fear of the big picture. If you happen to catch a glimpse of the bigger picture and are unfortunate enough to share it with them, just consider that big picture dead. There are those whose horizon will help to widen yours and make you have perspectives to issues in ways you never imagined. On the other hand, there are companies whose horizon is so limited that sometimes you begin to question the validity of your own wider horizon. Few months ago, I was in the company of poeple who never really understood my own perspectives to life. So many times, I felt out of place and even stupid for thinking or acting or believing differently. My decisions, whenever I shared them, were met with rebuke and disapproval. It’s true that they did not have the final say over the things I chose to do but, their influence in arriving at that decision cannot be over emphasised.

I have said it times on end, if there is anything I am grateful for, in the last couple of months, it is the kind of tribe I now have, the quality of minds that decorate the walls of my being now. It is something I am eternally grateful for. Friends who believe in me more than I do in myself and will not stop at anything to see you succeed. Friends who believe in the validity of your dreams despite how crazy they may seem. It is because of them that I have begun to see life from a different perspective. It is because of them that I have rewired my reading pattern, my daily routine, and many other things.

If there is anything you should always be mindful of, it is your company. If you have an unproductive company, it’s not late to start building the right one. Mind your company. Nurture it. It is essential.


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