belayer with the rope and carabinesWho you hang out with has a great influence on you.

If you hang out with bigoted people, you will likely embrace bigoted ideals. If you hang out with dishonest people, you will likely embrace dishonesty. If you hang out with people who are kind, who treat others with respect, who embrace serving others, who keep their promises, you will likely embrace those traits.

When I was growing up, my parents were very particular about who I hung out with. On our street in the suburbs of Long Beach, CA, in the ’60’s, there were more than 50 kids my age. It was very easy for my parents and our neighbors to observe what we were doing and with whom. We all played on the street, within full view of a network of stay-at-home moms.

I got most of my redirection from my folks at the dinner table each evening. “I like that you’re playing with Tim; he’s a nice boy.” “I don’t want you playing with Larry. He’s a bully.” “Carol is mean. Stay away from her.”

When I went off to college, my parents voices’ were in my head. I observed how my fellow students treated others. If they were mean, I kept my distance. If they were selfish, I chose to spend time elsewhere. If they were pleasant, fun, and kind, I hung out with them. If Linda kept her promises, that deepened my respect for her.

Warren Buffet was asked years ago about what he looks for in people. He replied, “Somebody once said that in looking for people to hire, you look for three qualities: integrity, intelligence, and energy. And if you don’t have the first, the other two will kill you.” Buffet applies the same three criteria to leaders of companies he’s considering for investment.

If you are rock climbing or on a high ropes course, you’ll have someone “on belay.” They’ll loop your climbing rope securely through the belay device on their harness. They’ll control the slack so if you fall, you won’t fall far! You want your belay partner to be values-aligned – to care for you and your safety, to pay attention every second, and to be skilled in managing the rope, supporting your success.

Before you can examine the values of those around you, you must clarify your own purpose and values. You must formalize your personal constitution. It will include your present day purpose, your reason for being on this planet. It will include your values, how you define each value, and a list of 3-4 behaviors that are measurable indications of how you’ll live your values. Finally, it will include your leadership philosophy – how you choose to effectively influence others around you to contribute and serve their families, communities, and workplaces.

With those vital elements clear, you can easily assess the degree of alignment you have with your friends and colleagues. Values alignment boils down to integrity. If you see players who don’t model integrity, insulate yourself from them, as much as possible. Choose to engage often with players who demonstrate integrity, intelligence, and energy for life, daily.

By surrounding yourself with values-aligned compadres and comadres, you build a supportive team that can help you keep on track with your best self, every day.

How values-aligned are your friends and colleagues? How did key adults in your life direct you to values-aligned players? Share your insights on Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn.

Photo © vitaliymateha – Dollar Photo Club. All rights reserved.

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The music heard on my podcasts is from one of my songs, “Heartfelt,” copyright © 2005 Chris Edmonds Music (ASCAP). I play all instruments on these recordings.

S. Chris Edmonds

Chris helps leaders create purposeful, positive, productive work cultures. He's a speaker, author, and executive consultant. He blogs, podcasts, and video casts. He is the author of two Amazon bestsellers: Good Comes First (2021) and The Culture Engine (2014).
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