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As I reflect back on the year-from-hell I noticed that I had cleared a lot of relationship clutter from my mental closet. I reluctantly released those relationships that were draining me and causing me pain. I say reluctantly because they are people I care about, but they were crushing me with their negativity or indifference.

Who Will You Spend Time With

Who Will You Spend Time With

I now have several neatly packed shelves with lasting relationships that have the space to grow and develop even further, but something was missing.

This quote by Jim Rohn has been playing on my mind for a few weeks now “You are the average of the five people you spend the most time with.”

I am not saying there is anything wrong with the precious relationships I have stored in my closet but there is room for new relationships and I wanted to choose them carefully based on the changes I wanted to make in my life.

I sat down and worked out who exactly the person is that I wanted to be, what I wanted to achieve from a personal, mental, health and business perspective and how I would like my self-image to change. Once I had established that I started to look around for role models that appeared to have what I was looking for. I selected them based on congruency with my own value system and what they were achieving with respect to their business and personal lives (as far as that was possible).

This is the list of values and parameters that I used to identify them:

1)      Financial stability

Now before you write me off as shallow and materialistic for selecting this criteria let me tell you why this is so important to me. When you are drowning in terror because you have no idea what to feed your children for the day, the need for money is not materialistic. It is survival.

When you are in survival mode, you make stupid rash decisions based on your desperate need for cash to get food on the table. You will accept R300.00 ($30) as a fee for work which will take you a week, because it will feed your family for a week (if you are frugal).

That does not leave you any time for clear thinking or strategizing your business to the next level. There is no steady progression towards your ultimate vision and dream of where you want your business to be. You are so busy grabbing hold of the first life boat that passes you, that you don’t even check to see which direction it is headed in and normally, it is headed away from your dream.

To see your destination clearly, your mind must not be fogged with despair and terror. That can only happen when you have enough money coming in to cover your expenses. If you have $1 left over at the end of the month, you are not rich, but you may as well be. The feeling is the same.

When you have the extra $1 you can now give it to someone else who needs it. Being able to help people with genuine problems is part of who the new me wants to be. You cannot do that unless you have lots of extra money available at month end.

2)      Religious and Political Tolerance

People have very strong opinions about religion and political issues and are often not hesitant in shoving them down your throat if you don’t agree with them. Fundamentalists on both sides of the spectrum have no tolerance and respect for other people’s value systems and they automatically classify people into ‘people I love’ and ‘people I hate’. There is very little room left for the middle ground.

People who are tolerant and respectful of other people’s opinions see the best in everyone, despite everyone’s obvious faults. They understand that we are all just human, trying to make sense of a sometimes senseless world. They are quick to forgive and forget, and do not hold grudges.

I aspire to that. I suspect it may take me a lifetime to get it right, but that is okay with me. I am not going anywhere except forward on this journey.

3)      Strong moral standards

In all my interactions online, I have encountered several individuals whose lack of morals and ethics in dealing with other people have left me gasping with horror. They appear to be successful in terms of the physical symbols of success but they are gold-plated clay idols. Strip away the veneer and you are left with nothing but crumbling dust.

I was looking for people who built strong sustainable businesses that had the following core values underlying them:

  • Cared for their customers
  • Respected their customers
  • Direct and honest in their communication without resorting to abuse, insults and foul language
  • Charged what they were worth
  • Provided value by over-delivering on their promises
  • Did not advocate the use of unethical or morally vague business practices and methodologies for their clients
  • Had a strong work ethic
  • Were not afraid to admit their own mistakes
  • Do not procrastinate

Despite the fact that I have a very strong work ethic in that when I do something I do it until it is finished, I tend to procrastinate at the start of some activities. That is a characteristic that I would like to eradicate this year.

There were three other criteria that I applied to my choice of ‘virtual’ mentors but I will discuss those in a later post. I say ‘virtual’ because it is unlikely that I will ever meet some of them in real life because of geography and time constraints.

I have ended up with four new mentors for this year, only one of whom is a woman and she is also the only local mentor as she is based in Johannesburg. They will never know who they are, simply because I feel it may make them uncomfortable knowing that I am planning on following their every move so that I can learn from them.

Maybe I will let you know who they are at the end of the year in my sequel to Beautiful: Thirteen Lessons from 2013.

So my question to you is who are YOU going to spending time with this year?


Diana Heuser specialises in e-Business and Publishing Resources for Authors. Connect with Diana Heuser on her business website, via Twitter @DianaHeuser or on Google+.   She has recently started a new group called Your Life Story that you will find interesting. Request to join here.