Associate with people who will improve you.

Associate with people who will improve you.Seneca

With whom do you associate? People who can help you improve? People you can help improve?

With whom do you associate? People who can help you improve, or you can help improve?

What does that mean?
As is so often the case, the quote has been shortened to fit within the confines of the structure allowed by Twitter. The longer version of the quote is:

Withdraw into yourself, as far as you can. Associate with those who will make a better man of you. Welcome those whom you yourself can improve. The process is mutual; for men learn while they teach.

This quote is about self improvement, and how one should best do so. It starts by pulling back from all the people who would fill your head with noise or un-useful information.

It then says to seek out and spend time with those who can help you. That might be your spiritual, physical, emotional, or intellectual side, but find them and spend time with them.

The longer quote ends by reminding us that life is a two way street. As they teach you, teach them something in return. It could also be interpreted as saying that the act of teaching helps the teacher improve.

Why is self-improvement important?
Answering a question with a question may be considered bad form, but… Who else can improve you, besides you? All improvement is self-improvement. Yes, there may be rewards or punishments as motivation, but you are the only one who can improve yourself. No one else can do it for you.

Does that make sense? Think about it until it does, because until you understand that, your life will be tougher than it has to be. That doesn’t mean you are going to enjoy everything you have to do to improve yourself, but until you understand that you are the one who has to do it, it won’t be easy.

Do you recall ever seeing someone in a class who just sat there and dared the teacher to improve them, to make them learn? How well did that work out for the defiant learner? Did they improve? But when you realize that you are the one who has to do the work, things change. And for the better.

As for the improve part of self-improvement, who wants to try to just stay the same? Today is the least informed I will be for the rest of my life. I hope it is also the least fit day of the rest of my life. I plan to improve in any way I possibly can, until I am no longer here. How about you, are you pleased with the status-quo?

Where can I apply this in my life?
Personally, I apply this in as many areas as I can, as often as I can, and I recommend you do the same. If that sounds like too much, try to pick at least a few things which are really important to you, and focus on improving yourself in those areas of your life.

I have surrounded myself as a blogger with some of the best in the business. I have taken several classes, and have read plenty of books. I aim to improve myself by learning from the experiences of others, both their mistakes and their successes. And I try to help others, when I can.

In fact, this blog is as much about me examining myself as it is for you to examine yourself. As you might guess, I do all these exercises, and think through each quote before I even put fingers to keyboard. I am working to improve myself through this blog every day, and by extension to help you as well.

I try to avoid the people who would fill my head with unnecessary or otherwise un-useful information, and concentrate on what is important to me. I try to find mentors, or at least make friends with people who can help me improve myself. And, of course, I try to teach them something in return.

When someone is trying to teach you something, they are re-learning it for themselves, and applying the fundamentals over again. By critiquing you and your methods, they examine their own, and make sure their examples are even better than their normal work. In that manner, event the teacher learns.

Take a moment and think of the areas in your life where you would most like to improve. Who are the people who could best help you become better at it? How do you reach out to them? Can you find a mentor or make a friend who could help? Can you take a class or read a book? Perhaps there’s a web site on the topic?

Whatever it might be, you will have to find time and energy to use in improving yourself. You can find that by withdrawing from others, as the quote says. This doesn’t mean abandon your friends, but it might be a good idea to limit your time gossiping or discussing things which don’t relate to the part of your life which you wish to improve.

There is no such thing as staying the same. We all change, even if it is usually rather slowly. The question is what will happen if you don’t work on improving yourself? You can learn by being taught, or you can learn by teaching. Choose one, and get busy. Take the first step right now.

From: Twitter, @stoicrevival
confirmed at :… Letter VII: On crowds, line 8.
Photo by JD Hancock

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2 Responses to Associate with people who will improve you.

  1. Matthew Oaks 4 March 2014 at 8:36 pm #

    What a great post, I agree with this quote by Seneca. If you have the wrong people around you it affects everything you do and think. I have been reading a great book by David Silverstein called Become an Elite Mental Athlete and in it he talks about health of your brain and always keeping it ready and working at it’s peak. But then there are so many other factors involved in that, nutrition for instance, sleep, stress all factors of keeping yourself well in the brain. Those around you affect all those things…There is a so much you can do with the right approach! Silversteins book is really great for improving as a leader, www davesdots com is his site with it’s information. Just really pleased I read this post, fits so right with what I am learning about at this time!

    • philosiblog 5 March 2014 at 5:51 am #

      Indeed, mental clarity and attitude are a big part of peak performance. That applies to athletes as well as anyone else who wants to excel. From teachers to engineers, the same applies. Same for ditch diggers or carpenters.

      Glad you found the post of use, and that you left a comment for all to enjoy.

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