by Jack Kelly, Senior Contributor,
I was told that in order to get better at tennis, you need to play opponents that are better than yourself. It will challenge you to continually improve. Emotionally, it may hurt as you keep losing. However, as you stay strong and remain persistent, you’ll improve more quickly than if you had played against a lesser opponent.
In your career and life, this advice also holds true. To succeed, it’s important to carefully and thoughtfully select the people that you surround yourself with. It’s even more important to disengage from others who will bring you down.
You want to find mentors and people who will help you improve your game at work. These rare finds will view you as their protégé and offer guidance, counsel and direction. They’ll fight for you within the organization to help you get coveted assignments and promotions. Similarly, you want to surround yourself with co-workers that share the same mindset as yourself. These colleagues should be motivated, intelligent, empathetic and empowering. These are the people that even if you leave the company, you could feel comfortable reaching out to for advice.
The harder part is figuring out who you should avoid. Unfortunately, there are many people who go through life feeling miserable and are only too happy to drag you down with them. They root for you to fail, as it will make them feel better about themselves. These folks will say one thing to your face and then badmouth you behind your back. They’ll sabotage your career, sap your energy and ruin you if you let them. Here’s a quick checklist of people to stay far away from, as they will certainly bring you down.
1) People who lack ambition and just do the bare minimum to get by
These are the complacent individuals who are always looking for shortcuts. They get a thrill from cheating the system, whether it’s disappearing for a two-hour lunch or heading home early and getting someone to cover for them. You’ll never go far with someone like this on your team. They’ll constantly try to corrupt and entice you to take the path of least resistance. They think they are so smart because they’re taking it easy, but they’ll be in the same job five to 10 years from now, while you’ll be head and shoulders above them if you separate yourself from these people.
2) Vacuous people who live their lives vicariously through their favorite sports teams, movie stars and incessantly talk about their favorite television shows
For the most part, these co-workers are intellectually lazy and complacent. They’d rather discuss the new series they’re binge-watching on Netflix, as opposed to important matters that could advance their careers. The same people tend to spend an inordinate amount of time on Facebook and Instagram and value the advice dispensed by influencers. Conversations with them will be limited and there will be little value that they have to offer. Time spent with them will be time wasted that you’ll never get back.
3) Resentful co-workers
They are angry at the people in management, as they feel it should be them in power—not those “idiots.” There’s always something that sets them off. According to them, they are always getting the short end of the stick. If given work, they’ll argue that the boss is dumping everything on them. When asked to stay late for an emergency project, they’ll try to avoid helping out and spend more time coming up with excuses as to why they can’t help than if they actually did the work.
4) People in the office consumed with politics
They’ll argue with you all the time and point out why you are wrong about your opinions. Everything is an issue. If you say the wrong word, you’ll be accused of all sorts of hateful things. These people always have a grievance and a chip on their shoulders. It’s a no-win situation to get involved with them.
5) Those who lack any sense of self-awareness and don’t hold themselves accountable for the consequences of their actions
It’s sad that people you thought were your friends are actually jealous and envious of your success. There are many people who live for drama. Everything is an emergency and needs your constant attention. They’re always on the phone arguing with someone or needs to bolt out of the office to take care of something. They are also broken people. They are mentally and emotionally beaten down. No matter what you say or do, they will see the dark side of things. To them, the glass is always half empty and everything is terrible.
This may sound harsh, but it’s actually uplifting. Thinking that everyone has your best interests at heart is naive and dangerous. It’s important to critically evaluate the people you spend the most time with. You should purposely seek out those precious few colleagues that you could engage in mutually benefiting, respectful, uplifting and empowering relationships with. Cast off any employees who are anchors around your neck—weighing you down and, ultimately, drowning you.