In going through my dad’s belongings after he passed away several years ago we found a copy of a letter he had written to a judge on behalf of a young man he had once employed in his business who had gotten into some trouble. The letter did not dispute the young man’s alleged wrongdoing; rather it was a plea for leniency for someone my dad believed was basically honest, dependable, hard-working, and a good person at heart. As he explained to the judge in his letter, “I think he just got mixed up with the wrong people.”
Choose your friends carefully, we advise our teenage children, for hanging out with the wrong crowd can lead to trouble as it did the young man my dad was trying to help. But who we hang out with is not just about good and bad or right and wrong as is our usual concern with young people. It also pertains to the “good is the enemy of great” theme we’ve been discussing these past weeks. In other words, do we associate with people who are satisfied with “good enough” results or do we choose friends who strive for excellence in all they do?
I’ve been fortunate these past several years to be part of a group of Christian men who meet every Tuesday morning for the purpose of sharing our experiences in trying to live a Godly life, encouraging one another, and holding each other accountable. They are the type people it is a privilege to hang out with, not just because of their values and beliefs, but these men are highly successful, motivated, and movers-and-shakers in the community and their professions, men who inspire each other to strive for excellence – men who have inspired me to do the same.
Choose your friends carefully is good advice for all of us. Getting “mixed up with the wrong people” as my dad pointed out can lead to trouble. But more importantly hanging out with the right people can inspire us to pursue excellence rather than accepting “good enough” results; for “good is the enemy of great.” Mediocrity is the enemy of excellence. And we need more people striving for excellence – in every aspect of our society.