Just recently I was reading a book and came across a quote from one of my favorite authors, high performance expert, Dr. Denis Waitley. He stated this quote: Take a good look at your friends and you will see your future. That statement points out a little known fact that we all should live by and that fact is you will become like the people you surround yourself with. That statement is so true. Countless studies and common sense show that you are heavily influenced by the people with whom you spend the most time. The great thing is you can choose these people. This is very important. It’s a life-changing choice. You’ve got to surround yourself with what I call eagles!

Let me explain my version of what an eagle is in life. Think about someone who had a profound influence on your life. Maybe it was your coach in high school or a professor in college. It could have been a member of your family. It could have been a pastor or one of your parents’ friends. Whoever it was, they made a strong impact on your life and you’re better for having known them.

Those are eagles—great people who want to see you succeed in life. They’ve inspired you to be a better person. They’ve taken you under their wings and helped guide you toward the right choices in life. They’ve been your mentors and your friends. They helped you become who you are today.

Did you know that when it rains, the eagle is the only bird that flies above the clouds to avoid the rain? In life, eagles do the same—they fly above the negativity.

One of my eagles was my grandmother—”Maw-maw.” She was more than just a grandparent—she was one of my very best friends. She spent what we now call “quality time” with me and taught me about life. She was kind, compassionate, and wise. I learned about love and respect, faith in God and myself, and how to be a better person. She was always nurturing me and helping me enjoy my childhood. In her garden, around her table, and on trips into and from New Orleans, she shared her life with me. Maw-maw didn’t expect me to be perfect—she just wanted me to do my best. In turn, I never wanted to let her down. I wanted her to be proud of me—to tell me I had done well. To this day, I measure much of my life by how much Maw-maw would approve and whether she would think I had done my best. The positive choices I’ve made in my life are, to a large degree, because of her influence.

Most of my eagles today are still my family and friends. I make sure I nurture my relationships. Some of my friendships stretch back to elementary school. I want to be around people who love me, support me, and influence me to be a better person.

What do my eagles look like?

• Energetic

• Encouraging

• Loving/caring

• Compassionate

• Empathetic

• Giving

• Humorous

My eagles hold me accountable and are honest with me about myself. They avoid prejudice, jealously, and drama. You see, eagles don’t just care about you. They care about you to the point that they’ll call you out when you deserve it. They love you enough that they’ll challenge you to be a better person.

Here’s a challenge for you: Write down the characteristics of the people who have had a great influence on your life. What were they like? What did they put into your life?

Surrounding myself with confident, helpful people and engaging in positive relationships keeps me motivated and helps me become a better person. Charlie “Tremendous” Jones said: You will be the same person in five years as you are today except for the people you meet and the books you read.

Who do you want to be in five years? If you want to be a different person, you need to find mentors and role models with whom you can start a friendship. If they’re true eagles, they’ll be glad to reach back and help you. Behind every eagle is at least one other eagle who helped them get where they are. Your mentor knows they can’t ever repay that person. Instead of paying it back, pay it forward.

Be open-minded. Eagles come in all shapes, forms, and sizes. They can also be authors, speakers, athletes, etc. They don’t necessarily have to have a close in-person relationship with you.

Remember, some may come into your life for a reason, some for a season, and some for a lifetime. The important thing is to cultivate a great relationship and receive what they have to give. Act like an eagle, surround yourself with eagles, and soon you will be an eagle!

“Remember that it is up to you to choose everyday to Get off Your Attitude and to create a positive lifestyle for yourself and others.” Ryan C. Lowe

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