Stretching or Choking


"Your friends will either stretch your vision or choke your dreams." - John C. Maxwell

Once again, my mentor, John C. Maxwell delivers another gut-punching, graphic quote that’s full of wisdom.  Let’s face it. The people we spend most of our time with are the ones who have the most impact on who are and who we are becoming.  I’ve experienced this phenomenon repeatedly in my life.  We tend to take on the characteristics, vocabulary and speaking styles, and even thought patterns of those influencers in our lives.  If you have children, you likely noticed this once they started going to school.  As adults, we see this happen in our workplace, churches and other organizations we spend a lot of time being a part of.  We try to fit in with the group.  That’s the impact we allow people to have on us.

Let’s take it a step further.  When it comes to each of us pursuing our purpose, vision and calling, our friends can impact that pursuit in a positive way or a negative way.  Friends making the negative impact are the ones who often immediately roll their eyes when we share our dream.  They make remarks filled with the poison of doubt, unbelief, and sarcasm.  These friends attempt to shoot down our dreams quickly.  Some of these negative friends will become “prophets of doom.” They prophesy struggle and failure. They proclaim the lunacy of our dream and expect us to come back to them once we’ve failed, so they can encourage with the, “I told you so” look, and welcome us back to Mediocre-ville. This sounds harsh, but I am positive that all of us have at least a couple of friends or family members who do this.  Perhaps we ought to spend less time with these people.  The time we do spend with them should probably be intentionally focused on helping them grow, but at the same time maintaining our awareness of the potential negativity, and not allowing ourselves to even receive any of it.

Let’s close with thoughts of the positive friends in our lives. We love these friends and family members.  They encourage us, believe in us unconditionally, and stretch us to become the very best versions of ourselves as we climb to the heights we strive for.  These friends will offer help instead of criticism. They will hold us accountable in ways that encourage us to move forward.  Good friends stretch us. We love spending time with them.  We can spend hours or days with them and it seem like no time went by at all. 

As I described these “friends,” who came to your mind for the positive ones and the negative ones?  Take inventory of those friends who are overtly trying to hold you back.  Evaluate the time you spend with them.  Is the time you spend with them value-added time?  Evaluate your friends who are sincere but not at the same level of awareness as you are?  What can you do to help them grow? For those friends who are stretching you, what’s one way you can increase your time with them?  

Who you allow into your circles of influence, whether friends or family, impacts whether you stretch and grow toward your dreams or you are choking – fighting for air – just to keep the dream alive

Not all our friends are this overtly negative.  Some of them choke our dreams because they are not on the same level of awareness as we are.  These friends lack vision for themselves. They are speaking to us from a less mature stage of personal growth and awareness.  These friends will ask questions and offer counsel from a position of being realistic.  They are not overtly critical. They just don’t understand where we are coming from and where we are going.  Here’s the kicker – until they grow in their awareness, they won’t understand.  They will applaud when we get there but will have a hard time believing it will ever happen. 

circle of friends

Choose your friends wisely.

Blessings to you this week and always, Steel Toes Tribe!

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