A while ago I learned a very valuable lesson about the company you keep and about where you are from and where you are now. I was at a local watering hole with some friends and having dinner at the bar. Now the place I was at is a classic New England fishing town type bar, with more than a few colorful characters. Cheap drinks, people who look tired and weathered and bartenders that look like they have been working there their whole life.
I was conversing with my friends when a woman next to me started staring at me and wondering what I was doing there. I was in a nice suit, nice shoes, a twenty thousand dollar watch and I must admit I looked a little out of place. But this was a local bar with great food and I didn’t feel out of place.
This woman came right out and told me I didn’t belong there.
I explained that I did. I was just one of the guys, a guy who grew up in the projects, who had nothing. A guy whose mother is HIV positive, a guy who has family members addicted to drugs and other family members who have been in and out of prison. I certainly belonged…right?
I went on to explain how I grew up and was essentially asking to be a part of their group. A group of washed up drunks, drug addicts and people who have given up on life. It hit me like a ton of bricks.
I am no longer the poor kid in the projects and she was right, I no longer belonged there.
Everyone has heard the saying “you are judged by the company you keep”; well that was not how I wanted to be judged. I was and I repeat WAS that kid, but I am no longer that kid. In a way I felt guilty for my success, I felt guilty that my watch cost more than most of their cars, I felt guilty that I was in an expensive suit, I felt guilty that I was paying for everything for me and my friends.
But then I realized that I should not and will not ever feel guilty for my success.
I am from the projects, but I will NEVER go back. That night, that is what I was doing. I was trying to let those people know that I was just like them. But I wasn’t and I’m not. I chose to want more, to ask for more and to GET more. Not the material things, but a better life. Those people at that bar had given up on life. They didn’t want more and wouldn’t even consider asking for it. In my book I talk about having to cleanse your social circle, but many times you have to cleanse the places that you used to go to. Surrounding yourself with people who have given up will just bring you down.
I will never forget where I came from, but I will never go back either. My book Ask More Get More is about a regular guy who has seen a lot of things, and made plenty of mistakes, but I have learned from them and I hope my experiences will get you asking for MORE.