At the young age of 26, Michaelangelo, the famous Italian artist, was faced with a huge challenge: To carve out the statue of David. The statue of David! How on earth was he ever going to do that? Yet, he breezed through the highly complex assignment, to create one of his most spectacular masterpieces.
I imagine that many a folk chased him down, craving a slice of his secret prowess. “This is magnificent! How on earth did you know how to sculpt this?” Asking as they felt the gleaming white marble statue with their hands. To which the Italian artist simply replied, “It is easy. You just chip away the stone that doesn’t look like David.”
As it turned out, there was no secret sauce to be had, no magic wand to be waved. But Michaelangelo taught us this simple but powerful strategy: When you know what you want, you cut off what doesn’t look like it. It’s a principle that can be applied in real life too.
If you want to be successful, it's crucial to know what you don’t need, especially people you cross paths with. Because they have a significant influence on how far you go in life. Below are 10 types of people you don’t need to be successful in life.
1. People who blow hot and cold.
As a non native English speaker, I wanted to polish up my writing skills so one day I reached out to a mentor. I went in hoping to become a better writer, but I ended up questioning if I was even cut out for this. I was more confused at the end than I was enlightened.
One day he would be super friendly and encouraging. The next day, he would create a wall, and I didn't know if I was making progress or not. The inconsistency only exacerbated my self-doubt. Were it not for my deep love for words, I probably would’ve downed my tools by the wayside and walked away.
Humans are complex creatures. It’s even worse trying to understand someone who blows hot and cold. They suck your mental energy, drain you emotionally, and make you second guess yourself. If you want to win in life, you must learn to protect every bit of your energy because you need it to work on your goals.
2. People trapped in the comparison game.
Back in my 20s, I was deeply envious of a certain girl. She lived the classic example of my perfect life. She had it all while I trudged through the forest of life as a struggling single mom. I spent hours dissecting her Facebook pictures. I was the kind of person you should have avoided.
People in the comparison game entirely miss the point and add no value to your life. They don’t understand that we all glide to the world with different gifts, and not developing theirs is self-deprecating and stupid. Envy is a slow cooking dish.
It simmers slowly and before turning into jealousy and hatred. Jealous people are insecure and can be extremely critical of the slightest move you make. You walk on eggshells when you’re with them. They’ll never inspire you to better yourself and will stop at nothing to crush your progress in life.
3. People with a similar goal but different mindsets.
When Jimmy and Paul decided to launch their tech start-up a few years ago, they had big, vivid dreams for the future. They’d make bags of cash, travel the world, and slather sunscreen all day in their retirement beach homes. Luck aside, it was a valid dream. After all, their portfolios were impressive, they aren’t lazy bones, and their bank accounts were fat with capital.
However, one year in, their business idea still hadn’t seen the light of day. Reason? Different mindsets. They had similar goals but totally different mindsets. While Jimmy approached new tasks with an “I’ll do” mindset, his counterpart said, “I’ll try.” Paul’s wobbly commitment had him make strings of excuses, and he backed out at the slightest setback.
People whose mindsets differ from yours are good to have around. But if you want to partner with someone to build your dream project, this is a deal-breaker. It’s impossible to make harmonious decisions or take the right steps to move forward. They stall what you start.
4. People who are always lighting fires.
You’ve had your morning coffee, and you’re pumped up to start working on your drawing because the art exhibition is a week away. You know that if you immerse yourself fully into it, you’ll create a masterpiece. But when you’re halfway there, your phone pings. It’s Joe. He’s in trouble. Again.
Joe is always lighting small fires here and there, and you’re always running to put them off. People who create drama waste your valuable time by taking you away from what really matters. They drain your mental and emotional energy making it difficult for you to knuckle down on your projects.
If you hang around them, you risk getting entangles in webs of unnecessary drama. Above all, they add no value when it comes to moving your life upwards.
5. People who can’t keep their word.
Someone comes along with a great business idea. So you form a partnership because you want to grow that baby. There’s only one problem. They never do what they say they’ll do. Deadlines are never met. Follow-ups are never done. And you’re forever picking up the slack.
This person may look good on paper, but he’s a non-starter. It’s hard to achieve anything meaningful when you’re entangled with unreliable people. They can’t be trusted to provide a safe place where you can be open about your challenges. Getting entangled with such not only demotivates you, but it can also stagnate your progress in life.
6. People with a veil.
David Armistead once said:
“Trust each other again and again. When the trust level gets high enough, people transcend apparent limits, discovering new and awesome abilities of which they were previously unaware.”
In other words, if you want to grow in life, and discover capabilities that lie idly within you, you need to do this in an environment where trust thrives. Look, you don’t need to know everything about someone, but you need to know them to a certain degree.
You create trust when you share parts of yourself with the person in your life and vice versa. Vulnerability and transparency are the stuff relationships are made of. If someone walks around with a veil, it locks others out, making it impossible to grow together.
If someone holds back, you can’t walk together because the connection is superficial. You can’t share goals, make decisions, or celebrate wins with someone who doesn’t let you in.
7. People who don’t challenge you through their own lives.
My pal Florence takes her children to a summer retreat every year because she wants to trigger awareness in her kids' minds. In the retreat, kids are taught how to develop their skills by experts. You and I are like those kids; what we see, we emulate.
What we emulate we become. If the person next to you lives a mediocre life, you will gravitate towards the same sooner or later. On the other hand, if they’re continually fishing for ways to uplift their standards and improve their lives, you’ll feel challenged. They’re the right person for you. What you expose yourself to determines how far you can go.
8. People who complain constantly.
All of us are guilty of complaining now and then. But we all know a Miss Julie who dials the complaints way too high. There’s never anything positive. The sky is always falling. And the world is a terrible place. Throw Covid into the mix? You might as well get a shovel and dig up your grave.
That’s the message constantly on their lips. If you buy into it, you’re in for a bad surprise. You’ll lose hope in yourself. Your motivation will fizzle out, and soon you’ll be left staring at a huge pile of broken dreams. Because when hope exits the room, doom and his twin brother gloom always walk in. If you desire to see the sunny side of life, walk away, complainers aren’t your peeps.
9. People who don’t clap when you shine.
Let’s be honest now, shall we? We all need some patting on the back from time to time. According to Steven Berglas, a psychologist, we look to others for a benchmark by which we can gauge our own success. So when someone changes the benchmark and rises above where we are, we lose confidence in their own skills and ability.
This is precisely why we all need a pat on the back every now and then. It makes you feel validated, appreciated, and a tad bit special. Simple words like, “You did a wonderful job with the presentation,” are incredibly powerful.
They can boost your motivation dramatically and make you achieve much more than you think you’re capable of. The opposite is true when you are with people who don’t acknowledge or appreciate your wins. Not only is it difficult to discover your latent potential, but you’re much less motivated to put your best foot forward.
10. People who are less ambitious than you.
Growing up in a small, lush town on the slopes of Mount Kenya, where society is a significant aspect of our culture, I was taught to engage with everyone in the community. While I still believe this is a good thing, I also learned it could be detrimental to a degree. I understood that less ambitious people pull you backward.
I’ve been blessed to set foot in over 80 countries, live in three different countries, and meet amazing people from all walks of life. All this because I left non-ambitious people behind. If you want to create a life you’re proud of, you’ve got to cut the cord that ties you to them.
Studies show that you’re better placed to achieve your goals if you share them with a person more successful than yourself. With a non-ambitious person, you don’t care to follow through with the goals you’ve told them you’d pursue, just like you don’t persist when things get tough.
Less ambitious people set low standards. It’s not surprising that they end up living half-baked lives and never make any significant progress in life. They stay exactly where you left them a decade ago.
Our character is mainly shaped by our primary social community — the people with whom we eat, play, converse, and study. Timothy Keller
You have what it takes to move your life ahead. You’re loaded with skills and capabilities. But to develop them, you need to create the right social environment. Today, start evaluating the people around you. Latch on to those who inspire, challenge, and help you grow. This way you’ll be well on your way to creating a successful life easier and faster.