Here’s a great fable from a Greek story teller named Aesop. He was born around 620 BCE and was known for sharing wisdom with short stories. In this story about a farmer and a stork, he shares wisdom about the company you keep…
A FARMER placed nets on his newly-sown plowlands and caught a number of Cranes, which came to pick up his seed. With them he trapped a Stork that had fractured his leg in the net and was earnestly beseeching the Farmer to spare his life.
“Pray save me, Master,” he said, “and let me go free this once. My broken limb should excite your pity. Besides, I am no Crane, I am a Stork, a bird of excellent character; and see how I love and slave for my father and mother. Look too, at my feathers—they are not the least like those of a Crane.”
The Farmer laughed aloud and said, “It may be all as you say, I only know this: I have taken you with these robbers, the Cranes, and you must die in their company.”
The moral of this story is simple: Birds of a feather flock together. We’re often judged by the company we keep. Jim Rohn is credited for the quote,
“You are the average of the five people you spend the most time with.”
Though research by some have tried to prove this to not be true, I personally believe it. Often times, the difference between a person who does good and a person who does bad is the people they’re most influenced by and surround themselves with. If a child grows up in a rough neighborhood and is taught lying, stealing, and cheating is how to survive, they’ll most likely do those things. If an adult’s five closest friends are people who aren’t going anywhere in life and believe it to be cool to make alcohol and drugs a big part of their life, it’s likely that will be the life the adult gets sucked into.
I remember times as a child where I got in trouble for something I did wrong. The majority of times was because I was around other kids, who I thought was cool, and chose to go along with the crowd. It was rare that I did something wrong of my own making. No, I’m not blaming anyone for any choices I’ve made as a child or through life. But it’s true that the influence of others can sometimes make us do things out of character.
I know it may seem like a cliche to say, “Birds of a feather flock together”, but there is wisdom in those words. We can be easily influenced by the people around us, especially if those people have something we want. We may think they are cool, have the things we want, or maybe we just want their respect. None of these are reason enough to compromise our character and do something we shouldn’t.
If you want to see where your life is going, take a look at the five people you spend most of your time with and determine for yourself if birds of a feather flock together.