“You have to learn the rules of the game. And then you have to play better than anyone else.”

-Albert Einstein

Most people don’t learn the rules. Nor do they try to play the game better than anyone else.

That’s a shame.

My philosophy has always been: Life is too short to be average.

There’s plenty of “gray” in the world and not enough black or white.

You want to polarize in life—to draw a line in the sand and say, “This is where I stand.”

You should have your ideas, opinions, and preferences for everything. You should surround yourself with people you want to be around, that make you better and happier.

No one said you had to like—or be liked by—everybody.

Of course, I’m not suggesting you be a jerk. Being a jerk is a waste of time. What I’m suggesting is you’ll forever get the best results from life when you attract the people and things that reflect who you are and what you want from life.

Want to be smarter? Read more and spend less time with mind-numbing reality tv and gossip magazines.

Want to be successful? Surround yourself with successful people that expect more of you.

Want to quit smoking? Stop hanging out during your coffee break with the smokers.

Want to eat healthier? Don’t go out to eat with your junk-food eating friends.

And so on.

They say that a person is the sum of the 7 people they are around most often. I believe this. But I also believe there is an exception to this. Some people are born leaders and inspire those they are around. They are not susceptible to crafting their ideas, opinions and habits based on their peer group. The thing is, I guesstimate it’s less than 1% of the population that can do this. If this isn’t you, don’t fret. Just do the best you can with who you are, which might mean you have to curb some of the people you spend the majority of your time with.

Some friends are like cigarettes: they are a bad habit that takes more than they give. Other friends are like a wild-caught piece of salmon: they provide nutrition that helps you grow and become better.