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Being a Good Person

By Stuart Fenwick


You know how everyone gets a list? The list of five people… (No, not that one). I’m talking about the claim that you are a product of the five people you surround yourself with the most (see Rohn, Jim).

Of course, we are all our own unique and individual person, but our decisions, attitude and behaviour can all be influenced by those closest to us; the law of averages. It makes sense to try to pick the best people.

I’m writing this on a Tuesday, still recovering from a weekend that saw me cycle the 60 miles from Brighton to London. Being from Edinburgh, that’s pretty random.

The reason I was doing this was to join one of my closest friends and his, now, fiancée on the final leg of their round-the-world cycling adventure (see Ewan and Katie’s blog – He had sent out a general invite to anyone who wanted to join them to celebrate both the remarkable feat and their return home. 32 people, of mixed cycling abilities, showed up. Thirty-two!

The reason my friend and I went down was to be a part of something positive. Ewan, like so many of my friends, inspires me. And over the last ten years, I’ve got to know his better half, Katie, who does the same. So much so that I got three trains, with four-cycle journeys and a few last-minute sprints just to make it to Brighton… never mind the bike ride back to London!

Would I have done this on my own free will? Absolutely not!

Beyond the freewheeling pair, I find inspiration in all my friends. Being a genuinely nice person (Martin), more get up and go (Sam), embracing new people (Darren), more empathy (Niall), more laughter (Robert)… and so many more.

I’m not writing this to advertise my friends to you. It serves to support the idea that we are a product of the people we surround ourselves with. I’ve not even included my family or my colleagues yet!

The theory has led to some suggestions that you should cut out those who you don’t feel help improve you.

There are a few issues with that though. First of all, you can’t cut out your family. Well, you can, but you can’t choose them… especially in-laws. But imagine realising as you get older that your mum does less and less for you. ‘Sorry Mum, you’re holding me back’ is callous.

Secondly, does that mean if our friends are going through a rough time we cut them out? That’s equally horrible. This is when we need to be there for them more than ever. Not to mention still being able to look for inspiration in their lowest moments (determination, resilience).

The people who should get cut out are those who are purposefully negative. Leeches. Those that, if you were in a difficult place, would ditch you in a heartbeat.

In the age of Social Media, communication and interaction with our friends and family is never-ending. This provides us with the opportunity to seek constant inspiration from other people’s adventures.

Yes, social media can create a completely false representation of someone’s life but why should we care? If we see photos of someone travelling around the world and get jealous we’ve got two options.

1. Go travelling around the world

2. Realise we don’t want it enough to actually do something about it and therefore stop being jealous.

In the same way we cut out leeches in real life, this is where we cut out negative influences online. Katie H*pkins – blocked.

Back to ‘real life’, studies have shown that we actually share about 1% of our DNA with our closest friends (roughly the same as a fourth cousin).

Beyond biology, there is one simple answer to being able to create a better circle for us.

Be a good person.

It’s as simple as that. If you think about the people you’d want in your list, you think of characteristics and traits that you appreciate.

When that’s flipped around, you need to become the sort of person that people look at and want in their life. It works both ways. I will continue to try to inspire my friends as much as they do for me.

It’s not just about being the type of person who cycles around the world. It’s about being the type of person that invites friends to be a part of it. It’s about travelling across the country to show support.

It’s about being a good person.