Successful people often share a powerful principle of success, brilliantly encapsulated in a quote from entrepreneur, author and motivational speaker Jim Rohn: "You are the average of the five people you spend the most time with."
I first heard this quote seven years ago, and it prompted me to think seriously about the people closest to me, and how they affected me. I learned how much negative people can affect me without me realizing it.
My own success increased rapidly when I took an honest look at the people around me and replaced negative relationships with positive, empowering individuals who would support and inspire me.
Here are five toxic personalities you should remove from your life immediately:
1. The Hater
Meet the relentless complainer, the person who perpetually sees the negative in everything. The hater complains about the world, blames others for her lack of success, and criticize the brave souls who try to achieve something of value.
Negativity is contagious, so the danger with this person is that she will expect you to keep his misery company. In time, she could make you believe it's okay to be a hater too.
Successful people don't spend time with haters, but with other successful, positive people. You'll do yourself a favor by removing the hater from your life.
2. The Envious One
A friend or colleague who is envious won't celebrate your victories or support your dreams. He covets the life you're aspiring to create, in large part because he doesn't believe in his own ability to achieve the same success.
Being an entrepreneur is hard enough. Choose to surround yourself with people who can be genuinely happy for your micro-successes and champion your long-term aspirations.
3. The Flake
This personality type routinely backs out of commitments and expects you to accommodate her ever-changing schedule (and whims). Your time is valuable, but the flake doesn't respect that notion.
If a friend or associate can't honor your plans, meet you halfway and arrive on time, then use those instances to state and enforce your boundaries. Learning to take care of yourself first, and respect your time, will also help you in other areas of your life and work.
4. The Guilt Tripper
Here's the problem with guilt: You can't dream when someone makes you feel guilty for desiring better. You can't capture value when you've learned to feel guilty for asking to be paid what you're worth.
If you're like me, you're still trying to resolve some of the guilt learned from childhood or other past experiences. At times, I found it difficult to focus on myself because I was too busy accepting the guilt others were placing on me.
Do your best to identify and distance yourself from people who make you feel guilty. This one is hard, because it's often family members engaging in this behavior.
It's easy for me to say that you should distance yourself from a parent or a sibling--but that doesn't make it any less true. I've had to do this myself, and I can tell you: It's possible to find a healthy medium between keeping family in your life and detaching from their guilt.
5. The Perpetually Fearful
There are people around you who are simply afraid to "go for it." They view life through a lens of fear and lack the basic belief that things will work out for the best.
That is the exact opposite energy you need as an entrepreneur, especially while you're starting out.
As personal-development legend Bob Proctor said, "If you see it in your mind, you will hold it in your hand." Avoid fearful people with limiting beliefs, and embrace your visions of success instead.
Why this is important
If you think you're immune to the people listed above, think again. These personality types will overtly or subconsciously influence your life and affect the energy in your space.
Want evidence? Spend 24 hours with a friend who cusses like a sailor. You'll start cussing too. That same principle works with hate, envy, fear and self-doubt.
The opposite is also true. If you surround yourself with positive people, you'll find yourself being more positive and successful.
Putting awareness into action
Remember our opening quote from Jim Rohn? Take the necessary steps to ensure the five people closest to you exhibit the traits you want to emulate as you reach for greater personal development and success.