Chose Your Associations Carefully

By | March 14, 2018

[March 14, 2018]  Early in my childhood I was given a precious piece of advice from my maternal grandmother (“Bigmama,” yes, that what we called her).  Bigmama said that the people around us have a power over us that can be either good or bad.  Therefore, it is a person’s option to choose your associations in life but then we must live with the results.

At the time what she said didn’t mean much to me or the rest of the “kids” who loved her and wanted to go to bigmama’s house because there were so many things to do outside.  We knew she was a force of good and being around her was important; even if we couldn’t explain why.  Bigmama was a strong supporter of her church, her small rural town, and her family.

I have always found that not only do our associations influence us; others judge us by those very same associations.  One of my cousins in this small group of kids liked to hang-out with boys from another town.  They were always getting into mischief and into trouble.  After a tour of duty in the U.S. Marines, my cousin remains unmarried and unemployed to this day.  Was it the bad influence from those out-of-town boys?

While a member of the U.S. Army, I was always careful who and what organization I spent my time with.  The Boy Scouts, Girl Scouts, church, local sport teams, and several veteran groups are where my spare time was spent.  One friend of mine who was commissioned with me had a wife that spent her time around women who were divorced.  She later filed for divorce because, as she put it, he was boring.  Today, she lives alone and on food stamps.  He remarried and is a successful Army Colonel.  Was it the bad influence from the divorced women?

Influence is a powerful force.  That is why we speak to the young boys in our Boy Scout troop about peer pressure.  We tell them how it’s easy to tell us they will say “no” to drugs but when the actual situation occurs, peer pressure is incredibly strong on the young.  That path is full of potholes that can be avoided by avoiding certain associations.  Recognizing that is what we teach.

Identifying those associations (people or organizations) that are best for us is a challenge for anyone.  A good mentor, coach, teacher, or friend can help.  Going it alone to make choices like this is a risk that should be avoided.

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Author: Douglas R. Satterfield

Hello. I'm Doug and I provide at least one article every day on some leadership topic. I welcome comments and also guests who would like to write an article. Thanks for reading my blog.

15 thoughts on “Chose Your Associations Carefully

  1. Georgie M.

    When I was a teenager my friends and I spent time skipping school, smoking in the bathrooms, and generally doing whatever we pleased. We were “cool” by High School student standards. Later, after flunking out of college (because I didn’t have the academic background), I went to work waitressing and then as a receptionist. If I had stuck my nose in a book more often then I would have done better in my life. Don’t get me wrong, I’m okay and will never be a victim but I could have done so much more.

  2. Georgie M.

    You would think this is just too obvious but I guess not. Leaders continue to shoot themselves in the foot every single time. My local state representative just got nailed for being the “go to guy” for a corrupt property developer. When this sort of thing happens we lose faith in our elected officials and that is not a good thing for a democracy.

  3. Edward Kennedy III

    I agree Joey. More on the military would be great. Of course, i’m biased.

  4. Joey Holmes

    Mr. Satterfield:
    Would you consider writing about what it takes to join the military? Thank you. I’m sure it’s no different here in Australia than in Amreica.

    1. Doug Satterfield

      Joey … look to early next week. I was thinking about doing a post on those things that keep most young folks from qualifying for the U.S. military. I have updated information on it and that might be of interest.

  5. Jonathan B.

    This is timely. My son just got picked up by the police here in Chicago for loitering around a restaurant. He was with other teenage boys. Should they be just standing around? Did they look suspicious? Did they actually do anything illegal?
    Those are the sorts of things that happen when you associate with the wrong crowd. I hope my son learned his lesson but I doubt it. Typically takes several bad incidents like this to change a teenager’s mind.

  6. Janna Faulkner

    If people were a little more careful, this would not be a problem. I find that those who do poorly in life has little to do with their family’s circumstances, race, religion, etc. but with them consistently making poor decisions and then making no changes.

  7. Eddie Ray Anderson, Jr.

    Mr. Satterfield:
    Thank you for providing us with something to think about daily.

    1. Doug Satterfield

      Eddie: Thanks for the compliment. If you ever have suggestions as to a blog topic, just drop me a line.

  8. Edward Kennedy III

    Long ago when I was a young lad I spent my spare time around some really fun friends. We skipped class, went smoking in the woods, hung out on the corner looking for girls, drinking out back behind my dad’s house, and generally had a wild time. I came to realize this was not beneficial to my life but i recognized it too late. Today I’m better off but it took decades to recover and i never reached my full potential. Sorry, yes and no. But i will always wonder what i could have done.

  9. Eddie Ray Anderson, Jr.

    Too many individuals refuse to believe this. They join groups that are, in the end, bad for them because poor decision making is encouraged and good decision making makes you a sucker.

  10. Army Captain

    You are judged by who your friends are and your associations. I’m very careful with whom I surround myself and I only join organizations that do good in my local community.

    1. Yusaf from Texas

      I think that’s the main point here. Fair or not, that’s the way life is. Being from the Middle East this was a hard lesson for me.

  11. Anita

    Boy, did I learn this lesson the hard way. I hung out with some wild folks (I thought they were fun) when I was in High School. They later dropped out and so did I. Got my GED and finally got my act together.


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