I saw a ‘marketing guru’ post something on LinkedIn the other day I found utterly depressing. In true motivational speak, someone posted a list of things they’d found helpful in becoming successful. In all the usual ‘work hard’ guff, there was something that really stood out, and I think it’s something that goes a long way to suggesting why I think that in all our individual quests for glory, we’re often completely missing the point when it comes to how to succeed.

The list, admirable for its ability to both inspire and patronise in equal measure, included the recommendation that you should ‘stop talking to your friends that don’t help you create value.’

What that really means is, ‘stop having anything to do with people you once loved who can no longer help you to be successful for doing something that only you have responsibility for.’

For our generation, in our society, thinking this way is just plain wrong. It does not lead to success.

We all do it on a fairly constant basis. The unfriending, unfollowing and general disregarding of our friends from the past. It’s inevitable, it’s part of life and it’s something that comes to everyone. It’s a natural process, but this isn’t what I’m talking about. This issue isn’t about drifting away because you have different interests, live in different parts of the world or have different friendship circles. This is about actively removing people from your life who can’t give you an assist when it comes to creating what you perceive to be value.

The more we think like this the more we’re existing in silos. If we constantly judge people by their ability to add value or help us make more of ourselves, we’re automatically and possibly sub-consciously disregarding the ability to share simple moments with people that can define lifetimes. We’ve lost the ability to relate to people who aren’t like us, and it’s not doing us any good.

This concept is automatically socially superior – through our phones we have access to so many people who are just like us. I find it sad that many people of my age group have adopted some sort of moral, social, political or creative high-ground over others as a matter of defining their lifestyle. For the benefit of our own, we’ve stopped listening to other people’s stories.

It’s always been the case – the productivity and marketing people are barking up the wrong tree. We’ve become so dedicated to making a success of ourselves that the very thing that defines personal wellbeing and success will eventually elude us. This is no news, and has always been the issue with ‘gurus’ telling us how to live our life to get the most out of it, but the problem is now everyone, including children, have access to this way of thinking. Friendship and community shouldn’t be transactional, and we’re all doomed if we think that a continual cycle of chopping and changing our friendships to suit our personal enterprises is going to make the world a better place.

Here’s a better idea – find people who make you laugh, go the extra mile to listen to something a stranger has to say, surround yourself with uncomplicated happiness and simple joys. Do nothing more. Stop trying hard.

Seek out the most basic form of community, even if it’s down the local pub. Listen more and speak less and have time for people’s differences. Enjoy outdoor space – it’s our only one defining common ground.

Remove the social media. Go somewhere like a village market and think about how the relationships people have with each other there make you feel. Try to judge less. Don’t lose friends because they can’t help you ‘create’ or ‘add value.’

The marketing gurus don’t want you to believe it, but there are so many more important things in this world. Keep your friends, the best ones won’t even notice when you’re famous, but they’ll certainly notice if you try too hard to get there.

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