Last Updated Jun 2, 2011 3:33 PM EDT
The first type I call Energizers. These are people that lift you up, give you energy, make you want to be a better person, inspire you, make you feel good about yourself and your life, encourage you to take risks, and motivate you to achieve your goals and dreams.
The second type I call Leeches. These are people who suck the energy from you, that make you feel bad about yourself and your life, complain, are negative, gossip, talk you into doing nothing, and bring you down.
Anyone and everyone from your father and brother to your neighbor and boss to the checkout person at your grocery store can be classified into one or the other camp. The more time you are around downers, the more miserable you'll become. But how can you tell who's an Energizer and who's a Leech?
Here's what you need to do:
- Step 1. Make a list of all of your friends, colleagues, associates, family members, and people with whom you regularly come into contact.
- Step 2. Now put an "E" for Energizer or an "L" for Leech next to each (one friend uses happy faces and sad faces while another uses up arrows and down arrows instead of Es and Ls). For 95 percent of your list it will be quite easy to identify those who give energy and those that take. The other 5 percent might be more challenging -- sometimes they might make you feel good and other times they might not. How should you classify them? Close your eyes and picture them. What's your gut telling you? Energizer or Leech?
Is there an annoying parent at your kid's school that does nothing but complain when you run into them? Drop your kids off earlier or later. Get creative. Come up with a list of automatic responses you can tell them for why you don't have time to talk to them. Here are a few examples:
I have a call in five minutes.
I've got to get back to a client.
I'd love to talk but I have to read this report.
I have a meeting I have to get to.
I wish we could talk, but I can't right now, so feel free to shoot me an email.
You can't eliminate all the Leeches in your life, but you can decrease the time you spend with them and the damage they do. But what if your spouse, adult child, father, sister, grandma, girlfriend, cousin, neighbor, priest, best friend, or mother is a Leech? Eliminate them from your life! If they are bringing you down, sucking the life from you, and making you feel like crap, dump them. Sound extreme? It's not. Life is too short to be around people that suck. You might be forced to work with Leeches, but your other 8 hours are yours. You can choose who to spend those precious hours with. Don't feel guilty or obligated to talk to or friend anyone who doesn't encourage you. Demand more from the people you let in your life.
Your challenge is to spend at least one hour this week with an Energizer and to dump one Leech from your life. Cut the cord.
So, who are you going to dump?
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