If there ever was a recipe for success, then it all boils down to one theorem, a golden rule that can help you climb every mountain: surround yourself with positive, hard-working and challenging people and you will always have a road to success.

Wallow in self-pity or surround yourself with people lacking confidence and you are sure to become just another blank figure staring aimlessly into the back of the picture.

Ask yourself this question: what is a friend? Are all the people I know actually my friends or not? Now we are getting near our real inquiry: should I leave my unsuccessful friends behind?

Successful people are always looking for opportunities to help others. Unsuccessful people are always asking, ‘What’s in it for me?’ –  Brian Tracy

Should you leave your unsuccessful friends behind and start afresh or to continue down the same path because of that sense of familiarity and comfort?

Before taking the proverbial leap of faith, make an effort and understand why your friends are unsuccessful and if anything that they are doing is dragging you down.

First of all, people that are not supportive when you need them the most are definitely not your friends. A good friend will hoist you up every time you feel that the ground beneath your feet is sinking, not put an extra shovel of dirt over the pit you fell into.

Also, a good friend is someone who understands you and gives you time to deal with certain issues. A true friend does not get mad when you can’t drop the thing you were doing just to hang out.

Tired of feeling dragged down by the people that surround you? Perhaps all you need are a couple of reasons to convince you that leaving old acquaintances behind and starting afresh is for the best.

Why Successful People Leave Their Loser Friends Behind

1. Unsuccessful Friends Make it Impossible to reach your True Potential

Let’s make an analogy: if a tree is to grow and to blossom eventually, all that it needs is a good soil and sturdy roots. Friends can be a little like the ground: if the ground is right than the tree will grow. Subsequently, should that ground be arid and sterile than the tree will never grow and will wither away much faster.

Having the right people near you can make all the difference. Supportive, inquisitive people who would often challenge your beliefs can encourage you to become better, and ultimately, more successful.

On the other hand, friends who question you every decision and have no desire to improve themselves, will always drag you down, making you feel worthless.

Studies have proven that our personalities are primarily determined by the nature of our relationship to other people.

There is actually an unwritten law of trustees, or what kind of people should place your faith with during your lifetime. According to this unofficial list, any individual should trust three types of people:

  • Il Mentore, or an older person, who has achieved success;
  • Il Confidente, or that person who is on the same level as he or she is. Use this opportunity to exchange ideas and to learn new things.
  • Il Allievo, or the pupil. A person who seeks out your knowledge and can give you a boost of confidence.

2. Unsuccessful Friends Make You Feel a Lack of Purpose

Another reason why successful people tend to dismiss adverse parties is because such an entourage can negatively impact their way of feeling about themselves. Moreover, people blighted by dramas, lack of commitment and ubiquitous comfort, will most likely try to drag down all the people around them who have ideas, visions and energy to do great things.

On the other hand, hard-working & ambitious people can help you regain emotional balance and a sense of purpose.

Why should you take this step with an open-heart?

Because you don’t need someone around constantly whispering in your ear: “Give up! There’s no point in all of this.” Success can be, at times, a lonely endeavor, but should you gain the trust of someone who respects your position and all that you have to do to achieve your goal, then that person alone can truly be called a friend.

 If you choose bad companions, no one will believe that you are anything but bad yourself. – Aesop

3. Unsuccessful Friends Can Dent your Reputation

Remember that embarrassing picture your friends made you take at the last party? You might commit this memory to the past, but your future partners will not look upon it with kindness. Unsuccessful people spend most of their time being envious on individuals who want to better themselves.

Such a company will only attract a negative response from those you are looking forward to collaborating with. Think about what will happen if your future employer would see that picture or read all the comments in which your acquaintances made fun of you?

We believe not. Once upon a time, not so long ago, there was a man who managed to rise from pauper to prince just by taking a look around to see who his friends really were.

The man got tired of living day after day on scraps and decided to do everything he could to earn a name and a reputation. Then a wise old man came and taught the boy all about the golden rule of success, a lesson which he abided by.

To be able to climb the ladder and reach the other side of the fence, the man said, you should be very careful about who’s holding the ladder. Keep yourself surrounded by good, hard-working people and success will come to you.

Remain surrounded by the same sad and angry faces, and, in time, you too shall become like them.

Associate with men of good quality if you esteem your own reputation; for it is better to be alone than in bad company.
 George Washington

4. Unsuccessful Friends Bring out the Worst in People

The worst opponent an individual must face, sooner or later, is himself. Bad companions can only bring out the worst emotions that stir inside us. Self-pity, lack of confidence, low self-esteem, the constant need to complain how life is unfair – all these are symptoms that we are surrounded by toxic companions.

How can an individual even dream of touching the sky, when the only thing he can see is an empty, dark room filled with old memories and a dying lightbulb? To reach the sky means to sprout wings and to fly, but how can anyone achieve such feat when their wings are clipped?

The duality of human nature and influence of bad company are perfectly portrayed by “Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde”, two personas that are nothing alike but who share a powerful bond.

Man is not truly one, but truly two.

If we are to climb the ladder and to ascend to new heights, we need to tap into our positive resources and let go of all those who intend to drag us down.

motivational quote, you can't soar like an eagle

5. Because Selfishness is not equal to Self-awareness

Being self-aware doesn’t necessarily mean that you are selfish. Unsuccessful friends who only call you when they need you are selfish. People who understand the negative implications of such relationships are self-aware.

Some would mistake your self-awareness for selfishness: always thinking about yourself, forever ignoring the people around you. This is nothing but a textbook definition of envy or the kind of response you will get from your friends who would rather remain unsuccessful and miserable than see you grow.

Never forget: self-awareness is a sacred duty, one that rises above everything else. It would be selfish to think that you are no use to anyone and to waste your talents and energy following around people who don’t know what they want to do with their lives.

Now go out and find the amazing people around you, connect with them, learn with them and grow with them.

Photo credit: Shinsuke Ikegame via flickr


Martin Laird is a creative writer collaborating with ArmstrongAppointments who specializes in self-motivation, effective time management and goal setting. He is focused on helping people find the motivation and strength to realize their potential and earn the success they deserve.


  1. The author Martin Laird, I think confuses loser (unsuccessful) friends with user friends (or not real friends). Not all friends who are out of luck, will put you down when you succeed. Not all of those who are down, want you to stay down with them. Not everyone is asking you for a piece of pie. Some are artists or people who have to grapple with their own demons before succeeding. Some need help. Some have a harder time because they lack the proper skills and know how. Yes, there are worthless, soul sucking losers out there, but do not confuse into thinking that all unsuccessful people are the same.

    It is true that I need to listen to my successful friends to learn how to succeed in life, but in turn I have to help my less successful friends succeed in theirs. I need to listen to winners to succeed financially and socially but I need to reach down to the less fortunate to be human.

    I stay with my friends who are down and out because that is the time they need me most. Friends who are successful I am proud of, and when something bad happens, I will always be there because I know how it feels to be down too.

    I wonder how the author will feel when he runs into bad luck or his finances crumble. Will he know who his true friends are?

    • Bawenang RukmokoReply

      @Henry: I think what he meant about “unsuccessful friends” are not those who are unfortunate or not yet successful. Rather those who have loser attitude and mentality. Those who will always see the negative in what you do and just dragging you down with them. He did say “Before taking the proverbial leap of faith, make an effort and understand why your friends are unsuccessful and if anything that they are doing is dragging you down.” I do however agree that the author shouldn’t use the term “unsuccessful”. He should just stick with the term “loser” as in the title above. Because not all “unsuccessful person” is a loser.

  2. Bawenang RukmokoReply

    The advice is good and all. But what if the one dragging you down is not a friend but a member of your immediate family? You cannot cut ties with your family. Even if you rarely see them, chances are you will eventually. At least on holidays in a family gathering. And also what if that person is someone with a different notion of success (eg. having a stable life, having a wonderful family, having a pious life, having spent more times with your family than your business so that your family isn’t getting neglected, etc) than you? And he / she think you are not successful enough in his / her eye?

  3. THere is something deeply, deeply immoral and misguided in sites like this. The use of the term loser is utterly horrific and sets up a binary view of life which is setting up its adherents for misery if they fail. This is America at it’s basest and absolute worst. There is no wisdom here and no humanity. Frightening stuff.

  4. Being self-aware doesn’t necessarily mean that you are selfish. Unsuccessful friends who only call you when they need you are selfish. People who understand the negative implications of such relationships are self-aware.

  5. How can unsuccessful friends be of any help except for emotional connections.Eventually they will become jealous all millionaires have loss friends its the norm.I think keeping afew is good but some will only pull you down or compete out of envy.Most doubt you from day one so..

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