“Don’t make friends who are comfortable to be with. Make friends who will force you to lever yourself up.” Thomas J. Watson
Every person you meet has standards. One may shoot for the moon while another might content himself with representing the lowest common denominator, but these relative differences aside, everyone has a standard upon which he bases his decisions in life.
Those with high standards and expectations bring an invisible yet quite tangible pressure to bear on those with whom they associate, while those with low standards effect those within their sphere of influence much like a low pressure weather system. Low pressure systems, meteorologically speaking, tends to spiral inward, producing stable air, low clouds and consequently, poor visibility. Conversely, high pressure systems produce unstable air, radiate outward and upward which tends to lift cloud ceilings.
So it is with the standards to which people live their lives. Standards are often unspoken, but they manifest in relation to the details of living. The overall standard to which a person hews is determined by the mean of his virtues. This standard produces an “atmosphere”, a typically unseen yet perceptible quality which permeates and surrounds the person. So it is that people are described as being refined or coarse, inspiring or discouraging.
You influence the world primarily through the influence of this atmosphere. Your thoughts, words and actions assist, but are secondary. That said, the quality of your thoughts, words and actions, as well as the feelings you choose to invest in generate your personal atmosphere.
Likewise, the personal atmosphere of your friends has an influence on you. If the standard to which you hold yourself is conditional, that is, qualified by your judgments of the nature of your circumstances, you are likely to be lifted up by those with high standards and brought low by those with low ones. If, on the other hand, you are resolute and maintain a consistently high personal standard over time, you have more of a choice in the matter and you are much less likely to be tossed and turned by the atmospheric variations.
Take time to consider your friends, but more importantly, take time daily to review your personal atmosphere. It will tell you a lot about the standards to which you are hewing.