Rule 26. Be around men of quality if you esteem your reputation.
This rule is taken out of George Washington’s Rules of Civility and Decent Behavior in Company and Conversation.
Associate yourself with men of good quality, if you esteem your own reputation; for it is better to be alone than in bad company.
This is an observation made by many great men of history, especially those who have had a part to play in it. Thomas J. “Stonewall” Jackson wrote in his book of Maxims: A man is known by the company he keeps.
We are, in truth, more than half what we are, by imitation. The great point is, to choose good models, and study with care. People insensibly contract, not only the air, manners, and the vices, of those who with whom they commonly converse, but their virtues too, and even their way of thinking… Persist, therefore, in keeping the best company and you will sensibly, become like them.
– Lord Chesterfield
Iron sharpens iron, and one man sharpens another.
Great men often seems to have found niches with other men of excellence, the Inklings was a group of writers including C.S. Lewis and J.R.R. Tolkien. The Vagabonds was a group of inventors that included Henry Ford and Thomas Edison. These men would gather and trade ideas, improving their abilities through shared knowledge and discussion.
The best friends are the ones that make us better, I have a group of friends in which we all have a niche, some of us are more physically active, some of us are more philosophical (me), others have more practical skills. In the end we each have our own talents to bring, but we also challenge each other to improve where we are lacking.
Who among us wants to become lazy, arrogant, piggish, sloppy and slow witted? If we don’t why should we associate with those who are?