© 1996 Shelton & Steele

  • Frederick Shelton

Don't Let Those Closest to You, Impede Your Greatness

"Your business partners, friends or family are either lifting you up or bringing you

down. There is no neutral."


In Shelton's Rule of 3, everything is either Positive, Negative or Neutral.

Companies pay higher than average, lower than average or average. Activities are good for your health or mind, bad for it or neutral. Employees are better than average, a major source of stress, or average. Shelton's Rule of 3 applies to everything. Well almost.

The exception is close personal or business relationships. "Arm's Length" relationships or "associates" can be neutral. But your business partners, friends or family are either lifting you up or bringing you down. There is no neutral. It's easy to spot people who are rapidly lifting you up. They're inspiring, helpful and obvious. It's also easy to spot people who are slowly lifting you up. They may not be your personal motivational speaker but they are positive, authentic and there for you when you need them. It's also easy to spot people who are rapidly bringing you down. The parent who always criticizes or makes you feel guilty. The business partner who has zero control over their emotions or exercises bad judgment. The "friend" who talks negatively about you behind your back. Those ties are easy to cut or in the case of family, at least minimize the time and impact they have on you.


"They're not bringing you down per se, they're keeping you from rising to your greatness."

The tough ones to spot are the people who are slowly bringing you down. Because they appear to be neutral. They're not. They're not bringing you down per se, they're keeping you from rising to your greatness.

I remember when my life had it's first "acceleration period". I'd gone to a Tony Robbins seminar, walked on fire and set over 100 new goals.

I started reading more, exercising more and attending Toastmasters to learn how to speak as if I were an educated person (to this day, I still don't have a high school diploma but most people I do business with assume I have an upper graduate degree). My "neutral" friends had always liked me, told me I was a great guy or whatever, but now that I didn't start my day with a bong hit and spend my weekends getting stoned and watching Pink Panther cartoons, they began to give me the telltale signs that reveal someone who is keeping you from achieving your best.

If you're going through a massive, positive change such as starting your own business or attempting anything way outside your previous accomplishments, watch out for the people who say the kinds of things my friends and later when I started my own business, even family said:


"You've changed, man." "What's with the suit?!?!" "You never have time to hang out anymore"

"Who do you think you're trying to be?"

"Honey, I just don't want to see you fail."

And so on.


Friends impede your success as a means of keeping you in their comfort zone. Parents and family do so, because they think they are protecting you.


Again, they aren't trying to bring you down. In the case of friends, they realize on an instinctive level that you are outgrowing them. They will always have the choice of joining you and trying to make more out of their own life, but they would rather stay in their comfort zone. The fact that you won't stay their with them, is bound to garner some resentment on their part.

In the case of family, they tend to see you as you were at a certain age in your youth. In my case, my mom saw me as the spoiled, undisciplined 12 year old who hid in the bathroom when it was time to do the dishes at Thanksgiving (which I really did! I even had toys hidden in the towels!). What business did such a child have, trying to start their own business?


This is especially true if you're doing fairly well.

Why would you risk that great jobs to start a business or write a book or travel the world?

Why would you give up seven years of college and a career as a lawyer, to do something you truly love?

Why would you risk your hard earned money on some sort of real estate investing scheme?


Even people with the best intentions and who truly love you, can be the greatest threat to the life you deserve and the greatness you can achieve. Love them. Care for them. And gently, kindly ignore them.


Because the one thing you can count on is this:


Once you have achieved your greatness, everyone who ever told you that you wouldn't make it, will tell you that they "always believed in you!".


Frederick Shelton

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