A farmer was sick and tired of cranes, which were repeatedly destroying his corn fields. When he could take the loss no further he decided to place a net over the fields so that the birds could be taken care of. Therefore as decided, he spread the net over the fields during the evening. Next morning when he went to the fields, he found that along with the cranes a stork was also caught in the net.
As he approached the net to deal with the birds, the stork made a humble appeal. The bird cried for mercy and said that it was not one of those cranes responsible for destroying the crop. It was a mistake altogether and only accidentally was stork present on the field, with the cranes. It pleaded and prayed for mercy.
Upon listening to the stork’s plea, farmer responded by saying that ‘maybe you are right. Maybe it’s not your mistake. But you’ve been caught in the net along with those evil birds who have been repeatedly harming my crops. So while you are not proven guilty, but you’ll be judged by the company you keep. And your company is certainly not safe for you.’
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This is an old fable taught to young kids, aimed at teaching them an important lesson. Company plays a fundamentally important role in determining your success. As children even our teachers would have recited this story for us. For maybe as holiday’s homework we were asked to learn this fable and recite in class or some of us were perhaps asked to prepare charts for this narration; but irrespective, we tend to forget the important message encapsulated in this simple narration.
We are judged by the kind of company we keep. For example if you are friends with the top ranking students of your class, you are naturally considered intelligent and mannered. While if you are close to the infamous ones, the results are negative. So even if you are not involved in placing crackers in school during Diwali, you are still suspended, along with your group. The idea is to simply emphasize upon the impression company bestows.
Monica Bedi’s life is a perfect example to illustrate the hardships one could face, just for selecting the wrong company. Monica Bedi had started her career in Bollywood in the year 1995. As a Bollywood actress there’s nothing much to her credit, but her alliance with Abu Salem certainly demands attention.
In the year 2002, she was arrested along with Abu Salem for travelling with forged documents. But this was not the key reason for her demotion. She was arrested because she was a friend of Abu Salem, who was involved with 1993 Mumbai blasts and many other serious crimes. Because she was this man’s girlfriend or rather because she kept his company, she was charged of criminal offence, cheating and more. Despite being innocent, as later proved, she had to suffer the most terrible times of her life. Not only was she under police custody for five long years, but the incident ruined her career and reputation, both personally and professionally. Why? Because others judged her with the same yardstick as Abu Salem. Because she was involved with the don, she was given the same treatment. Such high are the costs of keeping wrong company.
Something similar is reflected in this Buddhism teaching:
“If you never meet your equal, travel Alone
There is no fellowship with fools.”
You might argue that this is not fair, so did Monica Bedi. However irrespective of whether you approve of it or not, this is how it works. You are being judged by others around you and that includes the group which can make a difference to your future. And this group, amongst other things, is also looking at the company you keep. But why is it done like this? Why aren’t the decisions based upon you as an individual and why the company?
Two logical answers to this:
Because it is not possible for everybody to know everybody as an individual. However it is much easier to categorize into groups and thus form beliefs about the members. For example, quite difficult it is for a teacher to know each and every student of a class. But it is much easier to demarcate few as intelligent, few as problem creators, few as average performing silent types and so on so forth and thus judge them. So when a new student takes admission to this class he, depending upon the co classmates he befriends, is allotted a group and thus judged accordingly.
The second reason is much more important. Here it is not about the comfort of the person trying to judge, but about the logical explanation to it. Company leaves its affect on each and every member of the group. So even if you are a fresh apple, kept in a bucket of rotten fruits, you’ll end up being rotten. Likewise if an alcoholic is made to stay with a group of serious non – alcoholics, sooner or later he will develop the resistance towards alcohol.
The influence of people around
While judgements by others are dependent upon the company we have, there are other strong influences as well, extended by the people around us. While the reference here is not towards those people who take decisions for us, like family, but it is about those who act as influencers. Knowingly or unknowingly we are influenced by our friends, co-workers and others in the various social circles and this is where company matters most. When we talk about the people around there is another fact to be borne in mind. We do not have the liberty to select all around us. While we opt for those whom we would like to be friends with, there are those as well who exist owing to social standings. Your teachers for instance; you can select tuition teachers, but you have limited or no control over teachers who teach you in school. But again irrespective of the control you can exercise, there will be influence.
For example consider cricket. Any reasonable Indian is crazy about this sport. Now let’s assume that you are learning the game or rather trying to get at it. For this while you are practicing, you also need an opponent to challenge and thus find out your weaknesses. Two options here, an excellent player or an average one. If you decide to live in a myth and tell your own self that you are a great player, you’ll pick the weaker opponent. On the other hand, if you decide to sharpen your skills at the game and thus bring yourself to face the serious competition and thus eventually improve. So the company you selected proved strategically important for your cricketing skills.
In the stated cricket example, the decision criterion is the playing skill of the people we prefer to keep company with i.e. if they play good, we be a part of their group and vice versa. However it is not always this simple to make the decision. We are most of the times ignorant or if not that then confused about whom we would want to be with and who is not the right one. So while we are now aware of the relevance of good company let’s emphasize upon clarifying the puzzle.
Let’s divide all in two categories, the right kind i.e. those whom we would want to keep around us and the wrong kinds i.e. those we should be wary of. But again what is right kind and what is wrong kind. Basically nobody is perfect, neither are you and nor is anybody else and so right kind does means the perfect ones. This also emphasizes to the fact that you are not perfect either and thus while you judge others on various parameters, judge your own self as well, on the same yardsticks, and thus make a continuous effort to improve. This will ensure that others think that you are the right kind and therefore approve of you as their accepted company.
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Also while somebody could be right for few, the same set of people could be wrong for another few. So there is no universal applicability. The idea is to say that I cannot judge people and make a list of right and wrong which you can use for your reference. You will have to prepare the classification for your own personal use. I can guide though and so can many others, but beyond that your discretion has to solve the purpose.
Another facet that you need to keep in mind is that the same rules don’t apply for all. So applicability varies with relationships and circumstances. Your boss will not get intimate with you, but will obviously maintain a healthy distance. While on the other hand, your best friend will be intimate enough for you to share whatever. So while in one case it is justified to keep distance, in another the same is there indicates something wrong.
So read through the below mentioned selection details carefully and make the important decision wisely, because this will picture your future.
Unsafe people maintain walls around. These people will act intimate but they will never really be as close. They will have this strong tendency to shy behind a veil, perhaps because they are hiding their true selves from you. They will not let the connection happen because they feel that the same will reveal something about them they are hiding. And if that is the case, how can they be the right kind for you.
Safe people don’t construct walls, but maintain reasonable boundaries. This is to suggest that the right kind of people understand the importance of getting enough acquainted and still maintaining comfortable distance. Like your mentor, the right person would listen to your problems and delve into linked factors, but will not barge into private territory. The whole point is that with the right kind of people around you don’t feel isolated. There is a hand for support when needed.
With wrong kind of people it is more about them. So when you get to hear expressions beginning with me and not us, you should know that you’ve opted for the wrong company. These people will be very self centred. Most of the times they’ll be thinking of individual gains. Their priority will never be to make it work for all, but focused at self gain. In fact they will not be very delighted if it works well with all. Jealousy comes naturally with unsafe kinds.
Safe people or the right kinds are busy dealing with your qualms while the wrong ones are occupied with the task of highlighting your mistakes in the whole process. So if you’ve scored badly in any subject, the right people will talk about what you can do to improve in times to come. They’ll be looking at your weaknesses, not to make fun of you or criticize you, but to help you put in the requisite effort and thus turn weaknesses into strengths. The other group however will be busy figuring out your mistakes only. They’ll talk about the days you didn’t studied or will tell you that you are a loser or will be ignorant, but nothing close suggestive. What you don’t need is judgement, what you need is support. Right people know the different between two, while wrong don’t.
Right people make adjustments, while wrong impose. Say it is friendship day tomorrow, but at the same time you have an important exam in the coming week. Your group plans an outing to celebrate the day. They tell you the plan and instruct you to be there. You are excited about the whole idea but convey your difficulty in making it for the outing, because of the approaching exams. The right kind of people understand, while the wrong kinds nudge you and tell you that you are not worthy of their friendship, etc. They basically don’t understand and are not really bothered about the priorities of your life. They impose them on you.
The right kinds lend you an ear and a shoulder, when you need the most. These people try to genuinely understand and if nothing else give you a vent for your problems. Under the same circumstances, the wrong people label you as cry baby or cribby and thus leave you with your struggles.
Right people abide by the commitments they make or they have a reputation for dependability. As discussed in the earlier chapter, this attribute is highly important. Remember Ruchit, he was intelligent, but unreliable and thus all preferred to maintain a distance, when it came to important project execution. Why, because he was considered unsafe and nobody wanted to take the risk. So right kinds are those who know value of their commitments and abide by their words.
And this is not an exclusive list, there is more that can be added, but this should give you a starting point. As stated earlier, all this is important all through the life, but the relevance is highest, when you are a student. This is because you make yourself or ruin yourself during the teen years of your life and thus are spent either in a school or college. So as a student you have the liberty to shape your future or ruin it and company plays an important role in this. Those around you influence your personality and thus the way you would be as an adult. So besides our normal tendencies, where we simply opt for friends who share similar interests or are more outgoing, etc. we need to focus upon identifying the right kinds. So keep the following few vital things in mind and make your decisions in this direction wisely:
You are under observation and your choice of friends will deicide the attitude of your teachers and family towards you.
If they don’t support you they do not deserve enough to be friends.
The focus of group has to be towards shaping each other’s skills and thus working towards a stable future and not just making plans for another day out. So think and think hard, while you decide.
Reading all would have given you the impression that it is indeed difficult to identify the right kind of people. Well maybe it is difficult, but the effort is worth it. So put in the extra energy and try your best, to be around the best!
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