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Save Your Entrepreneurial Sanity by Eliminating Toxic People

Prune your social garden - let go of relationships that down serve you “Forget about trying to turn your project around. End your business partnership and cut your losses, now.”

These were the words of my business coach at the time. I had invested a significant amount of time, energy, and money into a business partnership that was bleeding money and draining me. Being a persistent kind of person, I was hell-bent on turning things around, and my partner and I always seemed to be on the brink of getting over the hump. At the moment my coach delivered that advice, I was -$30K in the hole. My failure to listen to my business coach cost me an additional $20K in expenses by the time the whole drama played through until the show-stopping end.

Unbenownst to me, my partner was a recovering crack addict. He never once spoke of his crack addiction during the time we worked together on our video and internet marketing projects. I knew him for a year and a half before we decided to join forces. Even before then, we worked together on a video project for 6 months to test the waters. Once we got rolling, we spent a hell of a lot of time together.

The fatal mistake in this picture was that it was an unequal partnership where I took a huge risk and was stretched out on a limb. I financed everything, trained him, in exchange for sweat equity. I truly believed in his potential to master online marketing and taught him as much as I could about SEO and social media marketing. However, the partnership was extremely draining.

Eventually I discovered that he held an unshakeable belief in his own inability to succeed, which resulted in commitments and deliverables not being met. I kept telling myself, he’s just struggling with the learning curve, but at a certain point, it wasn’t the learning curve, it was him. Which brings me to the topic of this post.

To Succeed As An Entrepreneur, You Must Let Go of Anyone Who Is Dragging You Down

Because, as an entrepreneur, especially an early stage entrepreneur, the amount of time and the quality of your energy you devote to your business is critical. Having a support network of visionary, inspiring people will catapult your productivity. Anyone in your close proximity who is toxic and draining will drag you down like a stone, whether they are doing it intentionally or not.

The problem is, it’s a common practice to use negative behaviors such as gossip or complaining as a social bonding strategy. It’s so common that many people don’t even realize they do it. It’s really easy to bond, commiserate, and comfort each other on a shared negative experience, whether its office politics or what so-and-so did to you, or the way men / women act. Before you know it, it’s an hourlong complaint-fest. Rinse and repeat, it becomes a defining pattern of the relationship.

Motivational speaker & self-help guru Jim Rohn says,

“You are the average of the five people you spend the most time with.”

If you find that the your relationships with the 5 people you spend the most time is defined by negativity, it’s time to prune your social garden. Only then can you clear space for truly remarkable, inspiring, and visionary relationships to step in.

How to Identify Which People to Let Go Of

In order to free space in your life for relationships that inspire you to fulfill your life purpose, you should seriously consider letting go of:

  • Anyone who discourages you from following your dream.
  • Anyone who seems to be in negative competition with you, or subconsciously envious of you.
  • Anyone needy who has latched onto you because you are an über-capable, rising star.
  • Anyone who leaves you feeling drained rather than energized after you spend time with them.
  • Anyone who has a pattern of being high maintenance, a drama queen, constant complainer, or generally toxic.

Now, letting go doesn’t mean you have to write each person a rejection letter, or anything, you just need to spend less and less time with them. This may seem heartless, especially if it involves friends and family you love, but it really is a practical decision – for your business and for your sanity. Furthermore, you’ll not only be doing yourself a favor, you’ll be doing them a favor, by not enabling them to feed a negative dynamic.

You see, a lot of our friends remain in our lives simply because we’ve known them a long time, or shared certain experiences with them during a specific episode of our lives. However, people change, grow, evolve. You can still honor the person and the friendship, while making room in your life for new friends to come in.

Prune your social garden - make space for inspiring relationships

How to Determine if A Relationship is Toxic

Sometimes it’s not so easy to see which relationships result in a net negative, especially if it’s a long-standing relationship, and you have grown accustomed a certain relationship dynamic with this person. Maybe it’s a friend who calls you a lot, or a beloved family member who really loves to gossip and compare, or a co-worker with a shared list of gripes as you. Here is a handy test you can try.

  1. Imagine that the questionable person is in front of you and observe the feelings that arise.
  2. On a scale of 1-10, how do feel when I think about _____________ ? (10 being “great”, and 1 being “ugh”.
  3. What are 5 ways that ____________ currently adds to my life?
  4. What are 5 ways that ____________ currently takes away from my life?
  5. What are 3 things that ___________ has done for me in the past for which I am extremely grateful?
  6. What are 3 things I’ve done for ____________ in the past that balance the relationship?
  7. What would my life be like without ____________?
  8. Can I live without ____________? (Yes / No)

Add up the score for questions 1 – 5. IMO, anyone who scores above a 7 is a keeper.

Remember, just because a relationship is toxic, doesn’t mean the person is intrinsically toxic or evil. It simply means that whatever their core issues are clashing with your core issues, resulting in a disharmony in the relationship.

Prune your social garden - eliminate toxic people

What About My Family & The People I Love The Most That I Cannot Possibly Abandon?

OK, it’s definitely easier to cut relationship bonds with some people over others. You can choose and unchoose friends, but we don’t have the privilege of choosing our families. Our karma is what causes us to be born in the families we are in, and for this reason, our families exist to teach us important lessons, however difficult. However, if your family relationships feel toxic and draining, it is fully in your right to limit your time with them in order to minimize conflict. And when you do spend time with them, you will need to practice letting their emotional hooks roll off your back like water over a smooth river stone.

Could I Be the Toxic One in the Relationship?

The most important step in eliminating toxic relationships is eliminating the toxicity in oneself. Like what Michael Jackson said, you need to look at “The wom/man in the mirror.” We attract most of what we give out. If we are going to clear space for inspiring new relationships to enter our lives, we need to be the ideal person we want to attract.

  • Have you recently let go of any toxic relationships that were holding you back?
  • What was toxic about it?
  • How did you deal with releasing the relationship gracefully?
  • What did you learn about yourself?

Please share your experiences in the comments below!

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