“Associate yourself with men of good quality, if you esteem your own reputation; for ‘tis better to be alone than in bad company.” – George Washington
By William Kristoph
When I first read George Washington’s quote, I immediately liked it a lot. For me, it is extends another famous quote; Proverbs 17:28. “Even fools, keeping silent, are considered wise; if they keep their lips closed, intelligent.” Sure, the relationship between the quotes isn’t immediately obvious, but as I get older I realize how much the Proverbs saying helps us identify people of good quality. Identifying men of good quality, helps us all take Washington’s very good advice.
It’s been a struggle to improve my ability to identify “good men” like Washington suggests. I’ve never had much of a problem with the latter part; being alone. But, no matter how much I can play maverick, it’s nice to have good friends that are good people. The problem usually is my inability to identify good people.
In school it was because it I associated popular with good. In college and later, it was that fun meant good. Or maybe it was because there was something superficial that I had in common with a person and thought that made them a good person. No matter, the burden of identification falls on me. I try to look past the superficial qualities now and identify truly good people to associate with. Not only is it good for my reputation as Washington states, but it’s good for my well-being in general. Good people are positive and provide the “good” in life.
So why does any of this really matter past the benefit of personal well-being? It took me a long time to learn, that the only real currency we have is our reputation. When I say good reputation I don’t mean a large one or a famous one. I mean a good one. Good reputations are large “He’s a great philanthropist” or small “He can fix anything at a fair price.” Washington is wise, pay attention to your reputation and do your best to enrich it.