Amy Rees Anderson

When You Lie Down With Dogs You Get Fleas

Throughout my career I have encountered many people in the business world:  Some are honest and good, and some are not.  The most important thing to recognize is this – when someone shows you who they are through their actions and their behavior – BELIEVE THEM!  If someone has shown a track record of honesty and integrity then you can trust them.  If someone has shown a track record of cutting corners, telling untruths, treating others badly, finding ways to cheat or take advantage of others – RUN AWAY!!!  As far and as fast as you possibly can. 

Why run away you ask?  Because if you choose to spend a significant amount of your time around someone who lacks integrity you will ultimately find yourself heading down that very same path…little by little…until one day you will look in the mirror and find that you have become just like that person you are spending your time with.

My father told us growing up that when you lie down with dogs you get fleas…there is no avoiding it….  Those words really impacted me as we had a dog growing up and I remember a time when our dog had fleas and anyone who spent time near our dog would end up with flea bites all over their legs – just because they had been in the presence of our dog.  These people had done nothing wrong, other than they made the choice to stand near the dog – but that is all it took – that choice.  So having witnessed that, my father’s words became extremely powerful imagery for me. Those words became the reason I won’t allow myself to spend my time being close to anyone who I can’t respect and look up to, in either my personal life or my professional life.

There was a time in my 20’s when I forgot my father’s words and I allowed myself to do business with people who I saw lacking integrity toward others. I would justify it to myself saying “Even though I have seen them be dishonest with others, surely they would never do that to me.”  That was a slippery slope and sure enough those same people took advantage of me just the way I had seen them do the same to so many other people before me.  It was a painful reminded of my father’s words.

From that point forward I made the commitment to only get close to people who had proven by their behavior and their actions that they were people of integrity.  I surrounded myself with honest employees, honest investors, honest clients, honest partners, honest friends, and the results were nothing short of spectacular. 

Life is too short to justify working closely with someone who lacks integrity.  Don’t get caught in that trap of justifying their bad behavior by telling yourself “surely they would never do that to me” because I can promise you the day will come when that is exactly what they will do.

Remember, if you get close to the dog you’re going to get fleas….it’s that simple. So choose your friends and your business associates wisely.

~Amy Rees Anderson (author of the newly released book “What Awesome Looks Like: How To Excel in Business & Life” )

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