When You Lie Down with Dogs…

March 11, 2021

by Kenneth Holland

'When you lie down with dogs you'll wake up with fleas. The question to ask yourself is: Do you really want a life full of bugs?'

That is not a comfortable question to ask someone, let alone ask yourself.

But it may be the single most important decision you face in your life.

When I was in 3rd grade, a kid named Michael befriended me. I was glad to make a friend in school as I was painfully shy and craved validation. The problem though, was that Michael was a bad kid.

He urged me to steal other kids’ lunches…like he did. He pulled girls’ hair and told me I should too. Then one day, he convinced me to miss my bus home and go walking in to the city. I don’t need to tell you what that did to my parents. They were horrified that their 7 year-old didn’t come home that day from school.

If You Lie Down with Dogs…Be Careful of the Company You Keep

This saying comes from a Proverb by Spanish novelist Miguel de Cervantes. 

It's pretty simple:

In general, we tend to group people together. So, if you associate with people of ill-repute, you can expect to be held in the same esteem- or lack of. Because we tend to group people together, we presume that associates condone each other’s behaviour and share values and attributes. In doing this, we can make some fairly critical assumptions about someone’s character, based solely on who they hang around with.

Back to Michael...I still hate to admit it, but that set the tone for me.

It set me on a lifelong path of choosing the wrong people in my life: People who had no ambition, were dishonest…some just lazy.


It also repelled quality people from me, because they could see I had nothing positive to offer them.

It’s taken me most of my life to gravitate and cultivate relationships with people of integrity, ambition…and a good heart.

And it is still a work in progress…let me tell you.

If you are being ‘weighed down’ by ‘less-than-stellar’ people in your life and you want more happiness, you need to make some tough decisions.

What to Do When You First Meet Someone: A Lesson in Avoiding the Fleas

Let me tell you what I do, then give this a try: I check their social media accounts. I see what they post. You can usually tell pretty damn quick what kind of person they are. Do they tend to be negative? Are they always blaming others for their problems? Do they seem unhinged? (you know…a bit freaking crazy??)

Any of those?

Walk the other way.


On the other hand, are they positive? Ambitious? Do they strike you as someone with integrity? Do they seem to have direction? Do you feel like they would truly challenge you?

Of course you can’t know for certain by checking someone’s Facebook or Twitter. But let me tell you…it can be a big help in determining the BIG QUESTION:

“Is this someone I REALLY want to spend any time with?”

Is this a dog you would lie with?

Also keep in mind the 80/20 rule (although not the technical definition): 80% of people in this world are flakes in one form or another. Search out the cream of the crop…and set yourself apart.

We All Gravitate Towards What We Think We Deserve

Like anything in life, changing is hard. And pushing yourself to find better quality people to bring in to your life is something most of us are not used to. We’ve conditioned ourselves to think that what we have is what we deserve. And you must break that train of thinking to make the changes you seek.

Here’s some blunt truth for ya: You don’t have a lot of time. Time moves quickly (you younger whippersnappers haven’t figured that out yet, but oh…don’t worry…you will.) And the sooner you audit the people in your life the more successful you will be.

By the way, none of this is negotiable. If you keep lousy, unmotivated and dishonest people around you will have a difficult time becoming successful, let alone having any measure of fulfillment and purpose.

I guarantee it. Take it from me.