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You are Who You Hang Out With

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Your Everyday Philosopher:

(providing sound philosophical suggestions to help you survive and thrive during your college years)

“The first method for estimating the intelligence of a ruler is to look at the men he has around him.” –Niccolo Machiavelli

From this quote, it can be inferred that the people around someone can determine their intelligence. In college, this quote can help in two situations. One, the idea that our colleagues and friends can potentially determine other’s perceptions of our intelligence shows that we must choose them wisely. Hanging around with the wrong crowd could be detrimental to our future career and academic endeavors. Machiavelli is showing that the people around us give a good indicator of our personality and intelligence. For example, if we hang around with people that just party and neglect their studies, we lack the intelligence to see this as a problem. It is not to be said that we are stupid to be hanging out with them, but other people’s perceptions will potentially draw this conclusion. So, to combat this consequence, it is best to spend time with productive, loyal and intelligent people. Doing so will make you look smarter and could make future networking more lucrative.

The second thing this Machiavellian quote can be applied to is group work/presentations. If you wish to do well on group work, it is best to work with the most prepared and intelligent people. As a result, we will look smarter because we chose to surround ourselves by these kinds of people. By doing this, we could possibly get better grades on presentations and group work because we will be persuaded to work as hard as our intelligent partners. With surrounding ourselves with proactive and clever people, we can make ourselves become more like them due to peer pressure. This is a situation where peer pressure is good. By applying the Machiavellian quote to group work, we can improve people’s perceptions of us and possibly increase our own intelligence with the company we keep. This quote suggests that the people we spend our time with can estimate our intellect.

All in all, the quote stresses the importance of being selective concerning the people you hang around. Even though this quote may have been originally used to help size up an enemy, it can be re-tooled for a college context. As students, we need to choose good friends and colleagues in order to be successful in the working world. There is no space for people that can only hurt you and be detrimental to your future. Thus, we must choose our friends wisely and be vigilant to create an atmosphere of positive qualities around ourselves to have positive perceptions from our peers and to perhaps improve ourselves at the same time. Overall, this quote poses a mere suggestion, but applying it to your life could greatly improve your chances of greater success during your college years.

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