“The spoon doesn’t taste the soup.” And some people honestly believe they are spoons when it comes to the company they keep, the books they read, the places they go, and the movies they watch.

As much as people refuse to believe it, the company you keep does have a measurable impact and influence on your choices, and the same goes for everything else you are exposed to. You may be someone who doesn’t read books, more’s the pity, however you probably read Facebook posts and tweets and all sorts of other stuff all the time. And it all has an influence on you.

You can’t stick your fingers into the jam jar every morning to retrieve a bit of toast without getting some of that jam on your fingers. Dip that soldier into your soft boiled egg, and sooner or later a bit of egg will attach itself to your finger. If you hang around with smokers, some of that vile stench will stick to your clothes and some of it will go into your lungs. Spend your time with broke people all day, and you shouldn’t expect to get rich. The kind of movie that most people watch these days is equally malignant.

But the converse is true, too: Are you sticking your fingers into jars of jam or bottles of poison? Spend your time with good men, read inspiring books, go to church and temple, watch wholesome movies, hang with successful, healthy, upright people, and you can’t help but find your life improving. It took me most of my life to find a large group people who share my values and beliefs and live up to my standards, but it was well worth the wait. In business, I have learnt to be ruthless when it comes to removing losers, posers, and parasites from my life.

Did you know that Adolf Hitler’s father was a vicious lout? Hitler said that he loved his mother, but respected his father. He started beating his siblings at a young age and turned into a mass murderer. Obama’s father was a rotter, too, and Obama’s book, Dreams of My Father, shows the respect he has for his late father. His life of deception reveals the influence his father had on him. That influence in not restricted to children; it is a lifelong danger and opportunity.

It’s never too late to change the soup of life in which we choose to immerse ourselves. There is always an opportunity to change – by choice. Seek good role models, mentors and teachers, and control your input carefully.

Robin Elliott