Beware the Turkeys

Beware the Turkeys

“You can’t fly with the eagles if you continue to scratch with the turkeys.” – Zig Ziglar

If you are reading this, chances are that you are interested in self improvement. And if this is the case, you probably have some very big plans for your life. Like an eagle, you can see yourself spreading your wings and soaring through the air high above the ground. If this is you, but your feet are still firmly planted on the ground, take a look around. You may be surrounded by turkeys.

You probably already know the sort of people I am referring to when I mention “turkeys”. If not, consider these lines from No Turkeys (adapted from TLC’s No Scrubs by yours truly):

“A turkey is a friend who just won’t fly

also known as a gobbler

always talkin’ about what he wants

but just sits on his lazy ass.”

That’s right, a turkey is a family member, friend, or even acquaintance who is just no good when it comes to your life. Sure, they may make you laugh, you may have grown up together, or they may have been one of your college buddies (nothing like sharing a drunken vomit with another person to bond you together for life, right?), but this person has a negative impact on your life. How? These are just are few ways that come to mind:

  • Their idea of a good time always involves drugs and/ or excessive drinking.
  • They are pessimistic.
  • They are unmotivated.
  • They put you down.
  • They are bigots when it comes to topics such as race, gender, and sexuality.

As you may have gathered from the name of this blog, I want to inspire people to change their lives for the better. I believe sometimes we can make small, easy changes to our lives that immediately improve them. However, sometimes we need to make tough decisions for the sake of living our best lives. One of my favorite inspirational quotes is from Charles DuBois, who said:

“The important thing is this: To be able to sacrifice what we are for what we could become.”

What I am getting at here is that sometimes we need to have a good look around at the people in our lives, and assess what influence their presence has on us. It is often a long, hard journey to get from Point A (where we are) to Point B (where we want to be). It is so important, then, to be surrounded by positive and supportive people on this journey.

I recently read a fascinating article called How to Be a Genius from New Scientist that makes the point that geniuses – think Mozart, Newton, and Einstein – are made, not born. Anders Ericsson, a professor of psychology at Florida State University, has written:

“Genius or expertise…. isn’t magic, and it isn’t born. It happens because some critical things line up so that a person of good intelligence can put in the sustained, focused effort it takes to achieve extraordinary mastery. These people don’t necessarily have an especially high IQ, but they almost always have very supportive environments, and they almost always have important mentors. And the one thing they always have is this incredible investment of effort.”

Now your goals may not be as lofty as becoming a genius, but I still believe there is a crucial point here: to have success in life it is so important to be surround yourself with people who have a positive influence on you.

A quick and beneficial exercise to do before reading on is this: write down the name of the 5 people who have the most influence on your life. Then write down whether this influence is positive, neutral, or negative. If you there is anyone on your list that is “negative”, you may want to consider what I have to say next.

If you have identified someone as a negative influence on your life, there are 3 things you can do: 1) Nothing 2) Spend less time in their company or 3) Cut them. Lets look at these options a bit closer:

1) Nothing: life is complicated, so I understand there may be circumstances where you either don’t want, or are not able, to change your relationship with someone. Even so, I still recommend considering the next option….

2) Spend less time in their company: this one is ideal for family members or your friend who still makes you laugh.

3) Cut them: if this sounds like it will be tough and painful then, yes, you areno-turkey probably correct. But deep inside you will know that it is needed. Re-read the Charles DuBois quote above and then take action.

Remember, there are turkeys everywhere in life who will continue to gobble, gobble, gobble no matter what. Despite this, we always have a choices in life and we can choose to limit, or completely cut, our association with such people. Just as TLC said “no” to scrubs, you should say “no” to turkeys.

Peter Clemens

Peter Clemens is founder of The Change Blog and author of The Possibility of Change books series. Click here to learn more about Peter and his books.


  1. Good post. Who you hang out with is really important, and I agree, we have to be careful in choosing our friends.

  2. Exactly Derrick. Thanks for the comment.

  3. I, like many people I suppose try to gauge how I should behave/feel in a new situation based on how people I know have/would behave/feel in the same/similar situation, turkeys don’t handle many situations well, I’ll take your advice and scratch some turkeys from my list!


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