Outgrowing People

If I had to count my real friends, I could count them on 1 hand.

The majority of my real-life circle is based on transactional events but rarely stems from a true social perspective.

All I’ve known was business. The times people invited me for a catch-up was either to:

  • Talk about their business
  • Pitch me an idea they have in mind
  • Complain about business problems

It was then I realized I was either isolated without knowing or chose a path that led to social emptiness. Truth is I don’t mind at all.

Over the years, relationships have been built with good intentions but sooner or later you outgrown most of them. It could be because interests are different or one has more success than the other.

Could be that you entered different circles and easily forget where the people are who supported you over the years in any form.

Double Edge

It’s hard. Imagine you become 10X more successful than your ‘friend’ on X that struggles to launch successfully. If you’re the one being more successful you have to allocate your time differently.

And that means youve outgrown people that are seeing dead ends over opportunities.

Yes, you will feel guilty for abandoning them, and yes you kind of think it’s wrong. But is it really?

You should not feel guilty when you outgrow others and once you start doing that, you need to make room for people that can push you a tad higher, not holding back.

There are other scenarios:


Breakups can be healthy. Not only romantically but for your career and trajectory. I realized that when I went one time too many to a ‘catching up event’ with my wife and her friends. And this one wasn’t that long ago.

She retired. Others asked how she could that early. They asked me how to do it and if I could help them achieve the same goals and started throwing ideas around during a coffee.

The reality was that they never cared about what I did for years. (I never talk about it either and I avoid it on purpose) but all of a sudden they were interested in the bamboo pillowcase company I sold in Hong Kong.

That definition of ‘catching up’ turned into a pitch meeting where I was caught off guard. And it was then, I knew I currently don’t have the mental bandwidth to cope with more business outside of my desk.

Back home she realized that we’ve outgrown people that only sought opportunities rather than a social gathering.

She pulled the trigger, said her piece to them, and erased them from our circles.

What’s ironic is that they were trying to be very much what we don’t like. The new money circle dressed up with more labels than a billboard can cover.

On the other hand, one of her old classmates is struggling.

Having hardship working at a fast food chain (yes, not to be cliche but true), and yet she never asked us for anything and invites my wife for coffee and home-cooked dinners all the time at her place.

We know she is working on a business to break out of that 9-5. She mentioned it only ONCE. But if she needs any help, we will give it to her without thinking twice.

Because she’s he opposite of the other ones. And until today she is still one of my wife’s best friends. Because for her, catching up truly means catching up.


Always remember when you started and how you got there. But there are limits. Especially in business. I draw limits between people where I can help them out as a friend or ally, but I put hard stops on when to tell them to seek professional help.

And by that, I don’t mean therapists (even though lots of us need them) but professional experts who can move the needle with you.

There’s a difference between answering a question here and there or solving the entire math problem on the board. Sadly enough, not everyone knows their limits.

Yet again it’s double-edged. Because the other side admires you for knowing that much but will also expect you to help in their situation at any given time.

You as a giver might feel responsible for helping someone out but say no. Say more often NO to even your friends than YES because that is the only way they can grow WITH YOU.

If they cannot accept a no, that is a sign that you will soon (if you have not yet) outgrow them. And you might consider distancing yourself more.


Fuck yes, it’s harsh and nobody wants to be a villain. But it’s healthy for you and them. If you do too much for them they will depend too much on YOU for succeeding in business.

If you don’t put a cap on the time spent for others you are setting yourself up for a more difficult decision in the future.

If both parties don’t recognize boundaries you’ll end up being enemies instead of friends or allies.

Avoid it and cap it when you can.


End of the day, it’s your business and it should be a priority to build a better position for yourself. Growing a business means that you will outgrow people and that’s okay.

Your instinct will say differently but the rationale will indicate that you are destined to find people that are better skilled or more successful than yourself.

If you find others who are willing to support you for a while because they are better than you, expect that they will outgrow you too, or vice versa.

But if you find true friends, regardless of their status or skills take a look back in how that relationship has started, grown and maintained.

If it’s a positive for you, then it’s worth keeping. If signs point to a negative, maybe it’s time to consider you have outgrown them.