An official website of the United States government
Here's how you know
A .mil website belongs to an official U.S. Department of Defense organization in the United States.
A lock (lock ) or https:// means you’ve safely connected to the .mil website. Share sensitive information only on official, secure websites.

NEWS | April 26, 2011

From the Top - Who ya wit'?

By Lt. Col. Kevin Brooks 11th Force Support Squadron commander

If you are a member of the 11th Wing you know the response to this question is "Chief's Own". This answer is concise and to the point, but not always understood. When the late Bernie Mac asked "Who ya wit'?" he was asking if you knew the company you were keeping. In that case it was understood you were with the Bernie Mac crew ... and Bernie didn't have any suckers in his crew.

I wonder if Bernie Mac truly realized the depth of his question. Today, more than ever, it is important to know the company you keep and how they add value, or chaos, to your life. A strong support from family, an ability to differentiate between the positive and the negative and a skill to choose friends from the peers - these three things are the best way to keep away from negative influences.

I want to focus on the last trait as it is the one that I see derail many a promising future (not just military either). Do you surround yourself with a group of individuals who are focused on positive outcomes and who recognize self worth? Or are you hanging around with a bunch of clowns, intent on having a good time, but who leave no lasting impression on the world. Do you even know the difference and why it matters?

Peer groups are not just made up of your friends, but also associates and those you interact with socially (no they are not the same). Peer groups tend to exert peer pressure or more accurately peer influence. If you choose your peer group poorly, that influence can lead to a loss of individuality. You may begin to follow what the group believes is right. Their influence may compel you to blindly imitate the masses. You adopt their tastes in fashion, hair, music and general living. This can lead you to make poor choices and certain lifestyle decisions. You may not like partying every weekend, you may hate drinking or smoking, but your chosen peer group may push you in that direction. You may indulge in drug use because of the company you have chosen to keep. In many cases, choosing the group to hang with can be detrimental to your living. Some people literally spoil their lives by choosing the wrong crowd.

On the opposite side of the coin, some of the practices which peer groups bring actually teach you a positive way of living. You may be able to change yourself for the better. If you can pick selectively, peer groups can actually result in a positive change in your way of life. If you are selective enough to get a good peer group, your peers can play a vital role in the shaping of your lifestyle. Their way of looking at life may influence you to change for better. Some of your peers are your close friends, who do not pressure you to do things but rather inspire you to change yourself. Your peer group may actually persuade you to bring about a constructive change in your personality. Positive peer group choices can lead you to make the right choices in life.

After reading this article you may think that I am saying positive peer groups will automatically make you a better person. I am not saying that. I am saying that the right choices in peer groups increase the likelihood you will be successful, just as choosing the wrong ones will increase your chances of flaming out. You could be a great person but hang out with chuckleheads and in doing so, people will assume you are a chucklehead. Conversely, you might be a chucklehead and people will assume you got it together. It all comes down to personal choices and knowing the answer to "Who ya wit?"