The Law of Conscious Association. A Blog by Pádraic Ó Maille. Creator of Smácht.


Hair Salon






All the great minds and scribes are agreed
on one elemental component of success.
You become like those you associate with.

In Connemara, they’ll tell you that ‘aithníon
íaróg cíaróg eile.’ Scientists will translate
this as ‘like attracts like’ or ‘birds of a
feather flock together.’

After more than twenty five years of
research, David McClelland, Professor of
Management in Harvard, and author of ‘The
Achieving Society’ concluded that ‘your
reference group, more than any other factor,
determines your destiny.’

Jim Rohn, that direct and plain speaking
man, put it bluntly when he said ‘you are the
average of the five or six people you are
surrounded by most of the time’.

On the street where I live, they have their
own way of putting it: ‘Lie down with dogs
and you’ll end up with fleas’.

The trick therefore, is to be consciously
aware of the company you keep, and to
manage it accordingly. The following
vignette from one of our more elegant
Smachties underpins how best to become
conscious of the Law of Association.

Juliette Murphy was at her hairdressers
getting the ubiquitous ‘curly blow dry’ in
advance of a surprise trip to Rome.
Unwittingly, she couldn’t resist sharing her
excitement with the hairdresser.

‘You’re going to Rome! said the hairdresser

 ‘I wouldn’t go there if you paid me. One
client of mine said it’s filthy dirty,
outrageously expensive and the Italians’d
take the eye out of your head. As a matter of
interest, how are you going?

‘Ryan Air’

‘Ryan Air’ said the hairdresser, visibly
horrified. ‘You’ll be packed like sardines,
you won’t get a drop to drink, and the flight
will invariably be late. Do you know where
you’re staying?

‘I’m staying in a wonderful boutique hotel
across from the Trevi Fountain called

‘Bellisimo’ did I hear you say! Another of my
clients stayed in the very same place and it
was a kip. What are you planning on doing
when in Rome?

‘I’ve an audience with the Pope and I’d give
anything to shake his hand’.

‘Yea sure. You and another million like you.
From what I hear from my clients who know,
you’ll be so far away from him you’ll need
binoculars to see him’.

About a month after, Juliette returned to the
salon for a ‘straight do’ that apparently was
all the rage in Rome. ‘How was Rome?
enquired the hairdresser. ‘I suppose it was

‘It was wonderful’ said Juliette. ‘The flight
was overbooked and I was upgraded to First
Class where I met a dashing Italian pilot who
looked after me for the week. The hotel was
also over booked and we were upgraded to
the Presidential suite. What a blast!

‘I bet you didn’t get next or near the Pope
though’ said a clearly unimpressed

‘That was the best of all’ gushed Juliette. ‘As
I was waiting in St. Peter’s prior to our
audience with the Pontiff, a dapper Swiss
Guard singled me out and explained that the
Pope liked to meet with a sample of visitors
to personally deliver a message. I couldn’t
believe it when I was escorted to a private
annex and told that the Pope would be with
me in a few minutes.’

‘And sure enough, three minutes later, the
Pope himself appeared through the door
and embraced me warmly and caringly.
As I knelt down in reverence and awe, 
whispered into my ear nine simple words
that I’ll never forget.

‘What did he say’ said the hairdresser with
mounting interest.

He said: ‘Who, in the name of God, did your

*          *          *          *          *          *          *

Remember that misery loves company.

So also does joy and abundance and good
craic. What you end up experiencing in
business and life is predicated by the
company you keep.

The trick is, just like Juliette, to become
conscious of who you associate with and
how you do it.

Jim Rohn suggests three levels of
association: Dis-Association; Limited
Association; Expanded Association.


There are some people that are evil,
destructive and psychopathic. There are
others who are emotional vampires. They
suck every scintilla of energy from you.
Dis-Associate with them. At once. Now. And


I never, ever, ever, ever ring my mother prior
to giving a talk. The simple reason is that
I’m paid great money to uplift people and
move them. My mother would totally
undermine that vibe. You see, my mother
has never stood up in front of a bunch of
business people, and strutted her stuff. The
mere thought of it would fill her with terror.
The trouble is – she’d successfully transfer
that terror to me – lock, stock and smoking
barrel. Were I to ring her before a gig she’d
be vividly aware of everything that could go
wrong and ask each and everyone of the
following questions.

‘What happens if no one shows up?’ (It’s
‘What happens if too many people show up
and there’s not enough chairs and the room
gets too stuffy?’ (It’s happened and I love it)
‘What happens if the projector doesn’t
work?’ (My best presentations of all time
have been without one single overhead
‘What happens if you forget your lines?’ (I
do all the time and you know what! The
audience rarely cop it)

Once the presentation is over, and whatever
the outcome, I almost always ring my
mother. We shoot the breeze on who was
there, what they thought, what I’d do
differently if I was doing again. That’s
Limited-Association and everyone’s a


There are some people who can uplift you
even just by thinking about them. They
should be the first entries in the ‘Strengths’
section of every SWOT Analysis. Make it
your number one priority to spend more
time with them. They will grow you more
than any university education ever will. In
the words of Rohn: ‘Don’t join an easy
crowd. Go where the challenge is great
and the emotions are high. Go where the
expectations are so strong that they
provoke you, push you and urgently insist
that you not remain in one place. That way,
you will grow and change.’

All you need is Smácht.



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