Have you ever heard a quotation, stood still in silence for a moment, allowing it to sink in and then realize it is brilliant in its simplicity and clarity?
Allow me to share a quotation I stumbled upon recently, “You are the average of the five people you spend the most time with,” by Jim Rohn, a businessman and self-help guru.
According to Rohn, due to the law of averages, we become just like the five people we spend our time with the most. Intuitively, it makes sense. Think of back when you were in elementary or middle school. If you palled around with the “bad” kids, you would have probably engaged in mischief, hi-jinks and shenanigans. If you hung around the geeky, smart kids, chances are that you succeeded in school. Ironically, the former was more fun at the time, but now the nerds are the successful billionaire adults running companies, like Facebook and Google. Let’s be honest here, just among us, don’t we enjoy when the ultra-cool kid peaks out in high school? You wonder where he is now and then he miraculously drives by to pick you up in his Uber and takes you and your awesome attractive spouse, in his beat-up Kia, to the airport for your flight to a deep-sea diving vacation at a hip exclusive island paradise. Of course, you have to tell him all about it. Then you show him some pictures of your great kids. You feign sadness when he says that he only gets to see his kids every third Wednesday night. It gets even better when you find out that he is on his third divorce and couch surfing with two of his formerly cool football buddies that are now broke and alone. But I digress…
You are probably heading off to that cool expensive vacation due, in part, to the people that you have aligned yourself with. To build and enhance your career, it is imperative to connect with people who understand, share, and support your passions, drive, ambition, morals, worldview, and professional interests. They must be happy for your successes and there for you with the setbacks. This group will offer valuable, honest feedback rather than jealous-based criticisms.
The people that you spend the most amount of time with heavily influence and help shape who you are and what you will become in life. This group could either elevate you to great heights or drag you down to their lowest common denominator. Therefore, you have to seek out and carefully cultivate those who share your core values and vision.
If you surrounded yourself by negative, jealous, fearful, anxiety-ridden, mean, unhappy people, they will gladly drag you down to their level. They will do this happily, as they really don’t want you to succeed and derive greater satisfaction from your failures; misery loves company. Alternatively, if you seek out and associate with a group of positive, strong, courageous, intelligent, caring individuals, you will become successful. If you hang out with a bunch of surly pessimists, you will start to descend into a sea of negativity.
Although Rohn uses five people, to me the number doesn’t matter as much as the concept. Let’s think of it as a tribe, as opposed to a hard and fast five. If you don’t have one, then start building your own. Prior to seeking out your tribe of people, ask yourself what is important to you and what attributes do you wish to seek in others.
First, think about who you currently associate with. Put aside the lame excuse that you’ve known these guys since college. Ask yourself, “Do they share similar values and ideals that you prize or are you with them out of a feeling of comfort and nostalgia? Do you spend all your time talking about partying in the good ol’ days or brainstorm about ways to collectively improve your situations and grow as individuals?”
Think of the type of person you wish to become. Consider your long-term life and career goals. Are the people in your current network the type of folks who will encourage, support, and cheer you on to meet your higher calling and audacious goals? If so, you are very fortunate.
Do the people you spend the most time with – friends, family, coworkers – help support you or detract and dissuade you from your vision for yourself? Do they elevate you or bring you down? Do these people embody the qualities you desire?
You deserve to be surrounded by people you aspire to become or respect because of their values and positive attributes.
Shape your life by selecting whom you are with. Choose wisely the people you spend the most amount of time with. Start by examining the people you now spend the most time around. Are they enabling you towards achieving your envisioned self? If not, identify and increase contact with the people who will help you to become the best person you can be.
To be fair, you may be stuck in a situation with a bunch of losers that you can’t extricate yourself from. For instance, if you have the misfortune of being born into a family that is not loving, nurturing, or caring, it is not easy to disown them and find a new family. If you love your job and find it fulfilling and it offers a brilliant future, but you are stuck with a bunch of annoying coworkers, quitting might make things worse than spending time with these knuckleheads.
If you can’t change your group, my suggestion is to seek out a tribe of people that may not be physically with you, but could help you intellectually and spiritually. You can attain this virtual tribe by reading certain non-fiction books that will make you smarter and a better person. Listening to podcasts of people you respect, admire, and wish to emulate. Watch YouTube videos or documentaries of successful people that you will help mentor your development.
Life is too short to surround yourself by those who don’t have your best interest at heart and drag you down into the abyss. Actively seek out a tribe to help you grow, develop, achieve your goals, flourish as a human being, prosper, and succeed in your career and life.