I’m sure you’ve heard the quote by Jim John, paraphrased and repeated on many occasions by the likes of Tony Robbins, Tim Ferris and many others. But is there any truth in this statement?
Are you really the average of the five people you spend the most time with? Well, yes and no.
The quote suggests that social influence will make you more like those you spend the most amount of time with. Therefore, it stands to reason that by actively choosing to spend time with people who are more successful than you, you will become more successful.
So as an exercise, write your answers to these questions to find out if you’re the average of the five people you spend the most time with.:
- What is the kind of person you want to be? What goals do you want to achieve?
What is the ideal self you wish to become? What qualities or habits do you need to have or do to achieve your goals?
- Who are the 5 people you spend the most time with at the moment?
What are they like? What are the top 3 qualities each of them represent?
- Do they match who you want to be in the future?
Do their qualities and habits match who you want to become and the goals you want to achieve? Do they help support you or detract you from your vision for yourself? Do they elevate you or bring you down?
- Who are the top 5 people who embody the qualities you desire?
They should be people you aspire to become or respect in some way or another. It can be someone who has already achieved the end state or goal that you want to achieve. This can be anyone, a friend, relative, someone outside your social circle, a celebrity or someone you respect.
- How can you spend more time with them?
This is where it gets interesting. There are a couple of ways you can spend more time with someone or be influenced by their habits or values.
- Direct contact: This can be face-to-face contact, telephone, or email/internet. How can you increase the opportunities of interacting with this person? If you know the person, how can you communicate with him/her more often? If you don’t know the person, does this person belong to a certain community that you can be part of? Do you have any friends who might know this individual? Is there a way for you to join the same social circles?
- Products of their work: If direct communication does not work out, you can always bring the person to you in the form of his/her work. Does the person have any work under his/her name, such as shows, books or podcasts? Get your hands on them and soak yourself in them. These materials were after all made by them and the content will convey their consciousness and knowledge. In essence, being exposed to these materials is the same to interacting with these people.
Mudos Ponens wrote “If you are a human, then the biggest influence on your personality is your peer group. Choose your peers. If you want to be better at math, surround yourself with mathematicians. If you want to be more productive, hang out with productive people…”
Likewise, if you spend too much time with “sleepwalkers” the ones who lack a core focus in their lives, believe the world is out to get them and will take any opportunity to complain about everything will end up draining your energy and your confidence like a Dementor from Harry Potter.
So to become happier and more successful, you should leave behind the friends who are dragging you down and surround yourself with geniuses. Simple. Well, that’s easier said than done.
Why choosing who you spend time with is so hard.
There are a number of factors that influence your decisions and who you spend the most amount of time with. We are the product of our genetic makeup and our environment, and as much as we would like to be able to influence our decisions and what we do, it has, to some extent, already been predetermined.
Whilst I agree that the people you spend time with will influence the person you will eventually become, it doesn’t take into consideration that you can’t always choose who you live and work with. The vast majority of us spend time with our partners, children, siblings, parents or colleagues – so who are you going to dump from your life?
“Sorry Dad, you’re just not ambitious enough and it’s bringing me down!” It’s a bit harsh if you ask me.
How spending time with people can impact your goal achievements.
I believe that the social group you participate in determines what activities you do and influences your choices and values. Studies have shown if people around you lose weight, quit smoking, take up mountain biking, start doing heroin, you are more likely to do so too.
I also think that people you surround yourself with also effect how you can achieve your goals. If for example, you wanted to set up a business or run a marathon but you spend the majority of your time with people who have no motivation or lead an unhealthy lifestyle, achieving your goals will solely be dependent on your own drive and persistence. Imagine how much easier it would be if you surrounded yourself with like-minded individuals who share similar interests or goals.
Follow the right people on social media.
Given our social media age, where we’re daily blitzed with images and information about what others are doing and seeing how other people react to their behaviours. We are no longer limited by our local community and the place we live, so by following people who educate, inspire and encourage you, will greatly help your chances of achieving your goals and becoming the person you want to be.
But remember, friends are there for exactly that, friendship, not career advice.
Of course, this does not mean you should sever relationships or cut away anyone who doesn’t contribute to your goals. Friends are there because they enjoy your company and they care about you. At times, you also need to switch off and enjoy yourself. It’s just a case of monitoring who you are spending your time with and how they impact your values and habits.
If you consciously spend time with people you aspire to be, you will start resonating with their way of thinking and adopting their values and daily habits. As a result, these actions will help you to achieve your goals and become the person you want to be.