The idea that we are the ‘average of the five people’ we spend the most time with and thus should be selective about who we choose to spend time with is not a new concept in personal development, nor the study of success. The quote is attributed to Jim Rohn but it has been para-phrased and repeated constantly by the likes of Tim Ferriss, Jack Canfield, Tony Robbins and countless others, including myself.
Is there any truth to this idea?
The logic behind the idea seems sound enough. The point is that social influence makes us all more similar to the people we spend time with. We can’t help but conform to some degree, or for the ideals and values of others to bleed into our own. It’s also why spending time with people who are more successful than you will help you to become more successful.
Successful people have different conversations and use different language than the average person. Motivated people have different expectations and different results than the average Joe. Too often our peer group reflects our comfort zone. They are too nice and do not demand more from us.
I often share an idea with my son: I like losing more in racquetball, than I do winning. I explain to him that winning merely provides the feedback that I am better than the other person, but does little to elevate my game. Whereas, losing causes me to reflect more on my play and think about ways to elevate my game and improve my skills.
Because of this idea, I am sure to spend more time playing opponents that are better than me.
Do you spend time with people who are “better” than you?
The whole idea of finding a new group of friends can seem difficult. We’ll start by assessing the people you actually spend the most time with. Maybe your friends are not the problem. Perhaps it is the person you choose to eat lunch with at work. Maybe their consistent gossip and complaining is affecting your views. Perhaps they are draining your energy and affecting your afternoons.
It could be the television show or Facebook group you interact with everyday. Think about the people and activities that seem to change your mood for the negative. What can you do to change this group?
If you want to get out of debt and your peer group consists of people inviting you to candle parties, and jewelry parties or going out to coffee three times a week, it might be time to surround yourself with others that will help you achieve your goals.
If your goals include getting healthy, you might need to start spending more time with people who exercise and eat healthy. That might mean you need to spend less time with the friends that just want to go out drinking after work each day.
Do you see how this works?
It isn’t that you need to drop all of your friends, you just might need to choose how you spend your time and expand your peer group.
One more example. If you want to develop your public speaking skills this year, it might mean you need to join a Toastmasters club. That will entail spending regular time with others that are focused on improving their speaking skills. Choosing to spend time with a group of people that share your goals will help you significantly more than inviting your best friends over to the house so you can practice a presentation in front of them.
Finally, finding a peer group that shares your goals will also provide you better accountability. Going back to my racquetball example, I am more likely to play on nights when I know other A players will be playing. I don’t need to go through the hassle of setting up a game, I know they will be there and I show up. But even that doesn’t create the best accountability for me. What works for me is making a commitment to play at a scheduled time against a scheduled opponent. Or joining a league where I commit to playing a different opponent each week for a set number of weeks.
This level of accountability adds to my results. It provides me a structured plan and practice time to develop my skills and makes me a better player .
Where can you find new groups, new peers, better support for the goals you have set for yourself?
Sean McCarthy is a Certified Business Coach and the Founder of Loveland, CO -based Colorado Coaching Company. Coaching can take place in person, over the phone or online. If you need help growing your business, shifting your mindset, call or email Sean at (970) 541-1099 or [email protected] to schedule your initial strategy session.