When Tim Ferriss, the famous podcaster and entrepreneur, was 12, an unidentified caller left a message on his family's answering machine: “You are the average of the five people you spend the most time with,” a quote from Jim Rohn. Ferriss was hanging out with his school's “bad” kids then. He knew it would lead to trouble sooner or later, so he asked his parents to send him to a private school. Instead, being surrounded by a new peer group led him to a high school year in Japan, where he studied judo, and four years at Princeton, where he became an all-American wrestler and a national kickboxing champion. He eventually started his own company at 23.
John Assaraf has built 5-multimillion-dollar companies, written two New York Times bestselling books, and featured in eight movies, including the blockbuster hit “The Secret” and “Quest for Success” with Richard Branson and the Dalai Lama. Unfortunately, he grew up poor in Montreal and fell in with the wrong crowd as a teenager. What started to turn things around for him was a job he had at the gym at the local Jewish community center. After his shift ended, he would relax in the men's sauna. As it happened, night after night, several local people in business would unwind there and talk about their successes and failures. For him, it was like getting a free education on what to do and what not to do in running an effective business.
Tony Robbins tells a story of working on a project with the Marines. When he met with those in charge, they wanted to know why marines who had excelled in the military often would underperform once they returned to civilian life and not maintain their great habits.
Robbins explained, “Who you spend time with is who you become.” Many of these marines would return to challenged neighborhoods with few opportunities, and they would ultimately start to fit in and become like those around them – exactly as they had done as marines, only with very different outcomes. You live up or down to the key people around you.
One challenge we all have is realizing how influenced we are by the prominent few people we spend most of our time with. We think we are independent thinkers who make all decisions on our own with no consideration for anyone else – except the minute we believe that, though, we know it's not true. We do consider who we live with and who we work closely with. We feel their feelings and preferences. We do believe what our family might think. And friends.
So then we eat the food they want even though it doesn't support our health goals. We stay up late watching Netflix to make them happy, even though that makes us less effective at work the next day. We spend time with people we like to keep happy, who aren't exactly lighting up the world, who complain quite a lot, and who aren't scaling new heights – and on and on. These are moderate and subtle things, but cumulatively, they can add up to years of underachievement and mediocrity.
This isn't such a straightforward topic. But, if nothing else, I want to raise your awareness of it. It's a curious blend of fear of success – that we might lose our friends and family – along with some people pleasing and ignorance.
You've likely heard that you are average of the five people you spend the most time with. Unfortunately, few people take this literally enough. I remember reading years ago a comment from Mark Victor Hansen that if you wanted to make $1m, you needed to spend time with millionaires. And that once he made his first million, he started hanging around multi-millionaires.
I admit it doesn't sound very loyal (!), but for the principle to be valuable, apply it however you want to your one life. To be fair to Hansen, he wasn't talking about making friends. Instead, he was alluding to the concept that there are two types of people: battery drainers and chargers.
– This week, I was reflecting on what topic surprised me the most in my new book, The 5 Habits to Mine Your Gold. For me, it was how often the impact of our peer group came up. It doesn't sound significant, and you've probably heard it before. But those around us significantly influence us in so many subtle ways, and we barely notice it.
While we like to assume that we are independent thinkers influenced by no external force, we've been conditioned in some ways by our environments, culture, and the people we grew up around. The people around us have contributed to the stories we tell ourselves (good, bad, and ugly) that often play on repeat for our entire lives! The people around us can impact our motivation, which drives everything we do and our results. The people around us can get inside our heads and affect our emotions which also have huge stakes on what we do and the impact we get. The people around us can influence our health, our confidence, our feelings of worthiness, how we use our time, and the quality of our sleep. IT ADDS UP!!!
Last week I spent some time with the globally recognized leadership thinker and the multiple New York Times bestseller Marshall Goldsmith (who endorsed by new book). He was a delighted college professor when a chance introduction to a nationally known leadership expert changed his trajectory because he decided to go and work for him instead. In other words, his support team changed because of a chance meeting, putting him in a world of entirely different higher-level people. His career aspirations changed when his peer group did. Many years later, Thinkers50 called him the #1 leadership thinker in the world.
Knowing this principle better – that we all need a stronger support team – and understanding how we all do better with more support, accountability, and resources has prompted me to create a community for any of you interested in being more. The Breakthrough Bound app will launch in a few weeks, precisely designed to support achiever types who want to get up to bigger things. Look out for announcements soon!
Who is on your support team? How can you deepen your relationships with your strongest people, and how do you spend less time with those draining you?
To elevate your support team!
Founder & President
Matt Anderson International
1177 Oak Ridge Drive, Glencoe, IL 60022, USA
Phone: +001 (312) 622-3121