When Tim Ferriss, the famous podcaster and entrepreneur, was 12, an unidentified caller left the subject header (which is a quote from Jim Rohn) on his answering machine. Ferriss was hanging out with the “bad” kids from his school at the time. He knew it would lead to trouble sooner or later, so he asked his parents to send him to a private school. Surrounded by a new peer group led him to a high school year in Japan where he studied judo, 4 years at Princeton, where he became an all-American wrestler, a national kickboxing champion, and eventually starting his own company at 23.
John Assaraf has built 5-multimillion-dollar companies, written 2 New York Times Bestselling books and featured in 8 movies, including the blockbuster hit “The Secret” and “Quest For Success” with Richard Branson and the Dalai Lama. He grew up poor in Montreal and also fell in with the wrong crowd as a teenager. What started to turn things around for him was thanks to 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 businessmen would unwind there too and talk about all their successes and failures. For him it was like getting a free education on what 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 that “who you spend time with is who you become.” Many of these marines would return to challenged neighborhoods with few opportunities and those marines would ultimately start to fit in and become like those around them – exactly has 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 we don’t realize how influenced we are by the main 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 to anyone else – except the minute we think that thought we know it’s not true. We do consider who we live with and who we work closely with. We consider their feelings and preferences. We do consider what our family might think. And friends.
So then maybe 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 they like to keep them happy who aren’t exactly lighting up the world, who complain quite a lot and aren’t scaling new heights – and on and on. These are moderate and subtle things but cumulatively it can add up to years of underachievement and mediocrity.
This isn’t such a straightforward topic, is it? If nothing else I want to raise your awareness of it.
You’ve likely heard of the concept that you are the average of the five people you spend time the most time with. 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. There are basically two types of people: battery drainers and battery chargers.
Let me get practical.
1. Write down the Top 5 people in your life. Then list out each person’s strengths and flaws.
“Until you reach the point in your self-development where you no longer allow people to affect you with their negativity, you need to avoid toxic people at all costs.”
– Jack Canfield
Are they negative and toxic (dream stealers) to you in any way?
What percentage would you say each person is positive and nurturing?
Severely decrease time with the former.
Become more aware of the subtle influence this has on you.
“There are two types of people – anchors and motors. You want to lose the anchors and get with the motors because the motors are going somewhere and they’re having more fun. The anchors will just drag you down.”
– Wyland, world-renowned marine artist
2. Identify other people who would be uplifting to spend more time with
“Surround yourself with only people who are going to lift you higher.”
– Oprah Winfrey
This might be something that takes place gradually. Increase your interaction with certain people because of the positive influence they have on you.
You might be asking yourself: how do I meet more people like this? You might want to join a new professional or civic group or business/country club. Or a new networking group. It’s one reason entrepreneurs join YPO or EO. The same can be said for workshops and courses that help you develop your skills and knowledge – you meet like-minded people. That’s one of the reasons I like to run coaching groups: the rising tide raises all ships.
A more radical measure would be to move house and live in a more affluent part of town. It is not as crazy as it sounds, and most affluent areas have some housing that is not high priced. You just have to go there and seek it out.
I can speak to this personally because I’ve done it. Even the ‘elevating’ effect it has on you is subtle and you don’t notice how it changes you until you go to back to those former haunts of yours. I’m not for a minute talking about becoming ‘better’ than anyone, I am talking about raising your ‘normal’ to one where expectations are increasing and this forces/encourages you to think bigger about what’s possible.
You need a great support crew. Spend time with idealists, visionaries, and people who:
Believe in you
Encourage you to go after your dreams
Applaud your victories
Focus on what’s possible for you
3. Ask the top people in your world to share their best strategies with you.
Then experiment doing the same things, thinking like them, and reading what they read.
These things will also help you raise your game and, as you do, you will meet people at higher levels and be able to rub shoulders with a new crowd.
Jack Canfield summarises this best in his book The Success Principles: “You need to be surrounded with those who have done it; you need to be surrounded by people with a positive attitude, a solution-oriented approach to life – people who know that they can accomplish whatever they set out to do.”
To creating a more empowered support team!
Founder & President
Matt Anderson International
1177 Oak Ridge Drive, Glencoe, IL 60022, USA
Phone: +001 (312) 622-3121