‘You are the average of the five people you spend the most time with.’
This quote has always bothered me.
If I am an independent and intelligent person, then why would my life and success be dictated by the people I choose to spend my time with?
I have different friends for every mood. The group I go to when it’s time to PARTY, the ones I call when I am in work mode, the homebodies who always want to stay in and watch documentaries, and so on.
But when I actually took some time and thought about the people I am speaking with the most and spend the most time with (and then because I’m a huge nerd I took it a few steps further to remember who I was surrounded by during my highest and lowest points), I started to notice an interesting pattern:
Jim Rohn, who is a renowned businessman, motivational speaker and author, said entrepreneurs especially underestimate the importance of their inner circle.
The people you are around, matter. Period.
As an entrepreneur, you constantly find yourself around different people. Networking events, selling your service or product, speaking with your mentors and coaches, working with your business partners and investors, many people will become an important part of your everyday life. These people will have the power to either challenge you and help raise you up and continue reaching for your success, or help tear you down- tempt you with that night out that ‘you deserve’ or maybe even not show you any kind of support what so ever. These behaviors have dramatic effects on your self-talk, attitude, and actions. Understanding the way others influence your life is critical to your success, as groundless as it may at first seem.
I am very good at cutting out people go who aren’t serving my highest good, but only recently have I have noticed how much other people don’t understand this concept or just flat out don’t agree with it. If I don’t like what you are posting to your social media or you are triggering any type of reaction from me that could affect my mood in a negative way (which directly affects my daily motivation), I am the first to unfollow. It’s not personal nor is it petty (or it RARELY is), but we really are what we expose ourselves to. Every blog post you read, the content your friends are sharing, the articles that pop up on your timeline – all these affect your mood and overall happiness. It’s really not the end of the world if you stop following someone who makes you feel sad or angry when their name pops up, or to hide that family member who shares one too many politically incorrect opinions. Trust me, you will feel so much better.
So how exactly can other people affect you and your lifestyle?
Your consciousness and identification as an individual
The collective consciousness of the people you are with
Impact on who you become
Let’s break that down in simpler terms;
Attitude and Motivation
Let’s say you wake up one night and decide that you want to run a marathon yet you despise the working out (been there..). You get yourself excited, you start to make plans and do some research and when you see your friends, you tell the exciting news — except instead of being met with words of encouragement, your friends laugh and tell you they will believe it when they see it (also been there…). Now, unless you are weird like me and turn others peoples’ doubts into motivation, you will start to feel discouraged and embarrassed. You might even start to believe their doubts and question yourself about what you can do.
Now flip this around. Let’s say you are surrounded by a group of people who love to push the limits and who love to try new things and test everything themselves. When you tell them your idea, you are met with encouragement, excitement, and cheering. You may even begin to believe in yourself more than you did that morning because if all these people believe you can do it — why wouldn’t you be able to?
Even if you are stable, grounded, and not easily swayed, being around negative people will affect you in negative ways. Even if you don’t see it and the damage done isn’t apparent, it’s human nature to unconsciously start to mimic those around you. Whether through actions or attitudes, both can have dramatic effects on the person you become and the goals you achieve.
Your friends are your support, your voice of reason, your motivation and sometimes provide you with your biggest temptations.
Goal Achievement + Self Control
The people you surround yourself with have more of an effect on your goals/goal achievement through motivation and energy. If you are surrounded by people who have never taken a huge risk before, chances are your goals to quit your job and travel the world won’t be met positively and instead may be met with all the reasons it’s a horrible idea.
Having strong-willed friends increases your self-control, which is essential for reaching your goals. Surrounding yourself with disciplined people increased your chances of success in addition to your overall motivation for success.
‘ Show me your friends, I’ll show you your future’ ~Proverbs 13:20
Self Confidence + Overall Life Span
When you are feeling down, usually you will call a friend to help cheer you up. Having a healthy and positive inner circle can help lower your anxiety, depression, and most importantly stress. Your inner circle reminds you that you are not alone, which increases your physical health. There are many studies that prove having stable relationships dramatically increases your lifespan. A 2010 study even found that having a negative group of friends is the equivalent of smoking 15 cigarettes a day!
As for self-esteem, it’s simple: Being around people who accept you for who you are and allow you to unapologetically be yourself provides you the opportunity to grow and expand your experiences. You can trust that no matter what you do or say, you have people who love you. If you choose to be around people who constantly make you feel judged, uncertain, and criticized, you will be more concerned about your actions, your appearance, your choice of words, who to trust, etc. This can get extremely stressful and even paranoia-inducing.
Now, all that being said, if you want to have healthy, constructive, and positive friendships — you need to be one yourself. When you are analyzing people in your life, it’s important to think about what kind of friend you are to them. Are you a positive person to your friends? Do you support them and their ideas or are you more of a pessimist? Before you ever reflect on your relationships with other people in any respect, start with yourself. That can sometimes be the hardest part and yet it’s the most important part. Who are you to others in your life or what person do you want to be? How you show up to others will inevitably be reflected back to you.