Recently I sat down with a new friend I met for dinner. We talked about what it takes to achieve the goals you want to achieve in life. My friend is already a very accomplished marketing professional. And yet, there was lots more she wanted to do. One conclusion I kept coming back to in this talk is that a large amount of how successful you will be in life comes down to the people you spend time with.
Image remixed from Leremy
This is why:
‘You are the average of the five people you spend the most time with.' Jim Rohn
This quote is one of the most powerful ones that I keep reminding myself over and over again. I am the average of the five people I spend the most time with. Others around myself determine how I think, how I act, and ultimately how successful I will be.
Fighting your way through the law of average: The sower and the reaper
This video from Jim Rohn is amazing. In short: You'll face many struggles along the way if you are seeking success and happiness. If you are the sower, your seeds will get picked up by the birds first and won't give a return. Then they will fall on shallow ground, leaving you with nothing again. Then they will fall on thorny ground and the sun will shine so hot that your small plant will die after the first day. No return either.
Then, one day, the seeds will fall on good ground and finally give you the expected return and success. The only way you can make sure that you will fight your way through this hardship is with the right people by your side.
Who are the people you spend time with?
It doesn't matter how smart you are. It doesn't matter how talented you are, which skills you have, where you are born, or which family you came from. All that counts if you want to be successful in life is the people you surround yourself with.
It's a notion so simple, yet so difficult to get started with. Something I tried to do very specifically is this exercise:
- Who are the 5 people in your life that you spend time with? As in, if your day has 24 hours, how many of those hours are spent with which people. (I'm guessing amongst people will be some members of your family, your spouse, co-workers and some close friends.) Write those 5 people on a piece of paper. (It's ok if they are less than 5.)
- Once you have a list of those 3-5 people, ask yourself this: Who are they? What do they do with their lives? How ambitious are they, how successful have they been, how happy, optimistic, and enthusiastic are they?
- Evaluate carefully if those people will really be those that will help you get to the next level you want to get to. Do they push you forward when you come to them with new ideas, no matter what? Or do they tell you that what you have in mind won't work? Will they keep you going once the birds pick up your seeds, once your seeds fall on shallow or thorny ground?
- Make a choice of who in your list you want to continue spending time with. Don't be afraid if none or only 1 or 2 amongst your 5 people today meet the standard of excellence you want to set for yourself. Keep going, decrease the time you spend, and increase the amount of time you keep your eyes looking for people that you want to have as one of your 5 closest people.
It's OK to end up with this:
"Since last you heard from me, I lost some friends, well, heh, me and Snoop we're dippin' again." ~ Dr. Dre (Still D.R.E.)
Don't be afraid to lose some friends, support from your family, or anything else if that means you start surrounding yourself with the right people. Instead of becoming the average of some average people, dip with the best.
The people I spend time with
I believe I'm someone who took longer than most people to understand this concept. I clung onto relationships with people far too long. All of them were great people, people I respect like I want to respect every other human being. Yet, I always knew these are not the people that are dying to be incredibly successful, incredibly happy, and doing no matter what it takes to chase their dreams.
Gradually I learnt this, working my way to spend less and less time with them. Today, the people I spend time with are just 2 people. Joel and Tom. They are most likely the smartest people I have ever worked with before. Both have a focus and determination I'm constantly blown away by. I cling onto their enthusiasm, try to learn from their skillset as much as I can and get myself lifted onto the next level: purely by being in the same room with them.
There is no one else I spend as much time with as Joel and Tom. 90% of my daily interaction happens with these two guys. The power they have is therefore incredible. I'm highly influenced and seek to be from them and their input. I know, because of their actions, experience, and daily work, the only impact this can have on me is a positive one. It is pushing me higher and onto the next level every day.
I'm the average of Tom and Joel.
Whether you want it or not, I believe this is how it works. The people you spend the most time with make you. You are their average. Do you think that's true?
The people you spend time with [Leo starts up]
Leo Widrich is the co-founder of Buffer, a smarter way to share on Twitter and Facebook. Leo writes more posts on efficiency and customer happiness over on the Buffer blog. Hit him up on Twitter @LeoWid anytime; he is a super nice guy.