Are your friends and associates keeping you from achieving your goals, dreams, and potential?
There is a common saying among many highly successful circles: You are the average of the five people you are around the most. There are of course some variations, as in this article for entrepreneurs which says six people instead of five, but the point is the same. It has been evident for a long time that individuals are significantly influenced by the people around them.
Most often, we collect new friendships or associations on a subconscious or happenstance level of thought or experience. We don’t usually leave home in the morning intending to specifically make a certain kind of friend today, with a set of standards in mind. However, as the accumulation of friendships or regular associations naturally happens, I want to challenge you to consciously evaluate the people with whom you choose to spend time and become aware of what affects they have on you.
Take this story of two brothers as an example. Watch this video, and then continue reading…
It’s easy to see how the subtle influences of the people surrounding you end up playing a role in dictating the outcome of your future.
So, how can you get back on track and make sure that the people in your life are encouraging you to grow and succeed, rather than hindering your potential?
Take a few moments and perform this evaluation:
1. Who are the people with whom I spend the most time?
- Make a list:
- acquaintances at places I frequent, etc. (clubs, bars, hobbies, etc.)
2. Why do I spend time with them?
- Write the reasons next to each person or group:
- to feel accepted
- like the energy
- same living space, etc.
3. What kind of person do I become when I’m around them? How do my behaviors/feelings change?
- I feel calm around them, motivated, loved, accepted, encouraged, sad, angry, stressed, irritated, etc.
- I become more talkative, I get more focused, I dream bigger, I dream smaller, I become serious, I get angry, I feel stressed, I feel driven, etc.
4. Do I like the kind of person I become around them? Do I like the affects they have on me?
5. How can I be a positive influence to those around me?
- This is like being selfishly helpful — Try to see if there is a way you can be a positive influence on them, so that they will not be a “stagnant ship,” (like in the video) drifting and knocking you off course.
- NOTE: This may or may not be possible, but if it is a person you want to continue being around, or if you have to be around them (such as at work or home), then it’s good to try to improve the relationship.
6. Check your list. Are there people on the list who do NOT encourage you toward your goals and potential, who are bad influences, around whom you feel like a worse person, who are negative and may hold you back from a better life?
- If anyone fits in this category, then you must ask yourself: Is it worth sacrificing my own future and potential to continue being around this person/these people?
- If the answer is no, it’s not worth the sacrifice, then maybe it is time to distance yourself from those influences and break the connection.
- However, if you CAN’T, because of work, home, or whatever, then:
- Do your best to BE the positive influence for them when you have to be near them.
- The rest of the time surround yourself with extra positive influences and strong, motivated, successful people who push you to be better than you are now.
But, how do you find positive influences? How do you make good friends?
Look for the people who already have the lifestyle, success, knowledge, skills, etc. that you want. Follow their work (like them on social media, subscribe to their blog if they have one, support their projects, etc.) and show them that you are their fan. Connect with them in meaningful ways. If they have a lot of followers, then try to stand out by offering to help them in some way. Learn from them by association and observation, and interact with them by being part of their community and circles.
In your own circles, look for people who challenge you to be better than you are and encourage you along the way. BE the kind of person you want to attract.
For a more detailed, step-focused break down on making GREAT friends, check out this insightful video!
Actions and Take-Aways
- Carefully evaluate your friendships and associations and how they affect you personally.
- Be intentional about the kinds of people you choose to be around and the activities you indulge. Make them positive.
- Always be moving forward toward a goal. Choose activities and people to be around that motivate you to become better and achieve more.
- BE a positive influence for your friends and associates.
- Cut ties with people that are definitively negative influences and drag you down with them.
- Actively seek out people who are ahead of you in your goals and success and learn from them. Find positive mentors, role-models, and friends who push you to get to the next level!