Jim Rohn was the motivational speaker who shared the following piece of advice;
“You are the average of the five people you spend the most time with.”
The rule suggests that the five people you spend the most time with shape who you are….and we might interact with many people, but the few who are closest to us have the greatest impact on our way of thinking and our decisions. (http://uk.businessinsider.com)
Let’s set the scene to look at this in a bit more detail using an example that some of you might be currently in the process of doing (myself included) – being in the midst of a career change or starting your own business;
Circle One responses:
- Friend 1: ‘You can’t do that, it’ll take too long and there is no guarantee you’ll even succeed, you’ve got bills to pay’
- Friend 2: ‘Why don’t you get your head out of the clouds and just get a real job.’
- Friend 3: ‘No I’m not happy with what I do, I hate it in fact, but who’s really happy in their job? It’s just life isn’t it, and I think you’re chasing something that hardly anyone ever finds unless you’re someone who’s got a lot of money in the bank to start with, but let’s get real, that’s not going to be you, so why are you wasting your time?’
- Friend 4: ‘I think you should go for what you want, give it a shot at least, you don’t know unless you try, and its a great idea.’
- Friend 5: ‘Why are you always spending your weekends studying? You never have fun anymore. Come out and get drunk with us!’
If you had just made that big life change and these were the types of responses you got from your circle how would you feel about yourself and your recent choice?
Circle Two responses:
- Friend 1: ‘I think its admirable you’re going for what you want, I wish I could do that too, more power to you!’
- Friend 2: ‘Its going to be tough now and you’ll have to keep your head in those books, but it will pay off in the end so keep at it.’
- Friend 3: ‘Can we find some time next week to bounce some ideas off of each other? You’re energy is infectious. I want to get my idea off the ground too, you’ve inspired me!’
- Friend 4: I think you are risking too much by doing this, I would strongly suggest you re-think the whole think and do something less risky. Think of what you could potentially lose if it all goes wrong.
- Friend 5: ‘I know you can achieve what you’re putting your mind to and you’ll knock it out the park. I know you can do this.’
If these were the responses you got from your circle how would you feel about yourself and your recent choice?
Take a moment to compare the two different set of responses – which circle would you benefit having behind you to support you on your journey? I personally would definitely be betting my money on Circle Two, and I know, unless I was extremely determined, that if I spent too much time in the company of Circle One that I would very quickly be doubting myself and might even back track on my decision to make a change. In fact, scrap that, I highly doubt I would have even have made the decision to go it alone in the first place.
You may, however, have noticed that in amongst the pessimism, defeatism and negativity of Circle One that there was a friend who had real belief of the benefits that the change could bring and vocalised it, and amongst the positivity and optimism of Circle Two there was a very risk-aversed friend who made it clear they didn’t agree with the choice. In all your choices in which you speak to your circle about you will normally always have people on both sides of the fence regarding their reactions to what you are doing/about to do, but the important part to pay attention to is which side of the fence the majority of the group sit, and their reasons for it.
There are two additional key distinctions to make here:
- Even if you have that one friend who always has your back and knows and believes in what you can achieve, if the rest of your circle doesn’t (due to their own personal perceptions of the change you’re making, and which ironically has nothing to do with you) then that one friend can be too easily drowned out and their words of encouragement won’t make an impact.
- If your circle is normally positive and enforcing of your choices, but all or most come back with solid hesitations and reservations then this is when you should listen and take on board what they have to say, as long their opinions and reasoning are coming from the right place.
Why Am I Sharing This With You?
We are impacted hugely by those around us and their thoughts and comments, potentially just as much as we are regarding what we tell ourselves internally. So are you scrutinising your external factors that can contribute to your decision making as much as your internal ones?
Take a few minutes right now to just sit and think about that for a second, and answer the following questions:
- Who are your five people in your circle?
- What type of things do you talk about when you’re together?
- What type of things do you think about when you’re together?
- What do you do when you’re with your people?
- How do you feel when you’re together?
- Do they deserve to be your circle because you are actually on the same pages as you’re both navigating life?
- Is there anyone in your inner circle who maybe shouldn’t be there anymore because you’ve simply outgrown each other or now have different goals and interests?
Now, its not to say that these people will stay the same rigid five, as Tim Ferriss explains; “If I feel like I need more work in the physical realm, then I’ll modify the group to reflect that….it’s not always the same five.” (Tim Ferriss, UK Business Insider)
This post isn’t to say ‘get rid of your friends that don’t fit’, but simply to check in with yourself regularly and re-examine that small inner circle that surrounds you depending on where you are wanting to go in life. If you really want something and you’re working to achieve it do you have people around you who really want it for you too and who are cheering you on to succeed? Or are they just along for the ride and popping up with needlessly negative or constantly pessismistic comments that you always find yourself having to brush off and ignore?
I’ll leave you with those thoughts to chew on, and if you come up with answers to any of the above that you weren’t expecting or that you don’t like, then the next questions is:
What do you want to do about it?
Thanks for reading,