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Entrepreneur, author and motivational speaker Jim Rohn once famously stated, “You are the average of the five people you spend the most time with“.
This statement refers to research proving that our lives are heavily influenced by our relationships. Our connections influence our thinking, confidence
When it comes to relationships, we are greatly influenced — whether we like it or not — by those closest to us. It affects our way of thinking, our self-esteem, and our decisions.
If you’re a regular on this site, you probably hold an interest in continual personal development, following routines that are conducive to success, and reducing the number of things that stand in the way between you and your goals. You see the benefit in constantly bettering yourself as a friend, employee, leader, spouse, parent, etc.
A large part of setting yourself up for success is exposing yourself to people whom you deem to be successful. According to Jim Rohn, if you aren’t intentional about the people you spend your time with, you won’t be able to gain the continuous personal improvement that you’re looking for. But how often do you actually find yourself stopping, looking around at the people in the room, and thinking there are some changes that need to be made?
I think we often underestimate the importance of the company we keep. We forget that every small moment in the process eventually comes together in the end to make a huge impact on our success. And while having a strong group of peers may not be the only factor in your success, it definitely influences how you’re perceived and the opportunities that are offered to you.
So if you have that one toxic friend that tends to bring you down, and you tell yourself, “Well, I only see this person for about an hour a week, it’s not a big deal”–you should reconsider your stance. Is your contact with this person actually a more frequent encounter than those you have with people who are uplifting, motivating, or supportive? If so, this weekly encounter could be very damaging, according to Rohn.
Research has shown the impact of our environment on our behavior and success, but this impact can easily be minimized or forgotten as you’re going along with your everyday routine. However, with time, the negative effects of the company you choose to keep will start to compound, which will hinder you from achieving your ultimate goals.
In this article, we will talk about the origin of this Jim Rohn quote and then discuss 5 lessons that you can take away from it. As you’re reading, keep the people that you spend the most time in your mind.
But first, let’s talk about who Jim Rohn was and why you should care about the things he said.
Who is Jim Rohn?
Jim Rohn was a highly-respected author, motivational speaker, and entrepreneur who impacted millions of lives through his ideas and innovative material. He was a trailblazer in the industry of personal development and captivated audiences of all types who shared the common goal of improving themselves in some way.
Throughout his career, Rohn received numerous industry awards recognizing the power of his influence, which shows the amount of respect that his followers had for him. He has often been used as the standard to which other aspiring motivational icons are compared.
Rohn largely focused on the principles of human behavior that have the greatest impact on one’s performance. He was able to formulate great insights from everyday behaviors to help other people find their path to success. His life’s work lives on today and continues to influence people who are seeking self-improvement.
People’s high regard for Jim Rohn has led them to take this quote to heart and increase their own success by being intentional about the company they keep. Let’s look at 5 lessons you can take away from this quote.
5 Lessons to Learn From Jim Rohn’s quote, “You are the average of the five people you spend the most time with.”
1. Keep Your Critics Around
It’s easy to assume that the best strategy would be to make sure the five people you spend the most time with are your five biggest cheerleaders. However, that’s not necessarily the case.
Of course you want to have people around you who are supportive, but if you only receive positive feedback, how are you going to grow? If you want to be an expert, you want to have that person in your life who is willing to critique your work.
Researchers have found that the more successful a person becomes, the more likely they are to seek constructive criticism rather than positive feedback. Novices seek positive feedback to validate their work, while experts seek negative feedback to uncover areas of potential improvement.
This lesson may not seem initially obvious after reading this quote, but when you start to consider the role that each person has in your life, you will realize that if they all have the same role of cheering you on, you won’t be able to gain any new perspectives, opinions, or insight on your work.
You need to have a devil’s advocate around–someone who makes you think twice about your methods or look for new solutions.
2. Consider the Company You Keep Both Online and Offline
Online communities are hugely popular these days. You may seek to join one if you have a specific hobby or you’re going through a unique life circumstance and need to find people who can relate to you (such as pregnancy or parenthood). Because of this, it’s not uncommon for some people’s closest friends to be people they have never met in person.
People spend hours online chatting with others they have never met, and online communities can have a great influence on your behavior if you’re involved with one.
Of course, the people with which you associate offline are also a vital part of your success.
Our personalities and behaviors are influenced by different experiences and environments. You’re exposed to the values and ideals of the people you spend your time with, so it’s not surprising that you could adopt their mentality as well.
If you spend every night with people who order pizza and watch television all night, I’m willing to guess you will indulge in the same behaviors instead of eating a healthy diet and doing more constructive things with your time.
However, to use the idea of the influence of other people’s company to your benefit, you can create mastermind groups that include people that you believe have valuable ideas. This will help you gain from collaborative perspectives and intelligence to positively influence your work.
Your mastermind group can be one that meets in your community or you can develop one with various people around the country using an online platform with people who share your goals and mindsets.
It is also a good idea to keep an accountability partner around because this will give you more individualized help. Having an accountability partner will allow you to have a reliable and consistent coach who can give you feedback about your work on a regular basis. This will help you maintain a habit of improvement by giving you that external source of accountability that will help you stay driven.
3. You Can Control the Amount of Time You Spend with People
Who you spend time with is within your circle of control. There is a good chance that you spend most of your time with your family. And while you may not want to cut off any family members completely, you can take a step back to recognize if there is anyone who tends to bring you down or has some kind of negative influence on you.
If you realize that someone who is close to you does bring you down, you can control how much time you spend with that person. If you’re being intentional about how you spend your time, you don’t need to default to spending most of your time with family simply because you’re related. Think of quality over quantity when spending time with these select family members and simply leave it at that.
If you have children, you may also want to limit the amount of time they spend around family members who don’t share your work ethic or mindset. Be sure to consider the influence that those around you may have on the development of your children as well.
4. You Can’t Surround Yourself with Negative People and Expect to Have a Positive Life
You may have life-long friends who were really fun to hang out with at one time in your life, but who have failed to grow or change at all since you were kids.
As you get older and your goals and routines change, so will the people in your life. You can’t let your social environment solely depend on how it has always been in the past. Just because you’ve known someone since the first grade doesn’t mean they still need to be your best friend.
Instead, spending time with people you admire will make you behave more like them, which will allow you to start seeing value in yourself where you hadn’t noticed it before.
People that you admire may have insightful things to say about you that help you gain some form of self-confidence. But if you don’t spend your time with these people, how would you ever know?
When you're surrounded by others whom you respect, you are sure to live a positive life.
5. Be One of the Five People to Someone Else
As you grow throughout your life and career and come into contact with people whose shoes you were once in, aim to be one of the five people that they want to spend their time with. One of the best ways to learn is to teach, and putting yourself in a position to do so can be beneficial to you and to your mentee.
Aiming to become a respected person in any domain of your life will help you change how you view yourself. In order to be respected by others, you have to first respect yourself. Doing so will allow you to have the confidence that you need in order to succeed and grow through various personal and professional stages of life.
Final Thoughts on the Average of 5 People Quote
What are your thoughts on Jim Rohn's famous quote, “You are the average of the five people you spend the most time with“. Do you think there is truth and insight in this quote? Or that it is all a bunch of baloney?
Are the people you spend the most time with the same people that you admire? If not, you’re likely not setting yourself up to be on the road to success.
Spend your time with the people who are already living the life you ultimately want to live–those who have been successful in your field or people that you really admire and aspire to emulate.
When you think about the people that you spend the most time with, if you lack a sense of pride for anyone’s values, ideals, or work ethic, it may be time to reconsider their role in your life.
Now get out and find your best five!
Finally, if you want to level up your productivity and time management skills, then watch this free video about the 9 productivity habits you can build at work.
Connie Stemmle is a professional editor, freelance writer and ghostwriter. She holds a BS in Marketing and a Master’s Degree in Social Work. When she is not writing, Connie is either spending time with her 4-year-old daughter, running, or making efforts in her community to promote social justice.