When I first heard the saying ‘you become the average of the 5 people you’re closest to’, I instantly knew there was a lot of truth to it.
Thinking back at some of my earlier
friendships, I don’t remember ever thinking that my friendship with them would
influence the course of my life – but in hindsight, I can see that that’s
exactly what happened.
For good and for worse.
Now I’m of the opinion that the influence of your friends has a subtle yet hugely powerful impact on your values, thoughts, actions and behaviours.
As a consequence, our closest friends’
influence will impact our goals and achievements in life.
Scary but true.
I’ll share a story from my own life and more importantly, give you my view on how you can become better at noticing this influence, which ultimately means you are able to take control of your life.
When I was a young school child, I remember being hugely influenced by my parents and teachers, who all emphasized the importance of studying hard and get good grades.
So far so good, I did indeed get good grades and got accepted into my first choice university. Hurray!
The next phase of my life however was a bit more chaotic to say the least. For the first time in my life I saw myself surrounded by other young party-loving kids, and although I don’t remember the point where my goals and values changed, they sure as heck did.
For the next 3 years, the motto of my life became to just enjoy life and have as much fun and adrenaline inducing experiences as possible.
I joined the Wine & Cheese Society, took fencing classes and danced at Top Banana Club Night every Monday. You read that right, Mondays, not Saturdays.
I remember feeling like I was ‘living life on my own terms’, whereas looking back, I was just doing what all my other friends were doing.
Soon however graduation loomed and it was now time to get a proper job. While the influence of my parents and teachers to get onto a graduate scheme still kept playing at the back of my mind, I didn’t spend as much time with them as I once had, so their influence was weakened.
Instead, I got a brilliant idea to travel to India and work as a marketing intern in a PR company. It definitely felt like my own amazing idea at the time, but in hindsight, going to a developing country for a year of adventure was a very popular thing to do amongst the people I was hanging out with at university.
Do you get the idea?
I’m not trying to say I didn’t have a choice
in any of this, or that I’m not grateful that I got a good education.
But the truth is –
You rarely notice at the time, just how much you’re influenced by the people close to you.
I love the saying:
‘Standing on the shoulder of giants’
Meaning that people discover truths by building on previous people’s discoveries.
Flip this around, and then consider the power that bad relationships can have on you. If you are close to people that have negative attitudes, beliefs and behaviours, this is slowly but surely going to rub off on you.
Do you recognise the feeling of meeting a friend, and feeling completely drained afterwards?
Or meeting another, who leaves you with a feeling of excitement and positivity?
The influence of friends is so powerful, that if you want to create the best life for yourself, you should surround yourself with people who have lots of the qualities you admire.
This is different for everyone, but to me, this includes people who
- Display positivity
- Show gratitude
- Take responsibility for their lives
- Go after their dreams
In today’s age, the friends we surround ourselves with include all the people we follow and admire online. So take a close look at your social media accounts, as well as all the friends you see in your free time.
Are you ready to give your circle of friends a big health check?
1. First, ask yourself…What kind of person would you love to be?
What would you like people to say about you at
Note down all the qualities you’d love to possess.
Then ask yourself honestly –
2. Are these qualities present in the 5 people I spend the most time with?
Is there someone who is taking more energy and
pleasure from you than they give?
Everyone goes through bad phases, so before you end a friendship, you should of course try to help that person overcome their negative beliefs. But you have to also be realistic, look at past patterns and ultimately think about taking your one life into your hands.
3. Surround yourself with new, inspiring people
How do you do this?
- Do you have any acquaintances who you have a great impression of, but haven’t gotten to know as well as you’d like? Invite them home for dinner, or offer to buy them a drink. Always think about how you can add value to their life, what can you educate them on, and who can you connect them to. You’ll not only feel great and will have made a new friend, but they will likely return the favour in the future.
- Are there any public figures you really admire, or would like to get to know better? Read their biography, and follow them on social media. Don’t just read, try and implement some of their teachings, interact with them online and thank them for the value they’ve added to your life.
- Do you know of someone who has the job or business you’d die for? Reach out to them, be humble and tell them what you admire about them. Ask if they have 10 min to speak to you on the phone. I did this very successfully when I started out as a coach, in fact more than 50% of the people I emailed agreed to give me their time. It made me incredibly inspired and I learned a lot.
Be honest and specific with yourself about what qualities you’d like to possess, and what you’d like to be known for.
Then cast a critical eye on your friends and ask yourself to what extent they are adding these qualities to your life.
Be creative about adding new, inspirational people to your circle of friends.
You literally shape your future by selecting
the people you spend the most time with, carefully.
So my advice is to take your life into your own hands, and maximise the time you spend with inspirational and positive people, while minimising time spent with the wrong kind of people.
PS: I’d love to know which of the 3 methods you have used, to add more inspirational people to your life?
Christine Mitterbauer is a Career & Business Coach, who works with ambitious professionals on getting more clarity and confidence around their career and business decisions.
How to Get Sh*t Done will teach you how to zero in on the three areas of your life where you want to excel, and then it will show you how to off-load, outsource, or just stop giving a damn about the rest.