Who are the five people you spend most of your time with? What do they stand for? Are they successful? What do they do for a living? How much are they earning? Are they happy? Are they healthy?
Did you know that you could tell a lot about a person by knowing the company they keep?
You are the average of the five people you spend the most time with. – Jim Rohn
According to Jim Rohn, a successful author and motivational speaker; whether you like it or not, your thoughts, beliefs, attitudes and actions are greatly influenced by the people you surround yourself with. It does not matter how smart or talented you are, your associations play a major role in determining who you will eventually become.
Some people are greatly offended by Jim Rohn’s statement. For them, the statement underestimates the power of free will. They argue that if you have the will, no amount of discouragement can influence you. Second, the statement encourages discrimination. For example, what if one of your best friends from elementary school is not that successful, will you lose that friend just because of that?
However, think about it for a second. How many of you can honestly say that you were never ever, under any circumstances, influenced by the people around you with your decisions? Although the degree of influences are different for each individual, all of us at some point in our lives, have been influenced by the people around us – in simple things like where to eat and what brand of cellphone to buy to major things like how to solve our relationship and money problems.
A peer is a person who is of the same level as you. He or she can be your classmate, your officemate or a person from your club. Peer pressure occurs when they influence you or encourage you to do some things whether directly or indirectly.
When I was in college, for some reason, I ended up with a group of friends who studied a lot; which was quite not like me in high school. When exams come, everyone was always well prepared. I didn’t want to be the only one unprepared during exams. I figured I had two options then: to join them or to ditch them. To cut the long story short, I ended up studying a lot in college. Thinking of it now, I was fortunate enough to be surrounded by people who pushed me to be a better version of myself.
Peer pressure is present not just in school but also in the workplace, even in your own family. However, not all peer pressures are positive. What is important is that you must never give in to negative pressure. If your peers keep on telling you to do things that are not good, then I think it is time for you to ask yourself if you are in the right company.
My point is, peer pressure does exist and numerous studies have proven that it has a powerful impact on your day to day decisions. For years, sociologists have argued that human behaviors are highly contagious. You cannot help but conform to the people around you, at least to some degree.
Supposed you want to go on a diet. And you have two group of friends – one group is into healthy eating and the other group loves to eat fries and burgers. In which group do you think you should spend more time eating with? If you have decided to go with the second group, do you honestly think you will never be tempted to at least try the food that they are eating especially if they seemed to be enjoying themselves? Even if they don’t actually convince you, you will be tempted just by watching them eat.
In another example, let us say that you ate lunch with a friend and somehow during the course of the meeting, you have convinced him to invest in your business. You are supposed to meet again later in the afternoon to finalise the investment. Your friend did not show up at your meeting and texted you he won’t be investing anymore. What do you think happened in the afternoon? There is a big probability that he talked to several people and they all advised him not to.
There is actually a scientific explanation. A mirror neuron is a a specialised nerve cell that fires up when a person acts and another person observes the same action. The other person mimics or imitates what the other is doing. You have seen this happen to a baby. The first trick that a baby usually learns is the close-open gesture of their hand. What happens is that you put your hands in front of your baby and you show him/her the action over and over again. And then one day, you just see the baby doing the trick. Those are the mirror neurons doing their work.
In a Harvard Medical School Study on mirror neurons, results showed that there is a correlation between yourself and your environment. According to the study, there is a 59% chance that you will become obese if you hang out with obese individuals.
We cannot deny the fact that the people you spend your time with influences your consciousness level. Spending time with goal achievers will help you become a proactive individual who will do something with your life to achieve your goals.
Do not get me wrong, I am not in any way suggesting that you ditch your friends who are not successful. What I am saying is that you adjust the time you spend with the people around you. Spend more time with awesome people – people that can lift you not just financially and professionally but also emotionally and spiritually.
Ameer Rosic, an entrepreneur and marketing specialist, suggested that you should classify your friends into three groups: A, B and C.
- Identify all of your highly successful friends on Group A. Spend 60% of your time with them.
- Group B are those people who are not yet there but they have the right attitude and discipline that will make them successful some day. These people are willing to learn. Spend 30% of your time with these people.
- Group C are your energy vampires. You will know who they are because these people complain a lot. The thing that they complain about is the same thing that they have been complaining since last year and the year before that. They also love to play the “blame game”. Each time something bad happens in their lives, they will blame it on their boss, the government, inflation or to anybody around them. They refuse to take responsibility. They are called energy vampires because they suck the energy out of you. Spend only 10% of your time with these negative people.
What if you do not know anybody in Group A? Well, there are two ways in which you can spend time with these types of people. The first one is through direct contact. And the second one is through their work. Every highly successful person out there has many things written about them. Read their books. Watch their interviews. Listen to their audiobooks on your way to work instead of complaining and stressing yourself about the traffic. From there you will learn about their beliefs and actions.
It is like playing tennis. If you want to master the game, you are not going to play with a beginner nor are you going to play with a player who has the same skills as you. Instead, you will play with an expert. You will hire a coach to tell you how to improve your skills. The same is true in life. Do you want to be wealthy? Do not ask advise from a friend who is broke. Learn from the wealthy. Read their success stories. Learn how they handle money.
He who walks with wise men will be wise, but the companion of fools will be destroyed. – Proverbs 13:20
So even with the correct mindset, it will be difficult to achieve your goals if you are not surrounded by like-minded individuals. Instead of pulling you up, they have the tendency to drag you down. Thus, choose whom you spend most of your time with.