I was listening to a podcast today where one of the speakers quickly mentioned, “You are the average of your 5 closest friends, right?” I had never heard that before. I mentioned it to my friend over the phone later that day and he never heard it either. So I figured it deserved a blog post. The more I thought about that statement, the more I realized how true that probably is. If I surround myself with healthy, intelligent, challenging, and interesting people, I will probably start to become those things. So there it is, the answer is to dump the underperforming friends in my life and pick up some better ones :). Aaaaand that’s where this whole idea breaks down. These are your FRIENDS! So obviously it is cold and cruel to size them up and drop them if they don’t challenge you enough. With that in mind, here are some actual takeaways:
- Grow Together. Leverage your friendships with people that are interested in improving some area of their lives with you. Use them as partners in growth. For example, take a class with a friend, start exercising with a friend.
- Fill the Holes. If you find that you seek to grow in an area that your current close friends are not able to help you grow in, then seek out a new source of encouragement. For example, if you want to become more of a reader, and none of your friends share that desire, join a local book club or get involved with a site such as goodreads.com to help fill the void.
- Grow your Pool. I highly doubt that this whole idea of people rubbing off on you stops at five people. While they may not have as much influence as your closest friends, simply surrounding yourself with people who can have a positive influence on you is good practice.
Finally, one word of warning. I thought about including the phrase “Be someone of influence” in the bullets above, but I realize that this can quickly turn into becoming arrogant and makes it easy to offer unsolicited advice. Something along the lines of “Hey Bob, I notice you aren’t very good at being on time. I always am, let me tell you how I keep that a priority”, this may quickly land you a dirty look and a loss of respect if Bob didn’t ask for it. Just worry about improving yourself, and being yourself, and your influence will rub off on your friends, for better or for worse.