Birds of a feather flock together. The people with whom you habitually associate are called your “reference group.” According to research by social psychologist Dr. David McClelland of Harvard, your “reference group” determined as much as 95 percent of your success or failure in life.
Who do you spend the most time with? Who are the people you most admire? Are those two groups of people exactly the same? If not, why not? Jim Rohn taught that we become the combined average of the five people we hang around the most. Rohn would say we could tell the quality of our health, attitude, and income by looking at the people around us. The people with whom we spend our time determine what conversations dominate our attention, and to which attitudes and opinions we are regularly exposed. Eventually, we start to eat what they eat, talk like they talk, read what they read, think like they think, watch what they watch, treat people how they treat them, even dress like they dress. The funny thing is, more often than not, we are completely unaware of the similarities between us and our circle of five.
How are we not aware? Because your associations don’t shove you in a direction; they nudge you ever so slightly over time. Their influence is so subtle that it’s like being on an inner tube out in the ocean, feeling like you’re floating in place, until you look up and realize the gentle current has pushed you a half mile down the shore.
If you haven’t already, jot down the names of those five people you hang around the most. Also write down their main characteristics, both positive and negative. It doesn’t matter who they are. It could be your spouse, your brother, your neighbor, or your assistant.
It’s time to reappraise and reprioritize the people you spend time with. These relationships can nurture you, starve you, or keep you stuck. Now that you’ve started to carefully consider with whom you spend your time, let’s go a little deeper.
I’m constantly weeding out of my life people who refuse to grow and live positively. Growing and changing your associations is a lifelong process.