Why You Are the Average of the Five People You Spend the Most Time With
Be strong, be fearless, be beautiful. And believe that anything is possible when you have the right people there to support you.
Inside each and every one of us, there is the DNA of highest good, of optimum living and our greatest giving,
How do I know this?
Given one opportunity that spiritual DNA breaks free and turns the mediocre life upside down. A new life emerges based on the authentic and our purpose fits like an elegant glove. I have watched and participated in the transformation of work within thousands of people’s lives and that experience has given me absolute confidence in our ability to change and to navigate into our calling, our highest good, and our optimum life.
I believe that one of the greatest cravings in human beings is the desire to bring the best of us to the world. It is virtually impossible to attain and sustain that state if we spend most of our time with people who insist on the mundane, who practice cynicism and contempt towards the pursuit of the best within us.
Jim Rohn once said,
“You are the average of the five people you spend the most time with.”
If we associate with negative and pessimistic people, even our greatest optimism will ultimately wither or get wasted in dealing with more negativity and pessimism. If we surround ourselves with unsuccessful people, we will not succeed. Being aware of this raises our standards and we become more selective. For example, I never go to my single friends for advice on my relationship. No, the most successful influences will push us to not settle for familiar territory, they will stand up to our bad decisions and they will push us through the discomfort of growth.
Work ought to be treated as a relationship. Because, most of us spend our waking hours getting ready for, commuting to, being at, coming home and recovering from work. When we elevate work to a vital and richly rewarding relationship, every moment becomes more valuable and rewarding. But, living in that place requires courage and sustaining that courage is a product of the people who support us.
I work off of two standards. One comes from Jim’s statement. The other comes from a standard I fell into when I was designing Inspired Work. I wrote down,
“I only want to work with brilliant and loving people.”
As the words emerged, I realized that we actually have a choice. For years, I had worked in environments filled with aggression, gossip and a fair amount of negativity. Ultimately, it was a story and I had the power to rewrite that story.
Living up to this one standard gets tested all of the time. In my way back into the publishing industry I was introduced to a wide variety of agents. Some of them were brilliant, some not so much, a few were kind and many were scary, ruthless and mean spirited. A few authors told me that I ought to find a pit bull. Today, my agent signs every note with “love.” She is brilliant, unafraid and stands up for doing more than my best. My agent also gets me the best deals.
One of my colleagues is the brilliant management consultant Mindy Zasloff. We met years ago when both of us were asked to make presentations to the managers at the San Onofre nuclear power plant. One of the lead engineers was having trouble getting the VCR to work. I walked over to Mindy and whispered,
“We’re all going to die.”
We have been colleagues ever since.
I’ve watched Mindy facilitate the most difficult clients with elegance and brilliance. She is resolutely effective. Mindy did something long ago that demonstrates her heart. Once, I received a call during Thanksgiving dinner. My eighteen-year-old dachshund was dying. I raced home, slept on the floor next to him and said goodbye in the morning. A few days later, Mindy called. She said, “I’m so sorry. You loved that little dog so much and he had a wonderful home. Now, you are coming to our home tomorrow night.”
Mindy insisted on cooking a second Thanksgiving dinner for me. She pulled her family together and invited my remaining dachshund. I will never forget how she marked an occasion of great loss with kindness that was above and beyond loving and brilliant.
If you want to raise the average, here are a few characteristics to look for in people:
1. They regularly praise you and the praise is true.
2. They tend to forgive quickly and yet hold everyone accountable for their actions.
3. They are consistent and consistently kind.
4. They are not held hostage by their egos.
5. When they are wrong, they promptly admit it.
6. They never tell us, “Don’t be frightened.”
When we get frightened, they comfort us and inspire us to keep moving forward.
7. They approach the challenges of life with optimism and humor.
8. They practice right action and encourage others to do the same.
9. When we praise them, they never respond, “It was nothing.”
10. They bring out the best in us.