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One of the (many) snippets of wisdom I’ve learned from Coach Poliquin is that you are the average of the 5 people you spend the most time with. I don’t think Charles came up with this concept; I know I’ve heard it a few times. It’s kind of one of those things you ‘get’ the idea of, and maybe even agree with a little and yet still roll your eyes at and don’t think about again.
I have a theory on this. I think it’s human nature to turn a bit of a blind eye to things that require some measure of change. Usually, this change involves (perceived) pain. In this case, if you decide to take seriously the ‘rule of 5’, you either have to accept that you may not be reaching your potential due in part to the things and people you surround yourself with, OR you have to get serious about changing your environment. Ouch.
According to Johnny B Truant, writing here for Copyblogger,
“Your weight is destined to become the average of the five people you’re around most. Your habits (smoking, drinking, etc.) will correlate with those folks. Your level of marital satisfaction, of outside friendship, of ability to play the 1990s video game Street Fighter? All are tied to some degree to those of your peers.”
What’s your take on this? Do you agree? Disagree? Not sure? Before you make up your mind, let’s consider something slightly less painful than linking your physical shape and fitness to that of your friends or associates. How about your moods? Your motivation? Your determination to create your dream career – or life? In my experience it’s true that the most powerful element in any group tends to prevail. For example, if you spend much of your time surrounded with people who talk negatively about money, your perception (and therefore reality) will likely end up inline with theirs. I know that when I hang out with people whose businesses are at more of a starting point than mine I find it tougher to motivate myself toward new goals. This is one reason I make an effort to attend training days and networking days with big-name bloggers (for example). It forces me to question myself and rise above.
I’ll give you another example. A couple of weeks ago, one of my telecoaching clients popped in to pick up something from me. We were chatting a little about motivation, and how tough it can be to apply everything I talk about in the telecoaching program. My advice to her was to focus only on progress, not on doing everything overnight. The main thing, I said, is that you can look back over the past 6 months, or even the past few weeks, and know that you’ve made positive change. No-one said it’s meant to be easy to do everything it takes to be in great shape, right?
Well. Her response was that it is for me. But here’s the thing. It’s not necessarily that it’s easy for me to follow my own advice, although I do so most of the time. I put that partly down to years of habit, and certainly I’m highly motivated by maintaining my physical fitness and appearance, but there’s also the fact that I work with 30+ personal trainers, most of whom are in great shape, and all of whom can be found sitting around at 7am in the staff room on one day or another eating meat and green veg for breakfast. All of whom workout every day, sometimes twice a day. And yes, we party hard when we party, but 80% or more of the time we are walking the talk. I can’t even begin to imagine how tough I would find it to eat well and be healthy if everyone I worked with or spent most of my time with, was sitting around living on a diet of junkfood/grains and maybe hitting the gym once or twice a week. Peer pressure affects me as much as it does anyone else; I’m just lucky enough to have some great peers!
In the article I linked to above, Johnny goes on to say this:
“The truth is that we humans are pack animals, and the need for acceptance and love is hard-wired deep in our brains. People like people that they resemble, so getting that acceptance and love almost always means practicing some degree — at least on a subconscious level — of conformity.”
So tell me this. Who is your pack? And be brutally honest? Are you sinking to their level, or are you working together (deliberately or not) as a group to create the lives you’d love to live? And do you care enough to change anything?
PS – yes, I think my gang is pretty hot! I admit it 🙂