You are the Average of the Five People You Spend the Most Time With

It is often said that you are the sum of the people you surround ourselves with. American author and entrepreneur Jim Rohn boiled this number down to five. If you want to be successful (and what successful means to you doesn’t really matter in this case), you should be mindful of who you let into your lives and who you allow to influence it. Now, five people may seem like such a small number but according to Rohn’s philosophy in personal development, it is more than enough.

Unless you live in some remote island (in which case how are you even getting the WiFi signal to read this), the middle of the desert with some Bedouin nomads or some small outpost in Antarctica, you undoubtedly know and spend time with more than five people. So how then are you to identify the crucial five people that are impacting your life?

Time is one easy indicator. Try and determine how much time you spend with every person throughout the day. Typically, your spouse, children, family and coworkers will rank high on this list.

Once you determine your five (it’s also okay if you have a smaller list), try to really dig deep on their psyche. What motivates them? What are their ambitions? How are they as people? Bringer of good energy or are they moody? These are all important questions, because their thoughts and actions have an ability, even a tendency, to spill over into your life.

Engage in some introspection and determine what value these people bring to your life. Are they going to be able to help you or push you to reach the next level? Or, are they the type to hold you or pull you down? The key is to always be looking forward and to always be working towards the goal. If these people do not propel you towards that goal, or at the very least not get in your way, then it may be time to rethink that person’s role in your life. This does not mean that you have to completely cut them out of your life forever, but it may be time to spend less time with them, and therefore decreasing the amount of influence they have on you.

Now comes the hardest part, whittling down the list. This is a time for honesty and the only person that can hold account for this stage is yourself. Come up with a list, a very short list of the 1 or 2 people that you would like to spend more time with. These people must have a profound and valuable impact in your life. Doing this not only shows you who has the greatest and most positive influence in your life, but it also frees up some space to explore relationships and perhaps find new people to include in your “five”.

Some may be scared at the potential of losing or alienating friends and family. But to reach the next level, to reach your goals, it may be well worth it.

2 thoughts on “You are the Average of the Five People You Spend the Most Time With”

  1. This is such great advice! You hear people talking about doing this or even posting inspirational quotes or memes about limiting the people in your life but so few actually ever do it. It’s SO important to go through these steps so you can move on with your life in a positive way surrounded by people who have a positive impact on you.

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  2. As someone who worked in behavioral health for over a decade, I cannot agree more with this article. We are so much more impressionable than we realize. But that isn’t a bad thing, if we’re intentional about what (and who) we allow to influence us. I love this advice so much. Do you have any additional material you would recommend on this topic, in the context of professional success?

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