I became intrigued when I heard the statement expressed by Jim Rohn, “You are the average of the five people you spend the most time with.”
If we can look at the 5 people closest to us and say we are a reflection of this combined group, we need to ask ourselves, are we happy with what we are seeing?
This is a thought-provoking question. If we sit back for a moment and really think about the people we spend the most time with, we find that some people are on the list because we consciously choose to spend time with them and others happen to invade our time because of circumstances beyond our control.
This requires us to look at what choices we’re making regarding the people we spend time with and asking ourselves - are these people good for us?
Hopefully, we can say that at least 2 or 3 of the people on our list are people that we truly choose to be with – good friends and family members who are so good for us that we appreciate their presence as a gift from the universe. It is easy to see the gifts of care, kindness, love and support that they bring into our lives and we often wish we could spend even more time with them.
At the same time, many of us find ourselves in toxic relationships that we can’t seem to avoid – sometimes out of convenience and sometimes out of necessity. We may have an abusive boss that we need to put up with on a daily basis, landing him or her on the list of the top 5 people we spend time with. That needy family member that we can’t get rid of and is draining us of energy is another that may make our list. It’s important to notice that some of our friendships may be toxic as well, yet we keep going back for more. How often do we find ourselves putting up with a negative person, who saps us of energy so that every interaction leaves us feeling frustrated, angry or annoyed?
Often we feel that we don’t have a choice in this matter but the truth is that we always do. I’m not saying surround yourself with a bunch of ‘yes’ men (or women!) who make you feel good. But I am saying, ask yourself if the people you hang out with are good for you. ‘Good for you’ can mean people that disagree with you, challenge your thinking and provide alternative perspectives for you to see yourself. ‘Not good for you’ means people who demean you, suck all the life-force from you and demand so much of you that there is nothing left. You know what that means and you know who those people are! It’s really about asking yourself if you are making a conscious choice about who you spend time with or if you do it because they happen to be in your space. That choice is always in your hands.
A personal example of this for me was when I changed my career to become an executive coach. As I was doing the research and finding out how viable coaching is as a business, I came across many coaches who said, “keep your day job, you can’t make a living out of coaching”; “coaching is great as a hobby but not as a profession”; and my personal favourite, “what? An actuary leaving their career to be a coach? You must be mad! You earn the highest salaries as actuaries – don’t do it!” Of course all these people were well meaning and trying to give me a ‘realistic’ picture of what its like for coaches in the world of business. However, I was passionate about my career change and determined to make it a success so I began seeking out people who were working as full-time coaches and doing well. With this group of people, a very different picture emerged. Here I began hearing how it is possible to have a successful coaching business if you work hard at it; how the rewards of working in your passion are worth the effort. The spirit of abundance and sharing that I experienced with this group of coaches made me want to be a part of this world all the more. I began hearing success story after success story and consciously distanced myself from the naysayers… And it worked! After 6 years in a full-time coaching business, I can say that it is possible and it is worth it.
It’s easy to associate with a negative group and get sucked into the negativity. Or, we can make a choice to seek out the people who will give us the perspective we want to go for and keep at it!
We need both our supporters and our critics – the people who will encourage us no matter what and the people who make us challenge our own thinking, who offer different perspectives so that we can stretch ourselves even further. So make sure you are intentional about whom you choose to spend time – spend more time with those that bear gifts and less with those that drain us.
So… who are the 5 people you spend the most time with?