The Power of Influence… Be Selective
You are the average of the FIVE people you spend the most time with – or so the old adage says. Is this a mathematical or scientific certainty? Absolutely not. Why five? Why not three, seven, or ten? Truthfully, it doesn’t matter. What Jim Rohn meant was that the people closest to you have the strongest influence as to your behavior, your mindset, and your lifestyle.
This doesn’t require further explanation or clarification, does it? It makes perfect sense to me. If the people whose company you keep are driven to a fault, it’s highly probable that you are fairly driven yourself. Otherwise, it’s highly improbable that they would keep your company. Similarly, if you are passionate about health and fitness, it is likely that those in your immediate circle prioritize strength, vigor, and vitality.
Isn’t it great that those closest to you have a significant impact on you and you on them? Well, it depends. The ability to influence can be good or bad, but not likely both. Let’s say that you have ambitions to lose 30 pounds because you know that losing that weight would lead to better daily health and function. If the people closest to you, i.e. spouse, family, or friends, insist that your time is better spent going for dinners and drinks, watching movies, or “relaxing” as opposed to being active and meal prepping, your odds of (long-term) success take a severe hit. That’s if you are able to muster the will to begin that journey.
Although this may seem like a made-up scenario to make a point, it happens far more often than we’d like to admit. The people around you have a direct impact on who you are – if there are negative connotations to this, perhaps it’s time to evaluate who you’re spending time with!
Burning my Contact List
I’ll be the first to admit that there was once a time when I cared what others thought about me. I would compromise my being in the attempt to garner the validation of the masses. I would compromise my morals and values to expand my personal contact list. Being accepted, being “popular” was everything. Many of us, at one point or another, have fallen victim to this.
But then, I grew up. There just came a time when I realized that, in search of validation from everyone else, I lost the validation of the one person that mattered most – myself. From that point, I simply stopped caring about the opinions of the majority and refined that expectation to a select few. As a result, I did what many people are reluctant to do – I went through my contact list and started crossing off names. Names of people who had any potential for negative influence. Names of people whose relationship with me had no significant substance. I kept the names of people whose morals and values aligned with my own. Names of people whose passions and desires were similar to mine. Surprisingly (or not), I was left with but a handful of names.
It really isn’t rocket science. Time is an invaluable commodity and, if you value yours, it is best spent with people who support you and challenge you to grow physically, mentally, socially, psychologically, and spiritually. “If you are the smartest person in the room, you’re in the wrong room.”
It really isn’t necessary to name names because these are individuals who I communicate with regularly. It’s no coincidence that, like myself, they prioritize family, they are forward-looking and ambitious, or they value health and fitness. We never have benign conversations about the weather, movies, or celebrities. Our conversations revolve around things of substance, or at least what we deem to be substance. We will always challenge one another’s growth but never one another’s being. Whether it’s physically, mentally, socially, psychologically, or spiritually, there is potential for positive influence but never negative influence.
There’s no right or wrong – you are the only person that can define those expectations for yourself. The point is, identify the individuals that contribute any negativity in your life and individuals who provide no real value to your life. Abolish those relationships. Life is too short and time is too precious to be wasted on such individuals. It’s not an easy exercise but, I’m certain that by making your contact list exclusive and privileged, your life will start to improve.