Jim Rohn famously said that you are the average of the five people you spend the most time with.
Whether this concept is scientifically proven or not, we all have seen through experience that if you surround yourself with five losers, you will be the sixth.
Why is it that our environment has such an impact on our outcomes?
I think because you start modeling the behaviors of the people around you.
If people are talking about gossip and nonsense, then that’s what you’re going to talk about. If they’re talking about all the things that they’re not able to do, all the barriers that stand in their way, how everything’s outside of their control, what the economy is, and who is president — if they just have this external locus of control, believing that life just happens to them, and they are stuck in a victim mindset that they’re just so unlucky, all these bad things keep happening, and there’s nothing they can do about it — that’s one thing. If you surround yourself with that, that’s going to be your feedback loop too.
Alternatively, if you surround yourself with people who are very growth-minded and who have an internal locus of control — where it’s not just that life happens to them, but how they respond or how these obstacles are creating opportunities — and they’re talking about ideas and strategy and leadership and culture, now you start modeling that type of thinking as well. You start thinking, “Okay, maybe I’m not a victim. Maybe these are things that are happening not to me, but rather for me, and that are allowing me to grow and evolve and become the person I must become to achieve the thing that I want to achieve.”
That’s a very, very empowering mindset.
I would also say that if you are the most successful person in your circle, then you’re not going to have a whole lot to learn from other people — and keep in mind that there are different definitions of success.
Say we’re talking about financial success. If you are by far the most financially successful person in your circle, then you’re probably not going to learn as much from other people in that environment about how to achieve greater financial success.
Alternatively, let’s say you’re the greatest financial success in your circle, but you’re trying to become a better parent. (Imagine if Elon Musk was in a mastermind on parenting. Yes, he would be the most financially successful, but he would not be the best parent. So he would have a lot to learn.)
So depending on what you’re trying to achieve, surrounding yourself with people who are either ahead of you, are more successful than you, or have learned more lessons than you will significantly accelerate your progress.
The same concept applies in business. The best partnership structures in organizations generally stem from the fact that either there’s a partner who has more money than you, a partner who has more skills than you, or a partner who has more time than you. If you are all three — you’ve got more money, more skills, and more time than everyone — the partnership is not very valuable because what’s everyone else bringing to the table? There has to be something complimentary in each of those areas.
I think that’s the most important thing when it comes to surrounding yourself with the right people.
A final thought: Oftentimes, it’s not so much of an additive process so much as it is subtracting people that do not add that sort of value.
If somebody does not support you, if they’re not an advocate for you, if they don’t want to see win and celebrate your wins, then they’re going to be an anchor. They’re going to hold you back.
Being protective of your circle is one of the most important things that you can do if you’re trying to be successful.
If you just allow your environment to dictate itself, to create itself by default and not by design, then you’re going to be a slave to whatever that environment is. You’re going to have to work against the laws of physics and inertia. You may have all these detractors around you disguised as friends — these same critics and skeptics that are essentially either badmouthing you, criticizing you, holding you back, or working against you. The amount of energy that you have to exert to just break out away from that will slow you down in so many ways.
It’s hard enough to grow a business and solve those problems. It’s even harder when you have a bunch of anchors holding you back.
Trying to climb up a mountain with a bunch of ankle weights and actual anchors themselves is harder to do that than with a jet pack.
So choose the jet pack.