Who are the people closest to you? Did this question make you stop and quickly tally your best friends and neighbors? Maybe glance through those on your favorites and speed dial lists? I recall the first time I heard this statement. It made me wonder what my friendships said about me.
Jim Rohn, a motivational speaker that focuses on time management, goal setting and leadership skills made this statement. Consider this though: it doesn’t say “those you call your best friends” or “those who have known you the longest” or even “those who love you the most.” The quote says that you are the average of those people you spend the most time with.
So what exactly does that say about you?
College was a great learning experience for this idea. I had the privilege of studying with some pretty incredible musicians and was often extremely humbled by their talent in comparison to mine. One fellow student was so impressive he came to college as a freshman at the ripe age of 16 (and had his PhD before he turned 25!).
Because music was a hobby and not my specific focus in high school, I fought for my grades. But I quickly began to realize that spending time with the people who had music as their dedicated focus all along could help direct my focus. When you love what you do, you study it, practice it, talk about it and analyze it. Over and over and over. And you get such enjoyment out of doing these things with people who feel the same way.
The benefit, of course, is the details are sharper, the knowledge is broader and the confidence is better. Your skill is honed by all the time and dedication to the craft. My firm belief is that these people elevated my abilities simply by being around them.
Now this whole idea might be easier to understand when speaking of a musical talent or athletic ability. So what if you are now working in a job or a parent or living alone in an apartment?
I still think this concept applies. Do the coworkers you sit with at lunch challenge you do work harder and be a better employee? Do your neighbors encourage you to be a better citizen? Are the people you spend your weekends with spur you on to be better homeowner/spouse/parent/friend? Currently my coworkers are toddlers (and my husband of course) and yet the moms we spend our time with at the park or at library story time are what will affect how I am as a mother to my own children.
These relationships affect our self-esteem, our decisions and even our thinking. Not only do those close to us offer encouragement and motivation to be better, but they also can offer constructive criticism and feedback to prune out the things that aren’t improving your life. If this is true, these people can have a great affect on our ability to succeed or fail.
Maybe we need to take stock and analyze the people with whom we spend the most time. I don’t think this means eliminating people who aren’t pushing us, but maybe limiting our time with them. What areas of our life need improvement and what person could inspire significant growth?
I would love your thoughts on this idea. How have you pushed your skills? What people have encouraged you to be a better version of yourself? Can you credit anyone for helping you cut out areas of your life that were holding you back?