Jim Rohn is famous for coining the word, “You are the average of the five people you spend the most time with.”
This means you can pretty much tell the past, present, and most importantly, a person’s future by merely looking at their closest friends.
Just how valid is this claim? And, if indeed your friends determine your life’s course, how can you surround yourself with those who inspire you?
Are you the sum total of your friends?
There’s no direct answer to this question. This is because while you may be in other individuals’ company, your mind and thoughts are somewhat your own.
However, research shows your friends have a lasting impact on how your life pans out and the decisions you make along the way. This is why you were told over and again that who you surround yourself with is who you become.
While your close friends’ impact may not be immediate, you’ll notice a gradual change before and after meeting your friends if you’re keen on it. This is especially visible for those still in their formative years.
You’re probably trying to scan through your friends and see if they have had an imprint on your life. If you do not realize your closest friend’s impact on your life, you can ask someone who knew you both before and after meeting these friends. The objective party will help you get a clearer picture.
Detaching yourself from the wrong crowd
Before getting with the right group, you’ll first need to boot anyone who’s not beneficial to your growth and progress. If you look at your close friends, can they help you get to the next level? Will they challenge you to be better than you are today?
The answers to these questions may not be as straightforward, but there are a few tips to help you eliminate toxic friendships and surround yourself with the right people.
Traits common in friends you don’t want around you include;
- Pessimistic friends: These ones will always find something negative about anything you say.
- Exaggerative friends: They will always overstress how their negative life experiences will happen to you at some point.
- Gossipy friends: Some friends want to spend all of your time discussing other people. Gossiping about others adds no value to your life or goals.
- Egocentric friends: If you have a friend who only thinks about themselves, you should distance yourself as this will only harm you in the long run.
- Overly dramatic friends: Stay away from friends who always try to blow everything out of proportion, especially negatively.
- Friends who don’t listen: Some of your friends are only concerned with themselves and will give little-to-no attention to anything you have to share.
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The danger of groupthink theory
This quote is a powerful illustration of just how much influence your friends have on you. This phenomenon of having your character directly tied to that of your friends is known as groupthink theory.
In short, the groupthink theory states that you’ll likely end up agreeing with anything your close circle of friends decides upon. This sheepish mentality is a result of you wanting to fit in and feel part of the group.
The groupthink theory highlights the importance of surrounding yourself with the right people. This is because you can be sure even when you’re influenced into a decision, it is the right step for your future.
A toxic environment
Your close circle of friends has a significant influence on your life and the decisions you make. However, this power does not end with your close friends. Everything around you will –to one degree or another, impact the decisions you make.
This means other than distancing yourself from the wrong kind of friends, there are other aspects within your environment that you should watch out for. These include the programs you watch on TV and even the people you follow on social media.
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Cultivating a healthy environment
As indicated above, your close friends have a lasting impact on your life. Additionally, your environment can determine the direction your life takes.
From this, it may sound like you don’t have an active role to play over your future. Fortunately, this couldn’t be further from the truth. You can select the right friends and build a thriving support system by changing a few aspects of your environment, including;
- Disengaging from futile conversations
- Surrounding yourself with successful and positive influences
- Reducing conversations with family, friends, and colleagues whom you deem as toxic or counterproductive
- Sharing your thoughts and ideas with people who’ll positively challenge you and lead you to growth
- Getting a mentor to help you achieve your dream and goals
How do you surround yourself with the right people?
From the above segment, you can clearly see your friends are a significant part of your success or failure. This leads to the question; how can you choose the right friends?
Herein are a few tips to help you choose the right friends for you.
1. Look beyond where you are
The truth is, you can use aspects like groupthink theory to help you advance in life. If, for example, you want to start a business, you should get friends who’ve already established businesses.
This way, they directly or indirectly challenge you to get to their level of success. Whatever you want to achieve, surround yourself with people who’ve already passed through the stage.
2. Choose friends with similar goal and values
When choosing your friends, it is crucial to understand what they stand for as what their vision is. You don’t need to out rightly ask these questions, but you can observe over time. As you get more familiar with your friends, you’ll know whose values are similar to yours, and who to keep at arm’s length.
3. Get friends with ambitions and a thirst for knowledge
It’s difficult being the odd one out in your circle of friends. This means if they are all ambitious people, they’ll influence you with the same qualities. The right group of friends will challenge and empower you to get a step higher.
Aligning yourself with the right people
You will notice that people feed off the energy of those close to them. That means if you have toxic friends, you too will share in that energy.
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Featured Image by Arifur Rahman Tushar from Pixabay