It’s a bit of a mouthful this week’s blog title, we’ll give you that, but we want to explore the famous quote from Jim Rohn, which states that “you are the average of the five people you spend the most time with…”
We’ve looked at this idea before in our series of Trinity U podcasts and blogs, but the opinion of such a well renowned businessman and widely respected personal development guru has to be worthy of a little more consideration from any business/ life coach platform worth its salt.
And we’re worth our salt.
For many people out there, in both business and personal life, this message rings true, as they find themselves replicating and repeating the attitudes and behaviours of their five closest companions.
Often, the ‘Negative Nancy’s attract the ‘Naysaying Norman’s’ whilst the ‘Positive Peter’s’ find themselves pally with the ‘Optimistic Olivia’s…’
That’s just how it goes.
So, network appropriately and aim to be the best influence you can be in the process, but do you need to limit that networking to ‘the fantastic five’ if you’re lucky enough to find them?
No, you don’t.
It just so happens that absolutely everyone in your life counts, whether they’ve made it into the list of five, if you’ve met them just a few times, or even if they’re just a friend of a friend of a friend on Facebook – like it or not, they all influence us, and we influence them. All of them.
Don’t just take it from us though, actual academic studies have been carried out into this sort of thing.
Nicholas Christakis and James Fowler were pioneering in this field of research, examining the Framingham Heart Study’s data. This study on social influence was based on one of the largest and longest running health studies ever, and the duo’s analysis of the data turned up some pretty interesting conclusions.
They started with a relatively easy and culturally significant measurement – obesity.
Staggeringly, if a friend of yours (that’s someone in your list of five) becomes obese, then you yourself are 45 percent more likely to gain significant weight over the next two to four years.
But listen to this, and here is proof of why Rohn’s idea of ‘five people’ is perhaps a little limiting…
If a friend of a friend becomes obese (and that’s someone from outside of your list of five) your likelihood of significant weight gain still increases by around 20 percent.
Even if you don’t know that person!
Believe it or not, the study also found that a person once more removed from your supply chain of chums can still have a significant effect on you, by as much as 10 percent.
Underneath these findings are things like attitudes to certain eating habits and acceptance of lifestyle choices, but how are we influenced by people we haven’t met?
There are two main ways, it’s either passed along the chain (explaining the drop in percentage the further out from your five you go) or it’s through things like social media.
It’s pretty powerful that stuff, as you hopefully already know, all you internet influencers and Facebook marketplace marketers out there.
These cause-and-effect relationships are thankfully not limited to only the negative changes, such as the occurrence of weight gain and obesity, but are actually so many and varied that absolutely anything your friends or even your friends of friends do, think and become, can be written in the stars for your own life, too.
Except, it’s not just down to chance, is it?
Because remember, you have the power to influence who you spend the most time with.
You have the ability to choose whose social media your feed is filled up with.
You have the opportunity right now, to build a network that serves you in the best possible way., in life and in business.
Let’s look at a few of those words in a little more detail…
Power – you are in charge of your own destiny. Others will influence it clearly, but who those others are, is up to you.
Influence – you will have as much impact on others as they’ll have on you. Have a think about how many people you know would include you in their list of five.
Ability – you have bags of it. That’s why you’re setting up in business, because you believe in your ability to succeed. So will others.
Choose – it’s all about choice, and you get to choose who you spend your time with. It can be tough sometimes, but if it’s not a good match, if it’s not influencing you in the right way, is it worth it?
Opportunity – take this opportunity to evaluate the network you have and reflect on how it has influenced you up to now.
Build – Finally, building your network is one of the best foundations you can lay for successful business and for a happy life.
So, what are you going to do about all this social influence?
You can’t bunker down with your five most trusted allies. You can’t put blinkers on to everything else that’s going on around you, and we’re not even saying you necessarily need to get back to the drawing board with your mates either.
Being aware of what’s happening is the first step. Doing something about it is the next one, and Trinity U can help you to take it.
Before you start trimming the fat though (to continue the obesity thread) don’t you dare forget that you are just as influential to other people, and to the friends and associates of those people, as they are to you.
If your attitudes, behaviours and actions aren’t helping them, would you want to be ‘cut’ or would you want to be given a helping hand to get back on track and to start making a positive impact?
It works both ways, it always does.