You Are the Average of the Five People You Spend the Most Time With” – Jim Rohn

The notion that you are the average of the five people you spend the most time with has been echoed by motivational speakers, successful entrepreneurs, and personal development experts for years. But with regards to your business does it really have that much of a significant impact on shaping your behaviors, approach, and ultimately, your entrepreneurial success? You bet it does. 

As with most folks, I’ve spent a good amount of my working life moving between varying groups. During the early days of my career, I was working alongside other recent graduates and junior managers, and in my mid-career, I was working with scientists, engineers, and consultants. In the later part of my career, I was surrounded by seasoned managers and corporate power players. And like most folks, I gave little to no thought about who I was surrounding myself with.  I simply went to work, put my head down, and let my career develop. And while that approach served me well for the majority of my career, there have definitely been instances where that approach was a costly misstep. 

Our daily interactions with other people affect our perceptions, attitudes, and actions and given that the bulk of our time, as business owners and entrepreneurs, is spent with employees and business partners, their influence on our thoughts and behaviors is profound. This influence will extend to all aspects of your life, particularly your personal life. 

Looking back over my career I can now recognize numerous episodes where I adopted the traits of those I was surrounded by. This was both good and bad, I developed an approach to teamwork, loyalty, and work ethics, from those I was surrounded with early on in my career that served me well throughout. And early on in my own company’s timeline, those that I surrounded myself with shared all my same attributes. As the company grew and became successful senior staff were hired, partners brought on and the dynamic changed. We were no longer the scrappy upstart that operated like a family, we now had a seat at the industry table and were rolling with the big guns. Narcissism, egotism, self-importance, and arrogance crept into the company’s Board of Directors and senior-level employees. Success, it seems, had an impact on me and those that surrounded me. My persona became the average of the people I was with the most and it wasn’t pretty.  My company had achieved all the success I could have hoped for, but I was a different person from the one who started the company and not in a good way. I had become arrogant and self-absorbed, egotistical and self-important. I had main character syndrome. And what’s worse is that I was disconnected from my family and the people that really mattered in my life, I was mirroring the mindsets of those I spent the most time with.

Now that I am removed from the toxic “corporate” environment that my first company evolved into, I am very intentional about who I spend my time with, I now have that luxury, and my life is infinitely better.

I choose to surround myself with positive and motivated people. It’s sometimes hard, and often exhausting, but it ultimately leads, for me, to an environment of growth in both my personal and business life. When you finally work yourself into a position in your career where you can pick and choose who you spend time with don’t let that benefit go unused.

Choose the people who inspire you to challenge your comfort zones and pursue your goals, seek those people out. Choose people who are intellectually curious, ambitious, and forward-thinking. Engage in meaningful conversations, share knowledge, and stimulate your curiosity by exploring new ideas and perspectives.

By being intentional about the company we keep, you can harness the power of positive influence, foster your ambitions, and create a supportive network. You spend most of your time with the people you work with so take the time to cultivate relationships that not only shape who you are today but also who you aspire to become tomorrow…and don’t forget they will be influenced by you as well.