There is a saying that you will be the average of the 3 people you associate with in a given area.
I can testify to the accuracy of this statement, in my life at least. It was only in my forties that I realised that my life had been kind of moulded by the people I hung around. As I looked back into my past with a critical eye I began to see patterns. It started in primary school. Growing up, I wasn’t interested in my school marks at least until report card time that is. My friends weren’t either. We certainly didn’t compete around academics. We did compete around other things and in those things I grew better. Mostly sports. It wasn’t until high school that I started to think I was smart and as it turned out my friends had become more competitive in a positive way around our grades. This I believe, helped bring my marks up until I was getting the equivalent of A’s. “Who da thunk it”. My friends were still competitive in sports which helped me become the captain of my tennis team, captain of the Far North Queensland athletics team, placing 3rd in the state titles for Judo and being a good soccer player I also coached my own U 11’s soccer team.- There was very little television back in the day.
My parents split when I was in grade 11 and we moved to another area and I was enrolled into a much larger school. My overriding motivation now was to fit in. I was adopted by some great guys who have become life long mates and I still consider them that way. Hopefully they feel the same. My core friends were very interested in sport and girls and it became that way for me as well. I started life saving and played with them on a premiership winning rugby league team. I was enjoying being part of the group but they weren’t as interested in school marks and so over the next 2 years my marks fell away until some were very low. To be fair to my mates there was another thing affecting my marks, I had been accepted into the army based on my past performance and basically at the beginning of grade 12 I had a job to go to. Bad move. Comforting, but not for my academics.
In my work life this happened as well. When I was in the army you would get moved around a lot and the dynamics of your unit could change often and quickly so you had lots of different influences around you. I would train like a champ when I was around sporty types, party like a champ when I was around the party group and soldier like a warrior when I was around those who liked soldiering.
The other thing this tells me is that I obviously didn’t have many clear plans for myself and a lot of the time I was probably operating in other peoples goals programmes. That’s not to say I didn’t have dreams and aspirations as I know I certainly did. Its just that my need to fit in or for positive attention could lead me in the direction the group I was hanging around was going.
In business I also noticed this. We had a hard time breaking 100 students at one time and after talking to a mentor he alerted me to the fact that the people I was connecting with mostly had schools with between 50 and 150 students. So that put me smack bang in the middle. I changed my associations and over the next year we grew to 2oo and then upwards. Once you get to over 300 students there wasn’t many schools of this size so I have had to look for mentorship in lots of areas.
Knowing all of this I have come to a couple of conclusions and they are:
Firsty, it’s important to have clearly defined and written down goals. These goals should have written affirmations attached so you can keep reminding yourself of your purpose. These affirmations will allow you to notice people who can enter your goals programme rather than the other way around.
Second is that it is not important what place you have in a group or sphere of influence so long as those people in the group are going in the direction you want to go or are already there. If you hang around people smarter, fitter and more successful they will lift you.
Thirdly, make sure you have plans in all areas of your life. Most of us have work or money goals but as we get families, some of the other areas drop off like health, fitness, mental investment, new knowledge, spiritual investment, social interaction and so on.
In our self defence school, if a parent says that they are concerned about a sudden change in their child’s behaviour I will always ask who is the new friend in their circle. That almost always points to the problem. Depending on their age the other obvious ones are stress from work load, drugs, social media or bullying.
In conclusion, I believe it is so important that we manage those we have in our inner circle and if we are a parent, to manage those in your child’s inner circle. I will give a word of warning here and that is to say very few people will cut themselves from a group no matter what pain they are receiving from the group. The reason is largely the fear of the unknown and being alone. Like a lamb at a wolves party the idea of belonging to no group is far worse than the negative direction the group is going in for most. Also people might have a life long attachment and don’t want to hurt their friends feelings. One strategy I usually suggest when this is the case, is to try and add people to your group if you can’t leave. Try and bring a bright person in if the group isn’t worried about learning, a sporty person for the less active and a strategic person if you are in business. It is not using up people but rather giving yourself and your group the best chance to reach all your goals.
Sometimes we just have to bite the bullet and break free. Especially where the relationships are toxic, leading to destructive even life threatening behaviour, such as what my mum had to do in my teens.
Take time to look at your associations and see what new ones might take you to the next level.
You won’t regret it.