People connected to me always like to comment on how much I have going on and how ambitious I am. Things weren’t always like this, however. Just a handful of years ago my life consisted of school and work like many in their early 20s.
What changed everything was this amazing thing called The Law of Association.
Its another universal law as I like to call them. Let’s call this one the Universal Law of Influence. Now this law is useful for everyone whether you’re an entrepreneur, student, or employee. It’ll help you with friendships, and relationships. Hell, it’ll even help you if you struggle with your weight, depression, or ANY aspect of life.
The master teacher once said…
The late great Mr. Jim Rohn referred to the Law of Association as the Law of Averages. You’ve probably heard some rendition of “you are the average of the 5 people you spend the most time with.” My friends grandma used to say “show me your friends and I’ll show you who you are.” It’s a pretty powerful sentiment and best of all pretty true. The thing is that it’s only scratching the surface, there’s so much deeper you can go. If you have any aspect of your life that you want to change I want you to ask yourself the following 6 questions:
- Who are the 5 people I spend the most time with? – Think hard! Are you always with the same friends or family members? Do you hang with the same people at work everyday? Do you follow someone religiously on social media? Do you mostly read a particular author’s books? Take inventory of who or what commands a majority of your time.
- What do they read/suggest I read? – Do they even read at all? If so pay attention to what they read and why. Is it for academia, pleasure, self-improvement? Do they read gossip magazines, news articles, satire news sites, scholarly journals, or even manga. Most importantly what are they sharing and recommending to you?
- What do they watch/how often do they consume digital content? – Do your 5 people all binge watch Netflix? Stay glued to YouTube or the TV screen. Are they constantly sending you memes or World-star compilations? Do they watch anything educational or wholesome? Are they obsessed with negative news?
- What do the listen to? – What kind of music do they listen to, what does the music represent? DO they listen to Podcasts, audio books, comedy specials. Do they still listen to the radio? Do they listen at all or just speak? What about listening to advice from others, or the elderly?
- What do they say/what are you repeating? – Are they constantly on the conspiracy theory train? Do they complain all the time? Do you find yourself mimicking their negativity? Do they think life is out to get them? Are they overly negative? Do they constantly gossip? Do they know more about celebrities than their own family? Are they “woke?” Thoughts are things and words are powerful!
- The question to bring it home… – Is that OK with me? – After you spend some time evaluating your inner circle of people, this question is what’ll start you on the road to change. Everything that these people like and dislike has influence on your own likes and dislikes. And vice-versa. Think about what you want out of life, do your friend’s traits map to that outcome? Are they going in the same direction or are they on a different path altogether? Do they encourage you to pursue your path of choice or theirs?
These questions changed my life FOREVER! Once I started looking for the answers to these questions I had to make some hard choices. If you took the time to look for your own answers you might have some hard choices to make as well. Before I get to that I want you to know that, though these people may want something different from what you want, they are not bad people per se. Some people are just on a different path than you.
So what do you do?
Well if everything is good with your inner circle, you don’t need to do anything. One thing to consider is that every 3-6 months your inner circle will change by at least one person. Meaning you should make it a habit to audit your life a few times a year. Now if your choices in friends leaves you less than thrilled you can do one of two things or maybe both.
Option 1: Change your friends…
Yep change them. Now that you’re more aware of your inner circles habits and how they influence your own, take action. Influence works both ways my friend. Be subtle by changing your own habits to map with the life you want. For me this meant cutting back heavily on TV watching. It also meant diving into self-improvement and changing what I thought/talked about on a regular basis. I started talking about entrepreneurs, caring about how I spent my free time, quoting motivational speakers, and building businesses. Some people caught on. My little brother has gone through this transition with me and remains one of the most influential people in my circle because of his shift. Others didn’t change which leads to…
Option 2: CHANGE your friends!
You know that cute little saying that goes “if you can’t beat them, join them?” Yeah, fuck that saying! If your friends are not on board the bus heading in the direction you want to go, then it’s time to get some new friends. It sounds harsh but it’s absolutely necessary. You might think your friends won’t hinder your growth or hold you back, especially if you’re careful to avoid major shifts off course.
I’ve got news for you, the worst offenders don’t forcefully push you off course, they gently nudge you off course! It’s hard to notice because sometimes it’s disguised as helpful advice. “Maybe you’re just not good at that,” “live within your means,” “people where we come from don’t make it big,” or something subtle like that. Did you know that I minor shift off course can have major consequences over a length of time?
Check this out, if a plane, travelling from Los Angeles to New York, is just one degree off course it would end up missing its destination by 40+ miles over the course of the flight. That means instead of New York it would end up in New Jersey or Connecticut.
Now I’m not saying to ditch your friends completely, but you probably want to learn some new skills.
- There’s limited association. Some people you can spend 5 mins with but you can’t spend 5 hours with. It’s a balancing act, become less available to these people. Avoid doing things that aren’t congruent with your path whenever possible. People will get the hint if you are rarely available to go get drunk or you disappear when the conversation turns into a pity party.
- Then there’s complete dissociation. For some people you have no choice but to completely cut them off. They’re just too negative to overcome their influence. Some call them Toxic Dream Stealers because they shoot down your ambition every chance they get. I once had a friend that told ALL our mutual friends to not support my business when I first started an MLM business. Even after I had supported him with his failed MLM attempt years earlier. Needless to say we’re no longer friends. That kind of negativity is unacceptable if you really want to change your life.
- Lastly, there’s expanded association. For some people you need to increase the amount of time you spend with them. The best people to get around are 1 or 2 steps ahead of you in your journey. Say you want to be a blogger or entrepreneur. You’re going to want to get around someone that’s been doing that for a couple of years successfully so that you can pick up on their good habits and philosophies. They don’t have to be physical associations either. Read books, watch YouTube videos, follow people on social media and talk to them. The point is to absorb higher quality messages and it all counts at the end of the day. Practice these new habits regularly and you’ll be well on your way to change.
Since I’ve started doing this on a regular basis I’ve lost “friends” but I’ve gained strong relationships. People that I thought would be around for life have practically disappeared. But you know what? I couldn’t be happier!
I’ve grown by leaps and bounds over the last 5 or so years. I still reconnect with old friends from time to time and with some of them we immediately vibe. With others the difference in mindset is so drastic we might as well speak different languages.
So my friend I end with this…
Associations are powerful. Never underestimate the power of their influence and one day you just might achieve all the things that you’ve ever hoped to.
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