One theory on life is that we are the average of the five people we spend the most time with.
I know my mom felt that way when I was growing up.
She would express concern if I started spending time with someone that she felt didn’t have the best character. And she would express happiness if I started spending time with people she felt were good influences.
You know how it is when you’re growing up, your parents are annoying and you don’t really pay attention to everything they say, but as you get older you look back and appreciate their advice.
I thought we could look at this ageless advice and identify some of the key people that would help us improve ourselves as we go through life.
Not many of these people exist. But if you have one in your life you can probably think of them. And they’re probably the person you go to first and the most when you need to discuss something important.
For many people this might be a parent or a spouse. It might be a sibling or a best friend. For others they may still be seeking this person out.
So often you’ll notice that others you tell things to will not really listen. They’ll wait until you’re done talking and then they’ll bring the conversation back to your life.
Or you’ll notice that they are quick to judge what you’re telling them and they’ll offer opinions when maybe you’re really just looking for someone to listen without judging.
This is an important person. Most of us need someone that will just listen. That will ask questions. That will help us work through challenging situations ourselves by just letting us speak.
2. Wise Older Person
You could have multiple people like this. I think it comes down to understanding the importance of having a mentor or someone that has lived a lot of life and that has a lot of wisdom to share.
This kind of reverses the previous point where you’re doing the talking. With a Wise Older Person you’re going to be sitting back and listening. You’re going to be asking questions without judgment. You’re going to be soaking in all the information you can because history has a funny way of repeating itself from generation to generation.
Laughter is great medicine for life. The more you laugh and feel good the better your life will be. I think it’s important to have someone that makes you laugh. It’s good to have someone that has a positive outlook on life and that likes when others feel good and are positive.
It’s tricky. You don’t necessarily want a class clown or something that gets into trouble, but it’s good to have someone that has a positive sense of humor. They don’t bring others down to try and be funny. They simply are good at telling funny stories or making fun of life’s general oddness and ridiculousness.
Who is the person that pushes you to do a little more? Who is never overly impressed with what you’ve already done and is the person asking about what you’re going to do in the future?
Maybe it’s your spouse. Maybe it’s a parent that doesn’t actively push you, but that isn’t overly impressed with you. You just kind of work to impress them because it makes you feel good when they’re proud of you.
Whatever the situation, it’s great to have a person that will motivate you throughout your life. It’s important even if you’re self-motivated. Internal motivation is vital and probably most important in life, but it’s good to have someone to push you during the times you’re not feeling self-motivated.
This person might bend the line between being honest and being tactful. You’ll hear often with celebrities or professional athletes that they can fall into the trap of surrounding themselves with people that tell them how amazing they are. It’s good to have cheerleaders in life, but it’s important to have people that are real in your life. You want people that aren’t impressed with whatever you do and that will give you their honest opinion and an opinion that you respect because the person is wise and knows what they’re talking about.
6. Successful Businessperson
You’re in business. It would make sense to surround yourself with one or multiple other successful businesspeople. It’s good to get perspectives from people in business from different generations. You can learn from older folks and from younger folks. Success comes in many ways and the more you can learn the better you’ll become yourself.
It’s also good to surround yourself with successful people in general. They’ll push you without even realizing it and you’ll notice that you’ll work to keep up and get to their level of success.
7. Younger Person
Kind of mentioned this in a few spots earlier in the post, but it’s worth its own point. We talk about the value in spending time with older people, but there is value in spending time with younger generations as well. I’ve noticed that successful people generally keep a tab on the pulse of what’s going on with the younger generation. For example, you might not use Snapchat yourself, but you pay attention to how kids are using it and you observe their behaviors and look for takeaways you can use in your life or in your business.
Always keep a pulse on what the younger generations are doing. Don’t judge what they’re doing necessarily. Just observe what they’re doing and try to figure out why they’re doing it.
This one might be your spouse. It’s good to have someone that will support your efforts and really believe in them no matter how they really feel about it. They might, for example, not understand a business decision you’re making, but they’re going to believe in you, support you and push you to follow through.. And if it doesn’t work out they’ll still support your decision and effort.
That’s very important in life just to keep your own sanity and persistence.
I’ve always been kind of a loner in life. But even I recognize the value of a team. One person can do a lot in life, but we all only have so much energy and time and whatever to give to something. A team can do so much just from a numbers standpoint.
I loved basketball as a kid and I’ll never forget what a coach told me. He said that if you ever think you’re the best player on the court that you’re still never as good as a team of five. Michael Jordan wouldn’t be able to go one against five on a court. He needs those other four guys to create a great result.
Not someone you hate, but someone that you want to beat even if it’s from afar. Many businesses have used a common enemy to get everyone on the team on the same page. When there is a common, clear goal it makes it easier for people to put forth effort that benefits everyone on the team.
Sports teams have rivals. I remember some years ago the Chicago Bears hired Lovie Smith and in his opening press conference he said the goal was to unseat the Green Bay Packers as the top dog in the division. That’s a clear enemy for everyone on the team to see.
How many of these people do you already have in your life?
Who do you need to seek out?
And on the other hand how many people in your life now don’t really fit in these categories. We didn’t even talk about the people you don’t want in your life. But you can probably come up with that list on your own. We all know the people that don’t add to our lives and that actually take away from our lives. But it’s not always easy to end the relationship.
But it might be necessary. We generally only have so many good relationships in life. Some of the types above can be filled by one person. That’s good. Those are the people you really want to spend time with especially if you can add them and remove someone that is negative.