Other people’s thoughts and behaviors influence you. The people with whom you surround yourself affect your potential. This isn’t just speculation.
A person’s economic mobility is largely determined by the county they live in.1 Children from low income communities are less likely to have high earning potential than their affluent peers. It’s hard to break out of your surroundings.
Groups of friends may subconsciously pick up one another’s behaviors and living style. They use similar phrases when they speak, and they may influence each other’s clothing choices.
The effect of peer groups has not gone unnoticed in the corporate world as Jim Rohn quote,
“You are the average of the five people you spend the most time with.”
When we surround ourselves with strong, high-achievers with good character, we are more likely to become just like them. On the other hand, imagine how much of a negative influence low-achievers can have on you. If your five best friends have a poor outlook on life and are satisfied with sub-par performance, then there’s a good chance that some of that negativity will rub off on you.
Others’ Influence Is Easily Overlooked
In order to improve your life, associate with people with higher standards than you. If you have high expectations for yourself and you surround yourself with people who also have bold expectations, you’ll have a greater quality of life.
Everything that you allow into your life and every action you take reflects who you are. Tony Robbins once said,
“Let your grind be a reflection of the standards that you have set for yourself.”
This doesn’t necessarily mean that you have to have the fanciest things or work in the corner office right away, but it does mean that you do the best with whatever means you have. You don’t have to be top dog at the company to do excellent work. You don’t have to be wealthy to keep things organized. Going above and beyond will take you to the next level of success.
If you feel like you’re stagnating in your current situation, it might be time to make some changes. Change and growth can arise when you make conscious choices about your environment.
Beyond aspiring to improve your environment, keeping better company can go a long way toward helping you reach your goals. You can’t go through your life without people, and the types of people with whom you associate can impact your work.
For example, if your friends tend to waste lots of time on their phones and social media, you might be drawn into that cycle of distraction. If you’re health-conscious, but your peers spend all day munching on cookies and chips, you’ll have a hard time sticking to a nutritious diet.
On the other hand, when you’re surrounded by people who are focused when they’re working, you are more likely to be focused. In fact, it’s hard not to be focused because you want to be included and you don’t want to be responsible for breaking someone’s concentration. If you’ve never felt this type of motivation, step into a university library around finals. Everyone is united in their drive to succeed.
Your Network Is Your Net Worth
It’s a quote from Tim Sanders, the former director of Yahoo!
When you surround yourself with people who hold high standard to you, you are surrounded by people who strive to do better. Their energy is contagious and will positively influence you.
Motivation and dedication are contagious.
Imagine working on a team in which 80% of team members are highly motivated and 20% of them slack off. The slackers are in the minority, and they are surrounded by the high achievers.
For the 20%, there are only two options for them. They can’t continue to put out mediocre work because the 80% will not accept it. They will either be influenced to do better work, or they will quit because they are unwilling to keep up. In the end, 100% of the remaining workers will be highly motivated.
If we switched the percentages of high achievers and unmotivated workers, there would be a different outcome. If 80% of workers have a low level of motivation and 20% are highly motivated, the team’s outputs will be low quality. The high achievers will either lower their own standards, or they will become fed up with their team members’ lackadaisical approach. In the end, all remaining team members will exhibit uninspired work performance.
You’ll do more than you thought you could do.
When you are surrounded by people with low standards, you may feel like you don’t have to put in extra work. You may perceive yourself as good enough because you aren’t comparing your work with people aiming for continuous improvement.
This means that even though you may be doing better than the average person in your peer group, you haven’t even scratched the surface of your full potential. Highly motivated people are constantly striving for improvement, and when you spend time with them, you recognize that you have plenty of growing to do too. You’ll make more breakthroughs than you thought possible because you are pushing yourself.
For example, I studied Spanish when I was in college. Most people who were taking the Spanish didn’t care too much about it. When we had to review our translations in class, I was always stuck with a low-achiever. There seemed to be no upside to me putting in extra work since I wasn’t able to learn from my partner. I did well enough to get good grades, but I wasn’t progressing as much as I could have.
My professor was a great teacher, and he noticed that I didn’t seem to be getting much out of group work with my current partner. He paired me with the top student in the class. Suddenly, both of us started doing better work because we were 100% invested in our studies. Her high standards pushed me to work harder and think more deeply. My willingness to learn helped her sharpen her skills by discussing the work with me.
When you control your environment, you control your life.
A fulfilling life doesn’t just come about through a stroke of good luck. If that were true, then people who win the lottery would be guaranteed happiness. In fact, most people who hit the jackpot end up miserable because even though they acquired a windfall of cash, they could not control the people and circumstances around them.2
The habits that you commit to every day can have a greater positive impact on your life than getting a large sum of money. When you surround yourself with people who help you grow, you’ll make greater gains. Peers who enrich your life with their presence and actions can help you reach your goals.
One of my friends is a talented artist. He can take what other people would consider to be junk and turn it into fantastic sculptures. He came from a family that did not support his talent. He wanted for nothing in terms of food, clothing, and shelter, but he was completely miserable.
My friend almost gave up on his dream until he met other artists in college. He was surrounded by professors and students who believed in the transformative power of art. He began practicing his craft every day, and today he makes his living off his work.
For my friend, his family life was toxic. Even though he had all of his needs met, he didn’t flourish until he was surrounded by people who had high expectations of him.
Find Friends Who Strive for Excellence
If you feel that you’re stuck, seek out people who have high expectations. Take notice of the coworker that is only satisfied with turning in the best work, and the friend who seems to have a clear direction in his or her life.
Connect with people that have rigorous standards for themselves and others. Talk to them to figure out how they reached their level of success. Perhaps they have a philosophy or mindset that you could adopt to improve yourself.
When you talk to these people, try to learn their perspectives about work, relationships, and life. Analyze why they think the way that they think. As your relationship develops, you can share your perspectives and seek feedback from them.
As you discuss life and work with them, think about what aspects of their approach you would like to incorporate into your life. If some mindset or action has propelled them to be successful, try to emulate that. Mimicking positive behaviors can change your attitude. This is just like forcing yourself to smile to induce happiness or striking a power pose to improve your confidence.
This is not the same as blindly copying whatever someone else does to be successful. This is about thoughtfully analyzing the successes of others and finding what works for you.
Every Relationship Should Push You to Be the Best Version of Yourself
It’s important to keep high standards in all aspects of your life. Look for coworkers, friends and even a romantic partner that bring out the best in you.
By removing the toxicity from your life and seeking people that will accept nothing less than excellence from you, you set yourself up to achieve your dreams.