NIV- “The righteous choose their friends carefully, but the way of the wicked leads them astray.”
When I came across this verse in my reading and began making notes for this post, the first quote that came to mind was the age-old saying our parents told us, “You become the company you keep”. But let’s take that one step further with another quote by the late leadership author and motivational speaker, Jim Rohn, who said, “You are the average of the five people you spend the most time with”. Simply put, the associations we keep in the present influences the person we will become next month, next year and even five years from now.
I first heard that Jim Rohn quote when I was 19 years old, back in Fall 2007. I was just starting my first business with a network marketing company and was headed to Grand Valley for my sophomore year. To make a long story short, instead of creating a strong positive environment for myself, I made the mistake of surrounding myself with a group of people that, looking back, was not a positive influence on me. Towards the end of what I call my wilderness semester, one that included not really accomplishing much in my life, I chose to attend a weekend business conference in Pittsburgh that my business was affiliated with. This was a decision that I now believe changed my life. There I saw people that were striving to grow personally by adhering to principles like the vertical alignment and the power of association. At one point during the weekend, a man speaking from stage began talking about how important our associations are to our personal growth. That was when I heard that quote by Jim Rohn. Ever have that feeling where you could swear the person speaking is talking directly to you? That was me that night. I took that quote to heart and returned home with new aspirations and a fresh outlook on my future. A few weeks later I made the decision to move home, another decision I believe was one of the most important I have ever made.
During those final weeks at Grand Valley, I learned an important aspect of the principle of association: when we surround ourselves with people who stretch us, we come up to their level. That’s ultimately what became my goal.
Here we are four years later, and I look back at that period of my life as a major turning point. My wife, family and friends will all tell you that I am a completely different person today than I was four years ago.
To review, the principle of association says that the five people we spend the most time with are our “circle of influence”. These are the people that most impact our thoughts, behaviors and attitudes. Moreover, my story proves that this principle can work for us or it can work against us. With that said, I’ll leave you with this quote by M. Hulburd:
“Character is so largely affected by associations that we cannot afford to be indifferent as to who and what our friends are. They write their names in our albums, but they do more, they help make us what we are. Be therefore careful in selecting them; and when wisely selected, never sacrifice them.”
Who are the 5 most influential people in your life? Are they stretching you to become a better person or are they working against you?