You are the sum of those around you

Show me your friends and I’ll show you your future.

– Unknown

Welcome back. Thanks for reading along with me. This week, I’m talking about the people you surround yourself with – at work, in your personal life and online.

It’s one of the most important, valuable, evergreen lessons I’ve learned – you are the average of the five people you spend the most time with. That goes for friends, family and teammates.

Growing up, I didn’t have the benefit of this simple, but crucial advice. I wish I had…

As humans we’ve evolved to want to fit in, to mimic those around us, to not get kicked out of the tribe. That last one would have proved fatal just a few hundred years ago.

No matter how far technology and our lives have advanced in the last hundred years, human evolution has yet to catch-up; we still carry around the same evolutionary imperatives that our great, great, great grandparents did.

Despite this evolutionary truth, most of us fool ourselves by thinking that we can override or outsmart our biological programming. We think we can surround ourselves with people who don’t have great habits. That we can ignore the qualities we don’t want and focus on the good qualities we want to mimic.

But we can’t. It’s too hard. Mother nature always wins in the end. So you end up picking up the bad habits (sloth, envy, greed) of those you surround yourself with.

And it’s not just the people we surround ourselves with. It’s also the books we read, the podcasts we listen to and even the social accounts we follow.

This last one was a big wake up call for me personally. The accounts I follow on Instagram, Twitter and YouTube shape my reality as much as the people I surround myself with in the real world. What I see and hear in these apps becomes my reality.

So here’s my challenge to you. Prune your lists. What do you want your reality to be? Audit your social media accounts, be mindful of who you’re following not just in life but online.

Choose wisely. These accounts will shape your reality.

When you set out to pick your teammates, role models, mentors and even just who you decide to follow on social media, consider the following:

  • Be careful who you take advice from.
  • Just because everyone has an opinion, doesn’t mean you should listen.
  • It takes practice to filter out the wrong people.
  • Choose your role models wisely.
  • Role models are different than mentors.
  • Mentors are the people who are years ahead of you. They have achieved big things.
  • Role models are the people you interact with daily.
  • You can keep mentors for years but you should change your role models regularly.
  • Changing your role models forces you to learn, grow and evolve.

How do you pick your mentors and role models? What practices do you follow to stay mindful of who you’re surrounding yourself with?

– DC

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