Back in 2011 I have attended a conference from CEO Space International, which really opened my mind to one of the most interesting business secrets. People around you affect your personal success.
So recently I sat down with a new friend I met for dinner. We talked about what it takes to achieve the goals you want to achieve in life. My friend is already a very accomplished professional. And yet, there was lots more he wanted to do. One conclusion I kept coming back to in this talk is that a large amount of how successful you will be in life comes down to the people you spend time with.
This is why: ‘You are the average of the five people you spend the most time with.’ Jim Rohn
This quote is one of the most powerful ones that I keep reminding myself over and over again. I am the average of the five people I spend the most time with. Others around myself determine how I think, how I act, and ultimately how successful I will be.
Navigating the jungle of start-ups and investors can seem seem daunting for freshly-minted entrepreneurs, but a reliable guide can make beating a path to success more achievable.
Fighting your way through the law of average: The sower and the reaper
You’ll face many struggles along the way if you are seeking success and happiness. If you are the sower, your seeds will get picked up by the birds first and won’t give a return. Then they will fall on shallow ground, leaving you with nothing again. Then they will fall on thorny ground and the sun will shine so hot that your small plant will die after the first day. No return either.
Then, one day, the seeds will fall on good ground and finally give you the expected return and success. The only way you can make sure that you will fight your way through this hardship is with the right people by your side.
Even the business world’s heavy hitters, like Mark Zuckerberg and Jeff Bezos, are increasingly relying on mentors to provide support and expertise. Some will even pay handsomely to establish this critical relationship.
So, who are the people you spend time with?
It doesn’t matter how smart you are. It doesn’t matter how talented you are, which skills you have, where you are born, or which family you came from. All that counts if you want to be successful in life is the people you surround yourself with.
It’s a notion so simple, yet so difficult to get started with. Something I tried to do very specifically is this exercise:
- Who are the 5 people in your life that you spend time with? As in, if your day has 24 hours, how many of those hours are spent with which people. (I’m guessing amongst people will be some members of your family, your spouse, co-workers and some close friends.) Write those 5 people on a piece of paper. (It’s ok if they are less than 5.)
- Once you have a list of those 3-5 people, ask yourself this: Who are they? What do they do with their lives? How ambitious are they, how successful have they been, how happy, optimistic, and enthusiastic are they?
- Evaluate carefully if those people will really be those that will help you get to the next level you want to get to. Do they push you forward when you come to them with new ideas, no matter what? Or do they tell you that what you have in mind won’t work? Will they keep you going once the birds pick up your seeds, once your seeds fall on shallow or thorny ground?
- Make a choice of who in your list you want to continue spending time with. Don’t be afraid if none or only 1 or 2 amongst your 5 people today meet the standard of excellence you want to set for yourself. Keep going, decrease the time you spend, and increase the amount of time you keep your eyes looking for people that you want to have as one of your 5 closest people.
- It’s ok to end up with this:
“Since last you heard from me, I lost some friends, well, heh, me and Snoop we’re dippin’ again.” ~ Dr. Dre (Still D.R.E.)
Don’t be afraid to lose some friends, support from your family, or anything else if that means you start surrounding yourself with the right people. Instead of becoming the average of some average people, dip with the best.
Not sure you want to drop the funds to pay for a professional mentor? Here are five of the business world’s latter-day Obi-Wan Kenobis to tell us why their service is so valuable.
Author and strategist Ron G Holland has a consistent record of delivering success for his business mentees, and sees the establishment of a high-grade support team as key.
“For one client we added an ex-chairman of Boots and an ex-Financial Director of Teather and Greenwood stockbrokers…also heavyweight professional advisers from a major city law firm and accountancy firm. We raised £1.5 million ($2.4 million) from the first stockbroker I introduced him to, after he had spent two years not raising a penny.”
|Establishing a business identity
The ‘Apostle of appreciation’ Chester Elton, motivational speaker and author of several bestselling leadership books, says a mentor helped define the values of his company.
“What would be our guiding philosophy? He taught us the ‘Rule of Three’ to keep it simple and focused. Our guiding rule of three is: (be) world class. In our writing, in our training and consulting we do everything we can to make it world class. Only the best is acceptable. Two: No surprises. Share everything and make sure we communicate on everything! Three: Cheer for each other. Let’s encourage and support each other.”
|Keeping you groundedLara Morgan entered business at age 18 and sold her first business for £20 million ($32.5 million). She is among the world’s most sought after leadership consultants, and says in many cases, it’s best to be blunt.|
“A great mentor is unafraid to tell you when a great idea you think you have had… is not all that great after all, whilst firing you up to stay focused on the main prize.”
|Managing transitionsDavid Clutterbuck is the self-styled “master of the MDQ (Massively Difficult Question),” an author of over 50 books and an international consultant to numerous businesses.|
“As small businesses grow they encounter significant transitions. What seemed a good decision when the company is just a few people can become a major problem as the business grows. Making key technical people managers may seem a good idea at the time. But when the business needs a proper management structure, these people may lack the competence to lead. Then, they either hold the company back, or the entrepreneur has to fire them, which can be a very painful experience. Roughly speaking, these transitions occur with every trebling of employee numbers.”
|Retraining your brainTV and radio star Ali Brown has become one of the top entrepreneurial gurus for women, and participated at the United Nations Foundation’s first ever Global Accelerator conference. She believes inner change drives success.|
“The biggest area for me is mindset. Entrepreneurs are handling a lot, it’s completely different to their previous lives, with a lot of pressure and responsibility. People don’t typically come to me about this — usually the first thing is how to grow the company — but thinking differently is key. Women often feel they need people to like them. I say they don’t, they need to be respected. It’s a small shift in awareness that can help people make good decisions that help their business grow.”
The people I spend time with
I believe I’m someone who took longer than most people to understand this concept. I clung onto relationships with people far too long. All of them were great people, people I respect like I want to respect every other human being. Yet, I always knew these are not the people that are dying to be incredibly successful, incredibly happy, and doing no matter what it takes to chase their dreams.
Gradually I learnt this, working my way to spend less and less time with them. Today, the people I spend most time with are just a handful of professional ones. They are most likely the smartest people I have ever worked with before. They have a focus and determination I’m constantly blown away by. I cling onto their enthusiasm, try to learn from their skillset as much as I can and get myself lifted onto the next level: purely by being in the same room with them.
A great portion of my daily interaction happens with them. The power they have is therefore incredible. I’m highly influenced and seek to be from them and their input. I know, because of their actions, experience, and daily work, the only impact this can have on me is a positive one. It is pushing me higher and onto the next level every day.
Whether you want it or not, I believe this is how it works. The people you spend the most time with make you. You are their average.