“You are the average of the five people you spend the most time with.” – Jim Rohn

This is a quote made by Jim Rohn, motivational speaker and self help guru. To be honest, I don’t fully agree with this statement because it negates the fact we have our own consciousness as well. The quote will be more accurate if we revise it to: “You are the average of the five people you spend the most time with, including yourself”.

Regardless, I believe the key underlying intent of Jim’s quote is who you spend time with influences the person you eventually become. Who you are with can elevate you as much as it can bring you down.
My experiences with different groups of people

The type of people you interact with influences the (1) consciousness level you operate in and (2) the subject matter you engage in. It brings out a side of you that is further reinforced by their default response tendencies, thus perpetuating the situation. Below are some examples of the different groups of people I’ve interfaced in my life; you will probably find parallel experiences in your life as well from them.
Junior college years

In my junior college (JC) years during 2001-2002, I was immersed with people who were of pretty low consciousnesses. The JC I was in was not the best one around; most of the students enrolled because they were not able to get to the other higher ranking ones. Some of them were quite bitter and disgruntled; conversations commonly swirled in negativity and inferiority comparisons vs other higher ranking colleges or the doom and gloom of life. It did not help that even some of the teachers had a condescending attitude towards the school and the students.

When I was with negative teachers or students, I found their negative thoughts rubbed off me, regardless of how positive I may have been during the encounter. These thoughts remained as residual energy afterward which subsequently affected my thoughts and behavior. These two years marked one of most negative periods of my life; for the most part I remained unaffected because I was very grounded in self-belief.
Working in my previous company

When I worked in my previous company from 2006-2008, the people around me were of much higher consciousness than people I was previously used to. These were very talented individuals who were the cream of the crop from wherever they came from; they were very solution-driven, positive and driven. It was extremely invigorating and uplifting just to be around them; The positive energy would just build on itself infectiously.

In my general day-to-day life, I encounter sleepwalkers who generally lack a core focus in their lives. Their lives revolve around working, eating, sleeping, partying, random entertainment and generally getting by. When I am with them, I find it very difficult to branch the discussion beyond lower level, fear/ego-based topics such as gossip, complaining, unhappiness or dissatisfaction and day-to-day weary, to more higher-level, love-based topics such purpose, self improvement, and so on.

About a month back, I had the opportunity to interface with a group of millionaires. It wasn’t exactly a consciousness raising experience for me as the topics were very heavily focused on money and extrinsic possessions; but it was definitely an eye-opening one. The conversation focused a lot on the high life, materialism, buying branded goods, fine wining and dining and traveling around the world.

I’m not saying that all extremely rich/successful people are this way; just that this particular group behaved in this manner.
How people around you can affect you

There are two variables that interplay in determining how much of your thoughts and actions are influenced by people around you. The first is your consciousness and resilience as an individual. The second, is the collective sum of the consciousness of the people you are with. These combine to give you a weighted impact on who you become.

You may be the most conscious and smartest individual around, but if you are constantly surrounded by negative, fear-based people in your life, it will have an impact on who you eventually become and your progression in life. If you are heavily rooted in yourself, there might be a limited downside that negative friends can bring you. However, you are also getting a limited upside because you are spending time with people who are holding you back vs people who can be elevating you.

This is what Robert Kiyosaki experienced as well, which he shared in Rich Dad, Poor Dad. He had two dads- his real dad, stuck in the middle-class with limiting viewpoints on money; his poor dad, one of the wealthiest man in Hawaii and was smart about getting money to work for him. By consciously choosing to interface with his rich dad to learn from him, he acquired many thinkings and mindsets of how to become rich, which eventually led him to become successful in life.

If you hang out with a group of successful, positive-minded individuals who believe in taking responsibility for their lives, you will move to become a proactive individual who shapes his/her future. If you hang out with a bunch of pessimists who believe the world is out to get them and there is nothing worthwhile, you will start descending into the negative whirlpool at some point, even if you are initially a positive individual.

This is especially important in goal achievement, because the consciousness you vibrate at affects the kind of thoughts and actions you undertake. If you want to lose 20lbs of weight, you need to think as your end persona; the person who is clean cut in making diet decisions. However, if you are constantly surrounding yourself with people who eat a lot, you make it harder to restrict yourself. At this point, your ability to stay on track in your goal will boil down to how grounded and resilient you are. Think of how much easier the task becomes if you were hanging out with like-minded people with similar visions, or even people who have already been there before.

Of course, this does not mean you should sever relationships or cut away every single person who does not contribute to your goals. It just means you should reduce the amount of contact you are having with people who do not enable you to become a better person. Only in the event that the person is seriously dragging you down should you resort to cutting him/her completely away. Remember, if you are entrenching yourself in relationships which are not elevating you or bringing yourself forward, you are not really helping yourself nor anybody else since you are not being the best you can be and subsequently, not being the best you can be to them.
Exercise to identify your core circle

Let us do an exercise now. Pick up your pen and paper, then write down the answers to the following questions:
1. What is the kind of person you want to be?

What is your ideal self that you wish to become? What are the qualities you want to possess?
2. Who are the 5 people you spend the most time with in your life currently?

How are they like? What are the top 3 qualities each of them stand for?
3. Do they match who you want to become in the future?

Do their qualities match who you want to become? Do they help enable or disable your vision for yourself? Do they elevate you or bring you down?
4. Who are the top 5 people who embody the qualities you desire?

They should be people you aspire to become and/or respect in some way or another. There are no rules here – It does not matter whether the person is a specific individual or a general person, outside of your social circle, lives in a different country or dead. It can be someone who already achieved the end state or goal that you want to achieve. It can Oprah, Benjamin Franklin, Albert Einstein, Obama or whoever. Let your imagination run wild here!

If one of your career aspirations is to be a chef, you can list Iron Chef or a world-renowned, international award winning chef as one of the 5 people. If you want to lose 100lbs, list someone who has already achieved this goal or someone who has your aspired body type/weight. If you want to be a movie producer, list someone who has achieved acclaimed successful in this line of work, such as Steven Spielberg, James Cameron, Peter Jackson, etc.
5. How can you increase contact with them?

This is where the interesting bit comes in. Depending on who the people are, you can use the following methods to reach out to them:

Direct contact:
This can be via face-to-face contact, telephone or via email/internet. How can you increase the opportunities of interfacing with this person? If you know the individual, how can you communicate with him/her more often? If you don’t know the person, does this person belong to a certain community which you can be part of? Do you have any friends who might know this individual? Is there a way for you to bridge into the same social circles?
Products of their work:
If direct communication does not work out, you can always bring the person to you in the form of his/her works. Does the person have any works under his/her name, such as shows, books or podcasts? Get your hands on them and soak yourself in them. These materials were after all written/made by them and the content will convey their consciousness and knowledge. In essence, being exposed to these materials is equivalent to interacting with them in person.
This one sounds like the most airy fairy method out of the three, but it can actually the most powerful. Clear your mind and visualize these people in your mind. Try to project them as clearly as possible, from how they look, think, act, say. When you are done, consult them in your mind and observe their responses to whatever you ask. It can also be used in daily life, where you project their persona onto you in your situations and think/act the way you think they will.Napoleon Hill wrote in ‘Think and Grow Rich‘ that every night before he slept, he would have an imaginary council meeting with his ‘invisible counselors’. The council started out with a group of 9; it eventually expanded over time to over 50. These included people such as Darwin, Einstein, Aristotle, Confucius, Socrates, and the like. Through these nightly council meetings, he received immense inspiration, knowledge and ideas which he credited for his success in life.

Transitioning to the new you

What will happen from here on as you increase your contact with these 5 people? If the disparity in consciousness levels is high, you are probably going to start off feeling terribly misfitted. They will probably talking in lingo and topics which are different from what you are used to. Even when they talk about topics you are familiar with, the perspectives they come from can be totally different and not something you looked at before. You probably feel awkward around them.

But if you are to connect with them every day, even if for just 15 minutes a time, it’s a matter of time before your consciousness alters and shifts to the new level. If you are a stubborn individual in a low consciousness, it will take a longer period of time; if you are a high consciousness individual who is highly adaptable, it will take a shorter amount of time.

Eventually, you will start resonating with these people you aspire. You will find that you start thinking in the same wavelength and start talking about the same topics as them. Those thinking will then affect your actions, which will manifest into results you see in life.
Shape your life by choosing who you are with

By choosing who you spend time with, you are literally shaping your own future. Start by examining the people you spend the most time around. Consider if these people are enabling you towards your envisioned self. If they are not, identify and increase contact with the people who will enable you to become the best person you can be