You earn the average of your five closest friends.
You ARE the average of your five closest friends.
I’ve read those statements so many times in so many different places. Truth be told, those words have always angered me. They sounded so extremely superficial – something I try very hard not to be.
In the past few years I’ve continually raised the bar on my goals but never was I willing to drop people out of my life who might bring my “average” down. There was just no way.
Recently, my youngest brother and I were having a conversation on why we do some of the things we do. For instance, some of the habits we have might seem strange or even wrong to other people but to us these things are totally normal. They’re a part of how we were raised.
Our conversation led us down a big rabbit hole until we really started hitting hard on the normalizing behaviors concept. And now, I can understand the meaning of these statements that had once completely put me off.
How Your Environment Shapes You (For Good or Bad)
One of the topics my brother and I discussed involved people we went to high school with who are now in prison due to drugs or have died of a drug overdose. While almost everyone will whole-heartedly agree that using and selling drugs is wrong, the truth of the matter is that sometimes it’s all a person knows.
If a child grows up watching his parents do drugs every day – Then does hard drugs for the first time at a very young age with his parents – And knows that his parents sell drugs in order to support themselves, guess what is going to happen?
This life becomes completely normal.
Where there might be a moral dilemma for you and I to use and sell drugs the morality component is gone for this person.
This an extreme (but all too real) example of how behaviors become normalized. What we are exposed to on a daily basis and the people we’re around shape us in who we become, how we feel and what we think.
I’m often one to say that if I can do something that anyone can do it. While I still believe that’s true to a degree, there are people who are going to have to work incredibly harder than I did to achieve the same results.
(Just like I’ll have to work incredibly harder than others to achieve the same results.)
We’re not all standing on equal ground here. The quickest way to level the playing field is to put yourself into a new reality. A reality that you want to be living.
The good news is that if you’re aware of the fact that you’re always normalizing behaviors and that the people you’re with the most are shaping what YOUR normal is, you can definitely make a change. You have the ability to make your normal what you want it to be.
You just have to remember that…
- Who you spend the most time with matters
- What you fill your head with matters
- Where you get your advice from matters
So, What Can We Do?
Compartmentalize. (Sort of.)
One thing I’ll never do is write someone off because I want to earn more money and they don’t fit in with what I think my average should be. No way.
The solution to this instead is to be selective in who you go to for what. For instance, I can find the top five people I look to for career advice. I can find the top five people I go to for love and support in general. I can find the top five people I go to for parenting advice.
There may be an overlap in some of these people. That’s okay.
The main thing you need to be aware of is that the people you’re around DO have an immense impact on who you become. If you see a behavior repeated over and over it becomes normal.
Use that fact to your advantage.
You don’t have to completely write off the people you love. Instead, start seeking advice from people who have the traits you want until you develop those yourself as a new normal.