“You Are the Average of the Five People You Most Associate With.” Think about the gravity of that phrase. Think about the five people you spend the most time with, maybe your five closest friends. Think about their qualities, both good and bad. Consider their work habits, their wealth, the type of food they like to eat, the kind of entertainment they enjoy. Now look at yourself and consider where you fit in the continuum. I’ll bet you are right in the middle of their most extreme traits. As I’ve been studying what it means to be a better leader, I came across this concept first brought to us by Tim Ferriss and Jim Rohn. Their position states that we tend to associate with people much like ourselves. I’m going to challenge you all to defy this principle by being better than the average.
Let’s consider a quick example of the five people you spend the most time with on a daily basis, in this case, your coworkers. Now picture that one coworker that was always ripe with cynicism, ready to let the smallest thing ruin their day, usually the first one out of the office, leaving you to stay late and clean up their mess. Now picture that person out of your life. You and the other people that typically associated with Debbie Downer are suddenly free! Free to enjoy your job more because there isn’t a constant negative force sucking your energy, free to accomplish your work in a timely fashion since you aren’t cleaning up their problems. Wouldn’t it be nice if we could just solve all our problems by simply distancing ourselves from these people? I say that’s the easy way out, it’s not how a true leader would handle the situation.
What is proposed above is addition by subtraction: remove the negative force and everyone else in the group rises up. Although this is a great strategy in our day to day lives (“I don’t spend enough time with my family so I’m going to stop watching television and put away the cell phone after work” which is a great thing to aspire to), and occasionally, it becomes necessary to cut ties and simply move on from a truly despicable person, when it comes to our relationships influencing us, addition by subtraction is rarely the right strategy, and typically isn’t physically possible. But you know what is always a possibility? Making yourself better. Becoming EXCELLENT. When you take yourself to another level, when you up your game, it’s going to raise your associated group up with you. When others see you going up, they have a choice: go up with you or stay where they are. The people you want to associate with are going to follow you, the others will slowly go by the wayside. This is a huge consequence of being a leader others want to be like you.
Now it’s important to understand, we aren’t shutting out those people who can’t raise up with us. I’m not advocating for kicking those people to the curb, de-friending them on Facebook, or shutting them out of your life. I’m simply stating that they will quickly move out of the group of five people that make you, you. This concept can have a great impact on your practice as well. Too often we find ourselves removing a team member from the group because “he wasn’t a good fit for the team” instead of examining why he wasn’t fitting in well. Maybe that front office leader had great ideas about how to pre-collect money from patients, but no one else was on board. Perhaps you could have risen up with that person, and others would have followed. As the leader of your practice, you need to inspire your team to keep up with your excellence. They follow your lead, so look at where you are now, and go to the next level. Show them what it means to be excellent and they will follow.