Do You Raise the Average?

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You’ve undoubtedly heard Jim Rohn’s famous quip:

You’re the average of the five individuals you spend the most time with.

A quick Google search will turn up articles on LifeHacker,, and more all pointing to the singular argument; who you spend time with matters. They influence how you think, how you act, and what you believe.

Generally, the “law of averages” focuses on what you adopt from others. Your mindset, beliefs, and habits are influenced by those close to you. We can flip the equation around though and look at it a different way. You influence the mindset, beliefs, and habits of your close friends, which leads to a simple question.

Do you raise the average?

We’re really good at giving ourselves an excuse, the easy way out. In fact, there’s a whole mental model based around this idea; it’s called the attribution error.

When we’re late to the party or when we mess up, we’re quick to blame the error on things outside of our control. “There was a huge wreck on the highway that caused me to be late.” “I couldn’t get this project done because Betsy’s team was late with their work.”

On the flip side, we attribute faults in others to parts of their character. “Tara is always late. She’s just that one friend that never arrives on time.” “You can never trust Dave with this kind of thing. He always drops the ball.”

We’re quick to make character judgements about others but equally quick to build up excuses for ourselves.

The only way around this: Develop a critical eye for introspection. This doesn’t mean you should hold yourself in low self-esteem. It just means regularly asking a few questions.

Am I living up to my purpose?

Am I proud of what I’m working on?

Raising the average is simple. You have a circle of friends. Within that circle you each affect one another. Your beliefs, reactions, ideas, and habits are all influenced by those close to you and vice versa.

Don’t give yourself the easy way out. Ask the hard questions: Are you modeling habits that others want to emulate? Are you a positive force on others? Are you raising the average? If not, what needs to change?

Photo by Phil Coffman on Unsplash

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