Author Terry Lancaster discusses the great power in how we influence and are influenced by those closest to us.
“You are the average of the five people you spend the most time with.”
There’s probably nothing that has more impact on our health, happiness and prosperity than the people we choose to surround ourselves with.
Those you associate with affect how you think, how you act, and who you become. We’ll accept that as a given, but here’s the part that doesn’t get as much attention:
You affect the people you associate with as much as they affect you.
Metronomes and Hockey Players
I ran across this great video of 32 metronomes ticking off 32 random rhythms until they gradually synch into the same frequency. It’s amazing to watch. Especially notice the one lone hold-out that struggles mightily to march to the beat of a different drummer right up to the very end, when it finally surrenders and synchs with the other 31.
I’m the captain of recreational league hockey team prophetically called “BEER.” We named it that specifically so that, when people asked who we played for, we could say “I play for BEER.”
As soon as our games were over, we’d head to the bar for post-game strategy sessions that usually lasted until the wee hours of the morning. Waitresses at the local watering holes would have heated arguments over who got to serve us because we stayed a long time, drank heavily … and tipped well. A good night bringing beverages to the BEER team could pay their car note.
That was then.
These days, the post game celebrations for the BEER team mostly involve water, lemonade and chef’s salads. That’s because, generally, we’ve mostly shifted in the same healthier direction. Like a houseful of women of childbearing age, we’ve synched our cycles.
Several guys I play hockey with have taken up running, working out and getting into better all-around shape. We didn’t have a team meeting to do it. And we didn’t change the name of the team because, in all honesty, it’d be hard to fit “LEMONADE AND CHEF’s SALAD” on the front of the jerseys.
No one said “Hey, let’s be like Terry.” It just happened. We all tuned in to the same frequency.
It happened at home too. I started attempting to live a healthier life by eating better and exercising more. And, like magic, my wife and daughters began losing weight, exercising and taking better care of themselves. Nothing makes me happier than ordering dinner in a restaurant and hearing all 5 of us give our drink orders: “Water. Water. Water. Water. Water.”
Psychologists have a thing called “Confirmation Bias” that basically proves that we see more of what we expect to see, and more of what we pay attention to. The computer geniuses at Facebook have gone to great lengths to program algorithyms that replicate the way we experience real life. The more we “like” something, the more we interact with someone or some particular kind of post, the more stuff like that we’ll see.
Receivers and Transmitters
I’ve connected online with people who are committed to improving their lives. One guy I know just wrote a self help book, another has lost over 200 pounds and is up at 3 every morning running 8-10 miles. Another buddy of mine has lost over a hundred pounds and founded an online group devoted to improving lives that has exploded to over 500 members in the last few months.
Facebook, much like life itself, is a self-perpetuating feedback loop. The thing is, each of us is a receiver; we take in signals every day from the people around us, from what we watch on TV, and from those we interact with on Facebook. Those signals shape our thoughts, our thoughts shape our actions, our actions shape our worlds.
And that’s how we become the average of the 5 people we hang out with the most.
But we’re also transmitters. Our thoughts, our actions and our realities affect everyone we connect with. Ghandi said, “Be the change you want to see in the world.” Leo Tolstoy said “Everyone thinks of changing the world, but no one thinks of changing himself.” Michael Jackson said “If you want to make the world a better place, just look at yourself and make that change.”
It all starts with the person in the mirror, doesn’t it?
No amount of complaining, whining and tilting at windmills will ever change the world. It’s too big. But YOU can be better. You can change yourself.
And changing yourself changes the world.###
Terry Lancaster helps people create BETTER! lives and build BETTER! businesses one step at a time starting right here, starting right now using the science behind habit formation, focus and flow. In addition to being a best-selling author, he is a contributing writer for Forbes, a TedX speaker and is involved in the GOOD MEN Project. Here’s his website [link].