Who You Hang Out With (#275)

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In this episode, I talk about who you hang out with and Jim Rohn’s concept that you are the average of the five people you spend the most time with.  Or, show me your friends, and I’ll show you your future.

That might be true at certain times of your life, but as I go through the exercise of applying that idea to my own life, I come to some important revelations that I’d like to share with you in the hopes that you might some value in my experience.

Full transcript below.

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Mike Malatesta

Mike Malatesta  00:04

Hey, everybody, welcome back to the How’d It Happen Podcast and today I’m glad to have you here for one of my short, special solo Friday episodes. Today I’m going to talk about this ‘who you hang out with’ thing, and you may be aware, you probably are, that people like Jim Rohn, who is a super famous motivational and personal development person who I adored and followed for a long time, has passed away. If you haven’t yet, I think you should check out Jim on YouTube or pick up one of his books. I think your life will be enriched by knowing a little bit about him. 

Jim Rohn is credited with sort of saying that you are the average of the five people you spend the most time with. I’ve heard other people say things like, show me your friends, and I’ll show you your future. I’ve been thinking about this average thing and how I’ve been applying that in my own life, and let’s just go through it and see what you think. 

So when I was a kid growing up in Havertown, that’s a little town in Pennsylvania near Philadelphia, we were, you know, playing sports and learning to date and drinking beer in the cemetery. At that time, I was definitely the average of the five kids that I hung out with most. So I was like my buddy Tim, my buddy Nuge, my buddy Han, and a couple of others, right, and we just sort of fed off one another. And we did what each other did, or we did what each other’s older siblings did, trying to emulate them. But I was definitely the average of them. I wanted to be part of who they were. I think the same was probably true for them. Then later, when I first started my career, I wanted to be known as a good, hard worker, and I was willing to do what I was asked to do, and even if it wasn’t 100%, legit, I would do it without thinking about it. And not that I was thinking it was wrong. I was just thinking. But I was being asked to do it. And I did it. And during that time, I joined what I call a “den of thieves” that took shortcuts and exploited what I call gray areas. And you can read more about that in my book,  of course, if you haven’t picked it up yet — Owner Shift – How Getting Selfish Got Me Unstuck. But the point is that during that period of time, early in my career, I was definitely the average of the five people or the closest people that I was hanging out with, particularly at work, and with that mindset. 

Fast forward — after being married, you know, for more than 30 years to my wife, Jamy, and after raising our children to become adults, and after starting and selling two businesses, and after investing in a bunch of companies, and after writing a book and doing nearly 300 podcasts, believe it or not, after all those experiences, and working with many, many people along the way, I’m no longer sure whether I’m the average of the five people I hang out with. First, I don’t really hang out with five people regularly. But more importantly, I’ve worked really hard to get clear about what I want from my life and how to work toward making that happen while putting myself in the company of those who can help me do that, people who can help me accomplish my goals, and I’m no longer willing to join a club like I did when I was kid and like I did, you know, early in my career. And I’m also not hoping that other people will show me who I’m supposed to be anymore. I feel like I’ve grown past that. I do think it’s still important to surround yourself with people with an outlook on life that’s similar to mine or to yours. I don’t think that that’ll ever not be important. I just don’t want to be the average of anything anymore. I want to be the best of me, not the best of you, and not the best of other people, but the best of me, and I guess I don’t want to be the average of me, I want to be the best of me. 

So I get the point. I believe in the point. Jim Rohn is certainly correct in that you definitely want to surround yourself with people who are helping you get where you want to get in life, while you’re helping them get where they want to get in life. So there’s a mutual reciprocity there that I think is healthy and very necessary. But maybe it’s just the mistake I made. Being the average of the people I was hanging around with as a kid was fine, but did it get me as far as I could get if I wasn’t hanging out with those guys? Probably not. But it didn’t hurt me either. I suppose consequences were a little bit different when I was early in my career, and I was surrounding myself with the wrong people. So I suppose everything is a lesson and everything is an experience. I’ll take it as that, but I guess I just want to say that you don’t have to be around other people to become the best version of yourself. And I kind of think it’s great to be exposed to people, but as soon as I kind of want to be like them, then I start thinking to myself, well, that’s emulation, that’s not progress. And I want to make progress. 

So I don’t know if this makes sense to you. Let me know what you think. And I do thank you for joining me for this episode. I do value your time and I do value making a difference in your life. And I do thank you for taking a few minutes to listen to me here and let me know what you think. Until next time, see you

Mike Malatesta

Mike Malatesta

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I help entrepreneurs get unstuck, take back their power, achieve their life objectives, and create the futures they want.

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