Few things have more impact on your level of success than your close inner circle—the people with whom you spend the most time, those from whom you seek guidance and counsel.
Consider this astounding research detailed by Harvard professors Nicholas Christakis and James Fowler in their book Connected: How Your Friends’ Friends’ Friends Affect Everything You Feel, Think, and Do:
- We are 61% more likely to smoke if we have a direct relationship with a smoker. If your friend of a friend is a smoker, you are 29% more likely to smoke. Even at a third degree of separation (friend of a friend’s friend), you are 11% more likely.
- If you have a friend who becomes obese, the odds that you’ll gain weight jump to 57%.
- A British study revealed that among binge drinkers, 54% reported that all or almost all of their friends are binge drinkers, compared to 15% of non-binge drinkers.
- One Harvard study found that Harvard students were 8.3% more likely to get a flu shot if an additional 10% of their friends got a flu shot.
- People who are surrounded by happy people have a significantly greater likelihood of future happiness.
It seems common sense that we tend to mirror the attitudes, emotions, likes, interests, and habits of our peers. But underlying common sense is a fascinating biological mechanism in the human brain, which scientists call the “mirror neuron system.”
Christakis and Fowler explain:
Our brains practice doing actions we merely observe in others, as if we were doing them ourselves…When we see players run, jump, or kick, it is not only our visual cortex or even the part of our brain that thinks about what we are observing that is activated, but also the parts of our brain that would be activated if we ourselves were running, jumping, or kicking…It seems we are always poised to feel what others feel and do what others do.
This is not a theory—it is a scientific fact that you must build your inner circle carefully if you want to achieve the 5 Day Weekend lifestyle.
“When people are free to do as they please, they usually imitate each other,” said social philosopher Eric Hoffer.
There are three vital components to creating a healthy inner circle:
- The Right Friends Push You Beyond Your Limits
The wrong friends allow you to be complacent. They ask nothing of you, other than that you don’t push them out of their comfort zone. This is done in the name of “accepting you as you are,” but this is not true friendship at all; they do so because your mediocrity justifies their own.
The right friends, in contrast, see you not only for who you are right now, but also for who you can become. They constantly push and inspire you to become better.
“Don’t make friends who are comfortable to be with. Make friends who will force you to lever yourself up,” said celebrated business executive Thomas J. Watson, who helped build IBM into a powerhouse.
- The Right Friends Hold You Accountable
The wrong friends accept your excuses and rationalizations, and even feed them. This is a counterfeit version of “support” that is more accurately described as indulgence.
True friends give you tough love. They never let you give up on your goals and dreams. They hold you to your word. They demand that you live up to your best. This is the true support we should all seek from our closest friends.
- The Right Friends are Strivers and Achievers
It’s easy to pick out the wrong friends: they haven’t changed, improved, or achieved much within the last 10 years.
The friends you want are those who are constantly striving to become better and achieve higher goals. Look at their lives over the past 10 years. How far have they come? How many projects have they tried? How many times have they failed? If they haven’t failed much at all, it’s because they’re not doing much.
In my next post, I will provide keys to building your inner circle.
In the meantime, I’d love to hear from you. Do you have an inner circle of friends you rely on, and who push you to do better? Thank you for sharing
Secure your copy of the “5 Day Weekend” book. 5 Day Weekend: Freedom to Make Your Life and Work Rich with Purpose [Nik Halik & Garrett Gunderson]