“You are the average of the five people you spend the most time with.”

I’m sure you’ve seen this quote before, but is there any truth to it? Is our behaviour influenced by the people we surround ourselves with?

And if you’re the average of the 5 people you spend time with then who are you? And more importantly, who do you want to be?

Because who you spend your time with matters. A lot. The impact of other people on your thoughts, feelings, and behaviours is so significant that it can be measured on a brain scanner.

In his bestseller, The Alchemist, author Paulo Coelho highlights the importance of surrounding yourself with the right people. In his words: “People are the most important influence on your life”. It seems only logical that who you spend time with can help make you the person you want to be — and that’s true in business as well as in life.

To give you an example, I have a couple of very different groups of friends who I spend the most of my time with:

My school friends – whom I’ve known since I was a kid. These are people who may not understand what my business is about – but support me in every possible way they can.

My corporate friends – these are also people I’ve known for many years and are very important to me, but who are now on a very different path to mine.

My accountability group – these are my newest friends and are all on a similar journey to me – trying to build a new business. We share and celebrate all our wins, give each other advice and hold each other accountable for the things we say we want to do.

Now going back to being the average of the 5 people you spend the most time with – which of these groups should I be spending the most time with if I want to become better at building my business? My accountability group, right.

So, who are you spending your time with?

Take a look at the people in your life. Are they people who are ambitious and motivated or are they stuck in an unhappy rut?

If it’s the latter, it may be time to find a new group of friends. A group of people who’ll help you become the person you want to become.

So how do you upgrade the people you spend time with? It starts with knowing yourself and where you want to be. Who do you want to be? And what do you want out of life?

And relationships are a two-way street, so also consider what you bring to the friendship? What qualities do you have? How can you uplift others?

Once you know that, it may be as simple as connecting with people that you aspire to be like, or who have attributes that you admire or joining groups where those people hang out. Then make a concerted effort to spend more time with them.

As we progress through life, the 5 people we spend the most time with will change and friendships will evolve and possibly end. This doesn’t mean that you have to end friendships with people who aren’t on the same path as you, (I mean I wouldn’t end my friendships with my school friends for anything) but the role they play in your life may change.

True friendships will endure, you’ll simply shift your focus and spend more of your valuable time and energy on creating connections that help you grow in the direction you want to grow.