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You are the average of the 5 people you spend the most time with. Spend wisely!


            Jim Rohn was a terrific motivational speaker and author who said a lot of wise words about personal development.

            He was one of the greatest public speakers of his generation and America’s premier business philosopher for decades. He believed that people could be whatever they wanted to be if they took personal responsibility for their own success and had the right attitude.

            Rohn knew that a person’s way of looking at life was a huge component of how successful that person was going to turn out to be. But as much as he was all about personal accountability, he also realized the importance of the company you keep - as this famous quote of his illustrates:

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

             Rohn wasn’t the first person to come to that conclusion of course. The importance of the company you keep has been talked about for generations.

            We at TEAMMATES are all big fans of the modern day self-help improvement gurus like Rohn, and they certainly had a flare for the way they phrased conventional wisdom. But any study of what many feel is “new age” thinking will demonstrate there’s nothing really “new” about it.

            “Tell me what company you keep and I’ll tell you what you are.” – Miguel de Cervantes (1547-1616)

            That quote came from a man who died more than 400 years ago. Rohn just said the same thing in a slightly different way. So whether it’s 1616, 1986 or 2226, great wisdom stands the test of time. The company you keep is important to your personal success, even when it is you that is ultimately responsible for that success.

            But just how important is the company you keep?

            I talked to an NBA scout once about how teams go about finding the next generation of talent to be drafted into their league. Players are drafted very young, some before they have even started university in some cases. Same is true for several other major North American sports as well.

            That’s tough. You have to make a call on how good a player is before he really develops into a man. And that isn’t just for his talent either – it’s for his character and the kind of team player he’ll become in the years ahead. How do you really know about someone that young?

            According to the NBA scout, you don’t. You find out about his playing talent, his background, and you are basically taking a chance on him developing into a great professional player down the road.

            In the NBA players often come from tough backgrounds, the scout reminded me. More than a few have grown up in impoverished backgrounds, and have had very difficult environments to grow up in, often surrounded by gang violence and drugs. But despite that, these young men are drafted into the NBA on a regular basis because they have shown to be so talented on the basketball court.

            Nothing so amazing about that. If he’s a great player despite having to endure a difficult upbringing, it’s a sign that he can one day perhaps be an NBA star. And as is the case in any sport, the draft is always a bit of a crapshoot anyway.

            But what do good NBA teams do to help stack the odds in their favor that the young player they selected turns into the kind of person they want not only playing for them, but representing the franchise off the court as well?

             “We look for character of course. And talent,” the scout said. “But when we have someone who has been around a bad environment for most of his life, the FIRST thing we do is help him escape it.

            “The players who often struggle after being drafted stay with the same friends. They hang out with a bad crowd from their childhood. They go to the same places. We have discovered through trial and error that when they hang out in the wrong places with the wrong people, they will often do the wrong things.”

            Think about that for a minute. Think about peer pressure. Think about the people you associate with. Think about how much they can influence you by their behavior and by what they think and believe and how they act.

            Do you think that the company you keep does not become a reflection of you? Do you think that you would “rise above” people in your life who do the wrong things? Perhaps you would.

            But remember this - it is hard to stand up to your enemies. It’s even harder to stand up to your friends. It is very hard not to become the company you keep.

            “Surround yourself only with people who are going to lift you higher.” – Oprah Winfrey

            The first thing a good NBA team will do for a young prospect that comes from a troubled environment is help him escape it. Get him into a good university if he’s not already there. Surround him with veteran players who can mentor and guide him. Remove him from the closeness of drug dealers and criminals he may have associated with in the past. Get him into a better place.

            They elevate his environment. They elevate the company he keeps.

            You are indeed the average of the five people you spend the most time with. Look at them. Look at you.

            A great golf coach we once knew told us a sure fire way to improve your golf game was to always play with somebody who is a much better player than you are. You will be lifted just by his company and watching him play. You can learn from him. You can’t learn from a lesser player.

            While we can’t always choose some of the people we spend the most time with (family for instance), we can choose to associate with more of the kind of people who can help us be better.

            Want to improve your life? Then improve the quality of the company you keep. Choose the five people you spend the most time with wisely.          

            Thank you very much for reading! Our TEAMMATES podcasts with Chris DePiero, Jim Rooney and Roger Lajoie are available at Our daily messages are avilable on Twitter and Facebook @TeammatesTrio. For more information on our personal developing coaching and courses, please email We are happy to help you discover the many ways to make YOUR life better by having a TEAMMATE on your side.

            Have a great week!