Wow. I know, it’s a word I over use and under appreciate. I started to teach yoga in 2020 and after one in person class, the pandemic struck. Since then, I have taught more than 100 virtual classes until last week. To prepare for a balance pose, I instructed a core move. In one class, everyone tried and struggled to even get a little lift. An hour later, another class, it was perfect synchronization and with everyone hitting the floor at once, it looked like choreography for Stomp – yoga edition. People were laughing and added a little funk to the move. What happened?
When I demoed for the second class, a few people in class practiced with me. Were they role models that moved the exercise from the realm of possible to probable. Everyone assumed they could do it and did whereas for the first class, it remained possible but maybe not probable for that day? See the photo. You can try this at home; no supervision needed. One tip, tent your fingers.
You’ve probably heard it more times than you can count. “You’re the average of the five people spend the most time with,” a quote attributed most often to motivational speaker Jim Rohn. There’s also the “show me your friends and I’ll show you your future” derivative.
Whichever you’ve heard, the intent is the same. Audit the people around you. Make sure that you’re spending time with people who are in line with what you want for your own life (preferably people “better” than you so it raises your average). It’s compelling. It’s provocative.
And it isn’t true.
At least not in the way that you think. I’ve been researching the science of social networks for my newest book, and I found that you are indeed influenced by the people around you. But that influence doesn’t stop anywhere near the five people you spend the most time with. It’s far more dispersed and research suggests it includes people you haven’t even met yet.
I was introduced to the concept by Brett Gadja years ago in speaker training. Paraphrasing his pitch, he started with you are the average of the 5 people you spend the most time with. Look at who you are surrounded by. If you want to be wealthy, you need to be surrounded by wealthy people. You pick up the habits and behaviors of the group. Which then led to a 5 minute discussion where “someone” (who totally missed the concept) started in, “how do I find wealthy people to be my friends? By what you just said, I could be a professional golfer if I just had professional golfer friends.” For 5 minutes “someone” went on and on. I mentally made a note, do not befriend “someone.” But, I digress.
Is this what happened in the yoga class. There were no discernible differences between the students. Was the ability of the entire class to do a pancake lift based on who they are as a community?
I see this in areas of my life where . Seven years ago, after yoga, there was a group of us who’d go for coffee after yoga class. Three of us were students and one was our teacher. Over the years, all 4 of us are now yoga teachers. I was the last one. I have several friends who have written books and couple who blog, and well, I blog. This week consider where you are successful and where you struggle. Are any of these impacted by the company you keep? Reflect.