Cartier: You are the average of the five people you spend the most time with (column) |

Cartier: You are the average of the five people you spend the most time with (column)

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

Is this a scary or comforting thought? Time is more precious than money because you can always earn more money. Where you spend your time determines your values, your priorities, your direction … it defines you.

Growing up, many of us heard that it is easier for others to bring you down than for you to pull them up. That is not to say dump your friends during times of hardship but, rather, the contrary. Consider whether your response will inspire or deter them as they work through their challenges. What type of consiglieri are you?

Our parents were protective of who our friends were because their influence was strong. How many times did we get into trouble because our best friend had a brilliant idea?

Yes, it was exciting, and as teens, we sought to push limits and exercise independence … never mind that we were simply transferring influence from our parents to our BFF. That first taste of alcohol or puff of a cigarette was undoubtedly the result of peer pressure, and for some, it became a detrimental lifelong influence. But, youthful exuberance and occasional indiscretions were part of growing up … now we are grown, and the consequences of association are greater.

Of your five people, who do you admire? There should be elements in each of them. The successful career person, the wonderful parent, the great sportsman, the brilliant academic, the compassionate volunteer … each offering a different area of excellence to which you strive. This is your home team. Make them, people who will hold you accountable to the greatness inside of you.

More specifically, who we let into our head will determine how we view ourselves, our environment, our career, and our relationships. Life and events get filtered through this prism, as we discuss issues and listen to advice. Part of it is the desire to be accepted. From things as simple as what we wear, eat, where we work, or how we spend our free time; to more serious matters like societal expectations, religious beliefs or political affiliation.

Do you gain from them, the self-confidence to reach further, or does the group bring you down to more “realistic” goals? Just because your vision is not real to them, doesn’t mean that it is unattainable for you — don’t let temporary setbacks determine future determinations. Our history is filled with visionaries who went against convention to achieve their life’s mission. Your team may not see what you do, but they must be equal visionaries in their own specialties.

The influence of our group of five is that group-think can be wonderful and innovative, providing inspiration for all, or if focused negatively, can lead to incredibly harmful outcomes. Some people like to wallow in their misery and want nothing more than to make others feel worse, so they look better by comparison. You’ll recognize them by their passive-aggressive behavior. These are not your friends and should never be on your team.

True friends help us to think beyond the box of our own limited experience and perspective. They expand our awareness of situations and events and provide a framework for interpretation. That viewpoint impacts our emotions, which drive our actions and produces our results. Intellect does not factor in at the primal level.

Therefore, in times of uncertainty or turmoil, our friends’ influence is greatest. They must have qualities that inspire us to do more, be more, and give more. Since our experience limits our direct exposure, we rely on those we associate with to provide expanded vision.

Olympic athletes hang out with other athletes because those friends understand the inner drive to excel and break records and are willing to put in the time and effort required. Rarely will they be with those who are content spending the day watching television. They are not spectators; they are doers … they live in a world of blasting through previously defined limits. They want their five to be those who will push them to continue in times of doubt, to create a vision of excellence that they all aspire to, even if that aspiration is in different fields. These traits are common among leaders of all industries, worldwide.

Pursuing excellence is a way of life and surrounding yourself with those who share that belief, will generate opportunities that can influence entire communities and even nations. If you find yourself stuck in a lifestyle that you never envisioned, then change your environment, which may include your team of five.

Jacqueline Cartier is a political and corporate consultant in Colorado and Washington, D.C. For further information, visit She may be contacted at

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