Mental Model

If you are the smartest or most talented person in the closest group of people you connect with, you should feel uncomfortable. Your mind and behaviors will be influenced by the norms of the group. Your potential becomes self-limiting. Seek out relationships and workgroups that already operate at the level that you are looking to get to. Disconnect from people who waste your time or do not offer anything that aligns with your aspiration direction.


Most people intellectually understand that the people they surround themselves with can have a profound effect on their life. But it’s a lack of self-awareness that prevents us to understand how we adapt to the behaviors and beliefs of others and groups. We can slowly lose a sense of who we are or want to become. The essence of this strategy is to selectively choose who you spend time with that aligns with your goals and personal brand. This includes personal relationships and groups such as work colleagues.

You must adopt a mindset to evaluate each person in the context of: is this a person who I seek to emulate or do they have experiences that could save me valuable time on my life journey?

The easy thing to do is not apply this mindset to people who may enter your life. The downward pull of the group or person with weak character can limit your chances of reaching your full potential in work and life.

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

1 – Observe yourself as you interact with groups

Inspect your thoughts and beliefs that were shaped by your parents, work colleagues, and society at large.

Think about how you may have changed your behavior due to the pressure to get along and fit in.

Take stock of when you went along with the bad decisions the group has taken.

Raise your self-esteem and feel strong to resist the downward pull of the group.

2 – Observe and study the groups you belong to

Inspect the culture and feel of the group.

Gain a deeper appreciation of the culture and codes to navigate the social space.

Do not attempt to change what cannot be changed.

Observe from a distance the group beliefs that are delusionary to prevent distorting your perception.

3 – Engage in a high-functioning reality group

Seek groups where you can contribute diverse opinions and value open dialogue.

Engage with people and groups that focus on getting work done in a collaborative culture.

Protect your individuality as that is a source of your unique contributions to the group.

Choose groups with people and a culture that supports your goals and aspirations.

Sense if you feel the upward pull of the group or not.

4 – Evaluate your current, most active relationships

Create a list of the 5-10 people you spend the most time with during a typical week.

Identify what skill, behavior, or experience you are seeking to emulate or learn from each.

Identify any character flaws or factors in each person that could limit your transformational growth.

Decide who you will keep at a distance and those that serve as an inspiration.

5 – Associate with those you admire, disconnect from the unhappy

Given your path and learning plan, identify the skills and mindset you are seeking to learn through relationships.

Seek out people who are your role models and operate at the level you want to reach.

Avoid the unhappy and unlucky that act as infectors to waste your valuable time and energy.

Only create associations with positive affinities.

Experiment With This

  • Distance yourself from people with low ambition or values that conflict with your own. Who am I spending time with that exhibits behaviors, beliefs, or expectations that conflict with mine?
  • Find a new group that will accelerate your learning in a specific area. Who are the specific people I should be spending time with that already have achieved a goal or skill that I am working toward?
  • Within my group of friends or work colleagues, where do I stack up in regard to ambition level?  
  • Thinking about the five people I spend the most time with, how do I feel about being the average of those people? 
  • Does the culture of my company or workgroup exert a downward or upward pull to my ambitions and what I seek to emulate?


Tim Ferriss Says This Simple 12-Word Phrase is the Best Advice He Ever Got

The Laws of Human Nature by Robert Greene (Chapter 14 – Resist the Downward Pull of the Group)

The 48 Laws of Power by Robert Greene (Law 10 – Infection: Avoid the Unhappy and Unlucky)

How to Surround Yourself with Good People – Tony Robbins