13 Aug Obama, Malala, Buffet, Brene And You Go For Coffee…How Curating Your ‘Tribe Of Five” Effects Your Mindset And Life
I am a big believer in the tenet that you are the average of the five people you spend the most time with.
I really hope that you have heard this Jim Rohn quote before because I am convinced that it is true.
The idea is that you are influenced by the people around you to such an extent that you start to become more like them. You will tend to average out on physical, emotional, psychological, and financial dimensions the more time you spend with them and vice versa.
Think about how “contagious” certain people and their moods can be. In these cases we notice how quickly we can be influenced by others; in just a matter of minutes, our affect can be completely changed for better or worse!
Emotions are easy to change and we observe this all the time. But the same goes for values, behaviours and the outcomes that they yield.
We have evolved to join and amalgamate into tribes because it allowed our ancestors to survive. Those that fit into the tribe better, who had more loyalty and protection from others, we more likely to survive, pass on their genes and specifically those genes that promoted tribal behaviour and collusion.
Just like how certain families tend to share similar values, the tribes you are attracted to, are forced into or force yourself in, are also going to begin to share similar values. Similar shared values combine with actionable strategies, which breeds similar outcomes.
Imagine that you are part of a tribe that greatly values their physical health, that has a high degree of knowledge of how to attain it. People in this group can show you the tips, tricks and tools to achieve it if you ask. The odds are that you will start to embody those same values then behaviour then outcomes.
It is the opposite idea of hanging out with the “wrong crowd” in high school. If you five best friends are Warren Buffet, Malala Yousafzai, Barrak Obama and Brene Brown, you are going to have some interesting discussions, a lot to aspire to and likely going to change your beliefs and behaviours to be more like these juggernauts. Not necessarily better or worse off, but more like them. You’ll become part Barrack, park Brene with a little sprinkle of Buffet and Malala.
I think we inherently all understand this on some basic level and that is why we are so selective about who we spend time with.
In the same way that I think we should be extremely selective over who we spend time with, I also think we should be extremely selective with what media we choose to consume – because like it or not – it is likely going to shape you more than you would like to admit.
We all likely now spend more or equal amount of time consuming IG/FB, Netflix, the news, and YouTube than we spend with our friends. The values and behaviours that we see expressed on these platforms are going to influence us in the same way that our closest tribe of 5 would.
We could just as easily change the quote to “you are the average of the 5 people you follow the most on IG” or “or spend the most time podcasting with”. Every post, video, blog we read is going to express some inherent values, and beliefs that encourage certain behaviours and some sort of physical, emotional, psychological, or financial outcome. The beliefs and values that are expressed to us through the media we consume is going to shape us, just like with our in-person social interactions.
Whatever we follow, just like whoever we choose to surround ourselves with, is going to have a big impact on us.
The same has been said of the insulating nature of the internet and the effect it has had on political polarization – especially in the United States. Because we have an even greater choice of who we choose to follow online and in the media than ever before, we are able to insulate ourselves with like-minded people that reflect, repeat and encourage our previously held beliefs with little questioning of other options and points of view. What is said by those that we follow normalizes it, even if it is an extreme opinion or belief.
If you only follow extremely conservative or progressive thought leaders, it has the tendency to normalize their and your shared beliefs and average them towards the middle. Much like your tribe of five.
I am using this example from the world of politics not to express avoiding people with different or extreme beliefs or thoughts; I actually think the opposite might be true. I want to express that there is great potential in who you choose to follow and surround yourself with online if they have extreme beliefs and thoughts that can make you a better people. If your Tribe of 5 consistent of people with who believe and express extreme compassion and empathy, extreme love, extreme work ethic, extreme knowledge about a topic you are interested in – those extreme beliefs, thoughts and wisdom can help to average you up closer to where you want to see yourself
Never in history has it been possible to actually interact so easily with world-class thought leaders through their content for almost no cost. Especially for those that are really active on the socials, you can get so much free content from some of the most interesting and brilliant minds on the planet for what would have cost thousands of dollars in paid mentoring in the past. You can see into the nitty-gritty of other peoples day and see their mindset, actions and beliefs that have helped them to achieve what they have, which may be all or a fraction of what you maybe want for yourself.
Unless you do not consume content, and I mean no TV, movies, news, IG, FB – you live on a beach in Central America with no internet – you have a virtual and real-life Tribe Of Five whether you are consciously aware of it or not. In a later podcast I am sure I will talk about the importance of controlling your real-life tribe of five but for this one, I wanted to tackle the much easier topic of being consciously aware of how we are spending our time consuming content.
You are what you eat and the same goes for the content we consume. My challenge to you it to do an inventory of what you are consuming and determine if it is making your life better or worse. More specifically, you might want to ask if the thing that is popping up on your screen, podcast or TV is making you more like the person you want to be and the highest values you hold or working against it.
There is a fantastic article that I will link in the show notes from the Sept 2017 edition of The Atlantic entitled Have Smart Phones Destroyed A Generation. It is a depressing read for a number of reasons but it talks at length about how mindset can be influenced greatly by what we consume online, especially in a more neuroplastic mind of a teenager.
I am not of the opinion that the smartphone or the internet is inherently evil – not by a long shot – it is an insular and amplifying self-reflection of who we are. What I think is tragic is that there is not more social media literacy and more conscious awareness of the effect of your Tribe Of Five.
I am especially sensitive to the portrayal of body image and eating habits on social media that seems to be increasing exponentially compared to a less filtered version in the pre-Facebook era.
I am very conscious of what I consume and I have even found myself having to stop following certain accounts of people in the health and fitness world whose content was having a more negative impact on my life than positive. I found myself unsubscribing from no less than 10 different bike clothing company accounts that made me want stuff that I didn’t need and a bunch of nutrition accounts that made me feel bad for eating delicious food. These are values that are totally contradictory to my beliefs but had begun to invade my conscience and average me away from the life I want to lead.
I don’t think that the news, social and TV you consume only has to be productive and purposeful. Sometimes there is nothing greater than a good meme that adds a great big ROFL to your day or cute puppies – because what is better than a great puppy video or someone throwing up a sheet and leaving their dog totally perplexed about where they are.
Just like you have likely culled your facebook friend list at some point in your life, it might be time to cull the content that invades your brain every day. You have this incredible opportunity to follow and learn from people that inspire you and that can help you level up to where you want to be and things that will bring joy to your life. I implore you to recognize that what we consume can invade our subconscious when our conscious defences are down and influence us in ways that make us less happy and fulfilled.
I don’t want to be the dad telling you to stop hanging out with the wrong crowd but there are likely much cooler kids on the block than you are hanging with now.