In the words of motivational speaker Jim Rohn, “you are the average of the five people you spend the most time with.” I don’t doubt there’s truth in this, but I don’t like one of its implications – if some of those five people aren’t propelling you forward, swap them for ‘better’ people.
That might be a recipe for success, but it doesn’t seem a recipe for lifelong friendship or long-term support of someone in need. It’s a a thorny issue to wrestle with and how it’s resolved will depend on individual values and allegiances.
I think there’s a way to beat the average though.
From the Victorian Era, especially, there are many accounts of people who read of far-off places and practices, and were inspired. In a barely connected world in which travel to the seaside was further than many might go, some people absorbed wisdom and wonder from across distance and time. They weren’t limited by the five people they spent the most time with, even though, of course, they were influenced by them.
Today, there is so much more we can tap into. We can immerse ourselves in influences without having to leave others behind. We can push forward and still offer support.
Let’s not be reduced to an average.