We Are the Average of the 5 People We Hang Out With

relationships wisdom Oct 22, 2021

My friends, family, and I were in the jungles of Uganda, Africa. We had hiked through the sweltering forest for several hours. Our thighs were burning because of the climb, and the jungle forest was brutally hot.  Each of us fought our own internal battle to keep going, but we were on a quest.  We had come to look for the elusive Mountain Silverback Gorillas. 

As we topped the ridge we saw them.  At first, there was just one and then we saw the others.  They were in the trees and on the ground.  We had walked right into a troop of the magnificent creatures.  It was amazing to behold. They were not afraid of us at all.  In fact, they would kind of show off for us.  The mother gorillas had small babies they were feeding, and they would take them in their hands and hold them out as if to show them to us.  It was as miraculous as we had hoped.  Just spectacular.  These amazing creatures were letting us be a part of their world.

We had rules, of course, and we respected their space, but they would let you get very, very close. You could smell them.  In fact, they are quite prolific farters and about once a minute the jungle air would be filled with the sound of gorilla fart.  Hilarious and awesome.  Then there he was—the King—the true Silverback Gorilla leader. He was huge, muscular, scary, and awesome. He was munching on some leaves and keeping an eye on his troop. I had to get closer.

I inched my way up to where he and one of his wives were sitting. Then, I snuggled in behind a small tree and just watched him.  He stared at me and I at him.  It was as if we were communicating without talking. They tell you not to stare directly in their eyes and to look down so that they know that YOU know they are the alpha male.  I ignored all that advice and stared directly in his eyes and him in mine. We had a bond, or so I thought…

Just as I thought we were bonding, his wife started walking toward me.  I picked up my iPhone and started filming her.  I’m not sure if he was unhappy I was looking at his woman or mad I wasn’t paying him the same attention, but I heard a sound to my right. As I turned to look, here he came right at me full on. There wasn’t much I could do, and he walked right to me and slapped me on the arm.  He slapped me hard enough that he knocked me down and knocked over the tree that I had been hiding behind.  I fell to the ground surprised, shocked, and laughing my ass off.  I had just been HIT by a Silverback Gorilla.  Now, if that doesn’t put me in the 1% club, I’m not sure what does!  It was awesome and amazing.

My “friends,” rather than coming to the rescue, stood filming and dying of laughter.  But seriously, I would have done the same to them.  It was an epic moment.  We hiked back down the mountain, had lunch with our guides, and went back to the hotel.  That night, as we discussed how amazing our day had been with the Silverbacks, I was feeling blessed at this group of friends I was traveling the world with. We were close and had a bond you get from doing these kinds of things that you just can’t get from anything else. We would help each other in any area of our lives, business, money, kids and we add to that by creating awesome experiences with each other.  It doesn’t get any better.  

This same group of friends and I have traveled to South Africa, Zimbabwe, and Zambia.  We have worked together in business.  We have done conferences together, sat on boards together, and have been there with each other through thick and thin.  It’s a miracle what a great group of friends will do for your life. 

We have all heard it. You become the average of the five people you hang around the most. I’m not sure we always believe it though. If you have children, if you know someone who has children, or if you have ever seen a child, you know instinctively not to let your child play with just anyone. You monitor who their friends are. Why do you do that? It’s because you instinctively know that they will become the average of who their friends are. 

When we become adults we no longer think these rules apply to us; we think we are more mature than that. Know what that is? That’s bullshit! You are, right now, the average of your friends. Your income is about the same, your beliefs are about the same, the things you are interested in are about the same. I know there are exceptions, but that’s why they call them exceptions—because the rule is usually true. So, you have a choice. Stay the way you are or upgrade your friends

I’m not saying abandon your current friends (I’m also not saying you shouldn’t, you know). I am simply suggesting you consider getting some more. What do your friends currently have you reading or talking about? Create a circle of success. There are three types of friends to look for.  Find friends who have what you are trying to do and let them be your mentors.  Find friends who are where you are, and you can share those experiences. And finally, find friends who are where you once were and are trying to improve and be a mentor to them.  

People will say some bullshit like, “A true friend is someone who accepts you for what you are,” but that’s not right.  The person at the drive-through at Taco Bell does that.  That’s NOT the definition of a true friend.  A true friend loves you for who you are and pushes you to be better than you are, to strive for more and reach your potential.  That’s a true friend.  A good friend bails you out of jail, and a true friend is sitting next to you saying, “Man, we fucked up!”

We should carefully pick who our friends are and make sure we are the same kind of friends we want them to be.  

Living Every Minute,

Dr. Tim

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