You’re the average of the five people you spend your time with

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

Jim Rohn

Many people don’t agree with this quote by Jim Rohn, but I do.

I think there’s a lot of misunderstanding around it – of what he really thought with this. I think people tend to take it too logically – word-by-word and literally.

What it really means (my opinion) is that if you e.g., read books such as autobiographies by grand people like Benjamin Franklin, Nelson Mandela, Elon Musk, Steve Jobs, etc. then you start to think like them. You’re “spending time” with them.

Our brains don’t make a huge difference (if any) between the people we see on television, in real life, or whether we read about them in books. If we spend a lot of time with them, we connect with them. We feel as if we actually know them. This is why we sometimes feel as if we know the fictional characters from the series. Logically we know they don’t exist – that they’re characters played by actors – but we don’t care.

Also, if we spend time with people who have great thoughts, who are inspiring and positive, we tend to be the same. The opposite is also true: if you’re around negative people who complain and play the victim, it’s hard not to have similar thoughts.

Imagine you’d start hanging out with Elon Musk on every Monday, with Gary Vaynerchuk on every Tuesday, with Margaret Thatcher on every Wednesday, with Donald Trump on Thursdays and with Barack Obama on Fridays.

It’s an unrealistic thing to imagine, but I dare you to tell me your thought patterns wouldn’t change.

So, the Jim Rohn quote might not be true literally, but there’s definitely truth in it.



The metamorphosis has to happen

There are some things in life that you not only want to have or achieve – you absolutely must achieve them. There’s just no other alternative.

Growth is painful. Change is painful. But, nothing is as painful as staying stuck where you do not belong.

N. R. Narayana Murthy

This is how you will get what you want. To paraphrase Tony Robbins: You have to turn your “wants” and “shoulds” into “musts”. Instead of telling yourself: “I want this” you have to say: “I must have/become this”.

Chances are, everyone else also wants the things you want. It’s easy to want something. It takes zero energy to want something. However, by saying, “I must,” you’ll leave no other option.

If the pain of staying where you are becomes bigger than the pain of going through the necessary change, you’ll create leverage that forces you to go through that change.

Some things just have to happen – they might not be comfortable, but they have to happen. E.g., if a baby is born, she’s screaming, and it’s not comfortable – but it has to happen.

Or a caterpillar that turns into a butterfly – it’s not something comfortable and nice and smooth – it’s rough and messy. But change is rough and messy.


Finding your life’s task

If you’ve read Mastery by Robert Greene, then the following story is familiar; if not – here is a story of Yoky Matsuoka.

As a teenager in Japan in the early 80s, she had all kinds of interests, especially in math and science. Her parents wanted her to do swimming and piano, but she began to like tennis instead.

So she was solving math problems on a train while coming from rigorous tennis practice. In fact, she took it so seriously that she was about to become a professional tennis player – until an injury made that impossible.

She then moved to the US and tried different subjects, but nothing seemed to be her “thing.” However, she decided to give a try in the field of robotics at MIT. This changed not only the course of her life but the lives of many people.

As she was fascinated by the human hand, she began to focus solely on the robotic hand. Everything started to click together – her love for math, science, physiology, but also the hand movement (tennis) as well as her passion for building things. She had found her niche, and with that, she completely revolutionized the field of neuroscience and robotics.

The moral of the story is this:

We often don’t know what our life’s task is, but if we simply keep following our interests, we could find it. Sometimes certain things click with us; sometimes they don’t. There’s no reason to stick with anything that doesn’t serve us anymore – but might serve later in ways we can not foresee at the time.


Have your own platform: Facebook is dying

If you’re an artist or a business and you’re building your following and business on someone else’s platform like Facebook or Instagram, then you’re playing a very high-risk game.

What if Facebook disappears? We take it for granted, but we can already see that it’s dying (slowly, yes but surely) – the young people e.g., associate Facebook with “old people”. That’s the reality. It’s just a matter of time when Facebook is out. The same could happen with Instagram. Essentially, social media sites come and go.

Essentially you’re building your house on quicksand.

Another thing is that your followers are not your followers. They’re Facebook’s and IG’s followers, and they set the terms how and when and if at all you can access your followers. Facebook can charge you money to access your people. Besides, if Facebook disappears, all your “followers” disappear as well, and you have to start all over again on some other social media site that will be popular.

And let me ask you this: who owns the internet? It’s Google – not Facebook and not Instagram and not anyone else. If you’re not on Google, you’re missing out big time. And the irony is that some people tell you the opposite – that if you’re not on IG, you’re missing out. These people need to recheck the market share statistics. The money Facebook makes on advertising is peanuts compared to what Google earns.

Where do people go when they have a problem they want an answer to? They go to Google, or they go to Youtube (which is Google), they don’t go to Instagram.

For most people, social media is a massive waste of time that causes an infinite amount of anxiety and makes you feel bad about yourself – unless you’re Gary Vaynerchuk or anyone else of that caliber who is already huge on social media and therefore favored by the algorithm. If not, my advice is to stop being a sucker and build your own platform. If you’re a small fish, the algorithm will cut you out most of the time.

I’m not saying that it’s impossible to become big on social media – just that if you’re going with that route: “I wish you good luck, my friend.”

Build your own dream, not someone else’s dream. If you have your own platform, then you have 100% access to it. If you set up an e-mail newsletter, then these people will be your people, and it will be your list, and you can take that list wherever you go – it’s platform-independent. Nobody can restrict your access to your fans.

After quitting social media, I have 100% less anxiety; I am super productive, way calmer, and in general enjoy life so much more.

Even on my blog, I have no idea how many people read my articles (only a rough idea) as I disabled the statistics. If you have a blog as well, then I recommend doing the same. The statistics are essentially the same as the likes on social media – they mess with your emotions. So better to cut them off.

Of course, social media and social media marketing have their benefits – no doubt. It’s just that for me the benefits are way too small compared to the massive negative effects they bring.

So, ask yourself if social media is beneficial to you or not. Weigh the pros and cons and make a rational decision.


Tweaking your life

What brings success? What gets you to your goals? Is it some big breakthrough? No, it’s the small things we do every day.

Find out the little tweaks that if you’d make them, you know your life would become better. E.g., taking the stairs instead of the escalators (yes, I’m very passionate about stairs and anti escalators), cutting off sugar completely from your diet, reading a few pages of a book every day, meditating 10-20 minutes etc. – are all small adjustments, yet powerful as over time they have a compounding effect.

It’s just like tweaking a computer program or a machine – we have the first version, and then we find ways to make it even better. Once we achieve that, then the next step is to try to make it better than the last version, add more features, and so on.

So, imagine you’re trying to make the code that’s running you, more efficient, faster and more complex.

Usually, there would be a lot of emotion and frustration taking place if we’re trying to implement a new habit as we will not see the results immediately. This is why these things should be simple and small. Instead of making a goal for yourself to go to the gym seven days a week for 2 hours, it’s a lot better to implement the.g. e small tweaks mentioned above.

This way, you can turn off the emotions, so to speak and just do the things without any thinking. Over time these tweaks will become integrated into your “code.”


The best way to give feedback

Giving feedback is a sort of a delicate thing. It’s delicate because it’s very easy for people to take offense and therefore reject the feedback in its entirety.

E.g., how do you tell someone that he’s wrong about something? Telling the person that he’s wrong and that you’re right most likely won’t work. The other person would resist everything you say.

The reason is that admitting that you’re wrong would mean losing status. Essentially it’s an ego thing. My article “Maintaining your self-image” explains it further.

But giving feedback is necessary – how else would the other person improve. There has to be a way saying that he is not correct without making that other person feel immediately “butthurt” about it.

There is a well-known method of giving feedback in a structured way, and it’s called the “feedback sandwich.” It works like this: first you tell the person something positive about the work, then you talk about the problems and issues (the juicy part of the sandwich), and finally, you end the feedback with something positive again.

However, since it’s become so popular, many people see through it and in some business circles its become to be known as the “shit sandwich.”

A much better way to give feedback is not to give direct instructions but to let them reach a conclusion by themselves. It would be their decision, not yours and therefore they wouldn’t reject it. As soon as people feel they’re being instructed, they will resist you. It would be like swimming against the current. The person needs to see the errors himself.

Telling the person that they’re wrong would imply the opposite – that they’re incompetent and that would make them feel a lot of anxiety.

This can be done by e.g., telling the person “I’m sure you did everything you could. Let’s find a way to fix this.” This would not lower the other person’s status as it implies that they’re capable of fixing the issue by themselves.

Taichung, Taiwan

Seek to get triggered

What’ve I’ve noticed is that not many people have the ability to hold two or more opposing ideas in their minds at once.

Let’s take politics, for example. The topic that is perhaps the most triggering of all the topics out there.

In the US, they have republicans and democrats, and both have their world views. People choose a side. What is fascinating is that once you choose a side, you kind of have to agree with everything your side comes up with. You can’t simply say “Well, I agree with the healthcare point of view of this party but disagree with the immigration politics.” It’s a package deal – you have to pick all or nothing.

Actually, you can only choose certain points you agree with, but almost no one does. Very few people look at politics this way. I mean, is the healthcare really connected to the immigration? Not really. Therefore, just because one agrees with one aspect, does not mean you have to agree with everything else as well. But people rationalize: if I support this party because of x, then it means I also agree on y.

I have to admit I was definitely one of those people who got very easily triggered by politics. I do hope I’m doing better now. Getting triggered by anything is a bad sign in itself. It doesn’t necessarily even have to be about politics.

If you get triggered by something, it means something is not right and needs to be fixed. I think it’s a sign of a very strong form of “resistance”.

We usually tend to avoid to read, watch, and listen to ideas and people that may trigger us. If you’re a hardcore republican, you don’t want to hear anything that democrats have to say and vice versa. You would only read the things “your side” publishes. It makes us feel good, and it’s comforting. It gives certainty that our world view is the correct one. God forbid if we’ve believed the wrong thing!

Speaking of religion – this also huge. Some people would go so far as to kill other human beings just to make sure their world view is not put to the test. They would do absolutely anything to preserve their identity.

This is also the reason why people who are a member of some cult and e.g., expect an alien ship to rescue them keep believing these fantasies no matter how much counter-evidence is presented to them. They wait for the ships to arrive over and over again. Deep down inside, they may know that it’s total bullshit, but they can’t ever admit that. That would mean that their world view was wrong. For them, everything would then collapse.

Needless to say, trying to reason with these people is useless. It would just create more resistance.

Therefore, I think it’s a good exercise to seek out things that would “trigger” us. Read the things you’d normally wouldn’t read. E.g., join a flat earth supporters forum or watch extreme right / extreme left videos.

It’s a good exercise in a way that it makes you become aware of the different emotions and impulses that bubble up. It doesn’t mean you have to agree with these ideas but the ability to understand them and the people – that’s the point.

As the great Stephen Covey has said: “Seek first to understand, then to be understood.”