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  • Writer's pictureSam

The Most Important Thing in Your Social Circle is Variety!

Updated: Jan 28, 2023

Being on the internet, particularly on social media, means that I’ve been exposed to a lot of inspirational, motivational, and thoughtful quotes. I’ve possibly seen more than the average person what with my love of motivational psychology. But there is one quote that has always stuck with me to the point that it has kept me up at night:

You’re The Average Of The Five People You Spend The Most Time With. — Jim Rohn

When I first read this, I did what most people do when they read a similar quote, I thought “ah, yeah I guess so,” and moved on with my day. But as the nights went on I kept thinking about the people I was surrounding myself with; were they inspiring to me? Were they living lives and behaving in ways that I myself wanted to embody? Were they significantly adding to my life? Although they were cool people, the answer was a pretty clear no to most of those questions, at least at the time it was, I later came to realize that things aren’t quite so black and white, but I’ll get to that later. This revelation about my immediate circle really bothered me, how was I supposed to succeed in my dreams if I was surrounded by the kinds of people who weren’t actively pursuing the same things I was? Was I doomed to a life of mediocrity? One where I never achieved anything and only talked about it as a “One day…” sort of thing? These questions really haunted me to the point where I had to do something about it, and slowly I started building a circle of supportive and like-minded people that I both helped to inspire and inspired me. I still spent time with my friends from before I was kept awake by Jim Rohn's quote, but my focus was elsewhere, and you know what? I burned out!

I look back on the way I felt during those years, the way I thought about my social circle, and I realize my fundamental flaw here was a complete misunderstanding of the quote that started it all…

“You’re the average of the five people you spend the most time with,” NOT “If you have anyone around you who isn’t achieving the same kind of thing as you, you’re doomed to a life of misery!”

With the beauty of hindsight I can see how foolish I was being, I was thinking in fear of not achieving what I wanted, and although I was right to think that I needed some inspiring people in my life, I was wrong to think that that’s all I should have. A few years on and I’ve learned that the best thing to have in your circle of friends is VARIETY. You are likely aware that in a romantic relationship, if you expect all of your needs to be met by your partner, then the relationship is probably going to fail. Well, it’s the same with platonic friendships. You need friends who will inspire and cheer you on in your goals, and you need friends you can call at 3 am when your boyfriend dumps you; these may not be the same person, and that’s okay. I have friends who I talk science with, friends who I play role-playing and board games with, and friends I talk business ideas with; there’s a bit of overlap but not too much. My gaming friends generally don’t get my business talk, it’s just not their jam.

Don’t do what I did and assume that all the people you surround yourself with should be inspirational success stories, and there are a number of reasons for that:

  • You can’t choose everyone in your life, your family and children for example.

  • Other people's definitions of success are different from yours and just as valid.

  • Sometimes you need those nights where you just want to talk about banal topics or gossip with some mates. If it’s just talk of achievements all the time, you’ll burn out.

  • Everyone is working through their own stuff in their own way, just because they’re not currently focused on their ultimate dream probably just means that they’re not quite ready for that right now.

  • They’ll be times when you’re going through stuff and YOU are the difficult/boring one.

  • Life, and people, are draining sometimes. Draining doesn’t automatically equal bad, that’s just part of life. Give yourself some credit, deep down you know full well who the people worth keeping around are.

Having a mix of different people, at different stages in their life, and having lived different experiences, is the best sort of social circle you can have to achieve success; you’ll always have someone you can go to no matter what you need. The cumulative experience of your social circle will teach you so much about yourself and the world you live in, it’ll completely enrich your life. Having said all that, when it comes to inviting new people into my life, I try to find people that make me feel energized! Obviously, no one can make you feel energized all the time, but there are a few traits I tend to look for across the board where I know that spending time with them will likely be very rewarding: They have a general disposition toward happiness. People who enjoy being miserable will not make you feel good. You can tell these people because they are the ones who just complain about the same situation and do nothing to change it. You’ll have problems, you’ll run into roadblocks, and you’ll need to go to your friends' advice, or to use them as a sounding board, or just to vent, but when that’s all there is, you’ll just end up feeling like the relationship is very one-sided. They are kind. Kindness; probably the greatest, most important trait of all. When someone treats you with kindness you start to feel like you have a safety net around you. Risks become easier to take because you know that you have people who will still support you if you fail, you know that you can mess up around them and they’re not going flip out at you. I like to have a social circle full of kind people because I know that they’ll be there for me if I fall, and being surrounded by kind people also makes me want to be kind in return. Having kind friends makes me a better person. People being kind to you gives you the energy you need to be kind back, and when you’re trying to succeed at living a life you can be proud of, the energy from kindness is a catalyst for success. They take responsibility for their behavior and mistakes. Self-awareness is the most powerful skill for self-development in your arsenal, and it certainly works best if you have people around you who have similar skills. Having friends and partners who are able to reflect on their own behavior, to apologize to you when necessary, and recover humbly from mistakes makes a space for you to be able to do the same. The better we can recover from our mistakes, the more successful in our endeavors we’ll be. They make time for you It’s good in life to be valued. We developed as social creatures, so the feeling of being appreciated by others, certainly by others we like and respect, is very important for us. I have a simple rule for this, and that is to be aware of how often I and they are the ones suggesting meeting up and then putting in the leg work to meet; this means actually remembering to meet, not double booking, not canceling last minute, being the one to suggest dates, times and activities, being the first to contact, etc. All these things, of course, happen sometimes, we all slip up and make mistakes, but if you find that you’re the one putting in all the effort to arrange to meet, or they’re always canceling, you’re clearly not worth their time. Not being worth someone's time just means that you’re not the right person for them and that is fine, there are people who aren’t worth your time too, that is also fine. But, much like in dating, don’t waste your time if they’re just not that into you, they’ll be other people who are. They have dreams for their future Working towards something means that I’m always going to have things to talk to that person about. This for me is the most exciting part of getting to know a new person, what do they want for their lives? I love knowing this, and to me, it makes a person very interesting, even if it’s something I would never want myself. Whether you’re excited about a new career, a promotion, a creative outlet, a new business, a new house, a holiday, or becoming a house spouse to look after your kids; if you’re excited about it, I’m excited about it, and if I’m excited, I’m energized!


Never underestimate your own powers of deduction. Trust your gut. You know exactly which relationships are adding to or draining your energy, and it’s completely up to you what you want to do with those relationships. You might want to keep them because you’re okay with that, or you might want to introduce some boundaries to manage the relationship better, or you may decide that you don’t want that relationship anymore. Life is full of all different kinds of people, and so long as you have a great variety of people in your life, you’re bound to find exactly what you need in your friendships to live a life of fulfillment.

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