“You are the average of the five people you spend the most time with.” – Jim Rohn
Back during spring break of 2008, my friends and I were playing craps at a casino in Vegas. We were all gambling with less than $200 in hand, and each of us would get visibly/audibly excited whenever we won more than $50 (high rollers, I know).
My roommate started chatting up the guy next to him, who had a large stack of $100 chips. He told my roommate that the most he’d ever won in one night was $40,000. The most he’d ever lost? A quarter million…
He didn’t seem too proud of the $40K, and he wasn’t upset about the $250K. It was all very matter-of-fact.
Both of those numbers made me uncomfortable. They were so far outside of my reality. I imagined how drastically my life would change if I won $40K, or if I just had access to a quarter mil… And here I was, scrubbing around with $5 chips and justifying my losses with free drinks.
The interesting thing about money, skills, success, and happiness is that they are never absolute. They are all entirely relative. Your limits for each of them were largely determined by the people you spent the most time with, and the culture you grew up in. This is a fairly obvious observation, but why don’t more people take advantage of its implications?
That guy in Vegas was comfortable with his numbers because it seemed normal to him. Each of his closest gambling buddies would, undoubtedly, have wins and losses that were in the same ballpark. In fact, I wouldn’t have been surprised if he had followed up his tale of losing a quarter million with “but my friend lost a half million in one weekend!” A $250K loss was reasonable, because it was relative.
Your outlooks are surprisingly plastic. To change them, it’s simply a matter of removing yourself from the environment and the norms you’ve grown accustomed to, and surrounding yourself with people who are at the level you want to reach.
If you truly dive into a new environment, your old mentality will always adapt to it, and your resulting worldview will manifest itself in your behaviors, decisions, and actions. In other words, the people you spent so much time with will have drastically changed the way you think and act, whether you like it or not.
If you want to change your life, change your social circle. Spend as much time as you can with people who have achieved your desired state, and let them sculpt your views. Accept the fact that you’re inevitably going to change as a result, and embrace it! As you talk with and observe them over the course of several months, they will slowly fade from “remarkable” and eventually become “normal.” Their thoughts and actions will no longer seem wildly above your abilities — just more intelligent and calculated than you’ve been used to. You’ll wake up one day, and realize your benchmark has been raised. And you will hold yourself to a new standard, until you decide to lift yourself up to the next level, and surround yourself with new folks who fit your revised definition of “rich” (or “successful,” “skilled,” etc.)
Sure, there will be a few social climbers who are never content with what they have. But you can consciously use this dynamic to change your life.