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Shivani Gopal

Shivani Gopal

August 14, 2022
| Career

How to be more successful by auditing your friends

We don’t exist in a vacuum. As much as we ‘tweet, post, comment and like’ — we exist in a world where our most fundamental (and important) interactions are with real people. Sometimes we don’t realise the influence that people actually have on us, and also the affect that we have on them. As hard as we try, we can’t get away from people (unless you want to be a hermit in the Himalayas), because research shows that without social interaction and social feedback, we would  definitely go insane.

“You are the average of the 5 people you spend the most time with.” ­– Jim Rohn

We absolutely need people in our lives if we want to function normally. This means that we should work hard to get the right ones into our inner sanctum, because they will shape how successful we are.

“You are the average of the 5 people you spend the most time with.” ­– Jim Rohn

Research shows that the people you surround yourself with provide a strong indicator of how you will end up. It’s actually basic psychology. The group shapes your individuality through the shared rules and values that it deems acceptable. Now, this can be both really great and really dangerous, depending on the type of group that you surround yourself with.

History is littered with group think that has resulted in genocide, while others have produced liberty and freedom.

Habits are contagious

Nicholas Christakis’ research showed that friends who have bad habits have an ability to transfer them down to us. Even habits such as excessive drinking, obesity, divorce, violence and unethical behaviours are things that can be transferred onto us from our “friends.”

“God gives us relatives; thank God, we can choose our friends” — Addison Mizner

Group think affects all of us. It’s just that sometimes we don’t realise that we can choose the group we're part of. It can be tough to remove yourself from people whom you care about, but whose habits are dragging you down. Social habits are infectious. A significant factor in how people start smoking is because a friend or family member introduced them to the habit.

If you want to be successful at anything, it’s imperative to surround yourself with people whom you admire and want to mirror in some way.

For example: you’re an entrepreneur who’s just fudged up a really important deal that could ruin your reputation and your company’s future. Your friends are the litmus paper that tell you whether it’s appropriate to give up and run for cover, or to dust yourself off and scrape up the courage to face the issue.

Hint: you want friends who are looking out for your long term success and happiness, even if that means that you have to experience some discomfort now.

How our close relationships drastically affect our success

Scientific research shows that our social interactions can have a major impact on how we perceive ourselves, our abilities, and how we operate in the world.

Our social circle influences our:

  1. Ability to de-stress and relax

  2. Healthy or unhealthy eating

  3. Fitness

  4. Job competence

  5. Life expectancy

  6. Perceptions of how difficult or easy a task is, and

  7. Perceptions of our own ability and potential to complete difficult tasks.

This shows that we definitely don’t exists in a bubble. Our friendships have ripple effects in almost every major area of our lives.

How friendships and relationships affect us

Our friends hold us up to a specific standard. They inform us on what is socially acceptable and what is definitely NOT okay to do or say. Without people around us, we wouldn’t have any way to become civilised.

There’s an example of this in the movie Logan, where Laura is having a family style dinner for what is probably the first time in her life. This is a great scene, because you get to see the social cues; disgust, shock, horror, embarrassment — most importantly, you get to see how Logan firmly corrects her


Feedback from friends

This scene shows us, in an exaggerated way, how our friendships help us in society. They correct us, they keep us accountable, and in doing so — they make us civilised. This means that we adopt the best practices of navigating the world and the people whom exist in it, for the betterment of ourselves and the greater society.

More science, please!

The law of averages states that the results you get in any given situation will be the average of all outcomes.

This means that you are literally the average of your closest friends.

So, if you want to be more successful in a specific area in your life, the first thing you should do is find someone who it killing it in that area and take them out to coffee…

Do you find yourself constantly making poor health decisions? Psychological research showed that surrounding yourself with strong willed people increases your self control.

Having great friends is an insider secret of the most successful people.

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