“The person you will be in five years depends largely on the information you feed your mind today. Be picky about the books you read, the people you spend time with and the conversations you engage in.” – Ruben Chavez

[slightly long post alert]

The number five seems to be popping up a bit for me as of late. It started with the above quote I’ve been rolling around in my head since it appeared in my Facebook memories recently. Then I listened to a podcast that touched on the fact that we become the average of the five people we spend the most time with. While not identical, I think these two messages of five are intertwined. Both are essentially asking us to take an inventory of our circle of influence – and be careful with who/what we allow in.

As a result, I’ve been reflecting on the five people I spend the most time with. I live by myself and work from home much of the time, so I don’t spend a lot of time in person with many folks consistently. So I believe my five-person circle of influence also encompasses the people I speak/text with most regularly or even the people delivering the podcasts I listen to or the media I consume on a daily basis. All that being said, if this theory is true, I would be more than pleased to be the sum of these parts. My circle of influence is pretty great.

But what if I was only allowed to count the people I encounter in person towards my five? What if I didn’t have a choice in my daily work circumstances and had to encounter more people at the office regularly? That’s when this exercise really gave me pause. I’ve realized that my circle of influence could be infiltrated by some fairly intense negativity from a number of sources. And just the thought of it makes my breath catch. I can only hope that I’d have enough self-awareness to adjust and protect myself.

In keeping with the theme of five, I’ve made these observations:

  • Positivity and negativity are both contagious – and both are choices we can make every day.
  • We don’t have to be related to or friends with someone for them to have a positive or negative influence on our attitude; they only have to be in proximity.
  • If we have to be in proximity to someone who is negative, toxic or contrary to the type of person we wish to be, it is essential to remain hyper vigilant and keep them at arms-length to protect our spirit.
  • What we read, view and listen to matters so much more than we realize and we MUST choose wisely. And it will not take five years for it to shape our character – it’ll be much quicker than that. It’s okay to unfollow, unfriend or block entirely if that’s what our well-being requires.
  • The good beings in our circles of influence should be cherished and treated with gratitude, lovingkindness, and respect.

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