Motivational speaker Jim Rohn famously said: “You are the average of the five people you spend the most time with.” When you look at your inner circle, are the people surrounding you supporting your dreams? Or are they holding you back from achieving your potential?
“The people who we surround ourselves with, especially those we consciously choose to be around, can truly enrich who we are, personally and professionally,” says Lola Small, life and fitness coach, founder at Lola Life Fitness, and FemCity collective leader. Whether intentional or not, the individuals closest to us have great influence over our ways of thinking, and even the decisions we make.
Lori Harder, author of A Tribe Called Bliss: Break Through Superficial Friendships, Create Real Connections, Reach Your Highest Potential, says achieving your full potential often means leveling up your peer groups and surrounding yourself with positive, supportive people who believe in your ability to thrive. The truth about friendships, Harder says, is that the people we surround ourselves with truly do rub off on us. How positive or negative their impact is depends on who we choose to be part of our circle.
“You not only gain the strongest traits of your friends, but you also will default to the limiting beliefs of what they think is possible for themselves,” says Harder. If you are looking to grow, surrounding yourself with people who have a fixed mind-set, who don’t believe growth is possible, will inevitably hold you back from achieving your goal, while surrounding yourself with positive people who believe in you and support your growth is more likely to lead you to success. But there’s another reason you should seek to level up your peers.
Surrounding yourself with people who are where you already want to be can help you get there faster. “These people that I look up to, want to learn from, and totally respect where I am remind me that I, too, can be successful, powerful, creative, and inspiring,” says Small. “They act as an example of what I want to become, and by surrounding myself with them, I feel like I can start to embody those qualities I would like to cultivate.”
This doesn’t mean you have to ditch your family or old friends. But spending more time with people whose mind-set and goals are similar to yours can help you to achieve your goals.
But how do you find this tribe of amazing, supportive individuals that help you achieve a higher potential? Finding your tribe is not as easy as making friends in the schoolyard. Finding your tribe as an adult takes work, and it is possible.
Do more of what you’re passionate about
If you have specific passions or goals and want to surround yourself with people who share those things, start by doing more of those things. “If you love fitness and would like to have friends who love muscles as much as you, then get to your gym regularly and enjoy being there,” says Small. Simply being in the environment you want to thrive in and having a positive attitude sends out a vibe that draws people who have similar goals to you.
Be honest with yourself and others about your goals and ambitions
There are many networking groups out there, but finding the tribe that will get you closer to your goals takes some work. When participating in networking groups, Harder recommends asking people what their goals are, and what they believe is possible for themselves. “That’s what will become possible for you in time,” she says. If you aspire to pursue a management path, but you are meeting people who are content with a mid-level position, this is not going to be the tribe to help you get to where you want to go.
Harder credits her success with putting herself in rooms where she didn’t yet feel comfortable. “I ask myself who I would need to be, what I would need to believe, and how would I feel if I felt I belonged. That helps me embody the beliefs that will get me to the next level,” says Harder. The more time you spend with people who are where you want to be, the more familiar and comfortable you become with that level of success, and the better prepared you can be to achieve it.
Stop trying to “fit in”
Be honest with yourself about who you are and what you want in your life, but don’t try to force yourself into someone’s circle. If you’re on a similar vibe and care about the same things, you will be drawn to each other naturally. “You just know when you’re in the right tribe because it’s easy and effortless, and you feel like yourself when you’re with them,” says Small.
Start building your tribe online
Seeking your tribe mates can be nerve-wracking, especially if you’re uncomfortable with networking. Harder suggests listening to podcasts by people who motivate you, reading books, and following people online until you become comfortable enough reaching out to them. When you do reach out, be clear on why you want to connect, and make sure it’s equally beneficial to you both. Harder will often say, “Hey there! I absolutely love what you are doing and I have a similar passion. I think we could help and support each other. If you are interested in connecting to see how we could help move our mission/businesses forward, I would love to meet for a coffee or have a quick chat online.” This simple exchange can lead to meaningful connections in real life and can be the start of building your tribe.