By Kara Brown, CEO and CRO of LeadCoverage, an advisor B2B demand/lead gen + marketing agency.
Many of us are familiar with the adage coined by Jim Rohn: “You’re the average of the five people you spend the most time with.”
He asserts that the people you spend the most time with shape who you are, so it pays to surround yourself with those you admire. And while that may be true, I’ve found that there’s an equally powerful influence: those who infiltrate your Top 5 by dominating your headspace.
Think about it: We all have those people who play a starring role in our thoughts, even if they’re physically not present in our lives. It could be a teacher, a family member, a counselor or a work associate. The question is whether or not they belong in your Top 5.
For instance, I have a dear friend I’ve known since fifth grade who doesn’t live near me. Even though we don’t talk a lot or get to spend much time together, we stay in touch and think about each other a lot. So, she’s definitely earned a spot in my Top 5.
On the flip side, there’s a guy I’m dealing with professionally who is an absolute nightmare. He’s genuinely toxic, and though I’d never elect to spend time with him, I still find myself ruminating about our interactions, which only makes me feel worse. Unfortunately, he’s also occupying a spot.
The truth is, your Top 5 varies over time and may include unwanted people who find their way into your brain. We dedicate tons of mental real estate to them, which can be exhausting or rejuvenating, depending on who you allow in. And the more your Top 5 are in the former camp, the less room you’ll have for those in the latter group.
Here are three tips to ensure that those in your mental Top 5 are worthy:
1. Be aware of who is taking up headspace.
The biggest tool in banishing those who consume your thoughts and bring you down is acknowledging that they exist. Take inventory of your mental energy and ask yourself who is adding to it in a positive way and who is draining you. Sometimes, it’s the people with whom we’re connected who we didn’t choose — a family member or professional colleague — who can bring us down and make us feel less-than about ourselves. When you can identify the toxic culprits, you can be intentional about your plans to remove them.
2. Understand that you have the power to change your association with them.
Sometimes those who occupy our thoughts aren’t all bad, but we hold onto and replay a negative experience or encounter we had with them in our heads, which drains us. In his book Talking to Strangers, Malcolm Gladwell offers a suggestion to combat that problem: changing our association with them. For instance, maybe you’re still reeling after a conference call where someone treated you poorly. Now, that pain is stuck in your head. But if you can recall a more positive interaction with that person, you can replace the negative memory with it. And when you shift from a negative to a positive association, you’re one step closer to clearing your Top 5.
3. Remove and replace anyone who doesn’t deserve to be there.
After you’ve assessed your current situation, you’re bound to find a few toxic stragglers who you need to evict from your prime mental real estate. Remove those negative folks and replace them with people who want you to succeed, have your back and help you feel nurtured and cared for. Low on worthy replacements? Consider adding in authors and thought leaders you respect and admire who help you be your best self. For me, these include Brené Brown, Simon Sinek and the aforementioned Malcolm Gladwell.
Remember, ultimately, you get to choose who resides in your Top 5, so don’t give that power away. Instead, reserve that sacred space only for those positive, encouraging people who support your dreams, and give anyone negative or toxic the boot.