You Are the Sum of Your 5 Closest Friends

If the text & background make it too hard to read, you can view this post on my LinkedIn :-)

These might be...

  • The people you work with
  • The people you live with
  • The people you relax with
  • The people you are related to
  • The people you read (articles, books, blogs) or watch (TED talks, movies, shows) or listen to (radio shows, podcasts, audiobooks)

These people make you who you are. They influence...

  • Your mannerisms
  • Your diet
  • Your habits
  • Your productivity
  • Your spending
  • Your saving
  • Your happiness
  • Your mindset
  • Your choices
  • Your access to news/what you think is trending
  • Your outlook on politics
  • What you believe is true about the world, what you believe you can personally manage, and how you view the future

Knowing what you know now means that you can choose who you want to shape you. You have the power to choose who you want in your life.

These are the five types of people I want in my life and each one represents a key aspect of who I want to be and what I want to accomplish.

An Ambassador

In my life, Aaron, my manager at Mechanical Systems Inc., is one of the best ambassador’s I’ve had. In this role, the person acts as an ambassador because they represent someone entering your space coming from a different world of beliefs, values, and ethics. They are someone who can challenge what you believe with strong & supported arguments and respect even if you wind up disagreeing. As a former Marine and firefighter, Aaron is tough, persistent, strong with his logic, and at the end of the day, respects our differences. After many hours of conversation, we realized that we have more in common than what meets the eye and his worldview gives me key insights into a population I don’t regularly interact with.

An Anchor

My wife is my lug nut. An anchor is someone who has your same values and who will keep you on track if they notice you straying off course. When I get hopped up on an idea and want to spend the whole night in a fit of mania writing or creating a company, Megan is the one who pumps the breaks by asking the questions I’m too excited to ask myself. This is someone who adds a sobering perspective to your life while keeping you in line with your best interests.

An Echo

Recently, my friend Elliot has been a great echo. He is a film/photographer, entrepreneur, political activist, high-energy mindfulness yoga-breathing wheatgrass-drinking poet who travels across the U.S. spreading energy and art. An echo is someone who will match whatever emotion you are feeling with empathy. Since Elliot and I see eye to eye on nearly everything, he pushes me to pursue all my half baked new ideas. And likewise, I do the same for him. We are each other's cheerleaders, encouraging one another to reach beyond what we think we can achieve.

Caution! If you have too many people echoing, you might create an echo-chamber and if this happens, you will lose perspective. This is how nonsense rumors start, why people believe in ancient aliens, and how all cults are formed.

A Rockstar (a mentor)

Rockstar here means someone who you think is totally awesome and hope to be like one day. In the business world, we call this a mentor. This is someone who has a job, lifestyle, or achievement you want, so you hang around them like a groupie trying to emulate them. That might be a little crass: you see their success in their career and are trying to learn the set of skills that got them there. I dedicated Age of Agility to the two Andy’s in my life who are total rockstars and one day I hope to be as impactful of a mentor to others as they were to me. The first Andy was a mentor I had when I was in my early 20s in West Michigan who taught me about the power of chess, communication, and using both of skills to build a strategy to achieve my business and personal goals. The second Andy is the Andy at Sustainable Evolution Inc., a company I am working with currently to build a modern apprenticeship program in the IT space. Andy is the most productive person I have ever met and knows how to network and build relationships, two things I’m imitating (and slowly getting better at).

A Historical Hero

This should be someone who can fit on your nightstand in the form of a book, audiobook, or laptop screen. I believe that history repeats itself and the same problems your great grandparents had at your age are the same struggles you are going through. They may not have to deal with a hipster middle manager or using our technology, but they had to deal with the exact same interpersonal communication dilemmas you and I are currently experiencing. Calling in an expert from a different generation will help you view your joys and stresses from a new perspective. If you are dealing with a tough problem, ask your historical hero how they would solve it (imagine they just had a crash-course in modern technology and can use the same lexicon you use in your workplace). Right now, I’ve been talking to Benjamin Franklin about a lot, usually before bed, and I fall asleep mid-conversation. This morning, I woke up fresh and with a new perspective on my work.

I’ll write more about this practice in an upcoming post, titled: Talk to the Dead.


(A family member might fit the profile of one of these, and that is A-OK. My family definitely shapes who I am and I can see them fitting in a few of these roles. However, because I don’t interact them on a daily basis--besides maybe texting--they play a different type of role because they are not immediately influencing me.)

The best thing you can do is be mindful of how others affect you. If you feel drained after spending time with someone, you should replace them with someone who energizes you. If all your friends think like you, are you really getting a full perspective? Are you looking to make a life change, who is going to push you to achieve your goal? Each friend role will keep you grounded and excited about the projects you are working on. You have the power to pick your influences and surround yourself with the people who are going to support you and encourage you.

 

BOOKS CURRENTLY NEXT TO ME ON MY DESK:

I’m in Minneapolis, but I will be back on the road tomorrow! Since I’m in my home office, there isn’t a Gideon bible next to my pillow (sorry mom, sorry God). I do, however, have a pretty thick book next to me on my desk: The Stand complete and uncut by Stephen King. This is one of my favorite books of all time and I’m thumbing through it to try and figure out how King put it all together. If I were to storyboard it, what would it look like? How would one scene flow into the next and next and so on. It’s crazy because humans are natural storytellers, so even while writing by the seat of your pants (writing without an outline, something King practices), there is an inherent story arch. Stephen King can be hit or miss, but he is mostly hit. I think he’s the greatest living author and has been for some time. When I sat down this evening I was thinking about copying the first few chapter into a blank word document, reading it over once, and then doing a Command+A and turning it all back into pixel dust. Writing a passage another author has written is like learning how to play a song on the guitar. You get to feel the author’s rhythm and move the same way they did while they were writing. Sometimes you start jamming and get going on your own tangent and it turns into your own little tune. Right now, I’m all about practice. I’ve been poking around with writing since I was 16, that’s 11 years ago, and I know I need to practice my basics if I ever want to publish any fiction worth reading.

The other book I pulled out tonight is They Shoot Horses Don’t They by Horace McCoy. There is something I’m missing in reading this book--something important. I don’t know what it is yet, but I know it’s going to change how I tell stories.

Since I published the most recent blog, I’ve read two new books, both of them I recommend strongly.

The Millionaire Next Door by Thomas J. Stanley and William D. Danko (this is an oldie but a goodie)

and

5,000 Words Per Hour: Write Faster, Write Smarter: Write Faster, Write Smarter by Chris Fox (plotting, sprints, and dictation software. It’s a quick read. It confirmed a few tricks I’m already doing and taught me a couple new ones.)

That’s it for tonight. I’ll be in Macon, Missouri, tomorrow if anyone wants to show me around town (just updating the FBI about my whereabouts in case they get worried about me crossing state lines again). Like I said in the last blog, I’m working on a few super cool projects. Those updates, as well as updates about Age of Agility, will be coming soon.  AoA is nearly nearly finished. Nearly. Or so I’m told. I can’t wait for it to be out so I can start promoting what’s coming next.

 

Take care & talk soon.

Grok!

AjW