Who is in your inner circle?

Jim Rohn once said, “You are the average of the five people you keep closest to you.”  I believe that to be true.  And, it’s not just me; studies have shown that people with overweight friends are 57% more likely to become overweight.

And, in fact, proximity doesn’t make a difference here.  The way the closest people to you behave — whether or not they are emotionally or physically close — influences the way you behave.  What they do becomes what you do.  What they think becomes what you think.  What they normalize becomes what is normalized for you. (Tweet this.)

Your inner circle still matters, even as we are all socially distant.  Because you see, we aren’t socially distant, we are just physically distant.  We are still — and maybe more so now than ever — socially together.  

If Jim Rohn’s quote is a good one, here’s an even better one from the legendary basketball coach John Wooden: “You will never outperform your inner circle.”

Just let that settle in for a moment, and let me repeat it again for the people in the back: “You will never outperform your inner circle.”

So, it begs the question: who is in your inner circle? Do they push you forward or hold you back?

I believe that every inner circle should have three types of members:

  1. Someone you can mentor:  There is no better way to finally get past imposter syndrome than to spend some time teaching someone something you really, really know.
  2. Someone who is a peer: Having someone with whom you can celebrate or commiserate helps you keep moving forward, not feel alone, and provide a sanity check throughout.
  3. Someone to whom you aspire: Keeping an eye on someone who is kicking ass at a thing you want to do will provide you with a target to emulate and a bar to reach.

In this moment, when we are all suddenly spending even more time than usual on social media — when social media is how we are actually social — I’d ask you to consider the question even more broadly:

  • Who is in your social media inner circle?
  • Where are you getting your news?
  • Who is bringing you joy?
  • To whom are you aspiring?
  • Where are you getting your definitions of what success looks like, now, and in the future?
  • Who is comment-bombing your feed and dragging you down?

I have one word for you: unfollow, unfollow, unfollow.

(OK, so technically that was three words, but that shows you how strongly I feel about how much your inner circle impacts your potential.)

One day you are going to look back on this time and be able to say “I was proud of who I was during that period.”  You are going to talk about how you stood strong for your family.  How you created a great piece of work, or didn’t and self-cared the hell out of yourself (and that’s cool too).  You are going to talk about how you weathered the storm and came out the other side better understanding who you are and what you and your chosen community needed.

Choose your community, keep the people whose actions, thoughts, and norms make you proud.  Unfollow the rest.

It’s really just that simple.  Click.  They’re gone.  And, the beauty is that they won’t even know it.  Just unfollow them.  They’ll stop showing up in your feed.  You’ll stop being influenced by them.  And you’ll make room for the people who you actually want to see, the people whose influence you actually want and need.

And, here’s the added bonus: when all this is said and done, and we all get our hair cut and can peer past our overgrown bangs and see each other again, you can unfollow them in real life, too.