How Friends Influence Your Life: Choose Your Squad
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This article is an excerpt from the Shortform book guide to "The Compound Effect" by Darren Hardy. Shortform has the world's best summaries and analyses of books you should be reading.

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How do friends influence your life? Do you think your friends have a positive influence on your long-term wellbeing?

The people with whom you closely associate are critically important because you inevitably end up doing things like them. Have you ever considered how friends influence your life?

Consider how friends influence your life and whether that influence is positive or negative.

How Do Friends Influence Your Life?

The people with whom you closely associate are critically important because you inevitably end up talking, reading, eating, thinking, watching, and otherwise doing things like them. According to one expert, your closest associations—your “reference group”— can determine much of your success in life. Jim Rohn says we are the average of the five people we associate with most. That’s why you have to think about how friends influence your life.

Our friends influence us subtly yet powerfully, and that influence can be negative or positive. For example, if you hang out with people who order potato skins and other greasy appetizers while gossiping, you’ll soon find yourself joining right in. If, however, you hang out with people who order healthy food and talk about uplifting subjects, you’ll assimilate these behaviors. 

If you want to possess certain traits, the best way to start is by hanging out with people who already possess those traits. The habits and attitudes they possess will rub off on you, and you can then mirror that success in your own life.

Consider the people you spend the most time with and place them into one of 3 categories:

  • Dissociations. These are the people you need to cut ties with. They are negative influences who don’t seem to be growing or changing in a positive direction. When you break away from these people, it won’t be easy. They will resist, seeing your positive direction as a negative reflection on them.
  • Limited associations: There are people who are fine to be around for a few minutes, or a few hours, or even a few days, but any more than that creates a dampening influence on you. Look at the people in your life and see if you’re spending too much time with someone whose contact you should limit.
  • Expanded associations. Find people who have positive qualities in areas of life you’d like to emulate, for example, business success or loving marriages. Make an effort to spend more time with these people, even if you have to go out of your way. Join organizations where the type of people you admire gather. If you admire an author or speaker you don’t have access to, listen to their materials and learn from them.

Expanded Associations: Mentoring

Finding a mentor is a great way to associate more with an individual whose qualities you’d like to emulate. You are never so good that you can’t benefit from a mentor. In fact, some of the most successful individuals keep learning from the best coaches and trainers there are.

How Friends Influence Your Life: Choose Your Squad

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Here's what you'll find in our full The Compound Effect summary:

  • How small, daily actions can add up to big successes (or failures)
  • Why it's easier to rely on the compound effect over time instead of taking big action all at once
  • How it's possible to be better off starting with a penny than $3 million

Darya Sinusoid

Darya’s love for reading started with fantasy novels (The LOTR trilogy is still her all-time-favorite). Growing up, however, she found herself transitioning to non-fiction, psychological, and self-help books. She has a degree in Psychology and a deep passion for the subject. She likes reading research-informed books that distill the workings of the human brain/mind/consciousness and thinking of ways to apply the insights to her own life. Some of her favorites include Thinking, Fast and Slow, How We Decide, and The Wisdom of the Enneagram.

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