You Are The Average Of The Five People You Spend The Most Time With

Maarten van Doorn
4 min readJun 20, 2018

Take a look at this Abraham Lincoln quote and think about it:

“Give me six hours to chop down a tree and I will spend the first four sharpening the ax.”

Whenever you set out to achieve something, it might come in handy to invest a lot in the tools that you’re going to be using. When one has a goal, one should devote resources to the means one uses for achieving this goal.

Let’s say that our goal is to have a good life.

Were we to apply Lincoln’s lesson to this goal, what would that amount to?

Got it?

What do you think?

It’s your lucky day — I thought really hard about these issues.

The answers might surprise you.

Keep tabs on the life-philosophies to which you expose yourself

What instruments are available for living better (whatever that means exactly) and how can we enhance them?

The most important tool at our disposal for living better of life is other people.

The people we surround ourselves with are the biggest influence on our behavior, attitudes and results. Who you are around — what they’ve got you thinking, saying, doing and becoming — sets the course of your life.

In the words of motivational speaker Jim Rohn:

“You are the average of the five people you spend the most time with.”

The people you spend the most time with shape who you are. They determine what conversations dominate your attention. They affect to which attitudes and behaviors you are regularly exposed. Eventually you start to think like they think and behave like they behave.

As Darren Hardy writes in The Compound Effect:

“According to research by social psychologist Dr. David McClelland of Harvard, [the people you habitually associate with] determine as much as 95 percent of your success or failure in life.”

That’s huge.

And it has important consequences.



Maarten van Doorn

Essays about why we believe what we do, how societies come to a public understanding about truth, and how we might do better (crazy times)