“You are the average of 5 people you spend the most time with.”

It wasn’t until halfway through college when I noticed the impact the “average of 5” was having on my life and career path, and even later when I actively embraced the average of 5 to my advantage.

Take a moment to think about your values, ethics, character and even the way you approach problems. Now think about where those characteristics come from. It’s likely these traits come from those who you spent a good amount of time with or from someone you admire (this can be said for undesirable traits as well). There are moments in your life where you may question how much time you are spending around a certain person or group, asking yourself “is this right for me, or the type of person I want to be”. These are the moments where you start to plan your pathway to success. At this point you have three common pathways you might take or even multiple paths.

3 Ways to change your average of 5

1. Spend more time with people within your existing network

Using your existing network is commonly a first and easier step to pursue. Spending more time with those who you admire within your network can be an easier step than cold calling your hero. This might be a relative, a Facebook friend, a LinkedIn contact or a colleague from a different department. These are great opportunities that many people overlook. This is simply intentionally shifting the 5 people you spend the “most” time with.

2. Expand your network

Using networking opportunities or taking initiative to join a group or meet up (or on a higher level… joining a “mastermind”…) can greatly expand your network and the opportunities that come along with it. Conferences or academic programs often will expand your network of high achieving peers and an occasional leader here and there. Another way would be to cold call someone you admire. These actions will provide you with new paths that were previously unavailable to you.

3. Acquire a mentor or a coach

I was really fortunate to have multiple mentors and coaches throughout my career and I attribute much of my success to the knowledge and wisdom gained from working with them. I’ve had 4 notable mentors and coaches throughout my career, each one brought different experiences and wisdom into my life. Mentorship is the fastest way to advance your skillset and avoid common mistakes on the way to success. As an example, in a single day training I cover more than a decade’s worth of learning and experiences of public speaking and presentation development, accelerating one’s pathway to becoming a successful presenter. These are the kinds of opportunities that can help you leap in skills and notoriety.

Mentorship helps you to learn from other people’s mistakes and successes leapfrogging years ahead of your colleagues. That being said, for mentorship and coaching to work, you have to be coachable, always eager to learn, have the grit to work a bit harder and smarter along the way as well as being a little more passionate than that of your peers. My mentors and coaches had a vast range of backgrounds: IT, health, agriculture, public service, marketing and business. Each of them modeled admirable traits that I assimilated over time and I gained valuable leadership lessons from each of them. Throughout my post-college career, I’ve almost always had at least one mentor and one coach at any point in time. Mentorship without a doubt is the most effective way to accelerate your career path, skills and available network.

What’s the difference between mentorship and coaching?

A mentor is someone who has had success doing the same thing you wish to do and guides you along the way with specific insight into your career path, position or field. A coach is someone who is successful while not necessarily in your industry. A coach will similarly guide you through hurdles you might face. The important thing is to ideally have your mentors and coaches from different backgrounds if having more than one at the same time.

Recommendations to change your average of 5

  1. Get a mentor and/or coach!
  2. Intentionally schedule more time with those who can have a positive influence on you or your career
  3. Expand your network with various networking opportunities

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