The Law of Averages (how to run faster, eat better, and be happier)

One of my all time favorite quotes is:

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

-Jim Rohn

Jim Rohn, a motivational speaker said this, you can view the speech where he said this below:

Do you agree with this?  

Another way of saying this is PEER PRESSURE.   People like to be part of a crowd, they like to be with those with whom they have commonalities.  Even supposed “outsiders” are always together.  Remember junior high with all the kids sitting at the lunch table wearing the same “Misfits” shirt.

Even if you are not susceptible to peer pressure you will BE like those you are around the most.

The law of averages which basically says that the outcomes of any series event will eventually “even out” applies to human behavior as well. When this is applied to humans it assumes that human behavior will even out among those who spend time together.

“Law of averages typically assumes that unnatural short-term “balance” must occur” –Wikipedia

So what Jim Rohn is basically hypothesizing is that the law of averages applies to who we spend our time with and how we act and interact.  We will BECOME those with whom we spend time.

Take a moment and think of every person that you spent your free time with (NOT those who you were forced to spend time with like at work).

Who were you with:

  • Family
  • Friends

Now, how fit are those people, what are their paychecks, what kind of clothes do they wear, how to they respond to stress?  How similar are your responses to those items.

Are Your Friends Holding You Back?

Are Your Friends Holding You Back?

Two Ways We Become Those We Spend Time With

I believe that there are two ways in which we “become” those we spend the most time with.

  1. We actually adopt habits
  2. We find a new friend

If you spend all your time with someone you will begin to adopt their mannerisms and behaviors.  I feel like it is about the 7th grade (about 12 years old) that kids start to really think for themselves and strive to create an identity separate from their parents.   As they do this they start forming groups and cliques with other children who respond to the “call for individualism” the same way.  They start listening to the same music, getting the same hair cuts, play the same sports, watch the same movies.  All of these outward expressions of self begin to create inward values and belief systems that drive our reactions to the world around us.  This is turn continues the cycle of becoming LIKE those with whom we spend our time.

In order to “find themselves” and discover who they were they became MORE like those they spent the most time with.

If we find that we just don’t fit in with those around us we seek a NEW group of friends. I remember in college about my sophomore year I started to realize that I just didn’t resonate with the vast majority of the student population at my small private college.  I attempted to express myself in my own way but was unable to really grasp the actions of others so what did I do . . . I had two choices:

  1. Adopt the actions of others to fit in
  2. Find a new crowd whose beliefs more closely fit mine

I chose the latter and withdrew from the college and moved back home to Texas where just months later I met and married Sandi . . . who very closely met my way of thinking and responding to the world.

The name for this is Social Comparison Theory as proposed by Leon Festinger in 1954 which basically states:

We determine our own social and personal worth based on how we stack up against others.  – Psychology Today

You can also learn more about Social Comparison Theory HERE on Wikipedia.  Thus we spend time with and associate with those who we believe have approximately the same “social worth” or we improve or worsen ourselves to BECOME LIKE those with whom are are around.

How Does This Apply to Fitness

In this groundbreaking study published by the Department of Social Psychology at Santa Clara University about workout partners it was discovered that by simply working out with someone more fit than yourself  . . . you begin to mirror the actions of the partner and actually increase the intensity of your own workout.

Exercising with someone more fit than oneself could promote a higher intensity workout,  participants gravitate towards the exercise behaviors of those around them. Even when all participants, regardless of experimental conditions, were instructed to exercise at a moderate level and keep their pulse rates within a particular range, they mimic the exercise behavior of their exercise partner.  -Journal of Social Sciences

Basically they found that individuals mirror the activity of those around them.  And on the opposite spectrum they discovered that when highly fit individuals worked-out with unmotivated individuals they began to decrease the intensity of their workouts to match the level of the less fit individual.  If you hang around individuals that always eat out or eat unhealthy food you will begin to eat poorly or spend your money on junk food.

So here are a few quick tips to improve your own fitness level:

  1. Believe in yourself – Learn to place little weight on how your mind sizes up others.  Fitness and health are both on a progressively changing continuum.  With each hour of each day you are either becoming more or less healthy.  If you aren’t where you want to be at this moment then make a small change and move forward a tiny bit.  There is no need to compare yourself to others that are more fit AT THIS MOMENT than you are.  If you continually make small choices you will continually get healthier BIT by BIT.  Social comparison theory CAN be a positive thing IF you do not use it to beat yourself up for where you see yourself TODAY.
  2. Who are you spending time with – It is important that you find other individuals and families that are interested in health and fitness as well.  You don’t need to find fanatics, just other who will support you, challenge you, and be there with you as you set and achieve your fitness goals. When you tell your current friends you are going for a jog or taking your kids to the park . . . What Do They Say?
  3. Workout partners – Do you need a workout partner?  This really depends.  Some people really benefit from working out with others while others may not need the company.  In the study from Santa Clara University they found that those who were at a higher fitness level than their workout partner actually saw worse results when they worked out with a partner of lower fitness level.  So, if you do decide to workout with a partner it will help YOU to find someone of a higher level and intensity.

Who Are You Spending Your Time With

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Let me tell you why I love this quote so much. I have always been a firm believe in the power of positive influence in our lives. Great leaders have the ability to lead by influence rather than by other (less effective) tactics like fear, coercion, incentives and others.

Few people are capable of leading a crowd in a positive direction and it is human nature to follow the crowd and the path of least resistance.  You can be that leader that others need.  You can reach your fitness goals.

There are so many people that want to be healthy and fit and raise a healthy family.  That is the purpose of this website . . . to build a community of individuals with a common goal of health and fitness.   If you do not feel like you have that support from those you are currently spending your time with . . . lean on the community here. 

Do you have tips for motivating yourself and friends to obtain fitness?  Share them below \/\/\/\/\/

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