Math Equation: 5 Friends=You

Math Equation: 5 Friends=You

Math Equation: It is absolutely true that we become the sum of the top five people we are around the most. Actually in all aspects, if you look at the recent survey of voter exit polls, people who hang around liberals vote democrat and people that hang around conservatives vote republican. See if a person is subjected to only one side of an issue; it becomes their belief system as well. Take a look at the voters map in this last election. Every newsperson during election night coverage repeatedly stated “there were no surprises”. As a matter of fact, there are only a few states that split the vote called “swing states” the rest are predictable.  What does this mean for you?

Let’s take some advice from Jack Canfield co-creator of the “Chicken Soup” book series. He talks about we become the sum of the top five people we hang around the most. We begin to speak like them, dress like them, live like them, earn like them, eat like them, exercise like them and most importantly believe like them.

When I was a teenager in high school I played varsity football and at the beginning of my senior year my choice in friends changed for whatever reason. I began to stray down a path that was not the path I was reared as a child to put it nicely. My football coach pulled me aside one day and as a football coach can so eloquently say “Wilhoit, son, when you play with poop (being nice), you will eventually get some on you.” Now as a young, very cocky, very big and strong 17 year old, that went in one ear and out the other. However, 33 years later, I still remember that meeting. It did make an impact on me as an adult. I now protect myself from negative people, broke people, sad people, and those who love them some drama.

Here is the important fact of this matter. You will earn the average income of the top five people you hang out with most often. Take an honest look at your top five people you spend the most time with and take a look at their earnings. If you are the highest paid, the group is riding off of you and will eventually pull you down to their level. Like it or not people do influence our thoughts and dreams until it becomes our beliefs. We can quite literally become whatever we want to be if we focus our thoughts towards our goals and not allow people to steal those dreams away because of their beliefs. Therefore, if you want to be better off with your income and your life, you have to pick better friends.

Great minds discuss ideas, average minds discuss events and small minds discuss people”-Eleanor Roosevelt

Image courtesy of Keerati at FreeDigitalPhotos.net


Tim Wilhoit is owner/principal of Your Friend 4 Life Insurance Agency in Nashville, TN. He is a family man, father of 3, entrepreneur, insurance agent, life insurance broker, salesman, sales trainer, recruiter, public speaker, blogger and team leader with over 25 years of experience in sales and marketing in the insurance and beverage industries.

28 Responses to Math Equation: 5 Friends=You

  • Glad that most of my friends are the kind that discuss ideas. Not sure why I watch TV where they continually focus on people.

  • Great perspective! We do garner energy from the people around us, and negative people can weigh you down and occupy your valuable time. Have you ever noticed those people who call you just to vent… they can drain your time AND energy. Next time, let that oen go to voicemail, and replace the “Negative Nancy’s” with “Positive Pollys!” Thanks Tim.

  • Thank you Michael and Dorothy for your kind words. I really appreciate it.

  • Fantastic piece. Up there with, “You will never soar with eagles if you hang out with turkeys”. I find, as a business owner & husband/father, I just don’t have time to hang out with people who are negative and/or petty problems. My response usually comes off cold when I tell them, “you think you have problems, try volunteering in a soup kitchen”.


  • Famous Quote:
    “Tell me who your friends are and I will tell you who you are.”

  • What would the world be without football coaches, after getting into some very creative trouble my coach made me repeat the words ” the choices I make will determine the life I lead” and because he was also my history teacher I was made to write it on the black board 100 times, not mention the 20 laps around the track field as punishment. And like you it made an impression on me to the point that those words are forever imprinted on my mind and now on my children’s minds as they were growing up. Thanks Michael.

  • Doug, Duke and Scott I really appreciate your feedback on this. Those are all great quotes. Scott, I believe coaches have a way of tearing you down to build you back up the way they want you to play the game. In the meanwhile teaching some important life lessons we don’t realize we are learning at the time but are deeply burned into our memories. Thanks again.

  • I have just joined BNI here in Austrlia with the express purpose of modelling(NLP) those that I can come to admire. Your article has really inspired and validated my decision. Perhaps its time to clean out my social wardrobe as well 🙂

  • A very interesting article! It seems to be a bit on the pessimistic side (or realist?) to me but it definitely makes you ponder. Explains my own inclinatin to avoid the people who tend to have a lot of drama in their lives. Perhaps this iclination is innate in us – and some are just more aware than others?

    Thanks for sharing!

  • Thank you Carey for sharing. Yes it is a bit on the negative side. Psychologists tell us 87% of the average American’s daily information is negative. That tends to make people lean more negative than positive. Your “inclination” is dead on avoiding those types of people. Always follow your gut, it is our built in compass. Thanks again for your valuable feedback. I wish you much continued success!

  • This article twisted the obvious 180 degrees. In actuality, we do not “become” the sum of the top five people we are around the most. Instead, we tend to hang out with the 5 people who are most like us; who most think like us; and who most vote like us.

  • If you “protect” yourself from people who are less than you are, you fail to let your light shine in their lives

  • Christopher, I beg to differ the effect that 5 people can have on one. I believe to most people they feel in the comfort zone with those 5 friends. The point of the blog is if we want more out of life we must first look at what influences first. That establishes where we are in life. If one is very happy and content, then change may not be an issue. However, change is inevitable, but growth is optional. Cassandra, there is nothing in the blog about not reaching out and helping someone who is down and picking them up to a higher level. It doesn’t necessarily mean that the person will become one of your closest friends. I live by the quote from Zig Ziglar, “if you help enough people get what they want you get what you want.” The influence of people in our lives is something totally different. I thank you both for sharing in the conversation.

  • Tim, your view assumes that those 5 people seek us out and change us, ignoring the fact those a majority of those in our lives are there because we seek them out.

    The start of the article purports that we change because of the influence of the top 5 people we are around the most. That has nothing to do with seeking out change in our lives. Seeking change involves examining our relationship with those closest to us and determining if those influences are good for us, bad for us, or neither add to nor subtract from who we are or who we will become.

    The reason we feel comfortable with those people is that we have sought to surround ourselves with those who complement us best. One of the best things we can do to change (improve) is to surround ourselves with those who support and encourage us.

    Only the weak-willed and those lacking in confidence will strive to become what others think of us.

  • Christopher, on the contrary, I don’t believe our views are 180 degrees apart. You seem to defend your top 5 friends which probably means you have attracted the right ones in your life. The article isn’t about everyone needs to dump their top 5 friends. Just simply, if you don’t like where you are in life, look at who you are with most of the time. If they are not where you want to be, you need to make a change. Your writings indicate you don’t have that issue. In the writings of Napoleon Hill he states we become what we think about most often. Like minds accelerate ones direction. I take it by the “Rev” you are a man of God. If your top 5 friends were atheists regardless of your faith, listening to that constantly argument could plant doubt in your mind after a while. Not saying your faith would wavier, but thoughts of doubt would only make you human. therefore our friends do have influence in our thoughts. You are correct the “weak-willed” are easier influenced than the “strong willed”. Thank you again for sharing I enjoy the conversation.

  • The Bible says you become what you behold. If so, then the friends you choose do have influence over you.

  • I really hate to seem contrary. That is not really my nature, but…
    That scripture (2 Corinthians 3:18) is referring to us looking into a mirror and seeing (beholding) the glory of God within us. It does not refer to what we see in others, but rather what we see in ourselves, and thus what others see in us. To my point, this is an example of how we influence others, not how they influence us.

  • Christopher, I guess we are going to have to agree to disagree on this. You must have an incredible strong will to believe you can always influence your top 5 friends and they have absolutely no influence on you. You are a much better man than me. I really do appreciate you sharing with us. All of my best!

  • I was merely stating that the Bible reference that Todd quoted was not what he purported it to be.

    As for the topic, I think it is more about how we approach it. We can choose to either be an influence, or to be influenced. I do not believe that it is a science of what will happen, but rather a choice we make every day.

    Thanks for graciously allowing me to express my opinion. 🙂

  • You got everyone thinking and discussing, Tim. You are influencing us already!

  • Hmmmm . . I am not without an understanding of either friendship -or- the Bible. Or cognitive, perceptive and consciousness mechanics.

    Not wanting to seem like a knowitall, and keeping in mind that this comprises the .02 cents I found in -my- pocket as opposed to anyone else’s, I would offer this:

    1. Corinthians 3:18: this verse is addressed to the church @ Corinth, to the exclusion of unbelievers. Neither does it have anything at all to do with influencing others; God is the dominant subject in the verse, with believers occupying the ‘be quiet and pay attention’ chair. The tone of the scriptures from which the English versions derive seem to suggest this voicing.

    Conscious and subconscious: the conscious effectively lords over the unconscious, the former of which carries the judgment and discernment centers, and the latter of which has no such animals. We are exhorted (in the Bible for instance) to be careful what we let into our sensory channels because the very act of assent on the part of the conscious suggests to the unconscious that what is coming is worthy of consideration, since the conscious didn’t put up any much successful resistance. In effect, the unconscious is the little boy or girl that still believes everyone the parent conscious tells it. Regardless of whether or not the conscious is being brilliant, or witless, at the time. To say that we are not affected by those around us is to suggest that we are not affected by the environment of which we are a part. From a Biblical perspective, it suggests that we are somehow dominant in any human circle of influence we find ourselves in, which perspective seems to fly in the face of our status (according to the Bible) as abject debtors on every level, dependent on the grace of God for even the next breath we crave. The more accurate perspective, in terms of the Bible, is contained in the book, “The Spiritual Man”, attributed to Watchman Nee.

    In other words, Christ’s example was that of the senior-most nobleman in the universe short of his Father, putting aside his mantle of power, in order to become the most profoundly subordinate of servants, withholding not even his life, so that others might live. It is this perspective on the Christian faith that draws others to the light, and none other.

    Or so I say.

  • Thank you Cassandra and Amanda, I really appreciate your kind words. Thank you Joe for the Biblical insight. I’m not sure how this blog became so spiritual, but it seemed to. I believe it is naive for any man to think he is above influence from others he is close to. I wasn’t speaking of one’s spiritual belief as much as life belief. All of one’s friend can believe in scripture and our heavenly Father and still be influenced to eat vanilla ice cream even if they believe chocolate is the best if all 5 friends just eat vanilla. My old football coach was right about who you play with and getting that smell on you. Thank you for sharing in this amazing conversation. I really appreciate your prospective.

  • Parting Shot Dept.: In context, Jesus is the ultimate friend. In an imperfect (some would say, broken) reality, our inner circle is sometimes called upon to do heavy lifting . . the kind of lifting I would ascribe to Jesus [alone].

    My [earthly] friends tend to be ‘real’ friends – the kind that might help you move, if you buy pizza from their favorite joint. I believe they were place here to be a blessing to me, and for me to endeavor to be a blessing to them. Because we share dispositions and predispositions, it seems equally true that my inner circle of 5 friends influence and help define who I am, as I do when I am a part of someone’s else’s Fab Five.

    In my case however, there is a seat at the friendship table that only One can fill.

  • I think the point of the article about surrounding oneself with positive people is well-taken. But, what about the positive influence of having a diverse set of friends with diverse views and cultures? Some of my best friends are liberals, others are conservatives. Some are Jews, others are Christians. Most are well-educated and have decent incomes but not all are rich and at some points, many have been unemployed with little income. The income part of the article kind of offended me. I don’t think you have to have wealthy friends to be successful in your career. Furthermore, I personally don’t define success in life by wealth alone…just food for thought.

  • Tara, first off I wrote the blog to inspire thought about who we listen to, certainly not to offend. There is more to life than money, but as Zig Ziglar states, “money is not that important but it is up on the list with oxygen.” There is nothing wrong with having a friend that loses their job or income. It really matters how that friend views the job loss. If they see it as an opportunity to start a business they always dreamed of, that would be a great friend of influence, at least for me. If that friend viewed their job loss as the fault of coporate greed, government regulations or the such, in other words, a victim. That would not be a top 5 friend for me. The true point of my article is that our lives are between our ears. Don’t let circumstances control you but rather you control how you view circumstances. I believe you are on the right track of diversity of friends, which makes one a more rounded person. Make sense?

  • This is so true! Up your affiliations!

  • Great article Tim! Surround yourself with those you want to aspire to become. #BeAChampion

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