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Tim Ferriss Says This Simple 12-Word Phrase is the Best Advice He Ever Got

It came from his high school wrestling coach.

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BY Melanie Curtin - 01 Oct 2018

Tim Ferriss Says This Simple 12-Word Phrase is the Best Advice He Ever Got

PHOTO CREDIT: Getty Images

Tim Ferriss is a household name with a net worth of around $100M, a podcast with over 200M downloads, two New York Times bestsellers to his name, and a strong social media platform from which he regularly launches things he believes in.

He's a role model to many.

But he wasn't always so successful. He had to grind to make it, just like everyone else--a grind that included overcoming depression and suicidality, which he shares about publicly.

But make it he did. So when he talks about the best advice he ever got, it's a good idea to pay attention.

It turns out the 12-word phrase that he says was the best advice he ever got was passed onto him from his high school wrestling coach, and Ferriss has never forgotten it. "I use it always, whether it's choosing startups to invest in, choosing investors, sports teams to join, or people to have dinner with," says Ferriss. "Constantly, I think about this."

So what is it? What is it that is constantly on Ferriss's mind, that he also names as the best advice he has ever received?

It's this:

You're the average of the five people you associate with the most.

The concept actually comes from motivational speaker Jim Rohn, and it relates to the law of averages. This involves the theory that the result of a situation will always be the average of all possible outcomes.

While it might not sound like a perfect theory, there's significant wisdom to be gleaned from it when it comes to both your personal life and career: namely, that it matters who you hang out with.

We tend to think of ourselves as isolated islands of awareness, that our decisions and preferences are ours and ours alone. But scientific research says otherwise. Things like mirror neurons and the way our nervous systems are regulated--they are open systems, meaning we are impacted by the systems of those around us on a physiological level--mean the relationships we have with those around us, and the environment in which we work and live, have a profound impact on us.

And while it's critical to have loving, non-judgmental, supportive people around you, it's also important not to get stuck there. For example, according to one study, novices have a preference for positive feedback, but experts don't. Experts want negative feedback, so they can make progress (one need look no further than the study's title: "Tell Me What I Did Wrong: Experts Seek And Respond To Negative Feedback").

It's only too easy to get complacent in life. It's too easy to fall into ruts, to keep doing the same things you've been doing, and expecting things to change. And a lot of times, we tend to spend time with those around the same level as us, in part because we're threatened by those more successful in some way.

But if you internalize the idea that you're the average of the five people you spend the most time with, you don't do that. You stay aware of who you surround yourself with, and make sure that at least some of the people you're around regularly are either smarter than you, or in a more fulfilling relationship than you, or having a career you'd covet, or more financially successful, or in some way "ahead" of you.

You make sure not to rest on your laurels or distance yourself from people because you feel threatened by them (i.e. they're more successful). Instead, you befriend and stay connected to those who are "beating you" at something in life.

Then it's just a matter of time until you rise, as well.

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