Five Steps to Creating a Peer Group that Lifts You Up

In the 1930s C.S. Lewis started a small literary group called the Inklings. The group started with J.R.R. Tolkien, and eventually included others like Owen Barfield and Charles Williams. The influence on works in progress of the different members was huge.

Lewis actually scrapped the first draft of The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe after his friends heard some chapters. They considered it “so bad that I destroyed it,” he said. It’s very difficult to discount the influence of our peers.

That’s why Solomon stressed friendships so much and so often. “Iron sharpens iron,” he says in one place, “and one man sharpens another.” He also warned about negative friendships: “Make no friendship with an angry man, and with a furious man do not go, lest you learn his ways and set a snare for your soul.”

By studying people and their ‘reference groups’ over a 30 year period, Dr David McClelland of Harvard University discovered that 95% of our success, or failure, is determined by the people we habitually associate with.

This is incredible; essentially it shows that if you do all the right things but don’t get around people who hold you to a higher standard, then you are more likely to fail.

It fits with my belief that success lies at the intersection of mindset and action, because your reference group powerfully influence your mindset, what you think is possible, and they also influence what you do, your actions.

Think about it, if you want to get fit are you better to team up with someone who has mastered fitness or someone who prefers to watch TV eating pizza?

Most people’s reference group, their peer group, is determined by proximity, not through design. That makes sense; it’s easier to spend time with the people who happen to be around.

But while it’s easier, it’s probably not the best way.

So how can you do it?

 

 1.       Get clear about what’s important to you

First, get clear about what’s important to you and the type of person you want to be. Do you want to be fit and healthy, aspirational, making progress on what’s important? What type of person do you need to be to live like this?

 2.       Start to become that person

A lot of people think it starts with finding the right peer group, but I think it starts with beginning to become the right person that the right peer group will be attracted to. Start to develop the traits that you might need, like focus and self-discipline. Don’t worry about getting it perfect, it’s hard to do that alone, but make a start.

 3.       Seek out people like this

Find people that are living the way you want to live. If you want to get fit, seek out fit and healthy people, not the ones who spend all their free time on the couch. If you want to love your career, seek out the people who love what they do, not the ones who complain all the time.

 4.       Give more than you receive

Don’t seek out a peer group looking for them to ‘save’ you. People who seek out others to get something come across as leaches, so make sure you are looking to contribute as least as much as you receive.

 5.       Choose who spend time with and who you reference

Firstly, choose who you spend your time with and spend time with people that lift you up, not pull you down. Secondly, there are a lot of times when you are around people not through choice; become acutely aware of who you choose to reference your behaviour from, and who you choose not to reference.

Choosing your own reference group consciously and not just through proximity is not common, but it’s also not complicated.

I’m sure you’re not looking forward to ‘firing’ those in your current peer group who are pulling you down, but heck, if 95% of your success or failure depends on it don’t you think it’s worth it?

 

Dr Sam Hazledine

In the 1930s C.S. Lewis started a small literary group called the Inklings. The group started with J.R.R. Tolkien, and eventually included others like Owen Barfield and Charles Williams. The influence on works in progress of the different members was huge.

Lewis actually scrapped the first draft of The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe after his friends heard some chapters. They considered it “so bad that I destroyed it,” he said. It’s very difficult to discount the influence of our peers.

That’s why Solomon stressed friendships so much and so often. “Iron sharpens iron,” he says in one place, “and one man sharpens another.” He also warned about negative friendships: “Make no friendship with an angry man, and with a furious man do not go, lest you learn his ways and set a snare for your soul.”

By studying people and their ‘reference groups’ over a 30 year period, Dr David McClelland of Harvard University discovered that 95% of our success, or failure, is determined by the people we habitually associate with.

This is incredible; essentially it shows that if you do all the right things but don’t get around people who hold you to a higher standard, then you are more likely to fail.

It fits with my belief that success lies at the intersection of mindset and action, because your reference group powerfully influence your mindset, what you think is possible, and they also influence what you do, your actions.

Think about it, if you want to get fit are you better to team up with someone who has mastered fitness or someone who prefers to watch TV eating pizza?

Most people’s reference group, their peer group, is determined by proximity, not through design. That makes sense; it’s easier to spend time with the people who happen to be around.

But while it’s easier, it’s probably not the best way.

So how can you do it?

 

 1.       Get clear about what’s important to you

First, get clear about what’s important to you and the type of person you want to be. Do you want to be fit and healthy, aspirational, making progress on what’s important? What type of person do you need to be to live like this?

 2.       Start to become that person

A lot of people think it starts with finding the right peer group, but I think it starts with beginning to become the right person that the right peer group will be attracted to. Start to develop the traits that you might need, like focus and self-discipline. Don’t worry about getting it perfect, it’s hard to do that alone, but make a start.

 3.       Seek out people like this

Find people that are living the way you want to live. If you want to get fit, seek out fit and healthy people, not the ones who spend all their free time on the couch. If you want to love your career, seek out the people who love what they do, not the ones who complain all the time.

 4.       Give more than you receive

Don’t seek out a peer group looking for them to ‘save’ you. People who seek out others to get something come across as leaches, so make sure you are looking to contribute as least as much as you receive.

 5.       Choose who spend time with and who you reference

Firstly, choose who you spend your time with and spend time with people that lift you up, not pull you down. Secondly, there are a lot of times when you are around people not through choice; become acutely aware of who you choose to reference your behaviour from, and who you choose not to reference.

Choosing your own reference group consciously and not just through proximity is not common, but it’s also not complicated.

I’m sure you’re not looking forward to ‘firing’ those in your current peer group who are pulling you down, but heck, if 95% of your success or failure depends on it don’t you think it’s worth it?

 

Dr Sam Hazledine

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  • commented 2016-09-22 10:29:02 +1200
    This is great, But what you do when you live in the country far a way from friends?