Choose your peer group wisely

Your peer group is very important in life. There is an old saying by Jim Rohn, which I firmly believe in, that you are the average of your 5 closest friends i.e. your peer group. One of the biggest problems with developing powerful relationships is that we often forget that we get a choice over who we give our time, energy and attention to. If we spend our time with the right people, we will grow and become better versions of ourselves. If we spend our time with the wrong people, they will not just hold us back; they are likely to drag us down the wrong path. Peer pressure is not just a problem in teenagers; it has the potential to be a big problem throughout our lives.

When we choose the right people for our peer group, we benefit in so many ways, including:

  • Support when we are going through tough times
  • Gaining new knowledge and learning new skills
  • Greater motivation to better ourselves
  • Greater confidence

And many more.

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When you don’t choose the right peer group, you are likely to run into an endless list of problems. Just think of the opposite of each of the points above for starters. And here is the key point, you do get to choose your peer group. You do not have to accept those whom you grew up with or, those whom you work with as peers. You can be friendly and respectful without viewing them as peers. The choice is yours to make so, choose wisely.


4 Questions when building your peer group

You might expect that I would provide questions to help you identify the right people for your peer group and; I will in a later articel.  I believe it is even more important to keep the wrong people out of your peer group. So, here are 4 questions to help you do just that:

1. Who is causing the problems?

The 80/20 principle tells us that 5% of the people in our lives will cause approx. 50% of the problems. That is a massive distortion. These people are obviously a major problem and removing them from your life can significantly improve your life without any further action.

Your peer group cannot serve you well if it contains one of these people. So, take the time to identify the person/people who cause the most problems in your life and make sure that they do not play an important part in your life. Once you have done this, you will have already taken giant strides towards building a strong peer group.

Key point

When thinking about causing problems, think of those whose demands far outweigh the value they add to your life.

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2. Who is constantly complaining?

We all complain from time to time. It is only natural. But those who complain constantly, and I have been one, are incredibly negative people. The problem is that their negativity will take over their entire peer group. They will bring everyone down with their presence and they will burst every bubble.

Negativity is a destructive force. Negative people don’t believe in themselves and they will make you doubt yourself. This is like an attack on your confidence and happiness. Whether you are trying to grow your life or you are enjoying what you already have; you have the right to be happy. Spend too much time around somebody who is constantly complaining and you will find happiness to be a foreign concept to you.

Key point

You are not looking for a Mary Poppins style character who pretends that everything is always wonderful but finding a fault in everything does not help.


3. Who is gossiping?

A gossip is somebody who shares stories and rumours about everybody else. In some cases, a gossip is not too bad because they only share stories which are already public knowledge anyway but it is still somebody with loose lips who has the potential to cause a lot of problems by sharing news or information which was intended to be kept private.

In more serious cases, a gossip can be someone who deliberately shares news and information which they knew they weren’t supposed to. They just can’t help themselves. They love being the centre of attention and they know that sharing private information will get them the attention they crave.

The reason that gossips are so dangerous and, are difficult people to deal with is that you need to be able to share your innermost thoughts with friends, in confidence. You get it off your chest and gain the support you need. The last thing you would want is for it to become public knowledge. Unfortunately, gossips tend to be very personable and likeable people which can easily make you feel that you can trust them. Of course, you can’t trust them and it will often come back to bite you on the backside.

Key point

You can like people without trusting them. Learning to differentiate between those you like and those you trust can spare you a lot of hurt and pain.

You can improve your communication and relationship skills with my FREE Checklist - Do's and Don'ts of Dealing with Difficult People.


4. Who says it can’t be done?

If you want to improve your life and better yourself, you need to take on new challenges and push yourself further than you have previously gone. This requires ambition and confidence. In many cases, it requires a great deal of support from those whom you are closest to – your peer group.

What you don’t need is somebody who has a million reasons why you can’t do something but can’t find one reason why you can. When you take on a new challenge, you have don’t know whether it is going to be easy, difficult or, anywhere in between. I am sure there have been many times when things turned out easier for you than you had thought.

When you believe that you can do something, you step boldly forwards to take on the challenge. You become far more determined that you are going to succeed; whatever it takes. And, this is often the difference between success and failure.

When you don’t believe you can do something; you lose faith in yourself and end up making things more difficult than they need to be. The last thing you need is a member of your peer group consistently planting that self-doubt in your mind by telling you that something can’t be done.

Key point

There are some good friends who will occasionally point out that you may be biting off more than you can chew but once you decide that you are going to do it; they give you their full support.

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Conclusion

When you are building your peer group, it is important to remember that you get to choose who your peers are and even more importantly, who they are not. The four questions, above, are designed to help you identify some of the most difficult people whom you should never allow into your peer group. They are likely to cause you too many problems and hold you back. This does not mean that you can’t be friendly with them but you should never have them as a member of your peer group. Choose your peer group wisely and you will elevate your life to a whole new level.