Mindset Relationships

Unlocking Your Potential: Surrounding Yourself with Excellence


This is a tale about my eldest daughter, whom we’ll affectionately call Small T. She was a teenage student who found school quite uninspiring and often chose to skip it. In fact, she skipped school so frequently that I received daily phone calls from the school staff. Fortunately, Small T has an outstanding memory and displayed remarkable intelligence. Despite her classroom absence, she excelled academically.

During her high school years, I would often advise Small T to spend time with the academically gifted students because, as the saying goes, you become the average of the five people closest to you. Encouraged by this advice, she enrolled in Advanced Placement (AP) classes during her final 2 years in high school. For those unfamiliar with AP classes, they are challenging, college-level courses offered in high schools. High-performing students take AP classes to gain college credits, prepare for higher education, and enhance their GPA with weighted grading.

It was during her time in these AP classes that Small T connected with friends who were equally bright, if not brighter. They engaged in friendly competition, striving to outdo each other in tests and quizzes. Their daily discussions revolved around academic pursuits and the pursuit of straight A’s. For Small T, a score of 90% wasn’t satisfactory; she aimed for 98%, 99%, or even a perfect 100%. It became a thrilling game among these brilliant students, vying for the highest scores.

Despite her continued truancy throughout her senior year, Small T graduated with honors. She then enrolled in one of Canada’s top universities, where she once again graduated with honors, this time with a degree in Science. Remarkably, was able to bypass a master’s degree and gained admission to a Ph.D. program at the age of just 22, joining the ranks of academic elites.

The moral of this story is encapsulated in the adage that you are the average of the five people closest to you—average in personality, income, and lifestyle. So, I urge you, Gen Z Visionaries, to assess the individuals you spend the most time with, those you encounter daily or weekly. If you find that they are not where you want to be in life, or if you aspire to be more, it’s time to level up.

Seek out friends or family who excel beyond your current circumstances, regardless of age. Consider connecting with older individuals who have more life experience and achievements. Your friends and family greatly influence your growth, so surrounding yourself with excellence can elevate your potential.

Saying “no” to old friends who no longer align with your goals and values can be challenging, but it’s a crucial step in personal growth. Start by having honest conversations with them about your aspirations and the changes you want to make in your life.

Communication is Key: Start by expressing your gratitude for the friendship and your fond memories together. Then, explain your personal growth journey and how you’re seeking new experiences and connections that align with your current goals. Frame your explanation using “I” statements to make it about your feelings and desires rather than blaming or accusing your friends. For example, say, “I’ve been feeling the need to explore new opportunities in my life” instead of “You’re holding me back.”

Set Boundaries: Gradually reduce your time with friends who aren’t contributing positively to your life. This doesn’t mean cutting them off entirely; it means prioritizing your own growth.

Mutual Growth: Invite your old friends to join you on the journey of personal growth. Offer your support by attending personal growth events and reading/listening to the same books. This creates a win-win situation. However, if they’re not interested, that’s perfectly fine too.

Self-Care: Remember that prioritizing your personal development isn’t selfish; it’s self-care. You owe it to yourself to surround yourself with people who uplift and inspire you.

Be Patient: Changing your social circle takes time. It’s a gradual process, and you may face resistance or setbacks along the way. Stay committed to your growth and keep seeking those who align with your path.

Remember, your potential is limitless, and your journey is just beginning. It’s time to unlock your full potential and soar to new heights.