I watched, in horror, an acclaimed actor doing a publicity interview on TV while his face hardly moved. I wondered how someone who made a living out of bringing characters to life, and hence should treasure the mobility of his facial muscles, would think that paralysing them was anything but a bad idea. I thought it odd that big shot Hollywood actors seem to use a lot more Botox than other people, when logically they are one group that should stay away from it. Then I remembered my bikini waxing saga.
I have vivid memories of my first Brazilian wax. It was embarrassing and painful, and the discomfort didn’t end at the spa since it itched terribly when my hair grew back. Yet, I went again. Somehow along the way I had bought into the idea that trimming my pubic hair was just not good enough anymore. It was necessary to completely eradicate it for a smooth finish, even if it meant enduring physical pain and psychological discomfort.
I believe that both the Hollywood actor and I are victims of the same phenomenon – peer influence. The late entrepreneur and motivator, Jim Rohn famously declared that we are the average of the 5 people we spend the most time with. Our health, our wealth, even our wisdom is influenced the most by the 5 people we spend most of our time with. If these people make healthy food choices, do not smoke and exercise regularly, chances are so do you. If they always have too much month at the end of the money, I bet you too struggle to make ends meet.
Peer influence is a very powerful force. Firstly the need to belong is a very deep and powerful driver wired into our DNA. We are a tribal species. Our evolutionary success is partly due to our choice to live in tribes. The cost of which includes conforming to certain rules, behaviours and values. In modern times your broader tribe is the society you live in, narrowing down to your friends – Jim’s big 5. Secondly, peer influence is powerful because it is extremely subtle. As you spend more time with people you start dressing like them, talking like them, watching the same TV shows, etc. This does not happen overnight, it creeps up on you. Jim Rohn insisted that this influence is so powerful you end up with the combined attitude, health and income of the five people you hang around the most.
His warning has a lot of scientific backing. One long-term study of 12000 adults found that your chances of becoming obese increase by 40% if you have an obese spouse or sibling and they jump to a staggering 170% if a close friend is obese. I have previously cited a study that showed that your friends’ happiness has an impact on your own, and books such as “Rich Dad, Poor Dad” demonstrate the impact of your associations on your wealth. The power of the tribe!
Take a moment to think about your aspirations and then look at your tribe. What are their expectations of you, do they believe in you? As Tony Robbins, another celebrated motivator observes “most people’s lives are a direct reflection of the expectations of their peer group”. Are you satisfied to have their health, wealth and attitudes? If you are the happiest, healthiest or most ambitious member of your tribe then you need an entourage upgrade pronto! Unlike in prehistoric times, you get to choose your own tribe, so why not make it a gaggle of goddesses who reflect your highest potential?