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The danger of closed systems, and the benefits of challenging our own beliefs

You’re the average of the five people you spend the most time with - Jim Rohn

The above quote has helped me in my life, but as usual, there are a lot of nuances in how it works. The assumption is that you readily have 5 people that are a positive influence available, and that the pool you can draw from is varied.

Even in the case of drawing from, say, one’s university classmates: since I was self-selected into the demographic of economics majors with high grades, it was really a closed system with people similar to me in many aspects. If I had only drawn 5 people from that class cohort, I would really not be who I am today. The average of five 8s is still 8.

Using a “default, low effort” pool available (e.g. only university classmates) is simply picking from within a homogeneous closed system. Hence, the average of 5 people one spends the most time with would barely differ from how the individual is already. For the Jim Rohn quote to work, one has to actively mold their pool of people that they then draw five people from.

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