“You are the five people you spend the most time around.” It’s a common saying we’ve all heard, but there is still a lot of truth to it. So it makes sense that if you want to improve at something, you should spend a lot of time around someone who is good at it. As a starting point, I catalogued the five things I want to get better at along with the five people I spend the most time around.
List of things I want to improve the most at:
- Pushing myself
- Work ethic
List of people I spend the most time around:
- My mom
- My sister Ana
- My fiancé, Tyler
- My good friend, Cole
- My brother, Ben
And finally, here are some words on if, and how much, these people correlate with the things I want to improve at.
There are very few people in my life at the moment who I would say have better focus and work ethic than my mother. Right now, on top of working a highly-skilled full-time job, she owns and operates three small businesses and does all of the household’s financial upkeep. Even despite all this, she has no home office: instead, she sits in the middle of the living room, with her children working or talking or playing around her and intermittently asking questions. The reason for this is that on top of everything else she does, she also homeschools her four children, and as such being available to help us is important to her. In order to accomplish all these things, she needs absolutely amazing work ethic and focus.
Another prime example of focus is my brother Ben. He sits in the living room studying flashcards for Greek, or Arabic, or Spanish, completely oblivious to the world in a way I’ve only ever seen on other people when they have noise-cancelling headphones on. He’s not very introspective, so I can’t really get a constructive answer if I ask how he does this, but at least he’s a good role model. Ben also pushes himself very hard: he decided very early on that he wanted to get into a top-tier college, and between being dual-enrolled at our local community college, getting a crazy high SAT score, and recently taking an immersion Arabic course at the University of Pittsburgh, he’s well on his way to achieving that goal.
Another person I know who pushes himself to achieve difficult goals is my friend Cole. He lives and works on a farm in The Middle of Nowhere, South Dakota, where the only classes taught at his school are about how to use farm equipment, and even despite this he decided he would find himself a liberal arts education. Almost exclusively through self-study, he’s acquired what I would, from experience, consider to be an AP-level understanding of math, physics, chemistry, psychology, and English, among others. I highly doubt that if I lived somewhere where the nearest drug store is four hundred miles away (I visited him once so I know. There are billboards), I wouldn’t be able to learn what he has.
There are a relatively small number of things I’m actively bad at that I want to improve, but two of them are teamwork and organization. Naturally, I’m a messy loner. But fortunately, I have pretty good role models for both.
My sister Ana, who is five years my senior on all levels except physical, has always been an excellent team player. When a group she’s in is given a daunting task, she steps up and coordinates everyone so that not only does the work get done, but everyone on the team (including her) is happy while doing it. I contrast this with my current approach to being in a group given a daunting task, which is to take the whole thing over myself and work day and night to get it finished. Ana is an inspiration to me in a lot of ways, but her ability to make a team more than the sum of its people is definitely one of the major ones.
In addition to being kind of a sub-par team player by nature, I’m also kind of a mess. Fortunately for me, though, my fiancé Tyler is essentially the poster-child for organization. Our bedroom, in which he keeps his many books and figurines, is meticulously put together to make optimal use of limited space. On his PC are schemas and schematics for everything, from where things go on his coffee table to the structure of the shelf he’s building. Icons on his desktop are arranged to best go with his background, and files are meticulously and hierarchically ordered. Not only are his physical and electronic spaces organized, so are his explanations. If he can’t articulate a vision purely in words, he whips out a pen and, with the steadiest hand I’ve ever seen, draws visually elegant diagrams and charts.
So it seems, if you do become the five people you spend the most time around, I seem to be becoming an absolutely amazing person.