The Power of Association.

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My mum constantly told me, “Birds of a feather flock together.”, “If you lie down with dogs, you will get up with fleas.” I did not understand what the saying meant growing up, but the older I get, the more meaningful that statement becomes. As the famous saying goes, “You are the average of the five people you associate with the most and the books you read.” Your net worth is the average of the people you associate it, and to a large extent, how far you go in life is determined by your association, good and bad.


In The Power of the Other: The startling effect other people have on You, from the boardroom to the Bedroom and beyond-and what to do about it 1, Psychologist and author Dr. Henry Cloud write about the power of association – the power that someone else, not you, has in your life of performance, achievement, and well-being.

Relationship affects our physical and mental functioning throughout life. This invisible power, the power of the other, builds both the hardware and the software that leads to healthy functioning and better performance.

“Ask many people about their greatest accomplishments and challenges overcome, and you will find one thing in common: there was someone on the other end who made it possible.”

Both your best and worst seasons were not just about the market or the business cycle, or even your own skills. Your best and worst seasons were also about who was in that season with you. Either for good or bad. It was not just about you. It was about the others who were playing a big part in whom you were becoming and how you were doing.

Cloud observed: No One is Self-Made.

Think about it.

  • Henry Ford had Thomas Edison.
  • Mark Zuckerberg was mentored by Steve Jobs.
  • Bill Gates had Warren Buffet and Ed Roberts.
  • Jack Nicklaus had Jack Grout.
  • Michael Jordan had Phil Jackson.
  • Bill Hewlett and David Packard had Frederick Terman.
  • Sheryl Sandberg had Larry Summers.

There is no such thing as a self-made man or woman. Every great leader has opened up to someone who could meet a need, whatever that might have been. The range of human needs is broad, but the way to meet those needs is very narrow: it involves humbly and honestly embracing the need and reaching out to the power of the other.” There is no other way.

The undeniable reality is that how well you do in life and in business depends not only on what you do and how you do it, your skills and competencies, but also on who is doing it with you or to you.


People come into our life for a reason, a season and a lifetime. Who we associate with is as important as what we know and do. Everyone is in our life to teach us a lesson; some people make you better, others make you bitter, some inspire you, while others drain you. Former American basketball player and television analyst Jay Williams writes about the different types of people in our lives in his memoir; Life Is Not an Accident: A Memoir of Reinvention 2. He observed:

Someone once told me that people are like trees. Every tree has leaves, branches, and roots. Some people are leaves—hanging there for a minute, but a gust of wind can come along, and they’re gone. Some people are branches—holding firm for a while until something more powerful occurs, and they snap and break away. Then, if you are extremely lucky, you meet a root. A root is a person who holds firm regardless of the elements. 

In her 2012 University of Wisconsin, Madison Commencement Speech 3, American business executive, former president and CEO of the internet services company Yahoo! Carol Bartz spoke about the power of associations and how a strong/weak network can make or mar anyone. She advised:

A good network can take you down. A bad network can take you down. A good network can give you inspiration and ideas. So hang with the right people.

OK. First, hang with the right people. That’s always been true, but it’s even more important in this open world of social networks. Networking was once considered a very self-conscious way to get ahead. It meant passing out business cards, but your social network is very, very important to you as you move through your career. A good network can take you down. A bad network can take you down. A good network can give you inspiration and ideas. So hang with the right people.

 Darren Hardy, the former publisher of Success Magazine, made the following observations in his book, The Compound Effect: Jumpstart your Income, life, and Success 4. He noted:

  • Birds of a feather flock together. The people with whom you habitually associate are called your “reference group.
  • According to research by social psychologist Dr. David McClelland of Harvard, your “reference group” determines as much as 95 percent of your success or failure in life.
  • The influence your friends have over you is subtle and can be positive or negative; either way, the impact is incredibly powerful. Watch out! You cannot hang out with negative people and expect to live a positive life.
  • According to Jim Rohn, it’s powerful to evaluate and shift your associations into three categories:

    1. Dissociation
    2. Limited Associations
    3. Expanded Associations
  • The dream in your heart may be bigger than the environment in which you find yourself. Sometimes you have to get out of that environment to see that dream fulfilled. It’s like planting an oak sapling in a pot. Once it becomes rootbound, its growth is limited. It needs a great space to become a mighty oak. So do you.


Actor Will Smill echoed the same sentiment about the power of association in his inspiring autobiography: Will 5. He commented:

There’s a great concept from Jim Rohn:

“Look at the five people you spend the most time with because that’s who you are.”

This is an idea I’ve always understood innately. Deep down inside, I knew that my dreams would be made or broken by the people I chose to surround myself with. Confucius had it right: It’s nearly impossible for the quality of your life to be higher than the quality of your friends. And by the grace of God, there has never been a single moment in my life when I have looked to my left or to my right and not seen an extraordinary friend, someone who believed in me and was down for whatever.

It’s nearly impossible for the quality of your life to be higher than the quality of your friends. – Confucius


  • Daily Calm with Tamara Levitt – Automaticity
  • Automaticity (Mindlessness, autopilot, habitual reactivity) – A state we spend much of our lives in. Only when we wake up do we know we are sleeping.

“When you have exhausted all possibilities, remember this – you haven’t.” – Thomas Edison

Daily Jay with Jay Shetty – Keep Trying

  • So often we think we have reached the end of our rope, we struggle with the pain of failure and rejection. It can feel like a failure to keep on trying. Maybe we need a short break, maybe we need a moment to process the disappointment we feel, or perhaps we come up with an entirely new way to achieve our goal, perhaps we decide to stay the same course or go harder.
  • If a goal is big enough, there is always another method if you care about it enough. You may have tried three ways, but they may be 71 more and sometimes, action is the most incredible wisdom. The journey can also be valuable because going after a goal is a worthwhile endeavour.

When our phones are just phones with Kai Tang and Joe Hollier of Light | How I Built This with Guy Raz

All the Best in your quest to get Better. Don’t Settle: Live with Passion.

Lifelong Learner | Entrepreneur | Digital Strategist at Reputiva LLC | Marathoner | Bibliophile |

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