You Are the Average of the Five People You Spend the Most Time With

Will Smith? Jim Rohn? Tim Ferriss? Jack Canfield? Janet Switzer? Daniel G. Amen? Loral Langemeier? Keith Cunningham? Ty Talcott? Scott Elliott? Paula Owens? Anonymous?

Dear Quote Investigator: You are deeply influenced by the actions and behaviors of your friends and companions. You consciously and unconsciously imitate what you perceive in your local environment. The following adage encapsulates this viewpoint. Here are four versions:

(1) You are the average of the five people you spend the most time with.
(2) Your life is going to be a reflection of the five people that you spend the most time with.
(3) You are the sum of the five people you spend the most time with.
(4) We become the combined average of the five people we hang around the most.

Would you please explore the provenance of this saying?

Quote Investigator: The earliest close match located by QI appeared in the 2005 book “The Success Principles” by Jack Canfield with Janet Switzer. Canfield is best known for co-creating the best-selling self-help series “Chicken Soup for the Soul”. The saying appeared as a chapter epigraph crediting entrepreneur and motivational author Jim Rohn. Boldface added to excerpts by QI:[1]2007 (2005 Copyright), The Success Principles by Jack Canfield with Janet Switzer, Principle 25: Drop Out of the “Ain’t It Awful” Club…and Surround Yourself with Successful People, … Continue reading

You are the average of the five people you spend the most time with.
JIM ROHN
Self-made millionaire and successful author

The statement attributed to Rohn followed a circuitous route:

When Tim Ferriss was 12 years old, an unidentified caller left the above Jim Rohn quote on his answering machine. It changed his life forever. For days, he couldn’t get the idea out of his mind. At only 12 years of age, Tim recognized that the kids he was hanging out with were not the ones he wanted influencing his future.

Thus, a lengthy chain produced the attribution. Canfield learned of the saying from Ferriss who heard the saying from an unidentified person who credited Rohn.

Tim Ferriss was born in 1977, and he is best known for the self-help book “The 4-Hour Workweek”. Ferriss heard the quotation circa 1989 when he was 12 years old. QI tentatively credits Rohn with the saying although the current evidence is weak, and QI believes the saying evolved over time.

Below are additional selected citations in chronological order.

Continue reading You Are the Average of the Five People You Spend the Most Time With

References

References
1 2007 (2005 Copyright), The Success Principles by Jack Canfield with Janet Switzer, Principle 25: Drop Out of the “Ain’t It Awful” Club…and Surround Yourself with Successful People, (Chapter epigraph), Quote Page 189, William Morrow: An Imprint of HarperCollins Publishers, New York. (Verified with scans)

Life Is Not Measured By the Number of Breaths We Take, But By the Moments That Take Our Breath Away

George Carlin? Maya Angelou? Vicki Corona? Hilary Cooper? Kevin Bisch? Will Smith? Philip James Bailey?

Dear Quote Investigator: The following inspirational quotation has been attributed to a wide variety of people:

Life is not measured by the number of breaths we take, but by the moments that take our breath away.

I doubt that this was coined by George Carlin or Maya Angelou though I have seen those ascriptions. Who do you think should be credited?

Quote Investigator: The earliest evidence known to QI appeared in 1989 in a book for dancers titled “Tahitian Choreographies” by Vicki Corona:[1] 1989, Tahitian Choreographies by Vicki Corona, Volume 11, Book 18, Page 36, Dance Fantasy Productions, Printed by Dennis Bolton Enterprises, North Hollywood, California. (Google Books Preview) link

Yes, there are so many grueling details and rehearsals to agonize over, but the dances and music of Tahiti add a happy, healthy dimension to our lives! Remember that life is not measured by the number of breaths we take, but by the moments that take our breath away! Dancing can do that for you!

The above citation was uncovered by the author Phil Bolsta who was writing a book which included a large number of quotations. Bolsta admirably performed extensive research attempting to pin down the sources for the quotations in his book. Bolsta stated on his blog that he contacted Vicki Corona directly to explore the origin of the saying in her book:[2]Website: Triumph of the Spirit: Finding Peace and Purpose in a Troubled World, Article title: “Through God’s Eyes”—Sources of Quotes, Webpage description: Source notes for the … Continue reading

I was shocked to find this popular quote in a 1989 thirty-two-page booklet on Tahitian dance. I called Vicki Corona on April 17, 2012, and she said that, to the best of her knowledge, the quote was hers because she always wrote original material for the series of dance booklets she produced. However, she acknowledged in a follow-up e-mail: “While I doubt it, there is a possibility that I may have heard that verbiage before and simply went with it, or maybe it just came out from the labyrinths of my mind. Since you’re a writer, also, you know how that works when you’re in the ‘zone’.”

Hence, there is some uncertainty about the origin of this quotation in the mind of the person who employed it in 1989.

Here are additional selected citations in chronological order.

Continue reading Life Is Not Measured By the Number of Breaths We Take, But By the Moments That Take Our Breath Away

References

References
1 1989, Tahitian Choreographies by Vicki Corona, Volume 11, Book 18, Page 36, Dance Fantasy Productions, Printed by Dennis Bolton Enterprises, North Hollywood, California. (Google Books Preview) link
2 Website: Triumph of the Spirit: Finding Peace and Purpose in a Troubled World, Article title: “Through God’s Eyes”—Sources of Quotes, Webpage description: Source notes for the quotations appearing in the book “Through God’s Eyes” by Phil Bolsta, Date on website: Entry posted in May 10, 2012, Website description: Blog of the author Phil Bolsta. (Accessed bolstablog.wordpress.com on December 16, 2013) link