The Law of Association

Originally published on on March 8, 2016 By Randy Martinsen
The Law of Association
One thing I learned early in life was to associate myself with people I aspire to be like. I was that kid who liked to hang out with adults more than kids my age because I found what older adults had to say far more meaningful than “playing” with my mates.
My family was close – my parents were great mentors to me throughout my life. As a family, we always spent vacations together hiking and camping in the mountains where we learned how to fish and find plants and foods to eat. How to build shelter from the rain and start a fire with flint or rubbing sticks together to make a spark, then how to feed it carefully with dry pine needles or leaves to build it slowly. And how to find North and walk out of the forest if we got lost.
At the age of 8 I spent hours hanging out with our next-door neighbor, Mr. Ledger, who was in his 80s. He was a man of few words, but his work ethic was amazing to me. I felt compelled to learn everything I could from him. He cared for his aging and invalid wife, and taught me compassion. He also taught me how to efficiently shovel snow, controlled burning and composting. When he did speak he used words of gratitude about life and enjoyed laughter and simple things.
My grandparents who lived just a few houses away were others with whom I spent hours each week. I learned useful skills like mowing lawns and yard work, carpentry, painting, roofing and auto repair by helping these people. And I spent hours listening to stories about their lives that helped me become a better person by aspiring to be the best I can be in life.
As I went through life I was introduced to a large number of books that in their own way taught the principle of the law of association – it is summarized beautifully by Jeff Olson in his book “The Slight Edge.”
He wrote, “You are the combined average of the five people you associate with most – including the way you walk, talk, act, think and dress. Your income, your accomplishments, even your values and philosophy will reflect them.”
“If the five people around you have negative philosophies, it’s virtually impossible for you to have a positive philosophy. If the five people around you are consistently complaining, living in the past, blaming others for their difficulties, and thinking and acting in a negative way, then what are the odds of you finding your way onto the success curve? Slim to none!”
I encourage you to evaluate who you hang with most, and make sure the five most frequent are people you aspire to become – people with positive philosophies, and who are compassionate. Model yourself after them to reach your dreams.