(Editor’s Note: Huge thanks to Kyle Morrow for taking the time to share these 5 lessons with WOHM. Kyle studied Entrepreneurship and Finance at Oregon State University, and gives lectures on these five lessons in classrooms throughout Oregon. Since graduating, he started ThirstTees–a clothing company that works with Thirst Relief International to provide clean water options to people in Africa and South America. To learn more about Kyle and ThirstTees visit their www.thirsttees.com or email Kyle directly at kyle@thirsttees.com. #OutHere)

Through the combination of my own experiences and reading books on philosophy, relationships and business, I have learned five lessons about what it takes to be successful in the real world. I believe that these five lessons are key to being happy and successful.

1. At any given time, you are becoming the average of the 5 people you are closest with.

I want you to think about the five people that you spend the majority of your time with.  These five people could be friends, family members, mentors, coworkers, etc.  You are slowly becoming the average of these five people.  Who you spend your time with will determine what you will get involved in, good or bad.  What opportunities are these people exposing you to?

A CBS article was comparing the difference between the formal and informal job market.  The formal job market is the traditional approach of trying to find a job that includes filling out a resume for a stranger and hoping to get an interview.  The informal job market is when you find a job through your network.  Someone you know tells you about a potential job before it is even listed.  The research concluded that 80% of jobs are found through the informal job market.  Therefore, are the five people you are around the most creating positive opportunities for you, or negative?

Link to CBS article – http://www.cbsnews.com/stories/2010/12/20/earlyshow/living/money/main7167784.shtml

Here is a great way to test if the people around you are nudging you in the right direction: “Unsuccessful people talk about people.  Successful people talk about ideas.” – Darren Hardy What do you talk about?  What do your friends talk about?


2. “The primary difference between the 5% of people who are wealthy and those who are not, is that the 95% focus their attention and extra time on entertainment, while the wealthy 5% invest their time in education.” – Brian Tracy

When he uses the word education, this does not mean that you have to read books in your free time.  It simply means that you need to be working on whatever craft you love.  This could be books, art, programming, design, etc.  What do you think Derek Rose and Dwayne Wade have always done in their free time?

Notice how Brian Tracy uses the word invest when describing their time spent on education.  Your time is an investment that can be wasted or used to create tremendous returns.  Jim Rohn described it best when he said “formal education will make you a living, self education will make you a fortune.”  If you rely solely on what you learned in school then you will never be successful.  How are you setting yourself apart if you know the same things that millions of other people also know?  You better learn everything they teach you in school so that you are at least on a level playing field, but you can’t stop there.  It is the people who use their free time to increase their skills and knowledge that are creating the separation that leads to success.

The best way to determine where you will be in five years is to look at who you hang out with and what you do in your free time.  This is essentially a combination of the first two lessons and an excellent way to predict your future.

3. Life is full of failures and mistakes. The people who handle them best will be successful.

Most people try to avoid failures and mistakes at all costs. They live there life by always playing it safe in order to avoid the hit to their ego that a failure can cause. The common response to a failure is to use it as an excuse for not trying again in the future.  This is completely backwards.  Failures are opportunities to grow and become stronger.

“The problem is that we would rather be ruined by praise then saved by criticism.” – Norman Vincent Peale

People only want to be praised. If we are willing to accept criticism and step out of our comfort zones, then we will learn more about ourselves and grow faster. Those who don’t will remain stagnant and never move forward in life. We need to take responsibility for ourselves. Everything in your life exists because you made a choice about something. Choices are at the root of your results. In five years, if you aren’t happy with your life, then you can only blame yourself.

4. Shock People with Kindness

This is a lesson that is often overlooked but is critical to a successful life. It simply comes down to the idea that people want to help people who are kind to them. If you want to open more doors in your life and create more opportunities then start finding ways to help those around you. You should never expect anything in return for this. As soon as this becomes part of who you are, you will have more opportunities in your life than you know what to do with.

Always give more than you receive. When you stop giving, you stop receiving. If you want something in your life then you should always give it first. If you want love then give love to others. If you want money then give money to those in need. If you want better friendships then be a better friend to people. It is very simple but very effective.

“You can get everything you want out of life, if you will just help enough other people get what they want.” – Zig Ziglar

5. Always pursue your passion – The most important aspect of having a successful life.

Be careful when you choose your career because money will blind you.  When people are young, they choose a career with the highest starting salary they can find.  The problem with this is that after they reach a point where they are living comfortably, they have no motivation to work harder at their job and move up. They are now stuck at a job they don’t really care about because they have bills to pay.

The common mentality is that if you pursue your passion then you will be poor all your life but might be a little happier.  However, if you pursue a career that you are passionate about then you will end up far more successful. Here is how it works: you will start out working on something that doesn’t pay a lot, but that is fine because you love doing it.  You were probably a poor college student so you are used to living off very little. However, since your job doesn’t feel like work, you are more willing to spend more time improving your skills. You are simply getting really good at your hobby. This allows you to move up in your career much quicker which also means you are making more money. Now you are working on something that you love and constantly improving while also making increasing amounts of money.  Money is not the motivator for the job, it is a bonus. If you are patient and don’t take that initial high paying salary then you will end up happier and wealthier.


The path to where you want to be in life is narrow. If you are following what is popular, then you are not on the right path. It is rare for a person to add all five of these lessons to their life—the few people that do will be choosing the narrow path, and will end up where they dream of being.