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


If I’m the average of the five people I spend the most time with, I’m about to get a lot shorter and sassier. Note that the sass comes from my kids and the short stature comes from all three. I would never publicly accuse my wife of being sassy even if she… nevermind.

Dr. Peter Kim is saying that, as a physician, you’re the average of the five physicians you spend the most time with. In that case, I should get a few years worth of credit towards an orthopedics residency, as our crew of five orthopedic surgeons tend to keep us busier than all other specialties combined!

If online time counts, then it’s definitely the other members of the WCI Network (Drs. Jim Dahle, Peter Kim, and James Turner) and I suppose a couple of the most active participants in the Physicians on FIRE Facebook group.

As the post below will tell you, be particular about who you do spend time with; their habits may rub off on you, for better or worse.

This post originally appeared on Passive Income MD.


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


”You are the average of the five people you spend the most time with.”


You may have heard this quote, from famous motivational speaker Jim Rohn, many times before. Taken at face value, the quote relates to how we are influenced. But it’s also a sentiment that really sums up how we live and interact with our closest friends and family.

Tony Robbins takes it a step further, saying:


“The quality of a person’s life is most often a direct reflection of the expectations of their peer group.”


The older I get, the more I see the wisdom in this line of thinking. Those of you with children know the concern with who your kids hang out with. You know that people who spend time together influence each other.

It’s inevitable; families talk and act similarly, and groups of close friends adopt each other’s habits and behaviors.

As much as we’d like to think we’re our own individuals and too smart to let others influence us, the truth is that the people around you will make a direct impact on how you think and act.

Ultimately, as Tony Robbins said, these influences can change who you are.

As I’ve been on this journey of financial freedom, I’ve been seeking out physicians who are where I want to be–or at least, those who have pieces of it. Once I’ve found them, I’ve found ways to spend time with them, whether it’s over a more formal dinner or just a beer.

I’ve figured out ways to bring value to them. In return, I’ve discovered true value in those relationships.


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Find the Happy Physicians


Burnout is very real in this profession, and I do my best to be supportive of those who find themselves there. I listen and try to be there as a friend.

However, when I have the opportunity, I typically look for the happy physicians in the hospitals. You know, the ones who seem like they practice for the love of it.

With burnout being so prevalent, what’s the secret of those physicians who are content in their work, and who seem to practice just for the joy of it?

Well, I still think one of the key components to combating burnout is financial freedom.

Don’t get me wrong, it won’t fix all of the problems with the health care system today, but I think that financial stress does add to the situation. At the very least, it doesn’t make it better.


you know, my hair has been thinning. donny’s fault!


Who I’ve Found


I’ve been fortunate to find some physicians who have reached that goal of financial freedom. Some have been peers in the physician-finance blogging world. Others I’ve met in my daily life, seeking the same things I’m seeking and prioritizing a lot of the same things.

As a result of these relationships, I’ve found the growth to be explosive in my life. I’ve found that I’m able to learn from their experiences, and they’ve been able to learn from mine.

These are the people that attend the same conferences I do, like blogging conferences, real estate conferences, and even mindset/motivational conferences.


The Network Effect


This whole “network effect” makes everyone better, and I’ve seen it cause tremendous personal and financial growth for everyone involved.

This is a big part of the reason that “masterminds” are so powerful. What is a mastermind, you ask? Well, basically, it’s a group of like-minded people who are committed to helping each other through education, accountability, and support.

The notion is that people can grow much quicker leaning on the experiences of others. In fact, Napoleon Hill, the author of Think and Grow Rich talked about these mastermind alliances even as far back as the 1930s.

So how do you take this notion, assess where you are, and take action? How do you find these groups of like-minded people?

Make An Assessment


Just for a moment, take some time to think.

Which five physicians do you spend the most time with? This goes beyond simply working together. Who do you discuss big things with, like life, finances, and medicine?

Once you’ve thought of these five, ask yourself these questions: How are their lives? Would you consider them successful, (whatever that means to you)?

Are they happy?

Are those people whose lives you’d want to emulate? Are they a source of inspiration and motivation?

Do they push you and encourage you to have better relationships with your loved ones, and to be better physicians to your patients?



If all these questions have led you to someone, then get to know them even better. Pick their brain when you can and learn how they’ve reached their goals.

Of course, it’s possible that you’ve thought about your friends and coworkers, and the answer to many of these questions has been “no.”

If that’s the case, just understand the impact that those people might be having in your lives.

Ultimately, you are a reflection of who you spend your time with. But the same is true of them. If you choose to spend time learning and engaging with like-minded people, you will grow and so will they.

Just remember, you are the average of the five physicians you spend the most time with.


If you need a place to start, check out the Passive Income Docs Facebook Group. We’d enjoy growing with you.

[PoF: While you’re at it, check out the Physicians on FIRE (physicians only) and fatFIRE Facebook group (for everyone), too!]


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Outside of your immediate family, who do you spend the most time with? Are they good role models? Do you find yourself behaving more like them or learning from them?

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4 thoughts on “You Are the Average of the Five Physicians You Spend the Most Time With”

  1. I agree with the overall message that your post conveys.

    I also feel as though there is tremendous benefit to be obtained by participating In a Mastermind group.

    But, it’s important that the members have similar goals and aspirations to you—otherwise they might pull you in the wrong direction!

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  3. One thing that’s been tickling my brain recently is the dark side of this phenomenon. I do believe there’s a natural tendency to try to match the accomplishments and personality of your peers.

    But what if your peers really love fine wine, sports cars, and expensive clothing?

    I overall do try to spend my time with people I admire; who are as successful or more successful than myself.

    But how do I protect against the “keeping up with the Jones” phenomenon that is bad for frugality and financial independence?

    I suppose I just have to be more careful with my friend selection.

    Thought provoking post. Thanks for sharing it.

    — TDD

    • To borrow a line from Jillian’s interview the other day, “One of my greatest frugal hacks is being friends with low or moderate income earners.”

      While not necessarily intentional, most of my friends are not in the same tax bracket as me. I would say that was true of my parents, as well.


  4. Does confirmation bias constitute good advice? How do you test that? Hanging with friends feels good for sure, but who among us has actually lived to 90 on 4% alone? I just saw Playing with FIRE and it was largely a MLM style brain wash video. Made me sad to see the movement sold out like that.


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