Principle # 6 – What is the importance of Peer/Support groups?

What is the definition of a Peer Group? Your peers are a group of people, usually of similar age, background, and social status, with whom a person associates and who are likely to influence the person’s beliefs
and behaviors.

While working within the Emergency Department, I’ve noticed how someone’s Peer Group has a marked influence on patients in all areas of their lives.  As I shared earlier, the majority of diseases that I observe in the Emergency Department is because of poor Lifestyle Choices.  Why?  Are your Peer Group Associates encouraging you to eat healthier, watch less TV, park a little further from the grocery store entrance so that you can walk further; and are they willing to go to the gym to work out with you a minimum of 4-5 times/week?  One of my Mentors shared with me that there is no such thing as a benign relationship.  People are either helping you or hurting!  Do they encourage you to pick up a Book, a MP3, a tape, a CD, get involved in a sport vs. a Gun or Knife?

I’ve seen the results too many times concerning the knife and gun club while I worked in the inner city.  One distinctive incident comes to mind.  We had received a call from the Paramedics that they were coming in with a young man suffering a Gunshot Wound to the Chest.  As they were wheeling him in, he lost vital signs.  I immediately asked for the Chest Tray consisting of the appropriate instruments for me to Crack his Chest Open. I recall as I am Massaging his heart and there is blood everywhere that this should not be happening. He’s just a kid.  What is wrong with this picture?  What happened in his life for him to be in a position that he now has a bullet in his chest?  What kind of folks was he hanging around with to now be on my operating table with a Gunshot wound to the Chest?

Unfortunately, there are several examples of how Negative Peer Pressure has an influence on our children: underage drinking, underage smoking, pressure to steal/shoplift, pressure to fight causing physical harm. Negative peer pressure can lead to having sex at too young an age, pressure in joining a gang, poor nutrition and lack of exercise, drug and alcohol usage, illegal actions such as speeding or driving unlicensed, ditching school for the day to do something else with friends.  As you see, negative peer pressure can affect our lives in a whole host of ways.

By associating with a positive peer group, one can improve their overall health by making better LifeStyle choices.  These choices could lessen the risk of diabetes, high blood pressure, strokes, heart attacks, obesity, cholesterol, chronic diseases, dementia, lessen depression, maintain good mental health, and ultimately produce a longer more productive life.

On the other hand, positive peer group in our children can have the following results:  achieving good grades, attending school on time, pursing a trade school or college education, respect for others and following the rules, joining after-school activities such as sports and clubs, deter underage drinking, discourage joining a gang, deter stealing,  avoid having sex at a young age, discourage drug usage, assist in providing better education about the importance of nutrition and exercise, deter involvement in illicit activities, basically assisting in becoming better citizens.

I was once told that you are who you associate with.   Look around at your five closest friends and that’s who you are.  If you hang around people who have nothing to lose, they will make you lose everything.  I’ve had several mentors share the following with me: “Never receive counsel from unproductive people. Never discuss your problems with someone incapable of contributing to the solution because those who never succeed themselves are always first to tell you how.”

Actor Will Smith talks about the influence of your friends and peer group that is poignant:  “The less you associate with some people, the more your life will improve.  Any time you tolerate mediocrity in others, it increases your mediocrity. An important attribute in successful people is their impatience with negative thinking and negative acting people. As you grow, your associates will change. Some of your friends will not want you to go on. They will want you to stay where they are. Friends that don’t help you climb will want you to crawl. Your friends will stretch your vision or choke your dream. Those that don’t increase you will eventually decrease you.  The simple but true fact of life is that you become like those with whom you closely associate – for the good and the bad.” -Will Smith

Surround yourself with positive people.   Spend time with people who are positive, supportive, and who energize you. Remember, if you get too close to a drowning victim, he may take you down with him.  You are as good as the people around you.  That is why it’s critical that you surround yourself with people you regard and aspire to be like. Subsequently, it so important to disassociate yourself from people who are not supporting your dreams. You need to surround yourself with the dreamers and the doers, the believers and thinkers, but most all, surround yourself with those who see greatness within you, even when you don’t see it in yourself.

Another appropriate quote: “It is better to be alone than be in the wrong company. Tell me who your best friends are and I will tell you who you are. If you run with wolves, you will learn how to howl, but if you associate with eagles, you will learn how to soar to great heights.”  Moreover, “A mirror reflects a man’s face but what he is really like is shown by the kind of friends he chooses. The simple but true fact of life is that you become like those with whom you closely associate for the good and the bad.”

Joel Osteen reiterated the following: Who are the people you spend time with?……..You need to associate with people that inspire you, people that challenge you to rise higher, people that make you better. Don’t waste your valuable time with people that are not adding to your growth. Your destiny is too important.

While I was attending a personal development conference, I recall the speaker stating the following: “Your income is destined to become the average of the five people you spend the most time with.”

Master motivator Anthony Robbins says: “Most people’s lives are a direct reflection of the expectations of their peer group.”  You’ve probably heard of the following by

Charlie “Tremendous” Jones: “You will be the same person in five years as you are today except for the people you meet and the books you read.”

One of my mentors told me, “Love your family, pick your peer group.”

What I discovered that has helped me significantly concerning positive peer group influence is attending Personal Development Seminars.  One can also find blogs, forums, and online social communities filled with people whose expectations you’d like to meet and hang out with.  Reading great books of any and all materials can assist you in finding exemplifies of the life you’d like to live and will lead you to that life.  Find a coach and/or mentor or work with someone who pushes you, one who constantly stretches you.  Lastly, join a membership site/group that surrounds you with mentors and solid peers.