You are what you eat

There’s a saying, “you’re the average of the five people you spend the most time with.” Our closest relationships affect our thinking, decisions, and self-esteem. This is one of the reasons I started a Mastermind Group: I wanted to surround myself with smart people who share the same values and have similar interests.

The same is also true for the information that we consume. Books, TV, radio, podcasts, newspapers – they all have an impact. The better your input sources are, the better your output will be.

I consume way less social media than I did. I don’t watch much TV, and when I do, I try to watch quality shows like Daredevil, Better Call Saul, and House of Cards. I try to watch at least 1 film per week. Oh, and some comedy too. I avoid the news. The important news always filters through, anyway. I don’t read newspapers or magazines.

Most of what I consume are books. I try to read quality books, based on recommendations. I read a mix of fiction and non-fiction, whichever takes my fancy in the moment. I try to throw in some classics that have stood the test of time. Rule of thumb: the knowledge in my head is the average of the 5 latest things I’ve read.

Another way I think about this is by asking the question: who do I want to be and how would that person act? I want to run a successful freelance business, so I look for people who I think are doing that. I then look at what they’re consuming. What books do they recommend? Which blogs and authors do they read?

Any reader will happily shout from the rooftops about the books they love. Just ask them, via email or Twitter, and most of the time you’ll get a book recommendation or two. Or look for a ‘recommended reads’ section at the back of a book you really enjoyed. Let one book lead you to another.

But beware of falling into the trap of surrounding yourself with the information you want to hear. It can make you narrow-minded, trapped in a bubble of your own making. I’m guilty of this. And that’s why it’s essential to read outside of your comfort zone, watch things you wouldn’t normally watch, and seek out counter arguments to truths you hold.

I remind myself often: I’m only as good as the stuff I consume.