January 4, 2024

The Advantage of Reference Groups for High Achievers

Reference groups, the groups that we measure our behavior against, influence how we make choices in life. So it's important to choose our tribe wisely by surrounding ourselves with individuals who share our vision and values.

The Advantage of Reference Groups for High Achievers

Many of us find ourselves on a constant quest to excel in various aspects of life, striving to achieve our goals, reach our fullest potential, and take care of our health. But how do we ground these aspirations into practical realities?

Enter communities of high achievers like SVRN. These powerful vehicles connect like-minded individuals, offer resources, and facilitate meaningful collaborations.

It is within this pursuit that a particular concept, ‘reference groups,’ emerges as a guiding light, providing a haven for high achievers who share a common vision.

What Are Reference Groups?

In the realm of psychology, the concept of reference groups stands as a crucial framework for understanding the profound influence that group norms can exert over an individual's decision-making and behavior.

In essence, these groups that we measure our behavior against and that influence how we make choices in life.

By gaining an awareness of our reference groups, we can begin to understand the impact that group norms wield over our actions and observe our propensity to emulate the behaviors and values of those groups to which we either belong or aspire (commonly referred to as our 'in groups').

Simultaneously, they underscore our natural inclination to distance ourselves from the behaviors associated with groups with which we do not identify (often termed our 'out groups').

The influence of these reference groups is stronger than we may realize. David McClellan with Harvard conducted studies for 25 years to gain a better understanding of why some people find great success in life and why others do not. His conclusion? 99% of our success in life is determined by our reference group, those people we spend the most time around.

The Types of Reference Groups

Within the realm of reference groups, several distinct categories emerge, each playing a distinct role in shaping our behaviors:

  • Membership Reference Groups: These represent the groups we wholeheartedly associate with, fostering a sense of belonging and affiliation. As active members of these groups, we naturally gravitate toward embracing their established norms, values, and behaviors. Such reference groups often encompass close-knit communities, social circles, or professional associations to which we share a profound attachment. Our alignment with these membership reference groups exerts a substantial influence over our decisions and actions across various spheres of life.
  • Aspirational Reference Groups: In stark contrast, aspirational reference groups encompass those collectives we aspire to join or be linked with. Typically composed of individuals, communities, or organizations that command our admiration due to their values, achievements, or lifestyles, these groups serve as our sources of inspiration. As aspirants, we are driven to mirror their behaviors, aspirations, and norms, striving to bring ourselves into alignment with their standards. The allure of these aspirational reference groups often acts as a potent catalyst for personal growth and self-improvement, motivating us to emulate their successful trajectories or adopt aspects of their way of life.
  • Dissociative Reference Groups: In a contrasting light, we also encounter dissociative reference groups in our life's journey. These represent those groups from which individuals consciously seek separation or aim to dissociate themselves entirely. Essentially, dissociative reference groups encapsulate collectives whose behaviors, values, or norms stand in stark contrast to an individual's own beliefs, identity, or aspirations. While aspiring for membership in such groups is generally not a consideration, the influence of these dissociative reference groups remains potent. It drives individuals to differentiate themselves from perceived negative traits or actions linked with these groups, often rooted in the desire to preserve their self-identity and uphold values fundamentally distinct from those of the dissociative reference groups.

How to Improve Your Reference Group

Choose your tribe wisely by surrounding yourself with individuals who share your vision and values.

It has been said before that you are the average of the 5 people you spend the most time around. 

With that in mind, changing the group that you habitually associate with can have a considerable impact on your outcomes in life. Changing your reference group can completely alter the way you think, feel, and act. 

In order to find your aspirational reference group, first reflect on your core values and beliefs. This clarity will help you consciously distance yourself from behaviors and norms that contradict your principles.

Next, define your aspirations and establish clear goals. You can later use your aspirational reference groups as benchmarks to track your progress and motivate yourself to excel.

Finally, identify role models by pinpointing individuals or organizations that epitomize your aspirations. Study their journeys, learn from their successes, and adapt their strategies to your own life.

There are many benefits to doing this, including new perspectives, enhanced motivation, and accelerated learning. 

SVRN allows you to nurture your growth in the presence of a community of successful investors and entrepreneurs, and let their success stories inspire and motivate you to reach new heights. Click here to join SVRN.