Do the people around you drag you down? Do they make you doubt your abilities? Or do they always agree with your ideas... and never seem to have new ones?

Then it's possible you're surrounded with people who will not help you become successful.

You need to spend more time with people who will lift you up because, as Jim Rohn said, "you're the average of the five people you spend the most time with."

So hang out with people who inspire you to be better, either through their example, or because you want to be an inspiration and model to them.

Surround yourself with people who give you concrete benchmarks for success. They show you new heights, and they believe you can reach them.

Be with people who raise the bar on your thinking.

If you look around you and don't find many--or any--of these people, then it's most likely because you haven't been seeking them out and intentionally spending more time with them. (Here's more on how to network more intentionally)

Two Criteria for Choosing Peers, Advisers, and Mentors

When choosing the people you spend time with, I suggest two criteria: values match and gravitas.

The first quality you want to look for is a values match. Seek people whose values resonate with yours.

The second criterion, gravitas, refers to having greater skill, cognitive ability, experience, or talent in an area you're working on.

Not only are they better than you in this area, but they're also confident enough that they won't tear you down to make themselves look and feel better.

Being the "smartest" person in the room is gratifying to the ego, but it's not conducive to growth.

This is why Richard Tirendi, CEO and Co-founder of VisionQuest, says "If you're the smartest one in the room, you're in the wrong room."

Finding the "Right" People: They're Closer Than You Think

The people who can help you succeed may already be around you.

Michael Dell, CEO and Founder of Dell Inc., gives this advice about finding people who are smarter than you: "In professional circles it's called networking. In organizations it's called team building. And in life it's called family, friends, and community."

Begin your search in your existing networks and the people closest to you: your family, friends, and community.

Look at the people you work with, your team members, co-managers, other leaders, and even your customers.

And then look for experts and successful people, those who've achieved the goals you want to accomplish.

Once you've identified the people who can help you succeed, how do you actually spend more time with them?

You Know Who You Want. Now What?

Start small, and start simple.

Maybe you have a successful uncle you respect and would like to learn from. Invite him to lunch or a game of golf to catch up.

Organize informal gatherings. I used to host monthly dinners to get interesting people together and have a deeper conversation with them.

Jayson Gaignard built a thriving business around this concept, and he wrote about it in his book, Mastermind Dinners: Build Lifelong Relationships by Connecting Experts, Influencers, and Linchpins.

If you have a blog or podcast, a good way to start a relationship with an expert is by interviewing them. Do your research, prepare good questions, and make a good impression. If you help them spread their message, they'll remember you.

And then, of course, join appropriate networking events and mastermind groups.

A Better Network In 3 Easy Steps

List the five specific people you want to spend more time with. Try Dan Sullivan's stuff-to-energy transfer technique to free up time to spend with people who light a fire inside you.

Next, brainstorm up to three activities that will allow you to interact with them, and go do them.

Finally, remember to follow up and reconnect afterwards.

You don't get to choose your relatives, but you can choose everyone else. Choose wisely.

Published on: May 11, 2016
The opinions expressed here by Inc.com columnists are their own, not those of Inc.com.