Inspired by a Schmuck, Now What?
Change the business; change your marketing; change your strategy, but what about change yourself?
Whom you spend time with is whom you become
I’ve heard this advice before, and it inspires me and terrifies me each time. If you want to make your business something different, you often need to make yourself different first.
That happens, in large part, from surrounding ourselves with people who act the way we want to act. Who pursue what we want to pursue. Who live the way we want to live — all the time, not just when we’re on camera.
We often distinguish our business and personal lives, convincing ourselves that it is okay to be one way at the office and another at home.
The truth is that there is no such separation, and to think otherwise is pure folly. Personal consistency is all we have, and therefore must surround ourselves with people we trust, respect, and admire in every aspect of our lives. Doing so will not only make you a better person but a better leader.
Chris Meyer’s Forbes’ article Remember That Who You Spend Time With Is Who You Become captures this personal challenge perfectly.
It’s a challenge that’s complicated when you have the very common experience of realizing that people are not always who we think they are.
Or who they present themselves to be.
I’m finding that experience very common in my current adventure. I’m way outside my comfort zone with the work I’m doing with content creation, especially in the video space. For me, there’s something incredibly ego piercing about sitting by myself, in front of my camera, and trying to communicate.
So I’m drawn to, and looking for, people to emulate. People who are doing what I aspire to do. Because truthfully, it blows my mind when I see how easily some people are tackling this thing that I find so difficult. I sat for about five minutes yesterday watching some “kid” from California live on Facebook. He simple walked around his neighborhood with his selfie stick talking to the people who would pop-on and join the transmission.
What he did, and what he said, was nothing remarkable. But I was in awe as I watched him do it with such ease. It’s something I’m pushing myself to figure out how to do. It’s inspiring to watch him.
So there’s a trait I’d like to emulate. But is the individual someone I’d like to be like? Certainly in this one respect I admire his skill, but from many other aspects he falls very short. I know based on what he values, what he says, what he pursues, he’s not someone I’d place “in my group”. Actually the more I checked him out, turns out he’s kind of a schmuck.
I want to be able to do what he does — but I don’t want to be who he is.
Meyer’s touches on that reality when he writes about his effort to surround himself with “start-up” people:
Early on in my role as the CEO of BodeTree, I went out of my way to connect with other startup CEOs in an attempt to develop a network that I could lean on when times got tough. Unfortunately, I failed to realize at the time that startup founders can be some of the most insecure and miserable people you’ll ever find.
The tribe I found myself part of envied each other’s successes and continuously sought validation while tearing down those around them. I’m ashamed to admit it, but after a while I found myself adopting the same behaviors. I was becoming a person I did not want to be.
It was only after coming to this realization that I began to distance myself from the group and instead found mentors and friends from different walks of life. While they rarely had to deal with the exact issues I faced, they were still able to offer insight and value, and I was able to do the same for them. Most importantly, these were people whom I trusted, respected, and admired. My interactions with them made me better, not worse.
This challenge seems particularly complicated for me because I’ve never been one to simply add to my network at will.
So how about for you? How do you find the “right” people? The people that challenge, push and inspire you?
How do you choose the people you surround yourself with?