“If you are the smartest person in the room, then you are in the wrong room”
We tend to surround ourselves with what is familiar. We know what we like, and search for it. Why? Because it’s easy, comfortable and makes us feel good. This applies to the people who we choose to spend time with too. If you really want to lead a successful and fulfilled life, though, you need to step outside your comfort zone. Too many of us still fear the unknown and avoid it wherever possible. What they don’t realise, however, is that these unknowns have within them the opportunities which could transform their lives.
Growing up,I was taught that there is always someone in life, there is always someone better than you out there. The key is to be humble, seek out these people and learn from them. In order to really develop and grow both both personally and professionally, you need to spend time around people who are more successful, more intelligent, more experienced than you. It may seem daunting and scary at first but these are the people who will challenge you, stretch you, motivate and inspire you. Not to mention the fact that they may have the knowledge, skills or networks to help you overcome a particular challenge which you may be facing.
That is not to say that you shouldn’t devote time to your family and friends. These are the people who bring joy and meaning into our lives. Even if they don’t challenge us, the love, understanding, friendship and support which they offer us is a welcome support. You can still maintain your relationships, while also seeking out new groups which will help your professional development. There are a number of ways in which you can do this with minimal impact to your personal life.
For those who lack confidence in social situations, there are countless forums and groups on social media with a common interest, such as business networking, which can be joined. Or you can search for the nearest networking event or meeting taking place on a topic which interests you, and attend. In fact, many universities and colleges host such events which are open to the public and free to attend.
Alternatively, look to join a group with which you share a common interest and which holds regular meetings. Personally, I benefited most from joining 2 cigar clubs in London. Cigars are my guilty pleasure, which I allow myself when I have cause for celebration. After a bit of research I picked 2 clubs and joined, each of which meet once a month for tasting sessions, for the experience. The aim was to learn more about, and try, more cigars in a relaxed friendly atmosphere. This I definitely got, but there was something else which these groups gave me. I gained the opportunity to meet and learn from new people. On attending the first meeting of each of these clubs, I was pleasantly surprised to discover that I was in the presence of entrepreneurs, successful businessmen and women, diplomats and creators of government policy to name but a few. That said, the atmosphere is always relaxed and friendly when we meet as everyone has a shared interest, which in this case is the humble cigar. In the time which I have been a member at both of these clubs, my professional network has grown as have my opportunities for personal development. Better yet, as the groups only meet once a month, I have plenty of time outside of these 2 meetings to spend with the people who really matter, my nearest and dearest.
I am not saying that everyone should now start smoking cigars. Some would even argue that it’s a filthy habit. What I would suggest, though, is joining a group based on something which interests you. An increasing number of workplaces have groups which meet on a number of subjects, so find the one which interests you the most and give it a go. Universities have societies for virtually everything you can think of, and allow you to create your own if you can’t find one you like. You never know which doors it might open for you.
Your family and friends, whether they challenge or comfort you, are important and should never be neglected. That is not to say, however, that you can’t find a group or society to join which will give you the challenge and motivation to keep learning and developing.
As iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens another (Proverbs 27:17)