“If you’re the smartest person in the room, you’re in the wrong room.” – Anonymous
The company you keep defines your future success. You’ve probably heard the saying that you will become the average of your five closest friends. This is true for both your personal and professional social circles.
Take a minute to step back and examine your professional company. What do the peers, supervisors, and business owners you associate yourself with stand for? More importantly, what do they say about you?
Is your circle a positive influence?
Are you the “go to” person for advice in your group? Are you frequently coaching your professional peers? While this perfectly fine things to do (see Paying It Forward below), it’s extremely important to challenge yourself professionally. You need to make sure that you are surrounding yourself with people that will push you to grow and become the best possible professional you can be.
When lifting weights, it is important to challenge yourself. You will only gain muscle mass if you push yourself. If you just stick to the dumbbells you’ve been lifting for the past six months, your body will not change. Constantly challenging yourself to get to the next level is the key to success in not only the gym, but in your professional life.
How do you find people who are more skilled and higher up the social ladder than yourself?
Moving on up
Are the people around you providing you with new and exciting opportunities? It’s possible that your current professional situation is not the best for your growth. You may be surrounded by people that are not much more skilled than yourself. If you don’t break out of this, you will have a very hard time finding the progress you seek. If this is the case, you just need to get a little creative.
Check out a local Meetup. Search for an online community that will challenge you (LinkedIn groups are great). Attend a BNI meeting. Don’t be passive either. Tell people your professional goals because you never know who they know. They might be able to connect you with the right person to make it happen. The most important thing is to not give up until you’ve found individuals who will help you get to the next level.
Paying it forward
It’s impossible to always be the student and that’s fine. In fact, helping out with others’ professional growth is a very rewarding activity. As you make progress in your career, remember you weren’t always there. Remember to pay it forward, as there will always be smart people to meet and new things to learn.