One of the most essential lessons I've learned very early in my life is to look for people who are smarter than myself and learn from them. I was lucky enough to even befriend some of them. My closest friend today is still the one I look up to the most.
The reason why I want to share with you my experience is that I believe in valuable and long term relationshsips and the best way to improve yourself or to motivate yourself in becoming better at your job or as a person, is to look up to others. Kids and teenagers do that instinctively with their idols.
In my opinion it is a natural reflex to be drawn to smart and charismatic people.
It was John Ronn who said: "You are the average of the 5 people you spend the most time with" and I found that to be very true. In fact, there is very well written article that gets very close to the point where I want to go here, if you are interested: http://personalexcellence.co/blog/average-of-5-people/ by Celestine Chua.
You may know that one friend that somehow always ends up on the side lines and just can't get out of his bad luck, even though he tries very hard. The problem might not be that person or his character, it might just be his social environment that is continously draggin him down. I have contact to a lot of people who are still caught in their advanced studies and when I talk to them they alsways have a feeling of not belonging or lack of focus on what they want to do in the future. The problem is their peers don't know it either, so they are all stuck togehter.
The most effective way to change that is to change your social graph dramatically towards new impulses. I don't mean to leave all your friends behind and be alone, I mean to keep the relationships but to branch out, meet new people and surround yourself with people who do have a plan, who got more experience and from whom you can learn. Their energy and way of life will most likely inspire your own lifestyle.
As I said, I've done so myself. To this day I have a healthy competitive feeling towards my best friend, who is since school, in my view just better at everything. However we became friends quickly due to same interests and that was "the beginning of a wonderful friendship" (Humphrey Bogart as Rick, Casablanca, 1942).
Here is the point - by having your best friend around all the time, you'll probalby learn, adapt and compete in most aspects of your life. And that can be a very effective method for self-development. He helped me to become more open to new things, new interests and even new skills (e.g. playing the guitar) which became an important part of my life. Even today I'd like to compare our development, skills and achievements although we both have developed our own way by now and you can't compare anything directly anymore.
What I mean is that you should surround yourself with friends, colleagues, mentors or people you are drawn to and whom can help improve yourself by being better, smarter or wiser than you.
A feeling of healthy competition towards someone is pure motivational gold.
Look for people that you can connect with, that share your beliefs and who can benefit your life professionally and/or personally by pushing you to your goals with their energy and charisma. Actively choose an environment that let's you flourish and develop.
As I said before, don't burn down all your bridges, that is not what I'm saying. Keep your friends but see them also as partners for your personal development, getting out every once ina while, have a nice talk, chat. But invest in relationshsips that you can keep active and that beenfit you in the long term. When you feel good around someone, when they energize you or inspire you, keep them around.
My longest friendship goes back over 20 years and although we can't keep in touch every day, we try to meet every other month and it's very interesting to talk to someone (apart from your parents), who knows you your whole life and can give you direct feedback on how much you changed for the better (or sometimes worse?).
One last thought I want to leave you with.
In his Oscar acceptance speech for best actor in 2014Matthew McConaughey talks about his idol. He explains that his idol is himself in 10 years time. I found that to be a very intersting and deep thought. Have a look at the original video here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wD2cVhC-63I
When I look at myself and the last 10 years, it turns out that I find myself in a place where I've never guessed I would be by that point. When you look at your own path you might find a similar development.
The thing is that we cannot look into the future but it is one of those things that just keeps us going and it is the one thing we think about the most when we think about important decision.
So, take a look at you now and think about yourself in 10 years. Where do you see yourself and, more importantly, are you taking the rights steps towards your future?
Let me know what you think about it and feel free to share some of your own experience in the comments below.
Thanks for reading!