Hang out with winners. I’ve heard this a million times, but now and then I get a tangible reminder of why it’s true.
Today I got some free sales advice from a distant colleague-of-sorts. It seemed smart enough and I was probably going to make it part of my plan. But then I heard from another business partner that the guy giving me the free advice was one of the most successful salesmen he ever met. So suddenly I realized that the free advice was actually worth a fortune. I was hanging out with a winner and didn’t even realize it. Now I’m going to make sure I keep spending time in his orbit, using every bit of his wisdom that I can lay my hands on.
A few years ago I realized that I was in a terrible mood because I’d spent several months working with a team that consistently came up short on its goals, some of which involved me and my goals. In the short term, I wasn’t achieving my goals, and my efforts weren’t being rewarded. And if I’d hung around for a longer term, it would have gotten worse. I would have gotten more and more discouraged about the fruitlessness of my own efforts, and would have probably picked up a bunch of bad habits instead of a bunch of good ones.
Hang out with winners. The difference between a winner and “everybody else” is remarkably and frighteningly large. I get more juice out of spending one hour with a winner than I get from spending two weeks with someone who’s just “pretty good” at what they do.
Nota bene. I don’t mean to say that you should only spend time with stars. There are times when you need to spend time with peers, and other times that you can learn from time spent with folks who aren’t doing so hot. (Or maybe your job in life at that point is to be teaching them.) Just remember that the major developmental goal for any team is for the whole team to get better. If you’re on a team that doesn’t have what it takes to keep getting better, get on a different team.