You’re no doubt familiar with Jim Rohn’s famous saying: “You are the average of the 5 people you spend the most time with”. I don’t know if that is factually correct, but I suspect the objective was to get us thinking. So, I’ve been thinking. Perhaps it’s not so much about who you spend the most time with, but who is influencing your thinking the most. We can spend time with family members for instance, but they may not have any major effect on how we think and how we make decisions in business or in life.
Truth is though, somebody is influencing you – whether you like it or not. The people you talk to, look up to and listen to are affecting your thinking, your decision making, your view of the world and possibly even your self-esteem.
The temptation of course, is to take the easy path and spend all your time with people who are constantly supportive and provide positive feedback. We all like to hear “good job, well done…” But there is no point surrounding yourself with people who only say nice things. If you want to get ahead, get some critics! People who will say “that was terrible” are important too. Negative feedback – or at least feedback about things you didn’t do well – is more important to progress than the feel-good pats on the back. Negative feedback tells you where your opportunities for improvement are. It tells you where your systems are broken and where the gaps in your product offer are. It tells you where you’re not meeting expectations. Important things to know if you genuinely want to get better.
One of the keys to success is developing the mental toughness to seek that feedback out. Ask your customers, ask your team, get a mentor who will tell it how it is, find someone who will hold you accountable. Then live with the criticism and the slightly bruised ego and get on with making the necessary improvements.