By Solomon Thimothy, president of OneIMS, who is on a mission to help as many entrepreneurs start and scale their businesses. Connect with him at Thimothy.com.
“If you’re the smartest person in the room, you are in the wrong room.”
This quote, and many variations of it, have been attributed to various leaders pointing at the importance of surrounding yourself with people who are more intelligent than you — or, in some regards, challenge you to “level up.”
While the quote has been around for a while, and it’s always something to keep in the back of your mind, I want to further examine why it’s something to strive for every single day in all of your interactions.
Let’s examine why it’s so important for your growth as an individual, and as an entrepreneur, to find others who can help you grow.
You Are The Average Of The Five People You Spend The Most Time With
While this is another commonly known quote, attributed to Jim Rohn, it’s not just an inspiring reminder. This statistic has been backed by different theories like the law of averages. Humans constantly mirror each other.
Moreover, groupthink is a powerful factor in human social dynamics. Nobody strays too far from the consensus. Thus the challengers or outliers have come to be extinct.
That being said, if every time you’re at social interaction, you’re with the same people or people who have similar values, you’re not growing. You risk becoming a clone of everyone else without even realizing it.
You Can’t Grow In Your Comfort Zone
Let’s take a step back for a minute. Why might anyone continually find themselves in a room where they are the smartest person — even as a figure of speech? Whether we realize it or not, we’re more comfortable in that position. We don’t have to worry about performing or being at our best. Pressure or social anxiety doesn’t creep in when nobody is challenging our ego.
Unfortunately, this is where growth and potential go to bed. We have to learn to overcome the anxious thoughts in our heads about not being good enough or being too intimidated by others. It’s only when we are fearless and welcome new encounters that we can grow.
On The Other Side Of Challenge Lies Opportunity
To expand on the previous point, meeting smarter people opens up opportunities we hadn’t even imagined yet. While we all may have our own social agendas, what if we challenged ourselves to meet new people with different perspectives purposefully?
When we diversify our circles and hang out with people with different interests, hobbies and intellectual prowess, new doors open up, whether that’s through self-discovery, job opportunities or friendships. Seeking higher minds leads to higher grounds.
So How Can You Upgrade The Room You’re In?
1. Attend seminars, conferences and events with people you admire. While not always cost-efficient, there’s no better opportunity to meet the people you admire face-to-face. Think about where you want to be in the next five years. How about his time next year? Who has accomplished what you want to have accomplished in that time period? Buy a ticket for the same event as that person and, if you have to, put the next round of drinks on your tab.
2. Sign up for meetups. Hesitant about spending the big bucks and looking for a more affordable way to upgrade your seat? There are a ton of community events and online groups that meet in cities throughout the nation. Start by looking at local Facebook groups and interacting with others online.
3. Find a mentor. When we discuss the importance of building new relationships with people smarter or more experienced than you, it’s really about building stronger ties to these people. Casual conversations at meetups are nice, but what you’ll really need is an authentic relationship where you can share your struggles and work hand-in-hand to improve yourself. A mentor whom you admire can act as the perfect suitor for this. Do the research, and when you find a handful of people you think fit the bill, send them an email with something you can add as value to their life. Most people are happy to lend a helping hand in exchange.