Iron sharpens iron
D’ya wanna be in my gang?
As I write today’s blog our summer is just getting started, and in the UK we have recently finished a month with national holidays at both ends.
When working in an office full time it can sometimes be really difficult to find time to get those big projects done, with the constant interruptions and distractions from work colleagues. However, when national holidays come along and there are fewer distractions it can be a great time to focus on some of the important but less urgent tasks and it can be astonishing just how much can be achieved in quite a short time.
Working from home occasionally has a similar benefit, although that can be subject to other distractions too, although not always from work colleagues. The corollary of this effect, however, is that working from home means that there is less of an opportunity to meet up with colleagues quite so often, and can lead to a sense of isolation from regular contact with others to bounce ideas off.
Quite early on in my career, I was working on a computer program that all of a sudden had stopped working. No matter what I tried to do the code just wouldn’t run, and I was at a loss to know how to resolve the problem. So, off to the coffee machine, I went to have a break and a chat with colleagues. It was while describing the problem to my colleagues even before the coffee was finished that an answer had formed that quickly I rushed back to test out. It wasn’t that someone had solved my problem for me, rather it was during the conversation while chatting with a colleague that caused an answer to emerge from within me. Returning to my desk I discovered that I had indeed discovered the solution to the problem I had been unable to resolve earlier.
In an office, it is fascinating how many business-related problems can be solved around the coffee machine or the water cooler when meeting and chatting with work colleagues, no matter whether they have similar or contrasting interests. When working in an environment where there aren’t many people around it is important to build up a circle of colleagues and friends with whom you can discuss business related issues.
“You’re the average of the five people you spend most of your time with.”
~ Jim Rohn
For a while, I was involved in a group that we called a “hub” that involved a few of us that had a similar interest and an eagerness to grow, so we got together in a coffee shop on a regular basis to spend time together and to grow together. Each time we met we had a topic to discuss based on an article one of us had found, or perhaps on a couple of chapters from a book, or some other source of material that was of a common interest.
Some call a group like this of like-minded colleagues an “Inner Circle”. An Inner Circle is a group of people that have an interest in a topic, although probably not always with similar views on the topic. It is a small, intimate, and often influential group of people. A group like this can be found amongst members of a club or society, or sometimes in a networking group.
When I wanted to get fit and to learn how to cycle to achieve that, I joined a cycling club so that I was surrounded by those with a similar interest and that had a passion for the sport. In that way, we could share what we knew and test our ideas on the best tactics for racing, and what’s more, we were able to try them out in race conditions to see which worked out.
When I started learning Bass Guitar and joined a band I made sure to intentionally develop relationships with the others that played bass guitar in the group so that I could learn from their experiences and their advice as I became more proficient. We shared tips about various techniques and tricks, from playing to learning parts, to which make of strings were the best to use and so on. I could also get feedback on every performance with ideas that I’d not considered (or mistakes that I’d made) so that I could incorporate them into my practice and strive for continual improvement.
One thing is evident, that in business, the most successful entrepreneurs have an inner circle that they have been intentional about building. They know that the people closest to you will determine the level of your success, and they have been intentional in building the relationships that matter.
“You can do what I cannot do. I can do what you cannot do. Together we can do great things.”
The people closest to you will determine the level of your achievement. This is why leaders must be intentional about seeking out and selecting the right inner circle of people to spend time with. Sometimes those people are colleagues, sometimes they are on your staff, and sometimes they may be just people that you meet up with for coffee from time to time. One great way of identifying who you need in your inner circle is to see where your blind spots are. Those skills or aptitudes that you know are needed and that you know are not your strengths.
Who is in your inner circle? What strengths are represented by those you meet with regularly that complement your skills? Which of your core team can you be sufficiently honest and frank within actual “race conditions” that will provide you with the feedback that you need to improve? Why not top up your Inner Circle by intentionally seeking those that will add value to you and the dreams you seek to achieve.
About Roger Fairhead
Roger is a Leadership specialist and uses the PRIZE Winning Leadership model to help leaders improve their effectiveness and that of their teams, through remote and on-site delivery of keynotes, group training events and individual coaching sessions.
He is the author of several books including "PRIZE Winning Leadership" and “Personal Productivity Planner”, a Chartered Engineer, a Fellow of the Institute of Leadership and Management and a Director of the Global Leadership Network UK with extensive experience in Project Management and Sales.
“He is articulate, tracks complex issues with ease and has an incredible gift for raising pearls of wisdom out of the murky depths of people and process.” His passion is to help people to learn effective leadership skills to lead their teams to capitalize on their strengths and passions to realize their dreams.
Roger also invests into the dreams of families in the world’s underserved communities to offer them small loans that empower them to invest in their future, to provide for their families and give back to their communities.