A number of years ago I remember hearing this quote: “If you want to see who you will become in 5-10 years, look at your friends today.”
In essence, who you will become is directly correlated to who you hang out with. (Poor grammar purposefully used for effect. 🙂 )
The personal friends you have in your life will shape your outlook on life, love, marriage, and friendship. They will form and shape your personality and your demeanor.
The professional colleagues you have in your life will shape how you approach your career. They’ll hold you back, or move you forward.
Whether you see these people in person, or whether your “hang out” with them online, the group of people you surround yourself with will have a profound impact on what you become.
- What blogs do you read?
- What forums do you frequent?
- Whose tweets do you follow?
- What professional groups do you belong to?
There are five tips I want to give you for moving forward in the direction you want to go by surrounding yourself with the people who can help get you there:
- Find a mentor. Find someone who is doing exactly what it is you want to do. Then learn from them. If you can, get 1-on-1 mentorship. If you’re lucky, it could be a personal relationship. But maybe it needs to be a consulting type of relationship. If not that, read and follow their blogs and/or books. But find someone whom you can call “Sensei.”
- Find a coach. A coach is a little different from a mentor (although he/she can be the same person.) A coach is committed to holding you accountable, kicking your butt, and instilling in you the knowledge you need to move forward. I believe in the power of coaching so much, that even though I am a professional coach to creatives, I still meet about once a month with a fellow business coach to share ideas and get feedback.
- Find an Accountability Partner. Someone who will hold you accountable to make changes in your life and business. This could be a spouse, your current business partner, a colleague, or the aforementioned coach. They will not be afraid to tell you what you need to hear, even if they know it may make you angry or hurt your feelings.
- Aim High. Look to people whom you may consider way, way above your “pay grade.” That is, professionals who are so far ahead of where you are, you can only dream of being where they are. Maybe you can get an opportunity to assist for them. You may be a pretty decent DP, but if Janus Kaminski asked you to be a grip on his next picture, take the job! Or if Joe McNally asked you to be his second, second assistant, do it. (Zack Arias tells a great story about that in his Creative Mornings talk).
- Break Old Ties. This may be the hardest thing of all. Some of you may have to break ties with people who are holding you back. That may mean leaving the forum on which you’ve been the proverbial “Norm” for ten years. That may mean quitting the professional association where you’ve been a member forever because they’re still arguing whether or not digital photography is the future.
So as you work on evolving yourself and your business, ask yourself this simple question: “Is the man, woman or professional you wish to become evident in the men, women and professionals with whom you interact every day?” If the answer is “no,” you need a new network.
Alexander Feather says
Jessica McIntosh says
Thanks for the information and encouragement Ron! This is something I have been thinking about for the last couple of months and your post gave me a little push in the right direction 🙂
Ron Dawson says
Good for you Jessica. It can be hard, I know. But life is too short.
Phil Stevens says
Great post bro! I preach this often to the younger crowd. Especially the mentor part and ‘break old ties’. There should only be 5-6 people in your inner circle that truly influence you. People that are spiritually or professionally stronger than you with a similar moral code or vision. Everyone else is part of a larger circle made up of people ‘you’ influence not the other way around. Big difference!
As far as the mentor part, finding someone that does what you ‘want’ to do… That’s HUGE. Well, you know.
Looking forward to going into battle ‘partner’.
Daxos: I see I was wrong to expect Sparta’s commitment to at least match our own.
King Leonidas: Doesn’t it?
[points to Arcadian soldier behind Daxos]
King Leonidas: You there, what is your profession?
Free Greek-Potter: I am a potter… sir.
King Leonidas: [points to another soldier] And you, Arcadian, what is your profession?
Free Greek-Sculptor: Sculptor, sir.
King Leonidas: Sculptor.
[turns to a third soldier]
King Leonidas: You?
Free Greek-Blacksmith: Blacksmith.
King Leonidas: [turns back shouting] Spartans! What is your profession?
Spartans: WAR! WAR! WAR!
King Leonidas: [turning to Daxos] You see, old friend? I brought more soldiers than you did.
Ron Dawson says
Awwh, yeah! Going All “300” on us. I like it. 🙂 Just don’t kick me into a bottomless pit!
True words to live by, love your post Ron. Keep inspiring us!
Ron Dawson says
So glad you liked it Lisa-Ann. Thanks.
Jeff Sauke (@JeffSauke) says
This is so true Ron. You for one, are a good coach and that’s why I’m an avid follower…
Ron Dawson says
Thanks Jeff for your kind words. I’m tryin’. 🙂
I’ve been thinking about this all along and there are no truer words. It saddens me to move on from my current friends who have not changed in the years that I’ve known them but makes me happy to choose to go out and connect with people who will help me make the changes I need to grow and succeed. Thanks for this post and others that I’ve read. Keep’em coming!