Back in high school you could always tell the “high performers” (or as we’d call them”overachievers”). Academically, they were the ones at the top of the Honor Roll. In sports, you can find them on travel teams and the music folks participated in (at least where I am from) All-County or All-State programs. I didn’t see it then, but I see now that these people were not content with just competing with their peers in school. These students recognized, even if subconsciously that “if you want to be the best, you have to beat the best”. The ones who truly were “high performers” went to Ivy League schools, played sports in college or even the pros and you may see them now as professional actors or on Broadway.
Yes, for a lot of people (not just high performers) competing at a higher level is not just to show you’re better, it’s to elevate your game. When you surround yourself with people who compete at a higher level, you elevate yourself….make yourself better….bring out the high performer in you.
So how can you elevate yourself as an adult? You’re not Aaron Rodgers. You’re the 99.9% who work a job, save for retirement and hope to win the lottery. When was the last time you looked around and evaluated who you surround yourself with? Are your close friends the same ones you grew up with who still live in the town you went to H.S. in and work at the places you hung out? Or, have you managed to surround yourself with people who you look forward to grabbing a drink at happy hour with so you can bounce some ideas off of them and see if they made that 6-figure sale they’ve been working on all week? The people you interact with both at work and personally can guide your success both directly and indirectly. If your closest coworker is the one who bitches about how bad work is and how they would ‘leave in a second if they could’, you’re hanging out with the wrong people.
Are you happy being the best in your group? The best at your job? Do you wanna be the top seller in the office or the city? Are you content with being the best air talent at your station, in your format, in your city, or do you wanna be the next Ryan Seacrest?
Besides the folks you literally surround yourself with, who are you networking with? When you realize the benefit of networking ‘up’ it’ll be something you crave like a drug. Networking ‘up’ is more than just networking for finding jobs or opportunities, its networking with folks that drive you to be better. These people have passion, ideas, drive and when you have these people in your circles you’ll wanna chat in some way to talk ideas, bounce things off of and subconsciously be driven because you wanna be at their level.
Here’s the kicker I always see, but believe can be a detriment. When people network, they tend to network with people that they have things in common with. While I definitely understand and do it myself, when you do that you’re not expanding your horizons. When I go to conferences and get around other radio people, we tend to reminisce about ‘how things were’ and tell stories from ‘back in the day’. What we don’t typically do is talk about how to turn the business on its ear with some amazing thing that will revolutionize the industry. My best conversations are with people in other industries. Those people expand my horizons and make me think outside the box. Those people and those conversations are what get me thinking and spark the drive.
Subconsciously we are all the jock, the singer and the academic in high school who wanted more.