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Why You Should Spend Time with People who do Great Work

When we are kids we dream about becoming something great. Our imaginations run crazy bouncing from one great character or occupation to another. Rarely does a child dream about anything but greatness.


When my son was in kindergarten he said he was going to grow up and be the quarterback for the Dallas Cowboys. And when he retired from that he was going to be a pilot with the Blue Angels.

While our dreams often take a different turn as we mature, we don’t have to back away from becoming great in our work.

One of the best practices I have used to press myself to do great work is spend time with people who do great work.

7 Outcomes of Spending Time with People who Do Great Work

1.  Fights Complacency

Once you think you have arrived you are done.  Complacency is a mindset that can completely derail your plans, dreams, and goals.  Complacency tells us lies.  Lies that either inflate our accomplishments or underestimate our potential.  Either way complacency tells us to stop.

Spending time with people who do great work challenges us to be better than we are today.  They inspire us to dream and try new things.

“The world is a dangerous place, not because of those who do evil, but because of those who look on and do nothing.” Einstein

  • Once you think you have arrived you are done.
  •  You need to be challenged to be better than you are now
  • “Succes is a lousy teacher. It makes smart people think they can’t lose.” Bill Gates

2.  Keeps ourselves in perspective- Humility

Humility is very attractive in a leader.  Spending time with people who do great work can serve as an ego check and help us see ourselves in perspective.  It allows us to manage our pride so that we can attack problems and challenges appropriately, because eventually something is not going to work.  Pride tells us to blame others, humility tells us together we can figure it out.

“Pride is concerned about who’s right. Humility is concerned about what’s right.” Ezra Taft Benton

“Humility is our antidote to what inevitably is not going to go according to plan. Humility permits us to approach a problem with kindness and not arrogance.” Seth Godin

Spending time with great people allows us to check ourselves in advance so we are grounded when things don’t work.  Remember, humility is contagious.

3.  Creates better work- Excellence

Great work doesn’t happen by accident.  It takes something special to consistently create extraordinary work.  Spending time with other people that do great work becomes the spark inside of us to push ourselves.

  • We make better decisions.
  • We have better ideas.
  • We ask better questions.

4.  You become like the people you spend time with

We often become like the people we spend time with the most.  The things we say, how we react, and even how we think can be marked by the people around us.  Even though leaders are influencers, they are not immune to being influenced themselves.  Spending time with successful people allows the right people to become those influencers in our lives.

5.  New thinking

Our thoughts become our actions.  Our actions become our habits.  Our habits take us to our destination.  Spending time with successful people will lead us to think at a higher level.  When we utilize different ways of thinking and processing we can make stronger decision.

  • “Dreams often come one size to big so we can grow into them.” John Maxwell
  • “Wisdom is the reward you get for a lifetime of listening when you would have preferred to talk.” Doug Larson
  • “I want to assume and believe I can find people to have around me that are smarter than me in many areas. They fill my gaps.” Craig Brooks

6.  It’s fun

Life and leadership doesn’t have to be all straight faced and straight laced.  I find spending time talking, dining, and working with successful people is just plain fun.  Leaders face tension and stress almost daily.  We need times to decompress, relax, and not be “on.”  Spending time with other successful leaders affords us these moments.  In a sense, this is one way to breathe life and energy back into our lives.  Remember, leaders get to have fun too.

7.  Personal Growth and development

Leaders must continue growing to become the best their best.  I read a quote that I can’t remember who to attribute it to, but I think it fits well here:

“People with a lot of talent often perform at a high level, but the greatest— the absolute best of the best— achieve the highest heights because they possess the spirit of learning.”

There is a proverb in the Bible that says “iron sharpens iron.”  In order to become better we need strong people to rub against and sharpen us.  Spending time with successful people creates an internal drive to get better in all arenas of our lives.

Director of Leadership Development, Illinois Baptist

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