Most coaches (executive, athletic, etc.) will tell you that playing up is necessary for real performance improvement. Playing up is how willing you are to spend time around those that are smarter, more talented or further along their development path than you are. Doing that stimulates you to play up to the higher level of performance. That, of course, assumes that you are willing to learn and be challenged.
Recently, I found myself spending an entire day with exceptionally smart people. Much smarter than me by most measures (admittedly, being smarter than me isn’t that hard). At the end of the day, I found myself more energized, more creative and more motivated. At first I really didn’t know or think about why I felt that way or why I felt so alive and ready to take action.
Being around smart, really smart people always makes me better. As I got in the car that afternoon, I wondered how many of my fellow travelers had been challenged, motivated or encouraged to live better, more enthusiastically, or perform at a higher level just by the people they had chosen to spend time with that day. I also wondered how many people had spent time with, texted or were influenced by people that have the opposite effect. Not that they are dumb or not talented. The point is – are you intentional about getting around and spending energy in places and with people that make you better (in whatever way you define better)? To what extent do you find yourself willing to experience the growth that comes from time spent with those who are smarter or wealthier or more open etc. etc. It requires you to experience discomfort and to be interested and curious. It also requires something a bit tougher – and that is to spend less time with people that drain your energy, bring you down or enable you to operate below your absolute best. Here are a few steps to take:
1. Identify an area of your life that you would like to improve (spirituality, wealth, intelligence, emotional connection etc.)
2. Identify people and/or environments where those areas are functioning at a level you aspire to.
3. Find ways to be around those people or environments (not stalking). Serve, volunteer, study.
4. Reduce the energy or time you spend with people or in environments that bring you down or allow you to operate below your potential.