The name Warren Buffet is known by many. As one of the world’s richest men, dinner conversations revolve around how he has been in the news. But aside from being incredibly wealthy, he is a smart individual who has issued pearls of wisdom to those who are willing to listen. Because throughout the years he has imparted that wisdom on the public, and there are a great number of quotes that those of us who can never dream of having his wealth can use to better our lives.
“It’s better to hang out with people better than you. Pick out associates whose behavior is better than yours and you’ll drift that direction.” – Warren Buffet, 2004 annual shareholders meeting
Many of us may recognize this from when we were little. There were those children that were just up to no good. Our parents and teachers knew it, and they would encourage us not to associate with them. By playing with the children with nobler intents, we too became nobler and more likely to follow directions and be better behaved children.
This was preached all the way through high school, where the differences between the “good” kids and the “bad” kids became more pronounced. We were encouraged to hang out with certain types, not because our parents did not want us to have fun, but rather they did not want us to experience any physical, emotional, or reputational pain. As we headed off to college, and got out from under our parents’ wings, that prompting and urging us to keep good company disappeared. This is where we had to decide for ourselves who we would associate with, and how we would shape our lives.
Now that we have moved on from the younger years, and progressed into our working lives, many of us have families and careers that we are striving toward. The old adage that you are the company you keep shows up just the same. However, it is applied to different situations now.
Warren Buffet was applying this quote on how to be successful. When we first start our careers we notice that there are two very distinct groups in every workplace. There are the go-getters, often seen as brown-nosers. They work hard, they give the boss what he or she wants, and they get a lot of recognition for what they do. Sitting in the back of the meeting hall, often snickering at the previous crowd is the opposite group. They come to work begrudgingly every day. They bemoan the fact that they are at work. They proceed to put in the bare minimum effort, and constantly push the limits on what they can get away with. At first glance, this looks just like high school. Upon further investigation there is a whole lot more at stake here.
The choice is yours, and you have to make one. Most people that try to go through their career without a mentor end up floundering. Sure, many of them eventually succeed, but most will lead a mediocre career path. Make your decision now to start emulating those who are working in the capacity you would like to work in. Befriend them, and then copy their work patterns. They will be happy to have a mentee (even if it is informal), and you will be happy to learn quickly. If you haven’t made leaps and bounds in your career within a year, go back to hanging out with the slackers. My guess is you won’t want to.
By the way, when you were young and in school, the goal was to keep you out of trouble. Now the goal is to make you a better person that has more to offer to society than someone who barely puts forth an effort.
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