On the Career Path: The Four Types of People Who Will Get You Where You Need to Be
"Everybody needs somebody sometimes…"
At least that’s how the old song goes. It’s true, though, you know. We all need someone to help us get where we are headed and these four kinds of people are the ones that will make the most difference in your life, your career, and your legacy…
The “You’re Weird. I’m Weird. Meet Me on the Bacon Aisle.” Acquaintance
Like-minded people are instantly comfortable with each other. Have you ever noticed that? If you are up late at night and you need a little Reddit therapy, chances are you go to a specific forum that you feel speaks your language. For instance, say you have a TV show that you are a little too overly-invested in. (Game of Thrones, stop ruining my life!) If you just so happen to find another fan-boy or fan-girl who is just as into it as you are, even if you grew up on opposite sides of the globe, you will instantly connect with this person. Having just one thing in common can make all the difference in breaking the ice and breaking barriers.
Having someone who shares your vision can motivate you to make your vision, no matter how ambitious, a reality by reminding you that you are not alone. Sometimes this person is someone that you can work within the office. Other times, that person may be a friend from university that always gets your way of doing things. Having someone who understands your thought process can be invaluable to you. It can help you to step away from the goobers at work who don’t quite see your potential yet and remind you that you must keep trying, keep moving forward and keep on doing what you do best in order to be a successful human being.
The “Gee, I Hate that Idea” Guy
Iron sharpens iron. It’ true, Just ask iron. No iron was ever sharpened without it.
The guy that you utterly despise is often the guy who takes you farther than you could ever go alone - if for no other reason than because you want to prove him wrong and become the person that you know you can be. At the same time, this guy is not just there to motivate you. He is there to challenge your way of thinking.
Your way of doing things is not always going to be the best way of doing things. (I know you are a genius. I do. The rest of the world may need some time to catch up. In the meantime, learn from that guy who drives you crazy.)
The “Older but Wiser” Mentor
Regardless of their position at the company, someone has been at your office longer than you have. If you are the official “dinosaur” of the office, there is someone older than you amongst your extended colleagues at other firms or companies.
Our world places so much importance on youth. We look great with our 4 different Insta-filters and editing apps. (Seriously though—dat filter.) Meanwhile, we are getting dumber by the minute. We cannot look up from our phones long enough to refrain from walking into the subway columns. We are crushing Candy Crush and leveling up to a new level of detached from reality. At the same time, we are checking Facebook and Twitter enough times to need a 12-step program. We are being conditioned to care what everyone’s breakfast looks like and we don’t even care if we are eating a cold pancake. I am against cold pancakes!
The older guy at your office? He’s also against cold pancakes and has maintained his job for 25 plus years because he is leveling up at being smart, being needed, and being necessary. Even if that guy is the janitor and you are the CEO, this guy has so much to teach you because he’s been on this planet longer than you have. He knows the company. He knows how the company treats people. He knows what is essentially broken here. YOU. NEED. THIS. GUY.
Every young gun needs a mentor. Even guys like me and you. Even if you are a young gun in your 40s and 50s. Someone is always older and someone is always wiser about your industry. LEARN.
The “Welcome Home” Outside Influence
I meet so many ambitious people who have a real mind for building a future in business and equal amounts of people who need to ask the wizard for a little bit of appreciation for what was. As you grow, it is very challenging to not let that powerful feeling of getting bigger leave you growing away from what matters. Your wife, your kids, your friends – whatever that means for you, there are people who helped you get where you are today. Those same people may have no idea what a bottom line is or why an industry joke is funny. Never let this be something that makes you feel greater-than the people who have supported you along the way. Never let the feeling of power at the office keep you from coming home on time. This will undoubtedly make the people waiting for you feel terrible and unappreciated.
I assure you, as you grow in your business, you will also grow in-network and net worth. This makes for a lot of false sense of self. The people who matter are the people behind the scenes.
You will never have to question why they love you because they have always loved you even when you were eating Ramen and treating that horrible rash-thingy on your butt.
Don’t be that guy. Don’t’ be that jerk. Don’t be a cautionary tale.
Keep those who hold you close even closer. They will keep you grounded and help you soar high without soaring into some pointy object – even though you might deserve to soar into a pointy object if you are being a turd. I know you are better than that. You aren't a turd.
Take time to appreciate every person that crosses your path. Even those that don’t seem like a gift at the time will have a special purpose in catapulting you to the top of where you need to be.