The people you surround yourself with in life will have an undeniable effect on your success, happiness, and enjoyment. In a lot of ways, people are the only thing that truly matter in your life; on your deathbed you’ll be thinking about the people you surrounded yourself with, not the flat-screen TV you purchased or a car that you drove. If your final thoughts do involve material possessions, then you probably were not able to live life to the fullest, because it is the people, not the things, in our lives and our experiences with those people that give us the greatest satisfaction. Scientific research continues to show that we gain far more happiness from experiences with people than we do from material items purchased for ourselves.
In order to reach your greatest level of happiness in life and your greatest potential as a leader, it is critical that you choose the best possible people to surround yourself with. You can accomplish small things on your own, without the help of others, but as you progress in life and have larger ambitions (improving an organization, launching a business, starting a family, raising a large sum for charity, and just about anything else), you cannot go it alone. And even if you could do it alone, who wants to?
One of the key reasons we should, as leaders, strive to surround ourselves well is that we emulate the characteristics, skills, and values of those around us. Everything we do (that is, the actions we take, the decisions we make, and the mannerisms we exhibit) are shaped by the people we spend time with. You can quickly elevate your ability as a leader by seeking out people who are doing or have done the things that you want to do at a high level. As motivational speaker Jim Rohn famously said, “You are the average of the five people you spend the most time with.”