Byron's Babbles

Is Your Group Too Small?

Posted in Coaching, Education, Leadership by Dr. Byron L. Ernest on October 16, 2014

IMG_0516.JPG Yesterday I finished the great new book, You Can, You Will: 8 Undeniable Qualities of a Winner by Joel Osteen. If you have not read it; it needs to go on your “to read” bookshelf. One of the comments Osteen makes in the book is: “If your the smartest person in your group, your group is too small.” I loved this comment and tweeted @ByronErnest it. I found that many others loved the comment too because it was retweeted several times. The comment also hit home because I just wrote the post, “Are You The Smartest Person in The Room?” a couple of weeks ago.

When I heard Osteen make this comment (I listened to this book on Audible during my commute) I immediately thought about the advice of always surrounding yourself with the best people. How can your team be great if you are smarter than everyone around you? I’m reminded of my dad’s advice to me at a young age: “Always marry better than yourself!” That’s hard advice to understand, but now coming up on 29 years of marriage; I completely understand it. I certainly married better than myself. Hope is smarter, a better parent, better leader of a household, and the list goes on and on. As I always tell everyone, she is the primary parent! I fail in comparison. In fact I am reminded of a comment my son, Heath, made to his teacher when he was in the fourth grade when asked if he had done all of his reading the night before: “I’m not sure; my mom is out of town for work and dad and I have no adult supervision.” That really is a true story, and of course he had heard me make that comment jokingly before. But, really, there is some truth to it. So, if your still looking for that someone, make sure you marry better than yourself!

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The real point that Osteen was making was, however, that we all need to be taking responsibility for our own personal growth to be the smartest, most skilled person in the room, but we need to also seek those who are talented in the areas we are not. The quote from Melanie Joy sums it up nicely: “Educating yourself does not mean that you were stupid in the first place; it means that you are intelligent enough to know that there is plenty left to learn.” We all need to make sure we are constantly taking advantage of any chance to learn that comes our way. For example, I am excited to be presenting at three conferences yet this fall and early winter. I am most excited because of the chance to learn from all the other conference attendees and the other presenters’ sessions. I am positive I will not be the smartest person in the group of attendees and presenters!

So, think about your own situation and find some ways to get yourself some personal professional growth. It may be reading a book (I am always amazed at how much I learn from every book I read), going to a conference, taking a course (I’m proof it’s never to late to start a doctoral program), or finding a coach, mentor, or sponsor. I loved another comment that Osteen made in his book: “While it may be a lot of fun to hang out with Mo, Larry, and Curly; you probably won’t be getting any smarter or experiencing any personal growth.” In other words, who you hang out with matters!

Finally, don’t forget to give of your “smarts” to others. I am always amazed to watch others in leadership positions who seem to want to hire “dumber” than themselves, suppress the learning of others, and just not provide growth opportunities to others. I guess they think this makes them look smarter – NOT! It has always been my personal mission to make sure that when those I have worked with reflect back that they say, “My life is better and I grew personally and professionally because of being around Byron.” Actually, a pretty good epitaph, don’t you think?

Go forth and make your group big enough that you are not the smartest!

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