Working With Great People

I have recently been thinking about what it means to be wealthy. In my last essay, I came to the conclusion that there are multiple factors, financial independence being one of the most important. I also noted the compounding benefits of relationships — over time, your relationships will become stronger, and a new bond of trust will be cultivated. I have touched on this topic in the past before, but I have neglected to directly discuss one key point which serves as the foundation of compounding relationships: working with great people.

This may indeed seem like a simple principle — how hard can it be to work with great people, right? Well, it is often not that simple. One of the common features of my personal introspection has been reflecting on my relationships, and I have found that, in the past, I have not worked with great people. I have worked with people because they reached out asking for help — I did not value the importance of working with only the best people. I ended up spending a lot of my time helping and working with people who were good people, but my time could have been used more effectively. And then I realized that working with great people is a necessary element of achieving any sense of happiness. When I started to focus more on doubling down on the relationships with my close friends and fellow workers, I realized that I was happier. Working with great people made me feel happy, but it took me a while to realize that my relationships were not all enjoyable in the first place.

Become Your Best Self

Working with great people is critical for many reasons. Working with great people usually allows us to be more productive and efficient. When we are working with people who are productive, we will want to be like them, and so we will emulate their behavior. Some of their best characteristics become part of our identity, because we see them as a great person and we want to be just like them. And so working with great people helps us become a better person — we can build new characteristics, and learn about how we can improve. As the adage goes, we are a reflection of the small group of people with whom we spend the most time. If we are surrounded by negative people, we will be more likely to adopt a negative mindset. If we are surrounded by ambitious people, on the other hand, we will be more likely to be ambitious as well — we want to be like the people with whom we spend the most time. The impact of this effect is often understated, and is indeed the cause of many of our best and worst habits.

Working with great people also makes it easier for us to get work done. If we are surrounded by great people who work as hard as us, then at work, we will be able to get more work done. When we are finished, we can pass on our work to someone who will adopt the same swift pace as we did, and the task will be completed quicker. We will also be able to better share our ideas with our co-workers and brainstorm new concepts because they are more likely to have more valuable insights to share with the group. Great workers are often those most involved in the workplace, and so will be a valuable part of any team. Steve Jobs has previously remarked on this effect, and refers to this effect as working with “A” players: “I found that when you get enough “A” players together, when you go through the incredible work to find these “A” players, they really like working with each other. Because most have never had the chance to do that before. “ Jobs realized that working with great people allows you to do better work — most of them will have been held back by their prior teams, as well.

Great Work is Done in Teams

We often neglect to consider the importance of working with great people. The greatest innovations in society have not been pioneered by an individual team: they have been developed by a group or a small team. That is because teams benefit from diversity of thought, and can get more done. Therefore, it is important that the teams in which we work are as optimized as possible so that everyone has the best possible chance to succeed. The individual does matter, for sure. But merging individual contributions into one team makes everyone more capable of doing their best work. The best teams are those who often develop the best solutions to problems, have the best ideas, and are generally better workers. Teams help us synthesize thoughts, collect ideas, and benefit from the scrutiny and analysis of our fellow team members in making our ideas better.

Interestingly, despite the common perception that we cannot control with whom we work, we have a surprising amount of control over our teams. In fact, we owe it to ourselves to invest time in working with great people. This does not just mean that you need to find great co-workers, it also applies to everyone else with whom you interact regularly. For each person you spend a lot of time with each day, consider this: Do they make you want to be a better person? Are they kind to you? Do you enjoy being with them? You will spend most of your days with these people, so you should always be able to answer these questions positively. If they do not make you want to be a better person, perhaps you should rethink your spending a lot of time with them. Spending time with bad people — or at least people who do not value you as much as you deserve — makes us feel less important, and thus makes it more difficult for us to be our best selves. Don’t be afraid to cut out an old relationship that provides you with no value. It is likely that if you get nothing out of the relationship, the other person is also not enjoying their interactions as well.

Evaluate Your Friendships

You should also consider the people who you spend time with, but who you do not meet as much as other people — for example, each week or month. For example, your extended friends, your former co-workers, people you have just met, etc. Think about who you want these people to be — they will take up a lot of your time. If you know people who you want to spend more time with, reach out and start to talk with them. Develop relationships, and if you think they are great, try to spend more time with them. It is worth spending extra time developing new relationships as much as possible, because every interaction is an opportunity to get to know someone else, and learn about a new world. Perhaps the person you meet ends up being just like you, and could make for a great friend. Wouldn’t you rather spend time with this person than another friend who does make you feel happy?

Relationships Compound

Working with great people compounds over time. As you invest more time and energy in building relationships, they will become stronger. You will start to trust the other person more; they will be more willing to help you out when you need assistance. The longer a relationship lasts, the stronger this effect is. This is why successful people usually have a small group of people who they spend most of their time with and who they have known for years. Successful people understand the compounding effect of these relationships and that as they spend more time with each other, their bonds will become stronger. Compounding also applies to bad relationships, as well. If you spend a lot of time with someone who always complains, then not only will you likely derive little benefit from your interactions, but the anxiety their complaints cause you will compound over time. This is why it is worth removing old relationships from your life if they no longer provide you with any value — bad relationships can get worse over time.

In sum, working with great people is a great way to become a happier and more productive person. Working with great people will make you feel more valued, and your relationships will compound over time. Therefore, as you invest more energy in a relationship, you will become a better person, alongside everyone else in the team. Also, you are a reflection of the small group of people with whom you spend the most time, and so working with great people will help make you a better person. It can be difficult to terminate relationships that no longer work for you, but it is a necessary part of becoming a happier person. As you start to remove old relationships, you will have more time to cultivate new relationships with people who can provide you with more value — a relationship which will compound positively over time.

Work with great people. Consider who you spend the most time with; eliminate relationships which provide you with no value. Relationships compound.

NB: This is not advice about romantic relationships, but some of the concepts may indeed apply.

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