You are the average of the five people you spend the most time with
EGM on a Mission. Let’s Build Better Companies
Chances are there are times when you’re feeling down at work.
A bit worn out.
A bit frustrated.
Even looking for a new role.
Tired of how things are?
Well, here’s something you can do to cheer yourself up.
Go onto your company website.
Read the company mission statement.
Read the ‘about us’ page.
Next, read anything along the lines of ‘what we believe’ statements.
Look at the pictures and the company they portray.
It can’t fail to lift your mood.
Happy words about some shiny company – where a diverse team is cherished, supported, empowered and developed.
Where grateful customers celebrate innovative, market leading products and world class customer service – eager to hand recommendations to friends.
Sustainability, diversity, inclusion, giving back to the community.
Either you’ll cheer up thinking about the brilliant company you’re working for, or it’ll bring a smile to your face (albeit, sadly, ironic) thinking about the rhetoric and current reality.
Best not to believe the hype.
Companies say they want to improve their culture.
But positive culture change is never realised until people come to terms with the fact that their company isn’t operating optimally – now.
The case for diversity is compelling.
‘Diverse groups of people with diverse backgrounds consistently outperform. If you chose two groups – one random and therefore diverse, and one consisting of the best individual performers, the first group is almost always better.’ (Wall Street Journal).
‘We cherish diversity – as not only does it make good business sense but it also shows we are good corporate citizens.’ (Leading company mission statement).
But how many companies truly take diversity seriously?
In their hiring decisions?
In their staff evaluations?
In their promotion decisions?
In their choice of vendors – or consultants?
In the people who are invited to meetings (are ‘unexpected’ people invited to give a different view)?
Bet there’s room for improvement.
The problem starts at the top.
‘The bottleneck is at the very top of the bottle. Where are you most likely to find people with the least diversity of experience, the largest investment in the past and the greatest reverence for industry dogma? At the top.’ (Gary Hamel)
So, what are the chances if your company was putting together a new 10-person Board that it will consist of:
At least two members under the age of 30.
At least four (or five or six) women.
One IT superstar.
One or two people with very entrepreneurial mindsets – or perhaps a venture capitalist.
One person with a ‘weird’ background – art or music – who can challenge and provide a different view.
At least one design guru - essential today at Board level?
Chances are the Board will consist, largely, of middle-aged men with similar experience.
But before anyone is too critical, consider this.
We talk about personal growth and dealing with change.
But, at an individual level, how good are we at immersing ourselves in new situations - by meeting new people from different backgrounds, developing new contacts and building a diverse network?
Jim Rohn, an American author, once famously wrote:
‘You are the average of the five people you spend the most time with. This can be a blessing or a curse.’
There are many resources and tools available to us to grow our capabilities – and one of the most important resources at our disposal is – other people.
The people we surround ourselves with are the biggest influencers on our behaviour, attitude and results. (Tom Peters, Management guru).
We are who we hang out with – and most of us hang out with people who are just like us (same old-same old). Eventually we start to think like they think – behave like they behave.
Author Darren Hardy finds that the people you habitually associate with determine as much as 95 per cent of your success or failure. (‘The Compound Effect’).
‘The lesson here is to actively construct your environment. Don’t let it rely on proximity or chance or the way it has always been. Build a diverse network of close contacts and your outlook on life will grow. Consciously plan who you spend time with.’ (Darren Hardy).
Hang out with cool – and you will become more cool.
Hang out with dull (same old, same old) and you will become more dull. (Tom Peters – management guru).
The renowned philosopher, John Stuart Mill, wrote the following in 1870:
‘It is hardly possible to overstate the value of human beings in contact with people who are dissimilar to themselves and with modes of thought unlike those which they are familiar. Such communication has always been one of the primary sources of individual growth.’
One final quote from Jim Rohn:
‘Show me your friends and I will show you your future.’
Time for more diversity – at your individual level?