“Do not surround yourself with people who are more brilliant than you. If you want to be recognized and shine, join a group where you are actually better than the rest.
Look at the Moon! Do you think people would notice if it appears beside the Sun? That is why it usually appears with the stars at night.”
I remember those words well. It was shared to me (way back in college) by my best friend who was taking Social Science (then) at UP Los Baños. I was visiting him for the weekend, and he repeatedly mentioned these words. Honestly, I thought that his insight made sense.
Note: I always value his insights since we were young. We often fight but I always listen and consider his thoughts (most of the time).
However, this is one of those times when I did not listen to him.
I thought that his advice was quite different from what my mom taught me. My mom would always say to:
“Surround yourself with people who are far better than you. Join groups of brilliant people, who are better than you in a lot of things. And, observe how they do things.
Also, never look for professors who give out grades like he is teaching a room-full of geniuses and flooding his student records with 1.0. Look for those who people say to be terror and who bombards students with challenging requirements.
This is the only way for you to learn and grow.”
In college, I was lucky not to exert effort in looking for people who are far better than I was. All of my classmates were really brilliant. Of course, belonging to BS Business Administration and Accountancy (BAA) student population at UP Diliman gave me the opportunity of witnessing these brilliant people exchanged ideas. And sometimes they will pounce at you if they feel that you are an easy prey.
I remember that I had to make sure that in all my reports, I was always ready by familiarizing myself in all areas just to survive the grilling (a.k.a. question-and-answer) after the presentations. Also, during group discussions prior to reporting, one or two people would always volunteer as a “devil’s advocate”. They will test the group’s answers to the problem statement.
That was how students from the UP College of Business Administration usually handle projects and case studies. And if you don’t keep up with them, you’ll get crushed in the process. So I made sure that I was always on my toes — ready to pounce if the situation called for it. And, my whole college stay was made challenging and filled with learning with these people. 🙂
One thing, however, that always came up during class enlistments was about not getting teachers who are demanding with their class loads and taking electives that are easy to manage. This was understandable because most students in the BAA group were scholars. And because they would like to retain their scholarships, they usually look for teachers who gave easy loads. Some would encourage me to join them. However, my mom’s advice would always enter my mind. Thus, I ventured out of my way and look for subjects (for electives) and professors who I think would challenge me.
I went for Computer Science-related subjects for electives…
I remember bragging to a friend that I got the highest grade in those classes. Even higher than those who are majoring in that degree. But they would always tell me that the grades (2.25 to 2.5) given to me would drag my average down. I told them that was the normal grades in the UP College of Engineering. However, they would just shake their heads, as if telling me that they were just happy with whatever-will-make-me-happy decisions.
Also, during enrollments in my General Education (GE) subjects, I would usually ask around for terror teachers who were fond of “torturing” their students. And I remember lining up at 4 o’clock in the morning just to enlist those subjects (no Computer Registration System in my early years at UP). By the way, this applied to GE subjects only because for major subjects we usually had no option — all of them were “terror” (even if they won’t admit this).
Now, I think that my liking for IT-related subjects helped me became where I am now. I sort of married my knowledge in business and IT, and I would like to think that I am thriving well in this field. For my bent of going after “terror” teachers, I think it helped me became adaptable to people I work with coming from different backgrounds and having different personalities. The experience helped me get a better appreciation on how best to strike a balance, especially if there are conflicting point of views.
Friends, there are two things that I want you take from reading this:
One — In real life, if you want to pursue your dreams, you cannot really choose who your boss will be. People coming in with differing interests (or simply put, difficult people) will most likely confront you. It is best that we do not attempt to avoid them because we cannot. What is really important is you know where you are standing and you open your mind to their expectations. Let them know your concerns but always bear in mind that at the end of everything, their say matters. You can opt to get out, but please not outright without putting a good fight (or at least trying). This can and will be your best teacher. As my previous boss would say, it is part of your character-building process.
Two — Do not aim to shine. Aim to learn. Recognition will follow once you become better, if not the best, in your respective fields. Do this by surrounding yourself with people who loves to challenge themselves. They can actually motivate you and help you hasten your journey towards realizing your dreams. So do not avoid brilliant people but look for them. You can do this by joining organizations that works on improving leadership skills, say Toastmasters International or Junior Chamber International.
I do hope that this article can and will help you.
PS1: Featured image is taken from https://pixabay.com/static/uploads/photo/2014/10/15/10/53/sun-489523_960_720.jpg
PS2: Try these great selection of self-help books. Unless you look for good tools to help you and just simply rely on yourself, then you might find it hard to work on your dreams.