Andrew Pritchett, Chief Information Officer, Grant Thornton Australia
“You are the average of the five people you spend the most time with, including yourself”- Jim Rohn. The influence of your peer group, work, family and friends will very much influence who you become.
I have had and continue to have the opportunity to spend time with some very special people, some of whom at the time I underappreciated, but in hindsight made me a much better person. I focus on being a positive influence on those around me; it is a priority. Helping people grow and develop both at work and in life is what gets me up and about, it is that simple.
Think about it, if you are at work and everyone is high calibre with high integrity, that is how you become or you will feel uncomfortable and move on. The norms (normal acceptable behaviours) of your group are unspoken and unwritten set of informal rules that govern the behaviour, in our office we try to have some fun, work hard, respect each other and encourage each other to be their best. The opposite is also true, a group of bad apples can also rub off on you, and even a single rotten apple can spoil the whole barrel.
Don’t get me wrong, I am not saying you should drop dead weight and move on, I am saying you need to be aware of who you want to be, what you want to be known for and how you will get the job done.
I was in a position where there was a structural change and I inherited a new manager, my previous manager was one of the best people I have ever worked with and it was going to be tough for everyone. During my interactions with my new manager I started feeling more and more uneasy. When I suggested something that I felt was the right thing to do, it was dismissed, easy options were always chosen. I found I wasn’t being as honest as I was comfortable with, when asked I was not providing the advice I knew I could as I felt “what was the point?”. After a couple of months a meeting came to a head when my integrity could no longer tolerate being put to the back seat, I was honest how I felt and how I felt I was changing to fit in. My new manger laid out in no uncertain terms what the group norm was and I went back to my desk, disappointed but also resolute that the company/team culture was no longer for me. I left the company on good terms pretty soon after. Without realising it then, it was simple; I subconsciously could not reconcile who I needed to become to fit in and who I wanted to be. So I exited myself from the situation. This was the first time I ever left a job and put me onto the path that took me to where I am now.
My tips to be the best version of yourself:
· Be Mindful: Be honest, evaluate those you spend time with and decide if it is a positive experience for one, both or neither. You need to be able to pause and think objectively about your situation. You need to decide for yourself who is influencing you and be aware of “Ah Ha” moments when you notice you have changed your perspective. Was it a good or a bad perspective adjustment?
· Be Karma Focused: I am not telling you to evict everyone from your life that does not make you a better person, by helping others you are in fact growing yourself. So do the right thing even if it is the hardest path, be honest and have integrity, tell people how it is, don’t put off the hard decisions and conversations.
· Be a Mentor: Find someone you can help, it is pretty easy, people probably already come to you for help or advice, instead of just glossing over the help, put some effort in, think about it, get out of your own head and really listen. Help them plan an approach, invest some time
· Be Time Sensitive: If you are in a situation where you are stuck or linked with someone who is a bad influence, the first step is to acknowledge it, talk to them, and be honest. If all else fails, exit. Honestly there are a couple of people that I am not my best around, I am self-aware, as such I minimise my exposure to them, to minimise the impact. Don’t waste time in bad situations.
· Be Generous: When I meet someone, I am very optimistic and trusting. I liken it to giving every one bonus points to start with, a generous amount. Then as time passes and over multiple interactions, I either give or take away points in my mind. Supporting people to get bigger scores (more points), pushing people through levels where I can, solving puzzles. This takes investment and exposure on my behalf, but growing the people is what makes them better and therefore you better by spending time with them.
Choose: To me, choice in your personal life on who you socialise with is mandatory, at work it can sometime be difficult to decide who you sit next to (sure some people may argue as I have above about changing jobs as well, but in all honestly it can be more difficult depending on your circumstances, just don’t stay in a toxic environment or if you do, choose be the person that leads the change). I choose to engage with great people in my own time, positive people that I can support and support me.
Be Empowered: If you still don’t feel like you can do anything then you need to be of strong will and character. I do believe there is a small percentage that can turn any situation, look for the way, speak to someone and get help planning, you will be amazed who will help if you reach out.
I asked my team member this morning: what was the most important impact I have had on them to make them a better person since we have worked together? He said, “You have allowed me to be myself without judgement”.
What would your team mates say?