I Thought the Association Would Do Him Good
By: David Freund, Chief Leadership Officer

Not long ago I heard a story of a man who entered his mule in the Kentucky Derby. As the race got closer, the officials were getting worried so they contacted the man and asked him if he realized that the race was for Thoroughbreds and he said he did. When they asked him why he wanted to send his mule to the race, he simply replied: “I thought the association would do him good.” Now I know this story isn’t real, but it does illustrate a critical point,  who we associate with determines who we become.

Starting in the early 1930s an informal literary discussion group called the Inklings met in the corner of The Eagle and Child pub in Oxford England. The group made up of authors such as C. S. Lewis, and J. R. R. Tolkien would meet on Tuesday mornings and occasionally Thursday evenings to discuss things on their minds and read aloud their current literary projects.  Writings such as The Screwtape Letters, The Chronicles of NarniaThe Hobbit, and Lord of the Rings would be critiqued by the group, and hard hitting criticism was often offered. Clearly, this feedback honed these writings into the outstanding literary works they would become.

Harvard social psychologist Dr. David McCleland states that our “Reference Group” or the people we associate with the most, determine as much as 95% of our success or failure. Jim Rohm simplified this by saying we become the combined average of the five people we associate with the most. The members of the Inklings understood the power of association and the value in surrounding themselves with those who would challenge them and push them to a higher level. By scheduling one or two meetings a week, these legends of literature intentionally positioned themselves for success.

What about you? Are you a person who looks for honest feedback? Will you become intentional about creating a growth environment by surrounding yourself with those who are ahead of you on your professional journey?

Join Marisa and me on The Next Page podcast as we take a deeper dive into this critical aspect of professional and personal growth. If you have any questions you would like addressed, be sure to send them to Marisa at [email protected]