There is a tendency to surround ourselves with people who approve of how we think or behave. We seek acceptance and confirmation, we have a need for belonging. Especially if there is the possibility that we are not that happy with some of our habits but are not committed to change. It’s easier to ignore that voice in the back of your head when nobody questions you.
For example, if you too drink too much (whatever is your definition of too much), you’ll feel more comfortable around people that make no fuss about drinking. If your conversations are superficial, you’ll probably feel out of place if your friends start discussing about the books they are reading, about ideas, or about taking action about a particular social issue.
If you want to get better at something, surround yourself with people that are better than you at that something. Choose your friends and commit to that friendship. Don’t be passive about it. If your friends don’t want the best for you, maybe it’s a friendship that doesn’t go too deep.
We can apply similar reasoning at work: surround yourself with people that are better than you. If nobody in your team disagrees with you, you have a problem.
In Poor Charlie’s Almanack, Warren Buffet praises Charlie Munger and gives his advice for choosing a business partner:
Look first for someone both smarter and wiser than you are. After locating him (or her), ask him not to flaunt his superiority so that you may enjoy acclaim from the many accomplishments that sprang from his thoughts and advice. Seek a partner who will never second-guess you nor sulk when you make expensive mistakes. Look also for a generous soul who will put up his own money and work for peanuts. Finally, join with someone who will constantly add to the fun as you travel a long road together.