I've heard different leaders talk about this idea--that you are the average of the 10 people you surround yourself with. I define great business leaders as people who are constantly trying to improve themselves. So, as a business leader myself, one who is always open to improving, this idea has really stuck with me.
When you look at who you currently surround yourself with to determine whether they reflect the type of person you're trying to be, it's important to ask very specific questions. To become a curator of the best people to have around you, consider:
1. What motivates them? Do they know what motivates you?
If you and another person have somewhat aligned motivations or at least understand each other's motivations, you can truly help each other out when an opportunity presents itself in either of your lives. Motivation is also something that needs consistent fuel to stay lit, so having people around you who understand that and feed it can keep your energy and productivity at a high level.
2. How do they measure their own success?
We all have different views of success. Is it just making money? For me, it's about being a good dad, husband, boss...and let's be honest: making some money. If the people around you measure success similarly, then they will challenge you in ways that increase your success in what matters to you. I want people around me who will encourage me to be a good dad and call me out when I could be better. It's easy to gravitate toward viewing success as others perceive it, so it's important to deliberately spend time with others who measure success the same way you do.
3. Do you get a sense of loyalty from them?
Now, I want to be clear that blind loyalty--where someone just agrees with you all the time or always has your back, even when you are really wrong--is not what I'm talking about. I'm talking about loyalty in the sense that people are there for you when you need them. You know that they will look out for your best interests; you can always have a down-to-earth, truthful conversation; and they won't flip on you for personal gain. As simple as this sounds, it's sometimes hard to find people you can trust like this--there's a lot of self-interest out there. So when you find people with the potential for this kind of loyalty, latch onto them.
4. Will they make you better?
Do the people around you have skills you don't have that could be valuable? There's also a big difference between a helpful person who looks to challenge you and a yes man (or woman). Also, cultivate people who look out for ways that you can learn. For example, one of my close entrepreneur friends had a tax situation come up with his company, so he sent me a few articles and a brief explanation of things I should look out for. I really appreciated that he would take the time to try to help me learn about something that wasn't on my radar at all.
5. Are they capable of giving and receiving transparent feedback?
Transparent feedback is very hard to give, but it's vital to making someone better and having a healthy relationship. Self-awareness is a gift, but it is extremely hard to have it unless you also have people around you willing to give you transparent feedback to help you. There are a lot of times when I've felt like something I said or did was perfectly normal, but a friend or co-worker did me the favor of saying "I think that was taken the wrong way." It's good to improve your own self-awareness, but sometimes it takes others to help you out with that.
Take some time to write down the 10 people you spend most of your time with. Do they meet at least some of these criteria? You may also want to think of your own list of criteria and whether the people closest to you fit them. If not, it might make sense to re-evaluate the people you are surrounding yourself with.