When it comes to investing, running a business, or running your own life, Warren Buffett always seems to say the right things to offer wisdom and inspiration. 

Fifteen years ago, while taking questions from shareholders and fans at the Berkshire Hathaway annual meeting, the billionaire Buffett was asked by a teenager what advice he would give a young person to become successful. 

Buffett's response was a bull's-eye, whatever your age or stage of life. The Oracle of Omaha replied:

It's better to hang out with people better than you. Pick out associates whose behavior is better than yours and you'll drift in that direction.

The people you choose to be around truly do matter for career progression. When you choose to surround yourself with better and smarter individuals and learn from their success habits, you absorb their knowledge and become better and smarter yourself.

Do the opposite -- spend time with procrastinators and pessimists -- and over time you'll become like them, severely limiting your success.

When thinking about taking Buffett's advice to better ourselves, the first step is to eat some humble pie. It's human of us to want to be around people less smart and less successful than we are so we can look good and feel important and successful in their eyes.

Acquire a growth-mindset instead and consciously choose to engage people further down the path so you can pick up their positive habits of success. Here are four types of people to surround yourself with today.

1. People who live by their values.

Successful people have an unwavering commitment to living their values and often measure their success by them. This is especially the case when life throws a curveball and things get dicey. Through thick and thin, they stick with their values because it defines who they are and what their core business and mission are about in order to best serve others.

2. People who do what they love.

Apple CEO Tim Cook said, "Do what you love, and put your whole heart into it, and then just have fun." Doing what you love is what gives your life purpose. And that purpose is exactly what you can't help but keep doing. So choose to be around people who are living their calling, because their love of it will rub off on you and elevate your own desire to do the same. And when you discover for yourself what your own calling is, it's the thing that will make you come alive.

3. People who actually listen. Really listen. 

Imagine going about your business thinking that "this is the right way" on an important decision but realizing later you were horribly mistaken. I see this all the time with people who plow ahead like lone rangers, convinced they have all the answers. Truth is, the most successful people listen by soliciting the advice and wisdom of others. They practice the skill of accepting feedback because they know it will make them better. You will learn great things by practicing the same strategy when you surround yourself with this person.

4. People who live and work by their integrity.

Buffett once said that you should never hire someone without integrity, no matter how smart they are. He notes, "You're looking for three things, generally, in a person: intelligence, energy, and integrity. And if they don't have the last one, don't even bother with the first two." Choosing to be around people with integrity is key because they can be trusted; you never have to worry about their actions, or whether they're hiding anything from anyone. They follow through on their promises and commitments, deliver on their word, and set a good example for others to do the same. This is the kind of person you want to be around, multiplied by 10.

Published on: Nov 25, 2019
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