The leadership adage goes that A people hire B people and B people hire C people and so on and so forth. Pretty soon that leads to certain disappointment and then we find ourselves wondering what happen? How did the ship lose its rudder? How did we fail to achieve all that we are dreaming about? Why is our organization less than we had hoped it would be?
When we lived in Canada many many years ago, we attended a church that was really incredible. Yet the lead pastor was an underwhelming small-minded, uninspiring, less than ideal pastor and leader in almost every respect - except one. He hired A level people. He surrounded himself with people that were better in every way than himself. He truly sought out and retained the best in the business! That takes either brilliance or an amazing level of self-confidence. I still haven't figured out which one of those Wayne possessed, but I learned an important lesson and it is one I have honed all my life and I continue to sharpen and employ across the board.
I surround myself with the best people. I systematically eliminate whiners and low-potential people from my work and from my social networks. It sounds cold to some of you. It sounds exciting to some of you. Hahaha! The reality is that it is incredibly challenging and overwhelmingly difficult to intentionally choose to be the slowest person in the room. Read that sentence again, because it is truly true. It demands a humility that runs so deep, a self-awareness that is brutally painful and teachable at the same time. A refusal to think for a moment that I am on the same level as these folks. Most folks I meet and know, could not stand the heat in this particular kitchen, and so they don't. Instead they surround themselves with less. Less than they are so that they can shine. Less than they are so that they can be in the spotlight. Less than they are in order to have power and control and so many other things.
But they lose in that process. They lose the opportunity to learn. They lose the opportunity to improve. They lose the chance to grow. They lose chance to impact the next generation of leaders. And most of all, they lose the certainty of becoming much more than they are today.