I’m standing on stage at John B’s in Arlington, singing my favorite Sublime song (“Santeria”) in front of a room of strangers, aside from the three people I came with.  You guessed it, it was karaoke!  And the three people I came with were my client, his wife, and my date.  We were celebrating my client’s birthday, and having an amazing night together.

There are some cool things about my relationship with this particular client.  He relies on me and my company to deliver a critical service to his company, developing his leaders.  But it’ s more than just business.  We have a tremendous about of mutual respect.  We seek advice from each other on business issues.  We collaborate as peers.  And even beyond that, we’re friends.  We go out to dinners together, share special personal occasions and news, and even run half-marathons together.

Jim Rohn said, “you are the average of the five people you spend the most time with.”

Amy Morin, psychotherapist, says that we are likely to start acting like acting like the people we surround ourselves with. How many business or personal friendships do we have with people that drag us down?  It might be out of pity, sentimentality, or even blood relation!  It stifles our ability to reach our highest potential.

If we want to grow as leaders, we need to surround ourselves by other leaders that we admire, and focus on developing those relationships at a deeper level.  It’s only at those deep levels, where we reach a point of vulnerability, that we can start talking about things that really matter, and that will allow us to “sharpen each others’ axes.”  It’s only at those levels that we can challenge each other to reach our highest potential.

Download Dale Carnegie’s latest white paper on “Recognizing Leadership Blind Spots.”

Posted by Ryan M. Akins

Investor, Entrepreneur, Listener and Learner. Ryan currently serves as Regional President of Dale Carnegie for the North Texas region. He graduated from The Dale Carnegie Course in 2011.

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