Learning from Others

Today’s original post was about iOS7. I was going to tell you how cool it is and how the security features will be really nice for lawyers. But then I stumbled on a flipbook full of quotes from eighteen business leaders. The quotes are more like small nuggets of advice. I found myself jotting down one quote after another to put on my desktop or pin to my wall. I also started to notice a trend in the things these people had said. They seemed to all be repeating the same things, especially when it came to relationships, success, and failure.

On Relationships

It’s been said that you can judge a person by who she associates with. And we all do it, don’t we? But the theme I found emerging from these quotes is the importance of making sure the people around you are better than you are. Some have said it literally. Like Warren Buffett, who said:

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.

This holds true both professionally and personally. We emulate and draw inspiration from those around us. If we surround ourselves with better people, then we have a chance of becoming better. Of course, your definition of “better” will dictate who you surround yourself with.

To Michael Dell, the founder of Dell, Inc., the key is intelligence:

Try never to be the smartest person in the room. And if you are, I suggest you invite smarter peopleā€¦or find a different room. In professional circles it’s called networking. In organizations it’s called team building. And in life it’s called family, friends, and community. We are all gifts to each other, and my own growth as a leader has shown me again and again that the most rewarding experiences come from my relationships.

Luckily, both my partner and our new associate are smarter than me. This makes it very easy for me. But maybe you’re the smartest lawyer in your office. That means it’s time to go out and make some friends outside your office. Or start hanging out with non-lawyers.

To Oprah, the best people to surround yourself with are those who will be there for you through thick or thin. It’s easy to be the guy everyone wants to hang out with because of overwhelming success. When you’re successful, people want you to be their smarter person that they can be around. And sometimes they want you to be the person whose coat tails they can ride. But as Oprah explains, those aren’t the people you should keep around:

Lots of people want to ride with you in the limo, but what you want is someone who will take the bus with you when the limo breaks down.

On Success and Failure

We all know that success is fun. We like winning trials, getting the client, and making money. But that doesn’t happen every day. In fact, it may not happen very often at all. And interspersed between our moments of success are our moments of failure. According to Henry Ford, “failure is the only opportunity to begin again more intelligently.” But that’s tough to swallow. We are all afraid, to some extent, of failure.

But there is no need to be afraid of failure, as Dell explains:

Don’t be afraid to fail. Get out there and experiment and learn and fail and get a rate based on the experiences that you have. Go for it and when you go for it you’ll learn what you’re capable of, what the potential is, where the opportunities are, but you can’t be afraid to fail because that’s when you learn.

It’s something that everyone does at one time or another, yet we all try to avoid it. Failing is a part of living, according to J.K. Rowling:

It is impossible to live without failing at something, unless you live so cautiously that you might as well have not lived at all, in which case you have failed by default.

And Oprah agrees:

Do the one thing you think you cannot do. Fail at it. Try again. The only people who never tumble are those who never mount the high wire. This is your moment. Own it.

Sometimes it feels like we will never succeed. Like we will never get that big client, or never find that case we need, or never be able to do what we love. But that’s why we never give up. As Thomas Edison said:

Many of life’s failures are people who did not realize how close they were to success when they gave up.

If you want to look at the flipbook and all of the quotes for yourself, check out the article on Enterpreneur.com.

(image: Businessman with quote symbol via SHUTTERSTOCK)

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