Taking Advantage of Opportunity
Everywhere we stand is replete with opportunity. Every situation we engage in offers a chance to learn more about ourselves and the world in which we work. Every conversation, every observation can bring us a chance for improving.
Great learners pay attention to the usual situations not just the rare ones. We watch what makes our ordinary world work as well as the extraordinary. We see what attracts people to us, what the like-minded and the like-hearted people find of value in us. We also can learn a few things about what might work against us.
Two Things You Can Learn from Spending Time with Like-Minded People
BigStock: Friends in Line
One thing about social networking is the self-sorting way that it brings us to be in groups of like-minded and like-hearted people — people all looking and thinking in the same direction. Some folks call it the “fish bowl.” People often discuss the downside of staying in a group that shares the same disposition and thinking, the same biases and similar expertise. Among other things, if we’re not careful it can become safe and comfortable. Being in a group of like-minded people can narrow our vision and curb our opportunities to learn about the world and ourselves. Yet it can provide its own insights if we look.
It’s hard to get more like-minded than someone who shares your DNA.
I’ve been thinking about what I’ve learned by spending time with my son.
I’ve learned at least two things.
- What people value in you. When my son was about 16, I considered a particularly positive interaction we had. It got me to thinking. My thoughts went to the reasons I liked him as a person — his intelligence, his quick wit, his positive, sweet way of considering other people. I had the thought It’s easy to see why people like him. Then I realized that we had those traits in common, that those traits we value are ones he valued too. It was then I knew that I could learn a lot about what people value in me and what I value by looking at what I value in like-minded people I attract.
- How people invest in you. Now my son is about 26. And recently we had a significant block of time to work together on a project. I saw how tenacious he can be about solving a problem, how other people’s answers don’t work for him, and how much I reinvested in each conversation in an effort help reach a conclusion. It got me to thinking. My thoughts went to the reasons that I find him intense — his singular focus, his search for rightness and truth, his unwillingness to wear a suit of clothes that doesn’t fit. I had the thought It’s easy to see why people might find him exhausting. Then I realized that we had those traits in common too, that those traits we might find exhausting are ones he might find exhausting too.
If you want to know who you are look at your friends — those like-minded, like-hearted people you spend your time with. See what you value in them. See what you invest to help them. Pay attention this week to the people you choose to work with. You’ll learn a lot about you.