You can’t break the ceiling by staying in the room

Few years back, I heard a quote which made me rethink about personal growth.

You are the average of the 5 people you hangout with.

It basically means, if all your friends, colleagues, etc., are all just like you, you will always be at the same level. If they are all earning the same amount of money, having similar ideas, read the same books, etc., you will be stuck there. And by staying at the same level, you are only losing out on all the opportunities in life.

Unless you hangout with someone above your level, you won’t know how life up there is like. Unless you have spent time with a millionaire, you won’t know what their life is like. If you are already a millionaire, spend time with other billionaires.

Get out of your Comfort Zone

If you are the smartest/funniest/wealthiest/brightest/best-in-whatever-you-do person in the room, then you are in the wrong room. You won’t be learning a lot from the other people in that room. And you are going to be constantly feel bored and frustrated.

Yes, each person is different and you can learn something from them, but it would just be marginal improvements. If you need to get 2x, 3x or even 10x growth, you have to get out of your comfort zone and reach out to the next level.

During the initial years of my career, I was just another average programmer in a startup. I did learn a lot from others, but after couple of years, I realised that I was getting bored and started looking for the next thing to do in my life.

After sometime, I got an opportunity to start my own startup and got to travel to Chile. The entire experience of starting up a company on your own and travelling to a completely different country taught me more than what I could have learned if I had stayed in the same company for 10 more years.

Interacting with other founders and people in that part of the world, made sure that my average growth rate increased by a few multiples. All of that happened because I stepped out of my comfort zone and took the risk.

Every stage of my career, I made sure that once I felt I was hitting the glass ceiling, instead of trying to break through that ceiling, I stepped out of the room and moved into a different room.

You can’t beat competition by doing what they are doing

Similarly, if you run a startup and you keep tracking what your competition is doing and try to do the same things that they do, you can never beat them. If your current revenue is a million dollar per year and your strategy is about how to beat other million dollar companies, you can never win.

Instead step out and see what the 10 or 100 Million dollar companies do. Look at their strategies and see how you can apply the same to your company. Learn from their mistakes and wins. Consider those bigger companies as your competition.

Soon, you will be amongst a new group. You would have reached new heights without having to break any ceilings. Sometimes the best move is to step out and use the ceiling as your floor for the next stage.


Originally published at Srinivasan Rangarajan.

Srinivasan Rangarajan

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