Strive to Improve Yourself, Not to Prove Yourself

Today, I’ll be discussing a topic in which I have plenty of first-hand experience. It’s usually not the smartest move to try and outshine everyone else in the room.

“If you’re the brightest person in the room, you’re in the wrong place.” This wise remark has been attributed to everyone from Lorne Michaels to Richard Branson, and it’s true. There are several advantages to associating yourself with people who are smarter than you.

It’s always beneficial to immerse oneself in new information and gain new insights. When you’re in the company of those who are smarter than you, it means that you’re okay with not knowing all the answers. At the same time, this allows others to impart their wisdom to you and close any gaps in your understanding.

Furthermore, high achievers always strive to come out on top, so if there’s someone smarter than you, their presence will only inspire you to perform better in order to shrink the knowledge gap between the two of you.

Humility is the most difficult of virtues to master; nothing dies harder than the human desire to obsess over oneself.

Being secure in yourself comes with the readiness to surround yourself with other people who are smarter than you. You’re not afraid of them overpowering you because you know your worth. This type of boldness allows for significant personal growth.

There may be nothing worse than having an exaggerated sense of your own competency, character or intelligence. Being egotistical and assuming that you’re smarter or wiser than everyone else is a surefire recipe for disaster.

The danger with this attitude is that you’re more likely to brush aside others’ ideas and pursue your own goals as a result of the false sense of confidence that comes with every inflated ego. Furthermore, individuals who believe they are smarter than others have a more difficult time delegating because they fear no one will do the job as well as them.

It’s human nature to want to overcompensate for our deficits and seem more experienced than we are if we feel out of our depth, but it’s better, in the long run, to remain integral.

We have two options to choose from in these situations.

OPTION #1 Try to prove that we’re knowledgable enough, smart enough, experienced enough, or educated enough to be there, even though we’re not sure if we are.

OPTION #2 Use the opportunity to connect with other knowledgable, smart and experienced people, learn, ask questions, and contribute in a genuine and valuable way.

These two options will each generate two very different sets of outcomes. If you pick Option #1, you’ll probably discover that others in the group will take pleasure in knocking you down a notch or two below your actual level of knowledge, expertise, or intellect. “What kills a skunk is the publicity it gives itself.” – Abraham Lincoln.

If you pick Option #2 on the other hand, the group will likely enjoy assisting you in gaining the knowledge, skills, and experience necessary to feel at ease there. Humility leads to strength and is among the highest forms of self-respect.

So, here’s the principle. If you show up to make yourself look great or to compete with other people, no one will be interested in you. When your aim is to constantly improve yourself and contribute whatever you can to a group, you’ll turn into a ‘help magnet’.

Qu) What approach do you tend to take when interacting as part of a group?

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