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I don't think you are contradicting yourself, Bob. Surrounding yourself with people who get "it" (whatever your vision or end goal is) doesn't mean that they have can't have different perspectives and engage in some healthy conflict around the best way to achieve "it". Its often taking the best ideas from multiple ways in reaching the goal that lead us to the best results. Its a bit of a side step from your core post, but this ties in with Roger Martin's book "The Opposable Mind" which discusses taking two seemingly opposable ideas and combining them into an improved result. Still the same "it", just a different way of getting there.

Bob Sutton


You make a FANTASTIC point. Indeed, a lot of research on similarity and attraction shows that we human-beings are most attracted to those who are just like us. Perhaps the statement should be revised to something like:

“Life is too short to waste it with people who don’t get it, whatever “it” may be for you, so make sure you surround yourself with people who do -- but who make you squirm a bit because they are so different from you."

Indeed, my old book weird ideas that argued that, to promote creativity, you should "Hire people who make you uncomfortable --even people you don't like" so I am at risk of being inconsistent.


I agree wholeheartedly with the advice, and definitely try to practice it, but I want to add a warning of sorts. I think a critical component of a healthy network is diversity. When you surround yourself too much with people just like you, you can end up in a bubble. So we have to be careful how we define the behavior, attitudes, or approaches that we think are toxic. Sometimes some tolerance of those who are different is going to be better in the long run than excluding people that you quickly label as not "getting it."


Social networking has done wonders for me. Using technology of all sorts to stay involved with those lovely people I left behind when moving countries definitely kept up the momentum of positive influences in my life. I think, use whatever works for you, texts, Skype, email, Facebook, LinkedIn... Just keep in touch and don't let the important people, who you've worked hard to create connections with, slip away.


Definitely good for building a good working group/social network. Life is too short to work & play with crabby/negative people. However, I think it's important to make sure the definition of "people who get it" isn't based on agreeing with you, otherwise you might surround yourself with yes-men/women who don't challenge you.


How do you do it if the negative energy is coming from your sister and you HAVE to work with her on family issues? I'm getting the life sucked out of me!


From my young times I remember I was surrounded with smart and intelligent people and I kept trying to stand out from the crowd. But it was a really hard thing to do though I learnt many things from them. Growing older I`m having trouble with such people. I`m trying to keep the balance hardly. And this is the main part of my project management


As a hobby, I practice a martial art called Brazilian Jiujitsu. We have a saying around our gym: you're the average of the five people you train with most. More and more I find it applies not just in the development of your technical skills, but your overall development as a person. This post is another great example.

Perhaps it's really "You're the average of the five people you work with most"?


The really good ones are rare, once you find them you have to work at keeping them. Learn to say sorry, face up to the inevitable disagreements and resolve them and, most important, make an effort to stay in touch!

Anthony Demangone (The old guy)

For me, it is being patient. You have to slowly make good decisions in this area, one friend at a time, one hire at a time, etc. I'm hoping that at some point, it will all create some sort of critical mass.

But the post is dead-on. Stockpile smart "do-gooders," as I like to say. Folks that strive to leave their job, neighborhood, etc., better than when they found it. Do that, and success is a tad bit easier.

I'm glad I found your blog today!


Robert, you have touched on here, what I believe is one of the core fundamental truths of creating a successful life: "You become what you focus on and similar to the people you surround yourself with." Whatever you fill your mind with and whoever you spend your time with - will directly determine what your life will look like a decade from now... period! I make this a part of my life by hosting a MasterMind Group at my home once a month. 16 or so of the most successful, kind, honest and generous CEOs in the city where I live -- we get together -- withy out wives -- and spend several hours discussing important topics and helping each other - it is truly wonderful and life-changing. I also surround myself with the smartest people in the world through books and on-line courses/videos (like TED Talks) - so I am constantly surrounded by great information and amazing people - and it has made ALL the difference in my life!


This resonates with me. As I try to make some important changes in my life, it's been revealing to see who my true cheerleaders are, and I'm amazed by the energy generated when they respond to my efforts.

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