I met my running buddies at 5:45 this morning. We banged out five and a half miles at a nine to ten minutes per mile pace. Believe it or not, Barbara had already done five miles before the rest of the group even showed up, Daniel ran seven more miles after we finished, and Jeff changed his shoes and hopped on his bike for a quick 40-mile spin. Imagine running five plus miles at 5:45 am and still feeling like a slacker.
Tomorrow I’m going to my Strategic Forum meeting. Members include the former CEO of Continental Airlines, the founder of Mortgage.com, the former CEO of Lady of America Fitness and Blockbuster, the CEO of the PR firm of the year, and at least 30 more august and accomplished people. I run a successful business, but it’s still kind of tough to measure up in that group.
Saturday is band practice. Our trumpet player was just accepted for his Masters at the world-renowned University of Miami jazz program. Our saxophonist travels to Paris and the Caribbean playing to standing room only crowds. Our keyboard player is actually a virtuoso guitarist but plays piano in the band because our lead guitar player is even better. And our drummer is probably the best musician I’ve ever gotten to play with. He could tour with any band in the country if he chose to. Sure I’m a decent harmonica player and front guy, but compared to all of them, I’m the hacker.
Last week I went to the National Speakers Association annual meeting where I hung out with my speaking buddies. Joachim is a best-selling author in the Far East, where he’s sold almost five million books in China and Korea. Randy travels around the world and speaks to sellout crowds in Russia, Romania, and Raleigh. Rick runs a two person E-commerce company that sells six figures worth of e-books and online lessons while he sleeps. True, I’ve published a few books and I do get to travel around the world talking about branding and innovation, but I’m not in their league.
My grandma Mollie used to say, “never compare” and I think that’s good advice. Thank goodness I don’t evaluate the person I am by the people they are; I’ve learned to be happy in my own skin. But the truth is, I’m better at the things I do because my friends are even better at what they do.
I run faster and farther because I run with Tim and David and Vilma and the rest of my fleet-footed buddies. Sure my legs and lungs hurt, and sure I want to stop, but because they keep going, I do too.
The men and women in The Strategic Forum make me a better businessperson because I can listen to their stories and benefit from their advice. And because they’ve done it, their accomplishments remind me that I can do it too.
When Greg finishes his trombone solo or Rich completes his trumpet solo and it’s my turn, I play better because their playing picks me up and inspires me to try things I’ve never played before. And because I have Allen and Karl’s crack rhythm section backing me up, I feel free to take my solos to places they’ve never been before.
Joachim, Randy, Rick and my other über-prolific speaking friends aren’t just successful, they’re also generous. They freely share their ideas, inspiration, and Internet infrastructures and help me make my programs bigger and stronger, richer and more robust.
My wife has a wonderful saying, “Dime quienes son tus amigos y te diré quien eres,” which translates to, “Tell me who your friends are and I’ll tell you who you are.” Dr. Jose Guetheon taught me one of his favorite quotes, “Comparison is the enemy of contentment.” John Donne said, “No man is an island.” And of course, my grandma Mollie said, “Never compare.”
Good advice all. And thanks so much to all my good friends for proving it over and over again.