Nov 4, 2013
Girl Talk // Surround Yourself with People Who are Better than You
I know it's been a little while since my last Girl Talk installment, but October was a little busy. And frankly, November is shaping up to be even busier.
But I've been thinking about this one for a little while, and I think it's an important one. So listen up. Please. Thanks.
This past month, I officially accepted a job on the Creative Planning team at our church. Long story short, I was doing an internship of sorts with our Director of Service Planning and then something opened up and they liked me and I liked them and now we're all happy.
And for the first time in a while, I'm feeling really challenged. And learning a lot. And I think part of the reason that's true is because I'm surrounded by people who are so much better than me at what they do.
AJ's mom and I had a conversation the other day about being secure as a leader. We were talking about how it's really easy to feel threatened by other people (in the case of our conversation, volunteers) who are better than you at specific things. And when you feel threatened, you tend to distance yourself from those who are better than you.
See, it's a lot easier to feel good about yourself when you're the best at x, y, & z. But that's not how you grow.
I once heard Andy Stanley talk about this sort of thing. He once said "It is a fallacy that great leaders are great at everything." Great leaders are great when they surround themselves with people who can do things better than they can.
This isn't good advice for just leaders, though I fully believe that we're all leaders in some capacity. It's true for anyone, because surrounding yourself with people who are better than you helps you to grow.
We've all been given different gifts, and let's face it, you'll probably never be the best at everything. Part of life is learning to celebrate the strengths of others and giving them space and opportunity to exercise and develop their gifting.
When I was in college, I did a program called the Elijah Project, where a cohort of about 14 people spent a year studying work and vocation, exploring our strengths, and doing life together. What I learned that year was invaluable. I went from being someone who felt threatened by those with similar interests and gifts, to someone who was learning to celebrate the gifting that other people have.
As I've developed as a photographer and started to kind of chase that dream a little more in the past few years, there have been so many times when I've felt intimidated and less-than, just by looking at another artist's images. It took some time, but eventually I just stopped looking at other photographers as competition, and started looking at them as inspiration and fuel to become a better photographer myself.
Our culture can be cut-throat. TV and movies teach us to put distance between us and those who threaten us and our rise to the top. But I think there's so much more to life than being at the top. There's nothing wrong with wanting to be the best, but in my opinion, surrounding yourself with people who are better than you leads to a spirit of humility, deeper relationships, and growth.