I read a quote recently attributed to the great Henry Ford. He said something like this:
“You can take my factories, burn up my buildings, but give me my people and I will build my business right up again”
Clearly, people were important to the great inventor. Life is structured in such a way that we need each other. No one can make it in life alone. Everything around us is made possible by someone else. That being said, I need us to look at the types of people that we let into our lives, especially in this New Year going forward:
That is why it is very important for us to be intentional about the kind of people that we are involving in our lives. As a young man, I used to have a mentor who would challenge my life directly and powerfully. He would say things like,
“Lawrence, you are a child of God. Would you tell me why you can’t own an airline?”
Those days, my biggest desire and dream was to own a desktop computer. People with laptops those days were seen as so high up there…but I digress. Needless to say, when your dream is to own a laptop and you are challenged to own an airline, let alone an aeroplane, it messes up with your vision and thinking in a good way.
The long and short of it all is that people will be the greatest influence in your life this year and beyond. What we ought to do is to surround ourselves with the right kind of people. We have to be directly intentional about this.
The following are the 6 Types of People that you need in your life:
The best person to give you advice is someone who has what you are looking for. One of my biggest dreams is to build Life Signatures Universities across Africa. I know it sounds weird. In fact, when I formulated or downloaded this dream, I knew of no African who had done it. Before long, I was made aware of such names as Fred Swaniker. He is the founder of African Leadership Academy to develop 6,000 African leaders in the next 50 years!
Before long, I was made aware of another great Ghanaian called Patrick Awuah, founder of Asheshi University in Ghana. These guys would be great company. If I had these kinds of people in my life, you can be sure that our conversations would be on what matters greatly in our hearts—relevant Education for Africans. They already have the results that I see.
Now, as you can imagine, you will never have friends like these if you do not have something burning in your spirit in terms of aspiration. So let’s start there first.
A friend of mine is a former child soldier, abducted by the Lord’s Resistance Army in Northern Uganga. He says that he stayed alive because he had a dream not to die before he saw the capital city of Uganda: Kampala. He tried to escape and was shot in the process, and left to bleed to death. The Ugandan Army found and rescued him. Today, he is one of the most passionate individuals I ever met. He runs 15Kms three times each week, has a Sales Institute (the first of its kind in the country), and dreams of building a sky crapper. Every time I listen to this man, I get challenged. Those are the kinds of friends we need around our lives. Why? Their passion will have a direct influence on us and we shall most definitely grow.
You know, there are two types of people. There are those that you will sit down and have absolutely nothing to talk about. And then there are those who have a way of connecting with your soul and just draw great and deep things out of your mind and heart. Such friends are so very rare. In my life, I have only two of those. In the Bible, a good example is David and Prince Jonathan. They are called men “of like passions”. Such friendships are based on substance, impact, purpose and passion of making this world a better place. You know, deep calls to deep. If you are a deep person, it takes a deeper person to understand you and to draw great conversation out of you, challenging and inspiring you at the same time.
I will never forget hearing Bishop TD Jakes speak one day. He alluded to the fact that one day he looked around his board or maybe those around him: he found out that he was the smartest of them all. That is when he realized that he needed to fire them all. In a recent interview talking about his new book “Soar”, TD tells of how he has surrounded himself with many people who are better than himself. TD is not just a preacher, but an entrepreneur and author. Some of the people in his life include the past 3 or 4 presidents of the United States. If you surround yourself with someone who is better than you are, you will most definitely grow. Otherwise, you will rust to oblivion.
These are mentors who see greatness in you as well as your fears and your playing small. I have had quite a number. One time I remember bragging to a mentor how much I had earned in fees after a speaking engagement. They told me that was OK but it was such a low threshold for me to be excited about. Another time they asked me how much I quoted as my expected salary in an interview. When I told them the figure, they were disappointed by my little faith. They always saw greatness in me. Even when I messed up here and there, they would still challenge me. At times, they would give me great leadership opportunities that made me stretch and sweat bullets. I need more of these in my life.
Imagine having Steve Jobs with you as a buddy when the whole word had not embraced personal computers or smart phones. Look around you and see if there is one friend who is in your estimation, absolutely nuts in his daring. Such a one will keep your thinking challenged daily. On the contrary, it is a major burden to have an impossibility thinker within your ranks. They literally wear you down and keep you chained to your past. They stifle your thinking. I think you should fire them.
Friend, your own board should be made up of such people. If you look around at your own “boardroom”, what do you see? Do you see people who are always agreeing with what you are saying? ‘Yes Men?’ It is a great disservice to you if you have people around you that are looking up at you only. Flip the system.
The quality of your life is dependent upon the quality and depth of the people you choose to surround yourself with.