There is a saying that you are the sum of the five people you spend the most time with. To me, this makes sense. Look at the five people who you spend the most time with. Most likely they are people who closely mirror you in many ways. They may be the same in regards to education, financial status, career success, political outlooks, religious views, etc. This can be considered an “echo chamber”.
An echo chamber is defined as, “is a metaphorical description of a situation in which information, ideas, or beliefs are amplified or reinforced by communication and repetition inside a defined system”. Do not live in an echo chamber. This is a phrase I heard on a podcast and it makes total sense. If you grew up in a certain geographical area, received your education in the same area, and then went on to work in the that area with other people who are from there it is very easy to find yourself in one of these echo chambers. When you are constantly surrounded with people who have a lot of the same experiences and viewpoints as you, you may be less likely to be open to other perspectives or thought processes. I believe it is very important to search outside of what you are used to and comfortable with to grow as a person.
It is hard to surround myself with new individuals or with people who have achieved certain goals I am working towards with my traveling job. While I love and respect my friends, family, and coworkers I am always striving to learn new things. I feel that there is no substitute for person to person interaction, but I have found other ways to connect with others and be exposed to new information. In this article I want to discuss two different ways you can obtain new information that may lead you to view things differently and open your mind to different perspectives.
I have recently started listening to podcasts about a year ago and I am obsessed. If you are not familiar with podcasts they are basically just audio files that are available on a smart phone, mp3 player, or online. They are usually run like a talk show where someone is sharing their own thoughts or interviewing another person, however they can vary greatly. Many people today have an iPhone.
On your home screen, usually on the screen of icons all the way to the left, there is a purple icon that says Podcasts. If you click on this icon you can search through hundreds and hundreds of thousands of podcasts with endless amounts of information on each one. You can literally learn about anything you want to while driving in your car or while you are running on the treadmill. And it is FREE.
There are podcasts on every topic imaginable. Some of my favorites are the Bigger Pockets podcast(real estate investing), Smart Passive Income podcast (building businesses that produce extra income), The Joe Rogan Experience (talk show / comedy), The Tim Ferriss Show (interviews of successful people/leaders), and Coffee Break Spanish (Spanish lessons). There are also podcasts focused on the field of safety itself, but I have not explored many of them. (Recent edit: Check out the Safety Pro Podcast!)
While I do not use podcasts to learn new information about work directly, so many things I learn through these podcasts teach me how to be more efficient in my position as well as in life. There are still words I have heard on a podcast that resonate with me and have shifted my entire perspective about something in life. Also, many of the opportunities and business models individuals discuss on these podcasts have brought so many ideas for opportunities for the skills I have. I really cannot stress how useful and productive podcasts can be. Even if you only listened to a podcast for learning Spanish for one hour per week for a year, that equates to 52 hours of free Spanish education you received! That is more time worth of material than one college semester.
Find and Have Mentors
Mentors play an important role for those who aspire to continually grow in whatever areas of life they are interested in. You can have more than one mentor, and each mentor could be for a completely different interest in your life. Mentors can come in many different forms. They do not have to be someone who you go out to lunch with every week and dive into deep discussions about life or your career field, but they could be. A mentor can be someone who you are just able to shoot an email to and ask a question. I have a couple different mentors in my life for different interests, but all of them are more passive than active relationships.
One mentor, actually mentors, is a couple that I worked for in college. They are real estate investors and I really look up to the success they have had in real estate investing in Pittsburgh. Any time I have a question about real estate I can call them up and get some guidance. They are very generous with their time and knowledge with me.
Another mentor I have is someone in my company who originally I did not get along with, but now we are good friends. Although we do not see eye to eye on many things and have a different style on how to go about our jobs, I feel that I can trust asking him just about anything in regards to our job or the field of safety in general. He is a good example of a mentor that you probably already have access to in your company right now. It is good to build trust with someone who has been in the field longer than you so you have a person you can approach with any questions or tough situations.
Recently, I have been reaching out to others who I consider entrepreneurs in the fields related to health and safety. I have always had a passion for business building and entrepreneurship, but not many people in my immediate circle have gone down that path. As I continue to build this website I also want to begin to build some of my other ideas relating to the field of safety. Reaching out to individuals who have took the leap from employee to business owner in the EHS field is a great way for me to stimulate my thought process on what path I may take towards building my own brand or business. You should do the same for what interests you.
There are many ways to go about finding mentors, but many times you will happen upon them organically like my real estate mentors or the individual in my company. Sometimes you may have to do a more active search for one like I am doing now. Communicate your interests to those around you to see if someone is already on the path you want to learn more about or if they have a connection that is someone who is doing what you want to do. Reach out on LinkedIn to individuals who you see have accomplished things you want to accomplish. You will be surprised how many people are willing to take the time out of their day to have a discussion with you.
We live in an amazing time. We can access endless amounts of education, information, statistics, etc. with a few clicks of a mouse. We have access to virtually every human being in the developed world thanks to phones, email, Skype, and social media. I really feel that if you are not using this access to information and people to get yourself to a higher level in your career or just a higher level of understanding of the world around you are impeding your ability to reach your full potential. Do not just come home from work every day and settle for “relaxing” on the couch. Learn in your free time outside of work to continually grow. What you learn today may change your life in ten years dramatically for the better.