Iron Sharpens Iron

"It's normal for your circle to decrease in size, but make sure it increases in value." Jay Shetty

Confession time...I don’t have a lot of friends.  Don't get me wrong, I'm acquainted with plenty of people but the number of people I choose to spend my time with is small.  Why?  Well, as I've gotten older I've come to value my time more and desire to spend time with people who inspire me, challenge me, fuel me and ultimately make me want to be a better person.  

This includes all aspects of my life: professional, personal and spiritual.  I believe that just because I'm getting older (46 years young) I haven't been given permission to put my life on cruise control.  In fact, I believe it's the exact opposite.  I've been given this one precious life and I want to make the most of it.  For me, that means challenging myself to learn new things, grow professionally, and expand my field of vision regarding what my life can look like.  I can't do any of this without the right "tribe" to support me. It requires the people in my life to be honest - sometimes brutally honest.

Will your tribe look like my tribe?  Of course not.  In fact you should expect it to change as you go through different seasons of your life.  For example, when I had my first baby and had no clue what I was doing, I decided to take classes at the local Early Family Learning Center.  And boy, I’m glad I did. I was surrounded by people who were walking down a similar, uncomfortable path and we found strength in numbers.  Our group was lead by a wonderful woman with years of experience and knowledge who lovingly guided and encouraged all of us.  

Likewise, when we decided to launch Hands & Feet we knew we would need to surround ourselves with people who 1) believed in what we’re doing and, 2) who had experience in the areas we didn’t: purchasing apparel, graphic design, web design, photography, pricing apparel, etc.  Working with experts in these various areas has allowed us to grow our knowledge base and to sharpen our skills immensely.

“The goal is not to fix your weaknesses.  The goal is amplify your strengths and to surround yourself with the people who can do what you can’t do.”  Simon Sinek

“You are only going to be as good as the people you surround yourself with.  Choose wisely.” – Unknown

I love this quote.  It’s simple, instructive, and incredibly challenging.  There is a sharpness to it that grabs my attention as I start doing the math regarding who I’m spending my time with.  In today’s ‘swipe right/left’ world, I find myself doing a similar exercise while questioning how and why I’ve lost my handle around this.

Quick question: Can you name 5 people in your life that speak candidly to you?  How about 3? One? I often get asked variations of the question “What has been most helpful to you in your life, career, etc.?”  Each time my answer is the same: the people I’ve chosen to spend the most time with.

The single most impactful step I’ve taken in my life/career has been to create what a dear friend of mine aptly named “Team Eric”.  Each of them know they’re on the team, and they also know how much I love and appreciate each one of them. They are the most frank, sincere, thoughtful, encouraging people I know.  They are also the most brutally honest people I know.  As I think back on the most impactful experiences in my life, I can name the members of “Team Eric” that helped me navigate each one of them.

The five types of people you should surround yourself with: the inspired, the passionate, the motivated, the grateful and the open-minded.  – Steve Maraboli

We started Hands & Feet with literally no experience in the apparel business – none.  As we approach the end of our first year since launching Hands & Feet, we can’t help but feel consumed by a sense of gratitude for all of the people that we’ve had the opportunity to surround ourselves with over the past 11 months.  We’ve been challenged, inspired, educated, pushed to dream bigger, told ‘No’, had several ‘duh’ moments, and celebrated more wins than we could have ever imagined a year ago. Each of these experiences has sharpened us, preparing us for the next challenge or opportunity that is undoubtedly racing towards us as we write this.

Proverbs 27:17 says ‘As iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens another’.  Who is sharpening you?