Picking winning teams and mentors is an important part of making career progress. Although we often find ourselves on teams our company or a committee has assigned us, there are several times in life when we get opportunities to pick our teams.
If we are the team leader, we get to pick the entire team from the available selections. If we are in a professional leadership or hiring role, we select people who will benefit the company, make the team more productive, and work well under our supervision.
We can pick our teams and our mentors in developing networks. In these cases we can pick the winners who will make our lives more fun, more interesting, and help us become smarter and more creative.
We can pick our mentors or perhaps gravitate toward our mentors, both at work and after work. Our mentors are not always our supervisor. We can pick who have more time in a company or who work in other departments.
Outside of work, we can pick friends who can mentor us in many ways.
I have friends and mentors who are doctors, attorneys, members of the clergy, engineers, bankers, contractors, state administrators, chemists, a judge, athletes, and others. I became friends with these people, because I enjoy their company. These people are interesting and intelligent people and teach me a lot of things within the scope of their profession and outside the scope of their profession.
I do not pick my friends to get professional advice. I pick them as people with whom I bond over common interests.
I have had occasions when my friends have provided me with professional services. I met them in their office for professional purposes. One friend wrote my will. Another wrote an employment contract. For these purposes, I paid these people and met them in their office.
One friend who is an anesthesiologist recommended that I see a skin specialist. Another friend became my primary care physician.
A friend who is a chemist calmed my fears about my liability over a fire that broke out in one of my offices. I was anxious about the damage to the building from the sprinkler system. He said that the fire department would very likely find the cause of the fire and that my business could not have caused that fire.
As it turned out, the fire investigators found that a janitor had thrown a cigarette into a waste paper basket and started the fire. The fire activated the ceiling sprinkler system which had immediately extinguished the fire before the evidence (the cigarette butt and the trash) had completely burned in the basket.
My friend is who a senior state administrator is terrific in negotiations and has helped me work through more than one difficult discussion with clients and other friends.
As you pick your friends around the office and after work, pick people who can help you grow as a professional and as a person. I have found that picking friends in this way has made my life more fun, more interesting, and has helped me through countless challenging situations.