Being in a crowd where you don’t know anyone despite having the same interest as everybody in that group is uncomfortable and awkward. But being there, not knowing what to do, being surrounded by people who are better than you and who know more about that thing you’re just starting to learn also can be reason enough to get better at it fast. In this episode, host John Laurito talks about how being surrounded by the right people helps you get the results you want because it motivates you to do better and reach the goals you have set for yourself.
[6:36] What setting a goal with a purpose does for you
[9:09] Are you surrounding yourself with people that are better than you?
[10:35] Today’s takeaway
John Over the last two decades, I’ve been on a quest to learn everything I can about leadership obsessed with what makes the best leaders so good after running companies small and large for the last 20 years. Today I speak on stages all across the world to audiences who are interested in that same question. My name’s John Laurito and I’m your host. I invite you to join me on this journey as we explore this topic. What makes the best leader so good? Welcome to tomorrow’s leader!
John All right, welcome to today’s episode of Tomorrow’s Leader, where we dove deep on all things leader related to leading yourself and leading others. I’m John Laurito, your host. So I had one of my faithful listeners give me some feedback and said, You know, I like the fact one of the things I love most about your podcast, which that’s a great way to start a conversation, is how short they are. They’re great, like five minutes, six minutes. I’m like, Get things. I think that’s a compliment. Now, in all reality, I take it as a compliment. And that is by design.
John Most of these, as you know, are short. The simple reason is my attention span is not very long. I don’t have the ability to create these long podcasts because I don’t have the attention span to do it. Now I’m not non-reality, I do a lot of keynotes that are an hour, hour, and a half. But these are simple ideas. It’s not a big, huge theme around that would take an hour. These are quick hits. This is an ideal strategy, something that I learned from somebody else, something that’s helped, somebody. So that’s the purpose of these podcasts is to give you a little bit of a dip into leadership for the day, give you some kind of positive influence that’s going to help you become a better leader for yourself and other people.
John And sometimes five minutes is all takes, and I don’t know about you, but I love the fact that putting something on my to-do list, maybe it’s my daily routine and part of that is listening to a podcast, you know? Yeah, I can listen to Joe Rogan’s three-hour podcast or John Laredo’s five or 10-minute podcast by you. But I love to cross off that to do in five or ten minutes for three hours. So in any event, let me share a really cool story with yourself.
John There was a guy in 2015 in the Boston Marathon. I don’t think I’ve shared this before on this podcast. If so, it was maybe part of a long episode left so long ago, but I want it tied into a concept. There’s a guy in 2015 in the Boston Marathon that was leading the marathon, now the Boston Marathon. For those of you who don’t run or don’t know, marathons is one of, if not the most elite marathons in the world. I mean, it is incredibly competitive. People literally come from all over the world to race in the Boston Marathon. I’ve never done a marathon, I’ve done a half marathon, and almost killed me. But I have all the respect. Not bad.
John So I have all the respect in the world for people who do a marathon, let alone actually run it in a decent time. I mean, that to me is just that’s, you know, that’s from a different planet. But in any event, this one individual at the Boston Marathon in 2015 was leading the marathon at the one-mile mark, and nobody knew who he was. Literally, I mean, nobody did. Even the commentators covering the marathon, none of the commentators had any. And now they were. They knew, you know, pretty much everybody. But they didn’t know this one guy who was leading the marathon the most elite marathon in the world. They were leading it.
John This person was leading at the one-mile mark. They knew everybody behind him, including the ultimate winner of the marathon that year. The people behind this individual were truly the best runners in the world. I mean, truly in the world. But they did not know this guy who was leading the marathon at the one-mile mark now. This was actually part of this guy’s plan. His name is Derek York and Derek, back in 2015, had the idea and the plan that he thought it would be really cool to be leading the Boston Marathon at the one-mile mark. His two kids, he thought, would get a kick out of seeing dad on TV leading the Boston Marathon at the one-mile mark.
John What a cool goal. And he did it. That’s the beauty of this thing. He did it. He did something that was unbelievably hard. And again, nobody knew who he was. So he kind of just came out of nowhere and he got, you know, kind of this level of fame because of this thing that he did. Now he comes from Texas. So part of it was kind of he one of his trainers and friends back at home in Texas to see him and get a kick out of it. But he did this for his two kids. Like we wanted them to see dad running the marathon, leading the marathon on TV at the one-mile mark.
John So he set that out as his singular, focused goal now. Derrick is and was a very, very talented runner, an elite runner. I mean, in order to have a chance to do that number one, you’ve got to be in that first wave, the first heat of runners and you have to qualify to do that. So this guy is an elite runner. But he also at the same point, even though he qualified to be, you know, in that early wave, he was not at the level of being able to lead the Boston Marathon at the one-mile mark. He actually did it in. I think it was four minutes and 36 seconds was his one-mile pace or his one-mile time. Now think about that, four minutes, four minutes, 30 seconds right around that for a one-mile pace in a marathon. This is not a one-mile run. This is a marathon.
John He did go on to finish the other 25 miles after that and came in with a great time under three hours. So but here’s the interesting thing they asked them afterward. They’re like, what was it like to run? To do that for the one-mile mark? I mean, to lead the Boston Marathon, do something that’s just so unbelievably difficult, he said. You know what? What was fascinating and interesting and kind of surreal about the whole thing is I’m shoulder to shoulder with the best runners in the world. I mean, truly the most gifted, talented, most elite runners on the entire planet.
John And I am shoulder to shoulder with them, running stride by stride with them. And the difference was I was exerting 100 percent. I mean, what I say, every ounce of effort was focused on. I just left. I had nothing after that. I truly put it all out there for that first mile. And they were running that four-minute, 30-second pace and it was like this casual Sunday jog. He said that was the difference. I mean, literally, they were just, you know, grooving almost like just having a nice casual run. And he was just sprinting all out, given 100 percent. So it’s really cool.
John A couple of takeaways from this one is, you know, just the fact of setting a goal that has that much purpose behind it and meaning behind it. It motivates you to do things that you would never otherwise have done. So had it not been for his desire for his kids to see on TV. He had something unbelievably important. His wife behind that was unbelievably important. But what was also cool, you know, he just talked about that experience of being surrounded by the best of the best. And as uncomfortable as that was physically because it pushed him, think about it. Had he been around high school or college runners, he would never have run four minutes, 30 seconds.
John He might have run five minutes or five minutes and 30 seconds, but he would never have. He would never have run that pace because he wouldn’t have needed to run that pace. So part of what it takes to see a succeed and excel at such a high level is you have to put yourself in the right environment. You have to put yourself and surround yourself with other people that are the best of the best. Now it’s uncomfortable, and the very reason that it’s uncomfortable is a reason we don’t do it. So if I want to get great at something, our natural ego is, our natural tendency is we want to make ourselves feel good about stuff. We tend to give ourselves a pass on the bad habits that we have. We tend to overemphasize good habits.
John We have our good characteristics or bad characteristics. We genuinely try to kind of make ourselves typically feel better, including not making ourselves uncomfortable, not damaging our ego, not bruising our confidence. It’s ultimately us trying to kind of create the right environment where we just feel the most comfortable. So when we put ourselves in an environment like that with people that are significantly better than us, like significantly better, even a little bit better than us, it’s uncomfortable, right? It’s a little bit of a hit to the ego. It’s a little bit of a hit of confidence. It’s a little bit of a self-check of geeze, I’m not that good, but it pushes us to do the things that we wouldn’t have done otherwise and ultimately pushes us to levels that we would never have gone to otherwise.
John So what’s really fascinating about this story is there’s just a great example of how when you do push yourself and if you’re capable of pushing yourself and throwing yourself into an environment that’s uncomfortable because these are people that are so much better than you. The result is you will do better, you will grow faster, you will perform at a higher level than you would have otherwise. No doubt about it. So the trade-off is, are you willing to be a little bit uncomfortable for the net result of the pleasure of performing at such a high level? So if you’re a leader? Are you surrounding yourself with leaders and whether it’s a mastermind group or you’re getting coached or developed by a leadership expert, whatever the case maybe?
John Are you surrounding yourself with people that are better than you and in some cases, significantly better than you? If you’re not, you’re losing on some of the growth, the accelerated growth that you can get by doing that. Yes, it’s uncomfortable because what it does is focus. And Dan Sullivan, strategic coach talks about the concept of the gap, which is where we are now versus where we want to be. Well, if I’m surrounding myself with people that are that much better than me, then that gap is so evident. I see it now. Dan Sullivan talks about the importance of focusing on the progress that you’ve made, not just the gap between you and perfection. Well, when you’re in that circle, it’s tough because it’s staring you right in the face, right? Running shoulder to shoulder with the best runners in the world, they’re barely exerting themselves, and I’m 100 percent putting effort just to keep up with them.
John That’s frustrating. Why is it so easy for them? Why do they have these just perfect mechanics that just, I don’t get it? It’s just frustrating. But the net result is Derek York did the Boston Marathon in four minutes and 36 seconds in the first mile? Unbelievable. So my message today is, do whatever you have to do to pull those people into your circle or throw yourself in the middle of their circle? If you’re an aspiring leader, reach out. Grab somebody mentor with somebody. Some of the best leaders are willing to do it for free. Some of them will take you under their wing and they’ll develop you because there’s nobody that asks them to do that for this very reason because it’s uncomfortable.
John So take that step today. Reach out to just one person who you admire, who you want to emulate, who’s better than you, and pull them into your circle. Just start by saying, Hey, listen, can I buy a cup of coffee? I just want to pick your brain. Can I have a conversation with you over the phone? I just want to pick your brain. I just want to learn a little bit from you. I can almost guarantee you they will say yes. Trust me on them. OK, wow. I get fired up about this. It’s it’s true. It’s valuable. And if you take that action and do that, I promise you you will get great results. So share with me. Tell me what you did, who you reached out to and who you pulled into your circle, and how it helped you.
John So I hope this was valuable. Yeah, a little over five minutes, whatever. But I think it was worth the extra time. Make sure you go in like, subscribe, share all that kind of good stuff going on below. Give a five-star review. Thank you for tuning in today and we will see you next time. Take care. Bye.
John Thanks for joining us on today’s episode of Tomorrow’s Leader for suggestions or inquiries about having me at your next event or personal coaching, reach me at John@johnlaurito.com. Thanks, lead on!