Synergy is one of the most important concepts in productivity and personal development. Synergy is generally considered to be two or more people working together to achieve more than they could alone. This is definitely true but there is another example of synergy which is often overlooked. When you surround yourself with experts in your area of interest you can learn from them. They, in turn can learn from you too. As you learn more together than you ever would apart, this is another example of synergy at work. The importance of the relationships you choose and the people you seek to spend time with is critical to your prospects in both work and life. One of my favourite quotes, which highlights the importance of synergy, comes from success guru Jim Rohn:
‘You are the average of the five people you spend most time with.’
While I agree with the principle of Jim’s quote, I would change it slightly. In life, you may end up spending a great deal of time with people through no choice of your own. For example, you may not be able to choose your colleagues and you certainly cannot choose your family. I think of Nelson Mandela who spentd almost 30 years in prison but during that time became a much better man. I also think of Viktor Frankl who despite spending time in a World War II concentration camp was able to adopt a different perspective than his fellow detainees; a perspective which enabled him to survive and create a new form of therapy – logotherapy. The example of these two great men demonstrates that being surrounded with negativity can only influence you if you choose to give your attention to it. Therefore, I would argue that it would be more accurate to say:
‘You are the average of the five people whom you choose to spend time with, and give your attention to.’
The principle behind Rohn’s quote is that if you want to be more successful, you should choose to spend more time with the people whom you wish to be more like. This is certainly true and it underpins the very principle of synergy. If you choose to spend more time, and focus more attention on, people who possess the knowledge, skills, attitude and beliefs that you desire, you will learn from them and grow to become the person you wish to be. It cannot be denied that the people we value most in life have a profound effect on the outcomes that we achieve. Improving the quality of your relationships will lead to greater synergy and greater results.
Where can you find greater synergy?
So, you want to achieve greater synergy and improve your outcomes by improving the quality of your relationships? Here are some suggestions for where you might find like minded people:
1. Professional associations
Most industries have at least one professional association. Many have more than one. I am a member of a number of associations and have attended a number of events, including training. They provide a great opportunity to meet like-minded people and learn from each other’s experiences. Even on the training courses, some of the greatest learning is achieved when participants share their stories. Skilled facilitators understand the importance of synergy and know how to encourage participants to interact in a way that benefits all.
In addition to the events and training, professional associations tend to be excellent at keeping you abreast of the latest information in your field.
2. Chambers of commerce
Professional associations tend to be spread over a large geographical area e.g. I am a member of the British Psychological Society despite living in Ireland (I studied for my masters in England). Chambers of commerce focus on more local interaction. Your fellow members will probably not be in the same business as you but they will have similar business experiences. You get to avail of the power of synergy by sharing experiences of the local market and of business itself.
3. Networking groups
Be aware that networking groups often focus solely on sales and you don’t get to learn a lot. Also, you may be obliged to recommend a fellow member of your networking group, even if you do not believe that they are good at what they do. I am not a member of a networking group and I generally ignore recommendations from people who are, but at the same time I must advise that there are some very good networking groups which are focused on building relationships. If you can find one of these groups, they can provide a great opportunity for synergy.
Whether you are looking to achieve more in business, community life or your own personal development; fantastic opportunities exist in the voluntary sector. In fact, the voluntary sector may well be the ultimate example of synergy i.e. many people pooling their limited resources to achieve amazing things.
You may wish to volunteer through an organisation which specialises in providing volunteering opportunities, or you may wish to approach your local community group, church, mosque, or temple. There are many experiences in life which money cannot buy but ironically, you can volunteer for many of them.
5. Online forums
No matter what your interests, there is likely to be an online forum which caters for your needs. Just do a Google search. I used to think that forums were just talking shops until my good friend, Jamie, convinced me otherwise. Over the past year, I have found that forums have been able to provide answers to many of the problems that I have faced as I took my business online.
Having previously known nothing about online business, I have learned to the point that I am able to enter into mutually beneficial conversations with others in my field, and I often provide solutions to their problems. Forums allow large numbers of people to pool their knowledge and thus improve the standards of all the members.
6. Social media
Social media provides amazing opportunities to engage with others in your field. When you start to engage with people who share similar interests, you can start to build strong relationships. Simply by sharing your experiences, you can achieve great synergy.
I have been fortunate to build a good relationship with Dennis Miedema of Motriz Marketing and we now have great chats via email about online business and ecommerce. Although I have never met Dennis in person (he is in The Netherlands), I hold both him and his opinions in the highest regard, and needless to say, I have learned a great deal from our chats.
Synergy is just one of the many great ways to achieve your goals. Learn more with the Ultimate Guide to Goal Setting.
One of the most beautiful sights in life is when two, or more, people come together and commit to working for their mutual benefit. It is important that you spend less time with those people who do support you in your quest to be the best that you can be. It is even more important that you actively seek out those who will support you along your journey. The best way to find these people is to be of value to them. Seek out opportunities to help others. In doing so, you will find many opportunities to learn from them in return. In the list above, I have highlighted six places where you can find and build relationships which will enable you to achieve greater synergy and greater results. If you put the principle of synergy at the heart of your relationships, you will find that your results improve rapidly.
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