I was recently having a conversation with a co-worker. He mentioned that he had come into a work place where someone who had recently left was “three hundred percent better” than everyone else there. He went on to say that people had compared themselves with this “genius” and then felt horrible about themselves. They thought they were no longer good enough to do anything important. They thought they knew nothing. They were “broken”.

Working with someone three hundred percent better than myself would be a dream come true. I would join a workplace just to be around such an individual. My thinking is that even if I improve on myself by ten percent by being around this genius, it would be an awesome win. How did this guy or gal become so good? How do they think about things? How can I learn to be more like them?

The real clincher was that I had worked with this individual at a previous workplace. He had put me on a path to learning that I would not be on otherwise. I feel deeply indebted to him. I have improved by much more than ten percent by being around him. By learning from him I was forced to put away any arrogant notions that I knew everything. I found it refreshing to be around someone who was that good at what they did. It made me want to become an improved version of myself. I still have much to learn and I am happy with that. I try to improve in small increments everyday. I actively seek out other “geniuses” to learn from.

What’s fascinating is that different people reacted to the same stimulus in different ways. For some, it was the end of all they held dear, for others it was the road to mastery they always dreamt of.