If you’re someone I admire, please come sit next to me. I could use a little time breathing the same air as you.
Most people I know admire people who are out of reach—Mother Theresa, Derek Jeter, Lady GaGa—to name a few and I do as well. We all have role models who inspire us. And many of us admire “the usual suspects”: our parents and siblings.
Over the years, I realized that I also admire a lot of people I work with. It starts with attraction and no, I don’t mean in a creepy want-to-have-sex-with-you kind of way. I meet someone new at work and there’s a spark that gets my attention: either from what they say, or their demeanor, or their personality. Something intrigues me about this person, and as we spend more time together I often find that the initial attraction turns to admiration. I turn into a groupie.
Usually it’s not the people at the top of the work hierarchy whom I admire. Most of the time, it’s the folks who are in the lower ranks of the organization. Let me give you an example. I have a colleague, let’s call him Sam, who’s five years out of college, so he’s just beginning his career. Several years ago, he started a project to build a healthcare clinic in one of the poorest regions in the Amazon in Peru. In effect, this is his hobby. At the risk of sounding like someone’s grandmother, when I was Sam’s age my hobby was watching TV.
I’ve thought about why I admire certain people at work. Maybe I’m attracted to qualities that I know I lack, but I think it’s simpler than this. I feel good when I’m around them. It’s like I’m hoping that some of their character will rub off on me if I sit next to them at a meeting. I also like seeing their impact in the moment we’re together.
Why am I writing about this? Simply because it’s one of the things that makes me happy at work: I like spending time with people I admire. I walk away from these encounters feeling better: energized, motivated and just… happy.