One of the greatest benefits to working with bright people is bright conversations. There are people in this world who I yearn to be near for no other reason that one of their amazing ideas may be there for me to feast upon when they are done. Every so often the pleasure is mine to meet and talk to these individuals. What I learn is added to my arsenal as both an engineer (little e Engineer) and a person.
“What motivates you” the HR representatives ask in order to find out if you will be a good fit for a team. Our culture of political correctness removes the capability to say “smart people.” As I have grown older (to some of you that will bring a smile) I have become ever aware that it is not the top dog I wish to be. Being at the top simply means you have won the race. That is counter-intituve and exactly opposite to what we should look for as progression in life. Granted, no one remembers anything other than the last seconds as the runners cross the finish line. I would be willing to wager the runners remember the view from behind the next racer on turn 3.
That image fits well into our lives if we move from a finish oriented culture to a journey oriented culture. We all know our list of checkboxes to get to the top and we swiftly check them. Good Grades through high school, college, a pretty wife, and a big house. Then I win! The only feeling one can be left with at this point is emptiness. Where to next?
When I first had the self awareness that I wanted to be successful, it was my goal to be the best in my field. I studied tirelessly and found myself often in positions of being the goto guy. What a blessing! I thought I was on top of the world as men twice my age looked to me for knowledge and expertise. The problem with this, one is doomed to stay there. Without the runner on turn 3 pulling ahead of me there is no push to run faster.
My recommendation to all is that you search to surround yourself with brighter people. That means humbling yourself for the opportunity to work with someone much smarter than you. Chances are this person will be a complete blow hard (I know I am when in this position,) but there is the offbeat chance they will piss you off enough to grow. Being driven by money leaves you nothing more than things and the chance that you will be passed. Pursuing knowledge leaves you with the tools and training to pull through till the end.