Here is an excerpt from an article written by Claudio Fernández-Aráoz for Harvard Business Review and the HBR Blog Network. To read the complete article, check out the wealth of free resources, obtain subscription information, and receive HBR email alerts, please click here.
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When thinking about how to develop in our careers, most of us tend to focus on promotions, projects, courses, certifications. We seek out expanded roles, more senior titles, extra money. We overlook one very key piece of the learning puzzle: proactively surrounding ourselves with people who will push us to succeed in unexpected ways and, in so doing, build genuinely rich, purposeful lives of growth, excellence, and impact.
Back in the 1990s, when I was working full-time as a partner in our executive search firm, I pursued one such friend—a leading researcher and writer—and cultivated the relationship for several years. And then, in 1998, during a walk along the Charles River in Cambridge, he surprised me with a challenge. He suggested that, in addition to my client practice and internal leadership roles at Egon Zehnder, I could find even more meaning (and have a larger reach) by using my knowledge of and passion for talent-spotting and development to also become a writer, teacher, and public speaker. I took his advice, and it has drastically changed my life, both professionally and personally.
We typically spend at least two decades in our formal education and, in developed countries, hundreds of thousands of dollars. We carefully choose our places of employment and invest significant time and effort in training within them. However, few of us engage in a deliberate, determined search for those wise individuals who, through their inspiration and advice, can literally make us new.
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My dynamic circle of advisers and confidantes has included, in addition to my wife María and my Charles River friend, several other academics in the United States, an undergraduate professor in Argentina, a McKinsey director in Spain, and colleagues working in Egon Zehnder offices across the Americas, Europe, and Asia. They have, throughout my career, successively inspired me into different possibilities I would never had envisioned, from teaching statistics to applying for an MBA, from becoming a strategic consultant to spending three decades and taking on global leadership roles in executive search, from publishing books to teaching executives at Harvard.
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Here is a direct link to the complete article.