When It Comes To Your Development & Growth, Who Do You Have To Brainstorm With?

Leadership Lesson: Everyone should have partners and colleagues with whom they can share ideas, in order to form a development ecosystem that allows them to harness, reshape, and finalize their steps forward.

What I always try to get people I coach – or anyone else for that matter who seeks to get better at what they do – to do is consider what resources they have around them. I want them to see – I want YOU to see – that one shouldn’t be limited only to what or who they have instant access to. That you have the right to seek out what’s best for you. And that you bare the responsibility to do that for yourself.

You owe it to yourself. Wait on no one to get better.

When that mindset of self-responsibility doesn’t exist, it’s unfortunate to see how much you don’t take advantage of certain things in life – in this case, people.

This may be because, sometimes, we don’t know how to open up, and don’t want to look like works-in-progress. There’s still this stigma, or misconception – albeit one that’s diminishing – that you need to appear as if you have your sh!t completely together, all the time, without fail. That you’re 100% in control.

Related: For A Well-Rounded Approach To Your Development, Be Sure To Take Advantage Of Your Friends

But by operating and living with that facade you lack transparency, honesty, and openness. You’re not expressing what you truly need. And it’s a shame, because you have more tools at your disposal than you think, whether it’s people you know (confidants, colleagues, mentors, etc.) or people you don’t know (people you see in the media, newspapers, or books).

Here, though, let’s talk about people who are in our network, and not those we don’t have access to. How do you tap into the potential of those relationships, and what can they deliver for you? How do you use those people in the development of ideas and/or yourself? How can you bounce ideas off of others, breaking down your plans and ideas out loud for constructive thinking, opinions, and feedback?

Whether you’re trying to develop yourself further in your personal life, work life, or leadership role, who do you brainstorm with?

Below are a few points to consider when thinking about how you go about brainstorming with others.

Someone In Your Field — Or Not?

It’s always important to get the perspective of both those who work in your field and those who don’t. So many lessons in leadership and development begin at a very general level and are transferable from one area, job, or industry to another. Those general ideas can then be broken down and customized to your particular business and industry.

Keeping that in mind, people outside of your industry can provide the kind of outsider insight into how you do things that others who work in your industry might not. They see things differently and are not locked into the standard industry mindset and blind spots.

Who Will Listen?

Listening is a powerful skill. Not too many people can do it the right way. On top of that, people who need to be listened to tend to confuse hearing with listening. Some may believe that if someone is taking the time to sit with you and hear you out that they’re surely being thorough in their approach, observation, and intake.

But not all people are good listeners. Make sure you find someone who is a good listener, who at least understands what listening is and makes an effort to assess what they’ve taken in. Make sure those you trust most, for any purpose, are good listeners, as they will keep an ear out to determine what it is you really need.

Simultaneously, while you’re trying to find someone to listen, you need to be sure you’re practicing effectively expressing and communicating what you need and what you think to the great listeners you find.

Related: So, You Want To Be An Effective Leader. How Are Your Conversational Skills?

Who Will Find Holes?

Nothing is always going to be completely pretty, untouchable in its appearance and effectiveness. So you’re going to need someone who can be honest about what they believe needs work. They’ll tell you the honest and ugly but much-needed truth.

Beyond finding the people who are going to find these holes in your argument, case, or game, make sure you find the ones who are going to ask about how you might be able to patch the developmental holes. They may not have answers because their power is merely pointing out the things that might not work, but it’s great to always be prodded toward options for how something should be done.

Who Will Provide Support?

This one sounds like common sense, right? Yes, it is. Or at least it should be. You’re going to need people who support you in your journey to get better. You want someone who has a supportive vibe in their tone and interaction with you. It’s important for you to have people there who believe in what you’re trying to do and what you want to achieve.

It’s through people like those where you find most of the reassurances to keep working hard and reaching your continuous milestones.

Hopefully, this goes without saying.

But…that being said, I want to clarify that you need to distinguish between those who support you and those who challenge you (the next consideration).

Related: In Your Development, Learning, And Experiments, What/Who Do You Fall Back On?

Who Will Challenge You?

Having the right people to support you means they’re always going to be there for you to fall back on if you don’t succeed. They will encourage you along the way as you push forward, and comfort and build you up when you fall down.

But there’s a difference between being supported and being challenged. Ideally, you want a combination of both. You want the safety net and foundation of support, which will not allow you to fall too far, but you also want to build up beyond your baseline, and that only comes from being pushed — and challenged. The challengers are going to make sure you’re doing your best, pushing you and keeping you accountable. They ensure you’re not getting comfortable and complacent in the status quo, but that you’re getting better.

Related: To The Future Leaders: Tap Into The Value Of An Accountability Partner


These are just some points to consider as you try to figure out how to move forward in what you’re doing.

Very rarely can we go it alone. Who do you have around you? How are they capable of assisting you in your goals? How will you reach out and tap into that knowledge?

Who are you recruiting into your desire to brainstorm on your life, projects, work, and business, avoiding the pitfall of just living in it, on cruise control, in reactive mode?

On the flip side, also keep in mind how open you are to others who approach you when they feel the need to brainstorm. How do you open yourself up to the needs of others whom you can help?

Weather storms have the power to break down what currently exists in an environment, laying bare a foundation off of which to rebuild.

Don’t forget the power of brainstorming, when it comes to finding your steady foundation off of which to build yourself, your mission, and your future.



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