All of us are surrounded by amazing people. Most of them never get recognized as thought leaders or experts.

But that doesn’t make their words less valuable. In fact, “words of wisdom” from someone we respect and know personally can have a powerful impact on us–if we let them.

Throughout the years, I’ve received precious advice from various people I admire, including business contacts, friends, and family members.

Here are a few of their words, guaranteed to make you think:

1. If you expose yourself to anything long enough, you’ll start to like it.

You might call this the “acquired taste” principle. Its effect is subtle. But be sure, it can work for good or bad.

Want a culture of excellence? Spend time with those you admire and learn from the best.

But be careful of the opposite: Poor quality loves company, too. You’d be surprised how quickly you can get used to subpar performance.

Make sure you acquire a taste for the good stuff.

2. It only has to happen right once.

Any great entrepreneur knows that failing is part of the process. The more you try, the more you fail.

But if you never stop trying, you also give yourself more chances to succeed. And as a wise person once told me: “It only has to happen right once.”

Once you succeed, the sting of failure disappears…leaving only the insight you’ve gained from your experience.

3. The best thing about becoming a leader is you can pick your own team.

Never underestimate the power of your people. The right people build the right culture. And good culture trumps strategy, because it guides decision making when faced with the unexpected.

Figure out what your priorities are. Then, surround yourself with people who will help you achieve them.

4. Whatever you do in life, go see something different.

Our perspective is skewed by countless factorsour families, our associates, our experiences.

When I was 19, I came close to making some really unwise decisions. A smart (and much older) friend encouraged me to do the above–to expand my horizons and view things from a different angle. Six months later, I moved to New York, and in a short time I saw the world through very different eyes.

So go travel. Live somewhere else for a while. Stretch out of your comfort zone. Your vision will grow and deepen as you learn to see the world through the eyes of others.

5. You never learn when you’re speaking.

Years ago, I led a team with a star performer by the name of Charlie. Charlie’s ideas and work ethic were outstanding, but I felt his shy nature often prevented him from speaking up.

During one meeting, I really wanted to hear Charlie’s opinion. I leaned over and asked him: “Why aren’t you saying anything?” He responded with the quote above.

Notably, whenever Charlie did speak, it was always worth hearing. A lot of people could learn from that philosophy. I know I have.

Remember: You can learn from every individual, every situation, every experience.

Keep your eyes and ears open, and don’t miss the extraordinary around you.

What about you? I’d love to hear some quotes from your inner circle–how have they encouraged you, inspired you, and made you think? 

Enjoy this post? Check out my book, EQ Applied, which uses fascinating research and compelling stories to illustrate what emotional intelligence looks like in everyday life.

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