At my first high school weekend job, I ate lunch alone every shift. It didn’t start out that way, but it ended that way.  The first few weeks I ate in the break room of the store, but I gradually transitioned to a picnic table across the street.  I told the other employees that I wanted to eat alone so that I could study and do homework.  Truthfully, I didn’t want to listen to them complain and speak poorly about other co-workers and the company.  I couldn’t relate, and I didn’t want to. And so, I ate lunch alone, not to study, but to escape the negativity.

We often focus on the abilities that we can “bring to the table.”  We take continuing education courses to improve our careers and our skills.  Yet, we don’t always give as much thought in regards to who we bring to the table.  Who we sit with at the table is equally if not more important than what we bring to it.

I’m not suggesting that you recreate the scene out of Mean Girls where you tell people you can’t sit with us. But, whose opinions, beliefs, emotions, and mindsets are you allowing to take a seat at your table?

Who sits at your figurative (and sometimes literal) table determines your growth, your mindset and your success.

Your Growth

With my professional table, I attribute my professional and personal growth to those I get to sit next to.  So, it was exciting to have the opportunity to sit at my friends’ literal and figurative table this weekend since both of them sit at mine.  While attending a course, I was included in meals with their friends and coworkers.  We talked about what we learned, what we enjoyed, and how we could see applying the new information.  Their excitement and engagement fed off each other.  They were playing a key role in each other’s growth.


Your Mindset

Your mindset takes on the mindset of the people you spend the most time with.  How we view situations and the beliefs that we hold are directly connected to who surrounds us.

Negativity is especially dangerous within our social circles.  When trying to improve, change, or grow, the negative mindset of a peer will reinforce doubts that we already have.  The right table has the power to inspire, support, and help us do things that we never thought possible.


Your Success

In 2010 the US Airforce Academy conducted research to determine what causes some cadets to increase their fitness.  The factor that caused some squadrons to have lower levels of fitness was not attributed to poor nutrition, injury, or initial fitness at intake.  What they found was that the motivation of the least-fit cadet was a better predictor of whole squadron’s final fitness level.

So, if I was attending, the motivation of the least fit cadet would better predict my own success at the conclusion of the program than would my own fitness level at the beginning.  Your success is a direct result of who you surround yourself with.  While the study showed differences between squadrons, they did not find many differences within squadrons.  If the least fit person of the squadron was motivated to improve, the entire group performed better.

We should always work hard on bringing more to the table, but should also consider who is sitting at the table with us.

Who are you sitting next to?


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *