If you're someone I admire, please come sit next to me. I could use a little time breathing the same air as you.
Most people I know admire people who are out of reach -- Mother Theresa, Derek Jeter, Lady Gaga -- to name a few and I do as well. We all have role models who inspire us. And many of us admire "the usual suspects": our parents and siblings.
Over the years, I've realized that I also admire a lot of people I work with. It starts with attraction and no, I don't mean in a creepy want-to-have-sex-with-you kind of way. I meet someone new at work and there's a spark that gets my attention: either from what they say, or their demeanor, or their personality. Something intrigues me about this person, and as we spend more time together I often find that the initial attraction turns to admiration. I turn into a groupie.
Usually it's not the people at the top of the work hierarchy whom I admire. Most of the time, it's the folks who are in the lower ranks of the organization. Let me give you an example. I have a colleague, let's call him Sam, who's five years out of college, so he's just beginning his career. Several years ago, he started a project to build a health care clinic in one of the poorest regions in the Amazon in Peru. In effect, this is his hobby. At the risk of sounding like my grandmother, when I was Sam's age my hobby was watching TV.
I've thought about why I admire certain people at work. Maybe I'm attracted to qualities that I know I lack, but I think it's simpler than this. I feel good when I'm around them. It's like I'm hoping that some of their character will rub off on me if I sit next to them at a meeting. I also like seeing their impact in the moment we're together.
Think about the people you admire. Why do you admire them? Are there people you admire at work? Do you get to spend time with them during your normal work day? I have people I admire who I see very often. But, if I am having a bad day: watch out! I stalk the people I admire when I am having a bad day -- just being next to them seems to be an antidote to whatever is making me miserable in the moment. Sometimes I ask them for advice, mostly, I just enjoy the light they bring to my dark mood.
Why am I writing about this? Simply because it's one of the things that make me happy at work: I like spending time with people I admire. I walk away from these encounters feeling better, energized, motivated and just... happy.