How do we grow through people around us?
Iva Babić
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The most common answer in the latest interviews we had for a position in our team to the question what’s important to you was: “I want to work in a place where I can learn and grow”. It got me thinking about growth. I realized, for me, one of the most important platforms for growth are interactions with other people. So I started thinking about the people who had the biggest impact on me.

Once I wrote it all down, I noticed the different roles that those people have and I realized that every role is equally important. So, here I will point out one role per person, but of course, they all can have different roles in different situations.

Hopefully, by the end of this article you will not be thinking about my list of people, but you will start revising yours. Maybe you’ll even end up with the conclusion that your colleague who always challenges you is not so bad to have around after all 🙂

The one that inspires and motivates

The friend that reads a lot and is always open for a feedback session. She pulls out insights from every situation and she inspires me to do the same. She always brings up something new to the table – different view, topic or research. The one that makes me choose books and Ted Talks over Netflix. Even when I’m tired.

Mentor. Friend. Brother from another mother.

I always wanted to have a mentor. One day I realized that I do have it, it’s just that I call her Mika. I worship her because of her values – sincerity, commitment and focus on the greater good. We talk about life, work and relationships. Together we come to a solution for all the complicated situations we encounter at work and in life.

Mr. Different

Yin-Yang. I’m into digital. He’s not. 30+ and doesn’t have m-banking but he widens my horizons. We debate about culture, cooking, politics. He grounds me when needed but at the same time pushes me to the world of unlimited imagination and makes me look at things from a different angle. It’s not rare that our conversations help me reach ideas and solutions.


We drink beer and talk about innovations, trends in tech industries, software development. We are in different industries, but we have similar skill sets. I cheer for her, she cheers for me. We believe in each other and we will always extract something positive from one another. And sometimes that little splash of self-confidence is just what I need to nail things down.


Opposite to the cheerleader, this friend always has hundreds of questions after which I have to go back and think things through again. Why this, why that, could it be different, it’s ok, but… Even when I think I have the perfect pitch prepared, with him I can feel like everything is just not good enough. Then again, due to his questions I don’t go with the first answer or idea – I dig even deeper and the outcomes tend to be way better.


Trusting, inspiring, gives me space. This person believes that argument is the key. She is present in the moment. She makes tough decisions and with her I can learn by doing, but I learn a whole lot just by watching.

Mr. & Miss. Bad Example

I’m sure we all have at least one example of the person who makes us feel bad and we just don’t trust that person. It can be the boss who is focused only on himself, a colleague who has the guts to take all the recognition for the team work or somebody who leaves you alone when things get tough. I’m grateful for these examples and I often use them as a learning curve – to do the exact opposite so people around me wouldn’t feel as I did.

So, what are important messages from this little exercise?

If one wants to learn, he can learn from everything and everybody.

We can always grow through interactions – through all of them. Even when we feel like we are not in a motivating environment, we can use those bad examples around us and learn from them so we don’t make the same mistakes.

It’s important to have different people and different roles around us.

If we are surrounded only with cheerleaders or people similar to us, we are losing the opportunity to grow. Why? Because nobody is challenging us to look at things differently. Nobody is here to open our horizons.

When helping others to grow, we are growing with them.

Few months ago I started to mentor others. In this process I revise and rethink everything I know. Every conversation brings a new value on the things I know and also points out things that I don’t know.

Try writing down your list of people. Who is important to you and why? Think about what impact they have on you but also what you can do for them and their development.