I was visiting a friend tonight, talking about our professional and personal lives. He's one of those people who kind of energizes you with awesomeness. More to the point, he makes it his business to ensure that he's around more awesome. To quote Mean Girls, you want to "soak up each others' awesomeness."
This is actually something of a theme for me in the last year. I've observed over and over again that the success and happiness of any individual is proportional to the number and quality of awesome people they choose to be around. As another friend pointed out to me, this is a rational conclusion that anyone would come to, but there are people who don't always see the value in a vat of awesome sauce.
Professionally, I've seen a lot of situations where there are not incentives to be around awesome people. At one end of the spectrum, you have companies that retain mediocre people just because they've been around a long time. The lack of new blood, or better blood, perpetuates a lack of awesomeness. At the other end of the spectrum, you have hyper competitive environments that create a disincentive toward lifting each other up and raising the game across the bar. And of course, some people just don't want to have better people show them up. Still others don't want to pay for really good people.
Similar problems can arise in our personal lives. We hang on to crappy relationships with people because we don't want to be lonely, or don't believe we can do better. It makes us less awesome. It's true with crappy friends and intimate relationships as well. What a difference it makes when you walk into a room of awesome people, or come home to an awesome spouse.
In all of these cases, the win is that awesome rubs off. Whether you're bringing together a group of people to do work or just trying to be around people who make you better, surrounding yourself in awesomeness makes you awesome. As individuals, we can bring a lot to the table, this is true. But we can never be so sure of ourselves as to believe we can't be better with the influence of others.