Sometimes we get so caught up in looking to experts, industry leaders, and heroes for inspiration and lessons we often forget to look around us. We love the drama of tremendous struggle and triumphant success. There’s something about the “defying all odds” story that keeps us intrigued. While there’s nothing wrong with looking up to aspirational characters, focusing entirely on these figures causes us to forget that we can learn from those around us.

Everyday the people in our own circles are going through adversity or reaching accomplishments. Each of of these people has a story to tell—a story from which we can grow and learn. Are you listening?

Last week, I had a conversation with a few friends I haven’t seen in a while. We talked about what we’ve been up to and the goals we had in the near term. One explained that she had a well-paying job, but decided to leave it because she wasn’t feeling fulfilled, instead opting for something where she could positively impact others. That’s the kind of story that keeps me motivated to do what I do. There are several leaders I look up to, but more and more are emerging from the circle with which I’m already familiar.

I have friends, teachers, professors, coworkers, strangers, clients, and associates that continue to challenge me and force me to think of things from various perspectives. These are the people that make me want to be better. Trying to keep my ears open to all of it is the challenge. Growing from it is the reward.