A great source of insight and information is our human network. There are 4 key reasons why this is true.
First, people are typically willing to offer private observations and impressions that they would likely never share with us in a public forum. And if we ask for honest feedback and observations, we will like get their authentic thoughts.
Next, our human network gives us personalized, contextualized advice. The network of the people around us know us best - and our intentions. Often, they know our strengths and our flaws. The advice we get in context of who we are is the most helpful (and often hard to hear).
Third, the people in our network are a good filter for the information we get from other sources. They keep us connected to reality (if we ask them to be honest with us). The more diverse our human network, the more "real" the filter will be.
Finally, a real conversation with another person in our network causes us to simply think better thoughts because information is moving back and forth between two individuals who care. We add to one another's thoughts, improving the core idea. When we get an idea out of our head and share it, the concept will likely improve.
We invest in ourselves by investing in our immediate human network. We invest in ourselves by having conversations in our community with leaders who are trying to shape our city. We invest in ourselves by investing in conversations about the "greater good" and the part we play in the social fabric of our country.
When we invest in all these types of human interactions, we have the best shot at reaching our highest potential. More importantly, we also have the best shot at making a difference in the world.