To save time, I passed out copies of Maslow's 22 characteristics of self actualized people:
Daniel Day Lewis in Lincoln
Then I asked how these "super" personalities are made? I speculated:
1. That they are self-made by personal resolve. (Franklin made a list of qualities he aspired to and consciously focused on one of them till he was satisfied he had mastered it)
2. That interacting with their circle of close and worthy friends created a FEEDBACK LOOP wherein enlightened behavior elicited a rewarding response---which stimulated even more enlightened behavior and even more rewarding responses. (A feedback loop is like compounding interest on money---it builds at an ever accelerating rate ) Franklin called his circle of close friends
his Junto. They met at a tavern on Friday nights--drank beer and had great conversations. (and they did more than talk---this terrific group of men improved their town--creating the first fire department in America--the first street lights--the first lending library and even founded the University of Pennsylvania.
Buddha's circle of friends were his forest buddies that supported his development.
Apparently it is true what Teilard De Chardin says: "Isolation is a dead end---the self is fulfilled in community."
Precisely how interaction promotes personal growth may not be known, but I speculate that when friendly personalities engage for a period---one will see in the other some quality that they admire---and slowly (or quickly) that quality is appropriated by the other. That is how personalities are grown.
That is why it serves us well to associate with the best of our friends.
When we engage with our friends--we do so at one of 4 levels: Ritual--(Hello how are you etc) Pastime (sports, gossip, hobbies etc) Work talk or Authenticity (what we really think, want, feel, have done)
It is at the level of Authenticity that personal growth occurs.
I closed my speech with a parable: Verily I say unto you--your circle of friends is like unto rocks in a tumbler---each makes the others more beautiful as they tumble.