Accumulating Relationships

The short editor’s note that opens the latest Success magazine issue December 2009 represents the take off point for this discussion. Darren Hardy the editor tells a story about his father’s friend who on the verge of passing away pulls Darren aside and explains how he wishes he spent more heart time accumulating relationships over focusing exclusively on wealth, houses and the like.

Whether we want to admit it or not, there have been many older quotes and sayings related to the theme of money coming and going, but relationships are the back bone of living a successful, fruitful life.

I grew up in the 70’s just as the shift in the economy occurred where two parent families went from one person working outside the home while the second took care of the house into a generation where dual incomes weren’t a luxury, they were a necessity for a lot of families to make ends meet. Even with the amount of work my mother and father did, one thing I always remember around our household would be evenings and weekends full of time with friends and family. I would often travel to these friends houses and become good friends with their sons and daughters, or spend time with my cousins in the backyard playing sports or our own board games.

From there when it came to school, I developed relationships not just based on my academic class tracking, but also my varied interests. This philosophy continued in college- as I head friends within my classes, outside of my classes and friends that I would develop through hanging out at the student center, playing pool or at the cafeteria during meal times.

I watch both of my daughters develop certain relationships and wonder why many of them struggle to maintain themselves through the years. Unfortunately I see my oldest struggle with the fact that many of the people she chooses to be friends with I believe aren’t willing to put in the same investment as she does when it comes to the relationship. If one person gives and gives without a similar giving nature on the other side outside of yourself, eventually the relationship will burn out.

I believe you can’t be selfish and have a successful relationship for the long term- and that’s what I see happening with a lot of both my daughter’s friends. My youngest is guilty of this selfishness- she can’t think outside her own frame of reference and wants to control and dominate the proceedings. She wonders why my oldest has friends from different grades, in our apartment complex, and still keeps in touch with old classmates who’ve moved on to live in different cities and towns.

What would be incredible is she has the ability to take in her environment and size people up very well- if only she took that same careful study of her own needs and expanded those horizons to the art of developing relationships. Accumulating relationships is a one to one process. It’s an investment for the long term- I don’t go into it halfway and to see what I can gain for myself. You have to listen to what people are talking about, reflect on what they say and understand how conversations flow. Interruptions or waiting for their last breath to immediately interject show poor taste and a lack of self-esteem on your part.

I want you to think back on your most successful relationships over the past year, three years and five years. If there are people you’ve lost touch with, isn’t now the time to re-connect? Take the chance to make that phone call, seek them out through the internet, see if there’s a way you can plan a face to face dinner or engagement. Don’t you want to look back on your long life and treasure all of the great relationships you’ve been lucky enough to be a part of?

Because whether times are good or times are tough, we all need friends and family to carry us through.

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