Relationships at the secure level validate us and help us to become more comfortable with who we are and to discover our gifts and talents. Solid relationships add value to us so that our talent is actually enhanced. Our solid friends tell us the truth in a supportive way. They keep us grounded. If we start to get off course, they help keep us on track. They encourage us when we`re down and inspire us to go higher. A few solid relationships can make all the difference in where a talented person ends up in life.
As you engage in relationships, try to find people with whom you can build solid relationships that are mutually beneficial. Here are the signs that a relationship is headed toward that level:
1. Mutual Enjoyment
In solid relationships, people spend time together just for the enjoyment of being together. What they do is not of significance. For example, my wife, Margaret, and I often run errands together. What`s enjoyable about dropping off the dry cleaning, buying groceries, or picking up items at a neighborhood shop? Nothing€”except spending time with her.
I think when many of us were kids, we intuitively understood the value of spending time with someone special. Do you remember how it felt to sit on the lap of your mother or father when you were small? Or how excited you got when a favorite uncle or a grandparent came to visit? Or how it felt when you first started dating? Unfortunately the busyness and pressures of life often cause us to forget what a joy this can be. I`ve always valued time with Margaret. Now that she and I are grandparents, time with people I love means even more to me. Try not to let the stresses of life make you lose track of that.
When you value someone on the front end of a relationship, you earn respect on the back end. And that`s foundational to all solid relationships. When do people respect you? When you don`t let obstacles or circumstances become more important to you than the relationship. When the pressure is on and you still treat them with patience and respect. When the relationship is struggling and you are willing to work hard to protect and preserve it. That`s when you have proven worthy of others` respect. Respect is almost always built on difficult ground.
Proverbs, the book of wisdom, teaches about the strength of relationships:
· Friends are scarce (18:24).
· Friends will not jump ship when the going gets rough (17:17).
· Friends will be available for counsel (27:9).
· Friends will speak the truth to you (27:6).
· Friends will sharpen you (27:17).
· Friends will be sensitive to your feelings (26:18-19).
· Friends will stick with you (16:28; 18:24).
People who respect each other and build a solid relationship enjoy all of these benefits of friendship.
3. Shared Experiences
Going through a significant experience with another person creates a mutual bond. The experience can be positive or negative. Families come together and enjoy reminiscing about vacations they took years before (often the more disastrous, the more fondly remembered!). Colleagues build relationships as they work together on high-pressure projects. Soldiers talk about the bond that occurs as they train together and how it only increases if they go to war together. We all need others to lean on and to celebrate with. Shared experiences give us those opportunities.
I still remember vividly my father taking me out of school when I was ten years old so that I could accompany him on a business trip. At the time, he was a district superintendent in our denomination, which meant that he was a pastor and leader to many pastors of local churches in our region. Dad and I packed for the trip and traveled from town to town car. As we rode along, we talked. As he met with the various pastors, I watched him encouraging them. It not only created a special bond between us, but it modeled the kind of work with people that I would one day be doing myself. It was an experience I will treasure until the day I die.
Ralph Waldo Emerson wrote, €œ The glory of friendship is not in the outstretched hand, nor the kindly smile, nor the joy of companionship; it is in the spiritual inspiration that comes to one when he discovers that someone else believes in him and is willing to trust him. Trust is both a joy of relationships and a necessary component. In my book Winning with People, I described the Bedrock Principle, which says, €œTrust is the foundation of any relationship. Nothing is more important in relationships. If you don`t have trust, you don`t have much of a relationship.
All relationships experience ebb and flow. Sometimes one person is the primary giver. Sometimes the other person is. But relationships that continue to be one-sided will not remain solid. When they continue to be out of balance, they become unstable and often unhealthy. If you want the relationship to continue, you will need to make changes. Here`s how it works:
· When you are getting the better of the relationship, changes must be made.
· When the other person is getting the better part, changes must be made.
· When you`re both getting an equally good deal, continue as before.
Friendships are like bank accounts. You cannot continue to draw on them without making deposits. If either of you becomes overdrawn and it stays that way, then the relationship won`t last.
Solid relationships must be beneficial to both parties. Each person has to put the other first, and both have to benefit. Hall of Fame football coach Vince Lombardi described this when he was asked what made a winning team. He observed,
There are a lot of coaches with good ball clubs who know the fundamentals and have plenty of discipline but still don`t win the game. Then you come to the third ingredient: if you`re going to play together as a team, you`ve got to care for one another. You`ve got to love each other, Each player has to be thinking about the next guy and saying to himself, €œIf I don`t block that man, Paul is going to get his legs broken. I have to do my job in order that he can do his. The difference between mediocrity and greatness is the feeling these guys have for each other.
Solid relationships are always win-win. If both people aren`t winning, then the relationship isn`t solid, and it won`t last.
TALENT + RELATIONSHIPS = A TALENT-PLUS PERSON PUTTING THE IALENT-PLUS FORMULA INTO ACTION
If you desire to become a talent-plus person in the area of relationships€”a person whose relationships influence him or her in a positive direction€”then here is what I suggest you do:
1. Identify the Most Important People in Your Life
Who are the significant people in your life, the people you spend the most time with, the people whose opinions mean the most to you? These people are your greatest influencers. You need to identify who they are before you can assess how they are influencing your talent.
2. Assess Whether They Are Influencing You in the Right Direction
Once you have identified the people who are influencing you, you would be wise to discern how they are influencing you. The easiest way to do that is to ask the following questions about each person:
What does he think of me? People tend to become what the most important person in their lives believes they can be. Think about small children. If their parents tell them they are losers, stupid, or worthless, they believe they are. If their parents tell them they are smart, attractive, and valuable, they believe they are. We embrace the opinions of people we respect.
Ralph Waldo Emerson asserted, €œEvery man is entitled to be valued by his best moments. If you want to be influenced in a positive direction, you need to spend time with people who think positively about you. They need to believe in you.
What does he think of my future? Novelist Mark Twain advised, €œKeep away from people who try to belittle your ambitions. Do the most important people in your life envision a positive future for you? Do they see great things ahead of you?
Margaret, my wife, has given me many wonderful gifts during the course of our relationship. One that I cherish is the ministry log book she gave me the year before we were married, knowing that a pastoral career was ahead of me. In it, I could record my activities such as sermon topics, weddings, and funerals. It is a record of my life leading local churches. But I value it most for something she wrote in it in 1968. It said simply,
You`re going to accomplish great things.
Her few words weren`t poetic or profound, but they communicated her confidence in me and her belief in my future. And she has demonstrated that belief in me every day of our marriage.
How does he or she behave toward me in difficult times? There`s an old saying: €œIn prosperity our friends know us. In adversity we know our friends. Haven`t you found that to be true? When times are tough and you`re having difficulties, a friend who is influencing you in the right direction is €¦
Slow to but Quick to
When you get knocked down, good friends don`t kick you while you`re down or say, €œI told you so. They pick you up and help you keep going.
What does he bring out of me? British prime minister Benjamin Disraeli observed, €œThe greatest good you can do for another is not just to share your riches but to reveal to him his own. That is really the essence of positive relationships that influence people to rise up and reach their potential. They see the best in you and encourage you to strive for it, as June Carter did for Johnny Cash.
Author William Alien Ward remarked, €œA true friend knows your weaknesses but shows you your strengths; feels your fears but fortifies your faith; sees your anxieties but frees your spirit; recognizes your disabilities but emphasizes your possibilities. That`s what positive relationships should do.
3. If Your Friends Aren`t Friends, Then Make New Friends
A friend sent me a hilarious story that he said was called €œBob`s Last Letter. Here`s what it said:
It is important for men to remember that as women grow older it becomes harder for them to maintain the same quality of housekeeping as they did when they were younger. When men notice this, they should try not to yell.
Let me relate how I handle the situation.
When I got laid off from my consulting job and took €œearly retirement in April, it became necessary for Nancy to get a full-time job, both for extra income and for health benefits that we need. It was shortly after she started working that I noticed that she was beginning to show her age.
I usually get home from fishing or hunting about the same time she gets home from work. Although she knows how hungry I am, she almost always says that she has to rest for half an hour or so before she starts supper. I try not to yell, instead I tell her to take her time and just wake me when she finally does get supper on the table. She used to do the dishes as soon as we finished eating. It is now not unusual for them to sit on the table for several hours after supper.
I do what I can by reminding her several times each evening that they aren`t cleaning themselves. I know she appreciates this, as it does seem to help her get them done before she goes to bed.
Now that she is older she seems to get tired so much more quickly. Our washer and dryer are in the basement. Sometimes she says she just can`t make another trip down those steps. I don`t make a big issue of this. As long as she finishes up the laundry the next evening I am willing to overlook it.
Not only that, but unless I need something ironed to wear to the Monday lodge meeting or to Wednesday`s or Saturday`s poker club or to Tuesday`s or Thursday`s bowling or something like that, I will tell her to wait until the next evening to do the ironing. This gives her a little more time to do some of those odds and ends things like shampooing the dog, vacuuming or dusting.
Also, if I have had a really good day fishing, this allows her to gut and scale the fish at a more leisurely pace.
Nancy is starting to complain a little occasionally. For example, she will say that it is difficult for her to find time to pay the monthly bills during her lunch hour. In spite of her complaining, I continue to try to offer encouragement. I tell her to stretch it out over two or even three days. That way she won`t have to rush so much. I also remind her that missing lunch completely now and then wouldn`t hurt her any, if you know what I mean.
When doing simple jobs she seems to think she needs more rest periods.
She had to take a break when she was only half finished mowing the yard. I try not to embarrass her when she needs these little extra rest breaks. I tell her to fix herself a nice, big, cold glass of freshly squeezed lemonade and just sit for a while. I tell her that as long as she is making one for herself, she may as well make one for me and take her break by the hammock so she can talk with me until I fall asleep.
I know that I probably look like a saint in the way I support Nancy on a daily basis. I`m not saying that the ability to show this much consideration is easy. Many men will find it difficult. Some will find it impossible. No one knows better than I do how frustrating women can become as they get older. However, guys, even if you just yell at your wife a little less often because of this article, I will consider that writing it was worthwhile.
P.S. Bob`s funeral was on Saturday, January 25th.
P.P.S. Nancy was acquitted Monday, January 27th
If the people close to you are dragging you down, then it may be time to make some changes. Speaker Joe Larson remarked, €œMy friends didn`t believe that I could become a successful speaker. So I did something about it. I went out and found me some new friends!
When you really think about it, the things that matter most in life are the relationships we develop. Remember:
You may build a beautiful house, but eventually it will crumble. You may develop a fine career, but one day it will be over. You may save a great sum of money, but you can`t take it with you. You may be in superb health today, but in time it will decline. You may take pride in your accomplishments, but someone will surpass you. Discouraged? Don`t be, for the one thing that really matters, lasts forever€”your friendships.
Life is too long to spend it with people who pull you in the wrong direction. And it`s too short not to invest in others. Your relationships will define you. And they will influence your talent€”one way or the other. Choose wisely.