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Monday, June 13, 2011

Fixing You

Ok, I love the book Never Eat Alone. If you've never read it, you should - it's by Keith Ferrazi & it absolutely changed a lot of the ways I looked at relational networks years ago. For whatever reason, I've had it on my mind over the last week or so. I was talking to some different people this evening; all with very different roles in my life. I'm probably going to go too many directions with the analogies; but bear with me: :)

The first was my newly-found family member.
The second was my boss.
The third was a close friend.
The fourth was an old love.
The fifth was my father.
The sixth was ... well, new to my network, so not yet defined.

The first five? 'Net Worth' TO me is easy: it's big. Family is always pivotal to who you are; so it's importance is no big shocker there. They're kind of like the sea mark buoys - they provide navigational direction to make sure that you don't get too far off the path in life; because they love you and want you to do well. Your boss? Kind of reminds me of the Submarine buoys - there for cases of emergencies, but for the most part? Lets you do what you do because... that's why they hired you!

Even the old love? Had a profound impact on my life - positively and negatively; although clearly more of the marker buoy that kind of tells a story of where you were at that moment in your life that you were with them and then they (1) sink or fade away, extinguished. But your friends? Your friends are like the life buoys - they keep your head above water and sometimes? Saves you even when they don't mean to... because when you don't see your 'net worth?' They still do and that faith... well, maybe that fixes you a little bit now & again.

Your Network is Your Net Worth.

I tweeted/FB'd about this earlier - of course, I was talking about business relationships; but in all honesty all those people above? Those are the biggest contributors to what comprises the 'net worth' of my network. I feel immensely lucky because several of my friends are also people I do business or work with; but even still - when I'm 113 (2) and looking back on my life? These are the people that I'm likely to spend the majority of my time reflecting on - my friends, my family, my loved ones. While businesses may change and objectives are completed or can lose importance as the world shifts - those three categories of people in our lives have permanence.

My Dad and I talked a little bit about this tonight as it relates to dating. It's easy for us to get caught up in what our own needs/wants/desires are and how our 'special friends' (3) are able to provide those things for us, proving their worth and earning their place in our network. And that's okay to a degree; because it IS important to know that reciprocity exists in any relationship. But in doing so, some of us lose sight of what we're giving back... where our own 'net worth' is to others. I'm not looking down on anyone; because we all do it at one time or another. Different reasons: we're self-absorbed, we're afraid to be genuine because we might not get what we want, we like feeling pursued as it eases our insecurities, we're protecting ourselves from continued hurt... there's a lot of reasons, but at the end of the day? It's kind of what makes us human.

Doing so absolutely damages our network's net worth, though; as relational 'currency' comes from helping others achieve their full potential through their needs, desires, and ambitions. That's awfully difficult to do when you're focused on yourself. This holds true for your professional relationships & positions, as well. Sometimes, we get so myopically focused on getting that next client, making more money, being appreciated for our contributions, or furthering our business ambitions that we can actually become ineffective in our performance... making the very thing(s) we were trying to achieve further out of our reach. It also waxes disingenuous with those we are connected to - and there's nothing easier to spot than the person you feel is insincere or interested in only what they can gain from others. There's no 'deposits' being made into those relationships & that makes their net worth? Zero.

So, if you find the relationships in your network a little broken or you've gotten into that shallow, self-serving rut... what do you do about it? How can you fix it? Well, first of all, turn to your closest friends & family. Even if you've let the relationship lapse a bit; at the end of the day, those are the people that will still have your back when you come to them with a humble heart. Ask for their help with the following:
  • Clear Your Personal & Professional 'Thought Clutter:' This is a 2-part exercise. First, you need to let go of negative thought patterns. Purposefully decide to stop engaging in activities that tear others down. (4) You can simply choose to not participate - it's completely okay to redirect a conversation to a more positive purpose or just walk away from them altogether. Secondly, you have to know what true 'greatness' looks like in your life and relationships. What are your goals for each? When you know what you're trying to accomplish; it becomes easier to see how you can align your goals with that of others in your network - and together you can achieve more ... with reciprocity!

  • Never Eat Alone - Again, if you haven't read the book, you should. This doesn't mean you can't ever have a meal by yourself; but what it does mean is that when you can spend time connecting with others you should and meals are often a great time to do that because, well... everyone has to eat. Make a point of scheduling time with people for lunches, coffees, drinks, desserts, dinners, whatever... I'm doing this a minimum of 4 times a week and I have to say that it makes a HUGE difference in the quality of my relationships. You get time to really BE actively plugged into someone else's world; just make sure that you're spending that time equitably & are genuinely interested in what is going on in THEIR world, their needs, etc. It's okay to have an agenda (5); but if you put yours first all the time; then your 'stock' in that relationship isn't going to be worth all that much!

  • Constant Contact - So, FB is really helpful with keeping in continual touch with friends; use it! :) By keeping in quick, regular contact with your friends & networks - esp. when you DON'T need anyone - it helps reinforce you care. A quick text, FB post/message, tweet whatever - I try to reach out to people every 3-5 days; just a 'ping' to say "hey, you matter!" :)

Ok, might change some of this later but for now? Gotta run!

(1) As they were in that role of your significant other, partner, boyfriend/girlfriend, spouse, partner, whatever - the point is that love shifts from that of a romantic sort to that of someone you care about, and probably always care about on some level, because they were important in your life. I don't know about you, but I don't think I can honestly say I wish ill on anyone I've ever loved - I want all of them (there weren't many, that sounds wrong) to succeed - just sometimes a little further away from me than others! ;p

(2) Yes, I decided when I was 8 that I was going to live to 113 and I've just run with that. My great-granny Bunch lived to past 100 (I think) so... seems like a possibility to me!

(3) Ok, that even made ME gag a little. :P Special Friends?? I'm now an ABC after-school special but it did make me Laugh Out Loud that I wrote that so... I'm leaving it!

(4) Gossiping, tearing others down, sabotaging the performance or projects of others, being generally uncooperative, being judgmental.

(5) And please don't pretend you don't if you do; the dis-ingenuousness of that doesn't fly on any relationship level - can't tell you how many guys I kicked to the curb or cut a date short with because you could tell they were just absolutely not who they were pretending to be. People don't want to be flattered as an inducement to doing whatever you want them to do; they just want you to be 'real.' Doesn't mean you'll get what you want; but it does mean you'll be a little more respected.

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