Why Building Relationships?
The short answer is: There is no life for you without building relationships with other people. Nobody can live alone.
The long answer goes like this: We had parents, who brought us up. If they were not there, some other people filled in as good as they could.
We learned to use our body by playing with our siblings and other children around us, be it at home or in the kindergarten.
Our teachers connected us to the accumulated knowledge of humanity. Otherwise, we could not have learnt to read, write, and use the numbers.
Our children challenge us to stretch ourselves and keep growing. They lead us to build abilities and skills we never dreamt of. And they help us to get an idea how to answer the question: What is life, after all?
Then, there are those numerous people, who scratch our back, build our house, grow our food, sew our cloth, and bring us to all the places we need to visit.
Isolating a human for an extended period of time is officially recognized as a form of torture.
Those many words bring us right back to the short answer from above. Obviously, there can be no human life without relationships to other people.
Building Relationships: With Whom?
Our network consists of many different people. We do know some of them very well, but there will be others, whom we barely know. The closer people are to us in our network, the higher their impact.
It is now a well-known fact, that we as humans have only a limited capacity to maintain and grow very close relationships. For many of us, the number of close associates we can handle is below 10. Therefore, it is so important to choose the people around us with great care. I suggest that we have a closer look at the generic roles people in our network can fill for us.
Mentors. We learn from them
Mentors are generally people who can teach us something. They help us to acquire new skills and to improve our understanding of life. A mentor can be quite remote from us, like a book author. But he can be also very close, like a parent. A good mentor will lead us into the direction we want to go, while a bad mentor might try to push us into a life, we do not want for us. A mentor can be very influential, even if he is far away from us.
Mentors have also the potential to connect us to many more people. They can help us to find other teachers, and we will almost naturally find peers around them, who harbor aspirations similar to ours.
Peers. We grow together
Peers are people following a way close to our way. We can observe them, see their successes and failures. We can team up with some peers, allowing everybody involved to hone more specialized skills and develop this way a bit of scale. Teaming up with others can add a lot of productivity to our actions, and team members can be a great source of feedback for everyone, who is willing to listen and to open up.
Clients. We can help them
A happy and fulfilled life needs a balance between giving and taking. Therefore, we have to take care to include into our network people, to whom we can give. We provide value to them, and they reward that value with money and appreciation. We need them both, appreciation, and money, for satisfaction and growth.
Some people contribute to our life by connecting us to other people. Maybe, they do something completely different from my life, but they know someone, who needs my help. Or they know somebody, who can help me in one way or another. A good connector or facilitator can bring us together. This is a great help, when we are building relationships for our network.
Personal Growth and Relationships
The observation that human life is impossible without relationships leads naturally to the following question: “To what extend do our relationships define us and our lives?”
In fact, our relationships influence heavily, how we see ourselves and how others see us. And our identity has a strong impact on our relationships. It goes both ways: Our relationships reflect, who we are. And on the other hand, relationships have a big impact on the way we live, think, feel, and behave. The connection between the feeling of belonging to a group and the way we think, feel, and behave is the foundation of identity politics.
This ambiguity shows clearly up in the way we use the term “identity”. In one context, it describes us as an individual, identified by the passport, social security, or tax number, etc. But on the other side, identity as used in identity politics describes our relationships and belonging to a group. All of the sudden, we are no longer that unique individual with a specific genome or fingerprint. Instead, we are seen as member of a group, defined by common values, behaviors, or even skin color.
Apart from the obvious fact, that everyone should be judged on his own merits, what does this duality in the concept of identity mean for our lives?
Changing our Life by Building new Relationships
There is a consequence of this duality of identity: Whenever we change ourselves, our values, behaviors, and habits, we open the door for adding new relationships to our network, and also for modifying the character of our existing relationships, and we close the door for some other relationships.
Therefore, we should work carefully on ourselves, and at the same time we should be very attentive and sensible to those subtle changes in our relationships. And we should decide consciously and thoughtfully, whom we want to add to our network. It will also happen from time to time, that we want to close relationships and remove people from our network. Here, we need the same diligence and care, both for deciding and implementing the decision.
Where to start the change?
If we want to change our lives, we must be willing to change our relationships, too. And we will be only successful in building groundbreaking new relationships if we are on the other hand willing to modify our identity. The big question is: where should we start? Upgrading ourselves or building better relationships?
My answer is: We should work from the beginning on both sides. Go for the low hanging fruits, wherever you find them. You might have a habit or behavior, which you find yourself annoying for quite some time. Change that habit, go for it! People around you will take note. Some of them might open up to you.
Then, maybe you dreamt for some time to get closer to somebody around you. Go for it! Approach that person. Look, what you have to offer for her or him, and offer it. Maybe, you need to acquire a new skill so that you can offer that person, what she needs or desires. This way, you can grown again a little bit.
So, you don’t know how to form and shape your habits? Learn it. Find someone, who can teach you that skill. Look for people, who did it. This will help you to grow. On the way new relationships will grow naturally.
You think, you have nothing to offer? Think again! Maybe, you do not have what the other person needs. But find out, what she needs or values. Then look for someone, who has it. bring them together. This is a great service to both, and it will open doors for you.
In fact, I know some people in the Network Marketing industry, who make a great living just by connecting other people and helping them to grow personally and with your network. If you are interested, drop me a note. I will be glad to share with you the details.
This was the manuscript of episode 22 of the podcast Success and Inner Growth. Episode 23 will follow in the first days of November 2021. The topic will be: How to Learn.