One day, my 10-year-old son stunned me. He was just coming from school and found me home in the lounge watching lunch-hour news on my favorite channel, Al Jazeera. I was with a close friend of mine who had kindly offered to give me a lift because my car had gone for servicing.
So my son stands there on the lounge door, looks at the two of us and asks me: “Why are you always with him?” Pointing at the friend I was with. I stared at him for a long time. To begin with, I was not sure whether the answer had to be a calm one or otherwise—was not sure whether he meant it with innocence and curiosity of a child or if it was some rudeness of some kind. Worse still, admittedly, I did not have a ready answer. “Because your dad does not have as many friends so I keep him company”, the friend answered. The son laughed and trodded off to his bedroom. The incident still lingers fresh in my mind.
That takes me to today’s discussion. Many people argue that the fundamental unit of value in the modern world is money. Well, I don’t wish to contest that, but I wish to submit that one other key fundamental unit of value in the modern world is the relationships one has, and by extension, and the income that derives from those relationships. By income, I mean more than just money.
Think about it for a moment. What happens if you build stronger relationships with your boss and your coworkers? You are happier in your job and perform better. Then your income goes up—you get raises and promotions and bigger projects to manage.
You can easily carry this over into your personal life, too. Let us say you are about to move houses. If you have a lot of real friends, a few phone calls will get you all the help you need. This phenomenon pops up in pretty much every aspect of our lives. From this, it is easy to see that building up a lot of real relationships with people is valuable. What do I mean by a real relationship? I am referring to one where something of positive value is exchanged on a regular basis—useful advice, a helping hand, loaning of items, an ear to truly listen, and so on. Any relationship worth its salt has a healthy dose of positive exchanges of value with a minimum of negative exchanges (insults, backstabbing, gossip, incorrect advice, being an obstacle).
Surrounding yourself with people is very important. Go to where valuable people are and open up. Attend conferences and conventions and meetings. If you hear someone talk who seems interesting, follow up directly with that person. Volunteer to present at functions and meetings—it will give lots of others a chance to hear you and hence expand your horizon.
Do also remember to keep in touch. Make a regular habit of keeping in direct contact with people especially friends you have made over the years. A good technique is to keep a list of people you want to maintain relationships with and strive to contact them on a regular basis. Let them know what you are up to directly and show interest in what they are doing.
Do also give of yourself freely. If someone needs help, then do help. Don’t worry about “payback.” Don’t worry about what you might get out of it. Just help them. If you contact someone and find out they are stuck on a project or need a helping hand in some other way, either provide that help yourself (if you can) or find someone who can provide that help and make the connection.
Time and time again, relationships you build will come through handy when you need them in your career and in your personal life. If not for you, then it could be for your children in future—building good-will is a great asset. Blessed weekend to you and yours as you value those ‘friends’ of yours.