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How is creating a relationship like choosing a piece of fruit? You have to be careful not to choose a rotten one. The last two weeks I wrote about the effort it takes to build connections into relationships. You’ll waste a lot of time and energy if you end up associating with the wrong people. What good will working to make contacts with actors do you if your business is construction? It may be exciting to know them. But most successful ones have people who take care of their financial lives. If your goal is to be the contractor to the stars seek to establish relationships with accountants and business managers.
In What Ecosystems Do You Operate?
Randomly choosing people to connect with is as bad as targeting the wrong people. In both cases you’re relying on luck to get you to your goals. You may get fortunate once in a while. But as all the luxury hotels in Las Vegas prove, gamblers lose in the end. It may sound mercenary. But you’ll have to be intentional about choosing with whom you’ll connect.
The first questions you must answer relate to the example. What is your goal? For example, if you’re looking for a job or to change careers what’s your area of interest? Be specific. You may want to be involved in electronics. But that’s a huge industry with dozens of major sub-fields that have sub-fields. As well, do you want to be in sales, support, research & development, management, or another area?
What goals do you have for family life, lifelong learning, and spiritual growth?
All these help define the ecosystems in which you want to operate. Ecosystem is a word I borrowed from Judy Robinette to describe one of the major areas of life. Examples include the military, business, industry, academia, community, government, and family & friends. Your first task is to figure out the ecosystems relevant to your life. My primary ones are family & friends, business, military, and academia. I recommend you choose three or four to focus on.
Once you’ve determined your ecosystems, examine your existing relationships. Are they spread out among all your ecosystems? How strong are these connections? How many people are far enough ahead of you to provide solid mentorship? Who among them can you guide? Have a balance of people in your ecosystems and in their stage of life.
Create Relationships in the Gaps
Where are there gaps?
Do you have an ecosystem with few or no people in it? No problem. Having identified it you can find people to fill it. Last week I showed you several ways to build stronger relationships. You can find people to connect with at many of those same places. (I’ll address this next week too.) Now the challenge is to determine how to choose.
Here are some basic criteria to use:
- Shared Values. Nothing but an acquaintanceship or exploitative situation can endure without commonality of values. You must have compatible standards and principles with business associates, friends, and especially your spouse. They are the basis for mutual trust.
- Willingness to Mutually Serve. Long-lasting relationships come from two people helping each other. While rarely will the ledger be balanced, both parties have to be committed to service.
- Direction for Future Growth. If you’re looking to beef up your professional life don’t connect with people close to retirement. Unless someone will maintain huge influence in your industry after leaving it, fruitful ground lies elsewhere.
- Your Gut Says Yes. This is a Judy-factor. I couldn’t agree with her more. If your internal alarm goes off move on. Life is too short to have to deal with liars, egotists, and deceivers.
You made decide to add more factors to your list but keep it simple. Notice I did not include similar interests or politics. Different passions give a relationship direction for growth. Politics and political affiliation are unimportant when compared to common values. (The exception is when choosing a spouse. Mixed marriages often are a recipe for divorce.)
You have limited capacity for creating durable, mutually beneficial relationships. Filling your time up dealing with takers or corrupt people saps your energy and can make you antisocial. Rather be intentional about the people you interact with. Create relationships that can nourish you while assisting in your success.
How do you choose whom to spend time with? Please comment below.
© , Kevin S. Bemel, All Rights Reserved
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