For Better or Worse...
How important do YOU feel relationships are in in our journey? Not only in our personal lives but in our professional lives too? We will probably only have a few people that are truly meaningful to us and this is by design and practicality given the investment required to do a relationship justice. I also think that there is room for other influential relationships in our lives that is best described by the cliche saying “a friend for a season…a friend for a reason”.
I really believe that as we move forward in our lives and careers we have a much deeper understanding of what it means to build and maintain relationships. I do liken it to when we were in our 20s and full of excitement, anticipation and eagerness to get married. We felt like we knew EVERYTHING and we could not imagine being anything but young, healthy, and happy. As part of the traditions of those that came before us we take a vow to stick together…for better or worse….for richer or poorer…in sickness & in health. What we really cannot fathom is that there will ever be a worse…a poorer…a sickness. Which is why we can only choose to really invest in a core few. To have a true relationship means sticking together...through thick and thin...even when you don't have time...you don't feel well or what you are facing is tough. Let me give you a couple of examples over the past few years…
Writing: The basis for all of these posts on Linked in were as a result of three years’ worth of weekly writing with a friend and colleague, Dave Woodward. Dave and I wrote back and forth sharing stories of our leadership journey which I believe is an incredibly unique coaching and mentoring experience. We stuck together through the process long after he left the company and it meant we were communicating and sharing not just the good but also the bad…what we were learning. It meant we didn’t quit just because he moved on – it meant that it was even more important to continue the dialog. And…. as we experienced firsthand through our career transitions… who was responsive… who called and was actually helpful … and those that didn’t answer the call or paid lip service to helpfulness. Title… position… company… are you willing to remain supportive? Do you know how to be supportive when someone else needs it? Are you willing to be consistent during the greatest moment of someone else’s need?
Our Colleagues: In several of our interactions Dave & I talked about colleagues that went through very difficult….unthinkable personal challenges. One Christmas Eve…as I was making the final rounds of the office…one was brought to my attention. One of our teammates who had been with us over 13 years and was an all-around incredible person experienced what no parent should ever have to live through…the loss of his youngest child. As the story goes…he and his wife had three children…10..7…and 5. In early December they got up on a normal school day to get everyone ready to leave the house. When they went in to wake the youngest daughter…she was already gone…the unthinkable had happened. They believe it was an aneurism that had gone undetected since birth that took her. Regardless of the reason….it is hard to know this story and not be affected by it. I am sure there are many people who had a relationship with he and his family and they called upon each other many times over the years…mostly for things that were joyful and “easy”. It is times like this when true friends…colleagues…family…and community come together…drop everything to provide support through an experience they could not have believed was possible. These are the times that defines us…who comes through not just when times are good…but when it counts…during the worst…
My Family: I also feel blessed to have the love, laughter, support and health of my family…especially after all we have been through over the years. When my husband Jon and I were first married and decided to have kids….I could only think of the “For Better” and the life we would build. Even after all we have already been through I know we can count on one another. I am sure there will be more challenges ahead…no one ever gets out of this world without it…but I feel confident that we will find a way to get through it. I only have courage because I know I can count on a core group of people (with Jon being at the top) who will be there for me….for better for worse.
Lastly, I found this article a while ago which talks about the combination of execution and social skills on leadership. “Should Leaders Focus on Results or People” by Matthew Lieberman. I think that the heart of the article is not complicated but critically important not only to our professional lives but our personal lives as well.
- We need to “collect” and surround ourselves with people who we can count on to “deliver” in our lives.
- People who do what they say they will do is important….but that alone is not enough.
- We also need those people to know us…care about us…understand our strengths…weaknesses and how we work together to bring out the best in ourselves…and…ultimately our “team” (be it family or work).
So before I close with the questions of the week for YOU I would like to throw out a challenge (if you choose to accept it)! Think of at least one person you know RIGHT NOW that has recently lost their job….who is going through a challenging time health wise….a challenging time with their family…or who is struggling with their career path. Have lunch…coffee…listen to them and find one or two things you can do to help them (and saying “let me know how I can help” doesn’t count). Actually take time to DO something that helps – it doesn’t have to be big. For example: Lost job- List out 8-10 people in your network that you could introduce them to and offer to send out emails or set up warm introductions. Follow up periodically to see how the person is doing.
We need to help others as we would like to be helped no matter if they have helped us or not. Lead by example and those we help will know how to pay it forward for someone else. For better or worse!
Leadership questions of the week for YOU: “What are the two or three things that you have learned about relationships and the “for better for worse” idea?” “Can you think of 2-3 relationships or interactions in the past few months that tested this concept or reinforced it?” “Why do you think some people pay more attention to this than others and do you feel it is important for success in both your personal life and your professional life?” “What did you take away from the article and do you agree that results orientation and people are important?” “Are there any others you would add?”
Thanks for reading and remember....YOU make a difference!
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