Thursday, September 29, 2016

Maintaining Relationships

The time you make controls your world. We are very powerful at ignoring things that don't contribute to the things we have prioritised. If something isn't near the top of the list, it might as well not be on the list. This is why I take issue with human specialisation. Specialisation is for machines and production lines. I look forward to the day when machines are better specialists than us. We will smash them at empathy, and that is the heart of what gives the world meaning.

One of the catalysts for me walking away from full time work was that it did become full time. Weekends are barely enough to regather energy, let alone engage with other things that matter in a way that you are fully present. Perhaps the most important thing in business is the relationships you grow. Relationships don't happen by accident. Through emails, phone calls, coffee, dinners, writing and other means business people stay in the thoughts of their clients. There are very well developed software packages to help record meeting notes, remember important dates and consciously build an understanding of a client and their needs.

I realised that I was putting significantly more effort into clients than I was into the relationships that mattered to me. I might be very diligent about calling a client once a quarter, responding to emails, and seeing them once a year while going several years without speaking to a close friend. There is something very backward about that.

Given our increased specialisation, we can have less and less in common with the work our friends and family are doing. At the same time, that work takes up the majority of their head-space. Our ability to ignore things that don't matter then kicks in. If our knowledge of the stuff that matters to our key relationships isn't at the level we think we are making a strong contribution, we can disengage. We are trigger happy. We listen out for things we connect to amongst the noise. When something matters, it triggers action. If we don't maintain those connections, they weaken.

Shivani and I had a discussion on the benefits of going deep vs going wide. It is easy to get lost which ever you choose if you don't maintain the connections to those you care about who have gone another direction. Relationships don't happen naturally. They require work and engagement. Weeds are what happen naturally... when the invasive takes priority.

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