Here’s food for thought from one of the world’s greatest thinkers. In his essay, The World as I See It, Albert Einstein wrote: (on relativity 🙂
…without deeper reflection one knows from daily life that one exists for other people — first of all for those upon whose smiles and well-being our own happiness is wholly dependent, and then for the many, unknown to us, to whose destinies we are bound by the ties of sympathy. A hundred times every day I remind myself that my inner and outer life are based on the labors of other men, living and dead, and that I must exert myself in order to give in the same measure as I have received and am still receiving…
Anthony Robbins says,
Some of the biggest challenges in relationships come from the fact that most people enter a relationship in order to get something. They’re trying to find someone who’s going to make them feel good. In reality, the only way a relationship will last is if you see your relationship as a place that you go to give, and not a place that you go to take.
“Real relationships” can be online OR offline. When I describe my mission to “turn friends and followers into real relationships,” I do not necessarily mean to move them offline, as in the movie You’ve Got Mail.
Online relationships can be very real, as illustrated by the article excerpted below, which (surprisingly) was written decades ago, when “social media” meant primarily AOL chat rooms!
One of my closest friends died not long ago. She was 30 years old, lived in Edmonton in Canada, had a wicked sense of humor, and a deft way of making everyone in a room feel welcomed and noticed.
One of the keenest parts of my loss is that I’ll never get to meet her. You see, Maur was an online friend. Although I spent more time with her than many of my ‘body’ friends, we communicated only via chat rooms on the Internet, and I hadn’t had the chance to meet her in the flesh. Now I never will.
Think about it: what distinguishes online relationships from offline? They’re free from the limits of geography; they have an element of anonymity; and they usually come minus a whole raft of assumptions, prejudices and preconceptions we bring to our offline relationships.
For instance, it’s not uncommon to have no knowledge of the gender, age, skin color, weight, physical attractiveness – whatever that is! – or physical disabilities of the person you meet online. Frequently, by the time you do get to discover all these things, you know the person so well that these details gain the insignificance they so richly deserve. What a liberation!
But if you compare offline relationships to online, you can’t say one type is real and the other not. It’s simply not true. They each have their advantages and their disadvantages. It’s just that online relationships are a whole new area of human interaction, one that we’re still sorting out.
If you think this issue doesn’t affect you, think again. Something very profound is happening online and in the long run it will affect us all. Already there are millions of people who regularly chat online. By the year 2001, it’s predicted that one billion people will be connected to the Internet worldwide. No matter what your level of knowledge or ignorance, the Internet is going to be a part of your future.
I love my son Art, and I’m very proud of him. Honestly, I wish our relationship were much closer. My challenge is that he lives at a distance of literally thousands of miles, and I find it difficult to keep in touch. It is my fault. I am shy about expressing my feelings. I have procrastinated far too long about connecting with him. The internet and social media may offer help. This is one reason I am eager to learn how to build real relationships online.
My son plays guitar in Japan. He is very good at it! Listen to him play “I Got Rhythm“: (CLICK HERE) http://www.youtube.com/user/arthodges#p/a/u/1/z-B4bvEsFSM Please help me surprise my son on his birthday by sending him Facebook Fans. Please visit his Fan Page at: http://www.facebook.com/pages/Art-Hodges-Music/308374636701
By following my son on social media, I hope to get to know him better and to nurture our relationship.
Relationships with leaders who are “centers of influence,” can empower us to take social networking to a higher level. It’s wise to reach out to our heroes and ask to become their friend. Let’s not be shy when we have the opportunity to connect with those who have blazed the trail we want to follow. Mentors can not only teach us what they have learned but can also introduce us to others with whom they have relationships. After connecting, remember that to make a friend, be a friend.
The Senior Market Advisor blog has a helpful post about Finding Your Centers of Influence.
In his excellent blog, Personal Development for Smart People, Steve Pavlina wrote:
To escape mediocrity requires that you surround yourself with the exceptional. Steal time from your mediocre relationships, and invest it in building new relationships with people you find extraordinary. Join clubs and organizations you’re just barely qualified to join. Apply for a job where you’ll be surrounded by highly competent people. Join a gym that intimidates you. Volunteer for assignments that allow you to work with higher caliber people, even if you do it for free.
Once you meet such people, find ways to do favors for them. Give, expecting nothing in return. Build the relationship first, even if it seems very unbalanced in the beginning. The energy of such people will rub off on you. And with enough rubbing, you’ll have raised your own energy and awareness enough to reach escape velocity and break out of mediocrity.
Relationships come in many varieties. All are important. Camelot, the movie or the play, dramatically demonstrates the dominant role that relationships play in life. The drama revolves around conflicts between marital loyalty, Platonic friendship (King Arthur and Sir Lancelot), military alliances (the “Round Table”), sexual desire and romantic love (Lancelot and Queen Guinevere).
The dream of the great society of chivalrous friendship and mutual protection and cooperation by the knights was destroyed by the dark forces of jealousy, resentment, and revenge by the rejected illegitimate son, Mordred. The “Dark Ages” followed. What might have been the ideal civilization was brought down by the power of relationships!
I love the lyrics of songs of friendship and love, like “You Needed Me,” and “We All Need Somebody To Lean On.” I think they convey in poetry and music the positive interdependence of social beings. One of my favorites, by the Beatles:
Do you need anybody,
I just need somebody to love,
Could it be anybody,
I want somebody to love.
I get by with a little help from my friends,
Yes I get by with a little help from my friends…
Relationship interdependence is about making connections and becoming allies or forming partnerships with other human beings. Relationships are inherently interdependent. Of course, they have value, per se, in the emotional realm. Above all, friendship is good for its own sake! But relationships also involve being there for each other in times of need. An indication of the importance of interdependence is the endurance for 24 centuries of the quotation, “A friend in need is a friend indeed,” from Quintus Ennius, 3rd Century B.C.! This important quote is subject to several interpretations, all of which are desirable.
There are times when interdependence clearly beats independence, and thankfully, relationships are strengthened as a byproduct. For example, when I sprained my foot and could hardly walk on it. I was in pain with no cane–kind of like being “up the creek” with no paddle! My loving wife brought me a basin of Epsom salt to reduce the swelling, together with ActivOn topical analgesic, and a beer.
“In his game-changing book, Seven Habits of Highly Effective People, Stephen Covey said, “The reality is that we are interdependent, and the independent model is not optimal for use in an interdependent environment that requires leaders and team players.” Mahatma Ghandi said, “Man is a social being. Interdependence is and ought to be as much the ideal of man as self-sufficiency.”
Relationship cultivation is like growing a rose garden. And I did “promise you a rose garden!” The relationship must be nurtured or else it will whither. Note the fact that it is no accident that the strength of a friendship or family relationship may increase or decrease over time.
It is very sad when “the illusive butterfly of love” flies away, or when we lose touch with old friends or family. This subject calls to mind the lyrics from the Simon and Garfunkel song, “Someone left the cake out in the rain! I don’t think that I can make it; ’cause it took so long to bake it, and I’ll never have the recipe again!”
InSeven Habits of Highly Effective People, Stephen Covey describes a metaphor called the “Emotional Bank Account.” It is a helpful guide to growing a healthy relationship. It is wise to be proactive in making deposits before the need to withdraw, because emotional “withdrawals” are often unexpected accidental emergencies!
Ralph Waldo Emerson said, “Your actions speak so loudly, I can’t hear what you say.” Now that millions of people want to communicate on the internet, what kind of actions are going to be “speaking” for us?
Probably the most important action is to reply and respond when someone contacts you, e.g., by Facebook message or comments on your blog or your “wall.” It is the virtual equivalent of “investing attention” or recognition. You show respect and interest in them, and you continue the virtual conversation.
You also gain favor by commenting on their walls, or by linking to their blogs.
By keeping “in touch” online you communicate your interest in the other person. The point here is that is not so much the words you write that count as much as it is the fact that you cared enough about the other person to communicate. We don’t really communicate with “walls” or blogs, we actually communicate with people! People want to know that they’re important to you.
If you had unlimited wealth, wouldn’t you like to share some? The good news is that you DO have a virtual fortune in gems that are better than money!
Pay attention! Here is the secret of successful leadership…pay attention!
Rather invest attention. Attention and recognition are better than money. Psychologists believe that attention and recognition are primary needs, like food and water. Understanding this secret can be the key to your success as a leader. Knowing this secret helped Mary Kay build a billion dollar empire. She said, “There are two things that people want even more than sex and money: recognition and praise.”
Sincere praise costs the giver very little, but it is precious to the receiver. What a fantastic bargain! For maximum return on investment (ROI), invest attention.
That which gets rewarded gets repeated! Attention, approval, and recognition are powerful rewards. In addition to reinforcing good behavior, these rewards have the added benefit of increasing the self-esteem of both the giver and the receiver — producing long term personality benefits. They also help to bond relationships!
Do you remember occasions when you were given recognition or praise? Out of all the millions of hours in a lifetime, a small number of special real moments stand out in our memory. We feel good every time we think about them. Someone said, “It is not the number of breaths you take that counts; it’s the number of moments that take your breath away!”
“Belonging” is one of the more basic needs in Mazlow’s Hierarchy of human needs, where it comes just above health and safety. Fulfillment of the need for belonging can be satisfied by social media groups and online tribes, such as “the Unified Tribe.” People are basically social beings!
Of course, membership in groups and tribes can also fulfill other needs, like achievement, self-esteem and confidence. Synergy is a powerful phenomenon. Often, one plus one equals three or more! Interaction causes the whole to become more than the sum of it’s parts.
Indeed, some things are only possible when a large number of people participate. The Internet is a prime example. Main stream media, like television and radio could not afford to produce broadcasts without a large audience. Even telephones and fax machines would be of little use unless a lot of people joined the user group.
A “community” is basically a social group sharing an environment. During most of human history, people were born into their community — their physical or social environment, (perhaps their caste or class). More recently membership in a community has become a matter of choice.
Many people choose an “intentional community” in the physical world or a “virtual community” in cyberspace. I am grateful for the privilege to choose! Groups on Facebook and “tribes,” such as Katie Feiling‘s “the Unified Tribe” are virtual communities.
Lasting friendships usually begin with shared interests. One of the quickest and easiest ways to find friends is to participate in groups and activities in which you are sincerely interested. Conversation is easy and comfortable when you interact with others who are interested in the same things. You can act naturally and be your authentic self, and you will attract the kind of people who will like the real you.
Thanks to the internet there is no excuse to remain lonely! Social networking sites and matchmaking services make it easy to find friends online. One of my favorite websites is meetup.com, which offers the best of both worlds — online and offline. You can search and select from hundreds of interest categories in thousands of locations.
What is relatively unique about meetup.com is that after you find the group online, you actually meet up in person ( irl :). Simultaneously, you meet numerous people who share your same interests — all at the same time. Although it is only one of the ways to find friends online, it is an efficient way to sort from millions of netizens, the ones who both live near you and share your interests, too.
“People who need people are the luckiest people in the world,”
Funny Girl. It’s a beautiful song!
To hear Barbara sing it, click here (mp3).
I say, if you want to get lucky and be in the
right place at the right time, be in a lot of places!