I was sitting at Starbucks with a very successful executive discussing our next project when he asked me what I was doing this weekend. I reviewed some things I was doing with various friends, and then I said, “You know, on the weekends, I just like to be around people I can relax and be myself with, true friends.” He thought intently for a moment, looked up at me and said, “I don’t have anyone like that.” I felt a twinge of sadness for him because in spite of all of his success, he didn’t have a single true friend.
One of my best friends always tells me that we have great friends, when we are a great friend. Everything I have accomplished in my life to date is directly a result of people in my life. In the earlier days, it was family, teachers, friends who encouraged me, invested in me, cared for me. In my career today, it is great partners and team members I can collaborate with do great work. It is clients who believe in me, who hire me for their most important projects, who refer me other clients, who trust me to help them. It is my friends and family who continue to support me and to be there for me. The people in my life, the relationships I have in my life, are truly my greatest assets. They provide me the amazing life I have, and the joy and gratitude I feel everyday.
I have always heard, “You can tell a lot about a person by their friends, the company they keep.” In my case, I feel so grateful to have such awesome people around me. I want to do everything I can to support them, help them, and continue the virtuous cycle that exists in my life. Healthy relationships are symbiotic, which in the Greek means “together and living,” where both parties benefit from the connection. I know we can only achieve greater happiness based on who is in our life, and who we are connected to, and doing life with. In addition, we must continue to be grateful for each and every person, and each and every positive thing that life gives us. I learned this lesson in Bali where I met so many happy people, who had very little monetarily, yet had great relationships with their family and friends, and were truly happy.
Why is feeling and expressing gratitude so important in healthy relationships?
In relationships, if a person is not grateful for the other person, or does not express their gratitude, the relationship becomes about entitlement and score keeping. The ungrateful person will express a high sense of entitlement, and expect others to just do things for them. In a work relationship, this causes people to do just what they are required, but not much more. When we show our sincere appreciation, people will go beyond what is required for their job. In a personal relationship, without gratitude, the relationship is based on scorekeeping and about doing only for the other if they do for you. This is not a fun way to live, it a viscous cycle, versus virtuous. Healthy relationships make us feel good to be in them. Giving and doing for others is a privilege, not a burden, because they are grateful, and they reciprocate.
What does any of this have to do with work, and achieving success in business?
Everything. True success comes when we accomplish our goals and dreams, and are able to share it with people who we enjoy to be with. True success at work comes from people working hard for us because they know we have their back, and we have theirs. We don’t become successful on our own, it takes other people in our life to help us get there. True success comes from having successful relationships.