Leading Blog






08.25.06

Vital Friends: Who Expects You to Be Somebody?

Vital Friends

Vital Friends
TOM RATH provides an excellent book with Vital Friends. His analysis of the problem is good and the need to focus more on developing the right kind of relationships between people is right on. He rightly states that “friendships are among the most fundamental of human needs. The energy between two people is what creates great marriages, families, teams, and organizations.”

I liked his question, “Who expects you to be somebody?” If you can’t think of anyone, there is something—or perhaps someone—seriously lacking in your life.

Rath gets a little tangled up in trying to understand how, with all of the personal development programs available to us, we fail in our relationships. He at times seems to blame self-improvement programs and throws the baby out with the bathwater. Improving yourself is the key to better relationships. But the key to good self-improvement is the focus—the what, why and how of it. Certainly, the I-gotta-be-me self-indulgent inner journey to self-understanding is worthless. I-gotta-be-me is what got us where we are in the first place. The point of personal development is to change me from what I am to a more principled and presentable me. An inward focus on personal development will only have a marginal effect on your relationships. Personal development needs to have an other-directed focus to it for it to be meaningful. Self-understanding helps you to understand others. And that understanding should give you a basis for creating relationships built on outgoing concern for and patience with other people. Improving yourself just to be improving yourself is selfish and of little value. In the end, it will give you little satisfaction and few friends. Selfishness kills relationships.

Rath suggests that maybe we need to take a course on friendship. He asks, “Could a second-grade student, a high-school junior, a college freshman, your boss, or even you benefit from time dedicated to this pursuit?” Resoundingly yes! To this end, Jeffrey Gitomer’s Little Black Book of Connections is full of sound principles that can be applied here. I know you’re thinking that this is "another sales tomb," but this is much more and applies to all relationships.

Rath also provides ample evidence that friendships at work should be encouraged. Although most companies don't encourage, and some outright forbid, Gallup research shows that close relationships between workers boosts employee satisfaction by almost 50%. Even though spending time with the boss was rated as the least pleasurable time of the day, they found that when employees do have close friendships with their boss, they are more than twice as likely to be satisfied with their jobs.

Do the people you influence know you expect them to be somebody?

With the purchase of Vital Friends you get access to the web site where you can not only take the Vital Friends Assessment, you can begin to catalog your vital friendships and employ tools to develop stronger relationships with those people.

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Posted by Michael McKinney at 08:45 AM
| Comments (0) | This post is about Books , Personal Development



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