The Power of Relationships
“It is through our relating with other human beings that we grow and evolve — and how we deepen and expand our experience of love and meaning” (Findley 2016). As humans we crave social interaction and building relationships. As leaders, we sometimes forget this. We forget that we don’t always have to have it all together. We forget that we have people we can lean on for support during both the good and bad times. Whether coworkers, teammates, friends or family it is important to have people who can share your stress and failures as much as they share your excitement and accomplishments.
As I sit here typing this my junior year of college is coming to a close and I can’t help but spend some time reflecting on the past year. It was difficult, stressful, rewarding, fun, tiring and exciting. I must have said, “I’m dropping out” as many times as I said, “I never want to graduate.” Needless to say it has been a year full of ups and downs, but I’m grateful for it all. Even throughout the hardest parts I found myself surrounded by people who constantly reminded me of the love and support I have in my life. That’s what made it all worth it. My relationships with friends, family, coworkers and even bosses have made me a happier and more appreciative person.
Building relationships and having a network of support makes us happier and healthier both physically and mentally. The Harvard Study of Adult Development has been going on since 1938 and has tracked 700 men throughout the course of their lives to see how childhood experiences affect health and well being. Robert Waldinger is the current director of the study and he spoke at a Tedx Conference in 2015 about the importance of good relationships. Based on interviews and evaluations of participants in the study Waldinger concludes, “Good relationships keep us happier and healthier.” It sounds so simple, but it is something we often forget. We get caught up in work or school or extracurriculars and forget to invest in one of the most rewarding and experiences of all: relationships.
I’m not saying we shouldn’t pursue our goals of getting a good paying job or getting that leadership position you want. I’m saying that while you’re pursuing those things, remember the people who want to share in your successes. Remember the people who can jump for joy with you and cry with you when you need it.
I’m lucky to have strong relationships and a support system. If you’re struggling with that, take a step away from work or school or an extracurricular. Close your laptop and put away the homework. Have friends over for a movie night. Go out to dinner. Sit in your living room and talk. Let yourself build strong relationships with the people around you and let them become your support.