A Little Help From Our Friends
By: Hubert Crowell
I have very few good close friends, and I used to think that was a bad thing. I would think that there must be something wrong with me that I have so few friends. Then I would think about the friends I had, knowing that I could count on them for almost any thing. This is where the 80/20 Principle works with friends.
There is a trade off between quality and quantity and we consistently under cultivate what is most important.
Eighty percent of the value of our relationships comes from 20 percent of the relationships.
Eighty percent of the value of out relationships comes from the 20 percent of close relationships that we form first in our lives.
We devote much less than 80 percent of our attention to the 20 percent of relationships that create 80 percent of the value.
Go for quality rather than quantity. Spend your time and emotional energy reinforcing and deepening the relationships that are most important.
THE VILLAGE THEORY
Apparently, the common pattern of people in any society is to have two important childhood friends, two significant adult friends, and two doctors. The number of exhilarating and important personal relationships that people can establish is limited.
Most commonly, you fall in love only once, and there is one member of your family whom you love above all others. The number of significant personal relationships is remarkably similar for everyone, regardless of their location, sophistication, or culture. All our relationships may be within a few miles or all over the world and over our entire lifetime. They none the less make a village which we each have in our heads. And once these slots are filled, they're filled forever.
If you have too much experience, too early, you exhaust your capacity for further deep relationships. This may explain the superficiality often observed in those whose profession of circumstances force them to have a great number of relationships, such as salespeople, prostitutes, or those who move very frequently.
I recently tried to develop a friendship with a person that was in between jobs and needed a little help. I helped him get his car out of storage, provided him a place to live and shared quite a bit with him. Over time he moved and we lost contact. As I now reflect on his life I realize that being the son of a career solder he moved around a lot, and then as an adult he took jobs that required a lot of travel. All of his slots were just used up, he had no more room for new long-lasting friends. He would go off once a year with a long time friend of his and vacation with their family and I think that made up his quota of lasting relationships.
PROFESSIONAL RELATIONSHIPS AND ALLIANCES
In the workplace you need a few good close allies. You must treat them well, as an extension of yourself, as you treat yourself (or should). Do not assume your friends and allies are all of roughly equal importance. Focus your attention on nurturing the key alliances of your life.
All spiritual leaders had many allies. If they needed them, so do you. To take one example: Jesus Christ depended on John the Baptist to draw him to public attention; then on the 12 disciples; then on other apostles, notably St. Paul, arguably the greatest marketing genius in history.
Nothing is more important than your choice of alliances and how you build them. Without them you are nothing. With them, you can transform your life often the lives of those around you, and occasionally. In small or large ways, the course of history.
The key allies are few in number. It is generally a safe assertion that at least 80 percent of the value of your allies comes from fewer than 20 percent of their number.
You don't need many allies but you need the right ones, with the right relationships between you and each of them. You need them at the right time, in the right place and with a common interest in advancing your interests. Above all, the allies must trust you and you must be able to trust them.
FIVE ATTRIBUTES OF GOOD RELATIONSHIPS
1. Mutual enjoyment
This is the most obvious, if you do not enjoy talking to someone, in their office, a restaurant, at a social occasion, or on the phone, you will not build a strong relationship. They have to enjoy your company too. Spend more time with the contacts you enjoy and less time with the ones you don't enjoy being with.
I am sure that there are people that you enjoy immensely, but whom you do not greatly respect professionally and vice versa. If someone is to help you professionally, they must be impressed by you! Yet very often we hide our light under a bushel. My career job for 23 years involved working with a small group of six men. We had great respect for each other and our manager. This resulted in our helping each other in every area of our jobs.
3. Shared experience
As I shared earlier working with six men in one office allowed us to share all of our experiences, both work related and personal. This drew us together not only during work, but outside actives and social actives as well.
For alliances to work, each ally must do a great deal for the other party--repeatedly, consistently, over a long period of time.
Reciprocity requires that the relationship not be one sided. Reciprocity should come naturally and not be too finely calculated. The important thing is that you do whatever you possibly can, consistent with high ethical standards, to help the other person. You should not wait until they ask for a favor.
Trust cements relationships. Lack of trust can unwind them very quickly. Trust requires total honesty at all times. If you do not trust someone totally, don't try to build up an alliance. I shouldn't work and it won't.
For both personal and professional relationships, fewer and deeper is better than more and less deep. Bad relationships drive out the good relationships. There are a limited number of slots for relationships, don't use up the slots too early or on low-quality relationships.
Choose with care. Then build with commitment.
This is just a few of the insights covered in the book, The 80/20 Principle by Richard Koch.
Assignment: Read Chapter 12 of The 80/20 Principle, By Richard Koch, ISBN 0-385-49174-3
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