Three months ago, my dad and I were holed up in a Central American hotel waiting for me to testify regarding a decade long court battle.
Between shitty cups of coffee, and my first taste of Sports Center in eight years, my dad and I sat around and talked about life, and what it means to live a good one.
Like most people who have seen a lot, and felt more, when it came time to talk about what really matters, my dad said one word, “People.”
When my dad closes his eyes, and thinks back to the best times in his life, the only thing that runs consistent is he was never alone.
An average sunset, surrounded by above average people, equals beautiful.
According to my dad, the only job that matters is to leave each person better than you found them, and below are 8 ways to do just that.
The best way to be inspired is to be inspiring
Mr. Internet loves to shout the benefits of practicing gratitude in the list of 8 things you have to do before 8am to be successful. However, do not get so caught up in being grateful for others that you skip the step of taking the time to identify what you can do so others are grateful for you.
From my experience, the best way to get clarity on this is to take the phrase made famous by Jim Rohn, “You are the average of the five people you spend the most time with,” and flip the statement on its head.
Instead of writing out the names of the people that inspire you, take out a pencil and write down the names of the people who you want to say your name when posed with the same hypothetical and get to work.
Always Be Curious
During the conversation with my dad mentioned above, he said something that still has me thinking to this day.
When talking about the realities of getting older he said, “The saddest part about aging is seeing how intellectually dead some of my old friends have chosen to be.”
A sadder phrase my not exist.
If you want to have great relationships you have to keep learning. If you want to have great relationships you have to keep sharing. If you want to have great relationships you have to keep exploring.
In short, if you want to have great relationships you have to stay intellectually alive.
Take notes after each conversation you have
The people with the best relationships prioritize listening above all else.
They do this because they understand that it is impossible to “add value” if they do not first properly identify what the people around them “value.”
One very easy thirty second trick to accomplish this is to write down three things you learned immediately after each interaction you have. This will help you to make a habit out of identifying the details of what makes the people you care about smile, while also helping you to track what is happening in their lives.
People want to spend time with people they trust, and nothing builds trust faster than the words, “The last time we spoke you mentioned your NaNa Marks had some health issues. How is she doing?”
“Relationships are forged in the follow-up.”
Make it a point to notice something new about someone
One of the most silent, but detrimental killers of relationships, is stagnation.
Over time we begin to get so comfortable with the people around us that we fail to take the steps to make them feel seen.
From my experience regarding my own relationships that failed, it was not the fact that people stopped changing that did the relationships in, but more of the fact that I stopped looking.
In short, I got lazy and I took them for granted.
A very easy way to make sure this does not happen is to be proactive with identifying something new in their life and acknowledging it. It can be as simple as complimenting a new haircut or asking about a presentation they were scared to give.
“Do what you did in the beginning of a relationship and there won’t be an end.” — Tony Robbins
Ask people what “they think” instead of telling them what “you think”
The character traits that make each of us special are worthless if we do not take the time to learn how they best connect us to others.
The people with the strongest relationships understand this. As a result they focus on asking others what they think and listen, rather than telling everyone what they think.
Contacts turn to connections when common values are identified. This can never happen by dominating a conversation. However, it can happen if conversations are guided in a way that allows the people around you to express what they stand for and have the feeling that their voice is being heard.
Proactively connect people:
A few months ago I reached out to Christopher D. Connors in order to put a voice to his articles. When we were wrapping up, he ended with the words, “If there is anyone in my network you would like to meet, do not hesitate to reach out and I will immediately put you in contact.”
Since speaking to Chris each week I have made it a habit to reach out to someone else on this platform that I admire (come to think about it, this new habit alone has done more for my relationships than anything else). Though the conversations and personalities differ, the common theme that runs consistent is that all of them ended with a variation of the line above from Chris.
If you ever wonder why success seems to compound at an incredible speed for some people, it is because of this. They recognise that their success relies on how successful they make others, and proactively sharing their network is a big part of this.
Stop trying to be the answer to everyone else’s problems:
When my best friends mom passed away two years ago he told me how much he appreciated when people were simply just there for him.
It took him a long time to open up, but when he did, it was not with the people that offered solutions or told him they knew how he felt. Quite the contrary. It was with the people that let him talk — when he told them he needed to talk.
There is real power in learning when to shut up. People who move their relationships from good to great understand this and know that sometimes the best thing to say is nothing at all.
Take care of yourself:
I hate running. However, I run everyday and the reason I do is simple. After doing it, I compliment my wife more, I ask my kids to play first, and I proactively call people and check up on them.
In short, when I take care of myself, I treat people better and I would be willing to bet you do too.