Today’s post is the feature article from the January 2004 issue of The Front Porch Newsletter. If you would like to automatically receive The Front Porch e-newsletter on the last Thursday of each month just click here to sign-up for your complimentary subscription.
It was a simple but profound question. It was characteristic of his simple, quiet and genuine style. We lost an icon in the world of relationships when we lost Mr. Rogers. It was his brand and in his passing we have learned it was WHO he really was. You might conclude his style was corny or lame, but the truth is that he was genuine and real. And for millions of children, what they found inside their television was a friend. There was a relationship. I remember, as a child, watching the Huntley-Brinkley Report with my grandmother. My favorite part was the last line. Not the famous nightly sign-off line of the two anchors, “Good night, Chet – Good night, David. And good night for NBC News”. But rather my grandmother’s response to their signature signoff, “Goodnight boys.” Again, there was a relationship. A friend. A neighbor. Relationships, how we treat them and how we prioritize them say a lot about WHO we are. And the quality of relationships in organizations may have the greatest impact of all on trust, courage and genuine service. When it comes to meaningful relationships, the respondents to last month’s “One Minute” Survey, give us some relational insights. A significant majority had twenty or less KEY current relationships in their life — although 11% indicated more than twenty and 5% indicated more than fifty! In thinking about their key relationships, MORE people indicated having a significant current relationship with an old high school friend than with someone in their current place of work! When asked to mark each category where they have at least one significant relationship, family, general circle of friends and professionals outside their own organizations lead the way with an excess of 90% responding to those categories. College (74%), High School (67%) then Spiritual arenas (65%) followed. Close behind, but at the tail end, were significant relationships with peers, leaders, then subordinates within their own organizations! While over half the respondents, on average, keep in touch with key relationships at least once a week, there was also over half who had a least one key relationship where there had been no contact in over six months. It isn’t technology that is getting in the way since a full 94% believe technology enhances the development of meaningful relationships! While 85% see relationships as a key to success in their personal life and 80% see relationships as a key to success in their professional life, less than 18% had any game plan to keep connected to key relationships.
ACTION IDEA: As we start the New Year, it might serve us well to take inventory of our relationships. As a start, make a list of the key arenas of your life and the significant relationships that exist within each. Build a “keep-in-touch” plan that is relevant to and doable for each relationship. A long-time friend and colleague has always said, “when it comes to relationships you always have to water the garden”. What is your irrigation plan? If you want to take it a step further, send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org and I will send you a free template to build a full relationship game plan.