Sidekick. Wingman. Running buddy. BFF. Whatever you call that person to you, it’s one of the most important and intimate relationships we know. That one true friend who not only has our back, but who will tell it like it is to our face.
We want that one true friend close to us. We need their support and advice when we don’t know what to do next.
We need one clear voice to cut through the cacophony of self-interest parading as trusted advisors.
We need the compassionate honesty of one who sees and believes in our best self when we lose sight of who we are and who we can become.
And we need someone who will still be beside us when we fall short of those expectations, when we are far from our best self.
And we need to be that one true friend to them in return. When we are that one true friend to someone else, we can truly know how sincerely that person loves us in return.
The partnership between such true friends is the one relationship that will stand the test of time and endure the stresses and strains that life inevitably produces.
Having, and being a true friend assures that you can
I’m fascinated by social media. I know some of my social media connections personally, which is to say I had a personal relationship with them before we began using social media to keep up with each other. Frankly, I like the convenience and the richness of information we can share.
I’ve even used internet meeting sites to explore potential persons of interest I might like to know better. I joined meetup.com to check out groups in my area with whom I might have a common interest and want to meet personally.
My point is that social media and internet meet ups are tools. The real deal is meeting face to face to get to know someone at a deeper level. That simply cannot happen otherwise.
The dynamics of human interaction don’t transmit effectively through electronic channels. The real electricity is when eyes meet and when others enter your personal space–and you enter theirs. Only in this space can the magic of interpersonal communication happen.
Even Skype, facetime, and go to meeting can not duplicate the magic of being close enough to touch and engage the full range of senses available during an interpersonal conversation. There is even rich meaning in the silent spaces.
The way to reach out and touch is to meet someone in their space, on their turf, on their terms. Talk at the heart and soul levels that require more than words: tone of voice, skin tone, eye contact, body language, muscle reflex, and breathing rate–all the stuff you miss at a distance.
There is nothing in cyberspace that can replace the power of personal space–the space where you can
At one point in my career I had a lot of influence over the direction of my organizations. I got to help build two organizations almost from the ground up. I loved it. And I absolutely loved what I had a part in creating. I talked possessively about both the organization and my role in it.
Love is a formidable power.
Love is more than a warm feeling; it’s a motivating force driving us to act on behalf of our object of love: love your family, love humanity, love your country, love God–even love your job.
I’ve learned to trust the force of love.
A force can be physical or emotional
There are physical forces we cannot deny. Gravity works consistently and universally, holding our universe together. The physical laws of the universe explain how it works, and we trust our lives to them.
There are emotional forces at work that are just as powerful and reliable. Love is one of those forces.
Think of all the love songs and love stories describing the actions people take driven by love. Conversely, think of all the stories about how people act destructively when they are either deprived of love, their acts of love are disparaged, their love is rebuffed by a loved one, or they avenge actions against a loved one.
Simply put, loves moves us.
Love emanates from our creative effort. That’s why we love our children over other children. We created them. It’s why we love our ideas over other’s ideas, why we love the product of our work over that of others–we created them.
People will support whatever they help to create.
Going back to the organizations I helped create. I could not understand why employees who came on board later did not have the same visceral attachment to the organization that I had. Then it dawned on me. They did not have a hand in creating it. They would never love it with the same intensity that I did.
Unless . . .
I made it possible for them to create what that organization would evolve into during their time there. When their ideas came to fruition in our projects and programs, they started loving it more. Funny how that works.
Love moves us.
Learn how to help others contribute to your dreams.
They will love it, and everyone will
America’s troubadour, James Taylor, sings, “shower the ones you love with love.”
In a world punctuated by war and strife, driven and fueled by the wanton passions of greed, conquest, and self-adulation, we can find healing only in the balm of love, sweet love. As Burt Bacharach wrote, “It’s the only thing that there’s just too little of.”
The opposite of love
Fear, not hate, is the opposite of love. Hate is a by-product of fear.
Fear focuses on loss, and no one wants to lose anything. Ideologies that scare followers into a state of protectionism usually engage others as adversaries who threaten to steal away valuable resources or liberties. Such adversaries are to be identified, separated out, and kept at a safe distance, if not eliminated altogether. They are to be hated.
Hate shows itself in vilification (it’s their fault, they caused this, they are the enemy), denigration (they are losers, disgusting, unworthy), and, aggression (we must take back what is ours, and eye-for-an-eye, get them before they get us, they deserve to be punished). And on it goes.
Leaders who feast on your fear subjugate you to their power, because they convince you that only they can save you. They tell you not to go out into the world, not to befriend or trust those who are different from you, not to listen to those politically correct, feckless, kumbaya losers. Who needs hope when you’ve got more muscle?
Tyrants know the only way they stay in power is to keep groups of people fighting each other. All that’s driving the rage are the ambitions of a few power hungry individuals convincing the populace that they need to be afraid of the other guy who is out to get them. It’s my opinion that 95% of the world’s problems are caused by 0.0001% of the world’s population.
These fear mongers scoff at love, because to them it’s weak. And they know it’s the only thing that can bring them down.
The power of love is that it sees every person as an individual with hopes, and dreams, and passion–just like you. Love regards each and every life as equally valuable without exception. When you regard every life as equally valuable and precious as yours, it makes one wonder why all the fighting? How do we just stop it?
When you reduce life to the number one wish, it’s that we all want someone to love, and to be loved in return. When you have that one thing, your life has meaning. That’s all it really takes.
When we all reach out in love to those within our sphere of influence, we can conquer the world with hugs and smiles. Love conquers fear. With nothing to fear, there’s no reason to fight.
According the theory of six degrees of separation, it’s entirely possible to save the world by reaching out to those closest to us. See what I mean from this YouTube video on the Veritasium channel.
Thank you, James, for reminding us that love is powerful and healing and is what we need now more than ever. As you sing:
show them the way you feel.
Things are gonna be much better if you only will.
I want that kind of love to come by here
so we all can be more
P.S. James Taylor is a 2016 recipient of the 36th Kennedy Center Honors for his contributions to the arts.
Perspective is your physical relationship to information. You cannot have multiple perspectives by sitting in the comfort of your office, or your home, or in the company of your closest friends and ruminating about the world out there. You must go out there and get in the middle of the action.
Perspective is vantage point
The vantage point from which you experience a situation is your perspective. If you are a new employee in a large company, you cannot have the same vantage point as the CEO or even your immediate supervisor because you are not in their position.
The converse also is true. Just because you were once a new employee does not mean you fully understand what it’s like to be a new employee now. Your experience once upon a time is not exactly the same as that experience today.
Perspectives are experienced
You cannot have the perspective of what it’s like to be a person of color living in a white dominated society if you are not a person of color, and vice versa.
You cannot understand the terror of being told you have cancer unless you have experienced that conversation.
If you are financially secure, you cannot understand the gut-wrenching feeling of knowing you have a mortgage or a rent to pay and you have just lost your job and have no savings.
You cannot understand the world of affluence and high society if you do not have the wealth that gives you access to it.
You cannot understand what it’s like to be me because you are not me. And vice versa.
You don’t understand
A friend told me, “You don’t understand what it’s like to be a teacher these days.” They were right. I had never experienced it, so I became a substitute teacher to get a different perspective. It wasn’t the same as, but it helped.
The point is, you cannot have a perspective that you have not experienced. So before you say, “I understand what it’s like,” stop and consider how your experiences compare.
Sympathy is lip service; empathy is a shared experience.
Get up close and personal
I cannot be a person of color, but I can befriend people of color and hang out with them in their places. I can become friends with their friends and try to understand as closely as possible their circumstances.
The television series Undercover Boss showed the mismatch of perspectives and mutual understanding by placing the boss in the employee’s daily environment. The results were amusing and eye opening.
A CEO client once told me how he stayed close to his employees by walking through his plant every day. The problem was, he didn’t spend any time with any one person. Consequently, his employees perceived him as too busy to stop and understand what was going on. I wonder if it would have been more effective to spend an hour a day in one work area interacting more personally with the workers who spent full-time there? And what if he brought one employee a week to shadow him for a couple of days as CEO? Perhaps they would take a different story back to their co-workers from the experience.
I’m not high on critics, because most critics sit in judgement of things they have not done themselves.
I recommend opening yourself to as many experiences as possible. Expand the borders of your comfort world by experiencing, as much as you can, the world in which others live every day.
Enlarge you perspective, and you will be more