The Relationships We Build Strengthen Us in Time

I doubt anyone of you is a rebel, a loner, truly separated from the world. I’m willing to bet big here that each and every one of you has at least one strong relationship to another human being.

It might be a parent, sibling, best friend from childhood, a coworker, maybe even your boss. Whoever it is, you have built this connection over time. It has been strengthened through difficult circumstances. It has survived the trials and tribulations that naturally come through life.

Having strong, healthy relationships is a critical factor in not just our happiness and satisfaction in life, but it also has a direct influence on our health and well-being. Did you know that a gathering of 148 studies found that people who develop strong social relationships were 50 percent less likely to die early?

It’s a staggering thought to imagine you could live longer simply because of the relationships you build and maintain in life.

Why Is This? How Could This Be?

Human beings are social creatures. We are designed for connections, relationships, community. As an entrepreneur, you may devote so much time and energy to your business endeavors that you neglect some of those personal relationships along the way.

Yet, those best friends, our spouse or significant other, children, parents, siblings, and others will often wait on the sidelines while we ignore them, let days dribble into weeks, then pour into months, and rush over the waterfall of years. They will wait patiently and be there to support us however they can when it’s needed most.

That’s a sign of a wonderful relationship.

But how could being connected to others help prolong your life? Remember, as a business leader you are going to be facing a tremendous amount of stress in your life, not just from the business’s day-to-day operations, but also from finances and some of those relationships you have.

The answer is in those connections. There was a study conducted of over one hundred people, each one having to complete a stressful task. What researchers discovered was that people tended to recover faster when they were reminded of those individuals with whom they had strong relationships.

In other words, just thinking about those close personal relationships, those strong ties that bind, was enough to help a person more quickly overcome a stressful situation.

Relationships are not just important in life. They are essential. Deprive your body, mind, and spirit of the personal interactions with your closest loved ones and you might as well stop eating and drinking for a while.

What happens if you deprive your body of food and water? Most people can survive without food for 20, 40, or even 60 days (sometimes more). But deprive a person of water and their body begins shutting down after two or three days. Your organs will begin to fail. Your blood will become denser and your heart will pump harder just to move that thickened blood throughout your veins to the most vital organs. Eventually, though, your heart will simply no longer be able to do it and you will die.

While you may not physically die from forsaking all relationships in your life, you will become isolated, alone, and the stress you experience as an entrepreneur or in other areas of your life will build and the recovery time be longer and longer.

Eventually, you may very well face an increased risk of serious health issues like a heart attack or heart disease, cancer, stroke, aneurysm, and more.

What’s the Point?

The point is this: Father’s Day is upon us. While this may be more exclusively an American ‘holiday,’ it’s a good reminder of the importance of relationships in our life.

As an entrepreneur, you are going to be the one others look to for guidance and leadership. As an entrepreneur, you are taking on the lion’s share of personal and financial strain.

As an entrepreneur, you are stepping into a world that is not very kind, especially to those who stand alone.

Many entrepreneurs I have spoken to throughout the years, young and old, often retell tales about their parents, their spouse, children, siblings, friends, and even neighbors who questioned what they were doing.

They offered advice and recommendations to “cool your engines.”

  • “Slow down.”
  • “You don’t know what you’re getting into.”
  • “You have no concept of how to run a business.”
  • “What makes you think you’re going to be successful where most everyone else fails?”

Are these questions you’ve heard in the past? Are they questions or comments your best friends have said to you? Maybe your husband or wife. Perhaps your boyfriend or girlfriend. Often, it might be your parents, grandparents, or some other guardian.

Don’t misunderstand the intentions of most of these people. When you have strong, healthy interpersonal relationships with people, they look out for you. Your best interests are what they have in mind.

Unfortunately, not a lot of people express themselves properly. They make mistakes. After all, we are human. We all have prejudices.

What do you mean we all have prejudice?

Make no mistake about it, you are prejudiced. That doesn’t mean you’re racist. It doesn’t mean you’re sexist. It doesn’t mean you have something against another person based on their race, gender, life choices, or anything else.

It simply means you have preconceived notions that cause you to judge, whether right or wrong. We all have them. It’s time that we start accepting this reality.

Maybe you find yourself walking down a dark city street late at night and suddenly see a gaggle of teenagers hop up and start marching toward you. Man or woman, old or young, strong or weak, what’s your first reaction?

What is most likely the first thing you will think, especially if those young boys are pointing at you, laughing, and closing ranks?

That initial reaction is a prejudice.

What happens, then, when those same young teenagers approach you and simply say, “Hey, how you doing? Have a wonderful night.”

You keep strolling on, listening as their footfalls and their laughter and inside jokes fade into the distance. Your heart might start ramping back down and your nerves settle.

They weren’t up to anything other than going home. They might have been hanging out, talking, joking, or playing a sport. Yet that initial reaction is natural. It’s instinctive.

And the prejudice is based on assumptions.

Your relationships, your family and friends, the ones who might have questioned your desire to start this business or to keep pushing through the trials and financial strain are also saddled with prejudice.

Maybe some of them tried in the past and failed. Maybe they did research once upon a time, discovered just how difficult it is to start and sustain a business.

Maybe they had friends or another family member who failed, lost their life savings, and simply don’t want you to fall into that same ‘trap’ as they see it.

Too often, though, we get hurt by these comments. Not uplifted. Not motivated. They sting. And that sting can carry with us for a long, long time. Eventually, we find resentment where love, support, and unending care used to reside only.

Re-energize by Focusing on Relationships

Whether you’re just starting out on your entrepreneurial journey or you’ve been doing this for years, perhaps failed with one business venture after another, but you keep at it because you had a dream and are determined to see it through, relationships still matter.

You might have sacrificed spending quality time with your partner in life, your spouse or significant other. Maybe your best friends have taken a backseat and haven’t heard from you in months.

Maybe your sister or brother have tried checking in, have called and left messages, sent text messages, but you didn’t really put in the effort to stay connected.

Maybe your parents, grandparents, or others have become part of the tapestry of your past, more like a fading memory than a brick in the foundation of your future success.

It’s time to settle things. It’s time to rebuild what may have been damaged or lost. Even if you have done well to keep relationships moving forward, kept the flames burning bright, if you find yourself feeling frustrated, stressed, and overwhelmed with what is happening in your business life, it’s those relationships that can help you recover.

Slow Down, Write a Letter

In our modern society, life moves at the speed of a click. It has become so easy and convenient to send a quick text or shoot off a one-line email to our friends and loved ones.

  • “How’s it going?”
  • “What have you been up to lately?”
  • “I’m doing fine. Thanks for checking in on me.”

These quick, easy responses can become habits. These are not the foundations to strong, healthy relationships, not the kind of relationships that will help you recover more quickly from stressful situations.

Unfortunately, this is what tends to happen as we get busier and busier. And, let me tell you, you will become busier than you ever thought possible as you keep pursuing your dreams as an entrepreneur.

This doesn’t mean you have to give up your dreams. It doesn’t mean you have to reach out to your mother or father, brother or sister, best friend from childhood, or even your children if they are out of the house, off at college, or building their own adult lives every single day.

It simply means that when we take things for granted, if we hold resentment for certain comments made in the past, it can push us further and further away from the connections that hold us together.

Emails and texts are fine for quick answers, but not if you want to maintain a healthy relationship. Sit down and write a letter. It’s a dying art form, but one that can be so powerful.

Writing with pen and paper can help you be deliberate in the things you say, the questions you pose, and the retelling of your successes so far.

You can also pick up the phone and call and speak to that individual in person, but just imagine your mother, for example, holding a letter from you and reading it over and over. Not on a digital screen, but in her hands.

This Father’s Day, grabbing a card and perhaps a tie or some socks may seem fine, but that card will get stuffed in a drawer somewhere before long and the tie long forgotten. Don’t even get me started on what’ll happen to those poor socks!

But that letter, let me tell you, your father will treasure that letter for the rest of his life, especially if it is heartfelt and honest. Then someday, when you need it most, when the days seem darkest for your business ventures, you’ll only need to think of that relationship … and be empowered.

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