Relationships: The Formula for Success

Success winner woman“To lead people, walk beside them …

As for the best leaders, the people do not notice their existence.

The next best, the people honor and praise.

The next, the people fear; and the next, the people hate…

When the best leader’s work is done the people say,

We did it ourselves!”—Lao Tzu

My definition of success is not the typical response. Success to me is not the traditional definition of accumulating wealth. Money is a resource and although it is important, it is not the only thing of value in our lives. Relationships are critical. I believe that when I have great personal and professional relationships, I am successful. When I can pour into the lives of others using my knowledge and life experience to help them on their journey, I have been successful. Identifying your purpose and living in that space is success. Being on a path to emotional well-being, wholeness and healing can also serve as key components to success. Success is not a path that is traveled alone and in order to achieve long term success, the involvement of others will provide a foundation for your growth.

I can’t say that I’ve always been highly relational. As a kid, I was painfully shy. It was difficult for me to talk to people and look them in the eyes. My shyness in nature got worse when I was in third grade and became the victim of a bully. The other girls in my class followed suit because they didn’t want to experience her wrath. For two years of my life, I was tormented and lost trust in others. I became extremely cautious of others and did not allow anyone to get close to me. I had serious trust issues and even though I ran for office and was involved in many clubs in high school, I still did not allow others to see the real me. This pain became a part of my existence and had embedded deeply into my core. In college, I came out of my shell a bit more realizing that I could not define my future if I did not become more of an architect of my present situation.

I became more vocal, more involved and more aware of the value of relationships. I was so fortunate to have had a roommate in college who allowed me to see the multi-faceted person that she was and it helped me to accept the many dimensions that were a part of my journey.   Her authenticity impacted my ability to be real. I realized that as I became more aware and accepting of my own journey, I began to attract others I could trust. I began trusting myself, paying attention to the story I told about myself which resulted in a huge difference in my relationships!

Authenticity is defined as “owning one’s personal experiences, be the thoughts, emotions, needs, wants, preferences, or beliefs, processes captured by the injunction” to know oneself” and “further implies that one acts in accord with the true self, expressing oneself in ways that are consistent with inner thoughts and feelings” (Harter, 2002, p. 382). As time has progressed, I realized the value of knowing your story. I spent so much time trying to become what I thought others wanted me to be so that I could obtain their approval. I thought it was safe. It wasn’t. I began to understand that my story was the key to experiencing real relationships that were mutually beneficial and fulfilling as I got older. Knowing your story is the start of authenticity.

In the book, Leadership for the Disillusioned: Moving Beyond Myths and Heroes to Leading That Liberates, author Amanda Sinclair discusses the lives of the leaders of both Enron and WorldCom. She explores their childhood and notes that they both had very difficult experiences and used their leadership to create a different story. Sinclair shares that it is important to know one’s triggers in order to lead effectively. I believe that recognizing one’s triggers is critical to understanding their story. I began to understand that if I didn’t resolve the issues I had with being bullied—feeling less than, unheard, and not valued—I would continue to find myself in relationships that reignited those feelings until I became aware of my triggers and more so, aware of my story.

My involvement in high school as well as college has served as a foundation for my success.   I am a firm believer in serving others but also building meaningful relationships. Many of the relationships I have acquired over the years I have worked hard to maintain. Relationships are a form of capital and really can serve as a resource that can be leveraged for success. Building social capital is essential—it is more than networking.

The goal is not to create solely transactional relationships but to develop transformational opportunities for all parties involved. It is the building and maintaining of true healthy and impactful relationships that in my opinion exemplify true success. This “success” is commonly known and expressed as “capital” in one form or another in our capitalistic society. More Capital can equate to More Success……


This is a sample from a chapter in the book, Your Success. Available from Amazon.

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