Include others on your island to ensure personal success

June 10, 2011
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We need others in our lives to challenge, validate and support our direction, decisions and aspirations. While most of us are able to move forward through much of life on our own, we can find encouragement to keep moving when we might prefer to rest if others are walking beside us along the way. Before we can expect others to accept us, however — to care enough about us to invest their time in making us better — we must first accept ourselves. 

The first step in this acceptance is to discover our own potential, fully accepting and assimilating the beauty of that reality into every aspect of our lives. We must identify our individual strengths and weaknesses, realizing the role that each plays both in our development and to our detriment. 

When people look for weaknesses, assign fault, or emphasize failure, they tend to focus more on what “wasn’t done” than on celebrating success. They often attempt to change behavior by identifying deficiencies that need altering (thereby becoming important as the identifier of another’s problems) rather than by encouraging the “cloning” of healthy behaviors. 

People acknowledging only their strengths often enter relationships to “fix” those around them, never fully exposing themselves to the scrutiny that true friendship brings. Those who limit themselves by accepting shortcomings as ceilings rather than floors often seek friendships that mask their deficiencies. They seek to find personal success in other’s abilities, to bury their inadequacies behind the accomplishments of another. Deflecting attention from oneself by directing it to another often negatively influences the way one is perceived, revealing itself more as a sign of weakness than of humility or concern.  

No relationship will grow unless we establish an expectation of what we hope it might become, then work hard to bring the dream to fruition. I have heard people say that setting low expectations will keep them from ever being disappointed. What kind of a meaningful relationship could develop from the premise that what “is” will never change, that wherever a relationship began is where it will eventually end?

A relationship serves no valuable purpose if the melding of beliefs, values, ideals and accomplishments advances each individual more that it enhances the group. If one benefits from the input of another, think how much will be accomplished when several openly share thoughts and ideas without fear of reprisal.  

Dreams are the destinations found at the end of the roads we choose to follow. If we set no expectations, fearing the pain of failure more than we anticipate the rewards of success, we survive but will rarely thrive. Relationships focusing on why things did not work or how they could have been done differently are destined to fail. Those using failure as a springboard toward implementing a solution are more likely to succeed. Believing that the “light at the end of a tunnel” is an opportunity yet to be realized rather than a train heading toward you on a collision course reflects the assimilation of dreams into your daily relationships.

Building relationships and accomplishing dreams are not easy (or straightforward) tasks. We often discover alternative paths leading to destinations that are more desirable when we include the ideas of others as part of our decision-making process. We miss much along the way when we build straight and narrow paths upon which to travel, leaving no room for exploration or wandering — when we focus only upon where we wish to go without thinking about how to get there. Avoid the interstate highways of life (paths that provide only limited access or entrance), choosing instead to travel the “country roads” (trails that allow unrestricted ingress and egress of ideas, thoughts and methodologies).

When people lose sight of their goals, coming to rest on the side of the road before accomplishing their dreams, they cannot find fulfillment and often fail to persevere in their relationships. The realization of dreams is linked to how effectively our strengths can be focused as we travel unfamiliar paths that encourage new thoughts and ideas. Accepting that our own (or another individual’s) weaknesses are insurmountable often results in our believing that failure is a possibility.

If, however, we merely acknowledge deficiencies as bumps in the road, seeking always to accomplish our dreams, we will inevitably find a way to make things happen. When we truly believe that the accomplishment of anything is probable (rather than merely possible) — and that nothing can diminish or replace the unwavering power borne through a strong and trusting relationship — only then will we be able to experience the power of “we.” 

Relationships are the foundation upon which life’s accomplishments are constructed. A relationship becomes successful when “we” becomes a given rather than “me” being the rule. While one man (or woman) may think he (or she) is an island, they will not experience all life has to offer until accepting the fact that people matter — that to live we must share life — and that we are only as strong individually as is the group of close friends we have around us.

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