The true mark of friendship is that you spend time with each other without a specific agenda and when you do not and get back together, you continue as if you were never apart. You don’t have to agree about things. In fact, one of the things that binds you together may actually be the healthy disagreements you have. Your respect for each other goes beyond the mundane.
Very few first contacts make it to this level but in reality they don’t need to. For business, once you succeed at the acquaintance level you’re good to go.
However, making it to the level of friendship is not cast in stone. Friendships change over time. Those that stick are bound by a deeper sense of appreciation for the person and not for what they stand for. Unfortunately many people have not built relationships around hearty issues and so when they get into difficult situations, they discover they have do not have “true” friends.
There is the Circle of Value. This is a two-way flow of value: inward and outward. The inward is the value added to you through reading, associations that stimulate thought and exposure.
The outward flow is made up of the value you bring to the table — the table being a time in history, your family, community, workplace, nation or whatever it is that you are a part of.
Constantly evaluate if your circle of value is shrinking or expanding. In shrinking, those who value your intelligence or skills are diminishing in number. Expansion means those who value what you have are growing in number.
Many people are so focused on the outward flow that they miss out on the inward flow. They do not realise that the outward is a function of the inward.
Outward is measured by the value you bring. This is evident in families, the workplace and in most gatherings. The person with the most value to bring on board is the loudest voice and whose opinion will carry more weight.
Developing your inward flow is crucial. This is triggered by always asking what I call the Golden Question of sustainable relationships: “What am I bringing to the table?” For many it is, “What am I getting from the table?” which cannot lead to sustainable relationship because such people will after a while be outed as parasites that just feed off relationships.
If, however, you constantly live to give and build yourself, driven and guided by the Golden Question of sustainable relationships, you will never lose relevance and will truly be in demand.
There are three scenarios: The stagnant circle of value when those who value your intelligence are constant; the shrinking circle when those that value your intelligence are on the decline; and, the expanding circle when the number of people who value it increases.
It takes a lot of work to build a sustainable relationship. The greedy and self-centered nature of our world makes it difficult to build such relationships but you can dare to be an oasis of authentic relationships in the midst of a desert of relationships that never go beyond the transactional.
Keep building your capacity to increase your inward flow of value and motives pure. Irrelevance happens when the circle of value shrinks.
Wale Akinyemi is the chief transformation officer, PowerTalks, and convenor of the Street University (thestreetuniversity.com)