Russell’s Ramblings

Those who do not hear the music might think the dancer mad

Maintaining healthy relationships – at home and the workplace

Russell play (Ray Bans)Since the beginning of time, people have wrestled with their ability to create and maintain healthy relationships.  Some of us have great personal relationships but have difficulty building strong ties in our professional lives.  Others are champions in their professional field but struggle with balancing their affairs at home with family or close personal friends.  Regardless of who we are or what we do, the one constant is we all have to deal with other people and to be truly successful in any endeavor we must be masters at the ability to manage and maintain healthy relationships.

Not long ago, I heard a preacher telling the story of a castaway who was stranded on an island all by himself for two decades.  As the old man gathered up his belongings he had collected over his long stay, the captain of the rescuing vessel remarked at the three buildings on the island.  “If you were the only one on the island all these years, why are there three different structures?” inquired the ship captain.  “Well,” began the old man.  “The first hut was the house I built for myself.  Then I realized I must build a church to thank the Lord for my deliverance from the sea.”

The ship captain waited patiently for the explanation for the third building.  Seeing none forthcoming, he asked, “What’s the purpose of the third structure?”  The old man looked dejected, shrugged his shoulders a bit, and said, “To be completely honest, things were going great for a while.  But one day the congregation had a fight and I just left and built a new place.”

Everyone in the church howled with laughter at the preacher’s story but deep down many of us knew his point.  We see strife in relationships played out every day in athletics, politics, offices, and our home.  Someone usually comes out on top and someone else loses.  Usually the issue is not so much the loss, but how they feel they were treated in losing.

In business or any other field, the single most important element of success is learning how to get along with people.  Outstanding leaders learn to develop great relationships.  We are all treated well on the way up but how will we be treated on the way down?  That is the true measurement of how good we are in dealing with people.shore

James MacGreggor Burns once said, “In real life, the most practical advice for leaders is not to treat pawns like pawns, or princes like princes, but all persons like persons.”

Like the old castaway, we can move from relationship to relationship, turning our back and burning bridges, or we can recruit and nurture our associations with others.  At the end of the day, it is not the machinery, the facility, or the strategy that will allow for our success – it is the people who make it possible.


June 4, 2013 Posted by | Chamber of Commerce, Leadership Lessons | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Lessons learned along the way – #2 Building an effective network

This is part two in a ten part series of lessons I have learned along the way…

“Some day, and that day may never come, I will call upon you to do a service for me. But uh, until that day, accept this justice as a gift on my daughter’s wedding day.” Such were the words from Don Corleone to Bonasera in the movie “The Godfather.”  While “The Don” was a fictional character based on a criminal whose ethical and moral compass was badly askew, Marlon Brando’s character was practicing one of the basic premises of networking – the law of reciprocity.

Great networkers understand that what you provide for someone else often comes back many times in return.  In simple terms, I do something for you and perhaps you can do something for me.    Too often aspiring networkers head off to that Chamber of Commerce after or before hours, or that business leads group, in the hope of meeting more people to sell their products.  The more folks they meet, the more opportunities they have to sell.

Effective networkers build relationships, they do not sell products.  It is a process based on communication and trust.  Imagine you are building a home – a home which sits on a firm foundation of integrity, built brick by brick.  Our relationships are built much the same way as we create a lasting relationship built with each contact, each single communication one instance at a time.

In 1993, I was hired at my first Chamber of Commerce in the low country of South Carolina.  My Chamber Chairman Gene King imparted on me at the time, “It’s not how much you know or for that matter what you know, but who you know that will open doors of opportunity for you.” 

Gene King

While I agree with that statement, I’ve always thought it might also be who you know, that trust you, that may can connect you to someone else who opens that door of opportunity for you.  You want to create a network of people who champion your cause and that too is made possible by strong relationships.

Gene King was also aware of another basic premise of networking and that is the law of expectations. The very best networkers, those who excel in the life skill regardless of their vocation or hierarchy in their business, understand what happens when we give without expectations of receiving something back in return.

Quite simply, it’s not what we gain by our acts of charity or assistance, but what we become when we help others achieve their goals and their personal best.  Certainly King, from Holly Hill (SC), worked to make his community and the region a great place to live and work.  He sought to inspire and motivate others and was the driving force in creating the Tri County Region Chamber of Commerce impacting a great many lives today.

Over the course of my career both in civic service and two decades in the Chamber of Commerce field, I’ve observed some of the very best networkers.  They are masters of their craft but each learn something new every day.  The lesson I’ve learned along the way is that true networking is not about how many people you can meet but evolving into the person that people want to meet and introduce to others.  You know you’ve arrived when “you” become the offer they can’t refuse!

May 9, 2011 Posted by | Chamber of Commerce | , , , , , | Leave a comment