Relationship Magic©

Whether we like it or not, most people do things that serve their best interests. This is not selfish but merely the nature of people, and thus we must always begin any quest into a new way of thinking and being with the inquiry, “What’s in it for you (or your business)?” I could write an entire book on the power and impact of relationships in our lives (don’t worry, that book is already on the “to do” list), but for now we will focus on one core element of relationships – they are the only things that create magic in our businesses and in our personal lives. Even in my faith, relationships and being in relationship are at the heart of my journey. While some people like to talk about luck (strange and unexpected things that just happen, good or bad), conscious leaders are committed to building relationships, not only because they know we are built as human beings to be in relationship with other people but also because they love the exponential outcomes that relationships can create – also known as relationship magic.

Unfortunately, many people still believe that relationships are touchy-feely and just something “nice to have,” rather than important success drivers. However, I recently heard a story that reminded me that relationships and their value are not only real but essential for any organization or life. A friend of mine was sharing with me the story of her grandfather’s company, a family business that she had begun working in several years ago. Her grandfather had dealt with several serious health issues over the years, which had caused him to trim business operations to allow him to continue to operate the business despite his health issues. However, when her grandfather was finally unable to continue in the business, the family discovered that there were significant amounts past due owed to several of the company’s vendors. This is where the power of relationships story really begins and where we discover an example of the magic of relationships.

Unlike many companies who go silent during difficult times, the family members immediately reached out to the vendors and indicated that, while they had challenges with making full payments, they fully intended to continue doing business with the suppliers and also intended to pay the past due balances. In case you’re wondering, this is an example of authenticity and vulnerability in action. In response, the vendors shocked the family members by indicating that they were happy to continue as a supplier for the business and that, as far as they were concerned, the past due balances did not have to be paid.

They made it clear to the family members that over the years their grandfather had looked out for the vendors when they had their own lean or difficult times, always making it clear that he was an investor in the relationship. It was because of this relationship, built up over the years, that they had continued to supply his business despite not getting paid in a timely fashion (if at all). Because his focus had not been on just “business,” his suppliers were willing to treat him in the same relational way.

Ultimately, the family members worked out a payment arrangement that allowed them to pay back the past due balances over time – but only because they insisted, not because the vendors and suppliers demanded payment. The vendors made it clear that the family’s grandfather had been investing in them and the relationships for many years, and it was okay with them if the company needed to take some relationship withdrawals in terms of the past due amounts. How often does that happen in business today?

I am not suggesting that it never happens, but we all know that it is the rare exception when it happens today, even though it used to be how business was done across all industries. Today, we have a “business is business” mentality that has cost us the value and impact of real relationships.

Relationship building is not touchy-feely; it is about investing in others rather than focusing solely on what is best for us or what is in it for us. The outcome of this investor’s mindset and of building genuine relationships is the same for us as it was for this grandfather and his business – an emotional connection that is virtually impossible to break and that brings real value to both parties. Relationships work, and they can help any business succeed both in good times and bad times. This story tells me that it is about time that we go “old school” and get back to building genuine relationships with the people we do business with, both inside and outside of our organizations.

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