by Sean McDonald
[Today’s Tuesday Reading is from Sean McDonald, Vice-President of MOR Associates. Sean may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.]
Like you, I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about relationships over the course of my life, especially these past 15 months. Given the work MOR does, my reflection often explores the connections between relationships and results. Two household names highlight this connection for me in Paul Revere and Rosa Parks.
As we approach the July 4th holiday we are reminded of this country’s beginning and the results accomplished during that time. This march to independence had a pivotal moment in April 1775 when a large number of British soldiers were embarking on Boston. Paul Revere and other riders quickly spread the word and stirred a community to action. They were able to move people to action because of the revolutionary relationships they had. They invested in these relationships long before they needed them, they were credible, and aligned in vision.
Same goes for Rosa Parks. There were others in Montgomery that had been arrested for sitting in the wrong seat of a segregated bus prior to Parks. And prior to these times, boycotting was not a familiar thing to people in Montgomery. As circumstances stirred and Rosa Parks was arrested, it was the caliber of her network that helped shift the actions of an entire community toward the historical bus boycott. She had been the secretary at the local NAACP chapter, an involved member at her church, and part of at least a half-dozen volunteer groups. She was connected with many across the community and held in high regard. They knew what she stood for.
What results are you expected to deliver upon in the year ahead? In the arc of Respond-Adapt-Transform, as we look ahead at the transformation to come, what relationships do you need in place, who do you need to be aligned on vision with, who needs to know what you stand for?
As we evolve along this global crisis, a time when most people narrowed the focus of their relationships, how will you widen your reach? For the many Tuesday Reading subscribers, they will be familiar with the 4 I’s of Relationship Building; Initiate, Inquire, Invest, and Influence. The results of this process are exhibited well in the stories of Paul Revere and Rosa Parks. Influence comes from work done long before there is a call to action. We lay the groundwork through the first three I’s. This starts with taking the initiative.
The two primary obstacles I hear about for not initiating relationship building are time and comfort. For both of these the answer is found in the formation of new practices. That is, intentionally repeating an action in service of a goal. You will never “find time.” We all have the same amount of time. It is how we prioritize spending it that matters. If the results you are pursuing are important, and your efforts may benefit from this eventual influence, prioritize the time now to make small advances with relationship building. In stepping out of comfort zones as well, we benefit from a thought out process and routine that will aid the formation of a new practice, toward an eventual new habit.
I’ll add an additional “I” that is needed in this evolved context we are operating in, when we may no longer be in the same office suite, building, campus or state as the people we were building relationships with just a year-and-a-half ago: intentionality. We now need to elevate our intentionality in who we reach out to, who we connect with, who we build relationships with. We no longer bump into people in the halls, cafeteria, or campus courtyards. Below are some sample practices you can seek to adopt. Consider these now. If you wait you may miss the chance to call others to action when the circumstances line up to do so.
You know your context and need best, so regardless of the above recommendations, set up the right practice for you, the right repeatable actions to step forward in the process of building relationships. Do this daily or weekly. However small, start today.