A little slow out of the blocks this morning, I’ve been sitting here for a few minutes with my mandatory coffee, toast and jam thinking about family, relationships and the “office.”
First, I feel like I need to come clean. When I was 18 and making that mega decision of what I wanted to be when I grew up, I chose journalism because it was an easy fix.
Since my tiny person days, I’d escaped into stories – whether my own or the ones other people wrote about – and the confused teenager in me wanted to live in that universe forever. Newspaper work (especially the breaking news kind, which is where I lived most of the time) meant I could live in other people’s stories without ever really having to invest in them. I could move from story to story (sometimes four or five a day) with measured distance between me and an emotional investment.
At least that’s what I thought.
Years later, as I stood in a newsroom that seems like a lifetime away after having decided to end my daily newspaper career, I knew that my theory on life was at best full of holes and at worst had led me down a path to somebody I wasn’t and could no longer fake.
The thing is that, as a storyteller, you can’t divorce yourself from the relationship that is formed by the simple act of a person entrusting you to re-tell their stories – whether it’s one of business success, the birth of a child or a terrifying moment that changed someone forever.
There’s an overwhelming sense of awe, really, when you become conscious of the value and impact of relationships – especially the ones that you think are just a momentary introduction and – somewhere far down the line – alter a direction forever.
I think people spend a lot of time nurturing relationships outside the office – but in the business context the term “relationship building” always brings to mind some ex-athlete in a slick black suit glad-handing you and talking up building your network and sales with five sure-fire money making techniques.
As much as I don’t want to be the grab and go storyteller, I’m also lousy at the whole slick business thing because of all of those years spent in living rooms. Work for me isn’t about the meeting room. It’s about community.
To me, relationship building means connecting people with shared values to discover a great, warm sense of inspiration from each other.
And, lately, the effects of quick coffees to share ideas or meeting new moms through our NeighbourWood Walks, lending a hand, listening and working through the tough parts of knowing people beyond the daily “hello” has made Ken and I both gasp at the realization that – even in business – taking the time to know people is what matters most.
It seems sort of ridiculous that this is some magical revelation. I feel kind of stupid even talking about it like “look what I just figured out.”
But, when you are down in the trenches of day-to-day workings, life can often be just about getting through it.
Get it done.
Make it to a point where you can cross it off the list.
But, the process through which that something gets crossed off, the people you meet, the way you handle it all, is remarkably key to what ends up being the next thing added to the list.
All of the mishmash of business that we are working on lives in one place – relationships. The ones with your family that keep you going, the ones that are toxic which try to distract you and the business relationships that you don’t even know are important until one day when the universe aligns and that chance meeting becomes the axis point around which a whole new stage revolves.
It takes some love, some stepping back, even at times some serious apologizing.
I’ve learned that I need to be more consistent, honest, be super willing to admit when I screwed up and do what it takes to correct it. An hour chatting is good for the soul and just like with anything, I have to learn when to keep my mouth closed.
I look back on the last year – remembering meeting our new assistant editor at a NeighbourWood Walk and our new marketing guru by chance at a community project, so unaware that the universe had put things in motion long before any of us could see to that place on the road.
I remember riding around the farm with Gerry Pattison, feeling like a storyteller again as we shared bits of our lives and he trusted me to tell folks about his life on the farm.
I think about all of the incredible business women and moms I’ve met who reveal to me every day the remarkable sisterhood that is “girl world” as my daughter calls it.
It also turns out that, as business owners, we’re perpetually sitting in the living room of people’s lives. Understanding that they are entrusting us to retell their stories – or even create pieces of them – is where real success begins.
Category: Mom & Dad