Abuse is a pattern of behavior used to gain and maintain power and control. And, it is more prevalent than we think. In fact, the likelihood that you have either been mildly abused or engaged in mild abuse is high.

If that sounds shocking to you, go back to when you were a kid or teenager. Is there a chance you engaged in a pattern of behavior to mess with another kid? That’s an example of mild abuse. And, the chances are high that you were that other kid at some point in your life.

Abuse is prevalent wherever there is plenty of insecurity (hence, the teenager example). The higher the insecurity, the greater the chance people display bully behavior. And, when they display bully behavior frequently, they become bullies for the long term. We’re naturally wired to think of physical or sexual abuse when we think of abuse. However, there are plenty of other means – digital, emotional, and mental. And, it isn’t easy to realize you are being abused in these forms. It is like the story of the frog in boiling water. You start with mild abuse and the pattern of behavior escalates.

It isn’t easy to spot this. And, it is hard to end it because you fear for your happiness and well being. The longer you’ve been in the pattern, the harder it is. It is also confusing because it always uses love or care as a front – “I know best.”

But, know this – if you are in a relationship where you walk out of most interactions feeling worse about yourself, it is time to walk away. And, if you find yourself feeling helpless because of another human being, again, time to walk away. Most abuse is disguised as love. But, remember, love means respect – in action, not just in words.

And, if you’ve identified yourself to be in such a situation, get help – either find a therapist or find places online that offer professional help.

Network and net worth

Many exclusive clubs and business schools use the idea of tapping into their network to attract members. I am skeptical about this. While I think these clubs and schools do bring together interesting people and probably increase the probability that you will find like-minded (perhaps even like-valued – if you are lucky) friends, I am still not sure access to their networks accomplishes all that much.

What I would agree with is that a network is incredibly powerful. Who you know is generally more important than what you know as it opens more doors to possibilities. So, the question still remains – how do you build a network?

I agree with an acquaintance who pointed out bluntly that “your network is proportional to your net worth.” While his focus was on financial net worth, I’ve expanded on his definition and arrived at the following thesis. Your build your network by building your net worth on 3 dimensions –

1. Build financial net worth. This is true – the more financially wealthy you are, the more easily doors open for you.

2. Build power net worth. Find me a powerful person who doesn’t have a network to call upon. This is related to financial net worth but slightly different in nature. A network born out of power is probably the most fickle of the lot. Ask any discredited politician. Perhaps it is no surprise that many of them work hard to increase their financial net worth while in power.

3. Build character net worth. This is the final dimension and is one that is often ignored. Building character is the longest and most sustainable method of building a network. The hard work lies in building a worthy character and proceeding to do great work. A reputation follows, slowly and surely. And, once such a reputation is built, it is the hardest of the three to bring down. You and I probably know of nice people who have built enormous networks, often by frequently connecting one person to another. It helps that it is fairly easy to tell a person’s character by looking at their track record around work and relationships over the long term. People of character will not always be liked, but, the chances are high that they are held in high regard for their character and work ethic – especially by those who’ve been in close contact with them over the long term.

This thesis has a couple of interesting implications. First, the more important part of building a network is not having access to individuals with high net worth. It is having a high net worth yourself. A beginner politician might be denied entry into a network of the most powerful politicians in the country. But, if the person doesn’t know how to build power net worth, he/she will not survive.

Second, each of these can combine with the others to make a formidable combination. While financial net worth and character net worth often go together, I find that power net worth and character net worth don’t do so nearly as often.

Finally, it is possible for anyone to have an excellent network. While one might not succeed as spectacularly on the finance dimension, we can all aspire to succeed over the long term on the character dimension.

Yes, it isn’t easy and yes, it isn’t guaranteed to work. But, find me a solution that is both on an issue as important as this… and I’ll show you a solution that is wrong.