Most people who you encounter in life will be indifferent to you. Who you are, where you are going, what you care about, etc., won’t really matter to them.
Then, there will be those who will find creative ways to tell you that you aren’t good enough. And, that, if it wasn’t for them, you would go nowhere.
But, every once in a while, you’ll come across those precious few who actually care. They get you, they think about your well being and really believe in you. Belief is a beautiful thing – you just know it when you see it, you feel it in your veins. They make the effort, try hard to be helpful and show you they care.
Such people rarely come by. So, when they do, keep them close.
And, if possible, as often as possible, be that person yourself.
It is easy to classify people we have known as those we liked and those we disliked based on whether our relationships remain positive or ended either negatively or with a sense of “good riddance.”
I find it helpful to add a third category – the ones that didn’t work – and separate them from the truly bad relationships. I tend to believe that 9 out of every 10 people we meet have good intentions and it’s just the chemistry that doesn’t work.
When I think if this third category of relationships, I think of many relationships that, well, didn’t work. In fact, just thinking of them this way takes out nearly every relationship that I’d previously written off as “bad.” In most cases, these were relationships that became that way as we grew, while, in other cases, it took us a while to realize things weren’t working. In some cases, I pulled the plug and, in other cases, either the relationship just drifted away or the other person pulled the plug. Some of these lasted many years with earnest attempts at making then work while others didn’t.
In every case, however, I learnt something about myself. I learnt about my core values, my chosen approach to life and about my own level of openness to different traits and value systems. These tend to be particularly instructive when I think about some professional relationships that didn’t work as differences in “approach” or “the how” features as a reason for it not working as much as the value system.
The beauty about thinking about what didn’t work is that we get much better at spotting doomed relationships. That, in turn, means we get better at picking future friends, project mates, partners and team members -> less time wasted and more happiness.
It is tempting to write off relationships that didn’t work as bad investments we ought to avoid thinking about. It’s much better if we remember the good times (and there generally are a few), understand why they didn’t work and apply what we understand in our life going forward.
We are never going to be perfect at this but we can get better..