This week I want to introduce #1 New York Times best-selling author Keith Ferrazzi, who wrote Never Eat Alone and Who’s Got Your Back. I have had the privilege to know Keith since college as he was a founder of our Sigma Chi fraternity chapter at Yale. Even as an alumnus, he would visit the chapter periodically, like a father checking-in on the progress of his precocious child. I think very early on (and this is almost twenty years ago), it illustrated the effort and the value he placed on building and maintaining networks and relationships that matter.
In Keith’s book, Who’s Got Your Back, he made the case for consciously developing and nurturing relationships that are deep and meaningful; these he called Lifeline Relationships. Indeed, as the name implies, these are people who are your cheerleaders, your critics, and the ones who lookout for you and may even save your life, figuratively and quite possibly literally.
Developing such relationships requires work, mutual openness, and trust. I can say, proudly that I have had blessed to have had individuals and groups that have given me the opportunity to connect deeper with others and to allow me to get invaluable feedback.
Entrepreneur’s Organization (EO), is one such organization, that has given me my own personal Board of Directors, so to speak. Our LA Chargers Forum, or group, meets every month; ten of us having met once a month for four hours at a time, consistently for nearly five years now. Each one of our members is an unique and talented entrepreneur (a computer expert, a dietary supplement creator, a phone accessory wholesaler, a CPA, a document warehouser, a social networker, a wealth advisor, a brand expert, a board game maker); a diverse bunch to be sure. Our common purpose: seeking personal and professional growth. The results, happily, have been truly growthful. And the magic is only possible with trust and openness.
So, here are some highlighted learnings from Keith’s book, Who’s Got Your Back, in which he shares a lot of great examples of how the valued people around him gave him the support to succeed:
Lifeline Relationships: All it takes is 3 such people. Part of the book’s title is, “The Secret to Finding the 3 People Who Will Change Your Life.” Keith makes the case that these 3 people need not be close friends and family; in fact he extols the benefits of finding others that can add different skills and diversity to your current world view. Nurturing these relationships take time, but are life changing. “The process is iterative: The more you give, the deeper you get, and the more profound your sharing becomes. That strengthens your safe space, providing more freedom to be vulnerable and candid – which opens the relationship even more deeply. Trust builds incrementally, by stages, growing deeper and stronger as the mind-sets are practiced more sincerely and passionately.”
4 Mind-Sets: To develop these Lifeline Relationships properly, you to establish your behavioral foundation by bringing awareness to and living the 4 Mind-Sets: Generosity, Vulnerability, Candor, and Accountability.
Generosity: Generosity is the foundation of trust. Keith talks about Personal Currency to give to others, “Personal currency requires finding out what others need to be happy in every dimension of their lives, and then figuring out what you can do to get them there.” And generosity mind-set is a two way street; giving others the satisfaction of helping us.
Vulnerability: By being vulnerable, admitting your inner thoughts, doubts, fears, and aspirations, you increase the level of intimacy in the relationship which can lead to building respect, empathy, and trust. Are you courageous enough to let your guard down? I’ve found this positive result from being more vulnerable to be so true, “By letting another person know about your fears and concerns, you’ve opened an emotional pressure valve, allwowing tension you’ve been holding inside to escape. You’ll find you can breathe again and begin to move forward and address the issue better.”
Candor: “Candor is the ability to engage in healthy, caring, purposeful criticism – as opposed to turf wars, nitpicking, or simply turning our backs and not communicating about issues at all.” Find people you respect and open a dialogue with them by giving direct feedback; ask for the same in return.
Accountability: Keith has another expression for accountability, “butt-kicking rights.” Indeed, an important part of helping others or getting help to achieve our goals is finding the right person who can keep us/them accountable for our/their goals. He stresses peer-to-peer support as crucial for accountability and for sustaining behavior changes.
In the book, Keith continues to provide 9 clear steps on how to build your Dream Team of Lifeline Relationships (we’ll revisit this again in another post). Again, success in accomplishing this Dream Team goal depends on you and your willingness to be open and honest with yourself and your ability to share with others.
He lays out a few questions I find particularly insightful to help us think about our goals in life…the answers of which are best shared with your future Lifeline Relationships:
1. Where do you want to be one year from now in your career? In your life? Three years from now?
2. What areas do you see in yourself that could be strengthened? What knowledge, experience, training, and personal relationships do you need to get there?
3. What steps do you need to take to make sure you have no regrets at the end of your life and career?
4. What aspect of your life do you most want to improve right now? Are you focused primarily on your career? On your relationship with your partner or spouse? On finding that lifelong relationship? On your family? On your desire to give back to others?
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