This blog is entitled Relationship Architecture for a reason: I strongly believe that building relationships is the key to success and happiness; I also believe most people do not work hard enough at building on a day-to-day basis. Building respect, building camaraderie, building trust – there is a laundry list of things we should be building every day, and I know that many people take these pieces for granted or hope they will solidify over time. You can’t hope to build a relationship; you have to work at it. That is the only way to ensure that it will be fruitful: you have to pay attention to your relationships and nurture them to help them grow.
We talk a lot about Transactional vs. Relationship business models in Winning the Customer; it is our philosophy that in order to have sustainable growth in revenue, you cannot approach your consumers in a transactional manner. You must pay close attention to their wants and needs to build a strong relationship that will equate to a lifetime of purchases. When you think about it, it is the same practice that should occur in every aspect of your life. Everything in your life will flourish if you tend to it, take care of it, and work at making it better. I think the problem is that the last verb throws people off. “Work” quite often has a negative connotation. It most definitely is work to properly do all I described above, but it is also deeper than work. It’s about paying attention to all aspects of your life to make sure they are optimal.
Think about your neighbor who has a pristine backyard, with beautiful flowers and perfectly trimmed bushes. I’ll bet you look at her landscape and admire how nice everything looks. I am sure you even hear comments agreeing with your sentiment and even ones that question, “How does she get those flowers to grow so beautifully?” I will tell you how – she pays attention to it. She tends to its needs: watering, fertilizer, trimming, weeding, whatever it needs to flourish. The results attest to her efforts.
No matter what you do in life, if you treat it in a transactional way you will not optimize its potential. You will prevent it from flourishing. In order to tend to your life in this manner, you cannot view your efforts as “work”; you have to treat them as a lifestyle. You have to know where you want every aspect of your life to be and you have to adopt the philosophy that this is just part of the way you live. I have been a parent for almost 13 years; if you want to select a relationship that epitomizes this philosophy, it is having children come into your life. Children need you to pay attention to them. I know that appears to be an obvious statement, but I do not think everybody gets it, and I am certain that everybody doesn’t practice it.
Entering into parenthood shouldn’t be taken lightly. Being a parent is time-consuming, hard work. It should be well thought through and committed to completely prior to conception. I hope everyone would agree with this. Having children is a lifestyle decision, and you have to be prepared for what you need to put into raising kids. And it’s not hard to see who has been tending to their children and who treats it like a transaction. It’s not just about making sure they have breakfast, get dressed and are off to school. That is the transactional part of parenting. The real difference maker is if you are paying attention, listening, laughing, playing catch, building sand castles, and tending to their emotional needs as much as their physical ones. Great kids do not just happen; they have been brought up that way. It’s a lifestyle, and it all stems from paying attention.
Business relationships need the same care. The stakes are not the same, but the results definitely can be as rewarding. When you enter into a new business relationship, where it goes all depends on how you build it and how you tend to it. If you want it to flourish, you cannot just focus on the nuts and bolts of the relationship; you have to pay attention to every aspect. That comes with first adopting the principal that it’s not just work, it’s a lifestyle. Remember – plants don’t wilt and kids behave when you tend to them; business relationships will be profitable when you do the same. The results are not accidental.