Looking Back on 2021
I wrote a blog in January 2021, titled “A New Year’s Resolution: Building Stronger Relationships” and thought it would be appropriate to look back at how I fared.
Here is my assessment.
From January 2021:
What if we all focus our energies in 2021 on building stronger relationships at all levels? Family, friends, coworkers, college, and high school friends. The principles would appear to work the same for each of these constituencies. 1) Be intentional. 2) Be consistent. 3) Reach out while you are thinking about someone.
I did make lists of those I wanted to stay in touch with and scheduled breakfast, lunch, or drinks with many of them. Some were still leery of meeting in public spaces so those were scheduled at restaurants with patios during the summer months. I started to attend networking and in person events on a more regular basis. One especially fun one was Twin Cities Business dinner inducting CEOs into the Hall of Fame, and I happened know all but one of the recipients. Others include MN Chamber and Club Entrepreneur in person networking and seminar events. Monthly, I connect with at least 1-2 individuals who are in between jobs looking for some assistance. My wife and I also saw many high school classmates when we vacationed at the Jersey Shore in August, and then again when we returned in October for the 50+ high school reunion.
As a relationship manager for several larger accounts, I regularly speak with executives to keep a two-way conversation current as well as to check in on progress being made with all our coaching clients. The key point here is relationship building so you ensure that you are offering “value added” content and ideas.
I also send out a weekly email every Monday morning to clients and prospects with links to timely articles about leadership that they might find useful. Weekly I will hear back from one or more recipients about a particular article that helped them “in the moment” or that they forwarded it to their boss and team.
We have had a Zoom meeting about every 6-8 weeks with the remaining Naval Academy graduates from 35th company. Of the twenty-two out of twenty-four living company mates, thirteen of us travelled to Houston over Labor Day weekend to attend the funeral for one of our fallen classmates. The family appreciated our efforts, and it seemed like the decades since graduation were fleeting moments. We also scheduled the last Zoom meeting of the year for December 12, the night after the annual Army-Navy game and celebrated a 17-13 victory. That was pretty sweet!
Reach out while you are thinking about someone
On my desk is a note that includes the names of four individuals. Three are in their 80s, and I have worked for or with each of them over the decades. The fourth person moved out of the country. I reach out regularly to chat and catch up. They are all very special to me and I don’t want to miss an opportunity to remind them how much they mean to me. There are other college graduates who do the same with me. You don’t want to miss those opportunities to reconnect.
A reminder from January 2021:
According to a “Community Toolbox” web posting on building relationships, here are the fundamental reasons why this is important:
- Community building occurs one-to-one. You need to build relationships with people one-to-one if you want them to become involved in your group or organization. Some people become involved in organizations because they believe in the cause. However, many people become involved in a community group or organization, just because they have a relationship with another person who is already involved.
- We need relationships to win allies to our cause. In order to get support from people outside our organizations, we need to build relationships in which people know and trust us.
- Our relationships give meaning and richness to our work and to our lives. We all need a community of people to share the joys and the struggles of organizing and making community change. A little bit of camaraderie goes a long way.
I would add one more thing that I learned this year and must admit that I am a “work in progress” on this one, take time to “breathe” literally and figuratively. The phrase “life is too short” comes to mind when I think about taking a breath. I need to work on not taking myself too seriously and appreciating the people around me every day. I hope that you fared well during 2021 and are committed to continuing to build on relationships from the past and making new ones in the future.