If you’re in the business of leading people, you must also be in the business of building relationships.
If you’re not, you can forget about having any significant level of influence.
Yesterday, I had a cup of coffee from a Chemex. You know how long it took between the time I ordered it and the time I took my first sip?
Nearly 12 minutes.
Was I frustrated?
Not a bit.
It was a perfect cup of coffee. Perfect. It was clean, smooth, and a bit chocolatey. Its roasty-ness wasn’t overwhelming, but its flavors deep and rich.
With the Chemex, you don’t just hit a button and watch the magic happen. You have to stand beside it the whole time it’s brewing, continuing to add more water at just the right time. Then wait for the percolation to happen. Then add more water (with a very specific type of kettle) to the areas that are dry, starting with the center and moving out towards the edge. Until finally, after all of the water has percolated through and the brewing process is complete, you get a decanter full of perfection. The cup of coffee that comes from the Chemex is truly a work of art.
And relationships are no different.
We’d like to think that relationships are microwavable. Quick, easy, and cheap. But they’re far from it.
Truths about Significant Relationships
Relationships take time, effort, and expense.
They take constant care and attention. Don’t walk away, or you’ll miss that key opportunity, that key moment that the next step forward is contingent upon.
Each relationship is different.
Building relationships is not a one-size-fits-all model. Just as each Chemex cup takes a slightly different amount of time to brew, depending on the grind of the coffee, the speed at which you pour the water, and the temperature of the water, so each relationship takes a different amount of effort, time, and care.
You can’t have significant relationships with a vast number of people.
There’s just too much expense involved. It’s not possible to give of yourself enough to have deep, significant relationships with significant numbers of people.
Relational investments take cultivation to grow.
Don’t expect to hit a button, wave your magic wand, and voila! Cultivating important relationships is hard work. You’ll have to let other things slide. Other commitments, responsibilities, emails, phone calls, and things less important.
It is worth the wait.
If you’ll give a relationship the time and effort it needs, you’ll be surprised the mutual benefits that will follow.
If you lose sight of the end goal, you’ll get frustrated.
You’ll get burned, feel like it’s too big an investment, and feel the tension to just move on. Like this is a hopeless cause that’s benefiting nobody. Offering grace, mercy, love, and hope isn’t something you do because you are looking for immediate results.
“Love is patient…Love never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful, and endures through every circumstance.” (1 Corinthians 13:4, 7)