When we talk about “contacts”, “networks” or “networking” the first thing to pop up in our heads is “interest”.
To gauge the value a contact has for us, we look at their utility and not at their intelligence, sympathy or authenticity. Truth is, this sounds somewhat sad, doesn’t it?
I don’t want to have selfish contacts, I want my real and selfless friends And… I want to reach my goals by myself! Without the help of my contacts. What do you think?
Well, this is all very noble, and it is a good start. However, before answering, let me propose a rather different situation to the one you are probably imagining right now, many skyscrapers with big logos on the top or a hall full of people trapped in suits shaking hands: friends?
Cases of “friends for ever” are rather rare. If you think about it, you will notice that the point is still all about interest. During our lifetime, we meet many people, but not all of them turn into our friends, only those who contribute in some way. We become fond of people who give us knowledge, experiences, inspiration or emotions related with things we care for. We have all lost friends from our childhood as we grew. Why? Simple, people change and our interests change with us. Something that contributed to us yesterday now seems to hold no value to us at all.
When a friend we admired doesn’t evolve with us, if his jokes don’t make us laugh because our sense of humour has shifted or just because he has lost the spark, if that friends doesn’t write to us or call because he has a new job keeping him busy, we lose the will to take care of the relationship. It doesn’t contribute anymore.
We all look for different things in friends, whether it is for them to make us laugh, information, adventures, wild nights or whichever, but always some sort of value and if there is none to be received, we perceive that relationship as worthless, is that selfish? Is it more so than any other contact?
Relationships between people have a certain degree of mutual interest; of course they do, because we all want to be better people and live happier. We want to reach further and hit harder and we can’t do that alone. Deep inside we know we need to surround us of people that add up to us, people who balance us, make us stronger and counter our weaknesses. Playing soccer, starting a family, having an epic night out with your mates, starting a company, having success in our projects… it is all teamwork. We choose the members of our team. That’s what our success depends on.
However, a relationship based on mutual interest doesn’t imply one that goes against our personal values.
We have to still be ourselves and not falter on that which we believe is essential.
That’s important to keep in mind whenever we choose friends or contacts.
We live in a world with 7.5 billion of different people, and incredibly rich source of different values to share and to add up. We are also in a historical moment where distances fade and walls fall on a daily basis. A global reality in which we cannot just be a simple individual when we can be a whole civilization. Connecting makes us literally greater. You are never just yourself, you are part of us.