As a lifelong learner, it is unusual for me to compress my learnings into a short article, but I thought I might do so for 2023. Many of us encountered a lot or turmoil – count the effects of climate change showing up as forest fires, floods, drought, and extreme weather overall, the impact of surging inflation and its affect on the ability to buy groceries, or the housing crisis that has affected many societies. Pile onto all this the divisions in society (hatred seems to be on the rise) and how difficult is has been for immigrants. So, it has been quite the year – but it is helpful to look back to pull learnings you can to help to improve the path forward.
For me, my main learnings was with relationships. The ones I will be referencing are all business related (I was typically a client), and how I need to improve with whom I work.
Case Study #1 – Preserving dignity (Person A)
This relationship had been strong, I had thought, with regular online engagements peppered with in person meetings. A had helped me through a very trying portion of my initial foray into entrepreneurship, and I had believed A would be part of my life for some time. Not only was I told I was the most constant person in A’s business circle, that no one had been a regular in A’s week for as long as I had, but I also learned of A’s dark side, when A shared with me revenge A was taking on a company A thought wronged A. I remember being genuinely afraid, and telling A I can never be subject to what I was just shown. A told me never to piss A off, then.
As in most longer relationships, there was an altercation, and A lashed out with some vehemence in a virtual meeting. I had tried to lighten the mood, and in doing so, made things worse. This was a line in the sand for A that I crossed, and the only way to get back into A’s favour was to literally beg for forgiveness, go on my knees and admit my wrongdoings. I also realized a boundary was being crossed for me – the idea of groveling to preserve a relationship instead of rationally talking things out was not something I was willing to do. As such, a relationship was severed – and lost – in 2023.
Case Study #2 – Preserving dignity (Person B)
B phoned me early in 2023 and asked if I would come by his newly founded business. I said I would, as I had met B at a networking function late 2022 and was impressed with how B thought. B then asked me to sign a contract, which I did, and I went to B’s business weekly (sometimes twice a week). I did appreciate how B talked about what books B was reading, the mindset B had, for a while. It was good – but it did not last. B had a political persuasion diametrically opposed to me, and became very interested in talking only about politics – especially how wrong my views are. I remember at first being thankful that I had this connection, as advice from many sources had encouraged me to “reach out to the other” – I even had done presentations on this. However, when faced with a constant elevation of everything I disagree with, and berating of everything I do agree with, it became obvious that there was no future to this relationship – and I broke the contract.
As it turned out, B was changing direction anyway, and was trying to get rid of clients like me, so the relationship severing was mutual.
Case Study #3 – Questioning loyalty (Person C)
While loyalty has been waning in society for decades, I am still wired to respect loyalty. As such, if I am in a circle of some sort, I will support individuals in that circle. For example, if there is a cheese maker in a business network, I would like to support that cheese maker over buying cheese in a grocery store, in general. This loyalty encouraged me to ignore weak signals (even strong signals) regarding the relationship or the ability of C to carry through on commitments. C is very personable, easy to get along with, and notwithstanding a growing amount of evidence demonstrating the deliverable was not going to be as expected (A business coach asked me “Have you fired C yet?”), I defended C and the relationship we had built. I wanted to be loyal to the network. This continued until it became obvious for everyone involved that things needed to come to a close – I paid C the amount asked for and discontinued the relationship.
Unlike A and B, it is possible, even likely, that I will continue to cross paths with C, so the more amicable the breakup, the better. I believe we have achieved just that.
- Trust myself
- When I feel as though something might be off, instead of brushing it aside, I pledge to journal a bit to work out why I have the misgiving, to see if I am overreacting (which I am prone to do) or there is something amiss
- If I find there is something amiss, bring it up in rational conversation to see if this can be worked out
- If it cannot, move on – there are plenty of great people out there
One share I would like to write about is my first time keeping a New Year’s Resolution. In 2023, I wrote a physical thank you card a week to someone (usually a celebrity of some sort) who has impacted my life – just to let them know that I appreciate all they have done in the capacity I know them. Fifty-two cards sent in the mail – and a handful received! (which is not the point – but super exciting!) Given I did this once a week for a year, this could fall into the realm of habit – something I will keep doing in 2024.
Have a wonderful start to 2024 everyone!