This blog is a part of series of blogs I’m writing on 11 Life-Changing Lessons on Leadership, Relationships and Personal Life.
Lesson Four: Finding Replenishing Relationships
As I mentioned in the first of this series, in 2009 I was diagnosed with cancer and it caused me to do some serious thinking about relationships, leadership and my personal life. One of the issues I thought about most was deep gratitude for the “replenishing relationships” around me. There are generally two types of people in your world. There are either what I like to call “VDPs” or “VIPs”. VDP stands for “very draining people” and VIP for “very inspiring people.” Clearly, we all have VDPs in our life. Some of those people we can’t do much of anything about, while with others, we can make some important choices. However, I want to focus this blog on VIPs. These are people you replenish you. Through my health issue 10 years ago, I realized I was a very fortunate and blessed person to have so many VIPs in my life.
The very draining people find you, but quite often you must invest in building the very inspiring people into your daily life. My good friend, John Watson, recently passed away and he was one of those replenishing relationships for me. I remember early in Cathy’s and my marriage I was telling her I wished I could spend time with someone like John Watson more often. She said, “Why don’t you eat a meal together or share a coffee on a regular basis with him?” I remember saying to her, “John is busy and already has many relationships in his life where he fills that role.” As I look back on that conversation, I was deciding for John that he was too busy and wouldn’t want to meet with me without ever letting him considerate it. Cathy gently nudged me to seek out John as only a wife can do.
We worked together at the same church. I ran into him soon after my conversation with Cathy. I asked if he would be open to having lunch. He jumped at the opportunity. For three years we ended up having lunch together every Wednesday. I can’t tell you how much I looked forward to our weekly times together. I didn’t realize it, but John was also looking for a replenishing relationship. Even after John moved to another city, our relationship stayed strong and when we would get together, we would pick up right where we left off. It took intentionality. How about you? Is there someone in your life you would like to spend more time with on a regular basis? Maybe all you have to do is ask.
I believe everyone needs three types of replenishing relationships: Mentors, Peer Support, Being a Mentor
Mentors – Do you have mentors? Are there people in your life to whom you can look for guidance, coaching, wisdom, and wise counsel? If you are married, do you have a couple (or a few couples) who you can spend time with periodically who not only give insight, but also provide a living example of a more vibrant marriage? Most successful people in their careers look at a mentor in their life who helped them get to where they wanted. Moms need older wiser Mentor Moms who can provide a listening ear and support. Who are your mentors? If you don’t have what you are hoping for, make a list today. Don’t start by asking someone to be your mentor, just make an appointment and begin with a few questions. See what happens from there as you build a relationship.
Peer Support – We were never meant to do parenting alone or marriage alone. Do you have a group of friends who will support you and encourage you? Cathy and I were in a couples’ group from our church for seven years when our kids were younger. That group became a lifeline of support and encouragement. They became a major part of our social life and deepened friendships. Today, the four men that I spend time with every Tuesday have become a peer lifeline of replenishment. I know I am a better husband, father and president of HomeWord because of my regular encounters with these men with whom I do life. Cathy’s women’s Bible study does the same thing for her.
Be a Mentor
Who do you mentor? Are there people in your life who look to you as a mentor? Although I am not out seeking to be a mentor to others, I find that the mentoring relationships that seem to come my way help me greatly. Being a mentor helps hold you accountable to the principles and lifestyle issues you share with others.
I often tell people to lean into relationships that are replenishing for them. Surround yourself with VIPs who bring out the best in you. The book of Proverbs says, “Iron sharpens iron.” It doesn’t just happen. Find those people. Seek them out and then find time in your busy schedule to invest in those replenishing relationships.
Next Week: Lesson Five: Accountability is Key