I think we all have rules of some sort or another. Some are passed on like family heirlooms, our fathers instructing us on the ways of life whilst spearing a clueless worm onto a hook on a lazy Sunday afternoon. His mistakes in life had earned him a little wisdom, and he wanted to be sure we didn’t make that same mistake.
Moms, too. In fact, moms may have more rules, as she also had gained a little wisdom from close calls or all out failures, but it was mom’s ability to shed light on dad’s mis-adventures that often provided the best rules. Sometimes dad wasn’t always able to admit when something didn’t go his way.
And don’t leave out siblings. I have an older brother, who is as strong minded and independently willed as just about anyone you’ll meet. In his youth, that equaled regular head-on collisions with the patriarch. One doesn’t have to be told these life lessons, per se. Sometimes you just have to watch the derailment to make your own assessment.
Had I a younger sibling, they, too, would have learned a lot.
For me, however, Rule #4 was borne from the wisdom of days, an awakening to the greater world around me as I successfully navigate each turn around the sun. It wasn’t an epiphany, so much as a trend.
In business or in sports, to be successful, you have to want to succeed or win more than the next guy. Often times, success is more dependent upon one’s grit and determination than it is mere talent.
The same cannot be said for relationships. In relationships, which is any interaction between two people of any gender, the effort must be, has to be, mutual, in order to be successful. You can’t want the relationship to work, to be equally beneficial and gratifying, more than the other person. You can’t offer more effort and expect equal results.
There are relationships out there that are imbalanced, but I have yet to see where there isn’t underlying resentment that makes its way to the surface.
In my case, the rule originated with my desire and efforts to help others succeed. Regardless of my coaching, my offers of assistance, in some cases help with financing, in more than one occasion I’ve been met with passive languor. This unto itself is not the most frustrating part of wanting to help others.
The most frustrating part in wanting to help others is in hearing the complaints, witnessing the suffering of bad decisions or inaction and worse, standing on the sidelines with ideas and enthusiasm and a willingness to take action, only to be met with indifference. Even worse still, when one is willing to help and then outright rebuffed.
Is it selfish for me to say that a relationship where one person doesn’t work to make their life better is emotionally taxing for the other person? Am I being a bad friend for not wanting to spend my emotional energy with a person who wallows in the status quo, only to focus all of their time and energy complaining about the status quo?
The pain is real. Not because I think I have all the right answers, I don’t, and on most if not all occasions I profess as much. I don’t have all of the right answers, but I’m willing to take a risk on doing something about making change for improvement. If things are bad, how worse could they be if I attempt to improve them, if only a little? The best advice I can give came, from all people, my mom.
When my dad passed away, the number of people that rushed to her side to offer help in any way was inspiring. Though she had lost her love, her husband, she had not been left alone in the world. But when such a life altering event happens, we often just want to be alone. To figure things out. To cry without inhibition. To not be a fuss. This is our right.
But as my mom pointed out, you can only tell people to leave you alone, that for the moment you don’t want their help, for so long. After a while, they just stop asking. Then, you truly are alone. She had her day or two of just being surrounded by my brother and I, and our wives. We hurt, then began to heal, as a family. And then, she opened her doors and welcomed the friends who had come into her life, and whom she wished to hold on.
It is okay to let others help. You have to want to be helped, and more importantly, you have to recognize that another person is sacrificing their time on you. It doesn’t even have to be that the other person wants to help you. It could just be the other person wants to do something nice for you, because they care. That’s how relationships work…Service to others. Two people in a relationship have to want the relationship to work, to be mutually beneficial and satisfying. One person can’t want it to work, can’t want it more than the other person.
At some point, that person just stops wanting it.