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Leadership Thought #277 – Be There For The Other People In Your Life

January 4, 2012

World Suicide Prevention Day: Just being there for someone can make all the difference - The Economic Times

It’s important to be there for the other people in your life.

Naturally, so much of what we read about leadership and personal development is focused on us and how we can improve our circumstances as individuals.  There is no shortage of resources or ideas one can adopt and apply to their own lives. I am happy that for anyone who is interested in living a meaningful life there is a wide variety of material at his or her disposal.  What I sometimes find missing in this quest for self-improvement is a focus on the other people in your life.  We can spend so much time looking inward that we miss opportunities to reach outside of ourselves and make a real difference.  It is never just about you.

You don’t always have to take center stage.  Sometimes it’s just as important to play a supporting role for someone else.  We need to “give” as much as we “take” if we are to have balanced and healthy relationships.  Just as you want the people closest to you to share your special moments and be there for you when you stumble, you need to do the same for them.  There is nothing more comforting in life than knowing that someone else genuinely cares for you, has your back, and is one of your biggest fans.

For all of us the arc of our physical and professional lives ascends, hits a peak, and then descends at some point.  We will be the hot young prospect and then become a savvy veteran.  We will marvel at our own physical abilities and then wonder what happened to them.  We will revel in the early glow of young love and with time enjoy the slow embers of long-lasting companionship.  We will win and we will lose.  We feel a sense of abundance and then struggle with the inevitability of loss.  It is all part of the cycle of life.  Being there for others in an empathetic way as they navigate their own journey is the best gift, we can give them and ourselves.  Having a front row seat in someone else’s life is a real privilege and responsibility.

I have always found the perfect summation of well-lived life is how many people show up at a wake or funeral and what they end up saying about the deceased.  In most cases when there is a full room, the crux of the conversation is about how the departed ended up affecting another person’s life in a positive way.  Close family members write and say beautiful words about what this person meant to them.  Friends and colleagues line up to show their respect and share fond memories.  People who have been out of touch for years somehow find out what happened and gladly make the effort to be there.  It can be sad, yet very touching and very profound at the same time.

No one ever truly goes through life alone. Our experience is reflected in the eyes, words, and circumstances of those around us.   It is okay to put yourself and your needs first sometimes, but not all the time.  You’ll have the greatest impact and achieve the highest level of happiness by being a good boss, colleague, friend, sibling, relative, child, parent, and partner to someone else.  Be there for the other people in your life – it truly matters.