Having a network of strong relationships is integral to your long-term success in work and life.

We have not been created to thrive in isolation, yet as we get busy with work, often the first thing we cut out are the supportive relationships we need the most.

When I started my first business, our oldest son has just been born; so between parenting and work, I let many of my social connections fade. During this time I leaned heavily on my wife for support; she was an amazing advocate, but this put a lot of pressure on her and our relationship. In addition, the challenges I faced were often quite specific to my situation, so though she would sympathize, she didn’t always understand.

Fast forward to today and I was reminded of how important a support network is when I was introduced to another dad from my church. He also has a software startup and we immediately connected, as there was a mutual understanding of the challenges we face on a daily basis.

As I think about my support network now, I can’t say that I am always doing it right, but it is strong and getting better. My hope is that my experiences, both good and bad, can help you build supportive relationships too.

  1. Take the time. This seems obvious, but building relationships takes time and energy. When we are busy and stressed, it is tempting to put this aside, but it can’t be neglected.
  2. Find commonality. Although we should be surrounded by a diverse community of people in different stages of life, having a close relationship with one or two people who get your work (technology, finance …) and life (single, married, kids …) is key, as you can walk through the unique challenges together.
  3. Be purposeful. Building this relationship will take dedication. Use the time together to talk about difficulties and encourage each other. Another thing that can be helpful is a relevant book or bible study that guides your time.
  4. Go deep. To get the most out of a relationship, it needs to be deep enough where you can ask and answer difficult questions, trusting there is confidentiality and support, rather than criticism and gossip.
  5. Build on faith. At the core of this relationship must be the mutual love for Christ and desire to serve him in your work. Encourage each other’s faith. Pray for specific issues and share wisdom from the Bible.

As an aside, when I was preparing this letter, I stumbled upon an article about one of the longest studies on adult life from Harvard University. The key finding was “Those who kept warm relationships got to live longer and happier”.

My encouragement to you (and to me) is to build strong supportive relationships, taking purposeful action weekly or even daily. This effort will pay dividends in your work, your life, and your faith.

The heartfelt counsel of a friend
is as sweet as perfume and incense.
Proverbs 27:9 NLT

~ Sean

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