Nurture Your Relationships - Not Just Professional Ones, But Also Friendships


We meet a lot of people in our lives. If it weren't for old photos, we'd forget most; including some who made a real impact on shaping us into who we are today. 

No matter how much you change as you grow, you need your friends. And I'm talking about really old ones. The ones that began in childhood. The ones that remember parts of you that you may have forgotten. Sometimes those forgotten parts are valuable. Nurture those friendships.

As I'm going through this big life change where I'm almost two months post lay off, and I'm caring for my mom while she recovers from a broken shoulder, it's been those childhood friends I've leaned on the hardest. The hometown kids who know Mom. The kids I drank beer with while sharing our secrets. The kids who grew up and into their own success stories. I don't think small town kids ever really disconnect. And while we certainly grow apart and grow into very different adults, there's a connection that is saving me right now at 59 years old.



Today, we share boozy confessions without fear of judgement. We look past wrinkles, fat and gray hair. And my god! We give one another something that our other friends can't. We are an emotional homecoming for one another. 



We take off our urban airs and rural boots, and we sit around beer joint tables and reconnect like there was never time between us. 

If you have access to these kinds of opportunities, don't squander them. Your youth can hold some really valuable lessons at this stage in life. It holds imperfection that was never judged, it holds shared pain, it holds wisdom that must be shared and received, and it holds the truth that knows we've always been much more valuable to something way more important than a job. 


However, careers consume the bulk of our days. We spend more time with workmates than friends and even some family. That's a different shared experience that is rooted in our humanity and human bond. You're going to know it when you make the kind of connection that lasts a lifetime. When you meet that workmate that could as easily have been at your 1982 confessional in a hand-me-down car with empty beer cans rattling at your feet.


When professional discourse recommends using your relationships to grow, they aren't really talking about the workmates who evolve into lifetime friends who journey through life together. They're talking about the step ladder to economic success. I'm talking about the circle of life that spins in more of a spiral than a two dimensional loop.

When the big stuff happens that rips through your mental well being, the “big guy with big connections” won't help you. Workmates that have been promoted to “friend” will be there. 



You probably won't be in a cow pasture drinking cheap beer together, but you'll be in the professional equivalent. Maybe a nice lunch, or a walk around the building, or a boozy romp through the city together. These people are our workplace confessionals. They are the ones who will hold you up and get you back on the road to career and life success. They know you in a different way than friends of youth. They know your professional worth and which personal roadblocks you're probably throwing up for yourself. 

Maybe they won't get you your next job, but you probably don't realize how much they helped you navigate the shark filled waters of the job search. 

As I write this, I'm making a mental note to reach out to my friends who suffered the same lay off as me. I'm OK. I'm ready to spend my waning work years doing exactly what makes me feel good and worthy. But some of those affected are younger, and they are more stressed than I am, and I can't write about leaning on friends if I'm not willing to be a strong back. So as you nurture the really valuable relationships in your work life, don't forget to be on the other side of the phone call.



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