As you make your way through your work and your life, you’ll meet lots of people, both good and bad. Most of them will appear, hang around for a while, and then slowly or suddenly disappear from your world.
However, some of them will be keepers: people you enjoy, admire, appreciate, or otherwise want to remain in your circle of contacts for a long while.
The urge to keep someone in your life is natural enough when you resonate together, that is the two of you:
- Agree with each other,
- Complement each other,
- Get along well,
- Understand each other,
or experience some other positive connection.
But there are other people you’d do well to keep in your work and your life even when you don’t feel this kind of natural “click”.
In no particular order, here are some suggestions regarding the kinds of people who might be deserving of your special effort to keep in touch:
Success comes easier when other people are on board, helping you. That’s why keeping one or more natural, compatible collaborators around you can produce a major uptick in your efforts and your results. Collaborators not only want you to succeed, they’re willing to work hard on your behalf, to take direction from you as necessary, and to provide the support you request for your projects and goals.
Collaborators can also make you smarter and more effective by doing such things as:
- Offering helpful opinions and reactions to your ideas,
- Suggesting or fine-tuning your goals and plans,
- Boosting your motivation when it’s low.
Everyone can benefit from a relationship with a person who is more knowledgeable, more successful, better connected, more experienced, more skillful, more assertive, or otherwise ahead of you in the game of life. When this person also sincerely wants to help you improve, they are the right person to ask to become your mentor (which is a separate and different role from that of a sponsor, discussed below).
It takes a certain amount of intention and courage to trying converting a person from just another acquaintance or friend into a mentor. However, if you encounter a potential mentor and can keep them in your circle, you will be very glad you did.
A Problem Solver
Sure, you can solve your own problems. But it’s very helpful to be able to call on others who can contribute to this important element of productivity and success.
Relatively few people can reliably see the big picture, identify what’s causing things to go wrong, and develop a practical remedy before it’s too late. When you find such a person, you’ll benefit by making an effort to keep them relating to you on a regular basis.
A Resource Magnet
Pretty much every goal and plan you will ever establish will require resources you won’t already have, such as: supplementary information, special materials, additional skills, and new connections. That’s why it’s helpful to know a person with a knack for locating and obtaining these items and more.
As with problem solving, you can probably attract and obtain some needed resources without help. But keeping in touch with a person who can help in this continuing need allows you to focus more of your energies on activities and results only you can deliver.
A Sounding Board
There’s great value in keeping close with a person who can honestly and intelligently react to your goals and plans. If you want to make certain you don’t drift off track and ignore potential problems, it’s important to keep at least one person around you not only to offer honest criticisms when you deserve them, but also to serve as a “reality mirror” to all your decisions, reactions, plans, goals, and opinions.
Separate and different from a mentor, a sponsor is someone who will help you climb the ladder of career success. In some cases, a sponsor might be your boss who — as s/he moves up in the world of work — brings you along. In other situations, a sponsor can be someone who simply sees a spark of competence in you and wants to help it burn more brightly.
Sponsors can help you avoid the pitfalls in your working life, position yourself for better opportunities, and navigate to new career heights by offering a timely recommendation or connection.
Making a special effort to develop and maintain relationships with these “keepers” is also worthwhile not only because having such people in your circle feels good, but also because their positive traits will tend to rub off on you. By spending time and effort close to such “keepers,” you’ll make yourself a better person, as well as improve the results and satisfaction you get from both your work and your life.
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