Today Jaime Hlavin rejoins us after a brief hiatus. An introvert by nature, Jaime opens up about her struggle with nurturing this most important piece of personal alignment . . . replenishing relationships. Enjoy ~ John
As I’m sure you know, John recently launched his book Unshakable Leader: The Simple Yet Amazing Power of Alignment. In past weeks, on the blog and in the podcast, we focused on portions of the book. This week I wanted to circle back to a section that really challenged and encouraged me. Chapter 4: Replenishing Relationships hit me right between the eyes at a time when I really needed it.
“We need both our vertical relationship with God and horizontal relationships with people to be aligned.” John Opalewski
As an introvert and a leader, this is an area of alignment I have to reckon with again and again. For me it’s easiest to just circle the wagons and hunker down with my family at the end of the day. They are safe. I know what they think at all times. To be very transparent, safety and security are high on my list of relational priorities. So, when I can’t read a situation, or I feel like there’s an ulterior motive involved, or that someone isn’t going to be careful with me, the walls tend to go up.
Therefore, creating and cultivating important relationships can be overwhelming and I just want to do something that comes easily. Especially since leadership can be very difficult at times.
At the beginning of the COVID crisis, Facetiming, calling, and texting were regular parts of the day. As the weeks and months wore on, it became easy to neglect that. It was easy to just coast. And when things started opening up, “still staying safe” (while maybe true) was a convenient and easy reply when invited for coffee or to catch up.
As part of the Converge Team, I was blessed to receive an advance copy of this book and it came at just the right time . . . right before my “misalignment” hit critical mass. My vertical relationship with God was solid, but I was getting off kilter with my horizontal relationships.
In the book, John talks about several important relationships for any leader to have in his or her network:
- Spouse (if applicable) – If you’re married, this relationship is vital and must be robust.
- Close friends – People who are safe, reliable, know everything about you “but love you anyway.”
- Hangout friends – Life-giving friends who make you laugh and are a joy to be around.
- Accountability friends – Those who pray with/for you and aren’t afraid to challenge you.
- Mentors, coaches, and counselors – People who help you process life in various seasons.
Diving deeper into the concept of replenishing relationships was very eye-opening for me. However, my biggest take-away from this chapter was the list of action steps established for creating and cultivating these extremely important relationships. Sometimes, those of us who tend to be a little relationship-challenged need someone to spell it out for us. I love these shortcuts for building healthy relationships:
- Go first. Don’t wait for someone else to make the first move. Be brave enough to invite someone for coffee.
- Be reciprocal. Make sure there is give-and-take in your relationships. Be the one who is encouraging and listening. And be the one who needs encouragement and to be listened to.
- Be kind. Especially in a culture where sarcasm and “calling it like I see it” is the norm, be a kind, compassionate voice.
- Grow your listening skills. How often do we find ourselves just waiting for a break in the conversation to jump in with our thoughts, stories, or opinions? Or worse, interrupt and talk over the other. Listen to understand.
- Be trustworthy. Being someone who is reliable, maintains confidentiality, and is dependable makes you a friend someone really wants.
- Be wisely transparent. I like what John refers to as being transparent in “bite-size chunks.” The more trust grows, the more we share about ourselves.
- Be available. As adults, friendships almost never just happen accidentally. We have to leave room in our lives to encourage them to grow. Be sure you have some margin for those necessary relationships.
The term “echo chamber” is one that’s gained popularity over the past few months. This happens when all we hear repeated back to us is our own voice, thoughts, and opinions. Having a rich network of relationships helps us avoid the pitfalls of living in an echo chamber. These relationships are crucial for alignment. It is my hope that today we can take steps toward creating and cultivating this network of replenishing relationships, so you and I can flourish and reach our God-given potential.
We’re rooting and praying for you!