What is a meaningful relationship today?

Posted on 10. Jul, 2010 by in Blog

A Parable for Today by Ira Yellen, President/CEO, First Experience Communications

Note: This article also appears in the Hartford Business Journal, July 11, 2010.

My experience interacting with Margaret Mead in 1971-72 taught me the importance of  exploring relationships that intertwine commerce, civic institutions, society and human nature — a philosophy that continues to influence my approach in working with all types of individuals and organizations.

As an aging baby boomer, who was active and influenced by events in the 1960s, these times feel similar to those times — institutional distrust, factional and cultural instability, stress on the day-to-day familiar that usually created stability such as family, community, friends, and business associates.

There is a general impatience and insecurity now that invades our daily lives. I see more stress related illnesses, inattention to detail, and lack of the “forgive and forget” approach to honest mistakes. Our current environment is encouraging us to: take short cuts, just get it done, and skip any strategy for long-term outcomes.

But the turmoil of the 1960s also led to major systemic changes for the good in racial relations, women’s rights, and a change in how America deals with foreign relations. Of course, there were other great cultural advances — music, arts, drama, and a growing awareness of the shortcomings of ethnocentric thinking. These, plus more, have led to tremendous opportunities for all.

Other stresses on family, community, and opportunity also drastically changed how we developed relationships. As many baby boomers left the “nest” and security of a close-to- home environment, we had to learn to work and relate to people of different backgrounds and experiences.  Our traditional comfort zone was gone, and we needed to work on building relationships in a new and better way.

Last week I watched the movie, “To Kill a Mockingbird.” It’s a timeless classic about a time in America when there were clear divisions between races, and how one man, Atticus, through his experience and family involvement was able to demonstrate the importance of community relationship building in the most positive way. The memorable line from Atticus, as conveyed by his daughter Scout, said,  “you never really know a man until you stand in his shoes and walk around in them.”

Maybe we should all walk in someone else’s shoes every so often. That’s a good place to start building meaningful relationships.

Comments are closed.