A good friend of mine once shared with me what he felt was one of the best pieces of advice he had ever been given in regards to happiness and a work life balance. The advice was to find out what you like to do and then find someone who is willing to pay you to do it. Now, this is obviously a much easier theory to discuss academically than it is to actually apply, but there are many ways you can directly move this process along and one of the best and most effective ways is an efficient use of your individual relationship circles.
What I call a relationship circle others may refer to as their “network”, their “friendships”, or even their “family”. But we are all really just talking about individuals with whom we associate with both personally and professionally. In my view, I have always enjoyed thinking of networking, or rather relationship building, in terms of relationship circles. The thought of multiple interconnecting webs of people whom I associate with makes it easier for me to connect on a more personal level with people and to apply the three actions listed below as I travel down my own path to employment bliss.
These actions are; (1) adding value to those around you; (2) understanding your weaknesses; and (3)watching for open doors and walking through them. Now, none of these are novel concepts and if you were to search the libraries of the world you would likely find whole sections devoted to these topics independently. There are countless self-help books, and people that are out there promoting these very ideas but on different terms and using different titles.
My goal through this essay is not to re-do all of their great work but rather provide you with a precise tool or two that you can throw in your toolbox and use if and when needed. Maybe none of these ideas will resonate with you, maybe you are already doing this but calling it something different, or maybe you can apply each of these fully as you allow your relationship circles to assist you in moving towards more fulfilling employment opportunities. Regardless of your personal applicability of my thoughts, thinking of networking or relationship building in this way has helped me and I hope it helps you!
The first point is to add value to those around you. As a society we are often self-driven to seek out personal accomplishments on an individual level. This is not inherently bad but can lead us down a path of thinking that we must gain from others in order for value to be had in a relationship. I challenge you to think of the five most recent individuals that you have interacted with and ask yourself what you did, could have done, or should have done to add value to them. This can be as simple as making them laugh or as complicated as helping them execute a philanthropic activity they are passionate about. The bottom line is to think how you, your relationships, your skills, and education, can be used to ensure you are providing value to those around you. I think you will be surprised on how quickly value is received by you once you start dolling it out!
The second point is to understand your weaknesses. We are often told to identify our weaknesses and to find ways to improve them, but I want you to actually understand your weaknesses and perhaps even find ways to offload them completely by utilizing your relationship circles. Once you fully understand your weaknesses you can move to ensure that you surround yourself with individuals that complement you. Here, it could be an individual that helps make sure you get to the gym on time or people that are better at executing the ideas of others or vice versa. Ultimately a football team of nothing but running backs will not succeed. You need a team of people who all have different but complimentary talents in order to truly move forward.
The third and final point is to watch for open doors and to walk through them. If you are taking the time to honestly develop meaningful relationship circles, you are adding value to other people’s lives, and you fully understand you weaknesses, doors will open and you will become better at spotting them and will be able to more easily walk through them successfully. At times this means that you must go outside of your comfort zone and take risks you may not normally take, but that is where the support of your relationship circles come in and the hard work you have put in pays off.
Trust in those around you and be on the lookout for your own little piece of employment nirvana. For me, the application of these actions has directly led to where I am today. If it was not for my individual relationship circles, I never would have thought to go to law school let alone attempt to hang a shingle immediately after graduating and passing the bar. But, like me, if you able to master the actions held in this essay you may just be able to find someone to pay you for what you love to do.
More about Jeremy
Jeremy is an attorney and founding partner at Masterson, Bottenberg & Eichorn, LLP, a general practice law firm in Waukee. He has a Finance degree from Upper Iowa University and attended Drake Law School graduating with a certificate in business law. He currently resides in West Des Moines with his wife and two children and enjoys spending what free time he does have with them.