Aké Satia is the Chief Vision Officer at Aké Satia, a Human Capital firm in the DC area focused on strengthening organizations by bolstering the intersection of people strategy and business strategy.

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The Key to Thriving.

The Thriving Essentials Series: Episode 13

Over several weeks, we have been on a journey to uncover and discover what enables one to thrive or to grow and flourish. It has been a worthwhile exploration, but the reality is that we can labor tirelessly to cultivate great qualities like trust, humility, and patience but will reap minor benefits unless we also develop the ability to relate well with others. The reason why is surprisingly simple: Our strengths shine greatest when we use them in relationships with others, and herein lies the hidden value of cultivating robust relationships. What is a relationship? A relationship is a sense or state of being related by kindred, affinity, or other alliance., as defined in the Online Etymology Dictionary.

Most of us know relationships matter! – From a tender age, older generations encourage us to bond, connect, play, and build friendships with our siblings, cousins, neighbors, and classmates. However, though well-intentioned, loved ones often neglect to share why we must do the painstaking work of cultivating healthy relationships.
We often think of a relationship as a thing we get, like a car or home. – We work hard to get it, and once we take hold of it, we relax and bask in the glory of our achievement. For a while, I also viewed relationships in this manner! But I no longer do, and today, I invite you to consider that relationships are more than a thing to have. Instead, a relationship is what one must learn to do with another in a deliberate action we might call relationshipping! Relationshipping is the art of cultivating healthy and robust relationships. – When it stops, the relationship expires because as we grow, change, and reveal more of ourselves, how we relate must also change.

A Mutual Need

Have you ever wondered what the value of forming a relationship is?

Here, I am not referring to what your parents forged with you when you were a baby – the years when they gave much, and in return, you offered soiled bibs and diapers. 😉 I am referring to the priceless bonds we create with others over our lifetime – the pal in 3rd grade, the running buddy in college, the colleague-turned-best friend, and the life partner – to name a few. Most are fortunate to form such bonds throughout their lives.

But truth be told, unless we are in a crisis and someone comes to our rescue, we tend to feel others need and take more from us than they give. We may believe that others need us more than we do them: They desperately need our kindness, attention, generosity, and time. Sometimes, this is the case, and we rise to the occasion: We offer compassion to a grieving friend, lend a helping hand to a stressed-out co-worker, and extend a loving ear to a partner.

However, at other times, everything goes by the wayside: We confront struggles in our careers, finances, marriage, and health. And to thrive, we must rely on others.

Relationshipping well.

To better illustrate the value of cultivating strong relationships, I will share a story I hold dear. It is a story about a couple I am incredibly fond of! The story is about my maternal grandparents. I never knew them because they passed before I was mature enough to form a connection. But over the years, as I learned about them, I developed a strong affinity and loved them dearly because of who they were.

My grandparents were a loving couple who faced a fair amount of adversity individually and as a couple. But they never let the trials and setbacks of life rob them of their luster. He valued her, she honored him, and they trusted each other.

Value and Honor

Like most in their era, once married, they were eager to have children and had several. Unfortunately, they lost a few early. At that time, culturally, men were considered superior to women, and many took multiple brides to grow their clans. For this reason, when a couple lost a child, most assumed it was a deficiency of the woman – and leaving the woman or taking on more wives was socially accepted and expected. However, my grandfather never did!

Their children said that he loved their mother so much that he felt lost without her. Whenever she traveled, he would walk to the window in their living room and stare at the road, eagerly awaiting her return. Also, while she was home, often, he would search for her to ask a random question or strike up a conversation. And she would reciprocate. While such gestures are commonplace between couples today, in their time, they were not!
Notably, my grandmother was a woman of few words. She avoided strife with all because she valued peacefulness and preferred to work hard and care for her loved ones. Over their marriage, my grandparents consistently expressed kindness and gentleness towards each other. – And an anthology of stories reminds us of their love.

M&M – The story.

To me, the most beautiful story is about how my grandfather coped with my grandmother’s passing. For a long time after her passing, he would stand in their home, look up at the ceiling, raise his hands, and say, My God, You have taken away my friend. When will I see her again? I shared this story in the blog post called The Strongest Fiber.
However, there is a line that he always said that I did not include because it was more touching than I could bear. But it speaks to the power of deep friendship and life partnership. Therefore, I will share it here. In its entirety, my grandpa would say, My God, You have taken away my friend. Why am I still here? When will I see her again?

When my grandmother passed, my grandfather missed her so much that he felt lost without her. Though taking on additional wives was commonplace then, he chose not to, even after she was gone. He chose not to tarnish their memory and alter what they co-created. – To him, the relational bond they formed was etched in his heart and must never break.

The key!

Fortifying relational bonds is a vital aspect of cultivating healthy and robust relationships. But it can be terrifying because it requires pure surrender. – Wherein we embrace vulnerability and acknowledge our longing and need for others. Understandably, surrendering is frightening, especially when others have hurt us. However, pure surrender is not a release of self-control or loss of agency. Instead, it requires diligence and is a choice to live unbound by the past.

Allowing others to get so close that we need them can seem like risky business. – And letting them know how much we value them can feel like walking into the den of a hungry lion. But to thrive, we must be willfully vulnerable. And cultivate healthy relationships with others – mindfully and courageously.

Until next time!

For you and to you,
Aké

 

 

Image credit: Pexels | Fabio Campos

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