How do we add value to each other? Or do we add value to one another? When you meet with a friend, do you leave feeling excited and inspired, or do you leave feeling drained?
Is our relationship with our friends value added or are our friends energy vampires? How much value do we bring to the table? We may not think of friendship as an exchange of value, but in every relationship, there is a value of exchange. Friendship can apply to a relationship exclusive of family, our blood relatives or our partners.
Friendship is a give and take, but most importantly, I believe we must look for ways to be of value to each other. The bible talks of reaping and sowing. This can be taken in a metaphysical context where for one to get, one simply must give. I am not saying we should give just so we may receive, but in the act of giving, the blessing manifests.
Keeping this mostly focused on friendship, I am one who values friendship dearly. My motto is the Shakespearean quote “I am wealthy in friendship”. In almost every situation, there is a friend I can turn to who will stretch his or her hand out to me, or guide me accordingly. This does not happen by accident; it happens on purpose. Very early on in life, I learned the value in “sowing”.
Giving is not always tangible; sometimes the best gifts are the ones we cannot see or touch, but rather the ones we can feel deep within our soul. This is where I add value to others. It is the gift of listening without judgement and sharing without criticism. It is the gift of sharing the truth but with tact and diplomacy. It is the gift of telling a friend what they might not want to hear, but what they need to hear. At times, it is the gift of listening without sharing your thoughts or opinions, but simply listening.
I am often appreciated or admired for this. What I have learned over the years is that everyone may not appreciate this gift, but for the ones who do, they find value in it.
Recently, I received an email from a friend. Part of it reads as follows: “You’re one of my mentors Dee….honestly. Every time there is a situation I think to myself, ‘What would Dionne say right now or what would she do?’ and usually a calming comes over me and guidance”. First I cried from such a lovely sentiment being shared with me. Then I shared with her (again) that she has helped me to understand how to budget better than anyone has. I shared with her that for many years, I never saw myself being a home owner, but with her encouraging me how to save, I was able to accomplish this goal a few times over.
In this moment, we both shared how we have blessed each other’s lives. We demonstrated that we add value to one another. We both know what we give to each other, and are aware that in some way, form, or shape our lives have been deeply touched by knowing each other.
Over the years I watched a girlfriend become very successful and she is now one of the few black female millionaires in Canada. As I see how she lives her life, I understand that she has achieved this level of success by adding value to others. She is willing to share her recipe for success, and treats everyone with the deepest level of respect. Her desire is to help others achieve the same level of success as herself. She lives outside the city, and spends time in my home when en route to different events in the city. During these moments, even the foundation of my home permeates with her positive energy. Days later, after she has left my home, I feel vibrant and I notice how my productivity always improves. As I share this with her, she lets me know how grateful she is each time I share my home with her.
Here I am appreciating the value she brings to me, but simultaneously, we add value to each other. While she can afford the most luxurious hotels, she appreciates being able to stay in my home.
I have another friend who edits my blogs for me every week. Writers will tell you that one of the most important parts of writing is having a great editor. I must mention that I have never taken a professional writing course. I have taken creative writing classes a couple times, but normally they are only for one day. I have always enjoyed writing, and have used it as my solace my entire life. Once per week we get on the phone, sometimes for over an hour, and with patience, she proofs my work and makes it better. I am most thankful for her friendship and the value she brings to me, and then she shares this with me: “Thanks for trusting me with your ‘thoughts’ and ‘words’. This activity started out as ‘just looking something over’; however, it is an important exercise, and it may be bigger than I thought!”
I take this same value added concept to my business. My motto is “how may I be of service to you?” I consider myself a consultant. I take the time to learn the business, and provide expert professional advice which I know will be of value to my clients. I lead with being of service first, and then the rest falls into place.
Recently, my client invited me to see his new condo which I helped him purchase. As he opened the door, I was greeted by the aroma of delicious food. I ate until I could barely stand up. Eventually, he opened the thank you card I brought him. I watched his smile widened as he read “first we met as strangers, today we are friends”. Those were the handwritten words I had put in the card. I had listened to his needs and had found exactly what he had on his “must have” list and his “wish” list. In that moment, a bond of trust and friendship was created.
These are examples of friendship / relationships where we add value to each other. Today, these are the relationships I admire and appreciate. These are the people with whom I invest most of my energy.
Note that if we continue to add value to others, and receive nothing in return, soon we feel like a doormat, and resentment sets in. As I mentioned earlier, it is a give and take. As Kenny Rogers lyrics states:
“You’ve got to know when to hold ‘em
Know when to fold ‘em
Know when to walk away
Know when to run”
I love the double entendre in country music. I’m quite certain Kenny wasn’t just talking about poker!
Today, I ask myself a few key questions: “do I enjoy spending time with this person?” “Do they add any positive value to our relationship?” Most importantly, “how can I be of value to them?” There are many ways to add value. Do enough good for others, and you will see the good being returned to you.