By Jonathan Desaussure
“Coming together is the beginning, staying together is progress, working together is success.” – Henry Ford.
Allow me to paint the picture of my point with an anecdote.
It is early afternoon. A little girl gets off the bus in an average neighborhood. As she’s walking up the driveway to her house, a fat-head kid sticks his head out of the bus’s window and screams,
“Hey four eyes! You think you are so smart don’t you? You just look smart. Really, you’re dumb, and your glasses don’t make you look smart either. You’re uglier than they are!”
The little girl pays little attention to him with her eyes, but much attention to him with her ears. The words he screamed to her cut deep into her heart. She shakes if off, hikes her heavy backpack up higher on her shoulder, and glances at the bus as it’s pulling away. She steps through the front door into a house full of cigarette smoke. The TV is blaring. Her dad is slouching on the couch – one hand is holding a beer, and the other stuffed in his pants.
“Hi Dad…” says the girl. Cigarette ashes fall off the tip of the cigarette as he says,
“I left those damn dishes in the sink for you. Take core of that for me, would ya?” he looks down at the ashes lying on top of the beer can.
“Damn,” he shouts, and then, he blows the ashes off the beer can onto the floor.
The girl walks into the kitchen. She heaves her book sack off her shoulder and drops it. It sounds like a ton of bricks hit the floor. She turns and looks at the mile-high pile of dishes. They seem to have taken on a life of their own and expanded all over the counter tops since she had last seen them that morning. She exhales pure frustration, turns toward her dad, and says,
“Dad, I have a ton of homework I have to do. Could I …?”
“- I work my ass off to the bone all the time,” he says, interrupting her. “Shit I need a day off too you know! All you do is go to school. I don’t know what the hell you go for. They can’t be teaching you anything because you’re still dumb as hell when you get home. As far as I’m concerned, you shouldn’t even have to go.”
There’s a moment of silence, he points a crocked finger at her and says, “You can do your damn homework later.” The little girl sits at the kitchen table, puts her elbows on the table, and rests her chin in her hands. Her dad sees her sulking, and says,
“You know I love you, right?” Then, the TV’s volume goes from loud to blaring.
Questions: Do you think she and her dad are close? Do you think her atmosphere allows her to focus, develop, and prosper to a point to where she can accomplish healthy goals for herself?
Let’s look at the same physical setting but with a different relationship dynamic. Inside the house, dad is lying on the couch watching the game. His hands are not down his pants. He hears the brakes on the school bus squeak in front of the house. He gets up, walks to the door, and opens it just in time to see his little princess step off the bus. As he’s watching his daughter hurry up the driveway, he hears the fat-head, smart-alack kid shout insults to his daughter. He greets her at the door with a hug and a smile. He holds the door open for her and she steps inside.
Once they are inside, he helps her take off her huge backpack. She stands on her tip-toes and gives her dad a kiss on the cheek.
“Thanks Dad,” she says.
“How was school today?” he asks.
“It was good. I learned a lot. I have a lot of homework to do. I want to get an A this semester.”
“Who was that kid with the smart mouth on the bus?” asks her dad.
“Tommy Tomkins. He’s just a bully.”
“I can see that. I want you to stay away from him and don’t let anything he says to you settle into that little brain of yours. You got me?” The little girl nods in the positive.
“You are not what anyone else thinks you are, but you are what you think you are. That’s very important. I’m the only one you have to listen to. I think you are brilliant,” says Dad. The little girl tackles her dad with a hug.
“Come on. Let’s get these dishes out of the way. You have an appointment with those books. To get the reward, you have to put in the time.”
That’s a totally different scenario that the first one, isn’t it? Even if I wanted to be a looser, I would still rather have the second dad. How about you? The love, cooperation, and understanding between them provide a healthy emotional and relational atmosphere that breeds a healthy self-image, which is conducive to achievement and accomplishment. I observed individuals in different environments to see if their environments made a difference on their potential to achieve success in any worthwhile goal for them. I’ve also read about how destructive situations tend to dampen development and cause mental problems. The Netherlands Institute for the Study of Crime and Law researcher, Karin Beijersbergen, says that good guard-prisoner relationships decrease misconduct, and decrease mental health problems among the inmates. Is it nature or is it nurture? Is it both? I’ve always thought both played a part but with stronger emphasis on environment. There are a lot of variables to consider when making that judgment, but most often; all a person needs is an environment adjustment. A person’s total genetic makeup can’t be changed; however, a person’s total environment can. Why else would people given the right set of environmental conditions eventually succeed, given they actually wanted to.
Here’s my point. Relationships are part of a person’s success environment and always will be. Environment is the fertile ground in which success and achievement blossom. Not everybody can choose to change their relationships, like that little girl with the bad dad I was talking about earlier, but sooner or later, there will come a chance when one will be able to do something about his or her situation. Most of us right now can do something about this variable. I encourage you to choose your relationships wisely, and more importantly, choose the direction in which your relationships grow if possible. Surround yourself with those who celebrate you and your efforts. Shy away from those that condemn you for trying something or for merely being different. Don’t hate them or hold a grudge. Just leave the bad ones alone. It makes a difference when there is love and harmony in your relationships. You pull for or with each other instead of working against each other. That’s synergy. Friction retards progress because the people involved in the friction are busy putting pulling in different directions and mentally working on putting themselves back together rather than working on a goal. I was at a business conference a couple of years ago and a guest speaker said this to us,
“It’s easier to run with twenty that it is to drag one.” Hum, I though to myself, and I let that sink into my brain and I put it to practice. I found that when I start to move in a new direction, I ended up by myself. It’s still that way. After a while, others with like mindsets show up. It’s just the way it is. It’s a law of attraction thing. We all need each other in different types of relationships like business, kinship, or friendship. If there is a need for relationships, we might as well make our relationships positive ones, amen. After all, a king is not a king without his subjects. I hope this one drives the point home. I encourage you in your journey of success and hope I’ve made you think about that often overlooked key to success and achievement, positive relationships.
Be blessed and prosper much.
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Additional reading on relationships and relationship dynamics
- Linda Nielsen is a professor of educational and adolescent psychology, How Dads Affect Their Daughters into Adulthood, Family Studies, 2013
2. Michael J. Formica MS, MA, EdM, Understanding the Dynamics of Abusive Relationships, Psychology Today, July 2008