We all have relationships of different kinds – friends, family, coworkers, etc. Some of them may be very close, like a spouse, significant other, or best friend from school. Others may be more distant, ones you never see but randomly comment on Facebook once in a while. The people you hang around most probable developed organically – you gravitated towards mutual interest and personalities. Yet of all those relationships, there are 3 that are absolutely essential.
I’m not talking about how they’re related to you, such as a family member or a a colleague. I’m referring to the types of relationships you have with these people. You can have multiple people in each category, but it’s critical to have at least one in each if you want to grow as a person.
1. Someone Who’s Investing in You
This one is the most obvious. You need someone who’s leading you and guiding you. Someone who’s been where you are, and can show you the way. It doesn’t necessarily mean you have to follow in their footsteps. But they do provide wisdom and experience that could save you a lot of pain and cut down on the learning curve.
People who invest in you can come in many forms. The first and most natural one is a parent or older family member. In school, it could be a teacher. If you have a spiritual community, it could be your pastor or just someone who’s been a part of the faith for longer. In the professional world, this could be your boss, a mentor, or a consultant.
Whatever part of life you want to grow in, whether it’s personal, professional, spiritual, relational, athletic, or anything else, find a guide who can challenge you go further.
2. Someone Who You’re Partnered With
This is the person who’s beside you on the journey. They’re either your same age, same life stage, or same experience level. You both face the same challenges. You’re able to celebrate each other’s victories. You encourage and spur each other on to keep going. You prevent each other from giving up. You take comfort in knowing that someone else knows what you’re going through.
Most commonly, this comes in the form of a spouse, significant other, or close friend. It may be a classmate who is in similar classes or started at the same time. It may be a coworker in the same department. It could even be a workout buddy who’s also training towards the same goal.
Whoever that partner is, it’s important that you have a transparent relationship in which you can admit your failures. It’s also important to have someone who’s encouraging and can keep you accountable to the goals you both set.
3. Someone Who You’re Investing In
This is the one many of us miss out on. We have people who guide us and people who are on the journey with us. But very seldom do we have people we’re leading. It’s important because it makes you into a more generous person. You become a contributing member of society as you give away what you’ve received. In a way, you’re establishing your legacy in someone else.
Most common again is family – you’re investing in your children or younger siblings. You may have a profession that’s investing, such as a teacher or trainer. At work, it could be the new employee or interns. Though age is a common factor in who you’re investing in, it’s not necessarily all that important. You’re just taking your knowledge, wisdom, and experience in any area and passing it on to others, as others have done to you.
Seek out people you can mentor, guide or train, without asking anything in return. Both you and them will be better off because of it.
All our relationships fit in one of these categories, though at different depths. I encourage your to be more intentional with those relationships. Find deep and meaningful one in each. Try to have a balanced number of people in each category.
I often describe relationships like water. If you’re constantly giving to other people, you’ll dry up pretty quickly. You’ll feel drained and bitter. But on the other end, if you constantly take without giving, you become stagnant water with no outlet. Having healthy relationships is like a flowing river with water coming and going – it brings life wherever it flows.