I’ve heard it said that important decisions should be made from a graveyard.
Halloween decorations pop up all around neighborhoods this time of year, and I often see lawns speckled with spooky styrofoam tombstones. Aside from reminding me of the Haunted Mansion theme park ride, they bring to mind this sage cemetery advice.
Imagine a critical turning point from the perspective of the end of your life. You’ll base a decision on more than temporary happiness. You’ll consider the long-lasting effects of that decision and the ways your loved ones will remember you.
Major life changes and big decisions don’t make up the bulk of your life, however; a lifetime consists of “small” moments. How we handle inconveniences, how we share our joys and hurts, how we defer our own interests for the sake of giving attention to someone else—these interactions cultivate relationships and reveal the shape of our character.
A Life of Interruptions
In 1943, C. S. Lewis wrote to a friend: “The great thing, if one can, is to stop regarding all the unpleasant things as interruptions of one’s ‘own’, or ‘real’ life. The truth is of course that what one calls the interruptions are precisely one’s real life—the life God is sending one day by day...”
When I think about this quote in interpersonal terms, it reminds me to reconsider the interruptions which people around me will bring. No matter if it’s a family member’s call for help, a coworker’s disagreement, a neighbor’s broken water line, or a child’s plea for attention, inconveniences regularly pop up like a jack-in-the-box. But I have to remember that this is the stuff of life, not obstacles to it!
Those interruptions constitute part of the substance of my relationships. I can brush someone aside and ignore their need, or I can choose to engage their interest and build trust in the relationship. Which do you think is more desirable from the “graveyard perspective”?
Engaging often takes a sacrifice of time, money, and energy. It requires giving of yourself. But I would argue that when you look back over your life, the sacrifice will be worth the relationships you’ve nurtured.
The book, Tribe of Millionaires, states it this way: Relationships are infinitely more important than achievements and success, AND the great thing about this is that getting the right people around you often leads to success, anyway.
To find a community of professionals who can help stay focused on the right priorities so you can grow as a leader, visit our website or apply to join one of our mastermind groups online.
3 Painful Monsters You Avoid by Prioritizing Relationships
When you make cultivating relationships your motivation, you avoid the pain that many feel through these three sentiments:
Connection with another person requires mindfulness. Sometimes, we fall into patterns where we focus only on the next big goal. For some, years pass before they realize they’ve missed out on life’s golden moments. Often, their relationships are broken, and the only thing they have to hold on to is their accomplishments. Now, they have to deal with the monster of regret.
Accomplishments are great, but if they come at the expense of a healthy bond with those closest to you, you end up achievements-rich and relationships-broke. Don’t gain the whole world only to lose your family and friends.
Spend your life on things that matter, and you won’t look back with regret, wishing you had invested time connecting with your loved ones.
The book of Ecclesiastes tells us that wise King Solomon tried to find fulfillment through everything under the sun, but in the end, he found it all meaningless! Lives spent worrying only about money and belongings yield little fruit, and striving after material wealth ends in disappointment.
Meaning is found through showing love to those around you. People are meant to rely on each other. When we focus on serving others through whatever we do, everyone’s lives are enriched because we cultivate friendship, camaraderie, and affection.
Rather than dwelling on the sacrifices you made for someone, perhaps consider what you gave up as a gift to them. Think about how your gift to them enabled them to accomplish something they couldn’t do on their own, or how you built trust into the relationship.
3. A Lack of Purpose
To devote your life to investing in relationships with those around you is the most important purpose of all. In this, you will find the most compelling motivation for all you do.
Do you know the purpose you strive for? You will find evidence in the spaces that receive the most attention from you.
The authors of Tribe of Millionaires make a point by telling a story instead of simply sharing principles. The reader connects with each lesson because they have seen through the individual events of a winding adventure. Life is like that, too. Sometimes, we only later realize how the effects of all the days of difficult or seemingly-trifle experiences shape the years and develop our character.
What interruptions has this week brought your way? If you’re anything like me, you’ve probably experienced a few interruptions already today. I encourage you to welcome them! Next time you feel interrupted or inconvenienced, press into the moment and prioritize relationships over everything. As you develop this habit, you’ll be able to look back and say you lived life with purpose, fulfillment, and no regrets.
As you consider the relationships in your life, join a group of other professionals to hold you accountable. Reach out to us at our website and apply to join one of our mastermind groups online.