The True Treasure? Your Network
Your Network Is Everything
Welcome to the YouTopian Journey. Each week I will be sharing unique wisdom that can help you in the daily battles that we must all fight in the game of life. This week we discuss why you must seek out the true treasure of a reliable network and how it can benefit you as you forge your own path.
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Now onto the good stuff.
STILL ALONE, DESPITE EVERYTHING
“Everyone is alone and yet nobody can do without other people.”-Maurice Merleau-Ponty
We live in the connected age. Platforms give us access to the professional and personal lives of everyone and anyone. No longer do we need to rely on serendipity or being at the right place at the right time to meet the right person. Now you can simply search for someone and shoot them a message and a connection request. It has never been easier nor more convenient. We all are connected to one another, whether we want to be or not.
Yet this connectivity does not mean we are immune to being alone or feelings of loneliness and despair. In fact, it may only enhance them.
While we dream and plan, hope and suffer, we are assaulted on all sides.
Pictures from exotic locations while we toil away.
Livestreams full of fun and entertainment while we remain at home.
Status updates boasting of impressive feats while we have nothing to share.
As a person, our life may appear weak when we see that others have thousands, even hundreds of thousands of followers for no particular reason.
As a professional, our careers may seem dull in comparison when we encounter those on Linkedin with over ten-thousand connections.
As a founder, our companies may appear weak when we look at the user numbers in comparison to others.
As a creative, our newsletters, music, videos, and art may seem lacking an impact when we look at our subscriber counts and downloads.
This leaves us in a state of flux and doubt, a position where we cannot grow from, let alone prosper. In spite of our talents, accolades, and so-called connections, we are still alone. Sitting at a screen, swiping to the right, scrolling down, slowly pulled away in a sea of distraction. We wonder why we have so few likes and comments on something that we put countless hours in. We ponder why people ignore us but cling to those who have accomplished nothing. We become lost. We become feeble. We doubt if we have any talent at all. We wonder if there is anything special about ourselves, even though deep down, we know that there is!
“A great fire burns within me, but no one stops to warm themselves at it, and passers-by only see a wisp of smoke”-Vincent Van Gogh
This cannot stand.
We are social creatures. If the pandemic proved anything, it was that man could not exist within this state of isolation. But now that we can be back in society and among others, the problem still remains.
How do we avoid finding ourselves alone? How do we face this feeling? How do we find others who can not only lift us up but who we can unite with against the storms of life?
By connecting with others. By forming meaningful and real connections. By cultivating a network of likeminded peers. By attaining the difficult treasure that is the true network! This can not only provide the connections that we so desperately desire, but the friendships that can uplift us to heights that we never imagined possible.
This is more difficult than it sounds.
Because the world is fragmented.
Because people are false.
Because people cling to their own tribes.
These truths alone are enough to deter the multitude.
But it cannot deter you.
Understand that as you walk your own path, you will need friends. You will need allies. You will need believers. You will need to realize that even though you may feel alone, you are NOT alone.
And the sooner you come to this realization, the better.
The world needs you and your work, even though the world doesn’t show it. Society needs improvements, even though society does not ask for them. People need other people, even though people refuse to admit that key fact.
As you trailblaze this path through the dark and unknown wood, you will discover others. They may come to you. Or you may need to overcome any squeamishness you have and approach them.
But this only happens if you are committed to your work. If you are committed to walking your path. If you are committed to taking action where others see risk, engaging in courageous behavior where others are cowardly, and believing in yourself where others see doubt. Most importantly, it comes from acknowledging the fact that you cannot do it all alone, no matter how confident you may feel.
“An old alchemist gave the following consolation to one of his disciples: “No matter how isolated you are and how lonely you feel, if you do your work truly and conscientiously, unknown friends will come and seek you.”-Carl Jung
BEWARE FALSE CONNECTIONS
“I don’t need a friend who changes when I change and who nods when I nod; my shadow does that much better.”-Plutarch
There is a difference between being connected and connecting. One is a meaningless data point on a platform while the other is a genuine relationship. We need more connecting relationships and less connected people. This is a difference that many don’t realize. In our age of false friendships, social media, and clout chasing, many wish to be connected with others solely for the possible benefits that they could provide.
It is the tag in a photo or tweet.
It is the shoutout in the comments.
It is a feature in a video.
It is the perks of being involved in the lifestyle.
There is a price to this. Many people sacrifice the best parts of themselves in order to join the group, to fit in, to conform to others. They play their game in the hope that one day, their goals will be reached. Then they can go back to their original behavior. They can return to how they once were, only after they have made it.
This is rarely the case.
“It’s tragic how few people ever ‘possess their souls’ before they die. ‘Nothing is more rare in any man’, says Emerson, ‘than an act of his own. It is quite true. Most people are other people. Their thoughts are someone else’s opinions, their life is a mimicry, their passions a quotation.”-Oscar Wilde, The Complete Letters of Oscar Wilde
Nor is this a wise move. People are selfish and will be as quick to welcome you as they are to dismiss you, once your value to them is no longer relevant.
Ah, you didn’t think about that, did you? If you plan to use other people for your own gain, don’t be surprised when you discover that they may be using you for theirs! It is a knife that cuts both ways and there are many victims, all whose wounds we cannot see.
You are left with a series of broken relationships that is more representative of a cage than a true and treasured network. You are still alone, even amongst the people that at one point, you would have given anything to join.
But the true connecting relationship? That is a treasure that is hard to attain as it is priceless. When people have a desire to help one another, not for personal gain or a return for a future favor, but out of a genuine desire, that is both lifechanging and game changing.
Yet these are difficult to find. They require friendship. They require mutual respect. They require time. They require a price that is far too high for the multitude to pay.
An investment of time and effort into the life and career of someone else.
This is difficult in our age of narcissism, where our personal brand, our social media accounts, and our needs come before anything and anyone else.
This is the “me” attitude, not the “you” attitude. This is why so many relationships are false and so many “connections” are weak.
But if you can put that aside that mentality and focus on the other person, you will forge relationships that will last for years. If you can seek to help others, even though there may be no benefit for you, good things will happen.
You don’t need thousands of connections, despite what our social media platforms constantly promote.
You just need one person who you admire and respect. One person who you can emulate. One person who you can help. One person who can share you with their own network.
Then one becomes two.
Two becomes four.
And before you know it, you have a small group of people who offer the rarest trait in the world, reliability.
“People are like dirt. They can either nourish you and help you grow as a person or they can stunt your growth and make you wilt and die.”-Plato
“If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together.”-African Proverb
In order to achieve your goals, you will need to grow. This is a cold hard fact. You will need to step out of your comfort zone and leave safety behind. You will need to explore not only the outer world, but your inner self. This is a mandatory requirement for success and any form of meaningful achievement. Even more daunting, there is no way to hack this personal growth requirement. But this requirement can be mitigated by having a true network of supportive someones.
The network effect is real. If you have a true network that you can rely on and look to for advice and introductions, you possess a major advantage. By reaching out to people in your network, you open new doors. By having the boldness to share what you are working on and face any possible criticism, you are opening possibilities for new ideas, relationships, and benefits. While this may not always be the case, far more damage results from hiding your talents than actively sharing them with your network.
YouTopian Journey is growing and there are some unique collaborations and partnerships that are on the horizon. These aren’t the result of luck or serendipity. They are the result of reaching out to people within the network, sharing the work, taking feedback and criticism, and ultimately getting introduced to people who want to take part. Together, our respective brands will grow. Together, we will each get exposure to new people and opportunities. Together, we will personally expand our knowledge. And together, we will go far. I mention this not to boast or brag, but so that you can realize that I practice what I preach and I understand the material I write so well because I live it each and every day.
If you don’t have a network yet, do not worry. It is a lifelong process of putting yourself out there and making meaningful connections with one another. It is never too late to begin and you can begin at this very moment! This network is your treasure. It is unique to you. It is an investment in time. It doesn’t cost, but it does pay. But you must put yourself out there. You must not simply connect with people to sell them on some good or service, people can see through that. Instead, humbly ask for help. You may be surprised who gets back to you. And if your requests for help and assistance are met with silence, then move on. You wouldn’t want to be connected to those people anyway.
Ultimately you must believe that what you are doing matters, because it does.
Focus on helping others, because when you help someone else, you help yourself.
Build your network one person at a time and before you know it, you will have accumulated a priceless treasure where everyone in your network gets a share.
Always be kind to those you meet on your way up, they will remember you on their way down.
Act as if what you are doing makes a difference, it will.
And imagine yourself walking with giants, sooner or later, you will be.
“Let us conduct ourselves so that all men wish to be our friends and all fear to be our enemies.”-Alexander The Great
“Luctor et Emergo”-I struggle and overcome.
It is not what you know, but who you know that matters most. For founders, building your network is an essential skill that can bring new opportunities that can make your connective net work for you. But how does one build a valuable network in an age where everyone seems to be connected but aren't connecting? Join Sandra Golbreich, myself, and Zivile Einikyte as we discuss how to build a valuable network where everyone wins. More importantly, this is a live session, and I will be addressing all questions from the audience. It is free and I encourage everyone to attend and participate, regardless if you are an entrepreneur or not. I look forward to interacting with all of you. Space is limited so please register here.
CRAMP YOUR CRANIUM
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I’m Shaun Gold and if you are reading this, you are already on your journey. Catch you next week.