In the movie A Few Good Men, Tom Cruise’s Lt. Daniel Kaffee and Harry Caesar as Luther the News Stand Guy have an ongoing battle to spout the best (or worst) cliché. These scenes resonated with some of us because we suffer from cliché overload—we’ve heard too many clichés, too many times.
I realize that clichés are clichés because more often than not they are true. However, it still bugs me when people take the lazy way out and spout off tired phrases to explain a situation.
“It’s not what you know, it’s who you know.”
I’ve heard this phrase at least a thousand times from marketers, salespeople, parents who want more playing time for their kids, people who aren’t as successful as they want to be and I’m sure a bunch of other groups that I’ve forgotten.
While this cliché is partially true, it only tells half the story.
Yes, who you know and who you surround yourself with will ultimately shape you and your successes. But, you have a tremendous impact on ‘who you know.’
Relationships don’t just happen. They are created by an intentional investment of time and effort.
I’m sure some of you are thinking: “Yeah, right. So and so got the promotion because he knew so and so…” There are indeed examples of situations where something like this has occurred. They fall under the Life Ain’t Fair cliché.
For every one of those situations, there are many relationships built by savvy people who understand investing in others is never a waste of time.
As you strive to build meaningful relationships, first try to understand yourself and figure out what you are looking to achieve. If your goals are self-serving, be ready to develop a bunch of superficial and nearly meaningless associations. However, if you set out to genuinely understand the people you interact with, you could build long-lasting and rewarding relationships.
Like most things, it’s simpler in theory than in practice. The tried and true basics include focusing on others to meet their needs, clarifying expectations, showing personal integrity and making the relationship mutually beneficial.
Make the intentional investment and develop meaningful relationships that lead to success. And, always remember what Jo (Demi Moore) told Lt. Kaffee…wear matching socks.
David M. Mastovich, MBA, is the president of Massolutions, a Pittsburgh based Integrated Marketing firm that focuses on improving the bottom line for client companies through creative marketing, selling, messaging and customer experience enhancement.