One ordinary day, I drove around town out on errands with my family. My then 4-year-old daughter, Adrienne, was transfixed as she quietly read her latest copy of Zoobooks in the back seat. As our car edged up to a red light, she suddenly broke the silence, reading slowly but intently out loud in her confident little toddler voice.
“This mutually beneficial relationship is known as… symbiosis.”
My wife and I sat there dumbfounded, mouths gaping open, staring at one another. “Who is this in our back seat, and what did they do with our child?” We often refer to this episode with levity and wonder, continually amazed at the things Adrienne learns and retains. She is most definitely our top team pick for Trivial Pursuit.
From that day on, she understood what symbiosis meant. Many adults have a hard time conjuring up its meaning from their high school biology class. For the record, symbiosis means, “interaction between two different organisms living in close physical association, typically to the advantage of both.” I’m often reminded of, and have a deep appreciation for symbiosis. And no, I’m not a biology geek.
Connections That Count
Our family lives or dies by the connections we make. We cherish friendships with families that embody and reinforce the values we instill into our own kids. Children get to see healthy relationships modeled, and adults exchange ideas, solutions and inspiration to guide our families towards greatness. These are friends we call when things fall apart, or have awesome news to share. The strength of such connections stretches far beyond family into my business as an entrepreneur, driving further success. This in turn allows us to live a free lifestyle and invest more time into those we love.
Years ago I found an organization called SCORE, a nonprofit association helping businesses get off the ground. One of the many ways they accomplish this is through a business mentoring program. Last week I had a few particularly challenging questions about marketing, and reached out to them again. I was immediately put in touch with a retired marketing executive in my area.
A lively 30-minute phone call gave me the chance to explain my business and challenges to my new mentor, Robert. One of thousands of SCORE volunteers, Robert finds fulfillment by helping others, while also learning about other businesses and connecting with others. My questions were more than answered, and I was inspired to completely rethink my strategy, seeing things in a whole new light. Plus, I was able to share with Robert an area of business with which he was previously unfamiliar. In addition to gaining amazing insight, I also honed my presentation skills and made a new friend.
How to Miss Out
When I share with others about these types of resources – be it a business mentor or an amazing family that we adore – I’m shocked at how few follow through and choose to make the connection. They don’t all understand the power of relationships, are overconfident in their own ability, or more than likely they are simply too busy to bother with another relationship. Leaning on others is a strength, not a weakness. I personally recognize the immense wisdom such mentors hold, and how it can help us achieve our goals. Pursuing greatness by yourself is not just lonely, it’s dumb.
When God drops a vision and a dream in your heart, He never intends for you to walk it out alone. The plan always involves your path intersecting with others. Some of those encounters will benefit the ones you meet. Some will be solely for your benefit. But most will be mutually beneficial – symbiotic.
Don’t Just Get There
I fear many people miss the purpose of God on their life, not because they’re not heading towards the right goal, but because they ignore the relationships He tries to establish along their way. They may arrive at the same destination, but they fail to make time for these strategic connections along the way. Being convinced they could do it alone, they become very successful looking failures.
It’s never your end goal, but the journey that counts. Your success will be measured in how many people you bring with on your adventure.
So keep your eyes open for opportunities to connect with those around you. It could be that someone you meet needs your help. But more than likely, God is placing you in the path of others you can influence, and can influence you – relationships that will become the success He dreams for you. These dreams will be achieved by symbiosis.