I was at a conference recently where the mantra was “Always Be Connecting”. It is probably good advice as we never know who we might meet, how we might help each other and ultimately what relationships we might cultivate.

And yet, if we are only connecting then it feels like we are missing something. It feels more transactional than relational.

I like to think of relationships as a deeper bond where we care for each other and are willing to help outside of any direct transaction. There is no accounting ledger. This is not to imply that relationships need to last for life. They don’t, because our lives lead us in all directions and unless they are watered by periodic contact and energy they inevitably weaken over time.

3Cs of Relationships

In that respect I like to talk about the 3Cs of Relationship:

  • Cultivate: This is about forming and nurturing new relationships. This is where we intentionally go beyond transactions and seek to form a deeper bond with another person.
  • Cherish: This is about maintaining and valuing existing relationships. This word signifies holding something dear and taking good care of it, which fits well with the idea of keeping a relationship strong and healthy.
  • Compost: This is about ending relationships in a way that allows for new growth. It isn’t about suddenly ending all contact, but it is about acknowledging that a relationship has run its course. That a relationship is primarily about the past and has a whiff of nostalgia about it – for what may have been lost. That the energy in the relationship is somewhat stuck.

I find this brings more intentionality to my relationships. Letting relationships limp along and spending time with people out of a sense of duty serves no one. It also frees us to truly think in terms of cultivating and cherishing.

So, ask yourself: What relationship might I cultivate today?

Questions in the Image:

  • How do I tend to relationships over time?
  • What relationship would I like to cultivate?
  • What relationship might I cherish today?
  • What relationships no longer serve?

Want to Read More Around This Topic?

Leaders Eat Last by Simon Sinek (link to Amazon.co.uk). The author discusses the importance of fostering strong relationships within organisations. The book argues that effective leaders prioritise the well-being of their team members, building an environment that allows relationships to be nurtured and cherished over time, leading to a more productive and harmonious workspace.

Nurturing Curiosity – Daily Practice: This is part of the Nurturing Curiosity series of tools, insights and questions designed to help nurture curiosity as part of our daily practice. In point of fact, every interaction we have is an opportunity to question what we are observing and how we and others are seeing the world. Also remember that questions come in many forms throughout our day. I had a situation this morning where I was asked the exact same question twice by the same person. My sense is that my second answer wasn’t as patient as it might have been. Could I have responded differently? Yes. So, I apologized in case the person felt I had been a little short. The long-term relationship is what is important, not me being right or wrong in a particular moment in time.

About Tom O’Leary

My mission is to help others think differently – meaning more broadly and deeply – and thereby make better decisions. The key to thinking differently lies in our curiosity.

The more we question, the more possible answers we uncover, and the more we expand what we thought possible. Life has taught me that possibility lies not so much in seeking answers but in learning to ask better questions – the ones that help prioritise what is truly essential.

And yet, in a culture obsessed with efficiency and productivity, the paradox is that much energy and resources are wasted by a bias towards action over contemplation. If you are answering the wrong question, it doesn’t matter how ‘hard’ you work, you are still answering the wrong question.

That is why I am a big advocate of nurturing curiosity and innovative thinking at all ages, particularly amongst leaders because of the impact they have on us all. In my vision, leaders aren’t boxed in by traditional thinking or established playbooks. They are curious, open to fresh ideas and diverse perspectives, fostering a culture of exploration and learning.

What Thoughts Would You Like to Share?

I welcome your thoughts, feedback, or personal experiences related to these questions or any insights they may have sparked.