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2BC BLOG

Relationships that Nurture Growth by Jason Edwards

I recently attended a workshop that may have changed my life. I say “may” because just as New Year’s resolutions rarely see the light of summer, the impact of my time in California with Drs. Henry Cloud and John Townsend could easily dissipate without consistent cultivation. The workshop was packed full of meaningful lectures by Drs. Cloud and Townsend as well as group processing sessions led by gifted therapists. I’ve worked since then to incorporate lessons learned into my normal weekly schedule. I’d like to share some those with you as the opportunity arises. The following is a brief summary of one lesson, with some explanation.

Lesson: A person’s emotional health and maturity = the right kinds of relationships in the right doses. The right doses include a 30-minute conversation with three people each week (that’s three 30-minute conversations). These people should, by their very presence, support emotional health in your life. This doesn’t happen accidentally. This requires intentionality. As you plan, here are the kinds of relationships John Townsend says we all have in our lives. Notice: Each type starts with “C” (how did that happen?), and they do not all contribute to health. As you read the list, consider who these people are in your life and how much space you currently allow for each type.

1. Coaches: Health Coaches, life coaches, skill coaches, sports coaches, leadership coaches, spiritual coaches, and counselors. These are people who have the expertise to help you grow in a particular area. Malcolm Gladwell says experts are people who have spent 10,000 hours learning something. 

2. Comrades: These are friends who usually leave you with more energy than you had when they arrived. They encourage you. They challenge you. There is a life-giving mutuality. They are also committed to growth. 

3. Colleagues: These relationships are founded on a functional association. The desire is always for our colleagues to embody high competence and character. That is best for the organization, those in it, and those impacted by it. Do your colleagues support quality in your life and work? 

4. Casuals: These are friends and acquaintances. Dr. Townsend calls them the “existential go through life people.” You enjoy being with many of them, but perhaps if you were to move on you’d find these friendships were merely functional for a time. (not timeless) Some of these, however, may be candidates to become comrades. 

5. Care: These are people or organizations we care for with no thought of receiving anything tangible in return. You invest in an organization, you mentor someone; you support someone in need.

6. Chronics: These people are always in crisis and struggle to grow. Dr. Townsend says we must learn to have limits with “chronics.” 

7. Contaminants: Dr. Townsend says contaminants see themselves as victims who need revenge. They live with an intent to divide and destroy. He warns that, if possible, we should not let these people into our lives. 

We all live our lives with each of these kinds of people. Dr. Townsend encourages us to spend our energy with persons in six of the seven categories. However, he says most of us have a relationship schedule that, regarding this list, is bottom heavy. If we want to increase our own maturity and emotional health (and consequently increase the emotional health of our family, our leadership teams, our organizations; our entire sphere of influence) we need to flip the list, and organize our schedule so that we are experiencing the proper weekly dosage of the kinds of relationships that will contribute to growing health and maturity.

Posted by Jason Edwards at 8:51 AM
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