A life-long friend called last week because he had not heard from me in more than a month. Given our ages, (this is my 80th year – more about that later) he was concerned that perhaps something unfortunate had happened to me.
His call reminded me that I live within a circle of family and friends who care about one another.
As I age I am often reminded of a line from the Midshipmen’s Prayer at the U.S. Naval Academy, ‘protect those in whose love I live.’ That’s a wonderful phrase – ‘those in whose love I live.’ I have lived there all my life.
I owe a lot to this personal network. Keeping in touch is essential. I don’t have to contact all of them every week or every month, but at least occasionally just to let them know that I care as much about them as they do about me.
Our networks extend beyond this inner circle.
A few months ago I talked with a friend about his career. He was frustrated to the point of discouragement with his leadership role. He had folded into himself and couldn’t see a way forward or out. I asked if he had shared any of this with his network of friends and associates. He had not. I suggested that he call a few of the people he knew and trusted. Let them know that he was thinking about a career change.
We recently talked again. He was encouraged after making a few calls and discovering that he had a network of people willing to discuss his ideas for new directions. Doors he didn’t know existed opened. Who knows what the future holds but now he knows that he is surrounded and supported by a network of friends who care about one another.
In my conversations with leaders the topic often turns to ‘nurturing your network’ – what that means and how to do it. It is especially important when approaching retirement when one leaves the natural network of an organization.
Our social networks begin early and remain throughout our lives, if we nurture them.