On Nurturing Our Networks

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.

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5 Responses to On Nurturing Our Networks

  1. Daniel Miller says:

    Greetings, Tom,

    “Protect those in whose love I live!” What a marvelous statement!

    The need to protect those networks is lifelong. Retirement is a vital life transition point. But it is far from the only one. Life transitions can hit us at any point. May I suggest that our readiness to deal with them is directly proportional to the care we have taken to “Protect those in whose love I live.” If we are others focused in our leadership, caring for network, and in close touch with the Holy Spirit there are few life transitions that can catch us by surprise to the point of overwhelming us.

    I owe so much to that network of people, “In whose love I live!”
    Bless you, my brother!

  2. Randy Newcomb says:

    Tom – Your piece reminds of this comment from James Stockinger in Robert Bellah’s really terrific book, The Good Society,

    “. . . each of us lives in and through an immense movement of the hands of other people. The hands of other people lift us from the womb. The hands of other people grow the food we eat, weave the clothes we wear and build the shelters we inhabit. The hands of other people give pleasure to our bodies in moments of passion and aid and comfort in times of affliction and distress. . . . and, at the end, it is the hands of other people that lower us into the earth.”

    Indeed, we do owe so much to those within whose love we live and thrive.

    Peace to you!


  3. Holland Lewis says:

    Tom: I have no “classic observation” or response but to say all of this has been “good stuff” for my mind AND heart today…for where I am, and what I am planning. I feel a measure of “nurture” when I see your writings and feel your thoughtful, fair heart. Actually, several members of your family and our connections come to mind.

    Thanks, Holland

  4. Jesse Middendorf says:

    Outstanding essay, Tom. It reminded me of the consistency with which you nurture your network of friends. You are a a great example of this strength, and have taught me some priceless lessons by your contacts.

    Thanks for being one of my network of friends!

    Grace to you,

  5. Bud Reedy says:

    I do regret having neglected this most important aspect of ones vocation and life. Trying my best to make up for lost time. How blessed I am to have my attempts met with grace.

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