During a recent Monday morning meeting, I asked our ADDO team if any of them studied psychology in college. A couple of them admitted that they were psychology majors (and are now thrilled to be gainfully employed). Others said they enjoyed the one or two required psychology classes they took.
I was curious because I really didn’t enjoy the little psychology I studied in college. It’s not that my classes weren’t interesting, but the concepts felt too abstract to me, not tangible or actionable.
That’s why I was surprised by how much I enjoyed Dr. Henry Cloud’s book The Power of the Other. Cloud is an expert on the psychology of leadership and has written other best-sellers, but this particular book pulled me in immediately. The premise of his book is that relationships have the ability to influence every area of our lives—how long we live, how healthy we are, how much money we make, how we’re able to rise or fall within an organization, and the list goes on.
Ultimately, our relationships with other people have a huge impact not only on our emotional well-being, but on every area of our lives. In the book, Cloud unpacks four different relational connections that we develop. Today, I want to share these connections with you and hope that you’ll apply what you learn to build strong, lasting, and meaningful relationships.
1. No Connection
This is what happens when we find ourselves with little or no connection to key individuals in our lives. Although we are surrounded by people, we are not understood, fueled, built-up, corrected, and challenged in the ways that are necessary for thriving. This is fatal for leaders.
Have you ever found yourself in this area? Without meaningful connection, we will fall into depression, anxiety, or hopeless, and we will fail to perform in all areas.
2. Bad Connection
It’s pretty easy to know when we have no connection, but it’s tougher to discern when we have bad connections with others.
These relationships leave you feeling like you’re not good enough. Sometimes, they lead to abuse, but that’s not always the case. It could simply be that one person in the relationship is hyper critical. Maybe it’s a boss that has unattainable expectations or a friend that only points out the bad. This leaves us feeling discouraged, and we can’t perform our best when we’re worried about failure, criticism, or a lack of approval.
3. Pseudo Connection
These connections might be the most difficult for us, because they are far tougher to disconnect from! A pseudo connection is an unhealthy one we pursue simply because it makes us feel good. These relationships offer things that give us temporary pleasure—making more money, getting one more promotion, great performance numbers, or being idealized by others. This connection may not even be with another person; it could be with something that brings you temporary fulfillment but ultimately leads to destruction. These relationships don’t meet our need to genuinely connect with people who fuel and guide our growth and development.
4. Good Connection
These connections lead to relationships that help us thrive personally and professionally, but they must have five essential ingredients to be effective.
- Fuel: They energize us to higher performance.
- Freedom and Self-Control: Good relationships promote autonomy, choice, and personal power, resulting in increased self-control—a trait essential to high performance and well-being.
- Responsibility: Healthy relationships enable you to own your choices and take responsibility, increasing your performance.
- Metabolizing Failure: Good connections help you accept and learn from failure.
- Push Toward More: They push you with the right kind of challenges to grow and get better.
Here’s the takeaway for me: While I value relationships with others, I believe I have underestimated the impact of relationships on my growth and performance.
Reading this book and understanding these concepts has challenged me to audit my relationships, so I’m asking you to do the same.
Which relationships are good connections? How do these relationships add value to your life? What ingredients are missing from your current connections? Which ones do you need to change or, if possible, let go?
Do whatever it takes to make good connections and foster healthy relationships because there is far more at stake than you might have realized.