Monday, August 3, 2009

46) The Connection - Relationships

"No good tree bears bad fruit, nor again does a bad tree bear good fruit; for each tree is known by its fruit." Luke 6:43-44

Over the past few weeks we have covered important aspects of Parental Instructions
(more will follow). In posts 39,40, we examined how attitudes form the basis for our response to others; our set of rules. In posts 41,42, we saw the importance of values; and that they emerge from Beliefs/Attitudes. In posts 43,44, we listed some habits which endear us to others. And in post 45 we pondered the impact of good behavior, which is being crowned 'gentleman/lady'. Now, for the connection; how does all this link into a cohesive whole?

Beliefs/Attitudes -> Values -> Habits -> Behavior -> Character -> Relationships

Working backwards we establish the connection.Good Relationships(R) are born of good
Character(C), which in turn is seen in good Behavior(B), which is an expression of good Habits(H), which stems from good Values(V), which springs from Beliefs/Attitudes(A). In a nut shell, good relationships cannot be built if the sequence before it does not fall in place. Bad habits endanger relationships, as do bad attitudes. We cannot break free of the sequence, if we desire strong and lasting relationships.

On Character, which influences Relationships, Peter Drucker, the Master Management Consultant, had much to say. Character, he said, was difficult to define, but its absence easily noticed. The person without Character destroys, he continued; destroys performance and people. His comments put the spotlight on Character. It is vital in building good relationships, because in the words of someone: "Reputation
is what folks think you are. Personality is what you seem to be. Character is what you really are".

What is a Good Relationship? We know from experience what it is, but find it difficult to put together the right words to describe the ethereal feeling. A good relationship is about installing in first place, the other person(spouse/child/parent/friend). This begs a question: Will there be many firsts in our network of relationships? No. Of course, there will be God who takes first place. The others will follow in the order of importance to our lives; spouse will precede child and so on. The implication is that we are ready to make sacrifices, which spring from
genuine concern and caring for that person; sacrifices that hurt. A good relationship is about true respect for the other person, by being sensitive to his/her feelings and valuing it as a life time bond which culminates in TRUST. When
trust is built, the relationship is at its peak. Without intending to, we have revisited the Golden Rule(posts 37,38), which is valuing others as we value ourselves. We are back full circle. We start by making better persons of ourselves,
share that goodness with others, and return to ourselves to rejoice in the sharing and the peace that comes from it. Mark 4:22 points out the significance: "the measure you give will be the measure you get". Which means that unless we reach out to others, we are likely to be isolated and lose the many gifts that life offers.
And what are those gifts? Charles M.Rossiter and W.Barnett Pearce provide an answer: "When we experience warm, close, friendly relationships, our lives are fuller, more meaningful and more satisfying. When we do not, we feel alone, unloved and empty". Those are good reasons for us to build bridges and not put up barriers.

Because of our inherent selfishness, we tend to focus on our rights. Our right to life, to enjoy life, to work, to acquire money and goods, to pleasure, to our life-style, and very importantly to get our way. There is nothing seriously wrong with 'rights' as long as we acknowledge that there is a flip side to such demands - RESPONSIBILITIES. When we balance rights and responsibilities there is harmony; where there is no balance there is discord. The Quran exhorts us to accept the balancing principle: "There is no such thing as human rights without human responsibilities". That settles the relationship equation. Swami Vivekananda has his version of the relationship equation: "The way to be happy is by making others happy".

For those of us and our children who have traveled the wrong road, there is heartening news from Antony Robbins: "All behaviors can be changed, by changing beliefs, values, rules". We can shift to the right road and rebuild our relationships through a changed set of values and attitudes. And how do we do that?
By living the Latin Proverb: "An old peg is driven out by a new peg". A new good habit drives out an old bad habit. An old bad attitude is driven out by a new good attitude, and so on. E.g.,hard work drives out laziness; honesty drives out dishonesty. The good tree will then bear good fruit.

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