Headwaters of relationships

Jason kneeling at the headwaters of the Big Quilcene River

When I was growing up, I always thought it would be fun to hike up a river to try and find its origin. Several years ago, I was on a hike in the Olympic Mountains when we came upon water that was just bubbling up out of the ground. A friend explained that this bubbling brook is the headwaters of the Big Quilcene River. To be at the very beginning of a river was so exciting to me, I felt like I could check off my childhood dream. 

Since that hike, I have often thought about the headwaters of relationships, the genesis of how people come into my life. Who are the connectors that bring us together? 

A fun exercise is to identify someone in your life and then trace back how that relationship came into existence. For example, I had the good fortune to have a mentor for my career, a man named Dean. I met Dean because I was looking to make a career change so I called my Dad and asked him if he knew of any opportunities I might consider. 

My Dad had a friend who was working for GE Capital. I contacted this friend, and he connected me with the regional manager out of Seattle. The regional manager connected me to the district manager in Silverdale who was Dean. My friendship with Dean turned out to be one of the most influential for my career. My Dad was the one who I could trace the beginning of that relationship. It turns out that my Dad is one of the major connectors in my life.

The Pareto principle is often known as the 80/20 rule. It states that 80 percent of the output is determined by 20 percent of the input.  As I think of the friends I have today, I have found that the majority of my friends can be traced back to just a few people. These people are the connectors; they are the genesis, the headwaters for friendship. Could it be that 20 percent of the people in my life are responsible for 80 percent of my friendships?

If we can identify and focus on the few people who are most responsible for the relationships in our lives, then we may have discovered the secret to living enriching life full of friendships, adventures and the memories we make along the way. 

As featured in the Jan/Feb 2019 Westsound Journal.

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