Walt Whitman once said, “People who serve you without love get even behind your back.” It’s a scary notion to think that we live in a world where people only give in order to get something in return. It seems like everything is a transaction.
I was at my barber recently and got into a coughing fit. He gave someone some money and asked them to get me a bottle of water. When I tried to reimburse him, he wouldn’t accept it. So I paid him for the haircut, we exchanged goodbyes and I left feeling pretty thankful to have him as a barber.
There’s a reason I recommend him to friends and family. Hell, there’s a reason he’s been my barber since I was a teenager.
There’s nothing wrong with a transaction in and of itself. If you’re running a business, you need to provide a service and you need money in order to continue to provide that service. Not only do you need to keep the lights on, you need to put food on your table for yourself and your family.
The issue is when one loses one’s humanity in the pursuit of money, power and prestige. The issue is when getting stuff is more important than what you are giving.
In business, corners are cut, ecosystems destroyed and people sacrificed so that companies can maintain a positive net growth.
In relationships, promises aren’t kept, coercion is often the order of the day and getting your needs met is always more important than you helping to meet the other person’s needs.
You might think that companies like Nestle or Amazon who are always in the news for their grievances are the exception to the rule. Their practices don’t exactly show that they care about people.
Despite being a demanding boss, Jeff Bezos, the founder of Amazon was famous for his personal touch when Amazon was only an online bookstore.
Nestle experienced highs and lows during the early 1900s due to the world wars but a strong business acumen saw them adapting to their circumstances and growing into a huge corporation.
As for relationships, it seems like a lot of sleazy, slimy and shady people screw people over and get what they want. But that is only a surface-level view of what is going on.
Anyone I’ve ever known that fits the description above is deeply unhappy, unsettled and uneasy with themselves. As a result, all they can do is leave the stain of insecurity on others. Whereas the people who have happy relationships are those who leave the imprint of love with everyone they meet.
Naturally, people keep coming back for more and if you burn these people, you will regret it because you start to get desperate for the love.
But let’s play devil’s advocate for a bit. I’ll admit, people kind of suck. If your formative years are spent trying to defend yourself against your caregivers and peers, it is only natural that you would grow distrustful and resentful of your fellow humans.
So then you find yourself in a pickle. On the one hand, you want to stay away from people. You just want to do what you want to do and get money, love or whatever you want. But on the other hand, you can only get these things from people.
But on the other other hand, you may say that you want to stay away from people but that isn’t really true. You are only saying that because you don’t want to re-experience the pain from people’s attacks on you.
It isn’t that you don’t want to connect with or love people. You just don’t want to get hurt, and that’s totally understandable. But what do you do?
1. Understand that the people who hurt you were not of your tribe
For example, if you didn’t believe in religion but you were raised in a family and society that constantly brought it up, it is natural that you wouldn’t feel understood or seen.
If you wanted a career in dance but everyone around you thought it was stupid and impossible, these are not your people.
These are people who are simply not for you, and you are not for them. This is just a fact and you will never escape them, nor will they ever escape you.
It would be nice for people to just accept others for who they are and not condemn or try to change them. But again, that’s just how some people are. If you aren’t like that, awesome. Stay away from those who are as best as you can.
2. Go to your tribe
If you were born into a family or society that echoed what you believed, you’d naturally love people. But if you weren’t so fortunate, that’s okay, because there are people who echo what you believe and support.
A major facet of business is your niche. A key component of relationships is connection or compatibility. With that said, if you do what you value for the people who would value it, you will find success.
I know you’ve probably heard that before but maybe not in the context I’m presenting here, because you can certainly provide a service or relationship to people who would want it but still do it in a selfish way. Ultimately, you will be limiting your own success.
When someone else comes along who values the same things you do and provides the same service but without the selfishness and stinginess, you’ll be out of business or out of that relationship pretty soon.
Whether in my relationships with others or my profession, I don’t want to shortchange anyone with what I’m doing because that’ll only come back to haunt me.
Besides, if I want good service with the personal touch, why shouldn’t I be giving it too? It is what we all need in the different areas of our lives, so I’ll do my best to serve in love of whoever is in front of me.