My Value of Authentic Relationships

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I am at a Consulting Psychology conference, awaiting a breakout session on Values. Ordinarily I’d be drawn to sessions about measuring a leader’s behavior change from coaching to demonstrate a return on investment. 

At this moment in my life, I am reflecting on a value I hold deeply - Authentic Relationships, which is rooted in a basic human need for connection. Why Authentic Relationships? The first reason is that when life happens and stuff gets real, transactional relationships offer no room for error. Yuck. The second is that Authentic Relationships give you the courage to step into the discomfort when you are unsure what to say but show up anyway to be present with people in their suffering. I want to feel that safety and offer that safety in my relationships.

My value of Authentic Relationships, coupled with my value of Loyalty, has driven me over the past several years to work like a fiend to facilitate or reignite authenticity and connection in my primary personal relationship.  As that relationship is ending, I am experiencing a mix of emotions: relief of ending the exhausting one-sided effort, disappointment in not being able to fix it, and unimaginable sadness to discover the depth to which the relationship has been inauthentic.

This brings me back to my client work. A few years ago, when juggling parenting, work and co-leading a major fundraising event, I dropped the ball in communication with a client. When the client couldn’t get in touch with me, he fired me via email.  I take full responsibility for focusing on the fundraising event that was to be held the next day and not replying to my client in a timely fashion. Now I can say I am glad he fired me. Since I value Authentic Relationships, I am not interested in having people in my life who demand constant perfection. Nor do I want them to fear I demand it of them. That’s not real, that doesn’t bring out the best in people, and it doesn’t feel good.

As part of my personal life is falling apart in very public view, I am overcome with gratitude for the love, support and encouragement I have felt from friends and in particular from past and current clients.  I have slipped the past few weeks in some communication and been delayed in promised deliverables. Instead of firing me, these clients have been checking in on my well being and offering to help in anyway possible.

I am grateful that I am more effectively attracting the kind of people I want in my life while the people who do not fit my values are falling away. Change is hard but necessary for progress. Knowing and living your values (not just saying them) can guide you and those you support to goodness.

Stephanie Hartman2 Comments