A friend told me once that we should only share our love with people who can benefit from it.
My friend argued that even though we might want to ‘love’ everyone, in reality we can’t. So, she said, we should be choosy about whom we love.
For a long time I thought that advice was weird and rather stingy.
— Shouldn’t we love everyone?
— Shouldn’t we love people regardless of their ability to benefit from our love?
The more experience I got with throwing energy into relationships that weren’t worth it, the more I realized she had a point:
In a world where energy and attention are limited, we need to be choosy about where we invest ourselves.
We can have a loving attitude in our interactions with anyone. And, it’s also okay to be picky about where and with whom we actually invest our love.
This is true in person-to-person relationships and business-to-business relationships.
These are the ones most likely to benefit from the boost energy we have to offer. These are the businesses and business people who will take our effort on their behalf and create the most good from it.
The Point of a Boost Relationship
The point of a boost relationship is to build the capacity, the opportunities and the new possibilities for each other’s businesses.
We have to keep in mind that we are creating boost relationships precisely so that we can send energy, attention and support to other businesses (managers, employees, customers, people). We do create boost relationships just because we want to be generous. We create them because we want to help create something ‘more’.
If the other parties in our network are unable to use this generosity, if they are unable or unwilling to use the different kinds of resources to boost their own businesses, then the boosting energy is wasted.
Aside from the good feeling we can have as we offer (and not in any way to diminish this), boost energy directed where it can’t be used is boost energy that doesn’t have legs. The boost energy doesn’t get amplified, it doesn’t build capacity, and it doesn’t extend out into the network to generate more good.
So if we need to be choosy, how do we find business partners who’ll use our boost energy well? How do we find ‘boost-likely’ partners?
In no particular order, we should look for business people who are already:
- Responding positively to our interest in them.
If they share their perspectives and talk about their challenges with you, they’re likely to be open to your (positive) influence.
- Investing in themselves.
Any business that is trying to grow (not just profits, but also thick value) will be more likely to look for a way to use wisely whatever it is you might have to offer them.
- Valuing the relationships that they already have with other businesses,
with their members and customers. Businesses that value their relationships will do their part to help create a robust relationship with you, through which resources and support can flow.
- Willing to extend themselves and their resources to their current business partners.
When you see a business that’s already trying to share its resources to boost others, you know that they have an open channel through which your resources can flow to them, and from them to others. The value is likely not to stop with them, but to amplify outwards.
We should look to create relationships with businesses that show some kind of interest in (1) using whatever we can offer (2) to build their own capacity and (3) to boost the capacity of their business partners.
We also have to be “boost-likely” in our own businesses.
Since relationships are two-way, our own businesses have to invite boost relationships with others. While we might think it is our business that might boost theirs, we need to invite the possibility that value will flow in the other direction, from their business to ours.
(Value doesn’t have to flow both ways, but a two way flow needs to be possible.)
What if we don’t see boost-likely businesses around us? Then what do we do?
Sometimes we’ll need to take chances, by offering our boost energy on businesses that haven’t (yet) shown what they might do with it. We can hope that if we give these businesses a boost themselves, they will not only build their own capacity but also will be generous with other business partners.
And, we can hope they will learn to craft boost relationships with other business by drawing on the model of our boost relationship with them.
Other times, we’ll find ourselves in situations where we simply can’t be that picky about who we do business with. If that not-very-boost-likely supplier is the only business who sells what you need, you’ll have to do your best. And, you’l. have to be careful not to over-invest in the relationship if they show no interest in your offers to boost them.
Keep in mind that the goal is not to convert every business into a boosty business, or every network into a boost network. At least, not yet.
Rather, the goal is to find other businesses and business people who are ready to partner with us to build boost relationships and boost networks right now.
There are plenty of those opportunities out there, right now, that we don’t have to work with businesses that don’t want to be boosted or to boost others.
Sure, it would be nice if we had unlimited energy, unlimited attention, and unlimited business opportunities, so that we could lavish boost energy in every direction.
It would be nice if we could ‘give the love’ to every business that wants it, because surely most every business needs it.
If you’re worried about the limitations on your business’ ability to boost others, you might take comfort in knowing that we don’t have to have a boost relationships with every business in order to help build their capacity.
When we help to build the capacity of a business through the relationship we share with it, we are making it more likely that this businesses will be able to extend itself to other businesses. If they are able to extend themselves, it’s more likely that they will extend themselves and start to create boost relationships with others.
The boost energy that our businesses relationships create isn’t limited to our own direct relationships themselves.
Any boost energy that gets out into the economy becomes available for other businesses to use. These are other businesses that we don’t work with and might never work with, but who nonetheless will benefit from the love that we and our boost business partners generate together.