If you’ve read my newly released book, Curve Benders, you know that these strategic relationships create a profound impact on more than just our short-term performance, execution, and results. They shape the manager, leader, and human being that we become over the span of our careers.
To really understand Curve Benders, I think it’s important to take a step back, and think of my work on Relationship Economics, Co-Create, and Curve Benders as a Star Wars trilogy. Any of the books and ideas contained in each will certainly stand alone. But you’re going to be able to understand Luke Skywalker a heck of a lot better if you watch episodes four, five, and six!
In Relationship Economics back in 2008, with an updated version in 2012 and the 3rd edition (complete rewrite coming in Jan. 2022), I talk about how to be more intentional, strategic, and quantifiable in the relationships you choose to invest in. In Co-Create, I illustrated how two or more strategic relationships can come together and co-create a new value proposition that neither party could have accomplished by themselves. Naturally, it made a lot of sense in Curve Benders to focus on the intersection of the future of work, and the role of strategic relationships; not just in how we’ll work, but also how we’ll play, live, and give to others. In essence, the future of our lives.
So, you wouldn’t be surprised to know that the single biggest question I’m often asked, is “who are they, where are they, and can I meet one this afternoon, because I have an important meeting tomorrow?” OK, just joking about the last one, but you get it. Somehow it’s believed that these magic, mystical creatures need a treasure map to find.
Although I believe they are all around us, they do take a roadmap to identify, nurture, and sustain. So, here you go: Seven Steps to Your Curve Benders.
- Personal Foundation – If you want to meet these profound relationships, those that can dramatically change your direction and ultimate destination, you have to begin with a healthy self. There’s a reason the airline safety videos tell us to put the oxygen mask on ourselves first before we help someone else. Similarly, you have to begin with a solid Personal Foundation of a mindset in growth, digital, and entrepreneurship.
- Professional Commitment – I believe most people are unwilling to do the incredibly difficult work necessary to become world-class. To meet potential curve benders, you must commit to being the absolute best at your chosen field. That exceptionalism in how you show up, how you engage and influence others, and the brand you build will set you apart from your peers. You must get beyond simply meeting expectations to consistently exceeding current and anticipating future ones.
- Catalyst – The next step is to search for a catalyst, a chemical reaction in you that becomes an awareness, of something missing in your journey. Or there’s something greater you aspire to reach. This spark fuels your passion to seek your calling.
- Immersive Inquiry – Now you’re fanning that spark, to inquire, to explore, to experiment, to go pursue the possible, the potential, and the path forward. You jump in with both feet and immerse yourself in that journey from now to next. What will it really take? How can you thrive given your current circumstances, constraints, or obligations? You find a path and embark on that journey to the best version of you.
- Strategic Relationships – When the student is ready, the teacher will appear. If you’ve successfully navigated the previous four steps, you’re ready to leverage your biggest asset: your strategic relationships. If you nurture your existing relationships and share your catalyst and immersive inquiry, they’ll offer to help. This is when you’ll want to find your watering hole! Who else is thinking about these ideas? Who else has already mapped a journey in the path you want to follow? Or at least knows where the oxygen is stored on your path up to Everest!
- Agile Execution – Here you need clarity of intent, a commitment of bandwidth, and execution of your key priorities with agility, an iterative process, and wisdom as your guardrails. The key is to remember that progress trumps perfection and your strategic relationships need to feel that you’ve internalized, synthesized, and are executing on your priorities to make material progress.
- Connection Cadence – Only then, will those relationships be willing to make a further investment of time, insights, and relationships into you. So, creating a relational cadence to revisit, update them on your progress, and gauge their guidance in any course correction becomes prudent. Ensure you don’t outwear their welcome.
Obviously, the descriptions above are but a glimpse into a journey that must be viewed as more of a marathon than a sprint. If you choose to follow these seven steps, you’ll dramatically increase your chances of meeting, engaging, influencing, and thus nurturing relationships with potential curve benders.
Below are two resources that may be of interest to your interest in this topic:
- I recorded Episode 59 of the Curve Benders Podcast on this idea with more details, stories, and personal references.
- Below is an intro video as well…
I welcome your comments.