It has been over 20 years since Bill Clinton’s presidential campaign made famous the expression, “It’s the economy, stupid.” It is a variation of the phrase “The economy, stupid” which James Carville had coined as a campaign strategist of Bill Clinton’s successful 1992 presidential campaign
He said that in reference to the over-riding issue on every voter’s mind- whether or not the economy would improve. The idea was that if the economy grew, then all the other political issues of the day would be doable. A rising tide raises all boats. Now before anyone starts cheering or booing, no, I am not going to comment one way or the other on the political fortunes of the Clinton White House.
Instead, I am adding a corollary to that famous dictum: it’s the people, stupid.
Just as the economy is the umbrella issue under which all other political issues reside, how we deal (or don’t) with others will inform every other facet of our lives. You see, no matter what you want to get better at in life, your career, your family, your health, your spirituality, it all comes down to people. If you cannot initiate, grow and nurture relationships then nothing else has a chance to really develop.
People like people who like people. (Yes that is a paraphrase of a horrible Barbara Streisand song, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t true). If you want to advance your career there is no better advice than to develop relationships with people who can help you. That doesn’t mean you become the office suck up to the boss; it means you take the time to be a genuine friend to people.
Want to be a better salesman? Develop actual relationships with your customers. A level of trust goes a long way.
Want to become a better IT professional? You need to understand what end users need and how they work. You can’t do that plugged into your cubicle 24/7.
Healthcare professional? There is a reason there are over 400 books at Amazon with “Bedside Manner” in their title. To be better at your profession you need to be better with people.
And it isn’t just your career that can improve by focusing on others. Take your resolution to work out more as an example. A study by Indiana University found that people who worked out separately had a 43% dropout rate, while those who worked out together had only a 6.3% dropout rate. How about a more dire health-related situation. Studies have shown time and time again that those with debilitating diseases have exponentially better prognosis if they are socially connected to a community group.
So while I would never say learning a new job skill or updating your resume is a bad idea, remember what is really important. It’s the people, stupid!