It’s the people, stupid!

FriendshipIt  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!

10 thoughts on “It’s the people, stupid!

  1. Great post, Steve!! Those relationships matter quite a lot.

    In fact, based on research on aging, it is clear that friends are an important lifestyle factor. On average, people who have lots of social support (read “friends”) are healthier than people without it. Moreover, frequent visits with friends and attendance at meetings or group functions are considered productive activities. Oh, and productive activities? Participation in them is another factor in aging successfully.

    But it’s not only a longevity benefit. Actually, relationships improve productivity. Research shows that employee satisfaction goes up 50% when people have at least one close friend at work.

    We live in a relationship economy. And it benefits us most when we embrace relationships!

  2. Thanks for the thoughtful comment. Obviously I am in complete agreement.

    Side note- I wonder if our current move towards technological communication helps or hinders our sense of community? I can see an argument for each.

  3. Great question, Steve. I personally believe that technological communications / social media can and does enhance our sense of community. Of course, it helps to keep in mind that the people we interact with on line are real people who have feelings and aspirations — just like we do!! I’d go a step further to say that making the distinction between online and “real” relationships is delusional…and arrogant.

  4. Valid points, and I know I am wandering down the rabbit hole on this, but I guess I am torn.

    On the one hand we wouldn’t be having this conversation w/o tech. On the other hand I see people ignore each other, engrossed in their smart phones on a regular basis.

    Maybe this is a kind of tech communication adolescence we need to grow out of? Not a problem I suspect I’ll come to a solution for anytime soon, but it is nice to ask the questions.

  5. Hey Steve! People ignoring each other because they’re engrossed with their smart phone isn’t really a technology problem. It’s mostly an etiquette problem. And frankly, people have found ways to ignore each other (or exhibit other rude behaviors) long before there were smart phones! Just sayin’

  6. Hi Steve, I think we are healthier in all areas of our lives when we have friends and a strong social network. You’re right in that improving any area of our life comes down to our relationships with people. Thanks for your post!

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