Many years ago, a good friend and mentor said that to me.
I was only 22 at the time and had already enjoyed a modicum of success in business. Maybe he saw something in me, that I had blurred that line between using people and things on some occasion?
Perhaps I had slipped into an all-too pragmatic, or even transactional mindset when interacting with friends, cohorts, and clients?
It hit me like a gut punch that he saw that in me, at least enough to mention it in a positive, constructive way.
Of course, it’s easy to make that mistake, especially in business (and sales), or as we all try to keep up with the hustle and bustle of life.
But that wasn’t me – that’s not truly how I thought or felt about people.
So, his advice stuck with me through the years, helping me become more conscious in my interpersonal dealings and reframing my relationships ever since. Sure, no one is perfect, BUT we can be perfect in the way we approach our relationships.
Since then (and it’s been many years since I was 22!), I make a point to reach out to people with no agenda, just out of care and friendship…just because.
I call, text, or email just because I miss them or remember a fun time we had. I’ll invite them to go get dinner or grab a drink because I miss their company.
I don’t want anything out of it except for sharing time and connecting as human beings – no one is keeping score.
If you’re like me, you’ll notice the quality of your relationships and friendships is better for it. And my life is deeply enriched because of that.
Use things, not people.
To be honest with you, at this point in my life, I have few close friends. And that circle grows smaller as the time goes on (I think it’s like that for most people).
So, you cherish the ones who are still be your side, through good and bad they’ve been there for you. Those are the friends that you genuinely want to pick up the phone or reach out just to touch base and see how they are doing.
After all, they are the ones who also understand that we should use things, not people
…and that we should aspire to love people, not things.