Investment - an act of devoting time, effort, or energy to a particular undertaking with the expectation of a worthwhile result.
There is a moment in every relationship in which each person involved has to make a decision whether or not to invest. Whether or not to to give themselves over to the other person. We invest because of the potential of a solid return but there's just no telling what will happen. Because of this risk there are usually a few different approaches that people take. I want to talk a little bit about these ideas and how they are connected to the idea of Relational Equity.
Some people choose a method of investing that I like to call “casting a wide net”. This is when a person invests a little here and a little there. It is a pursuit of quantity over quality. These are the popular ones, the extroverts, the life of the party. The pros to this approach are pretty numerous. They have a lot of acquaintances and a lot of people to choose from when it comes time to cash in on returns. They are well known and generally liked. There is very little risk involved because if one investment doesn’t give them what they need they just move on to the next. It’s a safe bet. However, there is also a huge disadvantage to this approach, which is that the person never yields a high return. They are never really known in an intimate way by anyone. They are, as Jacks Mannequin put it, “alone in a crowded room.” You manage by casting a wide net, but you’ll never be rich in relational equity.
Another method of investing is what I like to call the “White Whale.” This is when we sell out everyone and everything for the sake of that one person who we are certain will yield the greatest return. The reward is huge but so is the risk. Giving oneself over fully to another person could lead to incredible intimacy, great support, the certainty of someone always having your back, and the incredible gift of being known fully by someone and being accepted by them. The reward potential is incredible. The problem with all our proverbial eggs being placed in a single basket is that one day the basket could fall and we’ll be left with nothing. We invested everything we had into that one relationship, forsaking all others, so if doesn’t work out, were on an island stuck wondering what went wrong. As Jacks Mannequin also says “This is morning, That's when I spend the most time, Thinking 'bout what I've given up”.
So pros and cons considered, I think it’s safe to say that investments in people are just as tricky as investments in stocks. Even with an advisor, there will be risk involved.
I think the most successful model is the one I have been practicing over the last six years and I call it “the sonar”. Like a sonar I am scanning the world around me in an effort to constantly be aware of the people around me. As each person approaches I assess them for friend or foe. Are they someone I should invest in or not? If they are, I approach or allow them to approach. If they aren’t, I leave them outside my vision. Some of them are worth an initial investment but they aren’t going to yield a high return so I engage them from time to time but they remain on the outer edge of my scope. Some are people I want to invest in even if the return isn’t huge but I’ve decided that the loss isn’t huge either. They make it a circle closer and while they aren’t the closest I would still call them friends. Then they’re are those whom I have decided, through time spent together and through bringing them closer through the other stages, that they are worth going all in for. This is my inner circle. These are the people that I am so close to that they are literally a part of me. This approach yields a huge return but still protects me from the risk of investing lots of energy chasing the white whale.
Investments are tricky but with a sonar approach and a good advisor we greatly improve our returns. I am fortunate to have invested well over the last 6 years. There are a few relationships I want so badly that I invest in them even though they have repeatedly not come through for me but that’s the risk of love. It hurts at times but thankfully I have another handful of investments that yield HUGE returns time and time again. Those are the people that remind me that relationships are valuable and that the good ones are worth the risk. So as you look around and assess the potential relationships around you, don't get sucked into the romance of chasing the white whale and don’t play it safe by casting your net too wide. Pretty soon you’ll be pretty rich.