I wrote yesterday that narratives oscillate. So do our networks. They have lifecycles.
Whatever effort we put in, and no matter how many contacts we may have, the relationship core stays pretty much the same size. The centre – a handful of people we trust and identify with – changes slowly. The next level out, ten to fifteen, we know well and talk with frequently. After that, around a hundred – the people we send Christmas cards to, will always pick up the phone to, who we see less often. After that, it’s distant data.
Today’s network will be notably different from the one we had ten years ago and significantly different to the one we had twenty years ago. People leave for various reasons; new ones arrive, our ideas change and develop a form of gravity that pulls people into our orbit and us into theirs. Our networks and our narrative and co-dependent and oscillate in harmony.
It is why we need to pay careful attention to them to keep them healthy. Too little energy, and they will wither. Too much, and they fragment. We become the average of our network.
I think networks thrive on four “R’s”.
Relationships. Nurturing our relationships with our friends, our communities, and those with whom we share the planet. Keeping them healthy, energised and supportive. On my daily walk, old oaks have seen the short lives of ten generations pass by. The least I can do is give them a nod.
Responsibility. We have a duty to tread lightly, do no harm, and leave where we are better than we found it. It’s easy to forget in short-term cultures, so we have to embrace the radical changes to how we live.
Reciprocity. Taking has become not just acceptable but applauded. The trouble is, we cannot take from a system – everything we do has consequences somewhere that will find their way back to us. So we have to give as well as take and when we do take, make sure we leave enough to ensure it can replenish.
Redistribution. “Enough” is perhaps one of the most powerful concepts of our time.
Networks is another one of those words that have become stale and lifeless—delegated to LinkedIn and Instagram. The reality is that the ones we have today will determine where we are in ten years, and we need to give them the attention they deserve.