I believe that when you care -- whatever the context -- you must care enough to cultivate good relationships. This thing we call life can be very challenging. Those challenges can seem insurmountable without a good support system to help you through the stress.
Part of getting through these tough times requires some proactive effort. Even before you find yourself down in the dumps or feeling sorry for yourself, you have assembled an A-Team of people who can be your cheerleaders and help you out of your doldrums. And these people needn't be official mentors or teachers.
I remember a few years ago I was having a very very stressful time at work. I was wondering if anything I did as a leader was making a difference. The challenges within the non-profit organization I worked seemed to never get better, no matter what I did. I actually thought about moving on and looking for another position. One day, I felt I needed to take some time for myself. So before I went home, I went to one of my favorite stores for some retail therapy. What I found was much better.
I ran into a former co-worker from a store I had worked at to earn extra money during the holidays. As we talked and exchanged pleasantries, she said something that made my day. She told me how much she had enjoyed working with me, even for those few short weeks. She said I always made work fun and pleasant and that she felt I was a wonderful person.
I am a firm believer that God often puts people in our path just when we need them. I regained my motivation to go back to my job and continue my pursuit to make the program better. I did eventually leave the organization years later; not during a down time, but after a triumph.
This story not only shows the power of relationships for the receiver of the praise, but also the importance of offering kinds words...or as I heard at an event this past weekend, "Giving people their flowers while they can still smell them." You never know how your words can be just what a person needed. If you ever have a question about whether to offer a word of encouragement or praise...JUST DO IT! It could be the best thing to happen to them that day.
So if you care about your ability to be a good parent or spouse, business person or leader, you must cultivate powerful relationships. You must cultivate relationships with people who will keep you motivated. Effort and efficacy are impacted by motivation. Motivation can be renewed simply by having someone tell you how great you are, when you yourself have forgotten.