I’m so inspired by the words of wisdom from Cyan Banister, a young woman who went from high school dropout to successful, self-taught engineer, entrepreneur, and angel investor. She shared her advice on Business Insider on how to become successful in business. And it occurred to me that her suggestions work well for relationship success, as well.
She self-disclosed her difficult path, which could have been seen as a failure in the business world, but she turned her history into an accomplishment and transparently owns her amazing success story.
Individualism keeps you from losing yourself
Banister said individualism is important:
“A lot of people will want to label you. They’ll say, ‘There’s more power when there’s all of us together,’ but I believe there’s more power when you find yourself and when you don’t become a part of group think. If you can think with individual thoughts, you’re more likely to set yourself apart.”
It can be easy to lose yourself in a relationship. Remind yourself of what makes you unique. Healthy relationships are when two individuals come together to share their lives, rather than two broken people coming together to meld their lives and trying to fill the voids in one other.
Individualism is also an important concept for those who allow themselves to be swayed by popular and trendy ideas. Just because you and your experiences don’t fit the “typical” mold doesn’t mean your experiences are wrong or that you as a person are not okay. “You do you” has become a popular mantra recently to help people remember that we are each just fine as we are, so that we don’t focus on changing ourselves to fit other people’s expectations. If you or your relationship is non-traditional in some way, that’s okay, provided it works for the people involved.
Personal responsibility allows you to resolve issues
Banister’s next recommendation is to take ownership and personal responsibility for what you do, even if it’s not something you’re proud of.
“Let’s say you do something you’re not proud of. It’s so much easier to blame everyone around you. You have to sit and face yourself in the mirror — I’ve done this many times in my life. There’s been times where I said or did something that I wasn’t proud of, and took ownership of it internally. I don’t believe in blaming others for your circumstances. Individual responsibility is where everything starts.”
This is so important in romantic relationships. I’ve counseled so many couples where the partners blame each other for whatever is wrong in the relationship. The finger-pointing is pointless. Except in cases of domestic abuse, focusing on who is to blame doesn’t ever actually solve the issues.
Let’s face it: You can’t actually change anyone else. You have no power over another’s thoughts, feelings, or behavior. What we do have power over is ourselves. By learning to focus on what we do or say and how we react will help to change to improve our relationship. Typically, relationships in which each partner can learn to reflect on their own contribution are happier and more succesful.
Don’t pin your relationship success or happiness on someone else’s praise
Finally, Barister suggested that it’s a bad idea to rely on other people’s praise.
“I don’t depend on people to cheer-lead for me. If I do a really awesome thing, I’ll take a moment and recognize that I did a great job on it. Maybe people see this as egotistical, but I think it’s important to own your successes and feel proud for what you’ve accomplished.”
The key concept here is to be able to reward yourself by patting yourself on the back instead of relying on others for positive reinforcement.
In romantic relationships, people often get upset when their partner doesn’t notice an awesome thing they did. Relying on another person’s praise rather than being able to take pride in one’s own accomplishments can lead to resentment. Resentment can lead to a persistent sense of neglect, neediness, and anger.
It’s okay to want your partner’s praise, but learn to praise yourself and take pride and pleasure in your own accomplishments, without needing anyone else’s acknowledgment. This way, your interactions with your partner won’t be tainted by this underlying resentment and/or disappointment.
What other lessons can we borrow from the business world to enhance our personal relationships? I’d love to hear your thoughts!