Stephen Covey’s “Seven Habits of Highly Effective People” is one of the most helpful and successful books on leadership and growth ever written. I read the book for the first time 15 years ago. All of the habits have been useful, but one has come to my mind more frequently than the others. “Begin with the end in mind”.
It’s not a complicated thought, but it is endlessly applicable. It’s impossible to know where to start with a task or goal until we are sure about what we hope to accomplish. This principle applies to relationships as well. If you are not honest with yourself and about what you want from a relationship, you will end up disappointed. Also, if you don’t know what you want from a relationship, you won’t be able to clearly communicate your desires to the person you are relating to. That lack of clarity is where relational breakdown begins.
Not every friend wants to be a best friend. Your boss may not want to be your mentor. Some spouses want to spend all of their time together, others do not. Your co-worker may want to be friends, and he might just want to get his job done and go home. Making assumptions about what others want out of a relationship without asking them creates problems.
Consider your own relationships. You likely want different things from them at different times. Sometimes you want someone to listen and simply accept you as you are. Sometimes you want feedback. Sometimes you want the hard truth, and at other times you want to be encouraged. If you want so many different things at different times, odds are that your friend may as well. Our only hope for a healthy relationship is to be honest about what we want, and open to hear what others want as well. In that sort of honest ground, relationships can grow to be strong.