If you live anywhere near waterways or hilly terrain, you are no stranger to bridges. These amazing structures can be beautiful as well as extremely functional.
In business and in life, our relationships require some bridging. Isn’t it true that you stand somewhat alone facing the world. To make connections with those around you, a bridge must be built.
Once the bridge is built, does it stand the test of time? Can you maintain the strength and durability of your bridge with someone else?
Here are considerations about the bridges in your life.
1. They take time to build. Just like a real bridge, our relationship bridges take time to build. Rather than using iron or stone to construct them, our relationship bridges require other building materials like trust, confidence, and integrity. The pieces that go into constructing a strong bridge can take time to nurture and grow.
2. They can be capital intensive. Large scale bridge construction requires high dollar investment. Why? Because we expect a bridge to be sturdy and reliable. So too with our personal bridges. You must invest your reputation to build a good bridge. Often you must invest time, the most precious of all commodities. Plus you must make an investment of the other resources at your disposal to demonstrate the commitment to building the proper bridge.
3. They require maintenance. Old, unmanaged bridges become shaky and dangerous. But routine maintenance and inspection can keep a bridge operating at its highest capacity. Relationships need maintenance. A bond that was created in times past must be maintained to keep the connection.
4. They support two way traffic. The best bridges provide two-way traffic. At work or at home, your bridges should offer a free flow of exchange; emotional, practical, tangible exchange.
Burning a Bridge
In my early years of banking, a wise man once told me…
“Never burn a bridge one unless you absolutely have to.”
It made sense to me. Therefore, I worked long and hard to keep my bridges open and working. This was true when I moved from one company to the next or one project to the other. I tried very hard to be sure any bridge I might be walking away from was not burned, but just redefined.
Sadly, there are moments in working relationships when a bridge gets torched. For 30+ years, I count two times in my own life. To this day I still regret having that happen.
Despite those two cases, I have had countless other opportunities to revisit a bridge, renewing an old friendship/relationship, and generate new opportunities for both parties.
I share this simply to say it does happen, but there is no reason a young professional cannot strive to keep the slate clean and void of burned bridges.
When the bridges are left open, you can easily renew a connection. Often you hear people say “I haven’t seen them in years, but when we reconnected, it was like yesterday; no time had passed.” That is a good bridge.
My closing question is this:
[reminder]When it comes to your bridges, do you build or burn?[/reminder]