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Power of the Other

The Startling Effect Other People Have on You, from the Boardroom to the Bedroom and Beyond –And What to Do About It

Dr. Henry Cloud 2016

HarperCollins Publisher

When I started my marketing business, I intended to read a ton and blog about the great books I was devouring. Fortunately for my business, things have been busy and unfortunately taken over my reading time. The first on my list was, The Power of the Other by Dr. Henry Cloud.

It seems that we are so hyper focused on doing things for ourselves and by ourselves, that we have lost the connection that helps us to thrive, grow and surpass our boundaries. In all honesty, we are all seeking a connection with others – sometimes that connection is bad, or self-serving but occasionally we make a connection with someone and it spurs us on even when we didn’t think we could.

Dr. Cloud opens the book with a look at Navy Seals and how they develop a bond with each other that allows them to push themselves when they didn’t think there was anything left. “More when there is no more”

It isn’t just about the connections we make -it is about the quality of those connections. This isn’t about having a bunch of buddies you hang out with – it’s about developing That is the science of connection as Dr. Cloud calls it.

He walks us through the “Four Corner of Connections”

“Corner One is No Connection” You have isolated yourself for whatever reason and are not making true connections. This doesn’t mean you aren’t extroverted or have not friends -it just means you aren’t making good emotional or functional investment in others. “If you find yourself in a situation where there is absolutely nowhere you can be vulnerable, nowhere you can connect to a network of people for energy, support, downloads and the like then something went terribly wrong.”

“Corner Two is Bad Connection” Since we are always searching for connection, sometimes our brains make the leap that a bad connection is better than no connection. This relationship could come in all shapes or sizes, but it boils down to someone who has the “power to make you feel bad’. If you are constantly trying hard to please someone in your life but never seem to -that is the trademarks of a bad connection. You begin to doubt yourself and spend more time seeking approval than you do the project or task.

“Corner Three is the Seductively False Good Connection” The other corners might not be fun but corner three is the party central. These false positive feelings make you feel good for a time, they could be as seemingly harmless as being addicted to only hearing the good news and flattery; or as detrimental as drug additions, affairs, overspending. They might make you feel great now but eventually the bottom will fall out.

Corner Four is the Real Connection: “In simplest terms, a real connection is one in which you can be your whole self, the real authentic you, a relationship to which you can bring your heart, mind, soul and passion.” This is what happens in your best teams, your best lives, whether in business, marriage or war. This isn’t being vulnerable with everyone -but finding the few key people in your life that you can be, and vice versa.

Don’t get Dr. Cloud wrong when he talks about Corner Four connections as just being a safe place, they must also be the place to have the hard conversations. But those conversations are better because you know that the person wants “something for you not from you”. They aren’t telling you an area you need to improve because they like to look down on you -they are working with you to spur you forward to be a stronger, smarter, healthier person.

“If we are not getting it or performing in a certain way, our Corner Four people sometimes have to wake us up and be pretty tough.” Corner Four people help to foster responsibility in others by holding the accountable. They do that by looking at three factors; what is best for all individuals involved, the relationship and the outcomes.

While reading this book, I absolutely could identify areas or times in my life where I have been in all four corners. Times when I look back at struggle because I was on the offensive trying to please people who would never be please or take my contribution seriously. Times when I withdrew completely -even though that is the complete opposite of my nature -but at the time seemed easier and safer. Or went for the relationships that were ‘easy wins’ because I was the cool kid. But the times when I am at my best and being able to push past boundaries are the times that I have had those good Corner Four relationships.

Dr. Could covers so much more in this book about trust, relationships, responsibility but the other big thing that he talks about is failure. Specifically taking “the fangs out of failure”. We can use failure as a learning experience, as a way not to go or as fuel for the possibility of better. But this takes reframing that failure a goal that is alive -something we can still aim for, instead of just beating ourselves up for failing. To me, this is an amazing way to look at failure. If we are so scared of failing -we will never do anything amazing.

While I am just scratching the surface of this book in my review here, I think it points to so much in our society and what is happening in our culture now. We want to be independent and to do whatever we want but we are also living in a time of the highest rates of anxiety and depression, more friends but less connection, and a lack of collaborations among groups, businesses, governments and peers.

Instead of seeking connection in the wrong places or making yourself miserable with trying for perfection with those that won’t give you approval, stick your toe in the water of Corner Four. Find someone that says things like; Oh, I have done that, or We have all been there. Pick up Dr. Cloud’s book and look through the action steps about evaluating relationships. I guarantee -you will see all four of these corners in your own life. And hopefully it will help you to see where you can adjust your relationships to a Corner Four person to others.

** This is not a sponsored review. I had the privilege of hearing Dr. Henry Cloud speak to a relatively small group at a Willow Creek Community Church event a few years ago just as the book was being released. I just now got to it in my stack and wish I had read it earlier.

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