Use what you’ve got, but always pay it forward.
I had the amazing opportunity to see Goldroom play a DJ set at Q a few months ago. We had seen him as a live band the year before but seeing him play a DJ set was something on my bucket list. We got a crew of people together, dressed in some tropical garb and brought leis to share. Just before he was set to go on, I went up to the side of the stage to see if I could offer him one of our leis. He came over, accepted kindly but I could feel the “oh, just another groupie” vibe coming from him. I was rocking a pair of BucketFeet and remembered that my brother, one of the co-founders of the brand, had offered him shoes once upon a time. I mentioned my connection to the company and suddenly he warmed up to me. There was a connection, a point of reference for him. He asked my name, we chatted for a bit then he thanked me again for the lei. I boogied back over to my group with a smile on my face.
At first I was stoked about the interaction I’d just had. I got to chat with one of my all time favorite DJs! But then I got down on myself. The only reason he was interested in talking to me was the connection to something bigger and more famous. I felt I should have been able to establish a connection with him without needing to pull out the BucketFeet card. I should be able to establish my own importance regardless of who I know. Total buzzkill to go down that route.
While getting jiggy with it, I couldn’t help but go on a total mental journey and wonder why I felt so low for something so normal. Had I done something inappropriate by mentioning this connection? No. Had I come off needy or like I was trying too hard? No. Had I harmed anyone in the process? No. Is it possible to get anywhere without using the connections you’ve made? No.
[Tweet “Use the connections you’ve put work into forming but make sure you share that wealth with others.”]
I’ve said it a million times before and I’ll say it again now, you can’t get anywhere alone. A huge part of moving forward in whatever your path is, is relying on the connections you’ve formed. But there’s a way to do it with grace. It’s never okay to burn your connections to move forward. And it’s certainly never okay to pretend their accomplishments are your own. But it is okay to let people know who is in your world.
Bragging about which celebrities or millionaires you know may not get you very far. But humbly mentioning your connections serves as a reference tool. People can now associate you with something already familiar. Goldroom didn’t care about some girl giving him a lei, I’m sure he gets it all the time. But as soon as he realized I’m close to someone he respects, I could now be connected to a thought he already had.
As you move forward, or up, however you think of it, consider who has helped you get there. How many times did you name drop? How many events did you attend because of who you know? Who did you get to meet because of your circle? We’re all part of a complicated web and it’s part of the process to utilize this network. It’s okay to use what you’ve got, you’re supposed to.
One of the scariest thoughts for me is that I’m a taker, a user, a mooch. This is not how I want to operate my business or my life. The ratio of giving must greatly outweigh the taking for me to feel satisfied. So when I name dropped, I felt inauthentic. But while I melted into his oh-so-dreamy music I came to the conclusion that it’s okay to use what you’ve got, but always pay it forward. Use the connections you’ve put work into forming but make sure you share that wealth with others around you.
This concept can be applied to so many different aspects of our lives. As you continue to grow and follow your own path, amazing opportunities will present themselves. Whenever possible, bring others up with you so you can enjoy the ride together. Remember that you didn’t get there solely alone, you’ve got a part to play in the accomplishments of others.
While I have you here, one of my gifts to you is this Goldroom song. When you fall in love with his music, remember who brought him to you:
[soundcloud url=”https://api.soundcloud.com/tracks/93050660″ params=”auto_play=false&hide_related=false&show_comments=true&show_user=true&show_reposts=false&visual=true” width=”100%” height=”450″ iframe=”true” /]