I recently spoke to dear friend, Darrah Brustein. Darrah is an author and two-time founder with a payment processing company spanning 38 states and an events company called Network Under 40 serving 30,000+ people. She's a contributor to Forbes, Entrepreneur, and Thrive Global on networking, entrepreneurship and creating a life of your own design, and has been featured in over 300 press outlets including Time, CNN, Inc, Huffington Post, Fox, and Mashable.
Chris Schembra: What's the best relationship advice you've ever received?
Darrah Brustein: To care deeply for them and tend to them regularly. I learned this from my dad who has demonstrated to me over his life how to be curious about other people, how to offer value to them to help them on their journey, how to keep ties alive, how to bring people together for mutual benefit, and how to be there for the important moments in their lives.
Schembra: What's the worst piece of relationship you've received?
Brustein: Just look out for number one. This advice never sat well with me so I never practiced it, but I watch others bulldoze their way through life, leaving a trail of rubble in their wake. Not only will it catch up to them, but it's a lonely and tight-handed way to exist and in my opinion, the end doesn't justify those means.
Schembra: What’s the most challenging lesson you’ve learned about relationships?
Brustein: That not everyone is a person of their word and trust shouldn't be offered to everyone. I used to go into relationships offering trust first, if and until the recipient demonstrated reason to rescind it. It became disheartening to learn through many broken promises and people who use their word to manipulate that my nature of trusting first would result in some pain and negative outcomes along the way. Now I listen to my gut more closely when I first meet someone to decide whether or not to let him/her in, because if I do, he/she will be treated with trust, and I've learned that my instinct is my best judge. And, I'd prefer not to change my world view and withhold trust and optimism about the general good nature of others.
Schembra: What do you wish you had known earlier about connecting with others?
Brustein: That no matter how connected you are, there will still be times of loneliness. I remember going through regular cycles of feeling deeply connected and known, and then, having moments where I'd wonder why as the convener, my invitation to things would be forgotten or those for whom I'd gone out of my way didn't ever return the favor. What I realized was that I can only control my intentions and actions, and from there, I need to release the expectation of outcomes. It's not always easy or perfectly practiced, but has been an important lesson.
Schembra: How do you maintain your most important relationships every day?
Brustein: I make contact. Relationships stay alive through effort and intention. I don't keep score of who reached out last and whose turn it is. I just reach out. Some days it's a call, others a text, email, like on Instagram, or handwritten note. I put in the effort because I have a hunch that when I look back on my life, that I'll be most grateful for the relationships.
Schembra: What’s a mistake you made in a relationship that changed the way you think about them?
Brustein: I didn't know my own value and I let myself be taken advantage of. I've had (and continue) to do a lot of personal growth work to better know when and how to walk away from or stand up for myself.
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