Pawns or Partners: How being selfish hurts your career

Creatives must honestly assess their motives when making connections

It’s true. We all want to know the ‘right people’.

If you talk to a fellow creative and they are being honest, they’ll admit some of their relationships are based on the opportunity the other party represents. While we may not mean to use people selfishly, we usually slide toward making connections that we think will benefit us in the long run. There’s nothing inherently wrong with mutually beneficial relationships where both parties are interested in greater influence and career growth.

There is something wrong, however, in viewing partners as pawns and not as people.

Here’s an example of what can happen when we do just that.

A certain king, while his soldiers are off battling an enemy, begins having an affair with one of his soldier’s wives, and she becomes pregnant. In his attempt to cover up his actions, the king personally calls the woman’s husband back from the battlefield. The soldier is wined and dined as the king attempts to get him to go back home to his wife, in hopes of ending the suspicion that the child to be born was not his own.  When the soldier refuses the offer due to his loyalty to his brethren on the battlefield, the king has him strategically assigned to the most dangerous missions until he is killed.

Was the king concerned about this soldier as a person? As a loyal supporter who was risking his life for him? Or was he simply discarding a man whose service he once valued, but now represented a threat to his reputation?

When we forget that the people that work for us, and with us, are people who deserve respect and fair treatment even when the relationship doesn’t suit our purposes, we take on a spirit of manipulation.

That’s not how you want to be remembered in your relationships.

To self-evaluate your motives, ask yourself:

If this person could not help my career at all, would I stay connected?

Can I be happy for her if her success doesn’t involve me?

Do I only think of him in terms of how he can help me?

A true relationship always involves more giving than taking. Be honest, generous, and authentic with others even when the relationship isn’t centered around your goals.

You’ll go farther with partners than you will with pawns.

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