- To have friends, to be noticed, to be heard, to be missed?
- To be recognized for your talents?
- To have people want what you have to offer?
- To be included in the lives of others, their activities, their conversations?
- To make a difference in the world, so that when you’re gone, people can point to the contributions (big or small) that you made?
I want these things. And typically the people I live, work, and interact with seem to also want these things. I’ve been pondering this a lot lately, and I think it all boils down to wanting to be “relevant.”
It’s interesting to note the two definitions given for “relevant” in various dictionaries. I have paraphrased them here:
1. To be PERTINENT; relating directly and significantly to the matter at hand. While some people prefer to be on the sidelines rather than in the middle of the action, I think most still want to be directly connected to the action, and certainly to be “significant” or “of consequence” to the other people gathered there. While spectators are not performing, playing the game, or providing the purpose for the event, they still are generally necessary, as they add energy, purpose, and often financial support. While some people are quiet, and do not contribute much to conversations, they likely still want to be acknowledged and appreciated for their willingness to listen. While many employees work “behind the scenes” to create a product, produce a delicious meal, fix things that are broken, or provide valuable services, their lack of significant pay, attention, or accolades does not typically mean that they are irrelevant, in fact, often they are the most important to the overall success of a program or product, business or organization!
2. To be DISTINCTIVE; having a special quality, notable. Yes, part of being relevant is being noted for our unique contributions to the activity, event, entity, or environment. We often do not want to be just “part of the crowd,” but we want it to matter that we are there; each person, wanted and needed for whatever role they have to play.
It has struck me over the years that even people who seem incredibly accomplished are often seeking to be “relevant,” or to feel like they “matter.” Those with disabilities, noted often for what they cannot do, are typically striving to be connected, needed, and applauded for what they are able to do and contribute. Those who engage in negative behavior (bullying, abuse, addictions, various crimes, etc.) are often simply searching for relevance.
What can we do today to help someone feel relevant? How can we help others see that they are needed and appreciated? How can we applaud them for their distinctive qualities? In searching for answers to these questions, it’s interesting to note that we will become more relevant to others. For as we affirm them for their relevance, we become relevant to them!
My hope for each of us this week is that we would see that we truly are relevant for a variety of reasons, and encourage others to identify and appreciate their own relevance! (YOU are also relevant to me! I hope you’ll take a minute to comment, whether you agree or disagree, and share your thoughts about this topic or anything else. You can comment here, on Facebook, or send me an email!)