A Network to Crow About

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Last week, I was headed home from a walk with Quinn when I noticed a hawk atop a tree. Now this sight on its own is nice, but not particularly noteworthy. What made the scene curious was the two crows moving around it, giving it “the business,” squawking and flapping. The crows were clearly upset about something – in my estimation, the hawk had taken someone’s spot and they weren’t happy about it.

While I had never seen this before, I assumed the hawk had the upper hand (wing?) so I stopped to see how it would play out. The two crows continued their tirade, while the hawk seemed unfazed. I expected the crows to become discouraged and move on when something truly fascinating happened. Out of nowhere, came a few more crows, who added their voices to the discontent. At this point, the hawk began to look a bit uncomfortable and took flight. That’s when additional crows entered the picture and amplified the complaint against their foe. The hawk was flying around, with dozens of crows squawking and diving. The event ended with two crows escorting (chasing?) the hawk quite a way off and now no longer needed, the crowd returning to their own plans. What began as two voices, moved to about five, then around a dozen, and right before the hawk took off, there were approximately forty crows, all who weren’t even visible before the incident occurred.

While this scene played out very quickly, it left quite an impression on me and caused me to think deeply about how we show up for each other and the kind of people we need in our lives.

It’s very possible that the events of the past couple of years have shifted some relationships in your life. Perhaps there are people you were close to and now see more or less of, or even folks who were more on the peripheral and are now completely off your grid. In the best of times, it’s natural for relationships to evolve, but when adversity happens, things can change profoundly, for better, or for worse.

After the experience with the crows, I began to make note of the people in my life who would show up if there’s a need. There are, of course, different levels of friendships and I believe we need them all. We benefit from having people who would make us aware of professional opportunity, as well as those who would feed the cat when one must travel, and everything in between.

At the start of each new year, the emphasis tends to be on “self.” One’s health, finances, career, etc. While there isn’t anything inherently wrong with that, what if we turned our attention outward and focused on making our relationships as good as we possibly could? It’s important to remember that in relationships, even when they start by chance, they aren’t maintained that way. We need to actually be in communication and spend time with people. Having large numbers of folks one is connected with on social media doesn’t translate to people who “IRL” will bring you soup when you are sick.

So, what to do if your relationship flock needs a little tending?

Start by doing things that are small touchpoints which will allow you to connect. You can send a text to someone who’s on your heart, pick up the phone and call to see how an acquaintance is doing, or even just offer a professional resource to a colleague who has always been kind to you. From there, make a lunch date, ask if the person wants to just sit and chat, or even take a walk. Perhaps there is someone who you have wanted to spend more time with, and it just hasn’t happened yet. Let them know it’s a priority to you and see if they feel the same way. Then, make a plan and make it happen.

Maybe you want to dedicate a couple of blocks of time each month to relationship building. It doesn’t have to be in person, you could simply use that time to send a few notes or just make some calls. Again, just get started and momentum can help you move forward. In no time at all, things will feel less awkward, and you may even get some standing dates on the calendar.

As I reflect on the scene with the crows, I’m guessing the hawk expected the situation to end differently. What it didn’t count on, was the power of network. A network that would mobilize, hang together, and stay until the need passed. That’s the kind of relationships we need, so let’s prioritize developing and strengthening them in 2023. Because when we have those kinds of networks, we can truly take flight.