Here's what I learned in school: Work hard. Try your best. You'll succeed.
But that equation left out something really important.
The simple fact is we need each other to succeed or at least succeed in an easier way -- whether that's taking a geometry class, creating a business or raising a child.
No Need to Sing
I don't mean this in a schmaltzy High School Musical "We're All in This Together," sort of way. I mean, in a real way.
No matter how charismatic Oprah is, she wouldn't be Oprah without a community to inspire. No matter how brilliant Steve Jobs was, he needed a great team to create Apple. And no matter how powerful you are, it's likely that at some point, you'll need an exercise buddy, a reliable babysitter or a good haircutter.
This Isn't Just Common Sense
It's written into your DNA. It's not just your psyche that feels better in relationships, so does your body. That's why, when you share your feelings with a friend, your immune system gets stronger. And it turns out, you don't even need to know the person you're talking with to reap the benefits.
One man said he combats his speaker's nerves by imagining everyone in the audience loves him. Even though he knows it isn't true, he feels it in his heart, and that's enough to give him the confidence he needs. And science confirms he's right. If you nervously step up to the podium to give a speech, and there's one stranger in the audience smiling at you, your blood pressure immediately drops.
Chagall and Me
I think it's even possible to harness the power of relationships when you're all alone. I've felt it myself while doing something super-solo: browsing through an art museum.
I used to think that looking at paintings was a solitary-thing, but I've realized that it's not. The truth is, when I look at a painting, I'm meeting an artist who's showing me his ideas. And because of him, I'm inspired to see the world in a new way.
Your Brain Says Hello
As you plan your dreams, whether it's to get healthy, write a book, or chart a new course in your life, ask yourself this question: "How can I include other people -- those I know and those I only know from afar?"
Three Ways to Tap Into the Magic of Relationships
1. Get a book. Read biographies of people you admire and let their stories guide and inspire you.
2. Find your people. Connect with people who want what you want -- happy kids, a new business or fitness -- and support each other.
3. Seek role models. Whether it's someone at the office or a character in a movie, look for people who are doing or being what you want and learn from them how to move forward.
How do you bring the magic of relationships into your life? I'd love to know.
Chagall image via WikiPaintings