By: Pavel Konoplenko
Have you ever sprinkled some pepper or salt on your tongue? Or how about eat a big tablespoon of Caesar dressing? I’m willing to bet few people have done that because pepper, salt, and Caesar dressing taste terrible. Yet, almost all of us have added salt and pepper to the meat we’re cooking, and have added some Caesar dressing to a salad we’re preparing.
Clearly there is no problem with pepper, salt, and Caesar dressing; they just serve to illustrate an important point. Many of the things that we encounter in our lives can only be appreciated and enjoyed when connected to or complemented by something else. Clearly, the examples aren’t only limited to food and cooking. The retina display on my iPhone is a technological marvel, but if the battery is dead, there goes the eye candy. I love some Nas on my iPod, but if I forgot my headphones, then the iPod is useless. My bed on a late Sunday morning is comfortable and cozy, but if my mischievous little sister takes my blanket, then I’m cold. Batteries, headphones, and blankets – by themselves – are actually pretty useless too. However, given the right relationship with other things, they create wonderful combinations that add great value to our lives. The context, relationships, and interactions between things are vital. It’s nice to have a roof over your head, but without walls, you just have double the floors.
In fact almost all things in our lives have their significance and value wholly based on their relationships to other things. Each part in the relationship would lose its meaning and purpose if it wasn’t combined or interacting with the other. A car is useless without wheels; conversely, wheels are just as useless without the rest of the car. Hinges are garbage without a door and what’s a door without some hinges?
Relationships are essential in our society. In fact, they go as far as to help define the very nature and meaning of our society. I’m not referring only to relationships between people and groups, but between things and ideas as well. The knowledge contained within a literary classic written in Spanish is useless to you if you do not possess the understanding of the language. The interactions of things and ideas within our world ultimately create their very essence.
This somewhat obvious but often overlooked insight into our world isn’t simply a detailed examination. It becomes a revelation in the understanding of how to fulfill your own inner potential. Our definition of value and success is closely stipulated by the interactions and relationships that exist around us. Understanding their significance and your place within them gives you the opportunity to create a a valuable purpose for everything and everyone around you.
The value of the relationship is derived from the value exchanged within it. A relationship between toothpaste and a toothbrush is a lot more valuable than one between toothpaste and a frying pan. The relationship exists as an interaction between two distinct parts. The distinction of the parts is vital because two identical parts cannot have a valuable exchange or function. Two identical parts offer nothing new to the relationship thus value cannot be created. If I need a piece of paper to write down my idea, more pens is not a valuable solution.
For a person to create a valuable relationship with other people, things, and ideas, he or she must become distinct too. A mindset that embraces novelty will spur the individual to adopt new methods and original ideas that ultimately create new and valuable relationships in the world. Steve Jobs embraced novelty and created the iPod, which altered our relationship with music forever. Martin Luther King Jr., Malcolm X, and W.E.B. Du Bois challenged us to redefine our basic relationships with other human beings and extend them the same ideas of equality and freedom.
Novelty is what drives the growth and success of relationships that will guide you on the path to personal fulfillment. Differences must be present for a relationship to exist, let alone function. Be novel, be distinct, be different and become valuable to the relationships between ideas, things, and people. Only then can you further yourself and begin making an impact on the world. After all, without relationships, your actions will have no meaning to nothing and no one.