It's Not What You Know, But Who You Know

When I graduated from college, I hit the ground running. Throwing myself into every opportunity I could find that would build my resume. I figured that with a solid resume, I would achieve all my goal with ease. Eventually, after working 2-5 jobs at a time and upwards of 70 hours a week, I hit a wall. Burnout had come knocking.

I was forced to take pause and recover, but this was harder said than done. I felt pressure to keep pushing on. Fearing that perhaps the world would leave me behind. How was I supposed to get ahead, if I was being left behind?

#IfIWere22 again, I would pay someone to tell me, over and over again, until my ears bleed, that relationships are the most important thing to focus on.

More important than a degree, a list of skills, or on the job experience, are your connections and the depth of your relationship with those connections. The connections you make when you aren’t working an agenda, people pleasing, brown noising, or ass kissing. The relationships that unfold from good old fashion life living. Relationships that are grounded in reciprocity and mutual respect.

It has been said that, “It’s not what you know, but who you know.”

I was never one to shmooze. My family was not much for the local country club. I was never part of the in-crowd or much concerned with who was.

I still notice myself a bit triggered by the idea that ‘who you know’ is more important than ‘what you know,' as it often plays into unearned privilege and the ability to get ahead, due to family ties and society connections.

However, I can’t fully scoff at this idea of ‘who you know’ being the key to success.

So the best advice I have for my 22 year old self would have to be…

  • Follow Your Bliss

People often misunderstand this expression. I know I did and it left me broke and bored out of my mind. Bliss isn’t about always being happy or comfortable. Rather, following your bliss is about tapping into your intuition, listening to your body, and allowing your inner compass to lead you down a path you could not have come to know through conscious and strategic planning. It is about trusting that everything will work out, if you show up with an expansive mindset and an open heart.

Pay attention to what excites you, rather than what will make you quick money.

When you notice yourself feeling stagnant, greedy, resentful, angry, sick, or exhausted. Pause and ask yourself, “How can I step back into alignment with my highest path and purpose? What do I love? Who do I want to be, right here right now?”

  • Speak and Act From Your Heart

Always lead, both yourself and others, with your heart. Don’t let the ego twist you up and cause you to speak or act in hurtful ways that are motivated by fear, jealousy, greed, or hate.

When you feel yourself boiling up inside, pause, direct your attention to your heart space, listen, feel, and then from a place of deep compassion speak and act.

  • Travel the World

So much can be learned about yourself, others, and the world through travel. As you travel, notice when you feel comfortable and when you are living in moments of culture shock or culture clash.

Get curious about the ways that you are similar and the ways that you differ from the world around you. Allow these experiences to open your mind and your heart and revel to you the magic in this world that you otherwise wouldn’t have discovered.

  • Live Your Truth

Share your beliefs, values, and experiences with others. Let yourself be known. Acknowledge the pain that can come with rejection, but never conform simply to gain the approval of others.

Say yes when you mean yes. Say no when you mean no. Express your thoughts and feelings with passion and conviction. Never give your power away. Always practice before you preach, as to lead by example.

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  • Worry Less

Worry less about what you can put on your resume or how you can climb the social and/or professional ladders. Be where you are. Love where you are. Notice as this shifts. Be of service to others and make a meaningful contribution to this world.

If you follow this advice, of staying in alignment with your highest path and purpose, speaking and acting from your heart, getting out into the world and immersing yourself in all of it’s wonder, living your truth, and worrying less about what’s in it for you, you will discover that a happy meaningful life is already upon you.

When you have this moment, that moment that says “I am living the good life now and things will only get better” your energy becomes extremely contagious.

As result, you will be able to attract the people YOU need to know, rather than the 'people to know.' These people that YOU need to know, that you are here in this world to meet will.

  • see your potential and offer you opportunities you couldn’t have dreamed up otherwise.
  • be your best partners.
  • be your best clients
  • be your biggest fans.
  • be your dearest friends.
  • have your back and bring you into your fullest expression time and time again.
  • make you feel alive.
  • give your life meaning.

Understand that when you live life you will learn and gain skills.

Don't disregard your resume, but let it be a bi-product of a life lived.

And next time your hear someone say “It’s not what you know, but who you know.”

Don't be fooled.

Don’t spin out about connecting with celebrities or billionaires. Don’t worry yourself to death about not being part of the 'right' inner circle.

Don’t throw yourself at influencers and leaders, nagging them for attention.

Don’t betray a friend or a co-worker in order to get ahead.

Take pause…

Follow your bliss.
Speak and act from your heart.
Travel into the world.
Live your truth.
Worry less.

And trust that the people YOU need to know, will find their way to you. Trust that they are already on their way. Be the beckon and light, so they can find you in the darkness.

Then together move into the light and leave the world a better then you found it.

Do you have your own stories about amazing relationships and opportunities popping up when you least expect them?*

Let's start a conversation about the power of relationship in the comments section below.*

Originally published on LinkedIn Pulse:


Rebel + Connect creates custom retreats for remote teams. A Colorado based company owned and operated by Charlie BirchRachel McGehee, and Summer Weirich, we operate remotely and service clients from all over the globe. Join us as we create cultures of meaning and celebrate human connections in a digital world!

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