This evening I finished reading “The Defining Decade” by Meg Jay, PhD, a psychologist who works with twentysomethings. It was my 3rd book of my #52in52 challenge. I really enjoyed this book and found it easy for me to connect to. One section of the book will stick with me more than any other: the section about weak ties and strong ties (p. 19-28).
Meg makes the argument that our weak ties are more important (or at least just as essential) as our strong ties. Our strong ties include our closest friends, family, and colleagues. Although they are the first we turn to when we need advice or connection, they are not necessarily the ones who can help us out the most. Within our personal network of strong ties, we run the risk of thinking the same, having the same friends, the same frustrations and see obstacles in the same light.
Our weak ties are a different story. They are our acquaintances, our friends-of-friends, and they are easy to overlook. They stand within a different tier of our relationships. I know that I am quick to assume that these connections do not matter or could not have a meaningful impact in how I navigate my world. I assume these weak ties are made up of people who do not care about my successes, who do not care who I am or where I come from.
This is a scary spot to be in. When we underestimate our weak ties, we are continuing to surround ourselves with people who are most like us. I cannot think of a greater barrier to success, growth, and learning than to only interact with those in your inner circle. Meg Jay helped remind me to think outside that circle.
I am a twentysomething. I often forget about my weak ties. I would challenge you, twentysomething or not, to consider your weak ties and be sure not to brush them over. How can we ever get any better if we cannot draw up the courage to stretch outside our inner circle?