Who is in your VAN?
No, I am not talking your grocery-getter mini-van, or your creepy stalker van, or any other gasoline powered vehicle of the boxy van type. I am talking about your Value Added Network. Say what?
We seem to spend so much time these days building networks of all types. Whether it is a computer network, a social network, a family network or what ever type of network – we are fervently trying to connect all the various pieces of our lives together. The people, the places, the things, the ideas – trying to connect it, make sense of it and build our lives from it.
Maybe, just maybe, in our quest to build our networks – online, offline, within social circles and outside the social sphere of our lives we have failed to cue into what should be the most important part of our network – our Value Added Network. So, what exactly is a Value Added Network? I will explain my view of it below.
Value Added Network – the portion of our network that we either directly receive value from, or directly provide value to.
That’s a pretty broad definition if you ask me, so let’s break it down a bit. In any given network we possess, use or a part of, there are any given number of nodes, people, places, things or ideas. These nodes, people, places, things and ideas all have the ability to either give, take or destroy value to our network. This can happen any number of ways – which I might explore in another post later – but will touch on here.
Let’s examine the three things that can happen. Give – this does not mean a physical object, material object, or even any object at all. We can receive value from our network in many forms. We might get an uplifting note on a day we are struggling, which is good because it may improve our outlook and allow us to do something spectacular that day. We might get a small bonus or token from a client, customer or friend…just something to let us know we matter. We might get help from someone on a project, maybe an idea from them that helps us solve a problem. We might setup a new connection that we find is a wealth of information that we can personally apply to our activities and enrich those around and give back. Speaking of giving – we must do our part back to our network. If you can give an encouraging word, do so. If you can give some ideas, help or other resources, do so. Likewise maybe you can give someone an object, something material or whatever that enriches their life within their network, and within yours since they are a part of it.
Taking – yes there are those items, people and places that simply take and never provide any value back. We do have to be careful of these. Why? Sometimes it is wonderful to give, have it taken and not have any expectations in return. However, sometimes people, places and things simply take all they can, and we willingly give all we can and run to the ragged edge because of it. How? Take the highly addictive games we play on our computers. How many hours can we spend doing that? At what point to we cross the boundary and it becomes a time waster? What about the days we spend several hours doing activities that take away from things we really should be doing? Maybe we spend 2 hours being sidetracked on a web site, in a store, driving aimlessly when we really need direction. See how it can run our network dry? Sometimes we become the taker – simply consuming the people, places, things and ideas around us – needlessly, endlessly, ferociously, and selfishly. If you find your self doing this – STOP. It will better your network and those whose network you are drying up.
Destruction. It happens to us all. Those things which simply have no good outcome. There are things in our networks out to destroy out networks – whether it is a person, a piece of equipment, a place – they are there. The sole purpose is to disrupt as much as possible. If it is a person, it might be jealousy, anger, hate or malice that is driving this destruction. If it is something, say a computer or office equipment, maybe it is old and needs replaced, maybe it is malfunctioning, maybe it was no good to begin with. Either way, this destruction can not only destroy and dwindle our networks, but also destroy and dwindle ourselves.
So what is a VAN? A value added network is ensuring that what we spend the most amount of time with in any of our given networks is that which provides a harmonious balance between giving, receiving and realization that we can each give and take as much as it takes if we have built the proper network of people, places, things and ideas. It is merely the idea that we want to give and take, and get rid of that which is not balanced – if we are taking too much, out to destroy or not giving enough and are out of balance, we have a limited value from our network. If those items in our network are taking too much, out to destroy or not giving enough, again it is a limited value network. However, when we can find that balance, we have our value added network – the proper balance of give and take…whether it is interaction with people, places, things or ideas – they all can effect our network equally, just as we can equally effect them.
Your thoughts? Have you evaluated your networks recently? What did you find? Did you find any of the things discussed? Do you agree or disagree with the analogy? Share below in the comments!!