Posts Tagged 'relationships'

Community Improvement

Courtesy HaywoodEMC.com

Change can be lonely.

The daunting task of making a drastic shift is amplified when faced in solitude. We hear our excuses with more clarity in the silence, the positive voice between our ears drowned out by the din of old habits whining to be maintained. Crushed under the weight of our history, we slide back into the same destructive pattern for the umpteenth time.

There is no law stating such work must be done out of sight.

Grab a little help from some friends.

1. Demand honesty
It is easy — maybe even natural — to hide from the truth when it comes time to encounter our ugliness. More eyes and ears is an asset when this revelation occurs; the difference in perspectives sheds light on other aspects of a given trait or situation and opens the door to accountability in dealing with it.

The fruit of mutual, no-shit assessment is the opportunity to face the nasty stuff with a partner (or a whole brigade).

2. Receive support
One of the most underrated phrases in the English language is “I get that way, too.”

When another voice echoes our quiet thoughts, it is as though any burden is instantly split across two sets of shoulders instead of one. By sharing the load, both parties have more energy to carry out the task at hand.

There is tremendous value in having others to talk to, to share victories and defeats with.

Simply sitting in a room and telling people how we feel has incredible healing — and advancing — power.

We are social creatures.

Without someone else, it’s hard to make community improvement.

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Courtesy dePlicque.net

 

What does it mean to prosper?

My brain has been asking this for two days.

As a society, we tend to emphasize tangible cues: nice cars, spacious houses and fine dining. Somehow, the measure of success is tied to our ability to consume goods and services, to splash cash on whatever we choose whenever the urge strikes. This kind of thinking eventually boils life down to one mind-rattling question:

If I can’t buy anything, can I do well?

There are few experiences a person can have more frightening than being unable to cover expenses. In those moments when pennies are being rationed from one month to the next, it is challenging for an individual to separate financial concerns from personal identity.

We have to remember what lasts.

As the bank account hovers near zero, all that can be held on to is what makes us timeless. Oftentimes, the last bastion of hope is found in our relationships, the one thing certain to have a life beyond us. When the time comes to slog off for the next soul-crushing shift, the affection we feel — for or from someone — can give us the energy to keep going.

I do my best to have good days and great days.

Sometimes that is difficult.

In high and low times, there are three words you can be certain I will always say if asked “How are you?”

“Alive and loved,” is my reflexive reply. More than I care to admit, that’s been all I could say. With little, if any, money to my name, I have uttered the phrase with a weak smile in an effort to seem optimistic about what the future holds.

On reflection, it is full of striking power.

I have strong bonds with a wonderful family and tremendous friends.

I have another day to show those people — and maybe some others — I care.

That’s wealth that cannot be lost.

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Deflect the Unexpected

Courtesy chgs.umn.edu

Few things are more frustrating than a situation turning out different than anticipated.

Something about making a transition produces a sort of hopeful naiveté, it seems. We move from one place to another and naturally assume the new situation will be better — it can’t possibly be worse, right?

In fact, one could argue nothing would happen if we weren’t temporarily blinded by the novelty of a fresh opportunity and the perception of greener grass.

Who would willingly jump from the frying pan to the fire?

Nobody.

Ever.

Humans are predominantly creatures of habit choosing to rest in the shade instead of venturing into the sunshine. For most of us, the moment to leap arrives when old comforts hurt more than new uncertainties. And, regardless of how ridiculous the notion, we jump believing we’ll land in a perfect paradise too pleasing to induce pain.

We forget there are challenges everywhere.

The circumstances are irrelevant.

Conflict is inevitable, whether involving ten people or two or one.

Tension is necessary to for growth.

Reaction is what matters.

I usually choose one of two paths in the aftermath of disappointment: validation or detachment.

When I elect to pursue the former, I search out every possible means of sympathy. I pass a lot of time and effort in crafting an airtight case, presenting my arguments to a jury of my peers and awaiting a guilty verdict for the offending party. The energy required is enormous.

Focusing on the latter means everything is resolved fast. I parse through both viewpoints with all due speed, find the chief differences, accept them as “merely X” or “simply Y” and shift rapidly to the next thing. I dissect the arguments, gather what is useful for the future and move on quickly.

The hard part is comprehending either side is blameless most of the time.

Previous experience suggested something and nobody thought there would be an issue. Fair judgment, colored by a lifetime of decisions, directs all of us to our own conclusions every moment of the day. Why be upset when one mental image ends up being different from another?

It isn’t them.

It isn’t us.

It just is.

It’s far more efficient to deflect the unexpected.

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Your influence is determined by how abundantly you place other people’s interests first.

Courtesy darmano.typepad.com

We are selfish creatures.

We can’t help it.

Two thousand centuries of evolution have trained us to cooperate solely when we can benefit. The whole of human history is reliant upon this tendency to seek out a balanced exchange between “us” and “them.” It is why we formed tribes, built farms and eventually settled into towns.

Our lives are, in effect, ruled by a sort of social commerce.

We seek to receive proper payment for services rendered, whether in business or relationships. Though we don’t realize it, we’ve set up a system of scorekeeping tucked away in our collective subconscious built around the concept of fairness. Most of us do our best to make sure everybody wins, everywhere, every time.

In The Go-Giver, Sam Rosen explains how to counteract this mindset from his office at Liberty Life Insurance and Financial Services Company:

Watch out for the other guy. Watch out for his interests. Watch his back. Forget about fifty-fifty, son. Fifty-fifty’s a losing proposition. The only winning proposition is one hundred percent. Make your win about the other person, go after what he wants.

Life’s biggest winners give without a second thought.

Most of the time, this begins with a simple act: listening. If done correctly, we understand how we might help lighten another’s load. Lend a hand, share a resource — these are easy things that can have drastic effects in the lives we touch.

The incredible part of offering ourselves without hesitation is what it reminds us: we’re not alone.

Being considerate of another’s needs refreshes their memory of this truth. And, by offering support without concern for what we’re getting, the time will come when — since everyone innately wants to help those who help them — we will remember because someone else aids us.

To be open in this way — to share whatever possible — is to embrace the soul’s greatness.

As I’ve written before, “giving is living.”

Do for others and they will do for you.

This is the third in a five-part series discussing the core principles of The Go-Giver by Bob Burg and John David Mann. If you’d like a preview of this wonderful book, download the first chapter here.

The Friends of Change

Change is inevitable.

My life opens a new chapter in a few days. For two years, I’ve been on a roller coaster of highs and lows I hesitate to think about. The most important lesson I have learned is this:

Strap yourself in for the ride.

From one day to the next, we are lulled into the illusion of security. Over months and years, we adapt to repetition and our brains push similar experiences into the background just as they’re supposed to.

Life takes different turns than we anticipate.

The shock to the system is unsettling, rattling our minds and burning the blankets of safety draped over our plans. These moments, the scanty few when everything explodes before your eyes, burn deep impressions into our memory banks. When we look back to see how far we’ve come, this is where we point.

What defines us is our response during the harrowing events.

As everything crashes around us, the temptation is to fall to pieces ourselves. In fact, doing so is the easy option, the path of least resistance. Staring at the rubble would make any of us question the sense of making another go, discouragement is natural.

Shrinking is unacceptable.

I’ve been knocked off my feet by the shockwave of an atomic bomb several times–launched by others or dropped on myself by accident–and I’ve realized what’s important always remains. The trivial is too weak to withstand a hundred-megaton blast and is vaporized by the heat and pressure.

What really matters is too solid to collapse.

“Those friends thou hast, and their adoption tried, grapple them to thy soul with hoops of steel” Shakespeare tells us. When fire rages through our hopes and dreams, torching all we wished for, the mere thought of these relationships galvanizes us for the rebuilding effort. Some will help with reconstruction and others will support from afar.

Thank them.

Tell them you love them.

Offer help when they need it.

Finding the means to keep going is easier when you have some friends.

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I finished reading Donald Miller’s latest book, A Million Miles in a Thousand Years, yesterday evening. Having been approached to turn one of his works into a movie, the author takes an unexpected and winding journey through his own life. Miller’s trademark self-examination revolves around the central theme of a screenplay, a medium he must understand in order to effectively contribute to making the film.

Conflict, it turns out, is the driving force behind movement. Moviegoers crave a sense of resolution and feel cheated if they are unable to identify the progression a character makes from one scene to the next. On some level, their brains recognize a threat in each act and are therefore able to rejoice in the protagonist’s triumph at the end.

Life imitates art.

Day by day, we are faced with choices about everything–what to wear and where to go to lunch and who to talk to. The decisions we make shape a narrative woven into the fabric of time. Each of us plays a role in the larger history being written, as our actions affect people outside ourselves.

All that we accomplish and leave unfinished is observed by an audience we take for granted.

Our family and friends and coworkers see what we do and say, assimilating our example into their own tales. Just like visitors to the local theater, they notice what we’re up against and the manner in which we handle things.

How you treat people?

What motivates you?

Do you decide to quit?

Your legend is the accumulation of what is seen by everyone you know.

We are given the opportunity to compose our own eulogy.

At the end of your life, what will people say?

Grab a pen and write it for them.

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Numbers change.

By their nature, they fluctuate from moment to moment.

Money is transient.

It changes hands quickly, cycling to and from us at all times.

“Just right” often becomes “not enough”.

The intangible creates an imprint wherever it goes.

Kindness ripples through time.

Sharing it leads others to do the same.

This is the difference between “fleeting” and “eternal”.

True wealth encompasses both.

Focus on love and there will always be great numbers.

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