In a world filled with connectivity, people are less and less connected to one another. Isolation is on the rise and studies show that isolation is worse for your health than smoking cigarettes or drinking.
When was the last time you picked up the phone and called a friend, rather than simply clicking “like” on their status update, to show them that you were proud of them… or at least just thinking of them.
Technology can be great, but so can speaking face-to-face with someone else and getting to what’s really going on in their world – not the typical:
Hi, how are you?
Walk away without really any exchange of emotion or connection.
Want to be different, then act different and connect with those around you offline.
Relationships are hard work. They are. If you’re determined to have a long-lasting, loving relationship, you have to work at it. And it’s not just you that has to be willing to do the work, your partner needs to be willing as well. This goes for any long-term relationship and seems to show-up especially in marriage.
You see, you can be one of three things in your relationship:
- You can be the anchor holding on strong to where you are and making sure that change does not happen.
- You can be the boat, constantly rising with the tides and always moving.
- Or, you can both be anchors or boats.
In most relationships today, both parties tend to be anchors, holding onto their beliefs like stubborn 5 year olds. “I’m right and they’re wrong!”
Hey, we’re all guilty of this from time-to-time, but would you rather be right or happy? OK… I know, you’d rather be both, but for the sake of this post, we’re going to talk about how to not only save a relationship, but how to make it thrive. A good relationship sucks. A great relationship is worth fighting for.
I’m going to assume, since you’re reading this article that you’re either a boat in your relationship, or you’re at least interested in being the boat.
To change your relationship, you must change yourself. You got to where you are today by doing what you’ve been doing. Who you are got you to where you are now. In order to take your relationship to a new level, you need to take 100% responsibility for your relationship, the past, the present, and the future.
You can’t have different results without you become a different response. In other words, if you want to take your relationship to the next level, you are going to have to change. You are going to have to do the work.
It gets better. Not only do you need to change, but your partner needs to change as well.
It’s commonly said that a rising tide lifts all boats and although this was used in reference to the economy, it holds true in relationships as well. However, the only way to raise the tide is for both people to want to make that change. By being the change you want to see in your relationship, by identifying where you’ve been the anchor and letting go, and by taking your game to the next level, your partner will have two choices – rise with you or sink the ship.
Are you a boat or an anchor?
Here’s your homework:
- Find a quiet place where you can sit and think for at least 10 minutes. As yourself this question: where in my relationship have I been an anchor? By anchor, I mean where are you holding onto beliefs that you are right, beliefs from the past that don’t serve you or your relationship, and beliefs that you have been somehow wronged in your relationship. When you find a belief that you’re certain about, you know you’re right, then that’s where you’re being an anchor. That’s where you’re being a 5 year old.
- Make a list of all the beliefs and anchors you found in part 1. Are you willing to let them go and/or change them? If so, share them with your partner. For me, I was right about the way money should be handled in our relationship. I knew I was right and my wife was wrong. I was certain. Oops. Red flag. I was being a 5 year old being stubborn and holding on for dear life to the fact (or so I thought) that I was right. This is clearly an area that I need to work on and change. This is where I was being an anchor. I had to share it and come clean in order to create a new possibility (and it worked!).
- What do you want? Where do you want the relationship to go? Write this down in the form of “I”. Write down what you want, but don’t place any blame on anyone else. Don’t repeat the patterns of the past. Get very clear about your vision and invite your partner to join you on the journey. This is what I want, this is what I want to create, and I invite you to create this with me.
- Like all living things, you’re relationships is in a constant state of growing or dying. You’re evolving as a person, as an individual… and so is your partner. Your relationship is evolving as well – this is where you get to choose whether it evolves in the direction you want it to or if you want to hold onto the belief that it won’t change and therefore let it die. Think of your relationship as a plant – it will continue to grow and reap fruit if you feed it quality nutrients and water it daily.
Many of us are experts in a particular area – fitness, finance, or something else. As an expert, it’s often easy to expect people to seek you out and beat down a door for your knowledge. After all, you are the expert and you have the solution to people’s problems!
This is a common scenario sadly. When I first opened my private personal training gym in Santa Barbara, we had a strength coach who was extremely knowledgeable and proficient. He could help an athlete get better at their sport or help you drop those hard to lose 10 pounds you’ve been struggling with. Yup, he had the answer to your fitness problems.
He washed out after a few months – he couldn’t make it. Why could someone with so much formal and practical education not make it in a place where others, seemingly less knowledgeable then he, thrived?
He was an expert, but he sat in his ivory towner (or our landing at the office), read books and articles, and waited for people to come and seek him out.
This is a crutch that many gurus have and they often believe that sales and marketing is somehow beneath them. “I wouldn’t do that”, they say.
These experts fall into what I call the victim mentality. They feel they are owed something due to their knowledge and hard work obtaining it, yet they don’t go the extra mile and obtain the skills that allow them to share their knowledge with the world. It’s sad.
Our brains are preprogrammed to allow us to justify just about anything that we deem as a threat to our egos. It’s automatic and as far as I can tell, you can’t stop it. But, what you can do is realize that this is a natural condition and train your brain to catch it in the act and ask quality questions to get you back on track. I won’t go into this process here, but it’s worth studying.
Gurus, or experts, often justify to themselves that they have the answer to people’s problems around what they specialize in, and therefore people should seek them out if they truly want to solve that problem. When people don’t call or show up, these same experts believe that they’ve been somehow wronged and that their potential customer is the villain, thus further pushing them away. They go into victimhood – blaming their potential customer or their competition. Often this turn into resentment and can manifest itself into isolation or self-destructive behaviors.
The successful expert has taken the time to learn how to communicate their value to their audience. Often this is through providing value first and really diving into the real problems that their audience is trying to solve. For example, why does someone really want to drop 10 pounds? Is it because they want the number on the scale to be smaller, or is it because they want their husband to look at them with the same level of desire they felt when they first got married? Figuring out what your audience really wants, then delivering value, is the key to being a successful expert rather than a bitter one sitting in an ivory tower.
Homework for today:
- What are you an expert in, or an area in your life where you know a lot more than the average person?
- What problem do you solve? I’m not talking about the logical solution, but what problem are you really solving when you break it down to its core?
- How can you, today, provide value to your audience? Are you delivering value first, before asking for the sale, or are you the ivory tower expert who expects to get paid before showing value?
- What is one thing you can do to improve in your sales and marketing each week? (Hint: subscribing to Author of Your Own Story is a darn good start!)
There’s freedom in truth and freedom in doing the hard work. To me, there’s nothing tougher, and nothing more rewarding, then doing the hard work on yourself. Change your mindset, feed your brain, and become the Author of Your Own Story!
Right or Happy?
What’s more important to you, to be right, or to be happy?
When you hold onto your position in a disagreement with someone else, notice how hard you hold to your belief. Are you defending your stance with impunity?
This can happen in relationships – toilet seat up vs toilet seat down, who’s responsible for taking out the trash and when, or are you supposed to make the bed immediately after getting up vs making the bed at all.
This can happen in business – people should listen to what I say every time as I’m the expert, or emails should be returned within two hours vs important communication should be done on the phone and not via email, or perhaps one I hear often from coaching clients – I always have to redo everything my staff does.
This can happen in any area of your life and seems to come up most with those closest to you. The questions are typically small and seem to have a repeating pattern.
The more you are holding onto your belief of being right, the more you should consider that it’s time for you to realize that it’s not about the belief, or about the other person… it’s about you.
Take a moment after reading this to identify a belief that you have been fighting for, especially if it’s one that has been repeating in your life and ask yourself the following:
Does believing this make me happy and my life better?
Is my belief an undisputable fact – meaning no one could dispute it?
Is this belief I’m holding onto so strongly really about the issue, or is it about something else?
If you answer yes to any of those, then take a few deep breaths, and let it go. Choose to come up with a compromise rather than a conflict. Choose to be happy rather than right… it’s a healthier way to live.
This morning I was reading about a woman who was waiting until she got older in order to be herself.
She wanted to wait until her career had run its course so she wouldn’t rock the boat and lose face.
She wanted to wait until her kids were out of the house so they didn’t express that they were embarrassed by her.
She wanted to wait to share her thoughts with her co-workers… I mean, what if they laughed at her?
So, she waited… out of fear.
Or, perhaps, this very same woman recognized her fear and chose to say “So what?”
“So what if my co-workers laugh at what I say? If they laugh, they’ll be laughing at me, not my fake representative.”
“So what if my kids get embarrassed because I decide to wear hats – I like hats and they’ll get over it. Kids get embarrassed over everything their parents do.”
“So what if people think that writing a fiction book will harm my career? I’m a whole person, not just my work.”
So, she started her book, she wore the hats she loved, and yes, the kids were embarrassed, but they got over it quickly. She started to speak her mind and share her thoughts, and a few people laughed, but everyone got to know her – the real her. And they loved it.
Today’s learning – identify on thing you’d love to do, but have been holding back out of fear. It could be writing a book, expressing yourself through your clothes, taking a dance class, practicing your Spanish when ordering your food, or even starting that business you’ve always dreamed of starting. Whatever it is, and we all have something … do it today!
What’s mine? Sharing lessons like these on Facebook.
What’s yours? There’s power in identifying your fear and then sharing it. It no longer rules the show… it’s exposed.