“Often the relationship that needs the most work is the one we have with ourselves.”

“Often the relationship that needs the most work is the one we have with ourselves.”

—Robert Tew, American writer

Image from Unsplash by Daniele Levis Pelusi

How much time do you spend in a typical day with your work colleagues, significant other, children, and friends?

Please do the actual math to count the hours, minutes, and perhaps even the tiny moments of your day.

If you expand days to weeks, weeks to months, and months to years, what do the numbers look like?

Now you know the question is coming…

How much time do you spend alone?

Have you ever wanted to get away from yourself and realized, in particular moments, that you felt a bit trapped or stuck, and were looking for some form of escape?

EXERCISE:

Knowing that wherever you go, there you are, how and in what ways can you make this most important relationship with yourself an even higher priority each and every day?

“Being a nice person can be an effective strategy.”

“Being a nice person can be an effective strategy.”

—Eric Barker, Author of BARKING UP THE WRONG TREE

Image from Unsplash by Tim Mossholder

During my senior year of high school I worked as a Deli-man at the local Jewish delicatessen. My responsibilities included serving a high volume of customers  delicacies such as pastrami, corned beef, and smoked fish for Sunday brunch, from 3pm Saturday to 3am Sunday.

I was 18 years old. The majority of the other deli-men were in their fifties or sixties. It turned out that being able to slice lox razor-thin was paramount to being a brain surgeon in this community, and these veterans were simply the best.

One downside of this work was the significant number of challenging customers who saw themselves as superior to everyone else, and demanded “only the best.”

When those customers entered the store, most of the veteran deli staff quickly took their 30-minute breaks, leaving ME to the wolves, and most of these customers strongly objected to an 18-year-old rookie taking care of them.

Clearly, fighting fire with fire was never going to work, so I took the kill them with kindness approach, and in time, won them over.

EXERCISE:

Where and with whom in your personal or professional communities would being the nice person you are be the best strategy to follow?

“You own an army if you know how to win people’s trust and support.”

“You own an army if you know how to win people’s trust and support.”

—Author Unknown

Image from Amazon.com

Social capitalism and masterful networking are cornerstone skills of many successful people. Take a moment to examine the variety of people who have trusted and supported your personal and professional efforts up to this point in your life.

In his book, Achieving Success Through Social Capital, Dr. Wayne Baker documents the fundamentally understood concept that relationships are valuable not just qualitatively, but also quantifiably. When others help us, we tend to reciprocate by making efforts to help them.

With this giving and supportive perspective in mind, we can all build and foster our own armies to support our personal and professional objectives. We can also act as foot soldiers in the armies of our supporters.

EXERCISE:

Consider checking out Wayne Baker’s book, or email me and I will send you a PDF copy of my Masterful Networking Workbook, which can be read in 15-20 minutes.

“Your present circumstances don’t determine where you can go; they merely determine where you start.”

“Your present circumstances don’t determine where you can go; they merely determine where you start.”

—Nido Qubein, President of High Point University

Image from Unsplash by Branden Collum

In one or two sentences, please describe your present circumstances in the following areas:

  • Your health
  • Your relationships at home
  • Your relationships at work
  • Your personal finances
  • Your level of happiness
  • Your emotional well-being

Feel free to add a few more priority categories that come to mind. Based on your description, which of these areas would you rate as Poor, OK, Good, Great, or Outstanding?

EXERCISE:

Select the one area in which you most wish to progress. Note that your current circumstances are simply the place where you will begin. Consider developing an action plan for the next week or month that will take you toward your desired objectives.

Feel free to send me a copy of your plan and I will be happy to look it over.

“Every man is a volume, if you know how to read him.”

“Every man is a volume, if you know how to read him.”

—William Ellery Channing, 19th Century Unitarian Preacher

Image from Unsplash by Aaron Burden

How well do you really know the people in your personal and professional communities?

Which ones do you know only on the surface of things, perhaps analogous to a tweet? Or maybe you know a bit more, along the lines of a blog post or professional resume?

Going deeper, you may be familiar with their book summary, or for those who remember them, their Cliff or Monarch notes.

Who do you know on the level of War and Peace, or some other weighty volume?

Who knows you in that level of detail?

EXERCISE:

Where and with whom is it time to read the full volume of their life story? Perhaps this process will help you write a few extra chapters together in the days and years ahead.

“The bond that links your true family is not one of blood, but of respect and joy in each other’s life.”

“The bond that links your true family is not one of blood, but of respect and joy in each other’s life.”

—Richard Bach, American 1970s Author

Image from Unsplash by Leonardo Yip

During a recent trip out of the country for two weeks, my wife Wendy and I had very limited contact with our family. We did, however, travel with two good friends and a little over 700 other shipmates to explore Greece and Israel.

In addition to our fellow passengers, we were served and supported by over 400 staff and crew from over 40 countries.

To our delight and joy, we both experienced a new level of friendship and a genuine sense of a global family.

EXERCISE:

Where and how can you experience far greater respect and joy within your extended communities beyond your immediate family? What would be the value and impact of this expanded family bond in your life?

“We don’t find soul mates like some shell on the beach. We become them.”

“We don’t find soul mates like some shell on the beach. We become them.”

Gretchen Rubin, American author/blogger

Image from Unsplash by Olga Latiy

Are you a fan of reality TV shows like The Bachelor and The Bachelorette?

These shows, and dozens more, are artificially forced scenarios in which men and women are placed together with the hope—and the desire of their viewers—of finding true love and living happily ever after.

Despite the exotic locations, extravagant dating scenarios, and roller-coasters of passion, the vast majority of these couples do not succeed. The percentages are even lower than the 50% divorce rate often described in general conversation and the media.

EXERCISE:

To what degree are you doing your part to give 100% to your relationship, in order to become the soulmates you desire?

Consider studying and practicing the work of John Grey – Men are From Mars, Women are From Venus, or The Five Love Languages by Gary Chapman, for steps to take to realize the more soulful relationships you desire.

“Don’t gain the world and lose your soul; wisdom is better than silver or gold.”

“Don’t gain the world and lose your soul; wisdom is better than silver or gold.”

—Bob Marley, 20th Century Jamaican singer/songwriter

Image from Unsplash by Steve Harvey

How strongly do you “fit” and experience a sense of belonging in your personal and professional communities?

To what degree do your beliefs and core values align and resonate with others at home and at work?

Where may you be looking the other way or squinting a bit as you view your world, due to the benefits and payoffs some of your communities or associations provide?

What, if any, soul-diminishing effects are you experiencing due to certain decisions or indecision?

EXERCISE:

What wise and perhaps courageous choices and actions can and will you take to strengthen your soulful foundations toward an even more richly rewarding life?

“Help me understand that better.”

“Help me understand that better.”

—Author Unknown

Today’s quote can be extremely helpful in the development and enhancement of relationships, especially for men.

A few months ago, I attended a coaching conference. One of the key “conversation starters” was John Gray, author of Men are from Mars, Women are from Venus.

Given the importance of relationships to maximize the benefits of the coaching process, we were “all ears and all in,” seeking greater mastery for ourselves and our clients.

If you are a student of Gray’s work, it is pretty apparent that many men have a limited attention span in certain conversations, and almost always seek to solve or fix problems even when the other party has made no request of them to do so.

EXERCISE:

Where and with whom would seeking to understand others better make a significant difference in both your professional and personal relationships?

“What would happen if you doubled down on service?”

“What would happen if you doubled down on service?”

—Robert Richman, keynote speaker and culture architect

Image from Unsplash by Square

Did you know that it takes 5-7 times the effort and resources to obtain new customers than to keep existing customers?

With this statistic in mind, how much effort have you and your organization focused on new customer acquisition rather than making sure your current customers are delighted with you, your products, and of course, your level of service?

Customer loyalty is worth billions, however, we often slack off on our best behaviors once we close the deal. Much like when we say our “I Do” to our life partners. Given the divorce rate of about 50%, we all can see the need to maintain and more appropriately improve these relationships if they are to prosper.

EXERCISE:

What are some ways you can and will double down on your levels of service in your professional and personal communities? What would be the value of the loyalty generated?