Archive of ‘Relationships’ category
While most of us don’t like to admit it, we all prefer stasis (even those of us who are change agents). It’s comfortable to remain as we are—especially since over 90% of what we do is done on auto-pilot. In other words, we all establish habit patterns and routines that, we believe, serve us well, which is why we do them.
For example, you both have daily routines—from the moment you get up until the moment you go to sleep. You generally get up around the same time. You eat the same kinds of foods. You interact with the same kinds of people. You carry on the same kinds of conversations. You do your work the same way. Etc. Every day, it’s basically the same (even your variations are similar).
However, if you want to create any significant change in your life, you’ll have to learn how to fight that natural pull of inertia that wants to keep you and your life the same. Why? Because if you don’t, you’ll never achieve anything significant. You’ll be forever captive to the gravitational pull of comfort and conformity. In other words, you’ll remain stuck.
But to get to anything better in your life, you’ll have to learn how to consistently break free from your own self-imposed comfort zones. For example,
1. If you want a better job, you’ll have to choose to be willing to leave the comfortable job you’re in right now (or, if you remain with the same company, the comfortable job you’re in now to move to a new position with that company).
2. If you want a raise, you’ll have to be willing to leave the comfortable place of letting your boss decide on your raise, and instead, ask him/her for a bigger raise. (more…)
Relationships are difficult. The potential for conflict is always present. But relationships are made all the more difficult whenever one party asks the other a question and the only answer that person wants to hear is, “Yes!” In this case, the person asking the question isn’t really asking a question, are they?
No, they’re actually making a demand, disguised as a question.
Whenever you’re asking a question of someone (not a content question like “What do you know about XYZ” but a request question like, “Can I borrow your car tomorrow?”), the other party always has four options at their disposal.
1. “Yes” – the affirmative answer you’re seeking.
2. “No” – the negative answer you don’t want to hear.
3. “Maybe” – the optional answer that could turn into either option one or two above.
4. “Later” – the postponement answer that again, could result in either option one or two above.
The key is that when you ask a question, you need to be willing to accept any one of the four options.
If you remember our conversation about goals and desires, you should remember that any action or decision that another individual has some say or control over is at best a desire, not a goal. Why? Because you and I can’t control other people. We can only control ourselves. (more…)
Whenever someone accuses you of something, confronts you about an issue, says something mean that’s meant to hurt you, or makes an unflattering comment about you, the natural instinct both of you will have in this life will be to retaliate and be defensive—which is exactly why you have to fight those urges and do the opposite.
Very few people ever learn this lesson, but it’s invaluable. In fact, let me suggest a number of reasons why you’ll want to make the non-defensive choice.
1. You don’t want to let anyone control you. Whenever you get defensive, you’re allowing the other person to control you and your emotions. You’re allowing them to get “under your skin.” You’re allowing them to control the conversation. And you’re allowing them to control how you feel. Why would you ever want to do that?
2. There may be some truth in what they’re saying. Whenever you get defensive, you immediately stop listening and start defending yourself and your actions—and that’s a problem. Even if someone has a bad motive for saying what they’re saying, that doesn’t mean there might not be something truthful in their comments. Of course, if you’re too busy defending yourself, you’ll never hear what they’re saying—which means you’ll have missed a great opportunity for growth.
3.You never want to appear as a fool. Solomon got it right when he said, “A fool gives full vent to his anger, but a wise man keeps himself under control.” Proverbs 29:11. Whenever you get defensive, you allow your anger to blind you—which then usually leads to conflict and words poorly spoken (because they haven’t been thought through), which then makes you the person in the wrong. (more…)
Invariably, the two of you are going to run into conflict virtually every day for the rest of your lives (between roommates, bosses, fellow employees, teachers, family members, neighbors, etc.). But don’t worry, it’s not personal–it’s just part of the human condition. Everyone (including the two of you) is hardwired for self-interest–which means that, at a minimum, you will experience some level of conflict everyday because at some point of everyday your self-interest and someone else’s self-interest will be (or at least appear to be) at odds.
Now, most people think they can avoid the reality of self-interest by simply wishing it away (shouldn’t we all just get along), but they’re wrong. We’re hardwired for it. We can’t just wish it away. It is what it is. So, the better question that the two of you need to ask yourselves is, “How can I work with other people’s inherent self-interest?” That’s a good question.
And the answer to that question can be found in a wonderful “old” bookentitled, “Getting to Yes,” by Ury and Fischer, which is a lay version of the Harvard Negotiation Process which was used in creating the Camp David Accord between Israel and Egypt.
The basic premise of Ury and Fischer’s book (that changed how I think about and deal with conflict) is that the reason most conflict doesn’t get resolved is because people continually fight about their positions. (more…)
As you both know, I’m a huge fan of the Myers-Briggs Type Inventory® (MBTI®), but what you may not know is why. Back in the early years of my former career, I was getting tired/exhausted from all the conflict. No matter what the subject, it seemed like someone always disagreed–which often lead to letters (this was pre-email), meetings, messy relationships and sometimes people leaving. I tried to calm and reassure your mother that this was true of every church (it is). And I even took out five year’s editions of a pastoral leadership journal to show her that virtually every edition had at least one article on church conflict.
However, after two or three years of this, I was getting tired of it. Then I read a book by David Kiersey and Marilyn Bates entitled, “Please Understand Me: Character and Personality Types,” and everything changed. Using the major Myers-Briggs types they helped me to understand that most of the conflict that people have in relationships isn’t over what most people think it is–the issue. Instead, most conflict is over how they see the world differently. Once I understood that, the world changed. And the more I’ve read and studied the Myers-Briggs types, the more I’m convinced that anyone who wants to succeed (at home, at work, or at play) really ought to own some kind of personality inventory (of which I think the Myers-Briggs typology is the best option).
What amazes me is that the whole of life (yours/mine/everyone’s) is made up of relationships, yet very few people take the time to really study them and, more importantly, to understand how to work with people who are fundamentally different than them. The person you will marry someday. The kids you’ll have. The bosses you’ll work for. The employees you’ll lead/manage. The neighbors you’ll live next to. As well as the friends/colleagues/clients/classmates/acquaintances/etc. that you’ll meet along the way—all of them will be different than you.
So how can you short cut the learning process in order to quickly figure out how to work with people who are different than you? Exactly! By finding and mastering an inventory like the Myers-Briggs types to give you a head start. Now, as you’ve repeatedly heard me say, “A typology is not meant to be prescriptive, but descriptive (i.e. just because someone has a natural tendency to do something doesn’t mean they have to act that way. The most obvious example of that is me. Even though, as you know, I’m an introvert by nature, most people who interact with me think I’m an extrovert. Why? Because I choose to act in a way contrary to my nature in order to be what people need me to be. After all, this life isn’t about us, is it?). In other words, you don’t want to put people in a box. However, the MBTI® will give you a short cut for understanding the myriad of relationships you’ll encounter between now and the time you die.
That said, here are some of the things you can short circuit and get to know quickly about the people you encounter–if you master the MBTI.
- What they’re probably good at doing
- What they’re probably weak at doing
- What probably drives them
- What they probably like
- What they probably don’t like
- What they probably need
- What kinds of environments they’ll probably flourish best in
- What probably stresses them out (and how they’ll probably respond)
- What they probably value
- What probably motivates them
- What probably de-motivates them
- How to improve communicating with them
- How they’ll probably act in meetings
- What kinds of projects to assign or not assign to them
- What kinds of activities that they’ll probably enjoy or engage in
- What kinds of work they’ll probably find most fulfilling
- How they’ll probably get re-energized
- How they’ll probably process information
- How they’ll probably make decisions
- How they’ll probably like to order their life
That’s a pretty impressive list, isn’t it? Now, if you could know all that information about virtually anyone one you meet (in a short span of time), don’t you think that would be valuable? And if you not only knew their personality type, but your Myers-Briggs type as well, don’t you think that would help you know how to resolve conflict better? Or lead/manage them better? Or communicate with them more effectively? Or work with them? Or find common ground more quickly? Absolutely!
So my recommendation to the two of you is to pick up a book on the Myers-Briggs types (or some other personality inventory) and begin to own them. While I started with ”Please Understand Me,“ there are plenty of good books (and websites) on personality types. In fact, ”Do What You Are,“ ”Type Talk at Work,“ and ”The Art of Speed-Reading People,“ are a few of my other favorites. Make your own ”cheat sheets.“ Test your ideas. And then use the Myers-Briggs typology as a framework to help you build better relationships–as well as to figure out how to untangle those relationships when conflict does occur (because it will).
Since the rest of your lives will be filled with relationships, I cannot overstate the importance of this practice. Avoid it at your peril!
Note: Myers-Briggs®, Myers-Briggs Type Inventory® and MBTI® are all registered trademarks of CPP, Inc.
As I’ve mentioned before, most people like the idea of being better or being more successful or being fit or being happy or being in a great relationship—but yet they don’t really want those things—despite what they might say. Why do I say that? Because they’re not willing to do what’s necessary to obtain the very thing they say they want.
I’m sure you’ve observed this phenomenon among your peers. You probably have friends who’ve told you that they’d like to get good grades, yet they’re not willing to do the hard work necessary to get good grades. Instead they continue to play and party all day and night with their friends. Or you probably have friends who say they’d like to get healthy and in shape, yet they aren’t willing to change their eating habits or get up early to go to the gym. So do they really want to be healthy and fit? I don’t think so.
If you really want something—and it’s more than just a “like to have” or “sounds like a good idea” kind of thing—then you’re going to have to avoid doing what most people choose to do—and instead make some sacrifices. Why? Because there is no success without sacrifice.
The American ideal of, “You can have it all!” is a flat out lie. No one can have it all. In order to obtain anything worthwhile in life, you have to make sacrifices. You have to give up something NOW in order to obtain something that you perceive to be better LATER. It’s always been that way and it always will be. Remember, first you make your choices, then your choices make you.
1. If you’d like to be healthy and fit, then you have to be willing to say, “No!” to most of the food choices put in front of you. And you’re going to have to give up some other activities (which could include some sleep) in order to get some exercise in. No one gets healthy and fit by eating whatever they want and not exercising. Sacrifices have to be made. Why? Because there is no success without sacrifice.
2. If you want to be a successful employee, then you have to be willing to do some of the things most employees won’t. You’ll have to sacrifice some of “your time” so you can do work before or after the hours you’re required to work. You’ll have to read more or take more courses. You’ll have to say, “No!” to getting together with friends from time to time in order to get a project done or to volunteer for an extra assignment or to make sure you get to bed on time so you can be fully engaged at work the next day. Why? Because there is no success without sacrifice
3. If you’d like to be in a great relationship with a guy (yeah, I know, I can’t believe I just wrote that either :-), then you have to be willing to make some sacrifices. One of the things we clearly learn from Jesus’ example is that love is all about sacrifice. Love is not about convenience (a mistake too many people make). Love is about putting someone else’s needs above your own. Note: don’t read anything more into that statement than is intended. Your needs still matter and you shouldn’t be in a relationship with a guy who doesn’t get this principle. Love is a two-way street full of mutual love and sacrifice. And hopefully, your mother and I have modeled that well for the two of you.
4. Finally, if you’d like to change anything in your life that you don’t like, then just realize that you’re going to have to make some sacrifices. The bottom line is this—if you could be different just by wishing you were different, then you’d already be different. But you’re not, because you can’t just wish to be different. If you want to be different, you have to give up some of the things you’re currently doing, in order to get something better in the future. It’s always been that way, and always will be.
If you want to succeed at anything in life–and I don’t care if it’s playing the piano or starting a business or getting straight A’s or winning a tennis tournament or being a great parent someday–never forget the title of this post. Make it one of your mantras. Write it on a bunch of stickies and place them around your home and workplace. Why? Because there is no success without sacrifice! Period.
P.S. And as Zig Ziglar likes to say, “You don’t really pay the price, you get to enjoy the price.”
In general, the two of you have done very well in your choice of friends over the years. You’ve heard and understood the principle that the people you hang with, influence and shape the person you become. And, as you’ve probably come to conclude, when you’ve gone through some rough patches over the years, it’s usually been because of a relationship (or group of relationships) you’ve formed. However, for the most part, the two of you have done exceedingly well in this area.
But, as you now enter this next stage of life, you’re going to need to take that up a notch. You’re going to need to be more intentional about choosing who you’re going to spend time with. Why? Because who you hang out with, will influence who you become. And while your earlier years were somewhat defined by your mother and me, as well as where we lived; your lives from this point forward are wide open—and will be defined by you.
And what you’re probably going to find is that most of the people you’re going to encounter don’t want to get better. They like the thought of getting better, but they really don’t want to do what’s necessary to get better (which is why I say that most people don’t want to get better—remember, actions always speak louder than words).
Now, when it comes to the two of you, you both have virtually unlimited potential—but you’ll never fully develop that potential alone. Since social learning theory is correct (we become like those we spend time with), if you want to tap into that potential, you’re going to need to be very intentional about who you spend your time with. And my recommendation is that you should constantly be looking for people who are better (or beyond) you–in whatever you want to improve in–and then spend time with them.
For example, when it comes to your work, find out who the best performers are in your field of work–and spend time with them. Ask them to mentor you. Volunteer to serve on committees with them. Take a cut in pay if you must to work with them. Study them. Take them out to lunch. Ask lots of questions. Do work on the side for free for them. And guess what? You’ll be rewarded for the rest of your lives for all the time you spent with them.
Also look for people outside of your workplace who are better than you at something. It could be their ability to network and build relationships. It could be their ability to listen and make people feel great. It could be the quality of their relationship with their spouse or kids. It could be their ability to lead people. It could be their skill set related to the kind of work you do. It could be their time management skills. Etc.
In other words, it’s not the specific issue that matters as much to me (or you)—as it is that you’re being intentional about hanging out with people who are better than you.
In general, the people won’t don’t really want to get ahead almost always choose to hang out with people who are either just like them or people with whom they perceive themselves to be better than. Why? Because they want to feel good about who they are and where they are in life.
But if you want to unleash the full potential that is in you, you need a higher standard. You need to surround yourself with people who will help draw out the greatness that is within you. And for that, you need to hang with people who are better than you.
In essence you need to be like the linebacker who chooses to run sprints with the running backs, even though he loses every time. If he wanted to, he could run sprints with the other linebackers and be the winner of every sprint—but why? He’d remain the same. By running sprints with the running backs, even though he loses every race—he knows he’s getting better/faster with every sprint.
That’s who you want to be! You want to be the person who’s running with the running backs. Why? Because you cannot become the person God created you to be by remaining as you are. You’ve got to get better. And one of the great keys to getting better at anything is to be intentional about hanging out with people who are better than you at that thing. So, make sure you choose carefully with whom you’re going to spend your time! Don’t just let it happen.