Change in Relationships

For this last Friday of the month I thought we’d talk about relationships.  It can be really easy to forget or ignore the responsibilities we have in our relationships.  The longer we’re with someone, the less effort we put into a relationship, the harder it will be to maintain the health of that relationship.  When a relationship starts to struggle you’ve got the choice of letting it go or working to make it stronger.

“For lasting change to occur, you need to both think your way into new behaviors and behave your way into new thinking.”  Paul and Layne Cutright

This is not only a challenge for each of us in our relationships but also in our own lives.  If we really want improve our lives and relationships our words, thoughts and actions all have to change.  We have to make a conscious choice to do things differently, to think differently, and to speak differently.  None of these things are easy by themselves, let alone together.  But if we want truly healthy lives, families and relationships, it’s necessary.

The second part of the challenge here is that not only do we personally have to change our lives, our partners have to agree to do the same.   If you’ve been following this blog for a while, you notice that I typically refer to relationships as partnerships rather than any of the other terms that people use.  Why?  Because I believe that partnership better verbalizes the commitment, both in words and actions, from both people when it comes to a romantic relationship.  A relationship has so many subtitles and meanings that I can say I’ve got a great relationship with my neighbor’s dog, even when all I ever do is pet the dog and greet it, which is totally different from two people truly working together in all areas of their lives, and especially the ones that join them together.

Fall is a great time to start making the changes necessary to bring your partnership back to health as you’ve got several months of being indoors together.  As I’ve said many times, the first place to start is both of you admitting that there is room for improvement and choosing how to go about making those changes.  Take time this week to have a conversation with your partner about what’s going on in your partnership.

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Discovering Your Work

“Your work is to discover your work and then with all your heart to give yourself to it.” Buddha

In talks with friends, clients and associates, I can see many people (including me) considering yet again what they’re doing with their lives.  It’s not always an easy decision to make, we often have to fight doubts and insecurities, not to mention the challenges and obstacles that come up once we do decide what we think is right for us to do.  Life isn’t easy, that wasn’t ever a guarantee we got in life.  Even when we’ve been doing something successfully for quite some time doubts and questions can creep in.  Are we really doing what we’re supposed to be doing?  Are we doing the best we can do?  Are we really committed to what we’re doing?  I don’t have answers to all these questions, only you can know the answers for your life.

Discovery aside, Buddha does share an important point for us to consider when discovering and choosing our work: can you give yourself fully to it?  If you can’t commit yourself 110% to the work, you’d either better hire some good people who can help you, or find other work.

Sometimes though we will go through periods of questioning. This is natural.  It’s more than just a mid-life crisis, it’s our mind’s way of making sure we’re fully checked in to what we’re doing and not just existing and getting by.  If you’ve been in business for a long time and haven’t taken the time to check in with yourself and your business, you’re heading into dangerous water.  Even if your business is thriving, it’s important to check in at least yearly and make sure that you’re still satisfied and fully committed to what you’re doing.

A business full of life and energy is always a more successful business, just as a passionate business owner is always more successful.  Why are you passionate about your business and what you do?  Share your answers in the comments.

Making Peace

One thing that’s missing in most homes is peace.  We’ve let our lives get so cluttered by the stuff that we are blessed with in 2013, stuff which is admittedly often cool.  We’re living in a time when many people have what they need, and can get what they don’t have.  Yet we still have struggles in our lives, so at some time it must be acknowledged that the possessions don’t bring us the peace that we thought they could.  It’s not impossible to find peace in this life, but it, like most good things, takes time and effort.

Make the effort: we live in a world of instant things, instant food, instant movies, instant knowledge, so it’s not surprising that we often struggle with the concept of things taking time.  In the situation of making peace at home, the extra effort is not only worth it, it’s necessary.  You and your partner, you and your kids, no one will have peace if you’re all ignoring each other or so overbooked that you don’t have time for real relationships.

Make the time: a good relationship takes time to develop, and time to be kept solid.  It’s been said that you’re a reflection of the people you spend the most time with, and your relationships will prove how you spend your time.  While you may not see a relationship with your work, it will be evident that that’s how you’ve chosen to spend your time if your other relationships are falling apart.  I understand that some people are difficult, really I do.  But what most people don’t understand is that with effort and time those relationships could be significantly improved in most cases.

If we really want to be our best, be successful and have less war, fighting and unhappiness in our lives, it has to start in our homes.  Unhappiness there spills over into the other areas of our lives poisoning them too.    To get started bringing peace into your home it has to start with each of us realizing where we’re screwing up.  Once we’ve accepted our responsibility and role in creating discord, we can apologize and being righting our actions and attitudes to create the foundation for peace.  Will you join me in bringing peace to homes and relationships around the world?

Asking Great Questions

One of the things I’ve always enjoyed doing is coaching others. I love sitting down with them and asking questions to help them figure things out or reach their goals.  What distinguishes a great coach (of any kind), or even a great friend, is the questions they ask.

You’re probably familiar with some of the most popular questions being asked today.  Questions like “how can I make more money?” “how can I get more fans on Facebook?” and “where can I get more clients?”  Now, these can be good questions, but only if you’ve already answered the truly important questions.  Questions like: “what do you stand for?” “what kind of example do you want to share with the world?” “what’s your vision?” and “what kind of contribution do you want to make in this world?”  Once you can answer these questions you’ll know how to better answer the other questions.

Why?  Because there are literally millions of ways to make more money, but not all of them will fit in with the business you’ve created.  There are millions of people in the world but not all of them are right to be your clients.  Which is why it’s so important to know the foundation of your business before trying to build anything.  If you build before you’ve got the foundation, people won’t come, and if they do, they won’t stick around.

Here are some other great questions you can consider asking to not only improve your business, but also your life:

~What do you want more of in your life?
~If you were to fully live your life, what is the first change you would make?
~What is one step you can take today towards reaching your goal or goals?
~Is your attitude an asset or a liability for you?
~Are you intentional about creating new memories with your significant other?
~Who has impacted my growth in a positive way?
~Am I playing to win or playing not to lose?
~What reasoning, excuses and stories do I need to release to win?
~What have I already created that I can leverage?
~What practices would allow me to have more fun in my business and life?

What great questions are you asking today?

Next Generation Responsibility

“Whether or not you have children yourself, you are a parent to the next generation.  If we can only stop thinking of children as individual property and think of them as the next generation, then we can realize we all have a role to play.”  Charlotte Davis Kasl

This month’s topic is, as you may have guessed, responsibility.  It’s a big topic, one that many people shy away from.  It’s easy to blame other people, and there are always circumstances outside our control.  But at some point in time we have to either choose to be prepared for the unpredictable or let it take over our lives.  One area that’s almost synonymous with responsibility is children.  Children are our next generation.  They’re responsible for where the world we create goes, and we’re responsible for the world they have to work with.

Unfortunately in recent conversations I’ve talked with people who have witnessed not so stellar parenting.  It’s tough for them (they’re parents too) to see what some of the current 25-45 generation is doing (or in these cases not doing) as parents.  It’s understandable that some things will change generationally, but it’s not understandable that the basics of parenting would completely fall by the wayside or be ignored.

When we choose to be irresponsible in our own lives whether we want to or not we’re affecting those around us including the next generation.   When kids see adults behaving irresponsibly they learn from that.  Whether they choose to accept the behavior as right or wrong may depend on how many times they’ve seen that action, as well as how their parents and others they see as dependable individuals react to that behavior.

We each have a choice in how responsible for our lives we want to be.  If you can’t accept the reasons of a personally improved life as just cause to live more responsibly, let the knowledge that your irresponsibility could be the reason the next generation ends up miserable be encouragement to be more responsible.  It’s important that kids know no one is expected to be perfect, and that’s not what I’m suggesting.  Instead, what I’m advocating is that we all step up and take responsibility for our lives as well as the impact we can have on those around us.  Will you join me in stepping up for ourselves and the next generation?

In Service

This weekend in my weekly business newsletter I reminded my subscribers that as much as the money, status, client list or write-ups matter, what really matters is whether or not we’re serving people.  To be clear, to serve someone means to render assistance; be of use; help.  There are tons of ways you can do this from a business perspective, and countless ways you can do this from a human perspective.  It’s important that our ultimate goal as businesses is to serve others, and as people as well.  Sometimes our hard work is thankless, or not appreciated for what it is, but there’s always a sense of pride at a good job done.

Unfortunately it seems that we forget that we’re supposed to be helping people, even as much as the phrase “service industry” has penetrated the business world.  What a difference would it make in our companies, and for our bottom lines, if we made it a regular practice to ask ourselves “how can I help someone today?”?  Here are a few ways you can help people.  Most are really simple and can make a big difference.

1-update your website.  This may not sound like something that will help you serve someone, but the sooner someone can get answers, the quicker they’ll know if you can meet their needs.  If your website doesn’t give visitors all the facts plus some details you can be missing out on a sale, and more importantly on helping someone.

2-help someone, even if it’s not part of your job description.  Sometimes the simplest of things, like wiping off tables, grabbing drinks, making copies, giving directions or answering the phone can really mean a lot to someone, and can be really easy for you to take care of.  Of course there are bigger things like helping an elderly individual to their car, helping accommodate menu changes for dietary needs, or picking up the slack in a meeting when a coworker is struggling.

3-be honest.  Sometimes the best way you can help someone is to be completely honest that you don’t offer something, can’t help them with something, or that they would be better off working with someone else.  It’s about knowing your abilities and limitations, and being able to correctly analyze the potential client for a possible personal or professional conflict, and knowing when to walk away or even when to offer more.

What things does your business offer that makes you stand out to your customers as a business that serves?  Share your stories in the comments.

Best of Back to School

Today I’ve got some fun and food for you to enjoy for your back to school moments.

Crafts:

Zipper monster wrist wallet

Velvet journal

Pencil buddies

It’s a stretch notebook

Magnetic lunch chart

Felt pencil case

Chore center

Back to school scrapbooking ideas

Food:

Snacktivities

Lemon roasted chicken salad wrap

Ham and cheese empanadas

Carrot muffins

Chocolate granola bars

Brown rice crispy treats

Strawberry oatmeal bars

Fruit leather roll ups

What are your ideas for school themed crafts and healthy and delicious lunches and snacks?

The Business of Education

Everywhere you look people are talking about going back to school.  As a business, it’s a hot topic that affects most of the population, if for no other reason than being stuck in traffic waiting for people to turn into the local school to drop off or pick up kids (amazing how schools are always on those busy roads, right?!).   So besides offering traditional “back to school” discounts like the rest of the business world, today I’ve got a few ideas for you to try out.

Food service: if you’re in the food industry you should be taking advantage of the crazy schedule and food needs people have.  Have a ready-made dinner service people could sign up for as little as one day a week, offer ready made good food lunches, and even connect with local teams and schools and ask what you can do to support them for a reasonable fee.

Child Services: there’s a big demand for childcare as well as tutoring during the school year, and usually a pretty good offering of traditional services.  Try offering something less traditional like book club, LEGO/Pokemon/Transformers/Skylanders group, acting classes, bake club or music jam sessions.  Parents and kids both want something different from the traditional offerings.

Business services: your job is to help those who offer child and school related services the wisdom you have that they certainly don’t.  Many of those who work with children just love to work with kids and don’t know the first thing about running a business in 2013, and I would guess that over half don’t have a website, newsletter or social sites.

One of the big needs in the world is for teachers to get the support they need.  They’re often under-appreciated, underpaid, and without the support that would make their jobs easier.  They support the kids and their parents, but who supports the teachers?  Most teachers are great people, those who don’t seem that way have gotten the short end of the stick too many times.  What are some services or products that would support the teachers?  Share your ideas in the comments so we can all work together to support and thank our teachers.