Choosing the Romance

Relationships of all kinds have lots of challenges, and we’re not always given the choice of whether or not we want to be in that relationship, sometimes that’s just how it is.  For example, you don’t choose to have some of the relationships you have at work, they’re a result of where you work or what you do, and you don’t usually choose your family, those are relationships you’re born or adopted into.  But when it comes to romantic relationships they are relationships that we’ve chosen to get involved in, which is one of the reasons why I choose to call them partnerships rather than relationships.  Using the partnership term also is a big reminder of the responsibility of relationships and how we’re both supposed to be contributing to the relationship, not just being part of it because it exists as we do sometimes with our work or family relationship.

We’re almost out of February, the month of love.  I believe that partnerships should be attended to all year-long and are not something you do or don’t do based on the month it is.  You can’t put effort into something for such a brief period of time and expect to see fantastic results, especially with something as complicated as a partnership.  Yet there are countless couples around the world who don’t put in the necessary effort and are surprised when they’re unhappy, thinking about divorce or divorcing yet again.  Yes, there is something to be said for really choosing the right person for you, but the fact is we all change throughout our lives so to expect that you’ll be compatible with someone however many years from now when you will both change is only realistic if you’re both willing to do the work it will take over the years to stay connected to each other and invested in the relationship.

Everyone has several choices within their romantic relationship: first of course is whether or not to stay in it.  The next choice is how you’re going to approach that relationship: are you going to really invest in it or are you going to do the minimum amount necessary just to get by?  Some days you may not feel like you have a ton of choices about that, but there’s always the choice to make.  The final choice is whether or not you’ll intentionally look for things you love about your partner on a daily basis.  I choose to look for the things that I love about my partner, not the things that bother me.  But if things bother me I speak up so that my partner and I can get back to the pursuit of love.  What choices are you making in your relationship?

“For you see, each day I love you more, Today more than yesterday and less than tomorrow.” Rosemonde Gerard

Presidents and Leaders

Today in the USA is President’s Day.  It’s an opportunity for us to take time to remember the Presidents that have lead this country up to this point.  It’s a chance for us to reflect on what they’ve done, who they’ve been, and the direction they’ve helped guide our country in.  No President was perfect, although some were very loved, and others were very respected. They all faced challenges and hard times, some fought wars and others worked more on rebuilding.  It takes a lot of patience, wisdom, support and courage to be President.  As a business owner you have probably experienced some similar things and can relate to some of the emotions that Presidents have gone through as they tried to navigate being President.

Not everyone is cut out to be a leader, it’s why many people work jobs.  They have great ideas that can help and contribute to a successful business but they don’t have the knowledge, drive, support or interest in being the boss.  It’s not for everyone.  I’ve done the leading and have been behind the scenes. Being behind the scenes has given me a great appreciation for all the teamwork that it takes to really make something look good from the front.  Whether you’re the leader or the employee you have incredible value in the business.

When it comes to being the leader there are some skills that really are a requirement to have, especially if you’re a solopreneur or a very public face of the company.  If that’s you, you need to have exceptional communication, decision making, and people skills.  You need to be able to understand your customers, your employees, your products/services and know how to relay that understanding to your people, or how to translate that understanding into products and services.

The reality is though that sometimes you’ll fail.  Sometimes you’ll let people down, sometimes you’ll let yourself down.  I believe you can do an exceptional job without trying to be perfect.  Sometimes that exceptional job will require you to work within failures and adapt.  In those cases it’s all about your leadership bringing back to life the company or product. Sometimes you’ll have to make the tough decision that the end has been reached and it’s time to move on.  And that’s OK too.  Every President is in office for only so long, because change is necessary sometimes.

So on this President’s Day, what have you learned about being a leader?

A Heart for Greatness

One of the things we’re talking about this month is having heart.  I believe that having heart is something that applies to all our lives, whether we’re the CEO or homeless on the streets, whether we have lots of people we call “family” or we’re on our own, or whether we’ve got a degree from Harvard or from Life.  Heart isn’t something you can really put in a box or write on a card, it’s something you weave into your life and becomes part of you, the choices you make, the friends/associates you keep, the people you’re in relationship with and how you interact with the world.

Sometimes we do need to make decisions that are based primarily or even solely on fact.  Maybe we make those decisions because of how personally invested or emotionally attached we are or because we have no gut feeling.  It’s not wrong to make decisions based on fact, but I don’t think most decisions can really be made just with the facts, I believe that we have to take into account the human element.  People can’t always be put into neat and simple boxes, we’re complicated and complex, and that’s describing those of us that are considered “normal,” not those that would fit into a pathological diagnosis.  And then when you add in things like drugs and alcohol the complications increase.

If you really want to become the best person you can be do take time to learn the facts, explore the world, see other perspectives and try new things.  But never forget that a little compassion, a little caring, a little kindness, a little heart may go farther than the facts could.  If you really want to be the best leader, boss, employee, mother, father, parent, sister, brother, partner, neighbor, or friend you could be, take a step back and let your heart out of its box for a moment and let it guide you.

“A grateful heart is a beginning of greatness.” James E. Faust

Loving Your Business

Valentine’s Day is Tuesday here in the USA.  It’s big business for some businesses and for people as well.  Today I thought I’d share a few thoughts about how you can love your business more and why.

Let’s start of with why.  I was talking with a client about their website and the importance of having a mission or vision statement on the site or at least something that helps reveal the passion of the business owner for their products and services and for their customers/clients as well.  People are often convinced to buy something because someone told them about how great it was or because of the testimonials on a site.  So adding the personal connection of getting to know the owner or the person behind the business and hearing their passion and mission for what they’re offering says that they’re not just interested in potential customers because of their wallets, but because they truly have an interest in making their life better.  The happier you are with your business, the happier your employees will be to work for you and the better experience your customers will have with you.

But we all know that business can be a lot of hard work, and it’s not all fun.  So if you’re looking to love your business a little more the first thing to do is to really sit down and evaluate what’s causing you the most stress, what you like the least, what you enjoy the most, and what you wish you could do now that you used to do.  There are things that you as the person in charge will always be required to do or always have to be involved in. But there are many things you could pass off and with a little better time management you’ll be able to get back to doing some of the things you miss doing or would make you more interested in the business.   But there is one other question you need to answer first: am I really still interested in this business?  Because if you’re really not still interested in and passionate about doing the business you’re in, it’s time for a change, and not just with the activities you do each day, but with your entire career.

If you decide that you’re still passionate about the business but that passion has gotten buried, it’s time to make a commitment to passing off some of the things you dread each day and bringing back the things that make you happier and more invested in the business.  Even doing just one thing you enjoy that is business related each day will help you love your business more.  Maybe that one thing is getting on Facebook and interacting with some of your customers and fans.  Maybe that one thing is actually getting on the floor and helping customers.  Maybe that one thing is creating some of the products you sell.  Or maybe that one thing is brainstorming what could come next.

So what do you love about your business?

We Are All

In case you missed it there was a really big football game this past weekend.  It was a huge upset and a huge shock to many people.  However, there are people who experienced some serious stress during the game but remained fully confident in their team, and were able to experience a huge victory.  Who are these people? Patriot fans.

While I can’t say that the Patriots are “my team”, I have to respect their team, their coaches and their quarterback(s) who have come together time and again to create some incredible results.  I know from talking with Patriot fans how dedicated their team is, how hard they work and how much passion and energy they put into this organization that they are committed to.  They’ve fought against some serious challenges the past few years and bad press from those who don’t like their success or because they may have tried to bend the rules.  I’m not here to place or suggest guilt or innocence.  That’s a whole different conversation that we’re not having today.

Today what we’re talking about is a slogan that I saw after the game: “We Are All Patriots.”  I don’t know of any true Patriot’s fan who doubted them or gave them up as a result of the challenges of the past few years.  They’ve remained loyal to them, and this year their loyalty was rewarded in a big way.

But this really speaks to a bigger conversation, how we all identify with each other.  Do you see that we’re all one people?  We can all break our bones, work a job, love someone, or enjoy a laugh.  Whether we’re black or white, police or civilian, PhD or high school graduate, dog lover or cat lover, parent or not, or TV buff or not, we are all human.  You can’t change that unless you change your body and DNA and that’s not a direction science has been working in that I know of.  We all have differences, yes.  But when it comes down to it there’s a very high probability that you want the same thing I do: to get through tomorrow alive, to be loved, to enjoy life more and to have more time with the people we love.

So congratulations to the Patriots, and I encourage you to think about the community, the state, the country that you belong to and how you’re helping make it a better place to live in for everyone.

Relationship Reflections

It must be February: my email inbox is filled with talk of love and relationships!  The thing is, this year a lot of the posts and emails have been really great.  Usually it seems like it’s all the same stuff or it’s the standard Valentine fare, but this year it seems that people are really diving deep and wide into the love conversation, which has led to some very interesting reading.  It may seem like a tired topic, love and relationships, but the simple fact is that our lives are all about relationships, and that more often than not whether we’re having a good day or not depends on our romantic relationship.

I don’t know about you but I’m interested in getting more out of my romantic relationship.  My partner and I have a great relationship and of course we have our challenges and issues, but overall it’s a very peaceful, fulfilling and loving relationship.  We’ve been together for years and I’m still excited when I get to see him each day.  I know that’s not the case for many couples and I know there can be many reasons for that unhappiness.  If you want to get more out of your relationship you have to put in more, have a different attitude about your relationship and each other, and/or do something different than you’ve always done.

Every relationship does go through changes.  There are learning opportunities every day about how your relationship works and to learn things you never knew about each other.  There are countless resources available, often at your fingertips, that can help you work through some of the challenges or just get more out of an already decent relationship.  But ultimately it comes down to whether or not you’re happy with who you are as a person when your partner is with you, who they are when they’re with you, who they are when they’re not with you, and what your relationship has created and is creating in your life.

So today I encourage you to ask yourself this question: if I had to do it all over again would I choose my same partner again?  If the answer is yes, I encourage you to put in the extra effort in the coming days and weeks to rebuild your relationship if necessary or grow it from where it is.   If the answer is no then you need to evaluate what’s not working for you and sit down and have a discussion with them about what you’re feeling and struggling with.

Website Essentials

I’ve been looking at a lot of websites for clients lately, and talking with others about whether or not they need one.  I know it’s a topic that we’ve talked about a lot, but since I’m seeing the same issues coming up again and again, I thought I’d share a few reminders with you today.

First, a recent statistic I saw said that 75% of people look online to find out about your business.  If you don’t have a website they won’t find you.  Even having a simple DIY website is better than nothing, and some DIY websites I’ve seen look and read much better than the professional ones, probably because they’ve got actual heart and passion behind them.  But back to the point: if you don’t have a website you NEED one.  A social profile will never replace a website.  They’re fine as marketing tools, but I would never ever recommend choosing a social profile over a website if you can only create one.

Second, websites have to contain updated information.  It’s another reason why I support DIY websites.  Yes, I know it adds another thing to your plate, but if you don’t have to wait for your developer to get back in touch with you or don’t have to find a new developer because your old one isn’t in business anymore, and you don’t have to pay their fees for updating your site, I’d say it’s worth it, especially for the little things like the copyright date or updating event dates or dated special offers. If it’s been more than a week past the written date, people will question what else isn’t up to date on your site.

Third, don’t be afraid to get personal.  There’s competition in just about every industry so if you don’t stand out, you have a much smaller chance of getting the sale.  Your website is one of the first things potential customers will see and if they think your offerings look like every Tom, Dick and Harry’s out there they won’t have a reason to choose you. Let your personality out a little on the site, show them who you are, and help them get to know you and the distinctive advantage you bring to the market or why your products are better than the countless others out there that are very similar.  Every business is started by a person, and I think it’s important to show the world and your potential customers who that person is.  You don’t have to look like a super celebrity, just show your smiling face to the world.

Can you have bells and whistles on your site? Sure, but they’re no good if the information isn’t there.  Worry less about having the perfect website, and focus more on having one that works for you and shows off you and your business.