Sunday, October 30, 2011

A Chance Encounter, A Lasting Bond |

This article was in today's Parade magazine which comes in the Sunday paper. I really enjoyed this heartwarming story and thought I'd share it in case you missed it!

A Chance Encounter, A Lasting Bond |

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

An Experiment in Personal Growth

As proud as I was to lose my twins baby weight, I must admit I have put 10 pounds back on this year.  Add to that, my stomach  muscles are in rare form (diastasis recti) and there are other areas of my body needing a lift, tuck, and tone!  A cheap and accessible fix is running and I've lost weight before running.  Its a great idea, except I HATE to run... or exercise.... or sweat.  I decided I was going to do it anyways.  Will power in many areas isn't my strength so this was going to be an all around experiment in personal growth!

A failed start about two months ago due to some foot issues brought me back to a point of decision to begin again the last week of September.  I searched for some new runner tips online about breathing, body positioning, and how to start a running program.  For someone like me who is out of shape and doesn't like to run, I found a program that has been very doable.  I am currently in week three of the training program and am proud of what I've accomplished and the dedication I've had to my new project.

Most days I'm pushing my two year old twin boys in a stroller but really enjoy time to myself on the off day. Here is the training schedule I'm using and run at least 5 days a week.  (I can't remember where I found the information, nor can I find it again.)  I use my cell phone to time the intervals.

Walk 5 minutes to warm up.
Week 1:  Run 1 minute, walk 5 minutes, 5 times for a total of 30 minutes
Week 2:  Run 2 minute, walk 4 minutes, 5 times for a total of 30 minutes
Week 3:  Run 3 minute, walk 3 minutes, 5 times for a total of 30 minutes
Week 4:  Run 4 minute, walk 2 minutes, 5 times for a total of 30 minutes
Week 5:  Run 5 minute, walk 1 minutes, 5 times for a total of 30 minutes
Week 6:  Run for 30 minutes

There were many reasons I hated running, even as a kid.  I was so out of shape that it was uncomfortable, shortness of breath due to being out of shape, asthma, side stitches, muscle cramping, etc....  I looked up information on breathing techniques to help with the shortness of breath.  Proper hydration and stretching can help prevent muscle cramping along with not running on a full stomach.  You can find a lot of great tips in this article plus more on their website.

Women's Health Magazine web article  "101 Greatest Running Tips"

In my first three weeks of running I lost 5 pounds on the scale and my clothes are fitting better, I'm gaining muscle, and I can physically see the toning results.  As great as those are, I must say there are several more affecting other areas of my life.  I normally run in the morning shortly after breakfast and find that is a great way to start my day.  The physical activity and fresh air get me moving and working right away and I find myself getting more accomplished each day.  Running has been a great stress reliever and also gets my children out for some fresh air too.

Even in these early stages, I'm already learning to enjoy running even though it is challenging and pushing me past my exercise comfort zone.  Seeing myself attain each small goal towards my ultimate goal is encouraging and rewarding.  I never thought I'd see myself as a runner and now once I reach my running 30 minute straight goal, I'll set a new one- like a 5k!  These achievements, in an area that previously seemed impossible, are raising my confidence.  Now I'm striving for goals in other areas of my life that always seemed too lofty- like in business.  Crazy how one small change can be a catalyst towards improving my whole day, my outlook, and other personal goals.

If I can do it, so can you!


Thursday, October 13, 2011

Can We Build Mutual Trust?

Relationships rise and fall on trust.  John Maxwell evaluates five people principles associated with building trust in relationships.  Question 3 in Maxwell's book  Winning with People: Discover the People Principles that Work for You Every Time, is The Trust Question:  Can We Build Mutual Trust?

The Bedrock Principle
Trust is the foundation of all relationships.   
"Developing trust is like constructing a building.  It takes time, and it must be done one piece at a time.  As in construction, it's much quicker and easier to tear something down than it is to build it up.  But if the foundation is strong, there is a good chance that what is built upon will stand."

Trust is the framework of a relationship.
"A relationship can also be described as being like a painting.  Trust is like the frame that surrounds it--and holds it together.  It provides a context in which to view the work of art.  Trust defines its boundaries. And trust secures it to the wall so that it can be enjoyed.  Trust provides emotional structure."

Earning Trust of Others

  • Trust begins with yourself.  Awareness of your own weaknesses allows for personal growth and honesty with others.
  • Trust cannot be compartmentalized.  A person cannot be trustworthy in one area and not in another.  If a person compromises his or hers values in business, he or she will eventually do the same to family and friends.  How a person treats others is how he will one day treat you.  "An individual's character eventually bleeds into every aspect of his life."
  • Trust works like a bank account.  To grow your investment in others, you must continually do things which build trust.  On occasion, you may make a mistake and lose credit.  However, past deposits will still be earning interest!

Surround yourself with an inner circle of true friends.  To identify these people, ask yourself if they: "love me unconditionally, embrace my vision, embody my values, represent me well to others, look out for my best interests, speak the truth when I need to hear it, support me during the tough times, and defend me to my critics."

The Situation Principle
When a relationship encounters a rough patch, do you focus on the situation or the relationship?  We can't just bail out of a relationship every time we need to work hard or make sacrifices.  This is especially true with our family as we don't get to choose who they are.  We all have friends and family who put more strain on relationships than others.

Ways to help you keep the proper perspective on a situation.

  • Focus on the big picture.  Remind yourself why a person is important to you.
  • Communicate the big picture.  Even amid tough times, let people know that they are loved and important to you.
  • Evaluate whether a problem is a one-time deal or a repeating scenario.  There is a big difference between the two.  Even repeated problems can be solved with a commitment to resolution from all parties.
  • Learn to pick your battles.  Making every little thing a big deal creates a tense, unhealthy atmosphere for you and  those you interact with.
  • Show unconditional love at all times, especially during the storms.  As a parent, spouse, friend, and leader, people need to know you love them in the best and worst of times.

The Bob Principle
"When Bob has a problem with everyone, Bob is usually the problem."  
How to spot a "Bob":

  • A " Bob" carries around problems and spreads his poison to others.
  • A " Bob"  will find a problem in every situation and expose them to others.
  • A " Bob"  always creates problems and tries to involve others.
  • A " Bob"  is usually the ready ear for other people's problems and encourages people to continually dump problems on them.
  • A " Bob" never sees a problem with their own conduct.
"Every problem starter is like a fire lighter.  And each of us is like a person carrying two buckets.  One is filled with water and the other with gasoline.  When we see the spark of a problem fire being lit, we can choose to douse it with water and put it out.  Or we can throw gasoline on it and make it worse.  If we want to control the amount of damage Bob can do, we need to use the water."

How  to deal with a "Bob".

  • When someone tries to be negative, say something positive.  Always try to find the bright side.
  • If a person's motives are being criticized, give them the benefit of the doubt.  Never presume to know the heart of another person.
  • Encourage people to resolve problems with the involved parties instead of bringing them to you.
  • Keep "Bob" away from others to avoid spreading their negativism.

The Approachability Principle
"Approachabiltiy" is a powerful tool to have in your relational toolbox.  How you conduct yourself and what messages you send to others will determine your opportunities for connection and relationship building.  Here are ways to make other people feel comfortable approaching you.

  • Exude personal warmth.  If you genuinely care for and like people, others can tell.
  • Appreciate the differences in people.  Know the strengths and weaknesses of different personality types so that you can respect and work with each kind.
  • Have a consistent mood.  People will feel comfortable approaching you if they know what to expect.  
  • Show sensitivity towards people's feelings.  Adjust how you relate to others based on their moods and feelings.  People are more likely to open up if they feel they are on the same wavelength.
  • Understand human weakness and express your own.  Pretending to be perfect alienates others.  When people can admit their own faults, they can readily accept the faults of others.
  • Forgive easily and always ask for forgiveness quickly.
  • Be authentic.  Be true to yourself and genuine with others.  
Maxwell says to "walk slowly through the crowd"- meaning, when in a group of people, take time to talk, connect, and be sensitive to their feelings, needs, and wants.

The Foxhole Principle
"When preparing for battle, dig a hole big enough for a friend."
A foxhole friend is one who will stick by you through tough times and help you battle through.  It is during these rough times that you find out who your real friends are.  

  • Foxhole friends are rare. 
  • Foxhole friends provide strength, comfort, and confidence before, during, and after battle.
  • Foxhole friends can see your perspective on the situation and show empathy.
  • Foxhole friends forever impact your life.
  • Foxhole friends love unconditionally.

To have foxhole friends says something about who you are, as does being someone else's foxhole friend!

Previous Posts on Winning with People
Winning With People
Are We Prepared For Relationships?
Are We Willing To Focus On Others?

Posts on other Maxwell books:
The Fear Cycle
Quotes From Failing Forward
Ch 9: Get Over Yourself--Everyone Else Has
The Top Ten Ways People Get in Their Own Way


Monday, October 10, 2011

The Art of Getting Along

    Sooner or later, a man, if he is wise, discovers that life is a mixture of good days and bad, victory and defeat, give and take.  He learns that it doesn't pay to be a too-sensitive soul, that he should let some things go over his head like water off a duck's back.  He learns that he who loses his temper usually loses out, that all men have burnt toast for breakfast now and then, and that he shouldn't take the other fellow's grouch too seriously.
    He learns that carrying a chip on his shoulder is the easiest way to get into trouble, that the quickest way to become unpopular is to carry tales of gossip about others, that buck-passing always turns out to be a boomerang, that it doesn't matter so much who gets the credit so long as the job gets done.
    He learns that most others are as ambitious as he is, that they have brains as good or better, that hard work, not cleverness, is the secret to success.  He learns that no man ever gets to first base alone, and that it is only through cooperative effort that we move on to better things.
    He realizes (in short) that the "art of getting along" depends about 98 percent on his own behavior toward others.
Alberta Civil Service Association News

Taken from John Maxwell's Winning with People: Discover the People Principles that Work for You Every Time.  (The Approachability Principle)


Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Reaching People Through Their Love Language

According to author, Gary Chapman, everyone has a love language- meaning a method of communicating or receiving love which makes them feel most loved.  While his book, The 5 Love Languages: The Secret to Love That Lasts, is written towards your relationship with a spouse, you can easily attribute the same information towards your children, coworkers, team members, customers, etc...  A key to life and business is building relationships with others.  Treating someone the way they wish to be treated is the proverbial way to build a relationship.  Assessing those you know professionally and personally can give you greater understanding as to how to show love and make them feel good!

The Five Love Languages

Words of Affirmation
Quality Time
Receiving Gifts
Acts of Service
Physical Touch

Below are the notes I took on the qualities and characteristics each love language when I read the book.  Ways to express love to someone with that particular language are included.  Each chapter of the book uses anecdotes to highlight the qualities and how you can best show love to a person with each particular love language.  Chapman also lists additional ideas and tasks at the end of each chapter.

Words of Affirmation
People with this love language feel most loved through oral and written words or language.  They love to be acknowledged for what they do and who they are.  Here are ways you can show love to them.
  • Verbal Compliments 
    • A greater motivator than nagging words.
  • Encouraging Words
    • Encourage untapped potential.
    • Encouragement requires empathy.
    • Opposite of critical or condemning words.
  • Kind Words
    • People often interpret our tone more than our words.
    • The opposite of judgmental.
    • Love doesn't keep a score of wrongs or bring up past failures.
    • "A soft answer turns away anger."
    • Forgiveness is an expression of love.
  • Humble Words
    • Love makes requests, not demands.

Quality Time
A person with this love language feels most loved when you are fully present and focused on a conversation or activity together.  Here are some tips in providing this type of person with great quality time.
  • Undivided Attention
    • Turn the tv off and minimize any other distractions.
  • Togetherness
    • Full, focused attention versus living in close proximity.
  • Quality Conversations
    • Share experiences, thoughts, feelings, and desires.
    • Listen sympathetically and ask questions to understand thoughts, feelings and desires.
      1. Maintain eye contact
      2. Undivided attention
      3. Listen for feelings
      4. Observe body language
      5. Refuse to interrupt (The average person listens for 17 seconds before interrupting or interjecting.)
  • Learn to Talk
    • Self-revelation is the expression of emotions, thoughts, and desires.
  • Personality Types
    • Dead Sea:  receives expression from others but does not give outward expression.
    • Babbling Brook:  shares everything and doesn't stop talking.
  • Quality Activities
    • Doing something together that at least one person wants to do and the other is willing to do in order to express love.

Receiving Gifts
A person with this love language feels most loved when people offer a gift great or small.  Here are some details about gifts.
  • Gifts are visual symbols of love.
  • Gifts and Money
    • They don't need to be expensive, the thought does count!
    • If cost, is an issue- change your attitude about money.  Giving gifts to a loved one is an investment.  You are purchasing self-worth and emotional security.
  • The Gift of Self (Presence) counts!

Acts of Service
A person with this love language feels most loved when people do things to help them.  Assisting them with a need or taking a task off their plate will make them the happiest.  Here are some things to keep in my about acts of service.
  • Offer assistance, complete a chore, DO something kind- without being asked.
  • Complete chores or tasks with a positive spirit to express love.
  • A request can give direction as to how someone wants to be loved but a demand stops the flow of love.
  • Love is a choice and cannot be coerced.

Physical Touch
A person with this love language feels most loved when they are being touched.  Here are some things you should know about physical touch.
  • As simple as a handshake, a touch on the arm, holding hands, putting your arm around someone, or embracing.
  • Critical for healthy emotional development in children.
  • Touch communicates hate or love and can make or break a relationship.
  • Explicit touch takes more time (a long embrace) and implicit touch is brief (a quick pat on the back).

Discovering Your Love Language
The answers to these questions could help determine which love language you are or you can use them to help determine the languages of others.
  • What do people do or fail to do that hurts you the most?
  • What do you most often request of others?
  • In what way do you regularly express your love to others?
  • What would be your ideal spouse?

Click on the link below to go to The 5 Love Languages website and take the online quiz there!

People have a few basic needs: love, security, self-worth, and significance.  If we do not feel loved, our differences are magnified and we will fight to have our needs met.  Others are viewed as a threat to our personal happiness.  People who do not feel loved experience great pain and emptiness which impacts all areas of their life and how they deal with it.

Here are a few of Gary Chapman's books in regards to the Love Languages.

Intentionally love someone today!