The Lady or the Tiger

The Lady or the Tiger

In my last blog we see a man running. A closer look shows he is chasing a beautiful woman. Zoom in and we realize that the man is being chased by a tiger.

What are we really seeing? Is the man running from the tiger or is he chasing the lady? Is there a difference?Running is running, you must admit. So, is running to catch something better than running away from another thing? It might be even worse.

I read an article by Leonard Kim in which he says, “When you decide to chase something, what you decide to chase starts to run away.” So with that in mind, can the man ever catch the lady? And, if the man does catch the lady, will he be happy? 

What if it’s the chase that brings the rush and not the conquest? What if the conquest usually ends in disappointment? One of life’s rules is this: the fantasy of the conquest is almost always better than the conquest itself. Do we run because we believe we can, or run because we believe we must?

Let’s suppose that the man catches the lady and they stop to enjoy the bliss of the moment. As she falls in his arms, her kiss is everything he hoped it would be.

As they enjoy the fantasy fulfilled, they are eaten by the tiger.

The tiger did not stop to rest. The tiger that chases us never rests. Was catching the lady worth being devoured by the tiger? Most would say no. With that in mind, it would seem that we should face the tiger before we ever chase and catch the lady.

I’ve been lucky to achieve most of my life goals. I’ve been this way for as long as I can remember. I have a wonderful marriage, three talented and loving children and a great job. I work for a company that puts people ahead of profit. Within this corporation I’ve been able to build a company that has grown from $5 million in sales to nearly $300 million.

I’m not boasting, well maybe just a little, but I’ve been able to grab almost every brass ring as the carousel of life went around.

What’s your tiger? Maybe it will help you identify yours if I tell you mine. I am one of those individuals that never stops running. I really don’t know how to rest and relax. In many ways it is my strength but someday it will probably be my undoing.

We will talk about both the hows and the whys, but for now, let’s discuss the whys. Let me start out by telling you, in my case, the why was the tiger. My motivation to succeed was my fear of the pain that comes with failure. To be first, for fear of being last, and at times in my life, to be first, for fear of being second.

My personal life is not much different. Every day I feel I must accomplish something because I do not want the pain of accomplishing nothing. So I run. Not literally, but figuratively. I get up early every day and I look for projects. I need something to do and something to accomplish. If I do nothing, it makes me an easy target for the tiger, and the tiger never rests. Neither do I.

There are three ways to live in the jungle. The most common situation is we forever run from the tiger. Second, we can turn and fight the tiger, but the injuries we would suffer could be terrible or even fatal.

But there is a third option. We can turn and embrace the tiger.

We can discover what chases us and instead of fighting it or running from it, we can use it to our advantage. If we no longer fear the tiger, and use the tiger’s pace to quicken our own, we might indeed catch the lady.

So what’s the moral of the story? Only by facing our tiger, and using that fear to our advantage, will we ever be able to catch the lady.

Steve Haberly

Don’t miss my next blog, Catching the Lady

The Country needs a Hero

I long for the days when I could believe what the news anchor said. When I was a young man, Walter Cronkite held our trust in his fatherly hands and he held it honestly and tenderly. Over the years, I have become such a cynic. There is no real news. There is nowhere to go and get the truth. What we get are faux facts, manufactured to look like truth but spun to become sensational. Or we get half facts. Facts that are pulled out of context so the real meaning is completely lost.

What kind of world are we living in? Do they think we’re too stupid to understand? Have they forgotten it is government by the people? I believe if we are given the facts and educated about the problems, we could make good decisions.

What we need is a hero. Someone we can believe in. Someone we can trust.


When I was young there were heroes, people who rode white horses and rescued damsels in distress.  Good triumphed over evil and the day was saved. The good guys had names like Roy Rogers, Gene Autry, and Audie Murphy. If it was on television it was true. How dare somebody get on television now and say something that is not true. In those days, even senators and congressmen understood their responsibility to the people who elected them.  Do you think our children look up to the politicians they see on television today? I hope not!

Where are our heroes? I feel so discouraged at what I see and hear. I want someone to look up to. Someone who grabs the microphone or the podium and tells us the truth. But I know I can’t change the way television networks fight for ratings or what lies politicians will tell to get re-elected. So what can we do?  We can express our beliefs using the freedom we have in this country, our vote. Vote your conscience.

But there is also something I can do every day. I can be the person that goes to work and treats people fairly every day. I can be a husband that shows my wife how much I love her every day. I can be a model of honesty and kindness for my children and grandchildren.  I can be the best friend my friends could ever have. I can be the best me that I can be.

So here’s the commitment we all need to make:

First, we will do the things to become a hero in the lives of the people we love. And then, we will reach out and find those people that are disillusioned and be a hero for them. Heroes aren’t dead they’re just waiting to appear when they are most needed. They’re needed now.

Be a hero.

Steve Haberly

Just a little more Love and Passion

IMG_0645

How can I hope to explain, in only a few words, what might be the most powerful force in world? It’s a huge topic. In many ways you might say it’s the Holy Grail of subjects. It’s what we all search for, love and passion. But maybe the real issue isn’t love but passion. Are they the same? I don’t think so. Love seems selfless and has a giving nature while passion is often selfish and all about taking. But without passion is real love even possible? Maybe not. But let’s deal with these one at a time.

IMG_0653

Psychology Today talks about the different types of love. The first is Eros or passionate love. You can also think of this as romantic love. It’s a madness that comes over us and carries us away, but can also cause need and dependency.

IMG_0646 The second is Philia, commonly called brotherly love;  a relationship based on trust, dependability, and friendship. Psychology Today mentions that Philia, born from Eros, in turn feeds back to Eros, strengthening each. Friends are able to live fuller lives by teaching and supporting each other.

It’s been proven that most relationships start with physical attraction.

IMG_0654

First, a glance, then some words and next a touch. But we often mistake this Eros love for the kind that lasts. I believe without Philia love, Eros will fade and might not come back. So we chase it from partner to partner.

IMG_0647

We light the fire, it warms that part inside that yearns for someone to fill our emptiness. The flames are so bright that we’re sure it’s eternal, but alas, it’s not. Is it our fault or maybe our partner’s fault? We’re not sure who’s to blame, but we know it’s gone. Physical love is only temporary, but maybe it can be made permanent if you understand the secret. If I tell you the secret, it won’t be a secret, now will it? But I guess it could be our secret. So if you promise not to tell, I’ll share it with just you.

IMG_0648

Erotic or physical love burns so hot that no fuel can keep it burning at such intensity. It bursts into flame, has its moment and then dies back to embers. In fact, if that intensity continued we would all be devoured by the fire, left as ash to be swept away by time. So how can this magic, that is so temporary, be rekindled? Although the flame may die down but the glow from the embers can last forever, if fanned from time to time. To have the opportunity to rekindle the flame, love based on friendship must reside.

Let’s talk about friendship and why it’s the glue that holds the relationship together and allows the fire to burn again. Friendship is all about trust. Trust creates the foundation from which embers can again become an inferno.

IMG_0660

If friendship requires trust, then building and maintaining trust is necessary for passion to return. Trust is built as promises are made and kept, not just big promises but ALL promises. Each promise made, and kept, goes in the trust bank account and as the bank account builds, trust deepens and the friendship is built. But remember, trust is not given, it’s earned. Something that is given can come quickly, but that which is earned is built over time.

A relationship built slowly one brick at a time, one promise at a time, can withstand the storms that will surely come. A relationship built too quickly may not weather even the first winds that life can deliver. A relationship built on trust and fashioned over time into a solid foundation becomes the platform on which to build a lifetime of passion.

IMG_0659

Passionate love is like walking on the high wire; exhilarating but frightening at the same time. There is danger but there’s also an amazing rush; a pounding of your heart and a quickening of your breathing but don’t fear, your friendship is your safety net.

IMG_0649
Lovers that aren’t friends are like leafs on a tree. For most trees, they’re only temporary. They look beautiful but when the season is done, they are gone.

Think of it this way. The flames burn bright but die to a glowing ember. Trust allows you to protect the ember and gives you the foundation to fan the flame again. In great relationships this happens again and again and again. Passionate love is temporary but returns again as trust is rewarded with passion. A lasting relationship needs to be built on a foundation of trust and friendship.

Lovers are usually focused on their own satisfaction but the explosion that comes with passionate love is something we all want and desire. On the other hand, true friends are focused on the needs and wants of their friend. It would seem to be a perfect combination. A loving couple who can combine the fire that comes from passion with the caring, giving nature of their friendship has the magic.  They provide a safe place from which to experience passionate love. A place where each person is focused on the pleasure of the other. A tight wire with a safety net.

That’s why I am absolutely convinced that lovers who have and keep the magic also have a strong friendship as their foundation.

Steve Haberly

 

Small Business Connection  Part 2

In our communities, it’s the small businesses that embody the principles we hold dear: honesty, integrity, fair pricing and a commitment to excellence. Small businesses that operate by these principles have earned our respect and they need our loyalty. BUY SMALL.

IMG_0316Let me give you an example of such a business. My wife drives an old red truck. Even though the odometer says 250,000 miles the truck still runs pretty good. It has big wide tires and is jacked up 4 inches so everyone can see her driving down the street. A pretty lady in a big red truck is not a bad way to be recognized.

IMG_0317
We put about $500 a year in truck maintenance to keep it on the road, but that’s cheap when you compare it to a new truck payment. When we look at the truck, we think it still looks good except for one thing: the front bumper. It’s tilted down and looks like we had an accident and never repaired it. We kept saying we should get it fixed, but just hadn’t done it. We finally decided it was time and took Big Red to a local small business called Hollywood Finishes in Keller,Texas. I’d used them before to repair my daughter’s Jeep. The owner had suggested a repair that looked good and also saved us a lot of money. That was especially good since the problem wasn’t covered under our insurance. Hollywood Finishes had already shown that they were focused on making the repair fit my needs and my pocketbook.

Back to the red truck. The owner took a look at the bumper and said, “We can straighten it by adjusting the supports.” I asked “How much?” He said “Not too much, $85.” Sounded great to me. After a few days, I went to pick up Big Red and was ready to pay the $85.  That’s when the owner said the price had changed. I winced. Then he said, “The total is $70.” I said, “That’s not enough. You told me $85.” He smiled and said, “That’s right, but it was easier than I thought.” I was amazed. He did a great job, at a lower price than I was quoted and lower than I was prepared to pay. He could have charged me the $85 and I would have still been happy, but he didn’t. He put his honor above profit and honesty above gain.

IMG_0332

When I talked to him about it he said, “It’s just business, the old school way.” I just can’t get that comment out of my head. Business the old school way. If the old school way is good quality work at a reasonable price then what’s the new way? My fear is that the new way may be poor quality at an inflated price. I don’t believe that as businesses grow they need to leave their morals and ethics behind. Please don’t misunderstand, there are many large businesses that have stayed true to what they believe. They are great examples of truth and honor in business. I am just suggesting that we should all seek out those companies, whether small or large. We should spend our money where we believe in the ethics of a company. Our purchases are our votes. Vote your morals and ethics with your purchasing power.

IMG_0320

So how did Hollywood Finishes score?

Honesty A+
Integrity A+
Quality A+
Fair Pricing A++

Since small businesses are the most sensitive to toxic practices in the marketplace they require our close attention and feeding. They live and die by reputation and word of mouth. If you agree that our dollars are our votes of confidence, then you probably would also agree with my rule.

🔺 SPEND YOUR MONEY IN THE NEIGHBORHOOD WHERE YOU LIVE

Seek out the small local companies in your area and use their products and services. Find the local restaurants and sample the local dishes prepared by local hands. Frequent them regularly and be sure to compliment them when the food and service excel. But there is another way to help these establishments, tell them when there are ways they can improve. Helping them to continuously improve is good for them and great for the neighborhood. If they fail,  you will have an empty store front and another dead canary.IMG_0324Another example.  In the back of my property there is a small creek. Near the creek we built a treehouse. Now don’t jump to conclusions, this is just a few boards and a wooden ladder, but my grandsons love it. The grass and weeds can grow up pretty high back there so it needs to be mowed from time to time.

IMG_0319I have an old riding mower that has definitely seen better days. One day it just stopped working. It  wouldn’t start, wouldn’t even make a starting sound. Advantage went to the grass and  weeds for the time being.

IMG_0318

In my neighborhood, there’s a small repair shop, Gary’s Small Engine Repair in Keller,Texas. It is a family run business, with the wife in the front dealing with customers and the husband in the back, repairing everything from chain saws, to leaf blowers, to mowers. I dropped in to see what they thought. The wife said the waiting list to work on riding mowers was about 3 weeks long.  She could have said “Put your name on the list and we’ll call when you can bring it in.” But that’s not what she said. “Tell me what it’s doing and maybe you can repair it yourself.” Was I dreaming? Instead of focusing on the profit they could make from repairing my mower, she was helping me diagnose the problem and suggested I fix it myself.

I kept thinking about what my other small business said, “Doing business the old school way. Maybe I’ve discovered something. The old way must mean putting the customer first. She laid out some things, step by step, that I could go back and try. But there was another thing she did that surprised me. She said, “After you try that, come back and tell me what you found and then we can look at the next step.”

Expert advice with no talk about money, is this the old school way? I followed her steps and eliminated the possible problem areas one by one. I decided it must be the starter, so I removed it from the mower and went back to see my new friend. As I was standing there talking to her, the husband came up from the back. He asked me to hand him the starter and follow him around to his shop. There, he tested the starter and said, “Nope, starter’s just fine.”

He could have handed it back to me and gone back to his work, but he didn’t. He said, “Follow the starter backwards and check each component until you finally check the switch itself. Don’t forget the safety switches. One under the seat and another under the lever that activates the blade. If those aren’t working the mower is locked out.” Again, customer first. I did what he suggested and sure enough the safety switch under the lever was out of alignment. I moved it so that the lever and switch touched each other, held my breath, and turned the key. The mower started and I felt great. I did it. Well, we did it. What did this small business get for their unselfish advice to me? I’ll tell you what they got. My loyalty and whole hearted endorsement to all my friends and neighbors.

How did Gary’s Small Engine Repair score?

Honesty A+
Integrity A+
Quality A+
Fair Pricing A++

Many years ago when I first started working in Water Treatment, I spoke to an esteemed colleague and asked him his secret to success.  He thought for several minutes and relied, “Put the customer first, the rest will take care of its self.”

IMG_0322
Putting the customer first might be old school to some, but there are businesses that follow this principle. Small businesses can be a great example of meeting the needs of the customer with honesty, integrity, quality, fair pricing, and follow up.
Spend your money in your neighborhood. Seek out and support those small businesses that do business the old way, the right way. Do your part. Save the canaries.

IMG_0314

Steve Haberly

Canary in the Coal Mine

img_0101Through the presidential primaries and even after the election was decided, I heard that small business in America was the driving force for new jobs. That’s so important because I believe that the answer to most problems in our country is jobs. Pure and simple. People who have jobs that allow them to support their families don’t have time to riot in the streets, break store windows and get pushed back by water cannons. Without jobs, the masses see no future. No way up or even out. Jobs bring pride in accomplishment. Hard work, whether mental or physical, can provide an outlet for creativity and invention. I believe most people want to work, but when there are no jobs, people are easily swayed and manipulated. In America we need more GOOD jobs.

So, back to small business. Can they bring more jobs? Sure they can. Could they create enough jobs to pull the economy up by its bootstraps? Maybe. Here’s what the SBA states:

⚪ 28 million small businesses in America account for 54% of all U.S. sales.

⚪Small businesses provide 55% of all jobs, and  66% of all net new jobs since the 1970’s.

⚪ 600,000 franchised small businesses in the U.S. account for 40% of all retail sales.

But percentages can be deceiving. What about the number of new jobs? Ok. Let’s look. Since 1990, big business eliminated 4,000,000 jobs while small business added 8,000,000 new jobs. So, great work small businesses, we owe you a lot. But creating enough new jobs is like moving a mountain and will take a partnership between big and small business.

img_0090

Looking back in history, we see that the Ottomans came up with a unique strategy when faced with sailing past the big cannons at Constantinople. They took their ships out of the water, pulling them on the shore using logs and ropes.  This got them safely out of reach of the big guns. Every man, woman and child had to pull their weight. It took a total effort with no time to rest.

img_0093

That’s what it will take in this country. America the beautiful. America the brave. America the strong. So grab the rope. Do what you can, and of this nation speak no ill. The future is what we make it, bright or dark. Words aren’t enough to pull this ship, called America, across the land and out of cannon fire. GRAB THE ROPE. IT’S OUR JOB TO KEEP AMERICA GREAT. Yes, I believe small business can add jobs, but they can give us more, much more.

It occurs to me that most successful small businesses have several things in common. This is at least true of the ones I have been fortunate to work with. Let me show you the common characteristics.

Honesty, sounds simple and is easy to say, but not so easy to find today. Being honest requires making promises and keeping them. This builds trust and trust keeps us going. How much do we trust the big companies we deal with? I think you would find our attitude about big companies much like Ronald Reagan’s thoughts about Arms Control. When speaking to Mikhail Gorbachev, he said “Trust but verify.” Small businesses must rely on their reputation to be successful. No one wants to do business with a company that they think is dishonest.

img_0088

Small businesses often survive or fail based on repeat business. Repeat business is a product of fair pricing, high quality and follow up. How many times has a big company called you after you bought their product to see if you like it? It does happen, but you must admit, it’s rare. Small businesses have to follow up, because their customers must not only be satisfied, they must be elated.


Next comes integrity. You might say that’s the same as honesty, but let me disagree. In my mind, honesty is making promises and keeping them, walking the talk, and doing what you say. Integrity might go a step further. Integrity means doing more than what you promise. If  you begin a task and find there is an alternative that is a better solution, offer that alternative. Look for ways of being better than even the customer expects. Don’t just fix things. Fix them so they don’t break again. Truly understand the needs of the customer and the resources the customer has to fix the problem and then tailor a solution to fit. If there is something better, even if you don’t have that product or service, don’t be afraid to say so. So, integrity is really honesty after it has spanned the test of time and held up against the fires of unjust criticism. When you have honesty, integrity, quality at a fair price and great follow up, you only need one more thing. Hard work.

I’ve discussed honesty and integrity, but what about quality at a fair price? Quality is a lot like value, it’s mostly in the eyes of the customer. Quality could be seen as meeting the expectations of the customer. A quality product might be one that out performs other products in its class or category. High quality might even surpass average or normal expectations since its performance is critical to support the product or service produced or offered by the customer.

That leaves follow up. If you don’t follow up with your customers, how will you know if they’re elated or not? Follow up gives you the feedback necessary to make adjustments to your service or product to improve and retain that customer. It closes the circle of continuous improvement. If you underperform and your follow up either doesn’t occur or takes too long, the laws of disconnect engage and your lost business will increase. Also, without follow up, you won’t know why things aren’t going so well. So there’s a good chance you’ll blame it on some easy target like the global economy or unfair competition. The fact is you just missed the target.

What’s a fair price? A book could be written about fair pricing, in fact many books. But here’s a simple way I look at it. A fair price is one when the price of your product or service matches the value that it brings to the customer and the quality meets expectations. But you also must look at it another way.  A fair price is one that allows the provider of the product or service to make a reasonable profit. If you don’t price to make a profit you will be out of business and no longer able to provide that quality product or service. In this case, everyone loses. As a business it is your responsibility to run your business in a profitable manner.

In a small business if you are honest, have integrity, good follow up, and work really hard, you get to eat that week. If you forget one of those attributes, you might go hungry.

img_0094

So,why are small businesses the canary in the coal mine? When mining for coal, miners could be exposed to dangerous gases such as carbon monoxide. They would carry a cage containing a canary down into the tunnels. The canary was much more sensitive to the gases then were the miners. If the canaries started to die, the miners would evacuate the tunnel to safety. The canaries were an early warning of eminent danger. Small businesses are this canary. If they fail, it means that one or more of these critical attributes are missing or lost. If it’s missing here don’t you also think it might be missing in big business as well? This trend has me concerned and you should be concerned too. When the canaries are getting sick and dying, the miners aren’t far behind.

Here’s my simple formula: Perform honestly, act with integrity, deliver quality, price reasonably, and follow up to make sure the customer is completely satisfied. I believe the young people of today will punish those companies that don’t heed this simple formula.

Steve Haberly

In my next blog I’ll share with you some of the small businesses that I’ve dealt with that are great examples of these principles.

 

The Electronic Disconnect

IMG_0266About 10 years ago, I got a device that has changed my business and personal life, and not necessarily for the best. It was a BlackBerry cell phone.  As I carried it in a holster that clipped over my belt, I suddenly felt armed and dangerous. I was connected 24/7 and somehow thought this would make me more productive. And maybe it did, in some ways.

I remember one evening when the impact of my new device showed its ugly head. I was at dinner with my wife. It wasn’t a special occasion, but as I’ve told her many times, any evening with her is special. We sat outside, under a clear Texas sky at a local restaurant, and as our drinks arrived she asked, “Would you like to be alone with your BlackBerry?” I was stunned realizing I had been so busy responding to emails that I hadn’t really noticed her, or the new dress she wore just for tonight. I turned off the phone and gave it her to put in her purse. I told her I was surprised, but also embarrassed to find myself so distracted in that way.  I’d like to tell you that I learned my lesson and this never happened again, but bad behavior has a way of resurfacing.

Let me circle back to my first sentence, “It changed my business.” Before smart phones, the business worked like this: a customer or employee would call and if they couldn’t reach me they could call the office and leave a message for me to return their call. 95% of the messages were not an emergency and asked that I call back at my earliest convenience. I would look at the international origin of the call and plan my return call accordingly.  If it was an emergency, I would return the call immediately no matter what the time difference.

IMG_0267

Those days are gone. Since my business is global, I get emails, texts and messages 24 hours a day and often the expected response time is NOW. However, the business itself hasn’t changed that much. 95% of the problems are still not urgent and could easily be handled the next day. The business may not have changed but the expectations of the customers and employees has changed significantly. The expected return response from me is immediate. Casual has been raised to important and important to urgent. What was excellent response time is now expected. So, is my job more productive? I’m really not convinced it is. Am I working harder than before? Absolutely. Harder, but not better. Not a very good trade.

We visited the island of Koh Somui after a business trip to Bangkok. It is off the eastern coast of Thailand and has beautiful beaches and wonderful people.  After dinner, Debby and I walked down the beach to a club where people sit on big pillows on the sand and enjoy island drinks.  Listening to the waves and the music under a starry sky was truly romantic. This is what we saw.

IMG_0276
But not everyone enjoyed the romantic ambiance as we did.  A young couple sat on the pillows just in front of us and never looked at the waves, the moon, or the stars.  I’m not sure they ever looked at each other. Both were on their smart phones the whole time texting or tweeting or something. This is what they saw.

IMG_0277

What happened to soft words of love spoken at just the right moment?

At dinner, just a few nights ago, I watched a couple seated at the table across from us. She was trying to parent their unhappy 6 year old while the dad never looked up from his phone. Present but absent. Any guesses whether that couple was connected or not? She was struggling with her job as a parent while he had electronically taken himself away from that responsibility. What message did that send?  To his son it said, “I am not interested in your problems or needs. I have more important things to attend to.” Then, to his wife or partner, “This is your job to parent him and it’s probably your fault he’s misbehaving. If you were a better mother this wouldn’t happen.” What is she thinking, “My parents never approved of you before we got married. They said you wouldn’t be a good father, and maybe they were right. I deserve better.” I wanted to go over, take his phone away and ask him to be a parent. Of course I didn’t. It’s not my monkey. If this problem isn’t my monkey, how come I feel it biting and scratching me?

Any time I see people trade their humaness for electronicness, I feel the uncomfortable sensation of loss. Loss of what you may ask? Loss of the connection that comes with eye contact, speech inflection and body language. Without those things, aren’t we becoming less human? I believe we are. As we lose the nuances of human communication we lose the ability to completely express emotions: love, anger, empathy, concern, desire, joy, etc.  When you can’t see my face or hear my words, my intentions can be easily misunderstand.

Steve Bartlett, CEO of Social Chain, is an award winning entrepreneur and speaker. He takes things a step further, believing social media may be making us sick.  Take a look.

IMG_0235

The passion of the another moment was destroyed by the electronic vehicle I used and its lack of humanness.  Debby and I had a very wonderful dinner and evening together. The next day I wanted to tell her how beautiful she looked that night. This is what I intended to text, “Last night you looked so beautiful, you were absolutely delicious.” I misspelled delicious, so the spell check changed the word and the text said this, “Last night you looked so beautiful, you were absolutely deciduous.” Now, those of you that know your tree terminology know that deciduous is a term used for trees that lose their leaves in the winter. Her text back to me said: “I was WHAT?” Love’s moment lost.

I heard a very interesting discussion about Millennials on NPR the other day. There were many parts to the topic, but there was one I found especially interesting. A Fortune 500 company manager was discussing hiring new employees. He made a comment that concerns me, “Millennials just don’t interview well.” I wondered if they were lacking in verbal skills because of social media. Was it possible that their non-verbal skills, like body language, just haven’t developed? Or maybe they can’t express themselves in more than 140 characters followed by an emoji.

Just the other day, a friend was talking about the disconnect he was having with his girlfriend, “She just doesn’t give good text.” Is that what the love connection has come down to, giving good text? I hope not.

Even worse, what about passive-aggressive texts?  Take a look at Jimmy Kimmel’s explanation.

Many young people think that electronic connection makes us more connected. I must take exception. In many ways we may be moving toward disconnection or at least a false connection. I have seen people say things to each other while texting that they would never say in person. Does the texting generation, share intimate details on text that they would never say In person? Are they more comfortable texting than talking face to face? Without voice inflection and body language, misunderstanding is common place. We may paint a picture with our words that is totally foreign from who we really are. So what happens when we finally meet this texting partner? It is often disappointment and unmet expectations. If you want to know if your partner is sincere, watch their eyes. The eyes are windows to the soul. Words in a text are not.

I hate to predict the future, but I will just this once. If we continue to hide behind our social media mania and lose our gift of face to face communication, we risk losing any hope of meaningful connection.  If you are a baby boomer you probably agree with me. If you are a Millenial and disagree, I challenge you to try this.  Turn off your phone, sit down with a friend and have a meaningful face to face conversation.  Then, savor the experience of connection.

Steve Haberly

Next week, find out why small businesses are the Canary in the Coal Mine.

Connect and Collect

IMG_0214Connect and collect. What I’m about to tell you might just make you rich or even save your life. But first, you must open your mind and believe that anything is possible. Remember, the foundation of all my blogs is pretty simple.  Over the years I have experienced and learned many things and through all my experiences there has been a common thread. No matter how far I strayed from this universal truth I always came back. So what is that thread? Everything of any value depends on CONNECTION. That’s it. Pure and simple.

IMG_0008Let me give you some examples. Scientists believe that the connection at birth between a baby and a mother figure has a huge influence on the ultimate mental wellbeing of the child as it grows into adolescence and adulthood. A connection allows the baby to discover that she is secure, but independent from mom. Those really are her hands and feet and she can move them anytime she wants.

Your connection with school friends makes your feel like part of something. Your connection with a partner can bring you happiness. A connection with your faith can bring you peace.

What about other impacts from connection. If everything depends on connection (and without this connection failure is a sure thing) then we might say interdependency could also be the outcome of connection. Two things that are connected, depend on each other. Let’s take this one step further.

The philosophy of connection  would tell us that the relationship between the two connected variables may evolve to a higher level where one variable can change the other. If you will buy into this concept, then let me suggest to you that one variable may even control the other. A higher evolution of connection. So you really think I’m crazy now. Or maybe sitting on a stool in some dark corner reflecting on the impact of sunspots on ground squirrels mating cycles. But I’m not.

IMG_0212

W all agree that the brain is an amazing organ. We understand so little about the brain that we must admit we don’t know exactly how it works. But what we do know is this, computers still can’t do what the human brain does every day, the decisions it makes,  The paths it navigates through life, etc.  So what if we were able to utilize the total power of our brain, could we influence the things inside us? Of course. Our thoughts can speed up or slow down our heart rate. Our thoughts of passion can make our face blush. If we think about our bad knee long enough the knee begins to hurt. Our brain is connected to our knee and influences our evaluation of its condition. But what about outside of our bodies? Could our brain control or at least influence things outside our bodies? Is the brain that strong? I believe the answer is yes and I hope to prove it to you.

IMG_0206

I played some sort of sport most of my life. For me as a child it was baseball. I was the average player, not a star, but at least a contributor. But as an average player I never got nominated to the All Star Team until one fate filled year .When I was about 10 years old I somehow got the nod. Amazing. My father didn’t go to the game that day but we can talk about that another time when Alcoholism is my topic. A neighbor took me to the game. Nice guy, maybe 18 years old at best. It was a really hot summer day in Tulsa, Oklahoma. Hot and dusty. The plains of America are like that. You could get your uniform dirty even if you never got off the bench.

As I walked behind the backstop I saw something shining  in the Oklahoma dirt. I bent over and picked up a shiny Mercury dime. Wow. This is my lucky day, I thought to myself. I sat on the bench the first few innings and then the coach put me in right field. That made little sense to me since I was a catcher and didn’t have any experience in outfield. But I went out there anyway and that inning I got exactly ZERO balls hit my way. But I did get a chance to see a grasshopper eat a blade of grass until it was gone and so was the inning.

We were behind by 3 runs when it was my turn at bat. I picked up a bat that looked good to me and then stopped. I reached in my pocket and found that Mercury dime. My lucky day, I thought. This is my lucky day. When I stepped to the plate, the bases were loaded. The first pitch was low and outside. I couldn’t have hit it if I wanted to. The next pitch was right down the middle. I was too slow. “Strike one,” the umpire said.

The next pitch came so close to my ear that my hat fell off. Some kids laughed but most were just dirty, hot and tired and wondering if this was really America’s game. I just kept thinking that this is my lucky day. I found that dime, didn’t I? The next pitch was somewhere around the plate. I’m really not sure where, but all I remember to this day was the sound of wood on rawhide. The ball exploded into the outfield and past the center fielder and clear to the fence. Maybe he was looking at a grasshopper of his own, but it doesn’t matter. It was a grand slam home run. We won the game by one run in the last inning with my hit. It was my lucky day!

IMG_0207

Was it my talent that connected with that ball and won the game that day or was it something else? Was it my fate? No, I believe my fate was to ride the bench and finish by striking out and leaving the runners stranded on base. But not this day. Not my lucky day! Even now,  I believe it was something else. I changed what the fates had planned for me. That dime made me believe. It made me believe in myself. My lucky day. The power of my mind over the things around me. All I had to do was believe. That day has had a huge impact on my life and I think about it every day.

So roll the film forward a bit. For most of my life if I found a dime on the ground I would put it in my pocket and say “This is My Lucky Day” Then one day a few years ago I thought: “Why do I wait for luck to find me. Why don’t I find luck?” Now after I get dressed I walk by my dresser and reach for the shiny coin I placed there the night before and say “This is My Lucky Day”. If I forget, there is also a dime lying on my desk at work, plus dimes in the drink cups in my truck. It was an amazing moment when I realized that my mind is so powerful it could change my destiny. I MAKE MY OWN LUCK.

So what does this have to do with getting rich? I’m glad you asked. I was recently on a flight to Las Vegas with my wife and daughter for a short getaway. The flight was full and loading passengers was really slow, so I had a chance to look a faces. I would estimate that 50% of the people I saw were here to enjoy this amazing place and part of their fun might be a little gambling. But there were those few faces that had a certain look. They seemed to look past the present and into the future, a future that only they could see. Were they the ones? The ones that had the dime in their pocket. I wish I knew.  I wish I could have followed their weekend to see the outcome, but I can’t help believing they walked away with their share of the winnings. If believing you could win can influence the fates and your ability to win, than they had the connection. A connection with luck.

IMG_0215

A connection with luck, just like I had felt so many years ago. This is their lucky day.

Epilogue

I played two sessions per day and with four sessions behind me I was up maybe $100. I know that doesn’t sound like much, but I only gamble $100 per session. If I lose that, the session is over. I do adhere to a simple rule: never count on a losing streak to end and never walk away from a winning streak. It had been an okay few days of gambling, not impressive, but I was holding my own, until it happened.

IMG_0210

The next day was a disaster. Both sessions were losers and quick losers. I barely got to sit down before I was standing and walking away. Ouch! When we got back to the room, I changed my jeans and made a discovery. There was no dime in my pocket. Not even one. I had left the dime in my other pants. Was that why I lost? Who knows? But I won’t make that mistake again. Tomorrow will be my lucky day.

IMG_0209

Make your own luck.  Connect and collect.

Steve Haberly

Next week:  In the game of life you realize you have lost your connection.  You’ve been given the proverbial red card. What do you do now?

The Final Disconnect

The last stage of the disconnect is built on a foundation of unmet expectations, promises made and broken, and words said in anger. For this discussion, let’s accept that those behaviors have now become habit instead of a rare occurrence and that there has been no acceptance of responsibility and no reconciliation.

IMG_1601

Since promises made and broken are never your fault, someone else is always responsible. It’s always someone else’s fault – your job, your parents, or even the government. But at this point you may have deluded yourself into believing it’s all your partner’s fault. You are the victim. Without accepting your mistakes as your own, change is nearly impossible. Bad behaviors are repeated again and again. Promises made and broken become the expectation in the relationship.

Because it takes promises made and fulfilled to build trust, at this point in the disconnect, there is no trust. The foundation is crumbling all around you. Think of the picture of the connected hands, all fingers intertwined. In all the other stages the hands still touch, even though they are moving apart, they are still connected. But not at this stage. The longer the relationship resides in this sad state, the less chance of reconnection.

 Words said in anger but never followed by a sincere apology deepen the disconnect. I didn’t call the promise broken by chance. Broken denotes that it could take a significant effort to repair. Also realize that all broken promises don’t have the same impact or leave the same scar. “Sorry I’m late for dinner. I promised I would call but I just forgot. It’s my fault. Sorry”. Yes, it’s a broken promise but forgivable and connection can be repaired.

Let me share something with you and maybe you can help me see this a different way. I always struggle with connection between forgiving and forgetting. I believe I am able to forgive, but I must be honest, I never forget. So what if forgiving must be coupled with forgetting, does that mean I am incapable of forgiving? Let’s talk about that more at a later date and I promise I will be responsible for scheduling that discussion. Now back to the disconnect.

Words said in anger not followed by a sincere apology deepen the disconnect. When this behavior becomes more frequent, a new evil might appear, passive aggressive behavior. The passive aggressive person expresses their anger by cloaking it in a veil of acceptance. They rarely say what they really feel. The behavior can manifest itself in words or actions.

In many ways, passive aggressive behavior is more destructive than voicing anger directly.  I saw a term once that fits this person perfectly: Afraid to Rage. No open warfare here, but casualties by subterfuge causing the divide to get wider.

IMG_0190

But what about other broken promises? What about infidelity? What about abuse? What about behaviors that endanger the whole family? What about the words, “I never loved you?” Some behaviors create scars that can’t be healed. With the continuation of these damaging behaviors trust is just a word and not a behavior. Trust is the glue that holds it all together. All broken promises hurt, but some hurts are repairable and some just are not. You can’t always find all of Humpty Dumpty’s pieces, much less put them back together.

IMG_0187
Now I’m going to get myself in trouble. Should I apologize ahead of time? We will see. I look at fidelity in two different ways, but with a commonality. Fidelity is a promise. Wikipedia says “Fidelity is the quality of faithfulness or loyalty.” So, fidelity is the promise of faithfulness. Companies expect fidelity from their employees and try to assure there is no misunderstanding by requiring a signed legal contract stating the acts that would constitute infidelity.

When we marry, we sign a document as well, but more important we verbally promise this fidelity. We traditionally call it a vow. To me, a vow is a promise of higher order, similar to an oath but slightly different. In old England if I were a Knight, I would swear allegiance to the King. I would take an oath. I would vow to defend the Crown. If I were a Monk during that same time, I would make my vows. This would be a transaction between the monk and God. The fidelity promise is a solemn vow to fulfill your commitment. So, of all the promises broken, this can be one of the hardest from which to recover. A promise made in front of man and God.

IMG_0191

What about abuse? It comes in all forms  – physical, verbal and emotional. It can be physical, causing injury or emotional leaving even deeper scars. I must admit to you that this behavior is one I cannot understand and probably would struggle to forgive. Many times the victim believes it is somehow their fault. They think they have brought the abuse on to themselves. This is not true. Get out and get help – right now.

Am I saying if the relationship has become this divided that there is no way back? No. Never say never. But the way back takes major commitments on both sides. It may also take significant concessions from both partners. In most cases when the disconnect is this complete, only a professional can help the couple repair the damage.

IMG_0188

Something to remember at this point is from one of my earlier blogs, the impact of time. The longer you allow the complete disconnect to occur, the less chance there is of a reconnection. Start repairing it now.

How do you reconnect after this? Maybe you don’t. But maybe there’s just one more chance. In the worst of all situations there’s always hope. Don’t be passive aggressive, say what you are feeling. When you make a mistake, own it, and then apologize quickly and sincerely. After you apologize, change your ways, discontinue the toxic behavior. This is your new mantra: Right Thoughts, Right Words, Right Actions. Practice fidelity in all things. Don’t suffer any type of abuse.

Steve Haberly

Next week’s post, The Luck Connection asks, “How can a dime change your life?”

Promises Broken – Words said in Anger

IMG_0153The second stage in the path to disconnect comes in two parts. The first is promises broken. We know that promises made and fulfilled strengthen a relationship. As you might guess, the opposite is also true. The second phase of disconnection begins with promises made and broken. These are the things said or done that may go unnoticed by the offender, but are a sharp sting to the recipient. Don’t fool yourself. These are small promises, but they add up. Home late from work without the promised call. Forgetting date night planned for Saturday. Not going to his baseball game because something came up.

Some philosophers tell you to think about promises as though they were a bank account. When you do what you promise, no matter how small, you put credits in the trust account. If you build your relationship the right way, the bank account always has a surplus of credits. This surplus allows you to break a few promises and still have a positive balance. You think you are doing just fine. But this is FALSE. Promises are sacred. Honor in life is everything and honor is built on the foundation of the promises made and kept. Never take a promise lightly. Not the small ones and especially the ones you make to yourself or your maker.

IMG_0154

Trust is the foundation of all healthy relationships. Relationships between individuals, companies and countries. To be honest, I can’t think of a thing I do all day that doesn’t rely on trust. Here are some examples: I get out of bed and trust that my alarm clock was set correctly last night. I walk to the bathroom, trusting that I moved the dog’s tennis ball so I wouldn’t step on it in the dark. I trust the toothpaste I use is safe to brush my teeth. I take a hand full of vitamins and trust that the manufacturers have good quality control of the ingredients. I trust my car will start, I will get to work safely and still have a job. All that trust is built on experiences. Successful experiences, after promises were made and kept. Make a promise. Keep that promise. Build trust. A SteveismTrust is not given it is earned.

So, if the glue that holds everything together from personal relationships to countries is trust and trust is making promises and keeping them, broken promises undermine the very foundation on which our lives are built.

If promises made and broken is the first sin in this phase of disconnection then words said in anger is the second. You’ve probably heard the rule about fighting fair in a relationship. Personally, I believe that fighting in a relationship is wrong. Discussing and disagreeing are natural and healthy, but to me, fighting means somebody loses. When one person loses in a relationship, you both lose.

IMG_0152

It’s not easy, but you must learn to take responsibility for your actions. No excuses. Don’t say “I got mad because you said…” “I couldn’t come to your game because I…” You either broke a promise or did something hurtful. The operative word is you. Take responsibility for your actions. That’s what we do to grow as individuals and partners. We all make mistakes. We are human and fallible, so step up. Take responsibility.

I love what is taught in the Buddhist religion. If you have the right thoughts in your head, you will say the right things. If you say the right things you will do the right actions. Simple to say, not so easy to do. But all great things start with a beginning.
When you are wrong, you need to sincerely apologize. “I should have started earlier from work because I knew the traffic can be bad. It’s my fault I was late for your game and I’m very sorry.” “There is no excuse for me losing my temper. I am embarrassed by my actions. I’m so sorry I hurt you.”

IMG_0155
In most cases, taking responsibility and apologizing honestly and sincerely can repair the damage. But don’t misunderstand, taking these two actions doesn’t have much value unless you also work on changing those behaviors in the future. Words are great, but right actions build trust.

How do you know you are on the right track? What helps hold you accountable? Write a mission statement. State what you believe in and how you will act on those beliefs. Before you break a promise or speak in anger, look at your mission statement. Are the words or the actions you are considering aligned with your mission statement? If not, don’t say it and don’t do it.

IMG_0150

My mission statement is pretty simple. I want every one’s life that touches mine to be a little better because they knew me. Sounds a little Pollyanna doesn’t it? You’re right. It is. But it works. All the time? No. I’m human just like you and I make mistakes, but I always gravitate back to my mission. If you don’t have a mission statement, get one.

✔  Write a Mission Statement

✔  Live By Your Mission

✔ Make promises you intend to keep.

✔ Take promises seriously.

✔ Build trust on the back of those promises.

✔ Think before you speak.

✔ Do no harm.

✔ Take responsibility for your actions

✔ Sincerely apologize

✔Change Negative Behaviors

IMG_0156

✔Be the Person Your Dog Thinks You Are

Steve Haberly

Wow! Don’t miss the next post dealing with passive aggressive behavior, infidelity and abuse. 

Unrealistic and Unmet Expectations

IMG_0147

Before I jump off this cliff, let me tell you I am not a professional in these matters. Although I’ve left a few broken relationships by the roadside as I motored through life (driving a bit too fast while listening to rock and roll blaring on the radio) I am not trained in marriage counseling. I guess that makes me knowledgeable by experience if not by education.  I’m a student of life, educated in the classroom of experience. I have been both an observer and a participant. I have watched what worked in relationships and what failed. I began observing these scenarios at a very early age.
IMG_0148

My childhood years had my family living in more than 20 cities by the time I was five. My dad was on an oil exploration crew so our address was either the motel we were in today or the one down the road where we’d be tomorrow. My mom said their nights were filled with loud music, dancing and lots of drinking. But somehow Dad got up the next day and did it all over again. In most of the motels there was not a baby crib so I slept in a drawer.  As far as I know, they kept the drawer open!

IMG_0149.JPG

By the age of 5, I knew that when a voice was raised over a normal level something bad was about to happen. Antagonistic tones could be loud but really soft tones were just as terrifying. These things I learned closer to the age of 10, as I sat quietly listening and wondering why. I found that anger was frightening but even worse was disappointment. Angry tones could come quickly but soon faded. The words of disappointment hung in the room like the smoke from too many cigarettes. By the time I reached junior high I realized that my parents were just staying together for me. They were committed to being parents for my sake. But don’t misunderstand, one thing I knew with certainty was that I was loved. Unconditionally loved. And knowing I was loved was enough. It was enough.

My blogs deal with the joy of connection and the pain of disconnection . I was deeply connected to both my parents but I could see their disconnection from each other. I would say I learned much in my early years by observing but I have learned even more in the 35 years I’ve been married, not by observing but by living and loving.

I have a great marriage, and it is great because we work at making it that way every day. A friend once asked, “Aren’t there just days when you can coast?” The answer is a resounding “NO.” A relationship is just like a car. When you put it in neutral, you’re going nowhere. This is true in business relationships as well as personal ones. But for this blog, let’s get personal.

To examine actions that could reconnect a relationship it’s important to know the extent of the disconnect. Let me explain my reasoning. If I think about friends’ marriages I have tried to save over the last 30 years, I am batting zero. I haven’t been able to save even one. If you were hoping I had some magic advice that could put things back together, I’m sure you’re getting a little concerned at this point. Before you give up on me let me explain my poor score. In each case the marriage was completely disconnected. The distance between them was too far and they had suffered the pain for too long. There was no way back. They were each lost in a sea of lies and disappointment. All my help accomplished was to delay the inevitable. I know this sounds hopeless and depressing, but there really is hope. Many relationships can be saved long before the final divide. Let’s focus on those.

There is a change in relationships that happens but is not part of the disconnect. It is a time of adjustment. This is not the beginning of disconnect, but rather a reversal of connection advocates within the relationship. Let me explain. The partner that desires the connection the most will initiate actions to keep the connection intact. These actions could be physical or verbal but they have one main purpose, to maintain closeness. Within the relationship this responsibility to be the advocate who protects and maintains the connection will change from partner to partner throughout the life of the relationship.

This positioning might look like a weakening of the bond but, in fact, is only a natural handoff of the torch. In a good relationship the intimacy leadership role gets passed back and forth many times over the span of years. This is not only healthy but desirable. A colleague once said it perfectly when asked how he and his wife achieved a long and happy marriage. “We have been married a long time because we never fell out of love at the same time. One of us was enough in love to be willing to sacrifice and work on the marriage when the other had given up.” That’s an amazing statement, isn’t it? It may very well be the most important ingredient to a long and happy marriage.

When the relationship begins to disconnect, it comes in three stages. Three conditions that weaken the connection before full disconnect occurs.

The first part of this stage is unrealistic expectations. When a relationship begins to develop we begin to have expectations about what it could become. The extent and the type of our expectations depends on many things. One thing that seems to be the most influential is our past experience. How were we treated as a child? Did we live in a world of reality? What was that reality? Did we learn to take responsibility for our own happiness or did we grow up depending on others to satisfy our needs, and did they? What causes some people to expect more from their partner than the partner is able or willing to give? I wish I knew the answer.

Unrealistic expectations can be evidenced everywhere. When we expect more than a person has the ability to give, we lose. The people involved feel like they failed. I disagree with those who believe failure is a motivator. I believe, in a relationship more times than not, failure is just failure. Too many times in a relationship we believe our love or caring can cause the other person to rise above their level and become more. This might be true to some extent, but how much more can they grow is the question. Again, if we are unrealistic in our expectations then  we both lose. But wait a minute, what if my expectations are unrealistic but I find this amazing partner who meets them all? First, pinch yourself because you are either dreaming or you are the luckiest person I’ve ever met. For now,  let’s assume there is a remote possibility that an unrealistic expectation could be met.

So maybe the real issue is not unrealistic expectations but the second part of this stage, unmet expectations, whether unrealistic or not. These expectations may be totally reasonable but still not met. What is reasonable for one person might be completely unreasonable for another. Reasonable depends on your frame of reference. We all see the world through different glasses. Each layer of the lens is crafted by our experiences, good and bad. It can be very hard to take off those glasses. Most people believe that meeting our basic needs is the least we should expect from a relationship. But these needs might still go unmet. You’re a loving person. You’re faithful and respectful. You deserve the same in return. Is that too much to ask?

Expectations may also change as we age. This can create problems when the expectations of one partner don’t change to meet the expectations or even the ability of the other. I have a son that is 26 years old. I asked him how his relationship expectations have changed since he was a teenager. He said that when he was younger he looked for a girlfriend that was fun to be with. That’s right, just fun and not much else. At 26 his expectations are different. He said he now looks for a girl that has parental qualities. Unsure of what he meant by parental, I asked him to explain.  He told me that parental means nurturing, kind, thoughtful and looking out for your best interests. Someone mature enough to hold up her end of the relationship. A woman, not a girl. Seems reasonable to me.

So what about me? What are my expectations? I still expect honesty and faithfulness, but now more than ever, I expect passion. Passion can come in many packages. It can be defined in many ways. I like what Wikipedia says, “Passion may be an eager interest in or admiration for a proposal, cause, discovery or activity or love.” Passion is the fuel that drives the soul.

Passion is the Fountain of Youth. Those that have a passion for the things life offers have the best chance to have a happy life. Life without passion is cold, dark and empty. Passion is the fire that continues to burn inside, but only if you keep adding fuel. Find something your passionate about and give yourself to it.IMG_0139

I don’t profess that we are all the same in our expectations, so you will find yours different than mine. We are often told that our desire naturally wanes. I don’t agree. It certainly is complicated if health becomes an issue, or if abuse, addiction, or adultery are  involved. From the outside, it may look like we just give up and thus the disconnect. Passion is possible at any age. But without it, we age quicker than our years. Expectations unmet, whether unrealistic or not, start the divide that becomes the start of the disconnect.

The first step in solving any problem is to accept a problem exists. In this case,  the next step is to realize the problem may be of your own making. Begin by accepting others for what they are instead of what we expect them to be. Most of the experts agree that there are three paths to avoid or repair this disconnect from unmet expectations.

First, make sure you’re aware of your expectations. Second, make them reasonable and third, talk about them to you partner. Try to experience life and not expect it.  Experience not expectation.  Let’s look at it another way. I would like to paraphrase what I remember from a movie called Parenthood. The grandmother in the family has witnessed the chaos that occurs when  balancing a job, marriage, children and the world around.  It gets pretty overwhelming. But she shares a story that has great insight. She says that when she was a little girl she would go to the amusement park. Bright lights and lots to do. Some children chose to ride the merry go round. But it just went around and around. What’s the fun in that? She loved the roller coaster. The ups and the downs. The thrill. The excitement.

IMG_0146

Life is about experiencing, not sitting back observing and definitely not going around and around, seeing the same things again and again. It’s easy to start out idealistic, but no one can live up to our idealistic view of what life should be. We need to become realistic not idealistic. I would like to share with you what my wife calls a Steveism.

When I find myself feeling unhappy and dissatisfied with my life, it means I’m thinking too much about myself and not enough about others.

The second step in avoiding or handling unrealistic expectations is communication. Talk often and talk openly to your partner. Don’t avoid the difficult topics. Put them on the table and negotiate how they can be handled. Sometimes when you explain your expectations, you might find your partner is very willing to meet those needs. They just might need to be stated another way. But you also need to be willing to compromise. A good relationship is a product of give and take. I have another Steveism that works for us.

He who has the most emotion at risk or invested in a subject should get special consideration in the decision.

Let me give you an example. When Debby and I were deciding whether to move our children to a private faith centered school or to leave them in public schools, I really wasn’t in favor of the private school for two reasons. First, the money. It seemed crazy to pay for private school when my taxes were already paying for the public schools in my area. Second, the public schools in our area were great schools. So for me they could get a good education in our public schools at a lot less cost to our family. On the other hand, my wife had a very deep feeling about this decision. For her it was an emotional decision that would change their lives. So who had the most emotion invested? She did. So you guessed it. They were transferred to the faith based school. I won’t give you all the details of the amazing things that occurred, but I will tell you that my wife was right. Let me give you another Steveism.

When it comes to difficult decisions, your brain will lie to you but your stomach never will.

Trust your feelings. This is another strategy that may help soften the disappointment of unmet expectations and therefore mitigate the damage. You might call this tactic the early warning system. The best way to explain it is to give you another personal example. My wife and I had decided that Friday night would be date night. A great dinner out somewhere followed by a romantic evening. Her heart was in the right place but the flu bug made the evening impossible. So does she wait till I get home to tell me? No. There’s a better way. She calls and tells me how much she was looking forward to our date but she feels awful. Could we postpone the date a day or two till she feels better?

What makes this work? It’s what she says next. “I’m disappointed to postpone our date, but you deserve my A game. Thanks for understanding, I’m really looking forward to being together. Would Saturday night work?” Because she was the one who must postpone the date, she is responsible for setting the new date and time.

So how did I feel after her comment? I felt loved, wanted and even more, desired and isn’t that what I really wanted anyway? My wife and I have a name for this. We call it giving good phone. More on that later!

Steve Haberly
The next blog will explore the second stage disconnectPromises Broken – Words Said in Anger