How do you go about learning a new skill? Usually, your training will involve many correct repetitions of the skill you’re attempting to master. Through repetition, you can train yourself to become competent, if not excellent, in any skill you choose. Repetition is a remarkably powerful training tool.
One thing we may not realize, is that we can also training others (often unintentionally) by what we repeatedly expose them to. If we’re continuously on our phone, or have our face in front of a screen, whenever we’re with those close to us, what kind of message are we repeatedly sending them? What are we “training” them to understand?
If we’re always checking our phone or interrupting those who are trying to have a conversation with us, make no mistake, we’re training them that they are not important enough to warrant our full attention. We are training them to know that we will tap out of our interaction with them the moment something more exciting comes along. We are training them that they really don’t matter much to us. Regardless of what we may tell them, or actions are what will train them.
While it’s easy to get sloppy with regard to how we’re training others, it’s also easy to start changing our actions and behaviors to train those around us that they are indeed important and that they matter. We can decide to train them to know that we care about them.
Consider you’re recent interactions with those close to you. Through those actions, what have you been training other to understand? If you don’t like the training you’ve been presenting, then intentionally change your behaviors to align with the training you’d like them to receive.
I’m writing this week’s blog post on Friday February 14, Valentine’s day in the United States. It’s a fun holiday where you acknowledge the love between you and your spouse or significant other. As I was considering this holiday today, I got to thinking that several of our annual holidays should be observed every day of the year.
Think about it, what if we celebrated Valentine’s day every day. What if the appreciation we showed for those we love was in the forefront of our mind every day, to the same degree it is on Valentine’s day? No, I’m not saying you need to go out to dinner every night of the week, or come home with candy, flowers, or other gifts every single day. I’m talking about acknowledging that appreciation thought our words and actions every day. That would certainly mean more to those we love than limiting these actions to 1 day out of 365.
Thanksgiving is another one. What if we thought about the people and things we are grateful for every day of the year? Do you think that kind of thought might have an impact on your life?
Also, if you’re a Christian, shouldn’t Christmas and Easter be celebrated each day? Again, not the gifts and Easter eggs every day, but rather the appreciation of what Jesus has done for you. That’s worth appreciating every day!
Think about your favorite holidays, whether it’s one listed above or different one. Then consider how you can implement what those holidays stand for into your every-day life, because they’re worth celebrating more than once a year.
This week my wife and I have been working on several daily life decisions ranging from getting our next cat, to updating our insurance, to future spending plans. While these topics have created lots of discussion, I have come away feeling extremely grateful that we are both on the same team.
Through all the discussions and decisions we’ve had and made, we’ve both participated with the mindset that we are on the same team and are heading in the same direction… together. I’m reminded this past week how much I appreciate working as a team with her. Even when we have our differences, we understand that we both share the same last name, which makes us a team. We also realize that teams perform better when they work together.
So who’s on your team? How have you been well working with them lately? If you haven’t been performing very well as a team, perhaps it’s time to decide to start rowing in the same direction to achieve your common goals. If your team has been performing well, be sure to let your teammate know how much you appreciate them.
“The older I get, the younger my teachers become.” ~Unknown
As a life-long learner, I’m grateful for the people who have been (and currently are) willing to teach me. Whether they’ve written a book I’ve read, created a podcast, or sat down next to me to explain something, their willingness to teach me has enriched my live. I’m especially grateful that these teachers are often younger than I am.
As someone who’s been around for over half a century, I couldn’t imagine how adversely impacted my learning would be if I only listened to people who were older than me. If I carried the belief that there’s nothing I can learn from anyone who’s younger than me, I’d be willingly disconnecting myself from the wisdom and knowledge of a significant portion of the world population. What an awful way to move through life!
If sense a negative attitude bubbling up when you have the opportunity to learn from someone younger, check yourself. You may be on the cusp of throwing away a perfectly good learning experience.
How foolish it would be to miss an opportunity to learn something valuable, simply because pride and ego deafen your ears to voices younger than your own.
“The best way to succeed in life is to act on the advice you give others.” ~ Unknown
Have you ever observed a behavior in another person and found yourself either thinking, or actually telling them, how you feel they could have better-handled the situation? If so, here’s a news flash for you (and for me as well!): Unless someone asks you for your opinion, they aren’t interested in hearing your advice.
I don’t normally appreciate unsolicited advice from others, so why would I think someone else would be receptive to unsolicited advice from me?
My best option is to take my own advice and work on myself versus trying to fix others. Because ultimately, the only person I have control over… is me.
Whenever you’re in a large or small group, professional or volunteer, and the opportunity arises to share your thoughts and opinions, do so!
When we silence our own voice by withholding our thoughts, we willingly hand over the ability to make or influence a decisions to those who do share their thoughts. We trade in our role as leaders and resign ourselves to passengers on a course someone will chart for us.
You have thoughts, insights, and ideas that could benefit those around you. However, they benefit no one, if they remain solely in your head.
I like being busy. Not busy just for the sake of being busy, but busy doing things that are meaningful and fulfilling. To me, life is more fun when our days are full of activities that give us purpose. However, it’s crucial that we remember to make time for those important things that can easily get lost or overlooked in the midst of our day-to-day busyness.
Some important things are extremely easy to put off because of how busy we are. Consider how easy it is to tell ourselves, “When I’m not so busy I need to:”
- Make time to connect with my friend…
- Schedule that annual checkup or routine medical screening
- Start exercising daily
- Begin saving for the future
- Make some healthy changes to my diet
- Pursue that goal or dream of mine
Our intentions are to do these important things, but the reality is that they often get forgotten or pushed out because we are busy. The reality is also that putting off these things could have significant negative consequences if they are neglected too long. Those consequences could be things like:
- The drifting a part of a once great friendship
- A once easily preventable/treatable condition has turned into a full blown medical emergency
- Our health has deteriorated
- Our lifestyle will drastically change, because we don’t have the resources we need for the future
- Our goals and dream go unrealized
All because we are too busy to address them today.
Let’s make sure we’re not being so busy today that we neglect the things that will lead to a fulfilling and healthy future.
Many of the choices we make don’t require a great deal of thought. For example deciding what you’re going to wear today, what you’re having for dinner, or where you want to go on vacation this year, while important, are not life changing decisions. If, in fact, you do make a bad decision in one of these areas, the consequences are pretty insignificant. (Your life isn’t going to change a great deal if you had chicken for dinner instead of salmon!) However, for those decisions where the stakes are much higher, we must make sure we’ve gathered sufficient information and given ample thought to our decision before we pull the trigger.
One of the most important decisions we make is the primary person we decide to do life with. Whether it’s a spouse, a life partner, or significant other, this person will have a very substantial role and impact in our life. As such, this type of relationship should be entered into slowly. Only after we’ve gathered significant experiences and information about the other person are we about to make a good decision.
If you’re currently in the process of making this decision about someone, before you decide, you should have answers to the following questions:
- Do you know what your own goals and dreams are and what you, specifically, want out of life?
- What are the other person’s goals and expectations from life? Do they align with yours?
- What are the non-negotiable character traits and attributes you’re looking for in another person?
- What are the non-negotiable character traits you are unwilling to settle for in another person?
- How does this person align with the previous 2 questions?
- No, really! How do they align?
- What’s their worldview and outlook on life?
- How does the other person handle conflict?
- How do they handle money?
- How do they treat other people?
- How do they treat you?
- How do they respond when life gets tough?
- What guides them in how they make decisions and live their life?
The only way you will get answers to these questions is through conversation and time together. Lots of time together, so don’t be in a big hurry. The questions above are a list you can check off in a weekend, a week, or month. To really answer these questions, I think it’s important to observe someone for at least a year, if not longer.
Nothing will affect the quality of your life more that the primary person you decide to do life with, so spend the time to seriously answer these questions, lest you rush into a bad decision.
Here’s a quick mental exercise. See if you can think of an area of your life that gets better instead of worse as a result of being neglected. Here my attempt at a list and whether or not these areas get better when neglected:
- Relationships – No
- Health – No
- Finances – No
- Career – No
- Family – No
- Personal development – No
- Possessions – No
- Outlook on life – No
- A garden of wild weed – Yes
Most areas of our life don’t get better as a result of neglect, they usually get worse. I know, that’s obvious, but here’s what may not be so obvious. While we may not intentionally decide to neglect an important area of our life, neglect is what happens when we fail to give something our attention.
To make something better, or to at least keep it good, requires our effort and attention. With so many things clamoring for our attention it’s essential that we purposefully give attention to those important areas of our life, lest they be unintentionally neglected.
Here’s a piece of information I find liberating: None of us are perfect, nor are we expected to be. While I make an effort to do my best at whatever it is I’m doing, in my imperfection I often miss the mark, screw up, or fall short.
While knowing that I’m not perfect frees me up to try, fail and improve, knowing that I’m imperfect also reminds me that with imperfection comes responsibility. When we screw up or say the wrong thing, or a host of other things imperfect people do, we should be quick to:
- Apologize to those we’ve hurt or negatively impacted
- Own our mistakes instead of giving excuses or looking for someone else to blame
- Ask for forgiveness when needed
We should also be quick to avoid expecting perfection from others and be equally quick to show grace to others when they fall short, because isn’t that what we’d like from others?
Let’s work at being responsible with our imperfections, and graceful to others in theirs.