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Wednesday, April 23, 2014
T for Trust

In his book ‘Winning with People’, Dr. John C. Maxwell describes relationships and trust beautifully: “Relationships 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. Trust secures it to the wall so that it can be enjoyed. Trust provides emotional structure.”

There can be no relationship without trust. If it is true that love is the root of all relationships then trust is the ingredient by which those roots can grow deeper.

T-Trust

Many people find it difficult to build and sustain healthy relationships today because their trust was breached by someone earlier in their lives. They were cheated on and perhaps betrayed by someone who used to be close to them. As a result they build walls around them so that they wouldn’t have to go through the pain of broken trust all over again. Broken trust creates fear in people.

In the movie ‘The Stepford Wives’, the wives in Stepford were systematically replaced by robots that looked exactly like them. The husbands could count on precisely the behaviour they wanted from their cyber spouses. No uncertainty. No frustration. No need for trust.

Can you imagine a spending your life with a robot? Life would become so predictable and boring because the same thing would keep repeating itself.

Trusting someone is like taking a journey with them. It opens us to learning new things about ourselves and the other person. Trust honors the freedom, the dominion and the dignity of the other person. Trusting people is allowing them to fail. Trust opens the door for forgiveness, mercy and grace. It is the way to intimacy and depth of a relationship.

There will be uncertainty and frustration but over time just like the farmer who keeps adding ingredients so that the plants would grow to yield fruit; we too would be able to see the fruit which would be fulfilling.

Author Jack Frost said it well, “Basic trust does not mean the ability to believe or trust one another. It is the capacity to hold your heart open to others, especially if you believe another’s motives or intentions are not pure. Basic trust is having an open heart. It is when you risk being vulnerable, even when it hurts you to stay open and not to close your spirit. You are able to risk being childlike again and receive love and nurture. Basic trust is foundational for building healthy relationships.”

Take Away Principle: If love is the root of all relationships then trust becomes the ingredient by which those roots can grow. It helps us to discover ourselves and the other person creating a way for intimacy and depth of the relationship.

Tips on trusting people:
1.      Trust yourself. You cannot trust others if you cannot trust yourself. Come to terms with what your shortcomings are.
2.      Approach a person with an open mind. Don’t judge them based on their past. If you want to trust someone, you must first change your view/ perspective about them.

3.      Make yourself vulnerable. Give every person the benefit of your trust. Trusting people is allowing them to fail.
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Tuesday, April 22, 2014
S for Sharing Secrets


Aidan Chambers writes, “Everyone wants more than anything to be allowed into someone else's most secret self. Everyone wants to allow someone into their most secret self. Everyone feels so alone inside that their deepest wish is for someone to know their secret being, because then they are alone no longer. Don't we all long for this?”

In any close relationship, there is almost nothing that they don’t know anything about each other. They share their deepest secrets with each other and that’s what makes the relationship unique.



S-Sharing Secrets


Everyone has their own secrets. Big companies keep secrets believing that’s what will keep them ahead in the competition. Coca-Cola's famously secret recipe was invented by Dr John Pemberton in 1886. It is still known only to a few employees. The formula was stored in a vault at the Trust Company Bank in Atlanta until 2011 when it was moved into a purpose-built chamber as part of the company's permanent interactive exhibition, the World of Coca-Cola, in Atlanta, Georgia.

And in another southern American state, Colonel Sanders mixed 11 herbs and spices together and rubbed them on a chook. That original recipe is kept in a vault in KFC's Louisville, Kentucky, headquarters. For added security, two companies, unknown to each other, produce half the recipe each.

But there's no information available about where Google keeps its secret algorithm that has powered its search engine and its consequent domination of the online world.

When we allow another person in on our secrets giving them a taste of a plan or an idea, we instantly make a meaningful connection with them. When we reveal something of ourselves and let them know that we’re doing it for the first time, it makes that person feel special.

In his book, 25 ways to win with people, Dr. John C. Maxwell says that sharing a secret is really a matter of two things: reading the context of a situation and desiring to build up the other person.

I believe when we share a secret about a situation that we know with someone in a similar context with a desire to build up that person, it improves the relationship with that person.

One of the things I do with my wife everyday is to share with her, first, everything that has happened during the day and she vice versa. We have had some special times together as a result of sharing it first with each other. We of course have secrets that we share with each other no one else knows about.
                                                                                              

Take Away Principle: 

Sharing secrets with those we are in a relationship with makes that person feel special thereby making a deeper connection.

Tips on Sharing Secrets:
1. Be comfortable with sharing about yourself with others.
2. When you do share something secretive let the person know that they are the first to know.
3. Share something that concerns them and will help them in their situation.

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Monday, April 21, 2014
R for Respect

In her book, For Women Only, Shaunti Feldhahn writes, “While it may be totally foreign to most of us, the male need for respect and affirmation—especially from his woman—is so hard wired and so critical that most men would rather feel unloved than disrespected or inadequate.” The survey indicated that if they had to choose one of the following two situations, 74 percent of men would rather be alone and unloved than feel inadequate and be disrespected. Only 26 percent chose the other way around.”

I believe everybody desires to be respected especially from those they have a relationship with.  As parents, it’s what we all want with our kids; as coaches, we want it with our players; as teachers we hope for it with our students; as employers we desire it with our staff and as people, we want it from our friends and even our spouses.

R-Respect

Respect communicates that we give a person position of high value and worth in our lives. It signals affirmation and shows how much we believe in them. People are willing to reach their highest potential when they feel respected. They are willing to take extra risks and go farther in life simply because deep down they know that there is someone who respects them for who they are.

Giving respect benefits not only the individual but also the relationship. Respect in a relationship is what will build loyalty in the long run.

You have heard the old adage, “Respect is earned.” While that holds true, it’s also true that respect should be given. Many people struggle to get along and give respect with those who are in higher authority because of corrupt character and therefore blame the system. Sadly, this is what is happening in our political realm today. Many have lost respect for our political system.

But when we learn to give respect to their position irrespective of character, it helps us to appreciate the system and thereby work through.

Take Away Principle: Giving respect to someone communicates our belief in them thereby enabling them to reach their highest potential and therefore builds loyalty in the relationship.

Tips on giving respect:
1.      Affirm the person. Tell them how much you appreciate their strengths.
2.      Speak well of the person in front of others.
3.      Listen to them without interrupting.

4.      Even while in conflict, speak respectfully. 
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Saturday, April 19, 2014
Q for Quitting

The divorce rates in our country are on the increase. The numbers are alarming. People are leaving their marriages because they feel they can no longer cope with their partners.

While this remains a sensitive topic in relationships, it still is something which needs to be addressed. Among all the A-Z that I've written on relationships thus far, this one we should look to only and only if nothing else works out.

First of all let me start with the key to not quitting- perseverance. People do change. Before we quit, we must ask the question, have we really given everything into this relationship?

Perseverance is the key to not quitting in a relationship. It often challenges us to change our perspective and gives us a fresh and a bigger picture.

One of the key things we’ve to understand is that strong relationships are formed over time and not in a day. The sculptor who carved Mount Rushmore was once asked if he did a perfect job of sculpting the faces of the four presidents.  "No," he replied.  "The nose of George Washington is about an inch too long, but its okay.  In a thousand years, erosion will make it just right." Giving time to relationship building is important and that is why every one of the qualities we've seen in this challenge must be applied every day.  We must believe that the more we invest into the qualities the more we will see the results over time.

Q- Quitting

So when does one quit in a relationship?

Marriage expert Dr. David Hawkins responds to a wife in regard to her husband, “Too many people tolerate too much abuse in marriage, believing it somehow virtuous to be longsuffering. You provide a perfect example of the final outcome of tolerating irresponsibility—a fractured marriage. Please treat yourself in a healthy manner, and in doing so you’ll provide the greatest possibility for your husband becoming healthier as well.”

When the outcome of the relationship we are in damages us and those around us physically, emotionally and mentally then we should seriously consider quitting.

Take Away Principle: The key to not quitting a relationship is perseverance. However even after repeated attempts and over time when the outcome is still damaging physically, mentally and emotionally then one ought to consider quitting.


Tips on quitting:
1.      Every relationship has disagreements. Do try and talk it out with the person.
2.      Before deciding to quit, take time to evaluate.
3.      Confide in someone else you trust. Sometimes an outside perspective can bring new light in the way we look at and approach things.
4.      Consider if you’ve made mistakes and try to correct them.
5.      Get into counselling.
6.      When you do quit:
a.       Leave well-don’t burn bridges.
b.      Take time to heal.

c.       Learn from your mistakes.
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Friday, April 18, 2014
P for Patience

A little boy once in a department store was standing at the end of an escalator. He kept watching the railing as it went around. A salesman came and asked, “Son, are you lost?” And he said, “No, I’m just waiting for my chewing gum to come back.”

What comes to your mind when you hear the word, ‘wait’? Not many like to hear that word and yet without waiting we don’t receive some of the best things in life. It took me seven years to have a successful dental practice. It took us six long years as a married couple to have our son.

We live today in an instant world. We want everything now. When we don’t get something immediately; we end up becoming angry.

P- Patience

Patience is a key virtue when it comes to relationships. Without being patient with people, we can end up becoming very angry.

In his book “A Love worth Giving”, Max Lucado describes patience well, “The Greek word used for patience is a descriptive one. It figuratively means “taking a long time to boil.” Think about a pot of boiling water. What factors determine the speed at which it boils? The size of the stove? No. The pot? The utensil may have an influence, but the primary factor is the intensity of the flame. Water boils quickly when the flame is high. It boils slowly when the flame is low. Patience “keeps the burner down.” Patience isn't naive. It doesn't ignore misbehaviour. It just keeps the flame low. It waits. It listens. It’s slow to boil.”

In other words, patience is slow anger. We take a longer time to get angry with those we love, simply because we are willing to be patient with them. If we are to be successful in our relationships with people, we need to be patient. If we are to be successful in parenting with our children, we need to be patient.

The root of impatience is anger. Anger is a relationship killer. Uncontrolled anger leaves behind feelings of hurt, resentment and bitterness. I've known people who have destroyed expensive equipment (mobiles, laptops and even an electric guitar!) simply because they were angry!





Take Away Principle: Patience is slow anger. When we are willing to be patient in our relationships, it takes a longer time to get angry with them.

Tips on being patient:
1.      Be willing to wait. Remember waiting produces the best results! The longer time you take to marinate a chicken dish, the better it tastes.
2.      When you do get angry, follow the 3 steps I always do:
a.       Don’t React
b.      Don’t React
c.       Don’t React
3.      Take time to reflect.

4.      Relate to people who are patient. 
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Thursday, April 17, 2014
O for Offer

While playing with my friends as a child, before any game, we would choose captains and they had to in turn choose us to be players on their teams. They would select the best players first and go in that order of who was a better player. I was never good at outdoor games and so inevitably I would normally be the last player to be picked on any team.

Why was it that the team captains always picked the best players onto their teams? Simply because they hoped that those players would play very well and that would help them win the game.

O-Offer
Isn't it true that when we enter into a relationship with someone, we expect the best from them? We hope that the doctor who’s treating us would give us his very best. We hope that the shopkeeper we’re dealing with gives us his best product. We hope that the other person in the relationship offers us their very best so that we, and in turn they would be successful.

What about us?  Do we give our best? The question I believe we need to be asking ourselves is, “Do I offer my very best into the relationship?”

Offering our very best communicates our whole hearted commitment to that relationship. It also shows how much we value, love and cherish them. An average relationship becomes the best when we decide to stop giving average efforts and give our best.  

Former UCLA Coach John Wooden once said “Make every day your masterpiece. If we give our best all the time, we can make our lives into something special and that will overflow into the life of others.”  

Take Away Principle: An average relationship can become the best when we start offering our very best into it.


Tips on offering:
1.      Have a mindset to offer the very best. Giving our very best starts with our attitude.
2.      Stop doing the minimum to get by and do all that you can. Always ask yourself the question, “Is this the best I can do?”
3.      Give what you can. Don't get emotional and go overboard like for example while buying something for the person; don’t get something you can't afford. Be rational.
4.      Go with them the second mile. Don't just do what’s required but offer to do more.

5.      Ask the question, “What can I do for them such that they can’t repay me for it?” and do it.
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Wednesday, April 16, 2014
N for Nurture

I remember reading this marriage joke once where the wife always kept complaining that the husband would never tell her that he loved her. One day after much thought, he looked up at her and said, “I told you that I love you on the day of our marriage. If I ever change my mind, I'll let you know.”

N-Nurture


Have you ever spoken to someone who was just about to get married? When they start speaking about their fiancĂ©/fiancĂ©e; their eyes pop out, they get all excited and once they start talking they never stop. They only talk about the good qualities.  

Then they get married.

A few years later when they talk to you about their spouse, they are no longer excited, their eyes wander off distracted and the only things that they mostly keep talking about are the bad qualities. 

What happened?
They simply stopped nurturing the relationship and as a result the level of intimacy has decreased.

Former Beatles singer John Lennon once said, “We've got this gift of love, but love is like a precious plant. You just can't accept it and leave it in the cupboard or just think it’s going to get on by itself. You've to keep watering it. You've got to really look after it and nurture it.”

We can't expect our relationship to be as fresh, warm and exciting as when we started without really doing anything about it. We’ve to nurture it so that it grows and blossoms into something more than what it was when it started.

The level of our relationship with any individual depends on the depth of our concern/care for them. If we want to nurture our relationship with someone, we have to truly care for that person and keep working on making the relationship better.

Take Away Principle: 
Our relationships won't grow or remain the same as it was when it started. To make it blossom we've to nurture it.

Tips on Nurturing:
1.      Commit to nurturing the relationship every day. Nurturing requires total commitment.
2.      Look for creative new things to do with them and do it. It doesn't have to be expensive. Some of the most creative things don’t cost money.
3.      Are you speaking to them in their love language? Find out their love language and keep speaking it to them. (Read The Five Love Languages by Gary Chapman)

4.      Have faith in them and in the relationship. Believe that by continuing to invest in them and in the relationship that things will get better.
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