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J for Joy I for Integrity H for Humor G for Giver
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.

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.”


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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Tuesday, April 15, 2014
M for Mercy

He did something wrong. He was taken to court and all evidence was against him. He deserves to go behind bars, to die. People all around him are pointing fingers. They want him punished as his crime was heinous.
He was you.

Haven't we all been in situations where we did something wrong? We deserved the punishment that was coming but we kept longing and looking for love and acceptance. We longed for mercy.

In the early days of his presidency, Calvin Coolidge awoke one morning in his hotel room to find a burglar going through his pockets. Coolidge spoke up, asking the burglar not to take his watch chain because it contained an engraved charm he wanted to keep. Coolidge then engaged the thief in quiet conversation and discovered he was a college student who had no money to pay his hotel bill or buy a ticket back to the campus. Coolidge counted $32 out of his wallet -- which he persuaded the dazed young man to return! -- declared it to be a loan, and advised the young man to leave the way he had come so as to avoid the Secret Service! The young man was reported to have paid back his loan later!

Justice is getting what we deserve. Mercy is not getting all that we deserve and grace is getting what we don’t deserve.

In any relationship, when we learn to be the mercy giver, it gives a new lease of life to the wrongdoer. It’s true that they deserve to get what’s coming at them, but when we learn to be merciful coupled with forgiveness and compassion, it enables the wrongdoer to change his/her ways. It forges the relationship to a deeper level than what it earlier used to be.

Abraham Lincoln once said, “I have always found that mercy bears richer fruits than strict justice.” 

Take Away Principle: Mercy enables the wrongdoer to change his/her ways thereby forging the relationship to a deeper level. Mercy bears more fruit than justice.

Tips on Mercy:
1.      Choose to be a mercy giver.
2.      Put yourself in the place of the wrongdoer.
3.      Don't be quick to judge people on account of what they have done rather be quick to forgive.

4.      Give the person a second chance. Understand that there might be deeper roots to why they are in the wrong.
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Monday, April 14, 2014
L for Love

Author Sam Keen once wrote, You come to love not by finding the perfect person, but by seeing an imperfect person perfectly.”

It’s been over 2 months since our son, John was born. There has not been ever a dull moment. He keeps both of us busy and engaged. He’s even started smiling at us and making our work seem so light! I have lost count of the number of times he has pooped and peed all over me.

Recently while thinking about this it occurred to me that neither one of us has ever got angry with him. We would simply laugh it out. I realized that we don't get angry with him no matter how much the work for one very specific reason: we love him so much.


Of every quality we've seen in this A-Z challenge, love is the most important as without it every other quality will fail the test of time. It will eventually fade away.

English clergyman Thomas Manton said it well, "As when the root of a tree perisheth, the leaves keep green for a while, but within a while they wither and fall off; so love is the root and heart of all other duties, and when that decayeth other things decay with it."

Love has to be the motivator in a relationship. It is what will keep us going forward despite all the odds.

According to an article in USA Today, a Dutch psychologist investigated the differences between chess masters and grand chess masters. He found no difference in IQ, memory, or spatial reasoning. The only difference he could identify: the grandmasters simply loved chess more. He concluded that they were more passionate and committed towards the game.

I wonder what would happen to relationships if love were always its root. We would not just be masters but grandmasters.

Take Away Principle:
Love is the greatest motivator to any relationship. A relationship fails over a period of time when love is not at the root and heart of it.

Tips on making love the root:
  1. 1.      Accept the person for who they are and not for whom you want them to be.
  2. 2.      Pay attention to them giving recognition and appreciation to the things they do.
  3. 3.      Find ways to express love. Love is not a feeling but an action. Make love a verb.
  4. 4.      Love Unconditionally.

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Saturday, April 12, 2014
K for Kindness

The dictionary states that kindness is a quality of being friendly, generous and considerate. Can you imagine a relationship where two people are never friendly, generous and considerate towards each other?

I am sure we all know those people who are very difficult to get along. They are difficult mostly because they rarely think of anyone but themselves. Nobody really wants to be around them let alone have any relationship with them. But it is only an act of kindness that can turn things around. I believe kindness is the key to getting along with difficult people.


Author Mark Twain has said, “Kindness is the language which the deaf can hear and the blind can see.”

Every day, for close to seven years, Walter "Buck" Swords cursed and stomped his feet in his favorite restaurant, Luby's Cafeteria, demanding that he get his food exactly as he wanted it. Every day, for close to seven years, his preferred waitress, Melina Salazar, offered a patient smile and did whatever she could to help her most stubborn customer. After years of thankless service, Salazar was rewarded. When Swords died at 89 years old, just days before Christmas (2007), he left Salazar $50,000 and a 2000 Buick. "I still can't believe it," she said. After all, she says, he was always "kind of mean."

Of course not all acts of kindness are known to receive a reward as like Salazar did and perhaps no one will ever notice. But when someone decides to act kindly towards one person, it takes the relationship to a whole new level.

American creator of the Dilbert comic strip and author Scott Adams says, Remember there's no such thing as a small act of kindness. Every act creates a ripple with no logical end."

Take Away Principle: 

Kindness is the key to getting along with difficult people.

Tips on being kind:
  1. ·         Take time to understand people. They might be carrying things within them which have not been dealt with.
  2. ·         Take the initiative to do small acts of kindness. Don't wait for others to start.
  3. ·         Identify even the small places where you can be kind and act on it.
  4. ·         Don’t give up even when you don't see returns. It’s easy to get discouraged and stop after a couple of times. The key is to keep being kind consistently.

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Friday, April 11, 2014
J for Joy

Statistics reports that one in five people have some kind of depression that they battle with. The main contributing factor for depression comes from the loss of a partner, whether from death, divorce or separation. In other words, their relationships inevitably brought in depression.

Too many relationships are breaking up simply because they find that their partners don't keep them happy. People are not perfect and hence they keep making mistakes which in turn leads to disappointment. This can cause separation and end up in depression.


There is a huge difference between happiness and joy. Happiness comes from the root word, “happen”. So happiness is based on what’s happening (circumstances) hence it is temporary. Joy is not based on circumstances, making it permanent. Happiness is external while joy is internal. Happiness is based on chance while joy is based on choice.

Every relationship needs joy…not happiness.

I remember listening to a marriage seminar where both the husband and wife were talking. Towards the end of the seminar, someone in the audience asked the wife a question, “Does he make you happy?” All eyes in the room were fixed on her including her husband’s. She paused for a while and responded, “No, he doesn’t.” There was complete silence in the room as all of them including the bewildered husband waited to hear her explanation. “I discovered in the early years of our marriage that he couldn't make me happy. I would get disappointed every time that I thought he would. That is when I realized that, the only person that can make me happy is me. I am responsible for my happiness and not him.”

We find joy by being comfortable with ourselves. Joy is often discovered in the peaceful quietness of our own soul. Joy withstands the darkest and the lowliest times in our lives. It’s joy that endures.

Take Away Principle: 

Every relationship needs joy…not happiness. Joy in a relationship doesn't come from the other person. It comes when we learn to be comfortable with ourselves.

Tips on being Joyous:
1. Stop waiting for others to make you happy. People are not perfect and will always disappoint you.
2. Accept yourself for who you are. Understand your own strengths and weaknesses.
3. Determine your life’s purpose. Pursuing what matters to you will bring a sense of joy and direction to your life.

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Thursday, April 10, 2014
I for Integrity

Integrity is not a very pretty word. It’s not pretty because quite often we've had to compromise.  That has led to broken relationships.

Integrity is the foundation for every relationship that we're ever going to have in life. It’s the foundation for marriage. It’s the foundation for a good business relationship. It’s the foundation that makes you a good neighbor. Integrity is the key.


Dr. John C. Maxwell puts it this way, “Integrity has the power to build trust. Trust is what fuels a relationship.”

I learnt this the hard way in the earlier years of my marriage. My wife loves to go out and visit places. It could be a vacation that comes up or even on the weekends. She would come up with the idea of a vacation and we would actually plan where we want to go. But when the time arrived, there would be other things that would have come up and eventually I would be forced to cancel our trips. She would get disappointed.
This cycle continued till she reached a point where she would say, “I can't trust you with your promises.” That hit me quite hard. I realized that I never kept my word. That day I took the decision never to make empty promises and if I did make a promise, I make sure I did what I said.

Integrity is the foundation of relationships. It is the foundation upon which many other qualities are built, such as respect, dignity, and trust. It helps us to make the right decisions and gives us a sense of direction.

Take Away Principle: 

Integrity is the foundation of relationships. It helps build trust, respect and dignity.

Tips on being a person of integrity:

1. Be willing to pay a price. Keeping your word/integrity may cost you at times. Don't go cheap.
2. Be willing to feel inconvenient. Often integrity may cause a lot of inconvenience forcing us out of our comfort zones.
3. Be willing to face rejection. Integrity isn't very popular. Often standing up for the right thing can cause others to look down on you. 
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