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How Will You Measure Happy in Your Relationships?

  Clayton Christensen is a professor at Harvard Business School and lead author of How Will You Measure Your Life. His journey begins as he noticed two things about graduating students; some did quite well successful and making lots of money. Yet many of them didn’t enjoy their work, had mediocre relationships with a few in jail. Not a great picture of the image we have about the success that comes from the best business school in the world. In this article I will look at what he has to say about happy relationships – work life and home life. Finding Happy in Your Work Life Happyand success aren’t about making heaps of money or having the perfect family. It’s a balance between motivation and being deliberate. Christensen states it’s impossible to have a meaningful conversation about happiness without an understanding of what makes us tick. Most of us don’t understand the true nature of our motivations – and thus, ourselves. Making heaps of money does not make you happy if you hate how you earn that money or how the company makes money to pay you. Money might make you tolerate your work life or the relationship you are in, but it won’t make you happy. More importantly what are the things that bring you satisfaction? These are the things that motivate you, fill your tank and make you feel alive! So, part of the process of seeking happiness is to know makes you feel alive, brings you purpose and meaning. Once you start to get a clear picture of what success and fulfilment looks like for you, you have to ensure that you put your time, money and energy towards them. One of the mistakes that we often make is to dedicate our efforts and resources to the things that yield the most immediate and tangible accomplishments. As an example, many people prioritise things like a promotion, getting a new car over things that require long-term work to see a return, like raising good children and having a loving relationship. Finding Happy in Your Relationships Christensen says that the relationships we have with family and close friends are the most important sources of happiness in our lives. Putting them on the back burner – no matter how important it seems at the time – is a big mistake. By the time we realise that there are serious problems in a relationship, it’s often too late to repair them. As a relationships coach I concur. I often see people who have waited too long to get help. Help is not impossible but the longer you leave it the more work you need to get it to work. Reach out to me... read more

The Happiness Advantage

Work hard. Become successful. Then be happy. That’s a formula that you’ve probably heard and seen before, many, many times. It’s a formula that’s ingrained in our culture. Lose 5 kilos, then you’ll be happy. Get a new car, then you’ll be happy. Hit your sales target this quarter, then you’ll be happy. The only problem with this formula is that it isn’t true. If it was true, then every student who receives an acceptance letter to the school of their dreams, or employee that receives a promotion, or achieved any goal of any kind should be happy. But there is always the next thing to achieve, which leads to an endless cycle of searching for happiness in all the wrong places. In his book The Happiness Advantage, Shawn Achor talks about how happiness actually works, and why we’ve got the formula exactly backwards – that happiness and optimism actually fuel performance and is not the result of it. Achor tells us that positive brains have a biological advantage over brains that are neutral or negative. Cultivating positive brains makes us more motivated, efficient, resilient, creative, and productive. You know, all the things that are likely to make you more successful. Positive emotions also flood our brains with dopamine and serotonin, chemicals that engage the learning centres of our brains to higher levels. They also help us organize new information, keep that information in the brain longer, and retrieve it later on. Lastly, it also allows us to make more and better connections between the neurons in our brains, helping us think more creatively and more quickly. Again, all things that will help us be more successful. So, your first step should be fairly obvious – stop waiting to be happy and find ways to become happier now. Here are 7 proven ways you can do that. Meditate. Why? You’ll immediately feel more calm, contented and happy. And over time, you’ll actually grow the left prefrontal cortex of your brain, which is the part of the brain responsible for feeling happy. Find something to look forward to. Why? The anticipation of the event is often the most enjoyable part of it, and releases endorphins into your bloodstream. Easy peasy. Commit conscious acts of kindness. Acts of altruism contribute to enhanced mental health and decrease stress. Infuse positivity into your surroundings. Your physical environment has a direct impact on your well-being, which includes the things you allow into your mind. For starters, watch less negative TV. Turn off CNN, right now. Exercise. You’ve heard this before, but it can boost your mood and enhance your work performance in a number of ways. Your brain will thank you, and so will those... read more

Getting an Edge in Business Relationships

What is a valuable business relationship? According to Jerry Acuff author of The Relationship Edge: the most valuable relationships, have lots of AIR – Access, Impact, and Results. Access is exactly what you think it is. People will take your calls, answer your emails, and believe that any time with you is time well spent. Impact means that you have you have an opportunity to influence the relationship in a positive manner, and vice versa. Results. Without them, you don’t have a great business relationship, you have some rapport or maybe a even a friendship. But not a successful business relationship. When we have a valuable business relationship, people are proactively doing things to help each other succeed. It seems simple, but like in any pursuit, if you don’t focus on and master the basics, you’ll never succeed. So that’s what a valuable relationship looks like, but that doesn’t tell us how to build them. Building them includes mastering a conscious, systematic and routine process – having the right mindset, asking the right questions, and doing the right thing. Of course, the process of building a relationship doesn’t happen overnight, and it will typically progress through six stages that Acuff calls the relationship pyramid. Here are his six stages, starting from the bottom of the pyramid and ending at the top: 1.People who don’t know you by name; 2.People who know you by name: 3.People who like you; 4.People who are friendly with you; 5.People who respect you; 6.People who value a relationship with you. This last step is your goal with any relationship you want to build to the highest level. First, movement up the pyramid doesn’t have to be sequential. You can’t skip any of the steps, but you can jump through multiple steps at once. Second, it is a lot easier to move down the pyramid than going back up. Trust is a big issue in relationships, and once it’s gone, it’s tough to get back. So, remember to continuously nurture the relationships that already have at the top of the pyramid. Lastly, this process won’t work on everyone. Sometimes people just won’t want to have a relationship with you, no matter how hard you try. You need to learn to identify those situations and move on when it it’s clear that you are up against a dead end. Acuff says in the book, to build any successful relationship, you must think well of yourself and of others. Without the belief that you are capable of building relationships with the people you want to business relationships with, you won’t get very far. Zig Ziglar has a quote that is often repeated, and it’s worth repeating again... read more

Communicating Love to my Valentine!

How to Communicate LOVE to your Mate … It’s Valentine’s Day, the day for lovers and romance. Red roses, cards, marriage proposals, romantic dinners, outings, gifts … are all ways of celebrating this special day. How do you impress that special someone? Men, how do you feel when you give your mate an expensive piece of jewellery, but she hardly looks at it and says she’d rather spend time with you? Ladies, how do you feel when you spend most evenings by yourself while he’s working because he wants to give you the best of everything … though you’d much rather sit across the table from him and hold his hand? One thing’s for sure – you’re both disappointed, hurt and feel unloved. You show your love and you know it hasn’t meant to your mate what you thought it would. Or you receive something which is nice but just doesn’t cut it for you. In his bestseller The Five Love Languages: The Secret to Love that Lasts, Gary Chapman reveals how different people express love in different ways. As you read through these 5 ways of expressing love, I’m sure you’ll quickly recognise your primary love language, and probably your mate’s as well. Generally, you express love the way you like love to be shown to you. How you like love shown to you is often not what shows your mate they are loved. So here are the 5 ways of communicating love: Words of affirmation. Be encouraging, kind, and complimentary. If words of affirmation are your mate’s love language, tell them daily what you like about them. Write them a love letter or give them a card! Quality time. Togetherness is the key. Focus on quality conversation with your mate to hear what they want you to know, so you can better understand their thoughts, feelings and desires. Just hang out by sitting together or going for a drive to town. Gifts. Receiving a gift means someone thought about you. It’s not so much the expense or size of the gift that’s relevant, but the knowledge the gift is specially chosen for that person because of how well you know them. Your presence is also a wonderful gift! Acts of service. An act of service is an act of love. What can you do for your mate to show you love them? A cup of coffee each morning in bed? A home-cooked meal? A favourite cake? Make a book of vouchers listing “services” your mate can claim. Physical touch. Holding hands, kissing, hugging and massage are all ways of expressing love. If this is your mate’s primary love language and you don’t touch them, they’ll feel unloved... read more

Essentialism in 2018

It’s the start of a new year – 2018. Have you thought about what you will do differently? There are so many demands on our time. A constant stream of emails, a never-ending to-do list, social media accounts that need constant attention and, on top of that, you need to show something ‘concrete’ for your time! We live in a world where we’re continuously pulled in different directions, not only at work, but also in our home life. How do YOU respond to the endless demands on your time? If we were to take everybody in the world and split them in two groups, we’d probably have the following: In the first group, we have the people that try to do it all. Everything on their to-do list is important, and they find ways to fit everything in. They say yes a lot, because successful people always find a way to get it all done. Sometimes they take on too much and tend to feel out of control, but who doesn’t? In the second group, we have the people who think that less is better. Only a few things on their to-do list really matter, and everything else can wait, or perhaps never get done. They find themselves saying no a lot, which doesn’t make them all that popular. But they feel in control, and seem to enjoy their work. If you are like most people these days, you would probably identify the most with the first group – which Greg McKeown (the author of Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less) would call the Non-Essentialists. This is where most people spend their time, and I can certainly relate. The people who truly make a difference, McKeown argues, spend their time hanging out with the second group – the Essentialists. These people believe that it’s more important to make significant progress in a few things rather than making a millimetre of progress in a million directions. At the most basic level, an Essentialist gives themselves the permission to stop trying to do it all, so that they can focus all of their energy and time on the things that truly matter. In a world that demands more and more of you, it’s maybe a good opportunity to learn how to start saying no. Here is someone you can take inspiration from… Steve Jobs was an Essentialist When Steve Jobs came back to rescue Apple from the clutches of bankruptcy, he ruthlessly reduced the number of products they produced from 350, to 10. When asked about innovation and why Apple rose from the ashes to become the most valuable company of all time, here’s what he said: “People think focus means... read more

Getting To Yes

Like it or not, you & I are negotiators. All of us negotiate every single day. You might be finalising a deal with a new client, working through a legal matter, or trying to get your kids to clean up after dinner. No matter what you are doing, you can learn a better way to negotiate from the book “Getting To Yes” by Roger Fisher & William Ury. It’s called principled negotiation and it was developed at the Harvard Negotiation Project. The Problem – Negotiations Over Positions The authors give us three criteria of a successful negotiation: 1. It should produce a wise agreement if agreement is possible. 2. It should be efficient. 3. It should improve or at least not damage the relationship between the parties. When you negotiate as most of us do – arguing over positions – we are left with less than ideal results. Most of us will take one of two common approaches to negotiation. A soft negotiator usually wants to avoid conflict, and is anxious to reach an agreement as quickly as possible. A hard negotiator wants to win, and will do whatever it takes to get there. They usually take extreme positions, and are willing to hold out longer than soft negotiators do. If you take one of these two approaches in negotiation, the hard approach usually dominates soft one. Soft negotiators are vulnerable to hard negotiators, and usually come out on the losing side. To avoid you from going down that road, let’s examine why both of these two approaches should be avoided at all costs. First, it produces unwise outcomes. When more attention is paid to positions, less attention is devoted to getting what both parties really want. Whatever position you are taking is just one possible solution to meeting your underlying needs or concerns. Second, it’s inefficient. You waste a lot of time arguing over concessions that are not relevant to the end result, and in almost all cases introduces incentives that will stall a settlement agreeable to both sides. Lastly, it endangers the ongoing relationship between both sides because the positional approach is so taxing emotionally, and leads to the other side feeling like you don’t understand or care about them. Fortunately, there’s a better way, and it’s called principled negotiation. It’s a way that is both hard and soft. Hard on the merits, and soft on the people. There are 4 basic propositions: 1. Separate the people from the problem; 2. Focus on interests, not positions; 3. Invent multiple options for mutual gain before deciding what to do. 4. Insist that the result be based on some objective standard. 1. Separate the People from the Problem The first... read more

9 Signs Your Relationship is Dying

When people know I am a relationship coach they often ask what I consider to be warning signs that an intimate relationship is dying. These are the signs I frequently see. We only argue. When a relationship is in its death throes, arguing and fighting are very common. Often it will be over trivial things like “the car needs fuel”, “the lawn needs mowing”, “what have you done today?” and each person feels the other is grilling them all the time.  So rather than argue, you either agree with them (to keep them happy/quiet) or you just say nothing (no point in talking as I can’t do anything right). Facebook/footy scores/TV get more of my attention. The world of Facebook can be exciting and wanting to know the latest footy score can be very addictive. But when they take us away from spending time with our partner, we’re having an emotional affair. So, what is too much? Facebook/football is a problem if you cannot sit down for a meal, or spend at least one hour with your partner, with your phone or TV turned off. The only time your partner is affectionate is when they want sex. A common issue raised by women about their male partner: “The only time he talks, or helps around the house or brings me flowers or gives me a hug is when he wants sex”. Men – this sends the message, “I only want you for sex”. The longer you send this message, the harder it will be to prove that you want her for more than sex and the closer your relationship is to being over. You delay going home. Finding reasons to not go home at night is a sure sign that your relationship is dying and one of the common pathways to having an affair. Alternatively going to work early or before your partner wakes is another sign your relationship is dying. Work is important but when it is more inviting than your partner, that’s a sign of where your relationship is at. Alcohol is more inviting. If the only way you can sleep with your partner or tolerate their conversation is to have one or two drinks, alcohol is more inviting than your partner. Alcohol is your partner. You only get told what you’re doing wrong. A clear sign a relationship is close to death is when the only time your partner talks to you is to tell you what you are doing is wrong or no good. It also suggests they are not in a happy place and are unable to say anything nice about you. In abusive relationships, this is a very clear sign the relationship is... read more

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