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When Has Competition Gone Bad?

July 27th, 2011 12 comments

We live in a competitive world.  Competing can be a worthwhile endeavor.   It encourages the drive for excellence.   It has led to advances in science, from our walk on the moon, to the races for success in the business world.  The results leading to an advancement in our enjoyment of our personal living conditions.  It’s even present in our  everyday life when we compete with others for the chance to date and marry our special someone.

Some of us are more competitively driven than others.  There’s a special rush to winning!  While others don’t like the feeling of being compared or competing with someone else.  They haven’t experienced the good feeling which can be wrapped up in the art of competition.

It’s something we learn to enjoy or hate when we are children.  Positive parenting encourages it and is a role model of productive competition.  It’s important to remember the lessons we’re teaching as we watch and react to our children when they are playing sports.  How we behave and relate to competition speaks volumes to them.

Those who enjoy competing, understand the beneficial art of competition which can enhance our self esteem.  It’s one of the best ways to learn from our opponent, especially when we lose.  Competition brings out our opponent’s strengths and can pinpoint our weaknesses and the areas where we can improve.

We all know someone who has moved the love of competition from the fun beneficial endeavor to something much darker.  Someone who’s desire to compete has taken on frightening proportions and has moved into malevolent behavior.  The person who’s entire life is about competing and winning.  It becomes all consuming and effects even their loving relationships.

What are the signs to watch for in “competition gone bad”?  Here’s a few.

1.  Putting too much emotion into the loss or win.  Losses enrages them.  This bleeds over into their personal relationships with ugly mood swings, violent behavior, and the mistreatment of others.  Winning can turn into addictive behavior such as betting.  Addiction to betting can rob us of our financial and emotion lives.

2.  Competition becomes the only vehicle which triggers the emotions of happiness, well being, and self fulfillment.  When someone can’t relate to another individual without the need to compete with them.  This includes their spouses, children, co-workers, and friends.  It damages their loving relationships and ends up isolating them from their connection to their friends and family.  Their loved ones get fed up with everything being a competition.

3.  Putting too much emphasis on the competition and not on the experience and the lessons wrapped up in it.  Someone who has slipped into this self defeating mode will be critical of anyone they believe could beat them or overly verbally abusive when their perceived opponent loses.  They are consumed with winning at all costs.  This presents itself as bad sportsmanship.  Cheating to win, rubbing it in to an extreme when they win, or being mental or physical abusive when they lose.

Competition can be fun and filled with learning experiences.  It can teach us how to do something better.  It can lead to emotional, scientific and technological breakthroughs which have a positive impact on our lives.  It can be a fun way to enrich our lives and improve our self esteem.  When it goes from fun and life enriching to the opposite, it’s time to address it.  Fix it before it moves into dangerous waters where only a professional can lead the way back to a more safe and fun place for competition to reside.

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What Communication Skills Are Important in Relationships

July 11th, 2011 2 comments

Jerry was a talkative and like-able guy.  Ever since grade school he was the class clown and involved in all school activities.  He was told many times by his teachers, if he could make money using his mouth, he’d be a millionaire.

Fast forward 25 years.  Jerry has gotten a job in car sales.  He’s liked by all his comrades.  He has a list of Facebook friends in the thousands.  But, his career and his main relationship is in a major slump.  His wife doesn’t talk to him much any more.  She is too busy with her career.  He is baffled by why his friend, Roger, always seems to be leading the sales chart at the dealership.  Where has he gone wrong?

One day, as he’s watching another customer walk out the door, Jerry was baffled.  He thought he had gotten along well with this customer.  Why did they walk away?  His sales manager walks up to him and asks what the customer was looking for? Jerry’s response was, “Oh, he was only kicking tires.”

Where did he go wrong?  Many people, like Jerry think they can razzle-dazzle people with their conversation.  They talk about themselves and go on endlessly about things the other person may not give 2 hoots about.  They think they are controlling the conversation, but they are sadly mistaken.  Likeability and being cool will only take you so far.

A sales transaction, like any relationship, involves forming a bond with your potential buyer or loved one.  A good sales relationship is formed because your prospect believes the sales person cares about them enough to find out what it is they are looking for.  A good sales person knows how to control the conversation, by asking good questions.  Questions such as;  what are they, the customer, looking for?  What are they going to use it for?  What features are important to them? What would things have to look like for them to make a purchase today?

Some people understand the idea of asking questions of their potential clients, but then they don’t listen to the answers.  They are too busy thinking of the next thing they are going to say.  The customer catches on to this very quickly and knows the sales person isn’t really listening to them.  Effective questioning also involves feeding it back to the customer.  Feeding it back and then refining their preferences down with more questions.

This technique doesn’t only apply to sales.  Any relationship is a selling experience.  Everyday, we sell people on our ideas, and our way of thinking.  We sell our kids on being well behaved.  We sell our love partners everyday on us.  If I was going to give any relationship advice, I would say, ask more questions.  Not accusing questions, but asking questions about why they like something, what they would like to do, how they want things to be, what’s important to them….and then shut up and listen.

I often hear from married people that their partner doesn’t communicate with them any more.  I ask, what kind of questions are you asking? Are the questions which will give you more insight into what’s important to them?

If we would like to enjoy better relationships with our customers and our loved ones, we must learn the art of proper communication.  Asking thought provoking questions and listening to the answers will turn more tire kickers into customers and our loved ones into avid fans.  This is what we really want, isn’t it?

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Parents – What are We Teaching Our Children About Trust and Relationships?

April 11th, 2011 No comments

Our lives revolve around the fulfilling relationships we create. We’ve all heard the quote, “no man is an island”. I believe this means we can’t happily exist all alone  in the world, without a connection to others.

Building a connection to others is easy for some and incredibly difficult for others. What makes it so easy for one and not for another?

Our ability to trust others, and have them trust us, is started in our early childhood. Yes, parents, it is up to us to help our young ones develop into trusting people who can have healthy relationships with others.

What can we do as parents to nurture trust? Here are a few things to consider.

ALWAYS BE HONEST

This can be a difficult one because we perceive our children as being too young or naive to understand the truth. We develop little white lies to protect them, or insulate them, from things we have done in the past which we are ashamed of.

It is difficult to answer the question “Is there a Santa Claus?”. It is an admiral trait to want to keep our children innocent and pure. How about the question about pot, or sex before marriage, or any other issue we might not feel comfortable discussing, or don’t know how to honestly discuss with our children? White lies can be a very thin line to walk. The white lies stretches over a pit of mistrust which even many well meaning parents have fallen into.

Parents, often, reward dishonest behavior. Do we give less punishment if they tell us what we want to hear? Or, is the punishment more when we discover a lie?

ALWAYS BE LOYAL

Whether we want to accept it or not, our children learn loyalty from us. Loyalty is an important trait in a leader, a team, a parent, or anyone who wants to have a rewarding relationship with others.

Many people don’t seem to value loyalty anymore. In many social circles it is quite passe. No matter how loyalty is viewed in this day and age, it remains an important factor for trust.

Many parents talk about their children behind their backs. They enjoy telling “naughty” stories about what junior did. We’ve all had a good laugh at a cute naughty story. I know people who talk badly about their children as if they were the worst children in the world, loud enough for them to hear. I always wince when I hear a parent talking badly about their children. Actually, it is a tactic insecure parents use to get the attention of others.

What it teaches our children is, no one is worthy of loyalty. These children grow up to speak badly of their spouses, their children, their bosses, their jobs, and any other relationships.

There is a concept in military circles. When in battle, two soldiers will place themselves back to back in their foxhole to protect each other and thus themselves from an enemy. It takes trust and loyalty to do this. Are we the kind of parents our children would want in their foxhole?

ALWAYS HAVE INTEGRITY

Many people haven’t learned to have integrity. I have witness married couples who don’t trust each other, because one or both lack integrity. What does that mean?

Any time a person with integrity says they are going to do something, they do it!  They are true to their word. Their word is their bond. When a couple says one thing and does another or doesn’t do as they say they will, the lack of integrity breaks down the relationship  little by little.  It can kill any relationship, including the one with our children.

For instances, parents can say a certain consequence is going to happen if the child acts a certain way. The child will test them. If this consequence doesn’t come about, what have we taught our children about integrity?

I have seen parents who yell and scream and threaten to give the child a “lickin'”, but they are empty words. They threaten, but they aren’t willing to follow through with action.  The parent doesn’t realize they are compromising their integrity, which leads to more screaming and yelling and threats. A vicious cycle spins out of control.

Children also watch our relationships with each other. They watch how their parents treat each other. They watch us when we aren’t honest, take something that isn’t ours, make a promise or commitment and not follow through.

ALWAYS HAVE A SENSE OF COMMUNITY

When we have a sense of community, we do what is right for everyone instead of only taking care of #1. People without a sense of community will lie, cheat, and steal to get what they want…to heck with everyone else.

A parent who teaches a sense of community sees the world as a loving place in which to serve. They take care of the sick, the elderly, our planet, those less fortunate than them, and they take care of their children.

ALWAYS KEEP CONFIDENCES

This can make or break a parent/child relationship. If we parents tell everything we know, how can our children trust us with any confidences?

Our children, when they trust us, will tell us things from their heart. They don’t want these things told to others. When we can’t control ourselves, and we tell those confidences, we erode their trust.

Trust is built one day, and one interaction, at a time. It can take a lifetime to build trust, but one poor decision to destroy it. Think of our relationships with someone as an empty box. Every time we act in a way which builds trust we put a credit in the box. These credits build up over time. Any action which takes away our trust takes credits out of the box. A major bad decision, which steals the trust from this relationship, is like lighting a fire in the box. All the good things we have done can go up in a puff of smoke. The way to keep those credits in the box is to make good decisions.

Some might say they haven’t learned these things as children. Is there no hope for them to build strong trusting relationships? I’ll answer with a quote from Louis L’Amour, “A mind, like a home, is furnished by its owner, so if one’s life is cold and bare he can blame none but himself.”

If this article has been helpful to you feel free to pass it on!

To read an article from Jon Gordon about building trust, click here!

 

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The 3 Reasons People Don’t Forgive

January 10th, 2011 13 comments

There are many commonalities we all experience on this strange trip called life.  Some experiences are colored with warm sunny feelings, while others are wrought with dark turbulent emotions.  One of those things wrought with despair and guaranteed to keep us where we don’t want to be is to not forgive, ourselves or others.  If the lack of  forgiveness is dark and emotionally crippling, wouldn’t it make sense to forgive would add light to our lives?  Divine, so to speak.

We’ve all had horrible things inflicted on us by others.  Whether they have been intentional or done by accident.  We, in turn, have done things which have hurt others.  It is a cycle, which only forgiveness can break.  If this is true, why is it so hard to forgive?

Maybe, if we can understand the reasons we don’t forgive, it might get easier to take the initial steps on the road to forgiveness.  Here are 3 reasons people chose to not forgive.

1.  Punishing the offender.  By never forgiving the person who hurt us we feel in some way we are punishing them for inflicting the hurt.  This is a thought process born from anger.  We want to lash out at them, and by denying them forgiveness, we can continue to punish them.

Flawed logic.  Why?  Because, the only one being punished by our lack of forgiveness is us.  The other person may not even know they hurt us.  They are unaffected by our negative feelings.  We are the ones who are hurt, and the negative feelings only deepen the hurt, exponentially.

2.  We don’t want to condone what they did. By denying  forgiveness, we are letting them know, we believe what they did was wrong.  We are still angry and hurt by their actions.

Another piece of flawed logic.  Forgiveness doesn’t have any bearing on condoning bad behavior.  It is possible to not like what someone did, but still forgive them.

3.  Can’t let it go. The anger from what someone has done to us is like a festering sore that can’t get well because we keep picking off the scab.  We have to revisit it often, poke it a couple of times until we feel that all consuming feelings of pain and anguish.

Flawed again.  If we continue to revisit our hurt, we are reinforcing the bad feelings.  It never gets well as long as we haven’t forgiven.

If we use any of these 3 things to stop us from forgiving, we only keep ourselves locked into being a victim.

The main point of all of this is, the only one we hurt by not forgiving, is ourselves.  The lack of forgiveness only draws more like feelings to us until we are trapped in a world of fear, hate and anger all wrapped up together in one smothering bundle.  We feel horrible, lost and sad.

I have been very hurt by others who I felt had wronged me.  I realized for me to let it go, I had to learn to bless them….and mean it.  It was hard, in the beginning, to ask for blessings for them, who I was still so angry with.  To be able to wish them well, and not feel that brick laying in the bottom of my stomach, took time.  But, I continued to practice it.  Every time I thought of them or the situation, I would shift my thoughts. Instead of feeling angry, I would ask God to bless them.  After awhile, it became easier.  Soon, I found I didn’t really think of them or the situation at all.  I had truly forgiven them.

My world was back to the sunny warm feelings of love and appreciation for my life.  I had conquered the lack of forgiveness, one more time.  Each time, I find it’s easier to let things go.  I can wish them well, but to be away from me.

After all, the example is on the cross.  If he can do it, why shouldn’t I?

If you enjoyed this article, be one of the first of your buddies to “like” it on face book by punching the like button below.  Feel free to tweet it and pass it on to your network.  Don’t forget to leave a comment.  I’d like to hear what works for you!

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The Dirty Little Secret About Hoarding

October 20th, 2010 1 comment

The subject of hoarding seems to be a hot topic these days.  I can see why.  Growing up with it in my family left me ashamed and confused.  I didn’t want anyone to see the conditions I had been raised in.  I was confused on how to deal with it.  It was a dirty little secret I didn’t feel like I had any control over.  How many people can relate to this?

My parents lived through the depression.  My mother was raised in a very poor situation in Oklahoma.  They had dirt floors in their home.  Her parents were farm hands.  My mother could run mule teams by the time she was 7 years old.  She could  Knock a squirrel dead, out of a tree, with a rock.  Her hunting skills helped feed her family.  Even though she was a dead eye with a rock, there were many nights her family went to bed without anything to eat.  Did she feel the need to hoard because of her child hood?

My father lived on several farms in southern Iowa when he was growing up.  His father was a farm hand until they moved to town where he became high school custodian.

My father’s family has kept the furniture my great great grandfather made.  It traveled down the Ohio river with the family when they moved to Iowa after the Civil War.

When my grandmother passed away, they moved all of her things into their home.  They couldn’t stand to part with anything!  Their home was, literally, filled to the rafters!  Obviously, my family loves their stuff.  When does “loving your stuff” cross over into unhealthy hoarding?

Each of my siblings and I had spoken to them about getting rid of some things.  That was as well received as a nuke at a peace rally.  If you have ever known a hoarder, this is a very sensitive subject.  My parents were obsessively attached to their stuff!

My parent’s hoarding had become extreme.  They had been living in their home since 1963.  They kept everything, from junk mail to bags of old walnuts which were probably 10 years old, or older.

When my mother’s health began to slip, there were numerous ambulance rides.   My parents home had become so cluttered that the ambulance drivers couldn’t get a gurney through to her bedroom.  They had to take her out in a sling type of cot.  When she arrived at the hospital, the trip through the house had been so perilous and close that she had a piece of one of her house plants stuck in her hair.  This issue had gotten to critical mass.  We finally had no choice, but to deal with it.

After the first ambulance trip, while my mother was in the hospital, we moved like a united front. We swooped and cleared away the paper and trash.  We filled a dumpster numerous times.  I don’t know if the way we did it was correct, but it had to be done.  My parents were not happy with our actions, but what could they do?  This, however, did not stop the hoarding.

As my parents continued to age, they were less able to care for themselves.  I became the one who helped them pay their bills, among other things.  Then it dawned on me.  They couldn’t make a decision about what mail they should keep and what they should throw away.  Could one reason for hoarding be a lack of decision making skills?

While I was dealing with their mail, they would appear nervous, but also relieved.  I disposed of what they didn’t need.  When I first started doing this, I had to take the trash completely out of the house to keep them from wanting to retrieve it.

They have now had to relocate to a full nursing care facility.  We are in the process of going through their house preparing it for sale.  We have found many treasures, and lots of junk.  And, yes, to answer the question I know must be in your mind, great great Grandpa’s furniture is still in the family.

I am doing research on this subject for a project I am working on.  I need your help.  I would love to have you leave me a comment and tell me your stories.  How did you deal with it?  Where did you go for help?  Thank you in advance for all your help!

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Relationships and the Speed Bumps in Life

May 14th, 2010 No comments

Life can be a joyful ride.  It has many ups and downs.  There seems to be a couple of universal speed bumps.  They are money and relationships.  Two important things that have huge effect on our perception of our ride through life.  In relationships, a tough concept for some is that we teach people how to treat us.  Some of you are saying, “right on, sister, I believe that!”  Some of you are saying, “that can’t possible be true!”

Let me give you an example.  We teach people how to treat us by what we are willing to accept from them.  You have probably heard the old saying, “he/she was born with a silver spoon in their mouth”.  Mine was a different upbringing.  I was born with a “guilt spoon in my mouth.”

Guilt is a very powerful manipulation tool.  It is very effective way to get what you want.  It is, also, a very under handed tool that scars both the user and the recipient.  When I learned that I am responsible for my own life, I believed it.  I didn’t bat an eye at the concept that I create all the things I wasn’t happy with in my life.  What was more difficult, for me, was taking credit for the good things.

Being raised with the idea that everything that happened bad in our household was my fault led to my feelings of inadequacy, depression, and of course that familiar feeling, guilt.  This led to my feelings of being a door mat.  That is what I was projecting and I attracted strong personalities that used guilt techniques to interact and control me.  As long as I accepted guilt, people used it.

We teach people how to treat us by what we project. When I was in my twenties, I started taking horse back riding lessons.  I had always wanted to learn to ride.  In my lessons, I always wanted to ride “Snickers”, a buckskin, who was easy to ride.  She always did what I wanted and my riding experience was fun.  My instructor always made me ride Casper.  He was a white horse with mind of his own.  When I had a lesson riding him, I had to work. I came to realize that when I projected confidence and made him do what I wanted, my riding lesson became more fun and I learned more.  I grew to enjoy the challenge he presented.  I realized that life and relationships, we attract the situations and the people that put us out of our comfort zone to learn from it.

When a relationship is a challenge for me, I ask myself, what am I projecting?  What am I accepting from that person that is making the relationship less fulfilling? Why am I attracting that? What do I need to learn from this particular relationships.  The biggest question I ask myself, is this relationship worth working through the challenges?

As I have grown older and wiser, I have grown more comfortable with what I will accept and what I project.  My relationships with others is much more fulfilling, with less drama.  I feel peace regarding how I teach others to treat me.

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