Re-Inventing The Wheel In Relationships

Funny how we would always expect to be taught or learn from others in a job, but the same often doesn’t apply in our relationships?

Being recently married I’m discovering faults I never knew I had.  Bit like doing a new exercise and discovering muscles you didn’t know existed.  But messier.

If I was really lost for a solution at work I’d put a question out to one of the teams, ask my boss, put a question on Quora… as you do.  Relationships though are another story.  It seems we either say nothing (pride or embarrassment?) or just moan to our friends.  Neither of these solutions I’ve found to be particularly helpful in the past.

Last Saturday night we had friends round for the evening and I decided to ask the two other couples what wisdom they had on a particular issue my husband and I are working through currently.  Nothing too private, but I figure if they’ve been married a while longer than we have maybe they have some quick-win tips?  They had a couple, but really it was just nice to get our challenge out in the air and ‘normalise’ it.

I’m determined to not re-invent the wheel in my marriage.  Surrounded by dozens of happily married couples who are obviously doing something right, I’m certain we could really gain from just being honest and asking questions.  The honesty has been strengthening our friendships too…. funny.  A little transparency goes a long way.  Even if our friends have nothing to give, sometimes it’s worth hearing that you’re not alone in your quest to figure out the mystery that is relationship.

What’s Weighing You Down?

personal development, relationships, leadership

Flip Flippen (his name – really!) recently tweeted that “We all have constraints. What is important is that you’re not the same person, constrained by the same things, year after year”.

I’ve had to recently look at my life as new additions (husband & job) meant that a ‘spring clean’ of my plans and habits was in order.  Painful.  Just the accumulated hours of television watching over a week makes me cringe.

More than just time poorly spent though are the habits – actions & reactions – that weigh me down and hold me back.

Image the one thing that you know is your greatest weakness.  Not chocolate (unless it really is a struggle and harming your health!), but a real weakness.  Now imagine life without it.  Imagine how it hurts the people in your world and how making a change would benefit them.  Or how it hurts you, and making a change would benefit you.  Or both.

Try working on just that one thing.  Don’t try to quit smoking as well, or lose weight, or cut out sugar and alcohol.  Don’t overwhelm yourself to the point of defeat.  Just face this one weakness, knowing you are absolutely able to defeat this if you truly put your mind to it, and go for it.  Give it up, let it go, stop.

I will if you will.

 

Is Marriage Back In Style?

We’re at a wedding tomorrow – the 3rd one (including ours) in 3 months.  And that’s just our close friends.

Maybe it’s because I’m married that I now notice all the women my age on the tubes in the morning with wedding rings.  Half my co-workers though – most of whom are younger than me – and most of my friends are married too.  Is it that marriage is coming back in style?

London, the single man’s mecca, is growing up it seems.  Or maybe it’s just that we are.  Either way, I like it.

It seems the taboo on ‘giving up your freedom’ turned out to be a little ridiculous, and girls everywhere are back to dreaming about  weddings and their lives as part of a duo. Turns out ‘freedom’ and ‘loneliness’ can often be interchangeable.  One month in and I can not state enough how much fun it is waking up next to your best friend every morning.

Hey – if even Kate Moss is doing it, it must be cool.

And there you have it.  For once in my life, I’m in the ‘in’ crowd.

 

 

Life Is More Than A Checklist

Why is it that we often find our greatest sense of accomplishment in simply ‘getting lots of things done’?

I’m a ‘make-it-happen’ person, which is a wonderful skill, but also can be my downfall.  Last week, my first week in my new job, I managed to not only get up early for the gym every morning, but book myself out every night, and all weekend.  Priding myself on good health and a steely determination I didn’t question that I could pull the week off. Why though?

Sometimes life is full, granted.  But sometimes I make life full unnecessarily, leaving no time for creativity to blossom, for reflection, for contemplation.  One thing I’ve learned, though I have to constantly remind myself, is that more is accomplished in an hour of contemplation than in a week’s worth of checklists.  Not chanting ‘om’ or assuming the lotus position necessarily, but allowing your mind to clear, to wade through the mess of surface thoughts and dive down in to where your genius lays.  And yes, we all have genius within us.

Try it.  Book an hour in to your diary for a date with you.  Put away your phone, your iPad, your laptop and all the other devices that grab for your attention, and allow yourself to be quiet and just think.

I promise you’ll be amazed at what you are capable of.

 

Farewell

Today is the final day of my role as GM at Direct Traffic Media, so this post is really a shout-out to all the team there who have been my friends and co-conspirators in the adventure that was 2010.  I’ve loved every minute of the ride.

A special thank you to:

Ree, who gave me the opportunity to be a part of this dynamic team

Ervin, (and Alex) who taught me all I know and then some about social media promotion

Di, who was always the brains behind my organisation.

Su and Pedro, who are genuises both and embody patience

Sophie, Gurdeep & Robin, who have become Master LinkBuilders & Junior SEOs

Dan, Tom & Jan – Writers extraordinaire

Ang – who is the heart and soul of DTM

My only regret is that I can’t stay put and move forward.  You will all be sorely missed.

Influence

‘Influence’ is a buzz word at the moment.  Online influence and how to measure it are very hot topics, but what does day to day influence look like?

It’s a well known fact that people buy in to people before vision.  If you’re wondering why your team aren’t coming alongside you in your adventure towards your goals consider the example you set.  Whilst I’m no expert, here’s a couple things I have found helped significantly:

  • write the vision down and make it clear.  give tangible goals that your team can engage with
  • encourage often
  • care.  ask questions and then actually listen to the answers; ask about what matters to them (yes you’ll have to find that out)
  • maintain a transparent approach to conflict resolution.  if it’s not working, talk about it
  • communicate, communicate, communicate

Nothing earth-shattering but often forgotten.

Look around you – is anyone with you on your journey, or are you just out taking a walk?

Even The Bugs Do It

Ants. Who knew they could get it so right?

On a zip-lining adventure tour in Costa Rica we were introduced to the leaf-cutter ants.  Turns out the guide knew a lot about the rainforest and its inhabitants; not just how to terrify dumb white tourists by suspending them hundreds of feet in the air by a wire and calling it a ‘ride’.

So get this.  The leaf-cutter ant community is divided into three groups: a queen, several drones, and possibly millions of workers. There are as many as seven different kinds of workers. Workers are also divided into castes; There are 22 different community jobs the colony caste members must perform.

Crazy eh?  So much community and not a word spoken.  And they’re blind.   So maybe community is something that could come naturally?

When the chief leaf-cutters’ mandibles grow too dull to cut they retire, and the community takes care of them for the remainder of their life.  What a concept.

So I guess this is a ‘what if’ post.

What if we all gave greater value to working together than to getting ahead?  What if we each recognised we have a role in society and our community and embraced that role rather than feeling threatened by the others?  What if we took care of all those in our community past the point of fending for themselves?

Idealistic I know.  But we can dream.

The Beauty In Community

One week, 40 people, 6 Countries.

We all met in Costa Rica for the wedding that would take place 5 days later; the group committed to the next 7 days with each other for better or for worse.

What ensued was truly the most joyous occasion.  Each individual party – most not knowing each other – took time to get to know the others, with there never being the same combination twice at a meal it seemed.

Regardless of what the day held we would all gather for ‘happy hour’ (most of which was taken up simply waiting for your drink from the poor inexperienced barman) as the greater group, spending time convalescing over our days.

Come the day of the wedding the group had grown to know and love each other.  The wedding party was truly that – a real party.  Not needing to make the small talk necessary in groups of strangers, the entire group truly let their hair down and enjoyed the day and each other.

Needless to say the dance floor was truly something else.

What resulted was 2 families who will always feel they hold relationship with the other regardless of the fact we live on different continents, and friendships that we deepened as dear friends were brought in to the family fold.

I’ve realised from this once again that when it comes to building community, nothing can replace the value of time.

Ode To Those That Were Never Sure

To all those that were never sure

To those that were waiting with bated breath to see if I would fail

To the past that is firmly behind me

To the mistakes I’ve made – and thankfully learned from

To being single

To having lots of space and free time ;)

To all that comes to an end when I marry the man of my dreams:

Season End

shimmering
Creative Commons License photo credit: Shot in the Blue

Ends of seasons are always the most tricky for me.

The last time I was in a situation similar to the one I’m in now I handled it with the delicacy of a tornado in a small town.  Knowing it was time to leave London for a season- which meant my job, my flat, the teams I was on, my friendships – I decided to quit everything in one overly-emotional whirlwind.  Not dissimilar to a small child throwing their toys out of the pram.  Not surprisingly, the results were fairly disastrous.  Not to mention the huge amount of respect and reputation lost as a result of leaving badly.

The beginning of a season for me is always the most thrilling.  New everything.  Scary and fun.  The middle of seasons are pretty good too… when you’re confidently comfortable, cruising, still being challenged but you know it’s within your stride, even if you have to run a little.

Then comes the end.  Not thrilling, not new, not scary or fun.  Well maybe sometimes scary.  But how you handle this season is the imprint you will leave in the minds of everyone surrounding you in this season.   A belly-flop ending can negate the most positive of successes.

Ending well is subjective.  To me, it’s taking the time to honour those who have given you the opportunities, the support, the leadership and the friendship in the current season.  Regardless of how exciting the next season looks, staying 100% committed to the ‘now’ until your season ends is always worth it.  This time I’ve done it a whole lot better.  This time I’ll take friends with me from this season and not leave chaos in my wake.

This has been a great season end.