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Falling Madly In Love
Kindness, Shaping Reality, Service Without Resentment
At the time of my 30th Birthday, I realized I was doing a good job of living someone else’s life. I decided to change. My marriage ended, I paused my career and relocated to New Zealand.1
Going through the experience of changing identity is useful.
Recently, I had a conversation with someone in a similar position to my younger self.
Success beyond their wildest dreams
A realization they are no longer the person who achieved that success
Not sure about the person they will become2
We spoke of love, marriage and meaning.
Rolling up on our 18th wedding anniversary and I’m reliably informed that my wife and I are madly in love.
It is wonderful, surprising and different than I expected.
How did this happen?
How could you make this happen?
Would I change any of the “bad choices” I made in my life?
Yes, there is one thing I would change.
Traits I disregard in myself can be extremely useful.
As a young man, I was blind to the habits there were holding me back.
How can we discover our blind spots?
Life gives us feedback.
20 years of failed relationships was my feedback.
I want to explore three themes today:
Kindness Anchors Relationships
We Create Our Spouse, By Shaping Ourselves
Learn To Serve, Without Resentment
These lessons have improved every aspect of my life.
The Central Role of Kindness
I’ve done well working for difficult, but highly competent, people. The way I’m wired, I don’t notice what a person says, I look to actions and intent.
Over the years, I have discovered this outlook is uncommon. Most people care, quite a bit, with respect to “tone.”
My wife is one of those people. For her, the “tone” outweighs the content. She has a point.
I did not rate kindness when I met my wife. I found her kindness amusing, and a little odd.
As for the loyalty, it was frustrating. She was so nice to certain people I didn’t rate. On top of it all, I kept getting in trouble because of my “tone.”
All of this is perfectly normal.
When we enter into a marriage, we are agreeing to change together.
Having one member of the marriage fundamentally committed to kindness is a valuable anchor.
Anchored In Kindness
Here’s a promise to keep:
I will never knowingly hurt you.
Noticing the utility of kindness, even if it seemed inefficient, opened my thinking.
I’m a slow learner, by the time I’d accepted my need to improve my “tone,” we had three kids.
Watching the kids interact, I learned…
The way I perceive a situation is not the way it is.
Often, our kids speak awfully to each other. Their tone drives my wife nuts.
It doesn’t bother me, but I know…
If you don’t address that habit, then you might cost yourself the opportunity to fall madly in love.
The kids don’t hear the tone. To them, it’s just talk. I felt the same way for many years, through my first divorce, in fact.
Lack-of-tone can hold us back.
Only bad things happen quickly.3
Before my relationships improved, I had to learn how to change.
The nudge towards change was my first marriage, which failed.
Before you find your life partner.
That sounds so BIG.
It really wasn’t.
I wanted to share an active life, close to nature, with friends and family.
I wrote that down more than 20 years ago. The book in the footnotes explains how I found myself.
Breaking down my deepest desires:
We’re on a quest to find Our One True Love… we make it sound so big.
Finding a life partner is not the difficult part.
The tough part is avoiding self-sabotage.
Active, Nature, Share
Once you know your core values, park yourself in that environment and get to work on the difficult bit.
Sustaining a willingness to change.
Many people hate change. Me too. I wanted the world to conform to my (ever changing) views.
I’ve learned to accept change.
Know The Goal
Be The Change
Let Time Do The Work
How does all this relate to marriage, or leadership?
Whatever you want.
Whatever you’re noticing that’s irritating you.
Fix it in myself, first.
If it’s a task then do it myself, first.
Those two habits will be transformative.
Because we are constantly trending towards each other, changing each other.
A relentless drive for self-improvement is highly contagious.
It Might Not Work Out
But what if I change and it doesn’t work out?
That can happen.
It only takes one person to torpedo a relationship.
If it does happen, then you’ll be equipped with one heck of a skill set.
…and you’ll have no regrets.
Service Without Resentment
Part of what made me a successful coach was people were willing to work harder for me.
The plan I gave was solid.
What was special was the athlete’s work.
Let’s tilt this observation towards an intimate relationship.
Would I be willing to change for this person?
Have I been willing to change for my goals in the past?
We often think we are looking for someone to accept us, serve us, love us - I’ve found it’s the opposite.
We need to find a person we don’t resent serving, loving and accepting.
Kindness serves us well.
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