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Entries in relationships (19)


It's Never Their Fault!

One of the areas of Juggling Elephants that sometimes raises the eyebrow of a reader is the chapter on building relationships. In that chapter we suggest (through the parable) that there is much to learn about building relationships from observing various circus acts. One of the acts is that of the animal trainer. "But my people aren't animals," you say. Of course not, but several of their techniques are completely applicable to improving the relationships we have with other humans (or that they have with us).

One key principle employed by many animal trainers is the saying, "It's never the animal's fault" when the animal fails to perform correctly. In general, it forces the animal trainer to reflect on their training of the animal to make sure they haven't forgotten something or encouraged the animal to develop the less than desirable behavior with their tactics.

What if, the next time you are disappointed with a co worker, you stopped and said to yourself, "It's not their fault. What could have caused this to happen?" You would focus on solutions to preventing the same failures again instead of simply blaming them. That would certainly lay the groundwork for a much more successful act the next time.


The Two Hostages of Too Much To Do

Too much to do... rushing through our days tackling one task after another, checking them off our list, and then forging ahead to the next one without delay. We may even take pride in being called a workaholic. We believe that all this hurried pace will one day offer us freedom from the rat race-when everything is done. What I have found, however, is that in this process we often hold hostage two essential elements required for success. Two things that in a reflective moment we would acknowledge should NEVER be neglected, but in our ever increasing pace of life, we cast them aside to hyper focus on getting all this "work" done. The two hostages you ask? Personal well being and relationships.

Merriam Webster defines a hostage as, "A person who is captured by someone who demands that certain things be done before the captured person is freed." How close does that sound to what we do when we are trying to get it all done? We "tie up" our wellness and relationships, demanding that everything else be accomplished before we will allow wellness and relationships to be "free" to be a part of our lives again. Two aspects of our lives that are the building blocks of productivity, and we limit their presence in our lives. Does that seem ironic to anyone besides me?

One of the quotes from the book, Getting the Blue Ribbon, is You are growing something every day. What grows, and how it grows is up to you. Ironically, what you don't choose to grow begins to die-or grow in a manner that is not desirable. While tasks that contribute most heavily to our sense of being productive may not seem like living organisms, how about our personal well-being and relationships? They ARE living breathing organisms that need our daily attention if they are to thrive.

An uncomfortable but effective solution to jolt us out of our denial may be to imagine those closest to us locked in a room, because we are mentally and emotionally doing that when we neglect the opportunities to engage in time with family, friends, and even coworkers. They really want to be a part of our day and support us, but we keep the door locked because we falsely reason that there will time for such things later. Or just as startling may be to think of ourselves being trapped in a place that is not pleasant because we refuse to take time to focus on activities that will recharge and renew our sense of purpose in life. Just as those who hold hostages pay a price for their crimes, so do we. And just like many hostage situations, the people being held are hurt as well.

Our personal wellness and relationships are just too important to neglect while we fervently try to get everything else done. What are you holding hostage today in your struggle to be productive? How much more effective would you be if you set those things free?


Who Is Watching You?

Watch a trapeze act and you most likely will see an individual or two out of the spotlight whose job it is to keep an eye on the rigging. They are to watch the safety lines, the high wire and any other mechanical elements of the equipment that could malfunction, and cause harm to the performers or to the audience.

In a similar way, who is watching out for you? Beyond your spouse or immediate family members, who is keeping an eye out to make sure you are performing at your highest level? They are the ones who notice when you are not following your normal routine or living out your priorities as you usually do. Their role, like that of the trapeze act, is critical because they can pull us back from danger (physical, mental, or financial) before we have done some real damage to ourselves or others.

If you don't have that type of support person or persons in your life, we suggest you start finding some to be part of your team. They could make a real difference in whether your circus gets the standing ovation you really want.


The Three Rings Are All Important To Employees

Stacy Argoudelis with the Essex Companies has written a strong piece about the need to engage an employee by recognizing the "total person," or as we would say in Juggling Elephants, all 3 rings. She writes:

Today’s employee is looking for the whole package when it comes to employment. Offering competitive salaries and benefits doesn’t spell retention in all cases. Acknowledging the unique, personal sides of an employee and recognizing their need to develop a rewarding, satisfying worklife are keys to keeping a full, thriving staff.

She also highlights the benefit of a rejuvenated current employee instead of having to hire and train a new employee.

You can read the entire article by clicking here.


Time with a Child

The holidays are a great reminder of the importance of family and our relationship rings. For some, it is a chance to reconnect with their children or spend time with young people. It is easy to get back into focusing on one's personal and professional rings and forget the importance of spending quality and quantity time with children. Some find it easier to throw them a video game or put them in front of a movie instead.

What can you do this year to have an impact in the life of a child? It was Forest E. Witcraft who so "A hundred years from now, it will not matter what my bank account was, the sort of house I lived in, or the kind of car I drove. But the world may be different because I was important in the life of a child." Making a difference in a child's life takes work. It takes time and energy. Energy that is sometimes difficult to muster after a long hard day. But your efforts or lack thereof can truly be life changing.