As we head into February it’s time to reflect, renew, and keep pushing toward our goals. Keep striving to become a better you.

“Success is not final, failure is not fatal; it is the courage to continue that counts.”

~Winston Churchill

2019 seems to have begun with a jolt. I’m excited about the momentum I have and I aim to keep it going. However, I have so many friends and family that have been struck with adversity. I hope they can keep going despite the challenges they face.

“Success is not final…” Even though things are rolling in a good direction for me, right now, I won’t call it success. I’m on the road to success and it’s possibly never ending. When I think about the meaning of success, I define it in various ways. It could be achieving a goal. It could be filling a tag. Maybe to some it’s about being rich or out doing someone else.

In my mind the last one on the list is a definition of failure. We should make it a goal to help others, not outdo them. Of course, there are competitions, but in relationships it’s only an achievement if it’s a Win-Win.

If someone doesn’t want to have a 4,000 square-foot mansion, then that shouldn’t be required. If they want to have a pasture of horses, let them. If they don’t want livestock but instead want to grow crops, so be it. We live in a day and age where so many people try to define you by their expectations — Totally discounting what yours may be.

Do you ever wonder how far this tangled endeavor of rules and boundaries and definitions may go? I sure do. We’ll see what covenants happen this year in our beautiful little ranch/farming community. We just might be told how many and what color animals we’re allowed to let roam in our front pasture. Think I’m joking? I’m not.

Why don’t these people care about your or my opinion? Because they don’t know us. They’re not connected to us. They only care about themselves. They’ll approach a conversation with their story, their perspective, their feelings.

How do “Me” and “I” help in your relationships? They don’t, yet that’s how many people approach others nowadays. For the month of
February I challenge you to pay attention to how many times you add your story into a conversation, discounting that of whomever you’re speaking with. — Test it out. Give it a try. Let me know how it goes.

Try the challenge in the virtual and the real world. Remember, last month I challenged you to engage in conversations with the people you come across in person. I hope that’s been going well. While technology may build some sort of report, we need to nurture the relationships that are right before us — in real life.

“Treasure your relationships, not your possessions.”

Anthony J. D’Angelo

8 Ways to Improve Your Relationships

  1. Listen – How many times have you attempted to engage in a conversation only to see that your counterpart’s eyes are glazed over? Have you ever spoken about an experience, challenge, or idea only to have the other person(s) cut you off to tell you their thoughts or stories? Conversations aren’t always about you. Learn to listen.
  2. Be Curious – Do you know it all? My bet is that you don’t. If you’re a good listener your curiosity should become aroused. Start asking questions and be interested in others. You’d be surprised what you could learn about them. Your interest in other people makes them feel better. Your listening and questioning will save you money since you’ll know the gifts that they actually want.
  3. Communicate – Listening and asking questions is a start to good communication. As you practice these skills, you need to learn when it’s appropriate to interject your ideas and opinions. Check your emotions and learn what works best; Communications strategies will vary with each individual. The challenge is being diverse in each conversation.
  4. Be Respectful – The number one relationship mistake I witness people making is neglecting qualities one, two and three (listed above), followed by digging in their heals and fighting to be right. Children are to respect adults and adults need to reciprocate. We are all entitled to our opinions and shouldn’t decide to cut others off if they don’t see things the way we do. Respect the views of others.
  5. Remember Your Manners – One of the best places to visit with family, friends, and colleagues is around the table. There are books you can buy if you didn’t have a mentor to teach you good etiquette (try THIS FOR LADIES or THIS FOR GENTLEMEN). Manners are imperative is at the table, and it’s a great place to enjoy good fellowship; Don’t ruin it. If you’re shoveling food into your mouth, talking with a mouth full of food, or other forgetting to clasp your hands and bow your head in prayer (whether you believe in God or not), others may likely wish you weren’t there and fear to engage in conversation because they don’t know what other atrocious actions you’ll display. NEVER stuff your napkin in someone’s face whether in jest or not. — NEVER!
  6. Be Present – This point refers back to number one, above. If you are present, you’ll know what is happening, what protocol the host is calling for, or what you’re guests may need. Put down your device, come back from day-dream land and work on the steps listed above.
  7. Value – Count your blessings and value the people you have in your life. If you forget to follow tips one thru six, you just may not have them around.
  8. Be a Gift – Be someone who is remembered with a smile, not just after life but here and now. This year, I challenge you to learn how you can be a blessing to others — Not in the ways you think are great, but in ways that they will love too.

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