In my seminars on negotiation I’ll often warn the participants, « don’t negotiate with yourself, talk to your clients instead ».
Having heard that, a participant in a seminar shared the following story:
A young man moves into a third-floor flat in a new building and passes his new next-door neighbor in the staircase. His neighbor, an older man, is struggling up the stairs with a grimace on his face. The young man says hello, and gets a curt response in return. He then continues to carry in his boxes, installs his furniture and then realizes that he cannot hang up his pictures because he can’t find his hammer.
The young man remembers his neighbor, and his menacing facial expression. Based on that, he thinks that he must not a be a very pleasant person… probably the party-pooper of the building… a retiree with nothing else to do than to spy on the neighbors… a lonely man, rejected by his own family… the kind of man who knocks on the wall if the music is too loud, or who sends a letter to other tenants to complain about kitchen odors in the hallway.
Already fed-up with having to deal with such a nasty neighbor, he forces himself to knock on his door to ask about the hammer. When the neighbor opens the door, the young man shouts at him: « Go stick your hammer where the sun don’t shine! »
That’s what can happen when you construct a complete story in your head from a fragment of information.
Ring any bells?
Paris – London – New York – Singapore. A list of locations for a luxury store? Nope. That was my itinerary for July. Exciting? You bet. And very tiring.
I had the impression that I spent most of my life in airports. Back when I started traveling I tried to keep all my travel waiting times to a minimum. My program was so crammed that I had to run incessantly to be on time. There was no margin for error, and I was constantly stressed. I lived with one eye on where I was going, and one eye on my watch.
Times have changed. With a bit of experience I’ve realized that trying to get the early flight home was fine, but that getting home two hours earlier didn’t fundamentally change my day. However trying to get to the earlier plane had the impact of putting me through an unsupportable amount of stress and irritability.
I have tons of things to do, true. I have also tons of « weird windows of time » that open up all over my day. Want to read a book, but don’t have the time? – that is what planes are for. Write an article for my blog? – easy, in the lounge. Need some time for a bit of meditation? – I fasten my seatbelt and relax in the back of a taxi.
Our smartphones, readers and other tablets offer us tremendous possibilities to fill those weird windows with productive activity, if we chose. For me, those windows are now opportunities to cross off the items on my next action list, to do nothing at all, or hang out with my family once I’m home.
And you? Do you dread the delays in your travel, or do you see them as opportunities?
I am enjoying a lovely meal by myself during a business trip in a Trattoria in Rome, and seated at the table next to me is an American couple. At a certain point, I hear the wife say to her husband that the server had forgotten to bring them any water.
Without much thought, I offer them some of my bottle of water, which I probably wouldn’t have been able to finish anyway. Touched by my offer, they suggest that I should try some of their wonderful chilled white wine.
I’m not sure if the proximity to the Vatican had anything to do with it, but somehow I transformed my water into wine! A miracle.
I probably didn’t understand the biblical story until that day, but thanks to that experience I realized that we can all transform water into wine – as long as we offer things with no thought of our own gain.
And you? Have you transformed water into wine in the last little while?
Anne-Claire is beautiful; she has a mane of curly hair, a perfect body and an irresistible smile. Beyond the beauty, she also has a master’s degree in communications, and had a job in the event industry with a plan for an international career.
But Anne-Claire needed more than just professional success. She wanted to help humanity, so started to do voluntary work in her spare time, and invested several years of her life trying to make life better for people in war zones like Darfur.
Amazing. But at a certain point, two of her needs came into conflict; she wanted to get married and start a family and continue to help those who need it most. What to do?
She came back to France, became a language teacher in high school and continues her voluntary work with the Red Cross, where she helps with the homeless and gives first aid courses. Her days are long, making finding someone to start a family with a challenge.
I admire Anne-Claire’s convictions. She is a source of inspiration for so many and I tell her.
Do you have a teacher, a friend, an uncle or a colleague who are inspiring to you? Take a moment and pick up the phone or send them a message to tell them that they inspire you. It doesn’t take a lot to recharge their batteries for staying out there changing the world.
For my part, I would just like to say publicly « bravo Anne-Claire, thanks to what you do, this world is a better place for us all! »
Twenty years ago it was marriage season for us and our friends. Today it seems we are in the season where some of our friends are separating or getting divorced. Which makes us sad.
Looking at their relationships from the outside we had the impression that everything was fine. But when chatting with the husbands and wives in these couples, I repeatedly hear the same story: “at the end we were nothing but roommates”. Or, “We don’t do anything together anymore apart from raising kids. I don’t feel desired by him/her, and – frankly – my partner simply doesn’t make my heart beat faster anymore.”
This reminded me of something my friend Simon T. Bailey shares during his conferences. His wife Renée reminds him regularly of the following rule: “whatever it took you to get me, you should continue doing to keep me!”
Far fetched? Maybe. But an effective remedy against routine.
Enough with, « let’s go grab something to eat somewhere », how about, « in which restaurant should we reserve tonight?» instead. No more, « not worth washing my hair tonight », but « give me 30 minutes, I’d like to look pretty for you to go out with this evening».
Romance crushing routine and the pressures of running a home together can make us forget that our partner still needs to feel loved and desired. The remedies don’t need to be complicated: a little surprise outing, a candlelit dinner. His favorite cake, even though it is not his birthday. There are so many ways to say « I love you ».
How will you say it ?