We live in busy times. Everything is fast paced. Schedules are full. People are trying to pull the most value from life that they can. Inevitably, the ball gets dropped from time to time.
What if we could multi-task some of the most important aspects of our life? Thankfully, success runs on principles that are true in every situation. That means that, if we learn the principles once, we can apply them over and over, in different areas.
Don’t believe me? Check out the following 5 tips from relationship and marriage building experts and see how they agree with expert business advice.
Take the time to find the right time
Accused of neglecting a task, a husband once responded to his wife with a grin, “I don’t remember you telling me to do that – you shouldn’t talk to me when I’m not listening.” Sharing information is a shared responsibility: be sure your spouse is “tuned-in” before making an important announcement or request.
Timing tough talks
Collecting thoughts in a conversation jar frees you from the anxiety of timing challenging chats. As you think of a concern, write a few topic keywords on a strip of paper and put it in a jar. Set aside time every week to pull out one issue from the jar for a focused discussion with your spouse.
Timing examples in business
In his post, How to Get More Traffic From Every Post (Plus How OkDork Grew Traffic 400% In 8 Months), Noah Kagan writes about growing an online presence. Point number 7 deals with finding out the right time to promote yourself on the various different social media platforms.
The premise is that your followers may not be focused on their social media account when you want to promote something to them. If you want to successfully market yourself online, you need to accommodate the timing of your audience.
While on maternity leave, I noticed a great marketing example of the principle of choosing the right time to communicate your message. It was one of the rare time periods that we had television at our house and I was glad we did. Essentially alone in the house for hours on end for the first time in my life, I appreciated the sound of conversation in the background as I went about my tasks.
It didn’t take too many laundry folding sessions in front of the tube to realize that I couldn’t be the only stay at home mom doing this.
A number of charities that support children in developing countries had my number. No doubt they were tapping into millions of other sensitive, child-loving moms buried under a mountain of cloth diapers mid weekday mornings.
Beautiful children with big doe eyes and challenging lives stared out of the TV just at the time when many moms of similar aged, but far more privileged, children were in ‘mom mode’ and watching. I noticed that these same ads didn’t show up after 8:30 pm when I had time to take the mom hat off and focus on something not related to kids. Nor have I ever seen such an ad during a televised sports event.
What does this say about how business and marriage advice coincide?
Timing is everything, as they say.
(Who are ‘they’, anyway? Don’t they also say that location is everything? Never mind.)
Timing is everything
With your spouse and with your customers, audience or clientele, you are not talking for your own entertainment. My mom always used to say, “I didn’t say that just to hear myself talk”. And, neither did you.
You have something to say because you want to create a certain outcome. If you try to communicate something important to your spouse when they are busy at work, wrenching under the sink or prying glue covered hands off the sofa for the twentieth time, you are not going to get the outcome you want.
Similarly, if you market your new line of bikinis to women in the maternity ward at the hospital, you are definitely going to be disappointed.
Experts have figured this out on the business and relationship fronts. Consult them and take the time to chose the right time.
Negative attitudes will affect your outcomes
This may seem obvious but I still fall into some of these attitude traps in relationship as well as in business. Like with the laundry folding in front of the TV, I doubt I’m alone in this.
The attitude that we need to cultivate to be successful in business is the same as then one we need for relationship building. The thinking traps we fall into will trap us in both aspects of our lives. Let’s take self-pity as an example.
“Self pity will destroy relationships, it’ll destroy anything that’s good, it will fulfill all the prophecies it makes and leave only itself.”
“I almost once wanted to publish a self help book saying ‘How To Be Happy by Stephen Fry : Guaranteed success’. And people buy this huge book and it’s all blank pages, and the first page would just say – ‘ Stop Feeling Sorry For Yourself – And you will be happy.”
Similarly, writer and highly successful content marketer, Jeff Goins, writes about his journey to blogging success this way:
“For years, I seethed with envy, watching other bloggers succeed while I stood still. As jealousy turned to resentment, I began to see the world through murky-colored glasses, finding fault with everything these people did.
And for awhile, this feeling consumed me. However, eventually I had to come to grips with reality: being jaded was doing me absolutely no good.”
An article called Statistical thinking for success in life and career in The Harvard Crimson states that many educational researchers say that it’s not enough to be smart. To be successful you have to have something more.
:To be best one needs more: a hook, an extra quality. We call the hook that distinguishes the best from the rest CQ, character quotient. By CQ we mean the following manifestations of character: Conversation—the quality of rarely being bored; Curiosity, a passion for learning; Commitment—a grit and devotion to completing the job; and Compassion—a concern for others.”
In other words, a good attitude. But we all know this, don’t we? Why even mention it?
Attitude is something that humans need to be reminded about. Somehow, we think that we can hold different attitudes towards different areas of our lives and still succeed in all areas.
We are fooling ourselves if we think we can think right about our business but have a selfish attitude with our families and still find peace, happiness and satisfaction in life. It just won’t happen.
We need the universal good attitude that comes from principle thinking.
Meet their needs
Of all my research for this post, the article The importance of exceeding customer expectations at The Marketing Donut, was the most fun to read. I could rewrite the ‘Putting flexibility ahead of efficiency’ section by changing twenty or so words, and publish it as straight up marriage advice.
They use the example of EasyJet not letting a medical courier carrying a vital organ for transplant board the plane (presumably, he had violated one of their policies).
It was a classic case of the company focusing on what they wanted instead of what the customer needed. The airline wanted to follow their procedures (no doubt in the name of efficiency). The customer needed an exception to be made.
The 14 hour window to get a windpipe across the country for transplant sounds like a valid reason to make that exception, even if the courier was in violation of the airline’s policy.
It’s not hard to translate that scenario into a relationship context.
Imagine it’s a couple going to a dinner party at the boss’s house. Instead of the courier being in violation of an airline policy, one spouse is running uncharacteristically late (aka, in violation of the other’s need to be prompt).
If the on-time spouse doesn’t have grace and doesn’t know the needs of their partner to be treated respectfully even when they make a mistake, things could fall apart badly from both sides.
We can see how failure is virtually guaranteed if we don’t know and intentionally respect our spouse’s – and our customer’s – needs.
Business and marriage – same same.
In his introduction, Harley writes:
“Ignorance contributes to this failure because men and women have great difficulty understanding and appreciating the value of each other’s needs. Men tend to try to meet needs that they would value and women do the same.”
I understand that to mean that each person is meeting the needs that are their own highest priority without doing the research to find out what is the highest priority of their spouse.
In the airline example, the company was prioritizing their operating procedure over of their customer’s need for grace, due to the time-sensitive and life-saving nature of their cargo.
In business, like in relationship, knowing the needs of the people we are serving is a must. And, yes, if you are in a relationship, you are in service.
If getting the timing right, having a good attitude and focusing on the needs of others apply equally to business and our personal lives, then adding them to our tool bag seems doubly wise.
What if these are things that we aren’t good at now, or weren’t aware how much impact they have on our success? How do we get from here to there?
Expand your knowledge base
“There is value in expanding and rounding out your expertise and skill set.”
She’s telling us to learn new stuff.
When encouraging my children to take the advice of people who have success at what they want to do, I use this analogy:
I tell them to picture a bucket.
It’s a knowledge bucket and it’s half full. When you want to get better at something, you need to add more info to the bucket. But, if you take your scoop and scoop into your own bucket to then pour it back in, you will never get it full.
You need to get new info from someone who has success in your field in order to fill your bucket.
Books about marriage and business are plentiful. Blogs about marriage and business are plentiful. There are people who are having success who, in the past, were stuck exactly where you are now. Find the right info and start filling up your bucket.
Here’s a warning, though. Make sure you’re getting solid advice, backed by good principles and results. Lies that sounds awfully close to the truth are very dangerous and, usually, very appealing.
Keep fear in it’s proper place
“Stop being scared, and jump.” – Rehan Choudhry
“What makes an entrepreneur is not knowing everything about business, but rather being passionate and fearless.”
I would say the same about a marriage relationship.
“What makes a great spouse is not knowing everything about being married, but rather being passionate and fearless. Commitment can only fail if one of these has failed first.”
Stop being scared of that new business idea. Stop being scared of changing and growing yourself into a better spouse.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying that there won’t be fear, just that the presence of fear doesn’t have to equal inaction.
Fear is a feeling, an indicator, that something is important, not an instruction manual on how to deal with it.
When you really pay attention, everything is your teacher
My opinion on multi-tasking is usually to avoid it. Just from my own experience, when I try to focus on more than one thing at a time, I mess up on both.
This is different.
Consider how business is a relationship between you (your company) and the people you serve. Your customers should experience a net gain from their interaction with your business and so should the business.
Likewise, both you and your spouse should experience a net gain from being married.
I say this with one caveat:
In business, the time frame between expending energy on a customer and experiencing that net gain is very short or loyalty fails and customers and business owners alike go elsewhere.
In marriage, it’s a lifetime deal. The net gain will be measured when all time has run out. We have no idea today, exactly what the gain from a lifetime of service before self will look like. Or when it will come.
Regardless if you are after the relatively small reward of success in business or the life changing, legacy creating reward of a successful marriage, there are helpful lessons everywhere.
If your life is as crammed full as mine, the idea of successfully combining business learning with marriage growth is a God-send. And these 5 tips are just the beginning. There are cross-overs to be found everywhere. We just have to be looking.
I’m not the only one who can read a marriage book and see business advice.