15 Ways to Love More Effectively

Today is Valentine’s Day, the day set apart to shower the special people in your life with all the love they deserve. If you’re scrambling to find that perfect way to demonstrate your affection beyond the usual heart-shaped cards or box of chocolates, I understand. Wanting others to know what they mean to you is … Continue reading 15 Ways to Love More Effectively

Today is Valentine’s Day, the day set apart to shower the special people in your life with all the love they deserve. If you’re scrambling to find that perfect way to demonstrate your affection beyond the usual heart-shaped cards or box of chocolates, I understand.

Wanting others to know what they mean to you is great, but expressing it can be a challenge.

A few years ago, my wife wrote a lesson in which she detailed the importance of loving people according to what Dr. Gary Chapman referred to as their “primary love language.” In summary, we all give and receive love differently; to one person, a hug is enough to brighten a morning; to another, a surprise home-cooked meal is more meaningful than the shiniest jewelry.

I decided to add to her wisdom by providing a list of 15 simple and effective ways to love people according to the five love languages. If you are unsure how to identify someone’s primary love language, I encourage you to read Joy’s post—or have your friends and family take the online quiz.

Words of Affirmation

A well-timed compliment often has the power to make a words-of-affirmation person’s day. For them, the more specific, the better. They don’t merely need to know that they are amazing—they need to know why.

1. Scatter loving and encouraging notes across the house, in their car, or in their packed lunch.

2. Compile a list of 15-20 of your favorite things about them, and read it aloud.

3. Observe what they seem insecure about and point your affirmation in that direction.

Acts of Service

Nothing says “I love you” to people who value service like going out of your way to do something you don’t enjoy just because you care about them. Loving these people will vary depending on their circumstances, but here are some timeless ideas.

1. Wash their car. If possible, do so while they’re sleeping or otherwise preoccupied so their clean car will be a surprise.

2. Make their favorite meal when they least expect it.

3. Offer to run an errand for a busy or overwhelmed friend.

Gifts

For these people, a dozen red roses will certainly not suffice. They need to know that you put thought into a gift, and that you were willing to go through the extra effort to pick something out just for them.

1.  For a spouse or an old friend, find a gift that is reminiscent of a particularly joyful time in your relationship (i.e. an old record that you listened to as teenagers, a piece of jewelry from where you went on a vacation or honeymoon, etc.).

2. Give little things throughout the day or week and at unexpected times. Many gifts, regardless of cost, are usually more meaningful for gift-oriented people than one large, expensive present.

3. For those who never stop talking about a certain band or TV show, consider buying them fan merchandise (t-shirt, mug, etc.). It will likely result in a good laugh and show that you listen and care about their interests.

Quality Time

This is the love language that can be easily whisked aside when life gets busy. It’s important to recognize that even if you only have 20 minutes to spend with someone, you can make it count.

1.  Make a lunch or breakfast “date” with your child or grandparent, and let them choose the place, even if it’s a place you don’t like.

2. Make spending time together a habit. Whether it means having a short coffee break with your husband every afternoon or lunch with your daughter every Thursday, regularly blocking out time is a great way to ensure these people feel loved and appreciated.

3. Give them your full attention when you’re together: ask pointed questions, put your phone down, and listen well.

Physical Touch

Loving these people often requires making simple and conscious choices throughout the day to ensure that they feel connected, even when it doesn’t come naturally for you.

1. Sit close to them when you’re watching a movie or TV show.

2. Give a foot or back massage (when appropriate, of course).

3. Hug them. This may seem simple, but even if you’re not a hugger, make a point to properly embrace those in your life who are.

My Challenge

Healthy relationships are essential to a meaningful life. Don’t let loving others take the back seat to your career and ambitions. Find a balance and a way to not just love, but to love well. I encourage you to discover the love language of those closest to you and start applying these tips.

Do you have any additional ideas or experiences on loving people according to their love language? Please share in the comments below.

The most important relationships in your life are with your family members and close friends.  Love these people they way they need to feel your love. 

33 Small Ways to Expand Your Comfort Zone

I’ve written before about how the path to success is uncomfortable. You have to move outside of the place where you’re comfortable to grow and be more than you are today. The more time you spend outside your comfort zone, the larger your comfort zone becomes. As a result, you’ll feel comfortable in more environments. … Continue reading 33 Small Ways to Expand Your Comfort Zone

LTM_Lesson02CI’ve written before about how the path to success is uncomfortable. You have to move outside of the place where you’re comfortable to grow and be more than you are today.

The more time you spend outside your comfort zone, the larger your comfort zone becomes. As a result, you’ll feel comfortable in more environments. You’ll be able to reach further without feeling overwhelmed. Your income, job success, and relationships will all grow.

I believe that expanding your comfort zone in small ways sets you up for success when it’s time to make a big leap. Little changes help you get used to that small feeling of discomfort without pushing you into a place of panic. As you grow your comfort zone in small ways, you’ll develop the confidence and grit to change in big ways as well.

Here are 33 small ways to expand your comfort zone.

1.  Smile: Here’s an experiment: smile at everyone you see when you’re on your way to work or out running errands today. It may not make a difference, or it may make your day. Either way, you’ll practice putting yourself out there.

2.  Be Friendly: Push yourself to smile and greet people with a warm greeting when you arrive work. Say hello and ask those who serve you how they are doing. As you start being friendlier, not only will you feel better, but your relationships will improve.

3.  Give Compliments: Going out of your way to say something nice to someone will make their day, as well as give you a chance to practice talking to people you may not know very well.

4.  Encourage People: If the thought of encouraging people makes you feel uneasy, then do it. It will lift their spirit and yours as well.

5.  Repair a Relationship: There are few things more uncomfortable than sincerely saying “I’m sorry.” Do it anyway. You’ll relieve yourself of the burden of a fractured relationship and earn this person’s respect.

6.  Interact with Different People: It’s easy to gravitate to the same people at work or at social events. Stretch yourself by striking up a conversation with someone you don’t usually talk to.

7.  Build a New Relationship: Is there someone at your place of work, church or social group that you would like to know better? Invite him or her to lunch and enjoy building a new relationship.

8.  Go on a Date: If you’re not married, who would you enjoy getting to know better? Does the thought of asking this person out make your heart flutter? Do it today and who knows what may develop.

9.  Join a Dating Site: If you are not married, why not put yourself out there. You may find the love of your life. My brother met his wife through eharmony.com and they are perfect for each other.

10.  Do Some “Out of Character” Shopping: Is there a type of store that would make you feel uncomfortable walking into? Go ahead and push yourself to do it.

11.  Ask for a Review: If your place of work does not have a regular schedule for reviews and you believe you are bringing more value than you are being paid, then ask your boss for a private meeting and discuss your current role, what your boss feels you can do better and if appropriate, ask for a raise.

12.  Prospect: If you are an entrepreneur or sales person, what person or place of business would be your ideal new customer? Make the call today and you will feel great.

13.  Volunteer to Lead a Project: Look for projects where you work, worship or volunteer that you can lead up. Taking on a new leadership role will certainly stretch you.

14.  Apply for a New Job: Are you happy where you are currently employed? If not, consider what you feel would be a job you would love and start making calls to prospective employers.

15.  Call Someone: If you prefer communicating with others by text, email or through social sites because it’s more comfortable, then shake things up by calling people occasionally.

16.  Talk to People You Don’t Know: Does talking to people you don’t know make you uncomfortable? If so, look for opportunities to talk to new people, even if it’s smiling and saying hi to someone at the grocery store, gym or coffee shop.

17.  Try a New Food: Did you hate a certain food when you were young? Does the thought of eating sushi make you gag? Give it a try! At worst you’ll have an unpleasant meal. At best you’ll have a larger comfort zone and a new favorite food.

18.  Get Lost: Being lost is an uncomfortable feeling. That’s why it’s a great way to expand your comfort zone. Pack a map of your surrounding area and a mug of coffee, then go get lost.

19.  Join a New Group: Joining a new group, whether it’s an exercise class, a volunteer organization, or a religious group, is uncomfortable. It often takes a while to become a part of the group, which gives you a chance to practice feeling comfortable when you’re surrounded by people you don’t know.

20.  Exercise: Maybe you’re nervous about trying out a new piece of equipment at the gym. Maybe you’re nervous about joining a gym altogether. Maybe you’re even nervous to have someone see you jogging down the street. Accept those nerves and get out and exercise anyway. Not only will your comfort zone grow, you’ll look and feel better too.

21.  Go Someplace By Yourself: Does the idea of sitting alone in a movie theater or a restaurant give you a flutter in your stomach? Then that’s exactly what you should do. Going someplace by yourself is a safe way to practice feeling uncomfortable. Once you move pass the initial unease, you may even find you enjoy your movie or meal more without any distractions.

22.  Be Quiet: Take a break from music, television, conversation, and even your own voice. Sit quietly for a while with your thoughts. For many people, this alone is a huge step outside their comfort zone.

23.  Speak Up: If you tend to sit quietly in meetings or act as a listener in conversations, make a point to speak up. Practice contributing when you’re conversing with people you know and trust, and you’ll have less of a leap to make when it’s time to say something in an uncomfortable environment.

24.  Try a New Hobby or Sport: Being bad at something is uncomfortable, but it’s a part of every learning process. Learn how to accept this fact by practicing something new. What new sport or hobby would you like to learn? Why not get started today?

25.  Join in on Karaoke Night: Depending on your singing ability, joining in on Karaoke may be more uncomfortable for the people around you than for you! But whether you’re the next Adele or can’t get close to carrying a tune, taking the stage is a great way to expand your comfort zone.

26.  Join a Speaking Group: Does the thought of giving a presentation make you want to curl up and hide? Work on growing your comfort zone in this area before being called upon to give a speech. Join a group like the Rotary Club that lets you practice public speaking in an encouraging and supportive environment. With enough time, speaking in public may come to be squarely in your comfort zone.

27.  Delegate: Many people feel overscheduled and overworked because they don’t feel comfortable trusting someone else to do something for them. If this sounds like you, try to delegate small tasks whenever there’s someone willing to do them. Becoming comfortable with this skill opens up your ability to focus on other areas of your life and improves your ability to succeed.

28.  Do Something Thrilling: Ride a roller coaster. Go bungee jumping. Climb a mountain. Give skydiving a try. Do something you’ve never tried before that gives you a nervous thrill.

29.  Take a Day Offline: Constantly checking your email and your phone can become like a pacifier. It feels comforting in the moment, but the constant distraction can sabotage your productivity, your relationships, and even your emotional well being. Disconnect from it all for one day a week.

30.  Explore a New Area: Take a break from your usual haunts and give a new neighborhood or city a try. Try a new restaurant, visit an unfamiliar stylist or spa, or join in on a worship service or community event.

31.  Break a Routine or Habit: It’s comfortable to do the same things the same way every day. Changing up your routines makes it easier to work with the unexpected.

32.  Have Fun in a New Way: Making a change is always easier when you’re having a bit of fun. Try a new activity on your day off to stretch your comfort zone in an enjoyable way.

33.  Grow Your Knowledge of an Uncomfortable Subject: Many times the things we are most nervous about are the things we don’t understand. If there is a certain situation or area that constantly makes you feel uncomfortable, learn more about it.

These are just 33 of the hundreds of options available to expand your comfort zone.

Here’s my challenge to you. When you find yourself in situations where one option would push you outside your comfort zone and the second option is what you would normally do, challenge yourself to choose the option that expands your comfort zone and do it immediately without further thought.

Each time you choose the uncomfortable option, your comfort zone will grow, new opportunities will present themselves and you will feel great about the person you are becoming.

When you start doing the small things to expand your comfort zone, the things that frighten you today will be conquerable tomorrow.

Leading without Authority, Title or Rank

The leaders of the future will be those people who others want to follow because they are liked and respected, not because of their authority, title, or rank. A real leader is not someone who only leads people under his or her position; it’s someone who leads everyone around them. This is referred to as … Continue reading Leading without Authority, Title or Rank

Leadership image3The leaders of the future will be those people who others want to follow because they are liked and respected, not because of their authority, title, or rank.

A real leader is not someone who only leads people under his or her position; it’s someone who leads everyone around them. This is referred to as 360-degree leadership.

If you are a salesperson, it’s leading your customers, colleagues, service people, and suppliers. If you are a rising employee, it’s leading your bosses and co-workers.

What is Leadership?

Leadership expert, Ken Blanchard said “The key to successful leadership is influence, not authority.” He’s not alone in his thinking. John Maxwell, who has written more best selling books on leadership than any other author, said “Leadership is one word, Influence.“

Since writing my last lesson 3 years ago, I have spent more time learning about and watching leadership in action than at any point in my life. It has become clear to me that leadership is one word, “Influence” and the way to become a person of influence is two words: “Respect and Likability”.

If you want to be a person of influence, then people must like and respect you. If you want influence at home, your spouse and children must like and respect you. If you want influence at work, the people you work with must like and respect you.

Very few things will improve your value, self-esteem, and personal relationships more than doing the little things that positively impact how people feel about you.

Becoming Likable – It’s Not What You Think

Let’s start with being clear as to what defines “Likability”. So often people think to be likable they need to do things such as kissing butt, being extra cheerful, or other disingenuous (fake) things to “get” people to like them.

When people “try” to be liked, it actually hurts them. Not only does it hurt them because people can intuitively sense their lack of genuineness, but it also hurts their self-esteem, because they are not living with integrity. (I know a lot of adults living in depression for this very reason)

Here are the correct definitions of likability:

  • Easy to like
  • Having pleasant or appealing qualities
  • Being friendly
  • Having qualities that bring out a favorable regard
  • Being pleasant

If you question the importance of being likable to have influence, are you drawn to likable people? When given a choice between two equal candidates for a position, would you choose the person you like more? When hiring a painting contractor, realtor, or insurance agent, are you more likely to select the person you like most?

Becoming Respected – It’s More Than You Think

Every day you are sending hundreds of messages out to the world that play a role in how people see you and feel about you. Take a simple email as an example. Here are a few factors that people intuitively notice that impact your personal brand in their minds:

  • How soon it is returned
  • Did you address them by name
  • Were you friendly
  • Did you proof your email
  • Was it properly formatted
  • Was it clear and to the point
  • The overall tone of the email

Every interaction you have with people has multiple components, each impacting how others feel about you. If you are meeting people in a business setting, here are just a few of the factors people immediately notice:

  • Were you on time
  • Your appearance
  • How you greeted them
  • Were you friendly
  • Did you remember their name
  • Did you show an interest in them
  • Were you prepared
  • The clarity and tone with which you speak
  • Do you value the opinions of others
  • Do you listen without interrupting
  • Is your attention diverted to your mobile device

There are hundreds of little things you do each day that play a role in how people see you and feel about you that ultimately impacts the level of respect they have for you. If you don’t feel liked or respected by someone, there’s a 99% chance you’ve given him or her reason to feel that way about you.

My Challenge

Rather than looking at the little things you should and shouldn’t be doing, focus on the person you want to become. Examples include:

  • If you are a responsible person, you won’t need to focus on being on time or making sure you are prepared, because it’s who you are.
  • If you take pride in your written communications, you won’t need to make sure your emails are properly formatted and proofed, because that will happen automatically.
  • If you are a person who genuinely cares about others, you won’t have to be intentional about showing an interest in people, because it’s what you do anyway.
  • If you are person of integrity, you won’t need to do things to show you can be trusted, because people won’t question your integrity.

If you want to be a leader and person of influence, then focus on the person you need to become to be viewed in that regard. Start today becoming the person you need to be, so you can be the leader you want to be.

To lead people you must be a person of influence. To be a person of influence you must be someone people like and respect.