You look just like your Dad

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My friend Randy recently walked into a room with several individuals that had not seen him for several years. Numerous of these individuals commented on how much he looked like his late father, Chuck. Later, one told me, “I couldn’t believe my eyes when Randy walked in. He looks exactly like his Dad.” You could tell by their comments that they had admired Chuck and respected him as a man and as a friend. And, they could see many of these positive attributes in Randy.

As I thought about this man’s comments about Randy, I concluded there are three key ways we can model someone else and how, when we pause to consider them, this understanding can help us become a better person:

Look like your Dad

I have heard the same things many times in my life about looking like my Dad*. It seems that, as we age, genetics take over and we assume the physical appearance of our parents. We tend to have a similar size, shape, and structure as others in our genealogical line. However, people often assume that, just because you look like your Dad, you have the same personality, actions, and character that he possessed. Not necessarily true! It is often a burden to become that unique individual that you are.

I am always flattered when someone says that I look like my Dad. He was a handsome man. I have come to realize, though, that your physical resemblance to someone is much less important that other attributes.

Act like your Dad

I am blessed with seven grandchildren. And, there are times when I see their parents in each of them. Their expressions, mannerisms, and actions often remind me of one or both of their parents. Children often mimic their parents even without trying. They see how their parents act and copy them. For a grandparent, this is funny to watch.

However, our prisons are full of people that, unfortunately, have continued the negative actions modeled by their parents. Finding and copying a role model is not always positive. If your Dad was a man of character, findings ways to act like him is something we often do throughout our lifetime.

Be like your Dad

The greatest honor you can bestow someone that you look like is to “be” like them. I have always wanted to be the man of character modeled by my Dad. I can look like him and even act like him, but the best I can do is to be like him in the ways I live, by how I treat others, and by how I contribute to society.

An individual may be given a measure of respect simply because he/she looks so much like someone that had integrity and was respected. But, your own life – what you do, say, give, and express – defines your own measure of integrity and character.

There is also another aspect of this that impacts me. I know that, whether I choose it or not, my children and grandchildren will likely copy some of what I model in my own life. They see me for who I really am, so living a life that is worthy to be copied is a daunting task.

So, at the end of it all, I would rather be a man of character than merely look like one. Though I am proud that some say I look like my Dad, one of my hopes in life is that my actions and my life might reflect the wonderful man of character that epitomized him.

Today, someone is copying you. What kind of man or woman will they be if they become just like you?

* For the sake of this discussion, I am using my likeness with my Dad as an example. Many women look exactly like their mothers. Some even look like their Dads. The point is the same… it is good to look like someone that you love and respect, but it is much better if your life reflects their character and honor.

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Building bridges with those that disagree with you

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Today’s edition of The Porch is number 400 since the beginning back in December 2015. Many different topics have been covered in these 30 months, but today I wanted to talk specifically about the importance of relationships and how they impact our ability to work together:

“Rarely would any two individuals have the exact same beliefs, ideas, motivations, backgrounds, and approaches to life. Thus, we have differences with almost everyone we meet. Some of these differences are deep and wide. Others might be less significant, but they are differences, nonetheless. The ability to bridge these differences – or at least understand and respect them – can make or break our ability to work together. I have found that when you take the time to nourish and grow a relationship with the other individual, these differences diminish… often to the point that they become invisible to either party.”

The quote above has been a central guiding principle of my lifetime of working with others. I can tell you for certain that differences exist. Yet, when you take the time to build a relationship… get to really know the other person and understand why they believe what they believe… you can almost always develop a way of working effectively together.

I can give several examples in my life or career in which initial differences were overcome because of the development of a growing relationship. When you build a relationship, you build a bridge comprised of trust, understanding, integrity, common life goals, experiential similarities, and mutual caring. You eventually want the other individual to succeed and will sacrifice to make that happen.

So, how do you build these growing relationships based on trust? How can you learn to work better together? Following are 7 recommendations or approaches for developing relationships that build these bridges:

  1. Be intentional about spending time togetherThe best way to develop or enhance a relationship is to spend time together. When you do, you get to know the other person… what they care about, what motivates them, why they think the way they do. You begin seeing life through their eyes and understanding their perspective. Eventually, you begin caring about them as a person and start seeing less of your differences and more of what makes you the same. Being intentional means that you must initiate time spent together. Schedule times and meetings. Send notes. Provide update calls. When you get to know someone well, you begin seeking ways to align, not perpetuate things that divide.
  2. Be vulnerable by sharing your lifeTrust is critical component of any solid relationship. You build trust by sharing aspects of your life or beliefs that might be considered risky. By sharing things that are personally meaningful to you (such as items about your family, hobbies, aspirations, fears, etc.), you expose a part of yourself that can connect in a special way with the other individual. When you show that you are willing to share things more personal, you begin building a sense of trust that will encourage the other individual to share similarly. Being open means that, though we may not agree on everything, I do trust you enough to share an important part of my life with you.
  3. Eat togetherNothing goes farther than building a bridge than sharing a meal together. When you invite another to lunch or breakfast, you are really inviting them to a time to casually get to know you better. Spending time sharing food is a great way to enhance the relationship in ways that minimize your differences.
  4. Ask for opinions or adviceBuilding a relationship often has to occur bit-by-bit, day-by-day. One way you demonstrate trust is to seek the advice or opinion of the other individual. By showing that you value what the other person has to say, you are saying that you accept them… that you accept their thoughts. It is just the opposite of rejection. When an individual feels their views are important, they are more likely to engage productively.
  5. Serve each other Everyone has needs. When you meet the needs of another person, you are effectively earning the right to be heard. When you serve someone else, you are proving to that person that you care about them. Taking the time to make life better, even in a small way, adds structure to the bridge you are building through the relationship.
  6. Listen to each other, then act on what you hearWhen individuals have differences, they often stop listening for content. Instead, they are listening simply to formulate what they will say next. Building relationships REQUIRES that you care about the other person and what they say. When you truly listen, you demonstrate that what they say has value and that they have value as a person. Then, when you act upon what you hear, you provide living proof that you heard that individual. For example, if the other person mentions casually that they have a birthday party to attend that evening, you show you heard them and care when you ask about it the next day. Hearing/listening is nice, but acting on what you hear is proof that you care.
  7. Give up your desire to BE right – strive instead to DO what’s right – Most of the time, the reason relationships fail to flourish is because one individual always insists on being right. Their pride forces them to “one up” the other individual or to dominate every discussion. Relationships grow when you demonstrate the maturity that says, “I’m more interested in doing the right thing that I am in being the person that was right.” Doing what is right demonstrates that you care about results and that you care about others more than you care about yourself.

Great leaders understand that as relationships grow, differences diminish. And, this principle applies to every aspect of life… marriage, family, friendships, neighborhoods… not just the work environment. When you show someone that you care about them, not just what they can do for you, you build a bridge that can last a lifetime.

 

Unfinished Business

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One of my good friends, “Mike”, recently told a story. In the past, Mike and “Charlie” had become very good friends. They had much in common and their families enjoyed activities together. Mike and Charlie often met for meals and, essentially, shared life’s ups-and-downs with each other. That all ended when Mike and Charlie found themselves on opposite sides of a community issue. Both were passionate about their position and, eventually, they drifted apart until they rarely spoke or saw each other except at community events. About a year ago after Mike had moved to another city, he just felt compelled one day to reconcile with Charlie. Mike was visiting from out-of-town and intentionally sought Charlie at an event they were both attending. Mike spoke with Charlie, they shook hands, and both admitted that they missed their friendship. Sadly, Charlie recently died. Mike said that had he not sought to reconcile with Charlie, he would have lived the rest of his life feeling as though there was “unfinished business” between him and Charlie.

Unfinished business… I have always been a list-maker. I create a “to do” list and work through the list until I can check off every item… typically, the same day. At the end of a day when something was not checked off the list, I feel as though something is undone. However, at the end of each day, you can be pretty confident that tomorrow is another day and another opportunity to clean the slate.

There are times, however, when you might never have that chance to finish a task that you know you wanted to complete or needed to complete. Had Mike not made a special effort to reconcile with Charlie, the opportunity would have been lost forever.

Unfinished business can exist in a year, in a career, or in a life. I remember a former colleague named David. David was very good at his job, but had decided early in his career that he was not open to relocation, even for a significant promotion. David did well in his career, but always wondered how things might have been different had he and his family been open to relocation. I remember David seeing others, with less ability and potential, pass him by in his career simply because they were willing to relocate. Though David made the decision he felt was best in his career, he always wondered if his career was limited… if there was unfinished business.

Life open poses opportunities to make new friendships, restore broken ones, or to express unspoken thoughts and feelings. Then, when we look back, we feel that somewhere along the line, we had business to do that we left undone.

So, think about any unfinished business in your life today. This might be a good day to begin checking those things off your list. In case you aren’t immediately thinking of any unfinished business in your life, let me list a few possibilities in the hope that you might become motivated to finish today, what you should have done weeks, months, or years ago. Losing the opportunity you have today may remain one of your life’s great regrets.

Which of these do you need to do today:

  1. Call or send a note to your aging parents or grandparents. How I wish I could speak to mine just one more time!
  2. Spend some quality time with your spouse, son, daughter, grandchild, or other loved one. Don’t forget to tell them what they mean to you!
  3. Make that overdue call or send that note to a friend, colleague, or acquaintance. Don’t assume that you’ll have another chance next week because those chances rarely come. Tell that person what they mean to you and thank them for being a part of your life. There is someone in your life that needs to hear from you today.
  4. Organize your life. Don’t leave a mess for someone else to clean up!
  5. Volunteer to meet a need for someone else or an organization that does good work. If you wait until the timing is perfect, you’ll never do it.
  6. Don’t assume that your spouse knows how much you love them. Make sure that there is never any doubt that you do! Tell them… and do it often!
  7. Find a way to serve someone else in a special way. It might be someone that has gone above-and-beyond for you. It might be someone that could never repay you. Don’t ignore or waste a chance to make life better for someone else.
  8. Do that special project you have been promising to do. Why wait when you know you can and should get it done!
  9. Thank a teacher, police officer, military veteran, mentor, or emergency personnel for their service.
  10. Take time to do something you’ve been wanting to do for yourself. If you had started taking guitar lessons five years ago when you wanted to, you would be pretty accomplished by now. Don’t let another five years go by without adding a new skill, experiencing something new, or gaining that new knowledge you’ve have had on your own list.

Consider the unfinished business that exists in your life today and challenge yourself to get it completed soon. Today might be the only chance you’ll ever have to make it happen.