Tag Archives: decision making

Why You Should Cultivate a Positive No

My family, the U. S. Navy, my platform, working on a Masters of Library and Information Science, and self-care. I have a wonderful, full life. But in order to get it all done, I must be mindful of my priorities. Many people want to place demands on my time so I have numerous opportunities to cultivate my positive no.

 Cultivating a Positive No

For a long time, whenever someone asked for my time they got some. But if what the person wanted me to do did not fit with my life plan two things happened:

  1. The person got an inferior job
  2. I resented the time it took

Often the results did not benefit either one of us. The person would have been better off if I had said, “no.”

Yet surely his priorities were as important to him as mine were to me. So he might interpret my refusal of assistance as a personal rebuff. Too many of those can damage a relationship. I had to learn to say “no” in a way that felt like “yes.”

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Some requests do not warrant a response. They get the equivalent of a pocket veto, no reply. An assistant could politely decline but for now I have to let them go.

How to Say No in a Positive Way

When dealing with someone I know or with whom I am building a relationship, a response is required. As such, even if I cannot commit my time, I look for another way to help. Here is my process:

  1. Acknowledge the importance of what the person is asking. Almost everyone can understand being busy, but recognizing the significance of another’s priorities creates a mutual affinity.
  2. Briefly explain the conflict. Giving someone insight into my life will improve our relationship. If I think the person will be offended by my priorities, I take a moment to reconsider. Maybe what he needs me to do is more important than what I have going on.
  3. Offer an alternative to my help. Can I introduce the person to someone who can handle the matter, perhaps better than me? Is there some part of the task I can do with a minimal time outlay, and immediately so that it does not clog my mental to do list?
  4. No matter what, thank the person for asking and wish him luck. I learned this from working in real estate. The client that thanked me for telling him about an investment even though he turned it down got greater priority the next time I had something good. Most people find asking for help difficult, so when someone reaches out to me it's a compliment.

Not all my friends are sensitive to being turned down. So sometimes a simple no will suffice. Not long ago a colleague told me I have a way of telling people difficult things that makes them easier to hear. As someone who hates being told “no” I can think of no higher praise.

How do you say no without alienating people?

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The Essential Quality for a Successful Marriage

It happened again last week, didn't it? Your spouse for the umpteenth time did that thing you just cannot stand. If he loved you enough he would change, right? If she really cared she would follow the example you set, no? But you already know that is not going to happen. What if there is a better way?

The Essential Quality for a Successful Marriage

I remember when Melanie and I were dating. In the beginning every email and phone call was an affirmation of her interest in me. Each date more strongly cemented our relationship. I think she felt the same. After all she married me.

And her quirks of character endeared me.

But let's be realistic. After many years of marriage formerly cute idiosyncrasies drive you crazy. Nostalgia for the early days of your relationship is ineffective for combating their irritation. You need a long-term, sustainable strategy. Here it is:

Develop selective absentmindedness

Next time your spouse commits annoyance immediately distract yourself. Hum a verse from a favorite ditty. True, you may get the song stuck in your head but isn't that better than an argument with your loved one? Change the conversation. Tell yourself a joke. There is nothing like a smile to spur forgetfulness.

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I am not suggesting you overlook self-destructive behaviors or ones that truly undermine the foundation of your marriage. But you should not allow tiffs over annoying habits to become skirmishes in a battle over more important matters. Nor should they become a means of avoiding significant challenges.

Before considering the habit you want your spouse to change, think about the arduous road ahead. Where will the love, attention, and discipline in your marriage best be put to use? Save it for the major issues.

For a successful marriage,  practice intentional, judicious denial. Forget about the little things, literally. At the end of your day, journal something positive about your spouse. You will reinforce her good qualities and strengthen your selective absentmindedness.

Question – How do you deal with your spouse’s annoying habits?

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Want Spontaneity in Your Life? Act Intentionally!

Diligence is the mother of good luck. ~ Unknown

Remember that time something great happened to you completely unexpectedly? Maybe it was a cute meet, that moment when someone attractive happened to catch your eye and life went click. Or maybe it was that completely unexpected piece of business that made you a lot of money. Wouldn't it be great if life were always that fluky?

I have good news and bad news for you.

Want Spontaneity in Your Life? Act Intentionally!

GOOD NEWS: Most likely your life if much more serendipitous than you realize.

BAD NEWS: The more serendipitous your life is the less likely it is that wonderful, unexpected things like this will happen to you.

The less consciously you are pursuing the things you want in life the more your life is filled with spontaneity. Of course that does not mean that great things are happening to you all the time, only that whatever does happen, good or bad, is by chance. Like playing the lottery, the odds are long that you will get a life-changing payoff.

Recently I was chatting with a friend who told me the biggest client he landed in the last two years came out of nowhere. He had not prospected to get her business and had never spoken to her before she called him to say she wanted to work with him. Amazing right?

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Here is the rub. Over that two-year period my friend cold called 150 to 200 people per week. That is between 15,000 and 21,000 people! Think about how many NOs! he heard. If he had not faced all that rejection he would never have been well known enough to inspire this great client to call him. This is how life works:

The more you intentionally pursue success the more wonderfully serendipitous things will happen.

This is part of the risk-reward nature of life.

In The Richest Man in Babylon, Arkad says, "Men of action are favored by the Goddess of Good Luck." What does she find so alluring? Someone who knows what he wants and is working hard to get it.

So decide what you want, start working hard for it, and create a luckier life.

Question – What great thing happened to you seemingly out of the blue that was actually the result of hard work?

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How Grenade Training Taught Me When to Bend the Rules

This is the first of an occasional series of posts about my experiences on active duty.

Thirty-six hours later I was still hearing BOOMS!

Military chaplains do not get weapons training. But I did not find this out until the Officer Training School chief petty officers, in charge of “sailorization,” told me not only was I barred from qualifying to fire the standard issue 9mm pistol, I was not even allowed to sit in a class explaining how it was used. So about nine months later when a colleague of mine asked me if I wanted to visit Marines practicing throwing grenades I naturally answered - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - YES!

How Grenade Training Taught Me When to Bend the RulesThe following Friday morning found me bundled up in body armor and a Kevlar helmet, sitting in the back of a Humvee with four chaplains and RPs (Religious Program Specialists – enlisted personnel assistants and bodyguards for chaplains) headed to the training area. Our mission: to walk among the Marines not in training and chat with them.

Jumping down from our vehicle, we were greeted by the Chief Warrant Officer in charge who asked if any of us wanted to get trained. As my chaplain colleagues hemmed and hawed I concluded this was a moment of truth. YES! I shouted, followed quickly by my RP. After all, when would I ever get another opportunity?

Remember all the war movies you have seen where they throw grenades? Yeah, well it does not work that way. It is much more difficult than it looks, and much more dangerous. First, we practiced with dummy grenades, habituating to the multi-step procedure that endeavors to ensure safe, accurate use of this weapon.

Then we went to the bunker where the real ones were used. In my section, I met a Staff Sergeant whose job was to make sure I followed the range officer's commands and stayed safe, which included falling on a live grenade if I dropped it so I would not get killed. Yeah, I know. It is what makes them great.

I got to throw three grenades and that I am writing this attests to my having made no mistakes. Even though I threw them into a huge pit surrounded by a tall mound of earth the BOOM of detonation shook the ground. In the moment I was so excited I didn't really notice.

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Training completed we talked with the Marines who encouraged us to do more training so they could continue to relax. Jokers, all of them!

Our mission accomplished we loaded back into the Humvee and headed home. When I got to my house my wife looked at me and asked, “what happened?!” I had not realized it but I was soaking wet from sweat and looked haggard. A short time later when I went to clean up so I could lead Sabbath evening services I started to shiver. Four hours of being in a ground shaking, booming environment had frazzled my nerves far beyond anything I have experienced before or after. Any loud noise made me jump.

As I walked back from the chapel that night, I reflected on what it must be like in combat with no respite from the booming. Maybe you get used to it, though I cannot fathom how.

By Sunday morning I had calmed down, but as I am writing this, my hands are shaking a little at the memory. I am equally fortunate to have gotten a small taste of what those whom I am charged to care for go through and to have never had to use a grenade. But I am glad I could if it meant protecting one of the fine young people I work with. Saving their life would be worth losing my career. Thanks to a gusty CWO I can.

Question – When do you think it is appropriate to bend the rules for a greater good?

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7 Sure-Fire Ingredients to Better Relationships

"You can get anything you want if you just convince enough people."

Unlike a 150 years ago when you could carve your life out of the wilderness, today everything you want is owned by someone else notes the author of the above quote Roger Dawson in his book, Secrets of Power Negotiating. He recommends spending some time figuring out how to persuade them to share. Undoubtedly you have developed relationship-building skills. But are you actually getting the financial, emotional, and spiritual support that you need from these relationships? Perhaps it is time to take a second look.

7 Sure-Fire Ingredients to Better Relationships

To live intentionally you will have to decide the kind of relationship you want to have with others. Will a particular person remain essentially a stranger or become an acquaintance, a business associate, a friend, or your spouse? As you know, you will have to invest more time and resources, especially emotional ones, the farther up this scale you go.

Social media has significantly clouded this issue. Is the quality of the relationship you have with each of your Facebook "friends" or Twitter followers the same? Can a genuine relationship be created with someone you know only online?

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Here are the questions to ask when determining the kind of relationship, if any, you want to have with someone. Some can be answered earlier than others.

  1. Can you treat this person respectfully? Do you find yourself making fun of someone? Behind his back? If you do not respect him why bother staying connected and potentially hurting him later on?
  2. Can you build trust with this person? What kind of business association can you have with someone you do not trust? You may realize a short-term gain, but sooner or later the investment you made in creating the relationship will have to be written off. Will it really be worth the effort?
  3. Will this person help and/or support you in meeting your goals? Some people claim to want to help you while they are actually undermining your progress. Be guided by someone’s actions far more than his words.
  4. Will this person help you see if you are heading in the wrong direction? Heard the expression the road to hell is paved with good intentions? If you are going to have more than an acquaintanceship with someone his definition of kindness will have to include tough love.
  5. Will this person be respectful even when telling you things that may be difficult for you to hear? Criticism can be difficult to accept under the best of circumstances. It needs to be conveyed politely and empathically.
  6. Do your strengths and weaknesses complement each other? Perhaps most important with a spouse, you can avoid the strife that engages competitive instincts inherent in having similar talents and faults. Likewise in business, partners with diverse aptitudes make a stronger team.
  7. Does this person share your values? While it is not necessary that every friend or business associate share all of your values, being at cross-purposes on certain ones may make more than an acquaintanceship difficult if not impossible.

It may sound cold, even calculating, to assess people in this way. But the reality is that you have a finite amount of time. Spending this precious resource on those you cannot help and who cannot or will not help you is useless. Better to establish a basis for a relationship from the outset, intentionally setting the stage for mutually supportive, productive interaction.

Question – How do you decide with whom and what kind of relationship you will have with someone?

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