Tuesday, June 21, 2011

The Secret Recipe for Romance

Exactly two weeks ago Susan and I celebrated our 35th wedding anniversary. It was off the charts amazing! Imagine the setting… dinner for two outside under the stars, on a private terrace overlooking a waterfall surrounded by candles, flowers, and the sound of our personal music that has accompanied our 35 years of perfect moments. We experienced a uniquely orchestrated Japanese dinner of special appetizers, special sashimi and sushi, special fruit, and of course special champagne and a special sake called “Divine Droplets”. Yes… special, special, special… ahhh, special! Our skilled master sushi chef created what can only be described as art. Our intimate, romantic experience encompassed a perfect evening that lasted over five wonderful hours. It was a dream. We created memories and reflected on memories of our lifetime of adventure. We danced, we hugged, we kissed. We felt the richness of our lives and the depth of our love. It was a beautiful thing.

How, after all these years can we love so deeply, can our romance feel so intensely? Why do I, when asked about my life, immediately and without hesitation say… “The best thing that has happened to me in my life is my marriage”? Romance is truly one of the more personal “Secrets of Life”.

I am not claiming a unique recipe that we can mix together creating a magical formula for romance…. Frankly, every day of our 35 year marriage has not been perfect. We have our ups and downs, successes and failures, excitement and boredom.

During these 35 years we have confronted our share of challenges, yet overcoming and understanding our bumps in the road has only made our romance stronger. We have grown much closer together instead of apart. Our relationship, our understanding, even our passion has evolved to new heights.

OK, enough already with all this mushy stuff! How did we end up more passionate, more in love than our beginnings? The first ingredient in the “Secret Recipe” of romance is "respect". We respect each other’s differences and in many ways honor them. I love Susan for who she is and Susan loves me for who I am. We are extraordinarily different. Susan loves the mornings and is in constant motion. I embrace the afternoons/evenings and can be still for hours. Susan excels at details; I adopt the big picture. Susan executes, I dream. Our differences make us stronger, even synergistic, because we respect and nurture them. We play to each other’s strengths and have learned to rely on compensating for each other’s weaknesses. Our romance is a true partnership.

Partners don’t ever compete. Ingredient #2 in the romance formula is “never compete with each other”. One person always loses. Losing is not romantic. Romance is all about embracing the moment in unison… not winning or losing. Create your life with your significant other that includes separate responsibilities for daily tasks, and don’t manage, compete or interfere in each other’s jobs without an invitation. Second guessing each other is not the definition of trust. Will your romantic partner do it differently than you? Most likely yes! So What!!!

Ingredient #3 and possibly the most powerful element in romance is “be thoughtful”. Being “thoughtful” is about recognition, acknowledgement, and surprise in a relationship. It is about making your partner feel unique, special, and good about themselves. It is stopping and celebrating perfect moments, accomplishments, and major milestones. The advanced art of romance is finding these “thoughtful” connections in everyday activities… in sharing together a smile, a touch… including each other in a spontaneous moment, and recognizing as a couple the joy and contentment in the ordinary and the magic of the extraordinary.

What would a recipe of romance be without a secret ingredient? The secret sauce, the spice that takes our romance to exceptional heights is “intimacy”. Intimacy is being the best of friends! It is a feeling of closeness, of total trust, fulfillment, and of complete acceptance of each other’s differences. It is a very safe place with no secrets, complete commitment, absolute truth, kindness, laughter, and openness to unselfishly sharing thoughts and feelings. It’s a place to have fun and fall in love over and over again. It is vitally important to keep the magic, the sparkle in romance by finding every opportunity to express your deepest emotion. A gentle, sweet kiss, a passionate hug, an unexpected “I love you”, a warm snuggle adds a dimension to our lives that brings completeness.

Romance is one of the most challenging “Secrets of Life” because it takes two souls, two loving and committed partners to achieve success. I know this blog is long but if you can hang in there for just one more suggestion… “schedule romance”!!! Yes, take turns scheduling a night, a weekend, a surprise moment… and don’t stand on ceremony or principal. If your partner misses a turn just schedule another, and another if necessary. It is truly a powerful “Secret of Life” to pursue, nurture, and value romance.

How do you create romance in your life? Is anybody out there that can share a romantic moment? Your personal comment will make us all feel connected.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

The 80/20 Principle

Ever wonder why some people seem to accomplish more than others? Why some are happier than others, are more successful, have more free time? It is not all genetics, childhood experiences, or even education… it’s what we spend our time on that really counts.

I believe in a natural imbalance of our efforts. Wow! Those nine words sound heady… even esoteric. But what I am really saying here is that a minimal amount of our efforts or inputs generate a disproportionate amount of our results or outputs… an important, powerful “Secret of Life” is the 80/20 principle.

The reason the 80/20 principle is so valuable is because it is counter-intuitive. We tend to believe that half of our efforts will generate half of our results… that life in general should be equally balanced… that our problems and opportunities are equally weighted… that all customers, products, sales revenue, inquiries, phone calls, emails, even days of the week have similar significance, have roughly the same value. This is simply not true… when we carefully analyze the true relationship between effort and results we clearly see how unbalanced life is.

So, why should we care? Whether we realize it or not, this “Secret of Life” affects our entire personal world. It applies to our work, our families, our friends, our happiness, even our spiritual life. I use it as a lens to focus my view of what is really happening around me. When we truly realize that 20% of our efforts produce 80% of our results it can change our lives… forever.

How? By choice, by substitution, by taking control over our time, action, and priorities, we can dramatically improve the quality, achievements, even happiness in our lives.

Many of us already apply the 80/20 principal to business. We know when we review the statistical data, 80% of our profits come from 20% of our products, 80% of our revenues are generated by 20% of our customers, 80% of our market awareness is a result of 20% of our marketing efforts. This means that most of what we do is far from efficient. We simply waste resources, time and energy… day in and day out.

Here is where the great opportunity, the powerful “Secret of Life” resides. If we discipline ourselves to simply stop doing the bottom 20% of our activity that produces the least effective results in our daily lives… and instead substitute that time, that energy, doing more of the most effective activity (top 20%) we can create a positive, leveraged, multiplying result with the same efforts. We can become super productive by just prioritizing and substituting what we do. Can you imagine the power of stopping the bottom 20% of what you do and focusing instead on the top 20% of your most effective, efficient, efforts?

I am not suggesting blowing your life up with radical change. What I am advocating is that we review our daily lives and identify the small minority of inputs or efforts that have a major, leveraged impact on our outputs/ results and do more of that. Press up whatever is working, and do less of what eats time and resources. When I am applying the 80/20 principle; I may choose not to answer every email or message, I don’t take on other people’s work when they try to give it to me. I avoid wasting time on low value activities by not letting low value activities control me. I prefer not to hang with people who drain my energy. The 80/20 principal drives us to create our own lives by substituting efforts, by setting priorities that will greatly improve the quality of our lives. Why just let life happen when we can consciously apply the 80/20 principal “Secret of Life” to strategically set us free?