The best advice this year

“Take it from a guy with 5 kids. You hope they grow up and move away someday but you want the wife to stay”

This was some great advice a few weeks back from a twitter friend as I was having a bit of an internal debate about taking a trip with just the wife while our son is gone on a trip of his own with Scouts. The son was a little mad that we would consider going on a cool mini-vacation without him. This was not something in his 12 years of life that we have ever done.

The trip idea is to celebrate our 15th year of married. Truly the advice was a wake up reminder to me that yes the time invested with son is of paramount importance. At the same time, the investment in our husband/wife relationship deserves the same attention. After all, it is our intent to spend the rest of our days on earth together.

How many couples focus so much on the kids that when they grow up and leave they are left with no common interests and goals? How many couples after years of kids no longer know how to woo each other and to enjoy time alone?

So as you may have guessed I booked the trip!

What about you?

Do you take time to woo your wife?

Are you seeking opportunities to spend time together and share common interests?
I suggest we do these things now before there is any chance of growing separate and being left to re-learn each other once the children are gone.

Personally, I know great adventures are in store for Michelle and I. The best is yet to come!

Living with the brake on

I have been working hard this summer to improve my fitness and loose a few pounds. My routine is to alternate between running and cycling. Saturday is my long ride day and I hit the street as soon as there is enough light to ride.

For several weeks the riding did not go so well. My frustrations about this difficulty became so great that I was growing concerned about my health. Was something wrong with me? Why so hard? I thought that my fitness was improving! I bonked so hard on one Saturday ride that I had to give up early and head back to the house with a completion of only 35 miles for the day.

Then one day while passing by my bike in the garage I suddenly for some strange reason gave the back wheel a little spin.

It moved maybe an inch. OOPS!

Turns out that for who knows how long the back brake had been pressed against the wheel. I had been in essence riding with the brake on for weeks.

You can imagine how that next ride went for me after fixing the break. Suddenly I was blazing down the road (well not exactly Lance Armstrong blazing but certainly faster than I had been previously).

It seems like my life is like those rides more often than I would like to admit. I get so frustrated about going slow, not figuring things out or feeling beaten down. Then it turns out more often than not the fix is actually something simple.

A day off
A conversation with an old friend
A change in priorities
An unexpected thank you
Some time alone
A hug from the wife
Time with God

My hope is that during this summer season you can also find that simple solution the release the brake and get your mojo back. See you out there!

Person praise vs. Process praise

The other day I ran across an interesting study about the effectiveness of person praise vs process praise. Here is a link to the study if you are interested in reading.

In a nutshell, the hypothesis was that children would perform better and would be willing to take on harder tasks if the feedback focused more on strategies and effort (process) vs trait (Person) related feedback.

Think, “Wow Sally! You did great on the exercise! I can tell that you are great person” vs. “Wow Sally! You did great on that exercise. The extra effort you did to study the process involved made a real difference in making you successful”

I have taught this for years at the Situation/Action/Result (SAR) model. Following this simple model while giving feedback is very effective.

Sally you knew the test was going to be a hard one didn’t you?
I really appreciate the way you took extra time to study
You got and A thanks to the extra effort!

An even better technique would be for Sally to tell you the SAR rather then providing it yourself.

This was a good reminder that not only should we praise our children but we should also give specific and detailed reasons behind the praise. How will they repeat the behavior if we do not make sure they know what it was?

This is also good advice for coaching employees BTW.