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From the time I started my business 23 years ago, I have been richly blessed with a collection of beautiful, talented and good-hearted people: customers who turn into friends, colleagues who transformed into confidants.
Connected, supportive relationships form the foundation of an amazing life.
Sometimes people tell me they’ve been badly burned in relationships, had their hearts broken, and struggle to know who to trust. I can honestly say that I could count on one hand the relationships in my life that have gone sour. In fact, it wouldn’t even take all the fingers on that hand.
Those troubled connections were formed before I learned important lessons about relationships.
The Relationship Model
Napoleon Hill talked about how we have levels of relationships extending like concentric circles around us. A good understanding of this model helps you keep relationships healthy. Here’s how it works.
Acquaintances: The people in the outer circle are acquaintances. You’re nice to them, but you don’t open up as much of your heart with them. They don’t get as much of your time or energy.
Colleagues & Customers: The next closest circle is people who have earned their way into a closer relationship with you. They get a little bit more of your energy and time.
Friends: Your friends and associates are next. They get a bit more of your heart, energy and time.
Close Friends: In the next circle, you have those who are your closest friends, loved ones and confidants. You share the most with these people and they have more of your heart, time and energy.
You and God: Finally the innermost circle is just you and God. Nobody else goes inside that circle. There are things that you don’t share with anyone but God. You keep this space sacred.
The biggest place I see people mess up is giving outer circle people, inner circle privileges. In other words, we’re giving people greater access to our hearts, time and energy than they have yet earned.
But how do you decide who to let into your inner circle? First of all, they earn their way in in some way. But even then, the fact is two perfectly good people can make a mess when they’re together.
The biggest lesson I learned was to delineate the people I click with versus those I’m probably going to clash with. By identifying the difference early, I can keep the potential clash relationships in my outer circle. Through time and trust-building, I bring the people I resonate with into my inner circle.
Trust any warning bells that go off in your mind. If something tells you a relationship feels off, there is a problem. Either address it and work it through, or take the signal as a clue not to pursue that relationship at a deeper level. Keep the individual in an outer circle, be nice to them, but give them less of your time, heart and energy.
By learning to identify the people with whom you resonate and building relationships of trust with them, you can forge a strong circle of close confidants who support you through any challenge.
Jane Austen described so well the way I feel about my inner circle of friends:
There is nothing I would not do for those who are really my friends. I have no notion of loving people by halves, it is not my nature.” (Northanger Abbey).
I’m so grateful for the amazing people God continually sends my way… especially those who have impacted me so significantly that my life pivots around their entrance into my life. Whether we still stay in contact a lot, a little, or rarely, I love them still and always will.
I’ll be talking more about how to build your circle of supportive relationships in my next “How to Create Your Own Amazing Life” Workshop. Sign up by the end of today (Valentine’s Day) and you’ll also get 4 of my Southern romance novels just for fun! Click here for details.
During the weekend I gave 15-minute consults to a couple dozen entrepreneurs — most of whom I’d call “Light Bearers” (folks who are changing the world with their passions/messages). I love doing this because I get to meet so many fascinating people and encourage them along their paths.
One day I had three women in a row who all came from technical backgrounds, but who had a message they felt compelled to share. They were each experiencing a bit of a tug to remain in the safe place, selling their skills as services to other people. But they were clearly ready to make the transition to using their life-gathered skills to get their own messages out in the world.
This resonated so much with me, because this has been my own personal journey. I kept thinking of something one of my coaches used to tell me back in 2000, “Marnie, just because you CAN make money at something, doesn’t mean you SHOULD make money at it.”
When I finally started following my passion instead of the “safe money,” got clear on my message, and delivered it with courage, my life and business transformed.
As I spoke to the various attendees, it became very clear to me that there are two types of Light Bearer entrepreneurs that come to me:
1) Those who have the technical skills but are fuzzy about their message. They have so many talents that the possibilities are overwhelming. The last day I assisted two different women who were having trouble finding the common threads in all their interests. In the span of their 15-minute consults, I helped them find the common threads in everything they do. They’d been groping for this clarity for some time, overwhelmed by all the possibilities. I love watching people’s faces light up when they get what they’re here to do! Nothing beats it!
2) Those who know what their messages are, but don’t have the technical and/or business skills to get from point A to point Z. Their overwhelm stems from all the little steps that loom before them.
I sat down with one gal the first day of the event who fell into this second category, and we got clarity on what she enjoys doing and what she doesn’t. We then set some clear intentions about what she needed help with — like a WordPress theme and a joint venture partner to help her leverage her message. By the end of the event, she’d gotten the WordPress assistance she needed from a couple of the NAMS instructors. She also had a great lead on a top-tier joint venture partner. It’s thrilling to watch the power of clarity and intention at work!
There are so many things I love about NAMS, but the last I’ll leave with you is the opportunity to hang around my colleagues who have been so pivotal in supporting and encouraging me in my business and my life. We have this little collaborative community that brainstorms with, supports and cross-promotes each other.
My friend Ellen Britt is simply the master at creative promotion and brainstorming. I call her the App Queen because the entire time she used iphone/ipod apps to document and promote the event and her colleagues. Below is a sampling of her handiwork. You can find more on her blog here.
I’ve been reading Ayn Rand’s Atlas Shrugged: (Centennial Edition). Evidently Rand journaled extensively the characters, plot and messages she wanted to convey before she ever began writing a novel. At the beginning of this edition, they included several excerpts from Rand’s journal.
One passage stood out to me. At first I was taken aback.
It is proper for a creator to have an unlimited confidence in himself and his ability, to feel certain that he can get anything he wishes out of life, that he can accomplish anything he decides to accomplish, and that it’s up to him to do it. But here is what he must keep clearly in mind: it is true that a creator can accomplish anything he wishes — if he functions according to the nature of man, the universe and his own proper morality, that is, if he does not place his wish primarily within others and does not attempt or desire anything that is of a collective nature, anything that concerns others primarily or requires primarily the exercise of the will of others. (This would be an immoral desire or attempt, contrary to his nature as a creator.) If he attempts that, he is out of a creator’s province and in that of the collectivist and the second-hander.”
“Therefore he must never feel confident that he can do anything whatever to, by or through others. (He can’t — and he shouldn’t even wish to try it — and the mere attempt is improper.)”
What? But what about the power of synergy? Synergy may be one of the most central themes of my life, and thus I initially recoiled at her theory. Yet, as I continued reading, I began to better understand her reasoning and found myself agreeing:
He must not think that he can … somehow transfer his energy and his intelligence to them and make them fit for his purposes in that way. He must face other men as they are, recognizing them as essentially independent entities, by nature, and beyond his primary influence; he must deal with them only on his own, independent terms, deal with such as he judges can fit his purpose or live up to his standards (by themselves and of their own will, independently of him) and expect nothing from others…”
I’ve known many a creative (including myself) who were married to people of the opposite personality type who were not the least bit interested in their ideas and could not fully grasp the logic behind their dreams. In fact a friend wrote me within 12 hours after I read this passage to say that she’d finally given up on getting her husband to come around to “supporting her” in her mission. She felt she’d put her own dreams on hold waiting for him to catch up for far too long.
Her husband does love her and support her monetarily, but he’s not ecstatic about her ideas and doesn’t really “get” where she’s coming from. He doesn’t oppose her, but he’s not interested either. I think it’s important to look at our definitions of support. Does someone have to “get you” to be a support to you?
My own husband has only read one of my 21 books and that was a historical fiction novel. He doesn’t get excited about my ideas. He doesn’t get the core of what drives my passions. For a long time, I found this very frustrating. How could he even know me (or truly love me) if he doesn’t get excited about my core passion in life?
But then, I began to understand what Ayn Rand describes in that last paragraph — if we wish to be free to be ourselves, we must respect other people’s freedom to be themselves.
If I waited for my husband to get excited about my projects, read all my books, or advocate for my cause, I’d never do anything. You are responsible for your own life and your own message. Other people are responsible for theirs.
You can be with a spouse who doesn’t get excited about what excites you. I came to understand that the limitation was only in my mind. You are free to be you. You don’t need a specific person to get you. God will bring people to you (and is bringing people to you) who do get you. When I let go of expecting my husband to be who I wanted him to be, I was able to see how he DOES support me in a myriad of ways. One being, never complaining about me spreading my wings and doing my own thing.
Bottom line, I’m learning that if I want the freedom to be me, then I must allow others the freedom to be themselves … even if (in my view) they use their freedom to choose bondage.
In business, quality relationships are gold, and social media can be a wonderful way to build them. On the other hand, it’s a great way to destroy relationships and ruin your reputation as a professional. There’s something about typing or texting that makes people lower their inhibitions and say things they never would say to someone’s face.
You might be using social media inappropriately if you fall into one of these three categories.
An Agenda Pusher
Would you walk up to a total stranger and say, “Let’s be friends. Oh and by the way, you really need to sign up for my multi-level-marketing group.”
You might be an Agenda Pusher if…
- You round up friends on Facebook so you can immediately post your product or service on their wall.
- You follow your competitors on Facebook and graze through all their friends, adding them to your list.
- You round up people to promote your products or services but never “have time” to promote them in return.
- You push your multi-level marketing product several times a day.
I’m all for using automation to stream your blog updates and articles onto Twitter or Facebook, but too much of that without any personality mixed in just bores people.
You might be over-automated if…
- Your Twitter and Facebook accounts are just a string of RSS feeds and quotes. You never take the time to post anything yourself or bring your personality into the mix.
- You don’t write your own articles. You buy private label rights (PLR) and spin them into a dozen variations.
- You rarely, if ever, log into your Facebook account. You don’t reply to comments or join in conversations on other people’s walls.
- You never post anything personal.
While the over-automated social media user never interjects anything personal, the TMI user shares too much personal information.
“If you don’t want your mom to know about it, then it’s not appropriate for Facebook,” says Luanna Rodham of Marketing Virtual Assistance.
- You post about your bodily functions on Facebook or Twitter.
- You post about the argument you just had with your spouse.
- You air your grievances about your employer or family members.
- You post immodest photos of yourself.
- Being negative and griping most of the time.
Can you think of anything you’d add to this list? Would love to hear your suggestions!
One of the most powerful questions you can ask yourself is this one:
If you knew you would die tomorrow and someone gave you a megaphone today to deliver any message to the entire world, what message would you deliver?
The answer that comes first to your mind is often the most important thing to you. If you start delivering that message in everything you do — the way you live your life, the way you do your work, and the words you convey, amazing things start to happen.
Dolly Parton once said, “Discover who you are and do it on purpose.” There’s a lot of wisdom in that.
Here’s a fun video of some of the participants at our Radiant Success Event in Raleigh sharing what they’d like to tell the world:
What message would you deliver if given the chance?
“We no longer need to fear arguments, confrontations or any kind of problems with ourselves or others. Even stars collide, and out of their crashing new worlds are born.” – Charlie Chaplain
As a “Peacemaker” on the Enneagram Personality scale, I’ve lived most of my life by the unspoken mantra, “peace at any price.” If I thought expressing my feelings would make someone upset or rock the boat, I kept them to myself. If I thought what I had to say could be construed as nagging or argumentative, I said nothing.
You know that old saying, “If you don’t have something nice to say, don’t say anything at all.” That was me. I’m not saying I never said anything bad, never blew my stack or got angry. On the contrary, I’m the master at bottling up my emotions so long they erupt like Mt. Vesuvius.
Besides blowing up in odd moments when the last straw is added to the camel’s back, there are other problems associated with the peace at any price operating system:
1) You lose touch with your feelings.
If you push down your emotions long enough, eventually you’ll have trouble articulating what you’re feeling. For me, I stopped trusting my heart and what it was telling me about my relationships. One of my favorite books is Karol Truman’s Feelings Buried Alive Never Die.” The premise of the book is that when we repress our feelings and do not adequately address them, they get our attention through physical ailments. Repressed emotions will get your attention one way or another.
2) You train people to treat you disrespectfully.
Because you don’t tell people how you feel as you go along, your silence tells them it’s okay to treat you however they feel like treating you. You’re, in essence, rewarding their disrespect. If you want people to use and manipulate you, then keep on bottling up your feelings and don’t let others know how their negative behavior is affecting you.
I’ve spent years
- carrying loads other people should have shared,
- feeling guilt I had no need to feel,
- taking on everyone else’s responsibilities
because I was too afraid to speak up! I’d rather do the work myself than risk the drama that could go along with demanding others do their part. I really can’t blame the people in my life because I never told them that I didn’t like things that way!
Recently, all of this came to a head for me and it became crystal clear what I was doing — how my “peace at any price” led to communication problems in my relationships and workaholism in my life.
Once I stepped back and saw my behavior patterns for what they were, I was done — no more playing that game. Things had to change, and they did. It was a very difficult period of my life, but I made it through the other side — largely thanks to a phenomenal energy healer, Rhonda Hess. Rhonda help me identify and eliminate the insecurities, fears, false beliefs, and destructive patterns that brought me to this point. Now, I’m done!
- I’m done playing small in my relationships
- I’m done letting other people use me.
- I’m done carrying other people’s burdens and responsibilities.
- I’m done letting others deflect their guilt onto me.
- I’m done believing other people’s stinging words.
- I’m done letting other people treat me with disrespect.
- I’m done suppressing my thoughts and feelings for fear they will make someone else upset.
- I’m done with “peace at any price.”
In practical action steps, my relationships are changing. For example, my husband and I are communicating each evening about what went right that day and expressing gratitude to each other. We’re also opening up about what went wrong and where there’s need for improvement. We’re just saying it and not worrying about whether how we’re saying it is going to hurt the other person’s feelings.
I’ve also become more aware in the moment. For example, I’m realizing when I could use help and asking for it. If something bothers me, I’m speaking up right then instead of bottling it up for an eruption six months later.
I’m learning that a daily, consistent effort to communicate thoughts and feelings — whether they are negative or positive makes a dramatic difference. It actually increases love and unity — which is what I wanted all along, but misguidedly thought I had to keep my mouth shut to attain.
Best of all I feel like I’ve been set free to be me. A few years back I wrote a book entitled: “You Can’t Fly If You’re Still Clutching the Dirt: How to Stop Worrying and Achieve Your God-Given Potential.” I realize now that the dirt I was clutching was all the bottled up emotions I never had the courage to express.
If you’re like me and you have a tendency to bottle up your feelings and take on other people’s responsibilities to “keep the peace” then I have some affirmations that may help you. These are a few of the ones Rhonda Hess gave me, but they’re only the tip of the iceberg in how she helped me. I highly recommend a session with her. I never could have made it through this in a matter of 2-3 weeks without her help. She was a God-send.
- I am totally comfortable in being me in my relationships.
- I am supported and appreciated by my spouse (significant other)
- I trust God will take care of the details.
- I am living in the energy of joy.
- I take in life fully.
- I am peaceful and balanced.
- I am clear.
- I am free of family beliefs that limit my truth.
- I have unlimited possibilities in myself and who I am.
- I’m clearly open to direction in my life.
- I trust my heart.
- I’m clearly connected to my self-worth.
- I’m connected to my heart and to God.
- I believe in me.
- I let go of the struggle.
- I free myself from patterns that do not serve me.
- I’m worthy and deserving.
- Everyone around me loves and supports me.
- I believe in who I am.
- I feel more secure with myself every day.
- I am emotionally strong and well-balanced.
- I am at ease with myself and others around me.
- I have patience with myself and others around me.
- I am a secure, empowered, beautiful woman.
- I let go of all negativity that rests in my body and mind.
- I have the strength to remain calm in the face of my change that is starting today.
- I set healthy boundaries. I have the courage to set and maintain these boundaries.
- I give myself permission to move forward in my life in a positive direction.
- I’m through playing small in my relationships.
- I let go of fear of confrontation with others.
- I let go of guilt.
- It’s safe for me to live my life my way.
- I am successful in all areas of my life.
- I am worthy and deserving to feel great.
- I can have confrontation without bringing in negative emotions.
- I stand up for myself and speak with divine clarity.