Metrics and relationships seem like oil and water, don’t they?
The very idea of using metrics in a relationship seems at first glance a little cold and calculating. And yet the truth is we measure our relationships all the time: How we feel a friend or spouse responded to a comment we made over dinner out last night; or, they don’t reach out to me as often as I reach out to them, etc. These are all measurements. And, they help us calibrate and manage our friendships.
In our second half, relationships become more valuable than accomplishment, even for the most goal oriented person. I really want my second half to be filled with deep intimate relationships. But I need to know more about what exactly that would look and feel like. How could you observe that in my life?
I have been on this journey with many other successful leaders who are in midlife renewal and who desire deeper connections. Together we have been distilling this down into four critical elements:
I would know who specifically I desire to love extravagantly. Is it just an idea or is it a set of names and faces? Do they know I want to love them deeply over the long haul? Bob Beaudine’s book, The Power of WHO, says that each of us should have a “Who,” a small group of people that we can call any time night or day and know that they will come running, or listen to us. He says that we are all wired to help each other, and the only thing that keeps this from happening is that we don’t always ask.
When you love extravagantly, your “Who” will be there for all aspects of your relationship, the good and the bad; the difficult days and the ones where you celebrate.
Time and communication. How often do good friends come to mind and you think, “Gee, it’s been a while since we talked.” Again, that lag time between visits is a form of measurement. Plan and be pro-active about meeting up with those you love.
We’re all busy. I get that. I read somewhere that that the average knowledge worker in the U.S. gets interrupted every 11 minutes on any given day. It feels like more often that, doesn’t it? We are constantly connected, which can be a distraction. But, like most things, technology can be used for good or evil. Use it for good. Text your loved ones. Even better- call them. And, when you do, tell them you love them and miss them. And then, right then and there, plan a face to face meeting if that’s possible.
What do I need to share from my inner world? What would I love to know about theirs? If someone read through my texts with my family and friends, or listened in on our Skype conversations, or sit at our table over a glass of wine would they be blown away by the depth, comfort, rawness and vulnerability yet safeness of our conversation?
How can I communicate these inner thoughts in a way that is meaningful to them and less awkward to me? Much of what Linda wants to know about my inner world is difficult for me to verbalize. For lots of reasons. Some I still don’t understand. It’s easier for me to write them down in a card, email or text, or leave them on a voicemail. Sometimes it’s easier for me to post a compliment about Linda on social media alongside a photo I just took of her.
What are the easiest ways you can communicate your inner feelings with those you love: Cards, emails, text, voicemail, a picture or painting that conveys the message, an experience, touch, gifts with meaning, face to face – just say it — other ideas??
One of the best ways I have communicated to Linda what I most long for is when I discovered a life size sculpture of an old couple sitting on a bench with their legs entwined, holding hands, cane in hand, cheeks touching and looking off into the distance with a look in their eyes that ‘we did life well together’. When I came home with a photo of that sculpture and made it my screen saver – it communicated something that words might not have.
These four steps will likely seem ridiculous to those of you who have always been good at intimacy – but for those of us who have not, these steps may be exactly what we need to get started. It’s like golf. When I started into this journey to intimacy it was like watching a really bad golfer. You are tempted to tell them to set the clubs down and try another sport. What a new golfer needs is a few simple steps and then lots of swings. Linda gave me the freedom to just try. So I encourage you to just start swinging.
So, if we want a rich second half not only filled with good works, but rejoicing in it all with people we love and who love us, then it may require that I sit down and write out Who, When, What and How.