Born in the Month Ghana was Birthed, Nii Ajorwor Ampa Perbi is here!
It is always an honour to get to name someone or something, especially a seventh biological child. The historic and prophet names of the other children have been explained in the past here.
Our seventh, and final, child was born on March 2, 2021 at the Jewish General Hospital in Montreal, Canada. In accordance with our Akan (Yaw’s) and Ga (Anyele’s) traditions of Ghana, we named him on the eighth day, the same day of his birth, Tuesday, a week later. Like all his siblings before, the 3.895kg champion, whose 54cm height excited the obstetric staff because it’s over the 97th percentile, has been given a name pregnant with historic and prophetic meaning. And his name shall be called NII AJORWOR AMPA PERBI. Here’s what each given name means:
All the older six siblings are called Nana, an Akan title meaning prince(ss) and also signifying God as King. Nii is the Ga equivalent of Nana.
Over a dozen years ago, with inspiration from the life of the patriarch Abraham we felt called out of Ghana: “Go from your country, your people and your father’s household to the land I will show you.” So we did, leaving a great life in Ghana to start from scratch in Canada. The commission came with a commiserate blessing though: “I will make you into a great nation, and I will bless you; I will make your name great, and you will be a blessing. I will bless those who bless you, and whoever curses you I will curse; and all peoples on earth will be blessed through you.” (Genesis 12:1-3)
It’s been nearly a decade-and-a-half since our being called and sent forth and we feel we’ve really and truly been blessed by the LORD in every sphere of life–physically, spiritually, socially and academically (which was the original door open in Canada). Ajorwor means “we’ve been blessed” or in context, “God has blessed us!”
And we are blessed not just qualitatively but quantitatively too! We had one child at the time of the promise, now we have seven times the number of children! Every child is a blessing, a reward, a heritage from the LORD and an arrow for waging life’s battles and extending the glory of the Kingdom of God on earth as it is in Heaven. Indeed our quiver is full, and the Psalmist says we are blessed for having a quiver full of arrows!
Ampa is the baby’s maternal grandfather. When we felt it would be appropriate to name our last child after this noble man we didn’t know Nii Ajorwor would be born so close to Ghana’s Independence Day, March 6. You will soon understand the significance of this. Initially called Kwame Patterson, great grandpa changed his name to Nii Ampa Sowa. He left to study Industrial Management at Leeds Polytechnic, United Kingdom, in 1958, a year after Ghana’s independence from British colonial rule.
Asked by his cousin Ebenezer Ako-Adjei, one of the ‘Big Six‘ founders of Ghana, to come back to help him run his Ministry (Foreign Affairs), he returned to Ghana and became his Personal Assistant in 1960. In 1963 when Ako-Adjei was arrested in a political frame-up, Anyele’s grandfather was arrested too. He was released from Usher Fort and Nsawam prisons after six months detention. He left the civil service.
In 1965, he joined Parkinson Heward (builders of the Tema industrial municipaity) as a bookkeeper. In February 1966, when there was the coup d’etat by the National Liberation Council that ousted Kwame Nkrumah’s government, Parkinson Heward was asked to leave the country. He vowed never to join politics again… hence Anyele’s dad’s aversion to politics! Nii Ampa Sowa passed away in 1980, while Anyele’s dad was pursuing his graduate studies in Canada, where Anyele was born.
Interestingly, Ajorwor (“we are blessed”/”we’ve been blessed” in Ga) combined with Ampa (“true” in Akan), Ajorwor Ampa means “truly blessed!” So we have been blessed indeed; but blessing is a mountain with no peak. There’s so much more where these blessings came from and we trust that Nii Ajorwor not only represents blessings past but is a divine sign and a symbol for many more blessings to come to our Perbi family and through us, to all nations! Welcome, Nii Ajorwor Ampa Perbi! Akwaaba!
A Way to Prevent Heartbreak: Clarify Expectations
I have wanted to talk about this for months–how to prevent unnecessary hurt from unmet expectations–but last week an incident happened with one of my associates that really catalyzed me to share this urgently. So let’s talk about unmet expectations.
Whether it’s between spouses, parent and child, boss and workers or even among co-workers, family folk and church members, this is quite a common occurrence. This is particularly so African, Chinese, Japanese and Korean cultures that employ indirect communication. If you’re like me, you’ve probably been hurt before by unmet expectations. In fact, sometimes we don’t even realize we had an expectation until it was not met!
Mark Twain once said, “What gets us into trouble is not what we don’t know. It’s what we know for sure that just ain’t so.” We tend to have expectations that are unconscious, unrealistic, unspoken and unagreed upon. Let me share how you can flip these four things around and protect your heart against heartbreaks from unmet expectations. I owe this life-saving lesson from my New Yorkan mentors, Pete and Geri Scazzero.s
THE MILLION DOLLAR QUESTION
How do you know your expectations are valid or not? As hard-to-take as this may seem, when the expectation is unconscious it is invalid. In fact, if even we don’t even know we have them until we are disappointed how on earth is the other person supposed to know and meet it? When it is unrealistic it is invalid as well. Even if it is reasonable and we are conscious of it but it has not been articulated, it is still invalid. The common lame excuse we tend to give is, “Oh, but they should know?!”
In the event that our expectations meet all the above three criteria–conscious, realistic, spoken–but the other party has not agreed to them, they are still invalid. While this may seem very Western, I have learnt as an African-Canadian that it is never wise to assume agreement!
Of course, important caveats include marriage (where the vows already spoken have created certain clear expectations like fidelity), parent-child relationships (expectation of chores) and employer-employee dynamics where expectations have been clearly laid out in contracts and policy and supposedly read and accented to. Even in these relationships with broad-stroke expectations, situations occur that demand clarifying expectations further.
WHAT TO DO TO FORESTALL HEARTBREAKS
To prevent heartbreaks from unmet expectations, ensure your expectations are:
(1) Conscious: I am aware of my expectation.
(2) Realistic: I have evidence to support that the expectation is reasonable in the sense that the other is able and willing.
(3) Spoken: I have expressed the expectation clearly.
(4) Agreed Upon: The other person has agreed to the expectation by saying “yes.”
I would highly recommend you take the Scazzero’s Emotionally Healthy Relationships course for a full meal and good skill-building in this area they call Stop Mind Reading and Clarifying Expectations.
WHAT TO DO WHEN HURT HAPPENS
In the event that hurt still happens from unmet expectations, valid or not, REFRAMING the painful experience is everything. As John Maxwell renders it in the Law of Pain, “good management of bad experiences can lead to growth.” Reframe the painful experience as follows (modified from a Maxwell process):
a) Define the problem –> The painful situation I need to process right now is…
b) Understand your emotion –> My feelings about this are…
c) Articulate the lesson –> My lessons in is this are…
d) Identify a desired change –> The changes I want to effect are…
e) Brainstorm numerous pathways –> The ways out are…
f) Receive others’ input –> What I’m learning from others is…
g) Implement a course of action –> My course of action is 1. Embrace the reality of pain 2. Learn my lesson(s) 3. Share my lessons 4. Change a. ______ b. ______ c. ______ d. _____.
You know what they say happens when you assume: you make an ass of u and me. An expectation is only valid when it is mutually agreed upon. Let’s do less heart damage by providing and demanding clear expectations of others. Let’s ensure in all our relationships that our expectations are conscious, realistic, articulated and agreed upon. And when things fall through the cracks and we feel the sting of pain from unmet expectations, let’s reframe the experience well so we can still grow and flourish.
TO GOAL OR GROW? That is the question!
This is so counterintuitive that I don’t beat myself too much for almost completely missing it earlier in my life. I’m glad I have clinched that now: to grow an enterprise, grow people; to hit your goals focus on growing yourself and on the growth process.
Like most people I know, I love the word potential. Potential is the difference between who/where you are now and who/where you could be. Success, then, would be getting to who/where you could be. Being a go(al)-getter, one of the biggest mistakes I’ve made in life has been to keep the target or goal so much in mind and trying to figure out various strategies and timelines to hit it but neglecting the most important thing and most important one: growth and me. John Maxwell puts it succinctly: “To reach your potential you must grow. And to grow, you must be highly intentional about it.”
No matter the systems and structures, tools and technologies, courses and cash one gathers to hit a goal, unless there is investment in the growth of the person(s) involved, the goal is unlikely to happen. To achieve a goal, invest in growth of those the fulfillment of the goal depends on. To grow an enterprise, grow people.
Try something else in the new year: keep the goal in mind but focus on you (or whoever it depends on) and focus on a growth process. Let’s see what happens. I take my mentor John’s counsel seriously: “If you focus on goals, you may hit the goals, but that doesn’t guarantee growth. If you focus on growth, you will grow and always hit growth.” This is how to win, 100% of the time!
Here’s a paragraph from John’s 15 Invaluable Laws of Growth, which at the start of the new year I take a selected few through, that makes the point:
“If you want to discover your purpose, you need to grow in self-awareness. To become a better human being, you need to grow in character. To advance in your career, you need to grow in your skills. To be a better spouse or parent, you need to grow in relationships. To reach your financial goals, you need to grow in your knowledge about how money works. To enrich your soul, you need to grow spiritually.”
In similar fashion, as James Allen wrote in his classic As a Man Thinketh, “People are anxious to improve their circumstances but are unwilling to improve themselves; they therefore remain bound.” Get it? To get your goal you’ve got to grow.
GO WITH ME
Now, assuming you’ve agreed with me that you’ve got to grow to succeed, then the next logical question (in all probability) is how do I grow?. Well, you need to know the principles (laws) governing growth and have a plan and process to grow. Key to this plan and process is, again, people.
They say “we become the combined average of the five people we hang around the most.” Take a quick inventory right now. Depending on who your average five turn out to be, you must be pretty excited or pretty disappointed right now.
Apart from becoming a growing person yourself (towards your goals), you also need growth people, to stimulate, guide and guard your growth. This may be in the form of an accountability friend, a supportive spouse, an executive coach, or a small group like a mastermind.
I like to say that where two or three come together ‘magic’ happens. It is true. No matter how brilliant the ideas I think I have are, somehow when I meet with a group of people to discuss it the final outcome is much much better than my best ideas. It goes without saying that all of us are better than any one of us, any day! That is what Napoleon Hill discovered (mentioned in his 1925 book) and called a” mastermind”–when two people come together they create a third, invisible mind which is greater than the sum of the other two.
So for ideation, encouragement and accountability, everyone needs someone to come alongside them in their growth journey towards goal-getting.
To goal or to grow? That is the question. This is so counterintuitive that I don’t beat myself too much for almost completely missing it earlier in my life. I’m glad I have clinched that now: to hit your goals focus on growing yourself and on the growth process. Even if you don’t hit your goal, you will hit your growth.
Be goal-bound (as in, headed towards your goal) not situation-bound (as in, stuck where you are) by being growth-bound (heading towards growth and sticking to growth). Set your goal alright but then focus on the growth it will take. To hit goals, focus on the person(s) involved and on the growth process. To get your goal you’ve got to grow. This is how to win 100% of the time!
If you want to see if there’s still room for you in the 2020 Growth Mastermind click here.
GET COACHED | How does it work?
“Your journey to leadership is likely to take many unexpected turns. Life is full of challenging situations, including ethical dilemmas, midcourse career changes or burnout, seemingly intractable interpersonal challenges, marriage and family issues, failures, and loneliness. At times, you may feel you are losing your way or have gotten off course from your True North. Getting back on track alone is very difficult, perhaps even impossible” (Bill George). That’s why you need a coach.
If you’ve followed me on social media over the last few days you should’ve noticed a couple of posts about my excitement to train a group of Medical Superintendents in Ghana on Emotional Intelligence (EQ). Of course everybody needs (EQ) but one reason doctors in particular do is that they tend to think because they are smart and got into med school they would be successful in life and leadership. To our rude shock (and I say ‘our’ because I am a doctor myself), after a certain threshold, intelligence (IQ) doesn’t matter anymore, and what gives the winning edge to succeed is all EQ.
NO ONE CAN HELP THEMSELVES WITHOUT BEING HELPED
After an hour of training on what EQ is, five reasons why it’s key and how to acquire it, I left them with Boyatzis’s theory of self-directed learning. I first encountered this during my read of Primal Leadership, a book he co-authored with the chap who most popularized EQ from 1995 till date, Daniel Goleman. Boyatzis’s map (see below) begins with a hopeful “Who do I want to be?”, a picture of your ideal self. This existential question is at the very apex of Maslow’s hierarchy of needs (if you remember); it is a question of self-actualization. But the next question, which in my opinion really should be the first, is ‘Who am I?’, your real self.
Integrating those two questions reveals one’s strengths (where your ideal and real self overlap) and your gaps (where your ideal and real self differ). Your learning agenda or growth plan, therefore, basically involves building on your strengths while reducing your gaps. And so you begin: experimenting with new thoughts (head), feelings (heart) and behaviours (hands). Practicing your new behaviours actually results in building new neural pathways to success/mastery.
But here is the kicker: Central to all of these points, steps, and pathways is “DEVELOPING TRUSTING RELATIONSHIPS that help, support and encourage each step in the process.” Again, that’s where a professional coach comes in. Even in this so-called ‘self-directed’ learning, no man is an island and needs the vital trusted relationships to make their growth and goals happen.
Do you have someone that will tell you the truth and to whom you can tell the truth? Do you have the authentic relationships and customized resources to clarify your beliefs and values and understand vital personal and professional issues and receive honest feedback when you need it most?
A coach’s responsibility is to provide content, insight, tools, wisdom, framework, ideas, and feedback. YOUR responsibility is to move from awareness to action and accountability. Our coaching provides many structures for you to meet your individual and organizational goals.
For John Maxwell certified coaches like myself, whether it’s one-on-one executive coaching or one-on-few, we like to say that the objectives of coaching include, but are not limited to:
- Discovery of personal identity, emotional needs, purpose (vision & mission) and values
- Crafting of personal, professional and corporate Growth Plan
- Adding an objective and supportive third party to your leadership team
- Increasing accountability of your personal and professional goals
- Improving specific skills related to your role. Such as managerial skills, communication, conflict resolution, time management, productivity, and effectiveness
- Sharing best practices from other organizations that have done similar work
- Reviewing strategic business decisions related to operations, customer service, marketing, financials, and more
- Being a sounding board
- Preventing problems, thereby avoiding expensive, time consuming or embarrassing actions
- Supporting your growth past your limiting beliefs
- Conflict resolution
- Creating a team atmosphere
- Relationship development for success and significance.
COACHING OPTIONS (FOR C-LEVEL EXECUTIVES, OWNERS & GENERAL MANAGERS)
Coaching Categories: Depending on your goals and budget, at YAW PERBI we offer Green, Blue and Gold level coaching. Currently only Gold services are available, and they are limited.
Time & Place: All coaching programs require a minimum time investment of 6-12 months. Coaching is a marathon, rather than a sprint! Depending on whether Green, Blue or Gold level, the coaching package includes 2, 3 or 4 sessions a month lasting approximately 60-90 minutes. Sessions can be at your office, my place of business, or a mutually agreed upon location. In these days of COVID-19, online coaching is our mainstay via Zoom. Phone coaching is also an option but I prefer to see the individual to observe body language and such.
Special arrangements: Sometimes included in a gold package is two full days of shadowing, facilitation of a two meetings of your choice (up to 2 hours each), and unlimited phone calls and emails in between sessions. In addition, you or any of your employees will benefit from a 25% discount for any company training/workshops.
Other coaching services: Group Coaching, Sales Coaching, Couples Coaching, Business Partner Coaching, Youth Coaching, Relationship Coaching, Genogram Coaching and more (they include these but not limited to them).
Payment arrangements: These are to be made before services are provided, and as agreed upon via this website, mobile money, PayPal, cheques or bank transfers.
Miscellaneous: We will always be punctual. If you need to reschedule, 24 hours advance notice is required or one-half of the coaching session is lost. If for some reason I need to reschedule and do not do so with a 24-hour notice, you will be credited with an additional one-half coaching session, at no additional charge. Our coaching relationship is completely confidential. We will never share your identity or any information about you with any other person or organization without your expressed consent. In the unlikely event that there are concerns that need to be referred to another professional, I may be able to make that suggestion to you.
Completing our coaching relationship is a mutual decision. While my retention percentage is very high, there may come a time when you determine that it is time to complete our coaching relationship. If and when that time comes, I expect that the coachee will give me at least four weeks’ notice. That will give us time to summarize your growth/learning and strategize your next steps.
Our services are unconditionally guaranteed. If at any time you feel that you are not getting the support, honesty, coaching, or training that you expect, then you need to tell me.
If you are serious about growth, success and significance you need a coach. The proof of your commitment is your investment of quality time, best effort and substantial money. Even as a coach, I also have a paid coach. Everybody needs somebody to coach them. So! Make arrangements here and now for a 30-minute exploratory call to see if we would be a good match.
GET COACHED | What’s that?
There is no significant high performer I know who doesn’t have a coach, from entertainment and sports to business. Some have even more than one. How about you?
It was just a one-hour call with a coach. Let’s call him Joe. It changed the trajectory of my life. It wasn’t at a corner office in downtown Montreal or in one of the new plush buildings decorating the Accra skyline. It was at home, just at home; over Zoom. But utilizing the major tool coaches employ–questions, questions and more questions–the lightbulb suddenly came on and within 24 hours I had the oomph to re-start passive income generating projects I had kept procrastinating for a decade! How much that call with Joe cost me in dollars cannot be compared with the kind of lifetime value I gained and lifelong income stream I am cued to earn. I love the CLARITY coaches help bring to our thinking.
SO WHAT IS COACHING?
One of the most (ab)used words in our time is ‘mentor’ or ‘mentoring’ (or ‘mentorship’). I’ve heard and read people actually say coaching and mentoring are two different things. But no, mentoring is a term for the broader framework of empowering relationships every successful person needs (see diagram above) and coaching is a form of mentoring.
According to one of my leadership professors (during my Master of Arts in Global Leadership), mentoring is “a relational process in which a mentor, who knows or has experienced something, transfers that something (resources of wisdom, information, experience, confidence, insight, relationships, status etc.) to a mentoree, at an appropriate time and manner, so that it facilitates development or empowerment” (Clinton & Stanley 1992, 40). Mentoring is relationship, relationship, relationship. A relational experience, relational process, relational exchange.
Coaching, therefore (I repeat), is a form of mentoring, as is each of the other eight types of mentoring shown in the Clinton Continuum diagram above.
WHAT MAKES COACHING DIFFERENT?
First of all, you will notice that coaching is classified among the first third of relationships under ‘INTENSIVE’, unlike counselor, teacher and sponsor (grouped in the middle third) which are OCCASIONAL experiences. For example, as a coach, I recommend at least twice a month meetings with my coachees; sometimes even weekly (depending on their situation, needs and goals) for a minimum of six months. The ideal is a contact every 10 days especially so that no balls are dropped inadvertently.
While the scope of this write-up is not to describe every one of the nine mentoring relationships but to highlight coaching in particular, let me briefly say that a discipler is someone who enables another in the basics of following a religion (especially Christianity), a spiritual guide provides accountability, direction and insight for questions and decisions affecting spirituality and maturity. A coach provides motivation, clarity, challenge, accountability, skills and application needed to meet a goal. Clinton would argue that “the coach’s central thrust is to provide motivation and impart skills and application to meet a task or challenge” (73). Coaching, he would say, “is a process of imparting encouragement and skills to succeed in a task through a relationship” (76).
Coaching is an on-going conversation where I (as your coach) provide encouragement, guidance and honest feedback, as YOU pursue YOUR personal and professional goals. I fully expect you to grow yourself and your family/business/organization and succeed in life, by attaining your goals!
There is no significant high performer I know who doesn’t have a coach, from entertainment and sports to business. Without a coach, it is hard for anyone to experience high performance on their own, let alone to achieve what has come to be known as meta performance. In today’s competitive environment, some of the most successful business leaders have experienced tremendous benefits from coaching. Results have included increased revenue and productivity, career advancement, higher employee retention, and the development of more effective business strategies. YOU will define the agenda. YOUR results will vary depending on how long we work together and what actions YOU take.
As a John C. Maxwell trained and certified coach, my clients are expected to, and have experienced, measurable return on investment, increased productivity, and up to 200% revenue growth.
IT WORKS! LET ME HELP YOU.
If I didn’t believe this stuff, I wouldn’t be promoting it. The proof of our belief in anything is our investment of time and money in it. I personally have my own coach who I pay hundred of dollars to for three sessions monthly. At YAW PERBI, our value proposition is authentically empowering C-level executives for exponential growth in 90 days, success within a year and significance for a lifetime (and beyond). Try me. Try us.
We are human, thus limited, and cannot help everybody. Currently I personally have only 10 places each year for authentic, high quality and deep relationship one-on-one coaching so I have had to make the hard decision to focus mainly on C-level executives. The wisdom in that is, as my mentor John Maxwell says about what he calls “the Law of the Lid,” when they get better (raise their lids), everyone else else under them gets better. Knowing how key coaching is, however, no one will ever be turned away. I would be more than happy to refer you to others within my very rich coaching network. Everyone deserves a competent and caring coach.
Apart from one-on-ones, there are times I do one-on-few coaching for a group of executives. My favourite is helping executives work through company DNA (vision, mission & values)! I share about that in a later blog here.
If you’re ready to grow, succeed and be significant, take my hand and let me help you. Let me be your coach.
Clinton, J. Robert and Paul D Stanley. 1992. Connecting: the mentoring relationships you need to succeed in life. Colorado Springs: NavPress.
Disrespecting Einstein | A note to HR bosses
Exactly a week ago, I finished two days of consulting for a flourishing company in Accra that was making two new hires. It wasn’t the first time I was coaching them through the hiring process and chairing the interview panel but this time there was an HR consultant who was excellent in putting everything together, literally setting the table for us all. Meticulous chap who knows his stuff! Because of a five-hour time difference between Montreal (where I’m currently based) and Accra, the 9.30am interview start on Zoom meant 4.30am for me. Well, whatever!
Everyone interviewed was a young, hope-filled university graduate, some as freshly minted as last year. I could tell the hope in their hearts and could see the fire in their eyes to ‘make it,’ here first and in the rest of life, of course! And in fact, they weren’t asking for too much. As usual, not everyone made it. Out of eight interviewees (and this was after whittling down several applications and getting the short-listed ones to fill out pre-interview questionnaires) we had room for just two.
Now here’s the kicker: the HR consultant’s drafted letter to this group who couldn’t be hired went like this:
Dear Candidate, many thanks for your patience and continuous interest in the role of __________ at __________. After thorough consideration, we are sorry to inform you that you were not successful. We take this opportunity to wish you well in all your future endeavours.
No. I couldn’t let that pass–precisely because of that phrase have made bold above for emphasis. Words matter. So I asked him, politely, if we could put “you were not successful” in a different way, in a more positive manner? Eg. “Another candidate was preferred?” And that is what we did.
Even the CEO was touched by this. She responded, “Thanks so much for the feed back Dr Perbi. True. We are working with real people’s emotions and lives.” She then went on to recount something I had done in a previous search for a C-level executive for the same company. She wrote, “ I remember the special messages you sent to each one of the candidates who did not make it, accompanied by a summary of their performance [so they could improve, work on themselves] and a prayer for them during the previous selection process. I was touched and l believe most of them appreciated the gesture.” Indeed they had felt so valued and encouraged, some wrote back to say thank you! It almost didn’t matter that they had not been picked for the role. With that buoyancy, I bet they went on to be and do great things elsewhere.
From time immemorial leaders have misjudged the capabilities and potentials of others; sometimes in an outrightly comical fashion (only on hindsight, of course!) When in 1898 Albert Einstein applied for admittance to the Munich Technical Institute he was rejected because (read this slowly) he would “never amount to much.” Consequently, instead of going to school he went to find work at the Swiss Patent Office where he was employed as an inspector and with his extra time, refined his theory of relativity. As they say, the rest is history.
Ask yourself: how would I act differently if I knew for sure this was an Einstein sitting in front of me? People are not just human ‘resources’, like cogs in a wheel. They are human beings. They have emotions, identity and purpose. Each bears the imago Dei (the image of God) and in the phraseology of Büber, must be treated as a ‘Thou’; not an ‘It.’ If for nothing at all, in respect for their Creator and in honour of their boldness to apply, to step into the ring, to do something with their lives. You certainly don’t want to meet them somewhere else in life and be ashamed of what you thought of them, how you spoke to them or handled them. They might even be in a position to hire or fire you someday. You may very well be disrespecting Einstein.
Here’s how to love, for real.
Love is an attitude (head), affect (heart), and action (hands). Here’s a way to get a handle of it, literally!
“LOVE” might very well get the vote for the most used and abused word, ever! It’s a good thing that languages like Spanish and Greek help a little by having different words to mean different kinds of love, from a ‘strong like’ to ‘brotherly/sisterly love’ to ‘unconditional love’ to sheer ‘eros.’
If truth be told though, the hardest part about love isn’t so much understanding it; it is showing it. I have a mentor who likes to say that the biggest gap in the world is the gap between knowing and doing. But sometimes we just don’t know how.
The Community Temperature Reading (CTR) by my mentors Pete and Geri Scazzero (an adaption of Virginia Satir’s work) has helped me practically love my spouse, children, friends and team members much better and I suspect might be of use to you too.
1. APPRECIATIONS | “I appreciate…”
Call it thanksgiving or praise, even God loves to be appreciated! I suspected having created us in His image and likeness makes us love being appreciated as well. Learn to say, “I appreciate…” eg. “I appreciate washing the dishes last night when I was too tired to.” Like me, some people, cultures and families are very stingy with appreciations. I tend to verbally appreciate only, almost exclusively, extremely high performance but I’m learning to be much more generous in saying, “I appreciate…”
You may have come across Dr. John Gottman, “the guy that can predict divorce with over 90% accuracy.” According to him, for every one negative feeling or interaction between partners, there must be five positive feelings or interactions. How is your appreciation:criticism ratio? The last I checked, I didn’t like my ratio with my children. I’m working on that.
2. PUZZLES | “I am puzzled…”
My most frequent exercise is “jumping to conclusions,” especially in situations in which I have little information yet strong opinions and a big mouth. And it doesn’t help at all that my ‘high D’ personality makes me unafraid to confront people and situations! I often come across as judgemental, even when I have the best of intentions.
I’ve learnt that “puzzle is a loving word.” Now instead of being super upset and angrily asking one of my staff, “Why didn’t you reply my email?” (with all sorts of assumptions lurking) I’m learning to rather say something like, “I’m puzzled as to why you didn’t reply my email.”
Peter and Geri Scazzero share in their Emotionally Healthy Relationships course, “instead of thinking, No one washed the dishes last night. I live with a bunch of slobs! you can say, “I’m puzzled as to why you left your dirty dishes in the sink last night.”” Try it. You can appreciate me later.
3. COMPLAINTS WITH POSSIBLE SOLUTIONS | “I notice… and I prefer…”
If you adopted this one, I would feel really loved as my personality cannot stand whining but loves solutions. No doubt, as long as we are imperfect humans in a broken world we will all have concerns and complaints. Many of us tend to suffer in silence though on one hand or unproductively complain about everything without taking responsibility for anything, not even suggestions for improvement.
The panacea to this, how to love well when there are things you don’t dig, is to use the words: “I notice… and I prefer…” eg. “I notice our clinical meetings start late, and I prefer we start at the agreed upon time.” This gives voice, a respectful voice, but also gives the other ears to hear, especially coming with a clearly stated alternative. Even if the ‘possible solution’ preferred is merely the opposite of the complaint, like in the example above, verbalizing it as an alternate proposal will be taken better. Give it a try.
4. NEW INFO | “My new information is…”
True, “love does not keep a record of wrongs;” but true love keeps news up to date. I wise man once told me, “It isn’t distance that keeps us apart; it is silence.” If you know me well as a public speaker and prolific writer you might find it hard to believe this but I tend not to be as communicative at home as I am in public. The CTR tool has given me a reason to consciously say, “My new information is…” It could be about an event, decision, appointment, achievement, opportunity, activity, whatever! As the Scazzeros put it, “relationships can only grow when people know what is happening in each other’s lives, both the trivial as well as the important.”
5. HOPES AND WISHES | “I hope…”
I found out rather late in my marriage how much Anyele feels loved when we verbalize our hopes, dreams and plans for the future. No wonder!, for “hopes and wishes offer windows into our unique souls, revealing significant parts of who we are” (Pete & Geri Scazzero). eg. “I hope we can get to visit the Caribbean next year.”
“LOVE ME THIS WAY”
The people in our lives are crying out, “this is how I want to feel loved, would you please love me this this way?” If we all regularly practised any of these five skills the people in our lives would feel loved; if we did more than one often they would feel much loved; if we made a habit of all five they surely would feel very much loved. Don’t just say you love somebody; don’t just feel the feeling, do it these five ways! If you didn’t know how, now you do!
Post Script | Great Commandment vrs. Great Commission
For those who are Christ followers, it may be worth noting that the Great Commandment (to love God with your all and love your neighbour as yourself) comes before the Great Commission (to make disciples) in sequence and in rank (Jesus said the greatest command is love). Besides, the Great Commission includes teaching the Great Commandment if we are to teach folks to do everything Christ commanded. The first of the fruit of the Spirit is love. Remember God Himself is love. “And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.” There’s no way getting round love as a Christ follower.
One curious thing about the Great Commission is how many of us have read it to mean that making disciples of Jesus is by teaching them stuff that Jesus commanded. Meanwhile, a careful and slow re-reading of the text shows the essence is to train or teach people how to obey the stuff Jesus commands. Jesus said “teach them to obey everything I have commanded you” not just “teach them everything I have commanded you.” No wonder there are so many Christians who know ‘everything’ but do nearly nothing the Scriptures say! This understanding of the Great Commission has made a world of difference to me and those I walk/work with. The Community Temperature Reading (CTR) tool above, teaches you how to obey the command to love. Try it!