The Business of Relationships

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A friend recently lamented to me that she wished men could treat relationships like they would a business deal.

In business, is it common practice to talk nice with a potential business partner over the course of a few dates then vanish into thin air?

When you’re not interested in the deal, you’re honest and upfront about it. No need string anyone along.

Besides, stringing someone along in a business context, choosing to act without open and honest communication, could be bad for your reputation.

And future business.

The world is small, whose to say though today’s business deal didn’t work out, there isn’t an opportunity for other ways to collaborate down the line?

But my friend has encountered a number of guys who apparently aren’t in the business of open and honest communication.

What happened to meaningful cliches like honesty is the best policy? Or the truth will set you free?

I can’t blame her, though, in our relationships with the potential “one”, it’s easier to stick our heads in the sand or to run away than it is to be honest about how we feel and work through those challenges together.

I’ve done it. Actually, I’m a repeat offender.

This was actually what my 21 days of writing in November evolved into. It was the first time that I did not stick my head in the sand, or run away.

It was the first time I sat down with myself and faced my fears deep within myself for an extended period of time. It was not a one-off conversation, I made it my business for those three weeks. And I committed to making a habit of being vulnerable.

It was the first time I was able to be completely open and honest with the “one” about all my problems.

And trust me, I have a handful.

But as long as we’re being open and honest with each other, I know you do too. We all do.

I suppose the only thing that sets us apart are the people who are honest with themselves about their issues and those that aren’t.

But that’s too easy isn’t it?

Let’s step back for a second and re-think for a moment. How many types of us are there?

First, there’s the people who are honest with themselves AND with others about their issues. A rare breed.

I wonder how much of us actually reach this nirvanic level of self-awareness, self-understanding, and vulnerability?

Second, there’s the people who are honest with themselves, but may not be confident enough to share this with others.

Third, there are the people who know their issues, but may not have found all of them. Or maybe they have yet to realize just how those issues affect them.

This number three speaks most to me, that’s where I was earlier this year.

Fourth, there are the people who have figured themselves out, and everyone else out. It can be such a challenge to wait for others to figure themselves out. Life will be better when that happens.

Who did I miss?

So this friend of mine has been sending me these great articles on marriage that I’ve been totally digging.

The one that kept me up last night and has me still thinking today you can find here.

It’s an absolutely brilliant read, if you choose to read with an open mind.

Here’s the skinny (i.e. the first three reasons Why We Will Marry the Wrong Person):

One: We don’t understand ourselves

Two: We don’t understand other people

Three: We aren’t used to being happy

Here are some of my favorite quotes:

All of us are crazy in very particular ways. We’re distinctively neurotic, unbalanced and immature, but don’t know quite the details because no one ever encourages us too hard to find them out.

A good partnership is not so much one between two healthy people (there aren’t many of these on the planet), it’s one between two demented people who have had the skill or luck to find a non-threatening conscious accommodation between their relative insanities.

The problem is that knowledge of our own neuroses is not at all easy to come by. It can take years and situations we have had no experience of. Prior to marriage, we’re rarely involved in dynamics that properly hold up a mirror to our disturbances. Whenever more casual relationships threaten to reveal the ‘difficult’ side of our natures, we tend to blame the partner – and call it a day. As for our friends, they predictably don’t care enough about us to have any motive to probe our real selves. They only want a nice evening out. Therefore, we end up blind to the awkward sides of our natures.

One of the greatest privileges of being on one’s own is the flattering illusion that one is, in truth, really quite an easy person to live with.

With such a poor level of understanding of our characters, no wonder we aren’t in any position to know who we should be looking out for.

This problem is compounded because other people are stuck at the same low level of self-knowledge as we are. However well-meaning they might be, they too are in no position to grasp, let alone inform us, of what is wrong with them. Naturally, we make a stab at trying to know them. We go and visit their families, perhaps the place they first went to school. We look at photos, we meet their friends. All this contributes to a sense we’ve done our homework. But it’s like a novice pilot assuming they can fly after sending a paper plane successfully around the room.

If the title wasn’t enough to reel me in, then I can definitely confirm I was hooked after the first line. And I couldn’t stop reading after reading why we don’t understand ourselves – or others.

But, please, before you go any further with what I have here, please open this up in a new tab and read from start to finish.

I wish I could say that anything I write beyond this point could match the level of, “How We End Up Marrying the Wrong People.”

I regret that might not be possible.

But I won’t stop without trying.

This selection got me back to thinking about my friend, business, relationships with the “one”, and the business of relationships.

Having learned much of what I know in business much like how I’ve learned the most important lessons in life – trial by fire – I’ve come to know that before we get too far into the conversation, the best business deals I’ve done include an early conversation about all the bad stuff that can, might, and/or will happen.

Funny, in romantic relationships we don’t want to touch this topic with a 100 foot pole.

And why not hit these challenges head on?

Knowing what I know now, this is probably one of the most informative and intimate conversations you can have with a potential “one” and could do incredible things for mutual understanding and empathy with such a proactive approach to problem solving.

I’m having a hard time imagining a conversation that could be more meaningful.

Even if we are super self-aware and think of ourselves as highly empathetic, it’s a lot easier to express empathy when you have more information than less.

It’s also a lot easier to express empathy while calm, cool, and collected rather than under stress and duress.

This may come natural to some of us, but I’ve only been able to improve through preparation and practice.

So if you haven’t already, Read This. And share it with someone that matters to you. I’ve already shared it with my family.

And now I’m sharing it with you.

I’m curious, what do you think?

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And if you’re already tired from reading, take a look at the video below (4:00), it’s almost (or equally) as excellent.

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This was my first time on The Book of Life site. I’ll definitely be back for a return visit some day, sooner than later.

At first I had a different picture in mind, but then I got to thinking about vanishing. I came upon this quote by John Quincy Adams from this page on Pinterest that seemed to put a twist on the relationship between patience and perseverance,  disappearing and vanishing.

The running away model of vanishing cannot hold a candle to how difficulties disappear and obstacles vanish when one is patient and perseveres with what and whom matters most to them.

21 days of writing taught me that. And it’s remarkable how the difficulties and obstacles of yesterday almost no longer seem relevant, even exist.

Think I’m crazy? Give it a try yourself. A true, concentrated effort. You might surprise yourself. I know I did.

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Movember

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I wonder if you’ve heard about this before? A little movement called Movember. It’s a month dedicated to gaining a better understanding and appreciation for issues in men’s health.

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After spending an evening reading up about the event, which led me to forgo my longest beard growth of 4 months for the cause, I found so many fun blog posts, videos, and images centered around this month-long event.

For starters, how about this campaign from TWBA\Singapore from back in 2010?

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While simple creative ideas like the above serve as reminders that a moustache can turn an ordinary person into a historic figure, there are also a number of educational resources to offer ideas on How to Grow a Moustache (this video is with Nick Offerman).

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The Movember team has done well to find like-minded partners, as evidenced by the nature of the collaboration with Tom’s Shoes. Not only is there a brief video on their site here to offer a perspective on what it feels like to participate in Movember, they’ve also designed an interactive mini-calendar with suggestions for how to structure the 30 days of moustache pared with education around men’s health. Of course, there are shoes for sale. While this year’s edition have a classic feel, I’m a bit partial to an earlier iteration.

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I am also intrigued by how impact is communicated.

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As for my decision-making process, it really came down to Halloween night. Most of my contemporaries, especially the ones who were set to celebrate Halloween for the first time, were preoccupied with important all-consuming questions like, “what will my costume be”? While debating whether I would make it to experience a Honolulu all hallows eve (apparently people get super into it here), I was reminded that the following day was to be the first day of Movember, the beginning of a special month with a curious name.

Movember, which started in Australia back in 2003, is a month-long event where a million men around the world last year decided to shave down on the 1st of November and grow a moustache. By doing this, the goal is to bring greater visibility to issues in men’s health, particularly prostate cancer, testicular cancer, and mental health, while having fun and resurrecting a facial fad from days past. Changing the face of men’s health is a noble goal, here is more specifics on the causes we are fighting for. As for more on the back-story, take a quick look at the history of Movember (there’s a great video).

And speaking of video, MovemberTV offers a whole slew of fun and informative content for your viewing pleasure.

Here are several important reasons why I joined as a full-blown participant in the month of moustache growing:

1. The Story

Movember has steadily grown over the last 10 years. Perhaps we could even say organic? Did you take a look at the history yet?

2. Conversation

There is an interesting and intelligent conversation that engages people around a crucial conversation with humor. And I’m quite interested about how they frame the conversation around impact, as well.

3. Clarity in Vision, Values, and Goals

The vision, values, and goals are super clear and well-articulated through a variety of mediums: the written word, still images, video.

4. Super Social

You can do it with your friends. You can join a group of strangers. It brings people together in a fun and unique way. And you don’t just have to be able to grow a Mo to join the festivities, Mo Sistas are equally encouraged to Movember.

Besides, team play is much more fun than playing alone. The more people involved, the more interesting the exchange. So, we started a team at the East West Center here in Honolulu.

5. What does the Future look like?

Interesting questions. What does the future of men’s health look like? What does the future of the Movember Foundation and their activities look like? What does the future of my face look like when it sports a groomed moustache at the end of the month? How about yours? Few of us really look ready for what is to come.

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While this is my first time participating, I gather that Movember is not about how much your moustache will grow, though however much or however little you do, will likely be fun and funny. It’s also not about how much money you raise in donations, although the donations will contribute to implementing these important programs centered around men’s health. But ultimately, from all that I’ve seen or heard about Movember, if anything is important, it’s the conversations about health. For men. For women. For all of us.

I leave you with several reasons the why the folks at Movember see men’s health in a poor state:

• Lack of awareness and understanding about the health issues men face
• Men not openly discussing their health and how they’re feeling
• Reluctance to take action when men don’t feel physically or mentally well
• Men engaging in risky activities that threaten their health
• Stigmas surrounding both physical and mental health

Movember 1st is behind us, but that doesn’t mean you can’t still join in the conversation. For me it started with the idea that 1 in 2 men and 1 in 3 women will be diagnosed with cancer in their lifetime. 1 in 6 of those men will be diagnosed with prostate cancer. While there are plenty more facts to inform you on the current situation in men’s health, you can also begin your journey on the Movember homepage where you will find some incredible energy building around a healthier future.