#1 Reason Self Care is Hard

I’ve been running a Self Care series on social the past week or so, and the feedback is so eye-opening!

The #1 response I get about why self care is challenging has to do with WHAT OTHER PEOPLE THINK!!

“My kids will think their activities aren’t important to me”

“My friends don’t get the same opportunities to rejuvenate, they are already so judgmental”

“My spouse doesn’t want me to spend the money on those luxuries”

“My team will think I’m not committed”

Um.  HELLO!!!  

It’s called SELF CARE  because this is YOU CARING for YOURSELF. 

It’s called SELF 👏CARE👏  because this is YOU CARING for YOURSELF.  How did anyone else ever get a vote in that?

And therein lies the rub.  

The people that truly understand this are the ones who effortlessly prioritize self care, and as a result, never get to a place where they seem to NEEEED it.  They don’t reach a point of depletion that makes the need for self care a raging urgency. 

But the ones that are governed by other’s opinions are the one’s that live in such chronic depletion that it becomes their new normal.  It’s where we start to take a departure from our own paths in favor of pleasing others. And how we become a shell of ourselves and start to harbor resentment towards others.

This is where The Secret Scorecard begins.  We start to note all the times we put our own needs aside to care for others, silently expecting they’ll do the same for us.  But when they don’t, we take it personally and start to take it out on others.

Can you see how the lack of self care can create such a gnarly domino effect?

Last week, I talked about The Domino Habit and how choosing one small action can build momentum towards greater results.

If you struggle with Self Care, can I offer a Domino Habit for you? Perhaps the biggest step you can take toward better self care is to DIVORCE YOURSELF FROM OTHER PEOPLE’S OPINIONS.  This happens when you believe your inner voice over any one else’s voice.  And, at the end of the day, it’s the greatest gesture of self care we can offer!

So, here’s to you and that inner voice that has been calling for you!

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#1 Reason Self Care can be hard and what you should do about it.

The Secret to Having a Successful Marriage to an Entrepreneur – Find Your Own Purpose!

While this book is geared towards the spouses of entrepreneurs, these strategies can help anyone looking to find their purpose. The following excerpt is from Kelly Clements’ book The Power of Play, Praise and Purpose. Get the FREE eBook below.

The Power of Play, Praise and Purpose book by Kelly Clements
The Power of Play, Praise and Purpose book by Kelly Clements

The Power of Purpose

A solo purpose divides; a shared purpose unites.

Mark Twain said, “The two most important days of your life are the day you are born and the day you find out why ”. If you’ve found your purpose, you know how much truth this quote holds. Discovering our purpose answers many of life’s biggest questions: “What is the meaning of life?” “Why am I here?” “What is my genius?” And even, “Does my life matter?”

Colliding with purpose is one of the most exhilarating experiences we can have as a human being. Discovering our purpose not only changes the course of our lives, it also impacts the lives of everyone with whom we work. However, it can also come with a cost—particularly to a marriage. When we make the choice to turn our purpose into a profession, it can leave our spouse feeling like our work is more important than he or she is. If one spouse is purpose-driven and the other isn’t, it can be especially hard to understand this relentless pursuit. The commitment to developing a shared purpose as a couple will help bring harmony to these entrepreneurial relationships.

I believe our individual purpose comes “factory installed” in us. It’s an innate calling that, when tapped, becomes impossible to resist. As we pursue this purpose and the full expression of it, it can create a point of contention in our relationships. It can either leave our spouse feeling like our business gets the best of us while she gets the rest of us, or it can be a painful reminder that she has not connected with her own purpose yet. This chapter will serve as a guide for those couples experiencing the dark side of a purpose-driven life. We’ll discuss how discovering our individual and shared purpose introduces us to who we are as our best and highest self.

Purpose Envy

My client Julie said it best: “I hate watching Jim walk out the door each day because he goes out to change so many lives and make a difference—and it’s a daily reminder that I’m still searching.” Like Julie, many spouses can feel a certain degree of envy that their entrepreneurial spouse has a strong sense of calling and meaning—while they don’t. His sense of purpose, if not experienced by the spouse, can stir discontent or even resentment in a spouse. It can be difficult for a spouse to begin the pursuit of purpose in an entrepreneurial shadow.

It’s natural for an entrepreneur to equate purpose to a business opportunity, but for a spouse who’s not business-minded, that can be off-putting. The fact is, everyone has a purpose. It’s a bonus to be paid for your purpose, but definitely not a necessity. You may be a whiz in the kitchen, or maybe you’re made to be a parent or caretaker. Perhaps you’re the one all your friends call for fashion advice or investment strategies. Purpose doesn’t have to be translated into a business to make it valid. Purpose is anything that introduces us to our best selves. It’s what motivates us to become better and better at something. It’s what makes us stand up a little taller and hold our heads higher. It is the activity that helps us lose track of time and elicits that feeling of being delighted to be alive.

When Something is Missing, It’s Probably Buried

I wholeheartedly believe that your purpose is already in you; that we each came into this life with a unique mission to impact the lives of our fellow humans. I also believe that at a young age, we have a sense of what this purpose might be. As we begin to express this to our friends and family, we are often shut down. Out of protection (love), our family might attempt to inform us of all the tragedy that we’ll encounter if we journey into the pursuit of purpose. I sense this is changing as our human race evolves, but for Generation X and previous generations, there seems to be an experience of being told that we’ll never make it if we reach for the stars.

For me, this was quite literal. I vividly remember the day my fourth-grade teacher announced we’d be doing a report on what we wanted to be when we grew up. We had just returned from the playground where I had spent the entire recess being chased in flirtatious pursuit by my classmate, Brian. With my , thanks to this blossoming crush, I was quick to volunteer my answer. I eagerly raised my hand and confidently proclaimed, “Mrs. Egezio, I’m going to be an astronaut!!” Without missing a beat, my new crush—Brian—exclaimed “Kelly, you can’t be an astronaut; you have to be smart to be an astronaut!

The class erupted in laughter. And there it was. In that moment, I buried my dreams. In that moment, I chose to be the fun girl—the life of the party—so no one would laugh at my dreams again. As you’ll remember, I even went to college and got a degree in “play.” That provided me with even more fun as I landed jobs at Walt Disney World, Disney Cruise Line, and Hilton Head Island. What a great life, right?

But something was still missing. As you now know, I was missing my calling. Thankfully, I eventually found it, and through discovering that purpose, I learned to recognize the lie that I had created to keep myself safe from the rejection I experienced that day in fourth grade. If you find that you are in purpose-seeking mode, I challenge you to find the moment you decided to keep yourself safe. When did you decide that it was unsafe to pursue your dream? Go back to that moment. Can you see the lie? It is only in discovering the lie that we can reveal the truth

When I realized I was basing my entire life around the faulty belief that my value as a person was to be fun, I was able to step more powerfully into my intelligence—and it changed everything.

Disparagement of our purpose is one of the harshest forms of criticism we can receive. In essence, we’re being told we’re not equipped to do what we are meant to do. Can you see how tempting it would be to shut down this pursuit altogether? The path of dogma can feel much safer than being told we’re wrong about our own dreams.

This is where the quiet desperation sets in and that feeling that something is missing begins to arise. The moment you accept this calling and start saying yes to it is the moment your purpose will begin to reveal itself.

Letting Your Purpose Find You

Generally, the people I work with fall into two categories: purpose-driven or purpose-seeking. The truth is, most purpose-driven people I know didn’t find their purpose; their purpose found them. And it happened by saying yes to something unexpected. This was true for me as well.

When I was twenty-five, I had just moved back to Chicago from Florida and I had no interest in finding my purpose because, quite frankly, I was still telling myself that I was supposed to be the fun one! I had big plans to get a job in special events because I figured that if I had to work, it might as well be at a party. So, I hired a headhunter to help me in my pursuit, and her first suggestion went over like a lead balloon. “I have a client called Strategic Coach. They set up workshops for entrepreneurs. I can get you an interview this week.”

My knee-jerk reaction was, “No, way!” I imagined myself assembling trade show booths in sterile convention halls. “That’s the last thing I want to do.” But I needed a practice interview, so I begrudgingly told the headhunter to go ahead and schedule it.

I did no research on this company prior to my interview. I had no idea that coaching was an industry, or that this type of work even existed. But when I showed up at the offices of Strategic Coach in Rosemont, Illinois, I was captivated. I call it my “mother ship” because the moment I walked in the door, I knew I wanted to be a part of this organization. The art on the wall, the books, and their mission (“Work Less. Make More.”) all spoke to me. I was home.

As my interview began, I learned more about the concept of coaching entrepreneurs. It was so intuitive to me that I found myself “talking the talk” right away. That was the day everything changed for me. It was the first time I wanted more for myself. The first time I saw a bigger future for myself. It was the first time I met my higher self.

At long last, I started taking myself more seriously. No longer was I interested in just going out on the weekends and drinking margaritas. I wanted more for myself; to be around more inspiring people. I had realized that I could make a difference in people’s lives, and that my own life— here—could actually matter. Before my interview, I hadn’t been concerned with finding my purpose; now, I couldn’t live without it. And it all started with an unexpected yes.

If you feel you are on the purpose-seeking end of the spectrum, congratulations! That tug is your indicator that you are on the brink. That void—or the feeling that there must be something more—is your calling to bigger things.

However, I find that spouses of entrepreneurs tend to dismiss this feeling more than any other group. I hear things like, “We have such a great life; who am I to ask for more?” And, “I feel bad about feeling unfulfilled; we have such an amazing life together. I don’t know what’s wrong with me.”

In my experience, I have found that spouses of entrepreneurs can get so caught up in the minutiae of everyone else’s dreams and goals, they neglect their own. In this state, they get carried so far away from their personal desires that they end up getting squeezed out of their own lives. They look around at all they have and still feel like something is missing. That “something” is often their sense of self.

Moving from purpose-seeking to purpose-driven starts with giving yourself permission to ask for more. Accept that it’s okay to seemingly have it all and still ask for more. That feeling only comes when there is more in store for you.

The Importance of a Shared Purpose

The power of purpose is more than an individual pursuit. It’s the defining quality that takes couples from ordinary to extraordinary. Couples can be at odds over many things, including finances and parenting, but when they have a shared sense of purpose, they establish longevity and unity that surpasses their unaligned counterparts. The reason is simple: Purpose is fuel. It’s the driving factor that allows us to plow through the obstacles to reach our goal.

One way to identify your purpose as a couple is to think about your life in five, ten, or fifty years. Whom have you helped? What is the difference you have made as a couple? With whom are you spending time each day? For what reasons are people seeking your company? Your answers to these questions will help set the course for your direction as a purpose-driven couple.

Both partners are working toward the same goal, whether that’s retiring on the beach, traveling 150 days a year, or starting a nonprofit. It can be to be totally focused on kids and grand kids, or to have the business carry on through future generations. The vision itself doesn’t matter; what matters is that both the entrepreneur and his spouse share a powerful vision of where they are going together.

If a spouse has not experienced a personal sense of purpose, and is living with a purpose-driven entrepreneur, the first step is not necessarily to find her own life’s
purpose right away. Instead, it is to get on board with a sense of shared purpose in her relationship with her spouse. Both members of the couple can ask, “Where are we going together?” This question clarifies their expectations of their roles within the marriage. For example, if they share a retirement goal, what is the spouse doing to preserve the wealth? If it’s a charity goal, which charity is it going to be and is the spouse contributing in other, non financial ways? The object is for the entrepreneur and spouse to have a shared purpose in the relationship. Establishing purpose in the relationship helps to bring greater harmony and fulfillment to both parties.

Owning Your Brilliance as the Gateway to Purpose

Jon Butcher, founder of Lifebook, and his wife, Missy, present a great example of how two extraordinary people can create that one extraordinary marriage through the power of purpose. After nearly thirty years together, they’re the most legendary couple I’ve met, and among entrepreneurs, they’re considered to be one of the most powerful couples in the community. It’s no secret how they came to possess the sultry romance that they have: they have created a shared purpose that requires both of them to consistently show up as their best self in twelve categories of life

Missy remembers how, when they first began dating, she held Jon in such high regard that she asked herself whom she had to be to become his partner. “I have to step up in every area of my life,” she concluded.

Similarly, Jon has spoken about Missy, saying, “My love for her transcends my love of all else—my businesses, my children, everything! If I have to choose between work or being with Missy, it will be Missy every time because she’s just such a magnificent creature.” Missy is captivating to Jon because she’s clear on her own purpose and has found the line between support and self-care.

Missy has owned her own brilliance. She felt that Jon was firing on all cylinders in so many areas of his life that she was inspired to elevate hers as well. She recognized that it takes two extraordinary people to create one extraordinary relationship. Looking at these two, they are an exact match (yet not a duplicate) in terms of how well they have elevated their respective games.

Entrepreneurs are wired to take extreme ownership over their lives. The spouse also needs to take ownership over her life, establish her own identity and activities, and pursue her own dreams and purpose. It is through this place of self-ownership and purpose that authentic growth will take the couple from ordinary to extraordinary.

Purpose in Action

Empowering the spouse to pursue her own goals and dreams, and to find a passion that revives her in her own unique way, renews the passion in a marriage. We focus on the spouse’s personal life or her unique traits and gifts. Because our purpose lives in us, we strip away all the external factors—career, money, kids, spouses, parents, and other people’s expectations. We focus on the six areas that make up her personal life and promote growth: energy, emotion, character, wellness and beauty, spirituality, and relationships. Understanding who she is at her best in these six categories is a powerful motivator for her to discover her greater purpose.

Energy

Energy. The most common objection I hear from spouses is there’s no time to explore new passions. That’s code for they are spending time (and energy) on all the wrong things. Before we can identify what we should start doing, we have to be clear on what to stop doing.

Everything in your life today served you at one point— that’s why you did it. But to step into higher purpose, we need to rid ourselves of everything that no longer serves us. When we honestly look at our habits and see how much time we’re spending on activities that add little value to our lives—like watching television or browsing social media—the results are shocking. There is especially enormous emotional baggage connected to social media; we see only the highlights of life, and that prompts us to compare ourselves to others. Managing or eliminating those habits creates more time and energy for bigger pursuits that are more aligned with where we want to go in life.

Creating Energy for More Fulfilling Pursuit

The exercise I referenced in Chapter 4, The Power of Play, is a powerful approach to creating energy for more fulfilling pursuits. In business, entrepreneurs often have a great deal of delegation power and are trained to focus on things at which they excel. In the household, a lot of the tasks entrepreneurs don’t like to do get delegated to the spouse—but we want the spouse to adopt the same empowered mind-set of doing what energizes her and to delegate or eliminate the rest.

Of course, there are obligations we have to fulfill in our daily lives, like handling finances and feeding our kids. Outsourcing activities that drain you and adopting strategies to better utilize time will open up the space and energy you need for the life you do want to have.

Thoughts & Emotion

Thoughts & Emotion. If we aren’t intentional about our purpose, we are at the mercy of external circumstances. Either we control our thoughts or our emotions control us. Work to identify and actively create the emotions you want to experience in your life. Start with what you’re currently feeling. If your baseline emotional state is filled with anxiety, depression, or apathy, look at what’s causing this stress and ascertain how you do want to feel. Ask yourself, “What do I need to do to create a space in which I am experiencing these positive emotions more often? With whom do I need to spend time? What places or activities will get me there? What thoughts and beliefs will create those emotions?”

Sometimes, it is only by becoming clear about your emotions that you can enact tangible change in your life. A client of mine, Gabrielle, had begun coaching while feeling unfulfilled, resentful, and uncertain. She often acted out in anger and was short-tempered and easily agitated. When issues arose in her life, she was apathetic and acted like they were everyone else’s problem. When I asked her how she wanted to feel, she answered, “Fulfilled, at ease, passionate, and happy.”

Through our sessions, we identified the source of her negativity: She believed everything in her life was falling short of her expectations. It was almost like she was hardwired to find fault; she lived in constant disappointment of her husband, her kids, her house, and her career. By simply choosing more empowering thoughts that reflected the way she DID want to feel, she was able to live in greater joy and abundance.

Character

Character. Who do you need to be to get everything you want? I used to think this was a manipulative question until I got to the core of what it really means: If you want a different result in your life, you have to start doing things differently. If you want to see direct, positive, and permanent changes in your life, you have to implement different daily habits on a cellular level, because that will change your character.

For example, I used to say that I wasn’t an organized person; I just claimed it wasn’t a part of my personality. Then I realized that if I wanted to grow a successful business, not being organized was holding me back. To get the result I wanted, I needed to retrain myself to maintain consistent records and keep my calendar in order; when I did this, organization became a part of who I am.

Finding Your Courage

One character trait a lot of my clients work on is courage. This could mean the courage to get a babysitter and spend more time away from our kids, the courage to develop deeper intimacy with our spouse, the courage to go out and pursue that dream job, or even the courage to distance ourselves from friendships that are bringing us down.

Too often, we neglect our own wants and needs due to guilt narratives. We need to have the courage to believe that caring for and honoring ourselves first will produce positive results in every other aspect of our life. For instance, it is not easy for most women to be stay-at-home moms; I think women who can do that underestimate how important their work is. Women like Gabrielle and me—who love being moms but who are also driven to pursue dreams aside from motherhood—need to find the courage to release that guilt. Having a healthy attitude toward balancing family life with work life allows us to become happier and more fulfilled.

Wellness and Beauty

Wellness and Beauty. Our health is our first wealth. It is also the first data-point others use to determine how we expect to be treated. If we don’t treat ourselves well, why should they?

When we look good, we feel good! Confidence is the electricity of life, so we must actively transform our outward appearances to reflect how we feel on the inside. It can be easy to “let yourself go” after marriage, but that lackluster external appearance will always translate to a dull inner light as well.

Through our appearances, we are also actively creating our own personal brands. For instance, when you choose clothing and accessories, do you have a style preference? Do you like to look sophisticated, or timeless, or original? What’s the personal brand that resonates with you, that’s always going to remind you to step into your best self in your work and with others?

Best Beauty Strategy

The best beauty strategy is taking a proactive approach to maintaining your health—not waiting until you’re sick to go to the doctor, but rather, preserving the state of well-being you already have. For me, that means chiropractic care, a balanced diet, massage, and enjoyable exercise. For you, it can include whichever healthcare and self-care rituals you maintain to preserve your well-being. It might involve practicing conscious eating—that is, slowing down to give your full attention to what and how much you’re consuming. You might also want to stay active with exercise that you look forward to, like yoga, rowing, hiking, or running.

It’s important to maintain our wellness and personal brand because this area touches every other area of our lives. When we start to neglect this area, it affects other areas of our lives, such as our self-esteem, our relationships, and even our finances. The maintenance of our health and appearance tends to be the last thing we let go of, and when we stop caring for ourselves, it’s a primary indicator that we’re near our rock bottom. It’s also the first area we should focus on as we resume our climb back upward. It’s THAT foundational.

Spirituality

Spirituality. We connect to spirituality when we ask the big questions like, “What is the meaning of life?” It’s independent from religion, although for some people, spirituality and religion are entwined. Spirituality is connecting to our higher power, so for some people, that’s God, or the Universe, or Source; others regard it as their own intuition. Spirituality is whatever life force guides you. It’s where we can be still and hear that small voice inside us that helps us tap into our inherent knowledge

To connect with your spirituality, the first thing to do is to clarify what this looks like for you. For some people, it means going to church, while for others, it’s spending time in nature, or being by the water, or reading, or meditating. The important thing is to identify the rituals that will bring you closest to love and remind you of how you are part of a bigger picture. Connecting with your personal spirituality should inspire you to commit more energy to your exterior life by providing you a time of rest and reprieve.

Spirituality is the underlying connection between the six areas of growth. It’s what gives us courage to go from being without purpose to purpose-seeking by saying yes to things we normally wouldn’t say yes to. It’s what helps us understand which negative activities and influences in life we can relinquish. So as we identify our sacred rituals, we also understand what we must say no to in order to prioritize the practices that will most fully serve our life.

Relationships

Relationships. It’s important to surround yourself with people who challenge you to improve and who support your goals and dreams. As motivational speaker Jim Rohn once said, “You are the average of the five people you spend the most time with.” Therefore, you want to have relationships with people who are working to better themselves. When the sky’s the limit, everyone elevates one another.

Our identities are often fed by the people with whom we spend the most time. If your social network is mostly made up of negative people, it will be much harder for you to keep up your motivation and grow. Often, when people begin the pursuit of purpose, the people around them begin to feel threatened. Their friends may think, Wait a minute; if she starts to grow, she may outgrow me. They may work to keep you in their comfort zone by projecting fear and negativity. They may be unsupportive or show signs of jealousy or that oh-so-supportive pretense of protection: urging you to “just be happy with what you’ve got.

The Art of Letting Go

The art of letting go is useful here. There is a common, emotionally charged perception that women have a fixed group of friends they are supposed to maintain relationships with throughout their lives. But the truth is that our social circles are always evolving. Our connections are transient. If you look at your current social circle, you’ll notice that it includes people from every phase of your life, from your work friends to your church friends to your old college friends to the friends you see at your kids’ sports games. You’re already connected with many different groups, and social circles change and evolve quickly these days. If you are spending a lot of time with old childhood friends and are looking for a more encouraging group, you can start to shift more of your attention to your friends from the gym, work, or school. Give yourself permission to move on and find a more positive social network; it might be easier than you think.

In Summary

Focusing on these six areas of personal development will empower you to see yourself in your highest light and break the chains of an unfulfilling life. Who are you as your highest self in each of these categories? More important, what becomes possible for you when you are clear and confident in each of these areas? All the things you desire in life—deeper relationships, wealth generation and preservation, having a legacy, making a difference, serving others, purchasing your dream home, maintaining solid business growth—are the result of the work you will do in these six crucial areas. Once you are clear on that, you can change the game for yourself and your family.

We hope you enjoyed this free excerpt from the The Power of Play, Praise and Purpose. Get the FREE eBook here.

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How to Support Your Entrepreneur Spouse with the Power of Praise

The following excerpt is from Kelly Clements’ book The Power of Play, Praise and Purpose for entrepreneurial couples. Get the FREE eBook below.

How to support your entrepreneur spouse with praise
The Power of Play, Praise and Purpose book by Kelly Clements

Entrepreneur couples and the power of praise. What we appreciate, appreciates. How to support your entrepreneur spouse through the power of praise.

For a man, one of the most powerful forces in the world is a woman’s love. A well-loved man can and will move mountains for his love. The only thing stronger than a woman’s love is her rejection. If a woman’s love can make a man, a woman’s rejection will break him.

As with all married couples, what initially attracts us to our spouse can quickly become the very things that frustrate us about him or her. It’s the classic case of our greatest strengths turning into our greatest weaknesses. However, in entrepreneurial couples, this is magnified because entrepreneurs tend to have a more dynamic spectrum of talents and gifts. What makes us successful in business can be a real challenge to manage at home.

In fact, did you know that from a psychological perspective, quite a large number of entrepreneurs are similar to psychopaths? It’s true! Entrepreneurs have just found better ways to channel all that mania.

Psychopathic traits

A 2016 study by forensic psychologist Nathan Brooks of Bond University found that 21 percent of CEOs have the same psychological profiles as psychopaths. However, inThe Wisdom of Psychopaths, Dr. Kevin Dutton describes how the psychopathic traits that we ordinarily associate as negative actually manifest as positive and powerful attributes in some of the greatest historical figures and political leaders of our time. The 21 percent of CEOs who are “successful psychopaths” adopt traits such as fearlessness, confidence, ruthlessness, charisma, and focus, and find ways to productively channel them into business.

These studies illustrate how a character trait can be viewed as a strength or a weakness, depending on its context and how it is expressed—and perceived. You can view the very same qualities in your partner as either powerful strengths or detrimental weaknesses, depending on your perspective and what you cultivate through praise or criticism.

Qualities that most entrepreneurs share

Let’s look at the qualities that most entrepreneurs share: they’re confident, resilient, independent, driven, innovative, and have an eye for excellence. These qualities are strengths needed to build a successful business. However, when pressure gets turned up or there is a loss of control, these very same qualities can show up as arrogance, stubbornness, tyranny, mania, eccentricity, and perfectionism. Understanding the triggers that flip a strength into a weakness can help to us foster a relationship focused on strengths and praise, not weakness and criticism.

Another factor that is not openly shared is that most entrepreneurs constantly doubt that they are truly good enough. They may look poised and confident from the outside, but inside, they are battling feelings of insecurity. The moment our spouse validates those thoughts through criticism, we lose even more hope. Conversely, being affirmedby our spouse can quiet those unruly fear patterns.

Wired for potential

An entrepreneur’s concept of praise is an area in which his strengths can work against him. Entrepreneurs are wired to see possibility. They often see potential others cannot see. Because they can see potential so easily in others, they are quick to offer guidance and suggestions, even if unsolicited. In the absence of praise, these suggestions can seem like criticism. It is essential to see and appreciate the good, not just the potential.

Criticism is fine; we all have times in our relationship when criticism is necessary. However, when we criticize more than compliment, we devalue our relationship with every passing comment. It’s important to recognize our partner’s strengths, because what we appreciate, appreciates. When it gets dark, it’s easy to think the world is against us. It’s easy to think we’re a terrible failure. And as we know, it can get really dark on the journey of any relationship. Add entrepreneurship to the mix, and it can become even darker.

Praise is about elevating you and your spouse to a level where you really believe in each other. It’s not based on hollow compliments—saying nice things just for the sake of saying them—but rather, on the idea of truly believing in someone. It’s truly seeing and being seen. The definition of intimacy is “Into me you see.” Intentionally seeing the best in our partners turns praise into an aphrodisiac.

We Expand to the Space We’re Given

Have you ever noticed that the most unified couples are the ones who consistently show appreciation for each other? If there’s anything they get right, it’s the ability to genuinely praise one another. It’s not because their partners are more perfect than ours; it’s because they choose to see the good. They are not complaining about their spouses or the confines of their marriage for entertainment value. They’re not seeking the pity of others for the “tough road” they have to traverse in their marriage. They’re shining the light, together, on the power of their partnership.

I know a couple is bulletproof when I hear statements like, “I couldn’t do this without my spouse,” “He believed in me before I believed in myself,” and “She’s my biggest inspiration, my biggest fan.” These entrepreneurs set for their spouses, and guess what? The spouses rise to meet those expectations. When others see the most extraordinary traits in us, we feel a level of connection and intimacy unlike any other. We rise to meet those high expectations when they are set through praise, not constant reminders that we are falling short.

No joking matter

Even when we criticize in a joking manner, it cuts deep. It not only hurts our partner, but it also diminishes our own positive feelings for him or her. After leading a webinar on this topic, I received an email from a participant who said, “You’re right; we bash our husbands like it’s a sport. My girlfriends and I are always complaining about how our men fall short. They’re all pretty successful, but we’re ‘joking’ about stupid stuff, and it affects the way I feel that night when I’m sitting next to my husband: irritated about things that don’t really matter.”

Men can feel that condemnation, and when they are chronically criticized, they will respond accordingly. In other words, when we hold low expectations of them and are heavy on the criticism, they shut down and prove us right. Conversely, when they feel that we hold them in high esteem and see their greatness, they will rise to meet those expectations and confirm our estimation of them every single time.

Power to transform

Your attitude and regard for your spouse has the power to transform him or her on a cellular level. If he’s never enough for you and you’re consistently disappointed, his contributions will continue to dwindle. But if you view him as a super hero, he will don his cape. If you see her for all that she already is, and not just her potential, she will step even further into her radiance. Your spouse will fill the space that he or she is given, whether it’s in constant disappointment or unwavering belief.

To have someone see and acknowledge your best qualities ratchets up the level of intimacy in your relationship. It secures the bond. You’re validated because your best qualities are recognized by the most important person in your life.

Become aware of your compliment-to-criticism ratio. Jon Butcher references this ratio in Lifebook, an intense personal-development program based in Chicago. I facilitated this program for four years and learned the importance of minding the compliment-to-criticism ratio. Of course, there’s always going to be times when we have to criticize or bring forth a complaint, but if that’s all you’re doing, your marriage will suffer. Constant criticism erodes a marriage. The way to offset necessary criticism is to inject profuse levels of recognition and praise by creating opportunities to find the good in each other.

Myth: He Doesn’t Need Another “Yes-Person” Around

In Chapter 2, we talked about how men need significance and women need security. In an entrepreneurial household, it’s easy for a man to get his sense of significance from work because that’s where he’s engaging with his employees, customers, and advisors. Because he’s in a position of leadership, it’s likely that very few of these people tell him when he’s falling short.

If, at home, he’s always receiving criticism, then, of course, he will spend more time at work. The home environment needs to be a place of refuge, safety, and significance for the entrepreneur, while providing a sense of security for the spouse. The fact that his spouse is likely to be the only one in a position to point out his weaknesses is yet another reason for her to also be one of his raving fans. It gives her more credence when she had to address his weaknesses.

Expressions of gratitude

More noteworthy is the realization that the entrepreneur may have a source of constant recognition from his business. Affirming staff, raving customers, and widespread publicity all speak to the accomplishments of the business owner. If the spouse does not work, she is likely not exposed to the same level of recognition or appreciation. In this case, it is CRUCIAL for the business owner to be mindful that he, alone, is her source of praise and encouragement. Expressions of gratitude will prove to be a game-changer for the spouse who has been feeling left in the shadows of success.

This is not limited to just compliments and criticisms—it also applies to our responses to success and failure. The degree of our reactions to positive news should exceed the degree of our reactions to negative news. When our spouse screws up, he or she knows it because we’re throwing a fit. They know when they have messed up. Yet when they do well, we tend to take it for granted and don’t celebrate it. The degree of celebration we have over successes should exceed the degree of disappointment we show in “failures.” It’s easy to be frustrated when the losses impact the family, but when things go well, it’s crucial to celebrate the wins with the same vigor. Expressing frustration is easy. We often do it without even thinking about it. Because of this, it is imperative to build the muscle of appreciation to fortify the marriage.

Praise in Action

Begin paying attention to your compliment-to-criticism ratio by trying out these different strategies. Consider sitting down with a pen and sheet of paper and making two lists of all the criticisms and compliments you expressed in the last twenty-four-hours. Write down every single one you can remember, regardless of how significant or inconsequential it may seem. When you’re finished, check to see which column is longer. Examine each line on your list. If the list of criticisms outnumbers the list of compliments, get to work on what you appreciate about your spouse. Work on that list until it exceeds the list of complaints. Seal the deal by sharing your newfound appreciation with your spouse.

Practice the art of the compliment. Giving compliments can generate positive perspective in oneself. Earlier in this chapter, I described how the same qualities can be seen as strengths or weaknesses, depending on our perspective and the context in which we view them. When you verbalize your appreciation rather than focus on complaints, it will cultivate your partner’s traits as strengths and draw out more of his or her good, inspiring qualities. Isn’t THAT the person you’d rather be married to anyway? Choose your view wisely, because it will determine who shows up for you.

Showing appreciation for each other

Showing appreciation for each other in simple ways on a daily basis can contribute to building a powerful and long-lasting relationship. For instance, consider something as easy as leaving notes in a wallet or near the coffeepot. What if we could start the morning with a compliment? Consider how it would feel to face every day with words of encouragement from your spouse. It could be like adding sweet sugar to your bitter coffee. Try this experiment: For one week, begin and end each day with a compliment to your spouse. Observe what changes, including how you and your partner feel about each other and your relationship.

The art of the compliment

The art of the compliment involves intentionality. It’s about enacting and verbalizing your appreciation toward your spouse, rather than just taking his or her good qualities and successes for granted. Speak to your appreciation of what your partner is providing for you. Begin with his or her name, and then acknowledge a quality you normally don’t recognize verbally; it can be a physical characteristic, an achievement, a personal quality, or a mind-set. Then share how it makes a difference in your life. You might say something like, “Renee, your intuition is always spot-on. Every time I honor your intuition, it saves me from so many headaches.”

Remember, acknowledge all the ways your partner contributes to the relationship: intellectually, emotionally, spiritually, socially, sexually, and/or financially. We want to become conscious of everything we are receiving and cultivate more of what is going well in our lives.

Constructive Criticism

Praise can also be used as a mirror and a tool of accountability for when our spouse’s strengths have turned into weaknesses. When you need to criticize, frame the statement in a way that is supportive and productive. Remember how a strength (like passion) can become distorted through a high-pressure situation and show up as a weakness (like anger). So when you want to be critical and blame, take a moment to reframe the statement as praise: “I can tell you’re under a lot of pressure. You’re at your best when you’re creative and rested. Right now, this isn’t you. How can we shift you back into your strength?”

Have an open attitude toward what you try, and keep in mind that these are just general recipes. The key concept is that there should be more compliments than criticisms in your relationship.

Find your partner’s power phrase

Find your partner’s power phrase. When my superman, David, talks about losing his business in bankruptcy court, he mentions how it was my affirmations that kept him alive. I sent him emails and texts not only to validate him, but also to remind him of his ability, purpose, and greater vision. My love for David was for who he was, and I believed in him. I saw his genius and nurtured his inherent strengths rather than reacting in panic to the external chaos he was experiencing. I recognized how there were specific and deliberate phrases that resonated with him: “I’m behind you all the way.” “You’ve got this.” “If anyone can do it, you can.” Those platitudes sustained him in his darkest hours.

Discovering your own power phrase, as well as the power phrase of your partner, is crucial—but most people don’t know what words will help encourage them and they don’t know what their spouses need to hear. A person’s power phrase is directly tied to our deepest fears. Verbally speaking out against these silent fears helps remind us of a more empowering truth, and that keeps us out of our caves of insecurity.

What are your fears?

My deepest fear is that I’ll screw up my kids. The power phrase I need to hear is this: “The way you see and nurture your children as individuals is empowering them to create their own extraordinary lives.” I need to hear this from the person I am closest with, because it’s an affirmation of how I can choose to believe in my vision instead of my insecurities and fear.

Fear is a vulnerable space we enter. It is one that is deeply intimate, and one where we must practice our greatest compassion and trust. To find your partner’s power phrase, you must first discover his or her greatest insecurity and understand that this insecurity comes from fear. We can choose to support each other in the areas in which we are most vulnerable by speaking to our appreciation and cultivating steadfast belief, strength, and love.

Renewed perspective

I’ve worked with couples that, at the beginning of our coaching sessions, were not even aware of how much they were struggling. These couples were simply resigned to what their marriage had become and were going through the motions. When we began discussing their issues and these concepts behind praise, I watched as they took a moment to look at each other through a perspective of deep regard. With their relationships reinvigorated on the spot, it was like they were seeing each other on their first day of marriage.

To love someone means to see them– all of them. It means to see them as their brightest, most alive and active self. To see them at their most valuable and insecure self. When you love someone and you can see them at their most basic, human level, then you can appreciate what is more important to them. This is where love grows. This is how the bonds of a relationship strengthen.

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How to Build Habits for Self Improvement

Building habits for self improvement and SELF CARE is more effective if you start with a Domino Habit.

At my core, I believe we all KNOW what we should be doing to get the results we desire; less sugar, more income, less criticizing, more exercise…

So, while we KNOW what we should be doing, many of us struggle with the actual implementation.  

For me, the thing I KNOW I should be doing, but rarely do it, is my personal outreach (cold calls) because it’s a path fully loaded with rejection.  

However, once I put in a little effort for two or three days in a row, it consistently converts to massive opportunity.  It’s like it works so well, I stop doing it.

Then, a month or two down the road, I have to start all over again.  I have to conquer the negative self-talk about why I can’t just be consistent. And ramp up my confidence to protect myself from the rejection and dead-ends.  I have to go back and figure out who I’ve already talked to and dig up more leads. 

I KEEP HAVING TO GO BACK AND DO THE HARDEST PART ALL OVER AGAIN.

Where, if I would have just been consistent, I would have been past the hardest part and riding a wave of momentum, consistency, and ease.

Can you relate?  

Maybe you’ve been on a weight-loss yo-yo.  Or maybe your finances are constantly up and down.  Maybe your relationship cycles are exhausting you.  

Whatever it is for you, where do you find yourself consistently back at the starting gate?

What is ONE HABIT that will help keep you on the rails?

I call this the Domino Habit.  The one where if I just do this ONE THING, it will keep me in motion.  My Domino Habit is a Google Search. If I can get online and search up a list of individuals who would be a great client for me, I’m naturally going to reach out to them next.  Starting with the easy habit (a google search) keeps me in motion to a bigger result (new clients).

If your struggle is intermittent fasting, maybe your Domino Habit is to start brushing your teeth every night at 7:00pm.  If your challenge is exercise, maybe your Domino Habit is to get dressed to workout and walk out to end of the street.  

Choosing ONE EASY ACTION to get you in motion will likely keep you in motion until your actions are HABITS.  The beauty of habits is that it frees up brain space.  We no longer have to DECIDE if we’re going to be great that day- we just are!!

Could it really be that easy?  Could it REALLY just come down to the small things we consistently do?!!!!?? 

xo
Kelly

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