I want to take some time for a somewhat unorthodox topic today–relationships. Specifically, how we build and strengthen, or alternately deteriorate, relationships over time. What are the specific things we do that improve the bonds we have with others? What are the things we do that are actually ruining relationships, or stopping that bond from forming in the first place?
Relationships are built on trust and security. Let’s peel back the layers on that second concept, security. It comes down to whether we help somebody feel more secure or actually push them toward insecurity. Every action we take that’s either directly correlated to an individual or indirectly correlated with an individual will have an impact on them.
One of the books I’m reading right now tells the story of a king. This king was going to see one of his friends who worked for him. In modern terms, this was the accountant of the kingdom. The accountant was going to throw a massive party, because the king was coming to visit. He wanted to welcome his king, and he wanted to show him how much he loved him. The king arrives and is surprised by this massive, extremely well-done, lavish party. At the party, everybody’s showing their love to the king. But, what they’re also doing is showing their love to the financier, the accountant of the kingdom. Saying to him, “Oh my gosh, you throw the best parties.” It was just that, “You throw the best parties.”
What happened is, the accountant was actually outshining the king. Because the accountant went to such levels, such extremes to show his love, the actual king felt insecure because he was not in the limelight. Again, whether the king was right or wrong, the point is that the relationship is now going to have massive friction because the king feels insecure. “This accountant makes me feel insecure.” What we know about relationships is when somebody makes us feel insecure, whether on purpose, directly or indirectly, we’ll move away from them. We’ll do things to remove them from our lives. Whether we like them or not, that insecurity is going to pull us apart. What does the king do? A week later, he actually tries the friend, the accountant, for treason. For spending too much money on this lavish party. It was all because of how the king felt, his feeling of insecurity.
Keep that tale in mind, because I want you to take some time with me here, today, to examine all of your relationships, your entire history (it’s not as overwhelming as it seems, I promise). I have a couple exercises to help you understand what you can be doing to create security, and vice versa what you may be doing to create insecurity. Tangible, actionable action steps that can fundamentally change how you build relationships in your life. I want you to walk away from this blog with a better grasp on how these relationships work.
What is a relationship? It’s essentially two pieces coming together. A spouse and partner. A parent and child. Two colleagues, two friends. Two halves comprise the whole, you and the other individual. The gap in between is always doing one of three things: widening, narrowing or staying the same.
What knits relationships tighter together, how do we make the other person feel more secure? What drives a deeper wedge and widens that gap? In both cases, actions that could be either direct or indirect correlations. Or, the gap could be constant. We could just be free-floating, unchanged, via inaction.
So far, so good, right? Great, let’s add more complexity then. Where it begins to get really confusing is that there are other individuals we’re constantly competing with for this relationship. Someone else who wants to build and strengthen their own relationship with one of these two halves. A marriage grows apart, another person begins to strengthen their own bond with one of the spouses, to enter that circle.
So, how to you maintain a good, strong relationship? Security. When a relationship falters, the cause is two-fold: doing nothing and/or making that individual feel secure. Now, I’ve been leading up to an important point with all of this, so I’m going to make it: not only are you competing and working hard to establish and continue the relationship, but you’re also trying to ensure nobody else is penetrating the circle of that relationship. Your goal is to protect and strengthen the bond you have with the other individual.
People are always naturally gravitating toward others who make them feel secure. Are you somebody who makes them feel secure? Or insecure? And this can be, again, either directly or indirectly.
Let’s tackle indirect insecurity first. The tough part about indirect insecurities is, you need to have a really strong grasp of the other person in the relationship, i.e. you have to know what makes them feel secure, and what their fears (read: insecurities) are. To do this, I have an exercise for you (grab a pen and paper).
Many of you have had a coach. If you didn’t have a coach, you definitely had a teacher, right? I want you to take a minute and grab a sheet of paper. I want you to write down the favorite coach or teacher you’ve ever had in your entire life. Just one. I know right now there’s one that stands out, whether it’s your fifth grade science teacher, your hockey coach, your dance coach. There’s one person you look back on who had a massive impact in your life. They probably changed the trajectory your life was on. Write their name down, right at the top. Then, write down all the characteristics or actions about them that made you feel secure. Was it personal one-on-one meetings? Was it the fact that they were always building you up? They were giving you compliments, they were giving you their belief? What were the characteristics, traits or actions that individual took that left such a lasting impression, such a deep and permanent mark, upon you?
All right, now we’re going to do the opposite. I want you to focus on that one coach, that one teacher, that one individual who had a massive impact in your life, but in a negative way. Same exercise–what were the traits, characteristics or actions that made you feel immensely insecure. Think about that. What were they doing, why did you feel so insecure in that moment? What did you dislike? The story I told when I did this exercise with my team is around growing up playing hockey. In the span of roughly four years, I had one coach that actually caused me to try to quit. I was about to go to college, playing junior hockey, and this one coach had such a negative impact on my life that I actually walked out of the room, called up my future college coach and said, “I’m quitting, I’m done.” I called my parents, I said, “I don’t want to play this game anymore.”
The game I grew up playing for 16 years–I absolutely despised it. He made me hate the game. It was his characteristics, his traits–it was his actions that completely took the love of the game out of me, the drive to do the thing I loved. He completely took the soul of it away from me. That one coach had such a profoundly negative impact on me that he nearly changed my trajectory forever. Now, luckily, there was something that happened along that trajectory; I was moved and I had a different coach. Within days, I loved the game again. He wasn’t my favorite coach, this new coach. But, he started to breathe that heart and soul back into the game, to help me love the thing I was doing.
Fast forward to when I turned pro for the first time and I was sitting down with my coach. I remember sitting in there, having a conversation, and he didn’t ask me one thing about hockey. He asked me everything about my girlfriend at the time, where my mindset was at. He was asking me all these questions about my family. There were all these traits, these characteristics, and these actions when I was coached by this individual that made him my favorite coach. He was not my best coach, but he was my favorite coach, because of those characteristics. So here we have two polar opposites, a positive person who breathed energy into me, and somebody who was sucking energy out of me.
Super, so now for the next step. You have one coach/teacher who has or had a massive impact in you. You’ve identified the characteristics, traits and actions. And you’ve also done the opposite, mapping out the negative coach’s actions, characteristics and traits…
Extrapolate those traits; ideally, chart them. On the left side, list all the negatives. On the right side, list all the positives. We’re going to use them for the some self-reflection.
This part is tricky, but be as honest with yourself as possible. Are you showcasing more of those positive traits you listed to the people you come into contact with? Or, are you showing more of your negative traits? Once you have that power, you now know how to carry yourself. You now know, from personal experience, how things might be perceived.
The next point I want to discuss, and this is where it gets harder, is what we’re doing to make people feel insecure indirectly. Again, that takes much more time, much more mastery. But, it’s now getting inside their shoes. Understanding what makes them feel secure, what things could potentially make them feel insecure. And I’m going to tie it back into coaching.
You’re coaching a member. You walk up and say, “No, no, no. That’s not right, I need you to do it like this.” What did you just do? You offered a comment that feeds insecurity in your member. What they heard is, “You’re doing something wrong, I need you to do it this way.” Now, people could say, “Well, that’s coaching.” But, did we have to phrase it that way? Did we have to throw the insecure statement out? Because now, every time you walk up to that member, he or she knows (or believes) the first thing you’re going to say is what they’re doing wrong. Yeah, you might give them praise later, but it’s always being matched with a level of insecurity.
What might that same scenario look like with a security-boosting interaction? Why not walk up to them and say, “I love the hard work that you’re putting forth, let’s make these changes.” Compliment, compliment, we’re still getting the desired change that we want. It goes back to coaching, on the floor, off the floor, or even with our fellow team members. Every comment we make has the potential to either make them feel more secure… or insecure.
By now, the reason I bring up this non-traditional business topic should be evident. We’re in the people business. If we’re really good at creating great relationships, we’re going to be successful. Doors will open for us, relationships and friends are easier to make because people trust us. We make them feel good.
So you’ve mapped the actions that others have taken to make you feel secure or insecure in the past. I want you to flip that reflection inward now, to you and your own actions with others. List out all the ways you could make a potential member of yours, or any person you come into contact with, feel insecure directly. Then start another column for the ways in which you could make them feel insecure indirectly. This is so important to understand about yourself, especially for those of you reading this who are fitness coaches or business owners.
Lastly, let’s end on a positive note… What are you the ways you can make members or the people who meet feel secure at all times? Because remember, when we make people feel secure, they naturally gravitate to us. When people trust us, they’ll naturally gravitate towards our culture and community.
This topic, even though it’s unorthodox in our sphere, has the potential to have a tremendous impact on our lives and business. Look down at your lists. You know have actionable steps to build relationships with those around you, and clear insight into what to avoid. Use this knowledge, this power, for good, friends. Make people feel secure, build your tribe, change lives.
P.S. If you’d like to chat more about how to build your business, simply set up your own breakthrough call with my team today. We’re passionate about helping you achieve your dreams.