My friend Ralph was talking to his mentor George. Ralph always seemed to be recovering from his errors and mistakes, spending more time cleaning them up than creating opportunities. George inquired about his golfing experience, which included standing on the tee box and looking towards the green with a lake in between. “What do you focus on here? Is it the lake or the green?”, he said. Ralph said he usually got out an old ball in case it went into the water. George then asked if that was playing offense or defense. "Ugh," Ralph replied, "when will I get it?" George went on to discuss previous talks to remind Ralph that life works far better when we play offensive rather than defense or recovery. You can simply wait for the expected, important occasions in your relationships, such as birthdays, anniversaries, Valentine's Day, and so on but this is playing defense on your heels. Let’s play offense! How about organizing and planning something super special as a surprise out of the blue? How about coming home with a big, beautiful bouquet on a regular Tuesday night, or coming home and slipping an unexpected, wrapped gift into her closet or leaving it next to her morning coffee cup, or how about buying one of those expensive hallmark cards and writing a love note in it when it is not a holiday? How about cooking a surprise candlelit dinner for just the two of you?
See, that's attacking the goal. If you only play defense, you get a few points. But to score, you must play offense.
Then George asked about Ralph's parenting. It is easy to praise when your child does something extraordinary, a drawing they're proud of, a dive in the pool they've been working on, a sound report card, or they win the game. When you give them kudos and praise for these things, that is still playing defense. You are merely responding to a shot they fired, not attacking, or acting. The offense would be praising them when they made good choices without being asked or reminded. Typically, you pay greater attention to good behavior that follows a bad choice or behavior. The poor decision or behavior drew your notice and compelled you to act, which is still defense.
But when you catch them being polite, sweet, thoughtful, considerate, funny, or behaving in other ways that you love on their own, without prompting, give those little moments some offensive action.
Take shots at that goal, point them out, praise them, and let them know that what you shine a light on grows.
How about you? Have you been playing more defense than offense?
Watch for the blind spots.
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Blind Spots in Relationships
What I don't know I don't know about Myself
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