Character Creates Opportunity® – Viewpoint: February 23, 2017

There is an interesting trend in our world that is being played out in a number of areas of our lives.  We have developed a seemingly insatiable need to have different viewpoints of the same situation.  We have come to the realization that there is advantage is having a variety of points of view of the same situation.

For example, over the last 10+ years we have seen an explosion of the number of camera angles and well positioned coaches throughout a stadium to gain a certain vantage point of the field of play.  As coaches and fans, we understand the more points of view we have, the more effective we can be in determining the right decision by a referee or the right play to call.  Multiple vantage points help us to be a more effective on the field of play.

We see a similar trend in business today.

  • Customers: Enormous planning, effort, and expense is allocated towards trying to understand the different viewpoints of customers. We generate enormous amounts of data as we electronically monitor behaviors and seek out attitudes at different points in the customer experience.  There is incredible advantage in building a brand or growing a business when we better understand the different viewpoints.
  • Employees: Leaders of business see significant value in gaining different points of view of employees. Understanding what a team is seeing in the warehouse, compared to a sales team, compared to customer service is extremely beneficial to leaders running a business.  These various points of view are the life-blood of building a sustainable and successful business.

We could go on and on about this same trend seen across the wide spectrum of life from the tactics of modern warfare to the advances in education.  Gaining different viewpoints enables us to develop a better understanding and a more effective plan to accomplish our objectives.

The irony found in this insatiable trend to gain greater understanding in areas such as business, athletics, modern warfare, and education, is that on a more personal social level, the results would show that we are still reluctant to do the hard work of understanding different viewpoints of those closest to us in our homes and in our community.

As we continue on our journey to build and strengthen our character, making the effort and commitment to see the viewpoint of others, especially those closest to us, will help our relationships and raise the bar on our impact.

Social observers, licensed psychologists, and religious leaders would say that on our day to day personal interactions, the vast majority of our energy is spent communicating our point of view with little effort spent on understanding the point of view of others.

An important aspect in our personal growth and development is when we expend greater effort trying to gain the perspective and understanding of others as opposed to getting them to understand us.  Relationships are strengthened when we genuinely understand the different viewpoints of others.

Here are just a few practical steps to help in seeing things from the viewpoint of others:

  1. Our first step in an apparent disagreement should be to gain understanding, not in firming up our defenses.
  2. Focus on listening by removing the egotistical expectation of delivering a “brilliant” response.
  3. Genuinely try to walk in the other person’s experience and empathize with their point of view.
  4. Begin to communicate our point of view only when we gain a sense that the other person acknowledges our effort to understand them.

Those same social observers, licensed psychologists, and religious leaders would say that their collective experience in studying relationships would prove that most disagreements and conflicts on a personal level are due to misunderstanding and a lack of empathy.  Both of which are choices we can make to be more effective in building stronger, healthier relationships.

As we translate the trends we see in sports and business to our own life by working hard to gather the different viewpoints of those around us, we will build and strengthen our character and Character Creates Opportunity® to have a greater impact on the people in our homes and our community.


Character Creates Opportunity® – A Needed Connection: February 9, 2017

The local book stores and web-pages on Amazon contain countless resources offering advice on how we can build better relationships.  Some are complicated with academic theory and no practical application.  Some are just the latest well-packaged marketing effort from some media company and others offer genuine value to those looking for some help in a time of real need.

As we all look to build and maintain health relationships, in the home, workplace and community, the importance of touch does not get a great deal of attention in our world and is only now beginning to gain some traction within published, academic research.  As we continue on our journey to build and strengthen our character, an opportunity that we do not want to miss is the positive outcomes that result from touch that can build, strengthen, and heal relationships.

We are all well aware of the physical bonding that happens between a loving parent and a young child.  There is a strong body of evidence to suggest that loving, physical contact at the early stages of a child’s life are critical to a child’s physical, mental, and emotional health.  There is a great deal of documentation on the steep rise in infant morbidity and mortality when there is a lack of loving, physical contact during the early development years that has been seen in orphanages around the world.

The reality is that beyond our infant years, we have a tendency to disregard the emotional and physical benefits that result from touch despite the growing body of research that suggests touch is fundamental to communication, relationships, and overall health.  Michelangelo said, “To touch is to give life” and there is growing recognition that touch is our primary means for communicating compassion.

This message is not some weird call to start grabbing each other.  However, there are many of us who have grown up in western culture where consistent, supportive touch has been so confined to early childhood that we are missing a key element to build, strengthen, and heal our most important relationships.  There are studies that show touch signals safety and trust which are foundational to healthy relationships.  When we take an honest assessment of the relationships we value the most, whether they are struggling or not, we will most likely find we are missing the benefits of a warm, supportive touch on a consistent basis.

This message is not just for the home.  Even if we were fortunate to grow up in a home where touch was reinforced throughout our lives in support of healthy relationships, chances are that societal pressures probably got the best of us in school and work where a supportive pat on the shoulder is sometimes considered out of line.  Studies have shown that teachers who provide a friendly tap on the shoulder increase student engagement and learning.  In my own professional journey, I have seen the benefits that a supportive touch on the shoulder can communicate straight to the heart of an individual that they “belong on the team” and that we will work together to deliver results.  It is unfortunate that some foolish, out of hand behavior makes the headlines in work and school which increases our collective resistance to providing the benefits of a supportive, helpful touch.

Below are two considerations with regards to the importance of touch and our character:

  1. “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure” (thanks to Ben Franklin). Many of us maybe talking and acting in a very supportive and encouraging way in our close relationships. However, statistics will show that for most of us, a consistent, supportive touch is not part of the equation.  Given the well-documented benefits to our physical, mental, and emotional health and to the health of the relationship, start being intentional about adding a supportive touch to the mix as it will build relationship strength to help overcome the inevitable challenges that relationships bring throughout life.  Start in the home and then build some courage to take it elsewhere.
  2. When relationships are struggling, there is most definitely an absence of touch. Whether it is the struggles of a parent-child relationship, the routine friction between spouses, or ‘the big mistake’ that created a fracture between close friends, a close touch seems to be a distant memory during the struggles of every day relationships.  A warm, loving touch should be part of our tool box to bring healing and health back to the relationship.  An authentic, genuine embrace can open the door to health more effectively than words and time.  Also, if you happen to be on the receiving end of an embrace to heal a troubled relationship, don’t resist, reciprocate the embrace and you will both be better off for the touch.

As we demonstrate the courage to incorporate touch into our most valued relationships, we will build and strengthen our character and Character Creates Opportunity® to improve the health of our relationships and set a great example for those around us.

Character Creates Opportunity® – A Simple Reminder: February 2, 2017

There is no doubt that we live in a complicated world that seems to steadily grow in complexity and intensity.

As we continue on our journey to build and strengthen our character in order to reach our full potential, there are points in time when we just need a simple reminder of truth to help us carry on.  When there seems to be a never-ending cycle of uncertainty around the globe, in our communities and in our homes, we all could benefit from a reminder of universal, timeless, and self-evident truth to help us keep moving forward in a world that can sometimes leave us dazed and confused.

A simple reminder of truth today is that we become what we think about…we become what we “see” in our mind’s eye.  Whether we subscribe to the teachings of some famous personal development guru, some “enlightened” individual, or we believe in the Book of Proverbs that says, “As a man thinks in his heart, so is he” our take-away is the same.  Regardless of our reference point, the truth remains, we become what we “see” in our mind’s eye.

We don’t need a PhD in psychology from a prestigious university, be a member of the 1% or the 99% in terms of financial wealth, or sit in a corner office to understand the simple, timeless, and universal truth that we become what we see in our mind’s eye.  We could reference numerous academic studies, cite quotes from individuals who have had real impact in our world, or think back along our own experience, and the conclusion would be the same…what I dwell on in my mind, so much so that it becomes crystal clear, I become.

As we build and strengthen our character, an important question we need to ask ourselves is, “What do I ‘see’ today?” In our own mind’s eye, not in the view of a spouse, a parent, a boss, a teacher, a TV broadcaster, a mentor, but what do we “see” in our own view?

Do we see adversity that we cannot overcome?  Do we see relationships that are best to be broken instead of repaired and strengthened?


Do we see an opportunity to rise above?  Do we see challenge and a view of overcoming?  Do we see the reality of close relationships struggling in the near term, but in the long view, see love, forgiveness, and togetherness?

Do we see a business with present-day challenges, but opportunity on the horizon?  Do we see communities divided, but a pathway to cooperation and support?

Or…Do we just see dark clouds all around us?

Each one of us has the freedom to choose what we see in our own mind’s eye.

What do you ‘see’ today?Her skin

In this present time of challenge in our world and in our homes, it would be helpful to remember the simple truth that we become what we see in our mind’s eye and ensure our lens is adjusted to see our present challenges as an opportunity to overcome and reach our full potential as individuals, families, and communities across the globe.

As we remind ourselves to refocus our mind’s eye with principles, like patience, perseverance, hope, and faith, we build and strengthen our character and Character Creates Opportunity® for us to create the future we desire and rise up to reach our full potential.