“But you did not follow that advice,” I protested. [NOTE: My mother is beautiful, intelligent, gracious and fun but Lance decided he would marry me long before he met her so her charms could not have been a deciding factor in our courtship.]
“Oh, I know,” he admitted, “but it is really good advice.”
Talking to Lance I realized that there is a significant difference between good advice and effective advice. There is lots of good, REALLY GOOD in fact, advice out there—exercise, eat right, get enough sleep, work hard—but good advice has no impact unless it is applied. Effective advice changes lives.
In the February 2015 issue, The Reader’s Digest published an article titled “The Best Advice I Ever Got” (Lauren Gelman) wherein people shared effective advice that changed their lives. It caused me to pause and to ponder, to reflect and to ruminate, to think and to thank. Today I share these thoughts with you.
Never assume. Always ask.
From the Reader’s Digest: “I grew up in the northern Himalayan region of Kashmir. My grandfather would take all his grandchildren for walks in his apple orchards, where he would pick apples that had been tasted by birds and carve off the opposite side for us. I once asked, ‘Why would you not offer the ripe-looking apple untouched by the bird?’ I felt he was such a miser that he wanted to sell the ‘good’ apples instead of feeding them to his grandkids. He rolled his hand over my head affectionately. ‘The bird would only eat one that is sweet, so I pick the best for you,” he said. ‘Never assume; always ask.” (Khurshid A. Guru)
From my life: I was a missionary in the Dominican Republic and was in the kitchen conversing with the mission president’s wife. (NOTE: NOT Sister Sorensen; I served under two mission presidents and Sister Sorensen was the second mission president’ wife with whom I associated. This story refers to the first.) Transfers had been announced and she inquired who my new companion would be. When I told her the name she said, “Oh dear! That sister is so rude. When I made her French toast she told me how awful it tasted.” A few weeks later, in a casual conversation, the mission companion said to me, “The mission president’s wife makes the best French toast. She made it for me once and I loved it.” It was a powerful lesson to me. Never assume that what you hear about another person is true, no matter who tells you. Always meet people without bias and give yourself a chance to love them.
Don’t be afraid to be the one who loves most.
From the Reader’s Digest: I met a woman in Georgia who has been married to her husband for over 60 years. After being asked for her best relationship advice, she paused and said, ‘Don’t be afraid to be the one who loves the most.’” (Nate Bagley)
From my life: In the Dark Ages of my marriage I read a lot of books seeking insight. One recommended book suggested if the relationship were 80/20 then it could be successful; if I were giving 80% of the effort and only 20% my needs were being met, we could make it work. At the time I felt that I was giving everything and receiving nothing. I threw the book away. Marriage is not 50/50 nor is it 80/20. Marriage is 100%; 100% commitment, 100% effort, 100% dedication. I gave everything I had to make it work and am so, SO grateful. My children have a father whom they adore and I am married to my best friend; a man who also gives 100%.
The difference between winners and losers is that winners do things that losers just don’t want to do.
From the Reader’s Digest: My seventh-grade football team had just been soundly trounced. Our opponent was a bunch of ragtag kids from an Oklahoma City Salvation Army shelter. Their helmets didn’t match. Some wore jeans. The kid across from me had put his number on his shirt in masking tape. But when we snapped the ball, that kid hit me so hard, my left should still hurts when it rains. After the game my dad told me, ‘Boy, you just got a lesson in the power of desire. The difference between winners and losers is that winners do things that losers just don’t want to do.’ If I want something bad enough, I better be willing to work however hard is required. If not a boy with a taped-on number might take it away.” (Phil McGraw)
From my life: In high school I ran to win. I knew that I wasn’t the fastest on the team; I also knew that I could work the hardest. At the time, our small, Idaho school did not have a very good track but we did have a very good coach. Every day after school Coach Campbell drove us to Rick’s College where we worked out on their asphalt track. Every day I ran the prescribed workout with 100% effort. And, every day, when the bus returned to the school, after having completed a full work out, I ran around the school, another 400 m at full speed. I worked hard and I won, three state championships, three state records. The lesson has transferred. I don’t win races today but I do things—send thank you notes, apply for opportunities, write blog entries (smile!)—that make me feel like a winner.
You don’t want to win the argument. You want to get your way.
From the Reader’s Digest: “’You don’t want to win the argument. You want to get your way.’ It was from the late Rae Wolf McKenna, my first mother-in-law. I have found it popping into my head in many tense situations over the years, to great effect.” (Paul Steiger)
From my life: I was fifteen and we had just moved from a few acres in Oregon to a dairy farm in Idaho. The ewes came with us; the ram did not. In my autocratic, older-sister way, I assigned my younger brother, Wright, to find a ram so our sheep could have sex in the fall and lambs in the spring. Wright did not do it. I reminded. Wright did not do it. I nagged. Wright did not do it. The situation was getting desperate. No ram, no lambs. No lambs, no money. Finally I initiated an argument. I don’t remember what I said—I am sure it was not nice—but I know that won. He agreed with every accusation I hurled at him, every nasty thing I said to him, every character slight I directed his way. I was the clear winner….and the clear loser. I damaged my relationship with my brother….and ended up having to find the ram myself anyway. I learned a lot from that experience. One: It takes two to fight. He refused to fight and it frustrated me to no end. I would much rather someone else be frustrated so I refuse to fight. Two: Often by losing the battle, one wins the war. Keep the big picture in mind; concede small points as needed, give up low ground to keep high ground. Lance calls this manipulation; I know it is facilitation. We don’t argue about it. J
Zap them back with super love.
From the Reader’s Digest: “When I was maybe six I saw a photograph in a magazine of a young woman holding a bouquet of flowers up to ta police officer who was pointing a gun at her—it was a 1970’s image from an antiwar protest. Terribly intrigued by the contradiction depicted in that photo, I asked my mother about it. She explained that the woman was trying to win over the officer with kindness. Her exact words: ‘Zap them back with super love.’ I’ve thought of that phrase many times over the years in trying moments. I’ve never regretted zapping anyone back with super love.” (Cheryl Strayed)
From my life: Brother Day was a gnarly, opinionated, vociferous, elderly widower in our neighborhood. His know-it-all, “I am the expert” attitude in Sunday School drove me a little crazy. Apparently I bugged him too. When he told someone that he did not like me because I was “too hoity-toity”, I decided to change the relationship. “By gum,” I told Lance, “Brother Day is going to like me” and I set out to win him over. I made a point of saying “Hi” to him at Church, I took the kids to his home to trick-or-treat on Halloween, we brought him zucchini bread at Christmas…..and he grew to love me. The beautiful thing is that I grew to love him too. Sincerely and deeply. “Kill them with kindness” we often say; a more accurate statement would be “Lift them with love”. No matter how it is phrased, the concept is concrete. Zapping back with super love often lifts everyone involved and always lifts me.
I am so grateful for the good advice that was shared. I hope it is effective!