I was excited. I just returned from an important meeting. I had made some valuable contacts. As soon as I got home I went straight to my computer to enter this valuable information.
That was a mistake. After I completed this task I went into the kitchen to say hello.
Charlene was fuming. “You love that d____ computer more than you love me.”
Boy, had I screwed up. I had started a storm and there was nothing to do but batten down the hatches and ride it out. After 49 years of marriage, I knew what not to do. Defending myself by trying to explain was like gasoline on the fire. When I did that, Charlene only was hearing that she shouldn’t be feeling that way. She also was hearing I didn’t get how badly I had hurt her.
Her reaction was to say every hurtful thing she could think of to me just to show me how badly I had hurt her. One of her favorites was, “Ha, and you call yourself a marriage counselor. I’m going to tell everyone, all your clients, what a fake you are!” (In addition to being a certified coach, I am a licensed marriage counselor.)
I took it like a man, apologized and after a cooling off period the storm was over. We made up and renewed our bond.
After that long painful argument was finally resolved, I learned a valuable lesson. “Keep your values straight.”
I hadn’t shown Charlene that she was the most important one in my life. I hadn’t put her first. I hadn’t greeted her first. I had greeted my computer first. I had acted like my business was more important than my wife. If the Queen of England were in my house, I would not ignore her to go straight to my computer first.
If the president of the United States were in my house, I would not ignore him and go straight to my computer (even if I hadn’t voted for him).
Too many people get their values screwed up. Business owners and entrepreneurs are notorious for being obsessed with their enterprises. Likewise, some career people are obsessed with getting ahead.
They forget to treat their spouses like the Queens and presidents that they really are.
After all, didn’t you train them to have that expectation? When you were dating, didn’t you treat them like they are the most important person in your life. Do you remember all the crazy things you did just to be together?
I know you can’t keep up that crazy pace. You would die of exhaustion, but you can still show how important she or he is to you. When you don’t, you just got your values screwed up.
To maintain a balanced life, keep your values straight. Remind yourself they are most important people in your life. Be sure to pay them attention in little ways as well as in big ways.
All my coaching clients put it in writing. When they set their goals and priorities, their spouse and family are put in first place. It’s surprising when you do that. You’re more likely to set aside time for them. It helps prevent you from letting your business or career seduce you into neglecting them.
Steven Covey recommends putting your loved ones in a category called “not urgent, but important.” When he says “not urgent,” he means things that are not demanding your attention. (That may be true of his wife, but not mine!)
No one has ever said on their deathbed, “I wish I had spent more time at the office.”
Don’t let your values get screwed up. Keep your values straight.
I’ve been talking about your cherished loved ones. What about other people?
The same principle holds in all our relationships — just in a lesser degree. You would not show others the same ultimate high regard that you show your spouse or lover, but you can treat everybody else with high regard.
Everybody thinks they are important. Don’t confuse them by treating them otherwise.
People are always more important than things. Don’t get your values screwed up.
Copyright (c) 2007 Stan the Mann