2 Factors that Make a Strong Relationship

I’m in the middle of reading a StrengthsFinder book, Strengths Based Marriage, by Jimmy Evans and Allan Kelsey.  The subtitle, Build a Stronger Relationship by Understanding Each Other’s Gifts, is an understatement.

2 Factors that Make a Strong Relationship

In my own relationships and in working with many couples around their relationships and each of their StrengthsFinder (now CliftonStrengths) strengths, I’ve found a profoundly deeper level of appreciation for our partners when we know and understand our own and our partner’s top strengths.

The two factors that naturally create strong relationships:
1.  Not taking differences personally.
2.  Noticing and championing the gifts of our partners’ strengths.

When my clients “Anna” and “Josh” learned their own and each others’ StrengthsFinder strengths, they immediately had far fewer arguments.  When I asked them exactly what had shifted, neither of them knew at first.  As we talked more, it became clear that they weren’t taking things personally anymore.

Both of them realized that the other wasn’t trying to hurt them, but rather they were naturally doing what their strengths guided them to do.  The more we talked and they came to understand the specifics of the others’ strengths, the more they appreciated the differences that the other brought to their partnership.

The second factor, after knowing our own and our partner’s StrengthsFinder strengths involves being willing to notice and champion the gifts, rather than the differences (which we often interpret as “wrong”) in both our own and our partners’ strengths.

For example, my partner has Deliberative in his top 5 strengths.  Deliberative makes decisions thoughtfully and carefully.  I have Activator in my top 5.  I jokingly call in my “dive in the pool and on the way down see if there’s any water” strength.

You can probably imagine if I hadn’t known our top 5 strengths, I would have thought my way of making decisions was right and his frustratingly wrong.

Because I did know our strengths, I deeply appreciated some decisions were far better made with his Deliberative in the mix.  I also had more patience than I would normally have had when he needed to think things through because I knew that was his process and he was good at making great decisions that way.

The more I work with individuals and couples around strengths, the more excited I get about facilitating far less misunderstandings and far greater respect and appreciation!

If you would love to give and receive more love, appreciation and understanding in your relationship, I have 2 openings in August for Strong Couple StrengthsFinder Coaching packages.

Get the details here:

As always, post your comments, experiences and insights below . . .

What Do Your Clients Really Want?

As professionals, we have a tendency to talk about our services in terms of our tools and processes. Our clients don’t care about how we do what we do. They want to know that we can help them get to what they desire. And to the deeper desire under that desire.

The more you deeply listen to what your potential clients and clients tell you, the more clearly and accurately you will understand their desires and their deepest desires under those desires.

If you’re a business coach, your clients might talk about making more money, doing more fulfilling work or getting more focused. For each client, what is beneath those desires? There are as many answers as there are clients.

Maybe one client wants to make more money to ensure her daughter can go to the college of her choice. Why is that important to her? Maybe she feels it’s her job to do all she can to set her daughter up for success.

Maybe another client wants to make more money to retire sooner. Why is that important to him? Maybe he would love to devote more time to his passion of restoring old trucks.

Maybe another client wants to make more money because she’s single and she wants to take good care of herself.

What Do Your Clients Really Want?

I have a deep desire to make more money so that I can spend even more time with my family and friends in beautiful, spacious natural environments.  (Taken Jan 18, 2017 from the top of Beaver Creek ski area on my 25th annual ski trip with my 3 sisters.)

If you’re a chiropractor or massage therapist, your clients might talk about feeling better or paying more attention to their bodies. What’s underneath that desire right now? Maybe they’ve had a health scare, maybe they want a health partner rather than trying to figure things out on their own or maybe they want to be more pro-active and self-sufficient by learning more about their health.

The more you ask potential clients and clients something like, “Tell me more about why that’s important to you,” the more you can understand their deepest desire and the more you can help them fulfill them.

What’s your sense of how you might go deeper with learning what your clients desire? I’d love your comments and insights below.

Where Is the Sweet Spot for Growing Your Business?

Last week I attended an “Intentional Connections For Business” in Albuquerque with two of my friends who are also coaches. When we left the event, I realized that the focus had been deeper conversations, which had been wonderful.

What was missing was an easy way to stay connected and further the conversation. The event had been billed as the opposite of typical networking. To make sure we understood, the flyer included a graphic of a business card with a red circle with a slash through it to communicate “business card–free zone.”

While I understood the intent, I knew it had gone too far to the other extreme when I saw my friend, Karin, writing people’s contact info on the edge of a handout. I took a different approach and didn’t exchange info with anyone because I thought we weren’t “suppose to.” Despite it being a no card exchange place, I did manage to get the name of Catdi Printing which is a business card printing company from one of the businesses. If you are not into the idea how about Metal Business Kards where you can exchange high-quality handouts with the information about you and your business. 

As we drove home that evening, we all three realized we’d received value from the deeper connection and mindful structure of the event and felt stifled by the artificial boundary around networking and business cards. 


I find the sweet spot in growing my business often tends to be the beautiful mix of two extremes.

We want to do business in an authentic way with people who have similar values and we want it to be easy and natural to continue the conversation. That lead to a rich conversation among the three of us about how we could each grow our businesses in a heartfelt and effective way. We spoke about many companies which inadvertently led me to mention this https://www.linkedin.com/company/gds-group Linkedin profile of the company which I’d hired to do all my marketing.

For me the sweet spot involves sharing and serving freely, generously having conversations to see if coaching with me is a great fit and directly asking for the business if it is.

What about you? What specifics create your sweet spot?
If you haven’t thought about it like this, what might help you gain clarity?

I’d love your thoughts and comments below.

(Excerpted from my forthcoming book, “Strong from Within: Simple perceptions and practices for transforming stress and overwhelm into clarity and purpose“)

What Happens If We Keep Our Hearts Open?

Do not let anything that happens in life be important enough that you’re willing to close your heart . . . Nothing, ever, is worth closing your heart over.
Michael Singer
From the book, “The Untethered Soul”

Recently, I dated a guy for a few weeks. It was an incredibly challenging relationship. We often got along beautifully and had a great time together. And, at the same time, we both kept getting triggered in deep, painful ways.

I’ve dated a lot, I’ve been in many relationships and I’ve never experienced anything like this. Neither of us knew what to make of it.

At one point, when I couldn’t take any more triggering, I sent him a short, “No need to go any further” text. A couple of days later, I realized there might be value in being more mature and less reactive in my communication.

I called him and we agreed to have a closing conversation a couple of days later. We met in a park under a magnificent tree. One of the many things we have in common: a deep connection with trees.

What Happens If We Keep Our Hearts Open?

Maybe the tree worked his magic on us.

We had a wonderful, heartfelt conversation about closing the romantic chapter in the story of us and continuing the connection of our friendship. We sat and talked under that tree for two hours.

I felt strangely neutral. I came away from our time together with a deep appreciation for each of us and our connection. And totally clear that we’d made a great decision.

The next day, I read the Michael Singer quote above. It startled me. Maybe I’ve become more willing to keep my heart open regardless of circumstances?!?

So, what happens if we keep our hearts open? For me, it feels life-affirming, empowering and kind of like how it’s suppose to be . . .

I’d love to hear your experiences . . . post them below in the comments section . . .

(Excerpted from my forthcoming book, “Strong from Within: Simple perceptions and practices for transforming crisis into clarity and purpose”)