Are You Working IN Your Relationships Or ON Your Relationships?

Have you read the best seller by Michael Gerber, E-Myth?  You may remember the big question “Are you working ON your business or IN your business?”  The truth is that most business owners spend far too much time doing their business, rather than investing time working on their business – strategy, planning, training, recruiting, systems improvements, etc. 

 All that said, it occurred to me that this similar principle applies to our relationships as well. Parenting, marriage, friendships, and even client relationships can, and often do, become very reactive – simply doing the relationship, responding to requests, paying household bills, being “side by side” with the TV on, working two separate careers, often passing in the night.  Nothing innately wrong with these things, but I’d like to suggest investing more time on the relationship – working IN it. 

 For clients this may involve a client loyalty plan – finding ways to proactively serve and build value in the relationship.  These are the things you do for them when they don’t necessarily need anything – a client appreciation event, a lunch get-together, an article of personal interest to them, connecting them to people you know and believe they would appreciate knowing. 

 For marriage and parenting, it may be creative date nights – with your spouse, and yes, even with your kids.  Imagine taking your daughter out to lunch or a movie, just because.  How about reading and learning from others through books, videos, church or other events?  How about a family night, where each kid and adult gets a turn at choosing what to do as a family on certain nights?  How about hiking?  Anything to promote meaningful conversation, laughter, or any positive connection, certainly pays huge short and long term dividends.

 I’ve read that fathers spend minutes a day at best communicating positively with their kids.  I don’t know if that’s true, but I can see how it happens.  Let’s go back to Covey’s story of the rocks in the jar, identify the rocks and become deliberate about putting those rocks in our jar first. I’m in.