“I blew it” these were the last words of SAM WALTON the Founder of retail chain Wal-Mart.
“Don’t miss the point like I DID” These were the words of advice from a dying man.
A few years ago, somebody shared a story with me about a nurse who had transferred to a ward in a hospital where the environment was unacceptable. Most of the staff avoided that ward, only venturing in to fulfil their duties and hoping to be transferred as soon possible. It was a ward lacking hope, where many of the patients were counting their last breaths.
However, instead of following the patterns exemplified by her peers, she decided to spend time with the patients and learn about their pasts. She learnt that every single one of them, rather man or women, had led illustrious lives with riches very few can imagine. At first, they talked only about the luxuries they experienced and the ease with which they had spent their years. But, this is the one side of a story; the other end is a bit darker and regretful. They accepted that they had failed to show respect, courtesy and kindness; they had not kept the commitments to their family and friends and worst of all; they had forgotten to be honest. Now, as they lay alone on their death bed, they realised the mistakes they had made in the past. They were left with nothing but regret and the unattainable wish that they could get a 2nd chance in their life so they could “spend more time with their loved ones”. However, after some time they realized and understood that how they had pushed their loved ones away in the process of climbing the fantasied ladder of fame and fortune.
In the same way, when SAM WALTON said, “I blew it”, he was referring to the time he had spent to earn the fame & fortune instead of building his relationship with his family and loved ones.
You think about these prominent people, who have had everything in life, and yet they were unable to build good relationships with their loved ones. And you wonder: Why?
A Hudson River Plane crash survivor said in his TED talk that when he thought he was going to die, he wished he had spent more time with his loved ones. Luckily, he got a 2nd chance where he could go back and fix the broken relationships and right his wrongs. Unfortunately, not everyone is that Lucky.
In his book “The 7 Habits of highly effective people” in chapter “Paradigms of Interdependence” Stephen Covey shared a story about a man who approached him after the seminar and said, “You know Stephen, I really don’t enjoy coming to these seminars.” He continued, “Look at the beautiful coastline and sea and all that’s happening out there. And all I can do is sit and worry about the grilling I am going to get from my wife tonight on the phone. She gives me the third degree every time I am away from home.”
“Where did I eat breakfast? Who else was there? Was I in meetings all morning? When did I stop for lunch? What did I do during the lunch? And so on. I am sure that is to be true for every career orientated woman out there who gets 3rd degree from her husband.”
If we are going to analyse all the scenarios, they point them in one direction and one direction only and that is, we do little to make any deposits in emotional bank account with our loved ones. An emotional bank account is exactly like a financial bank account. In financial bank accounts, we make deposits on a regular basis to ensure that we have saved enough for a rainy day. We spend more time and effort in our financial wellbeing and we ensure that funds are available for rainy days. However, we forget to spend time on our emotional wellbeing, leaving it empty, so when it comes to a time when we want to make a withdrawal, we are left with nothing and in RED. Now you know the Regrets of Riches, 3rd degree from Wife or Husband and children with empty promises and lost.
To overcome the empty emotional bank account, we should consider the quick fixes like buying presents on birthdays, Valentine’s days, taking parents out for dinner on Mother& Father’s Day, oddly remember wedding anniversaries, children birthdays. We are happy to buy expensive gifts, but not willing to share our precious time or the moments with them which can be part of their memories forever. In my experience randomly bought gifts, cheaper but more meaningful leave better memories than expensive careless presents.
The most important ingredient in any relationship is not what we say or what we do, but what we are and how we come across to the one we are trying to build the relationship with. If we pretend to be someone who we are not, then people will be able to sense the duplicity, and this will drive them away.
If I make deposits into emotional bank account with you through courtesy, kindness, honesty, and keeping my commitments to you, I build up reserve. But If I have a habit of showing discourtesy, disrespect, cutting you off, overreacting, ignoring you, becoming arbitrary, betraying your trust, threatening you, competing with for the sake of jealousy eventually my relationship with you and emotional bank account will be overdrawn. The trust level gets very low.
Now we are walking on mine fields. We have to be careful of everything we say. That leave us to measure every word we say or action we do. Many marriages are filled with it. Many families filled with it. Organizations are no different.
Our most constant relationships, like marriage and families require constant deposits. Constant deposits are necessary for us to do specially with the people we interact on a daily basis.
Over the years I saw fantastic example of relationship building and regular deposits made in emotional bank account through courtesy, kindness, honesty from my Auntie, she died in July 2017. May Allah Bless her, beginning of the year I learn that my Auntie has been diagnosed of liver cancer. So, I decided travelled back home to pay her visit while she is alive. I knew she was kind, caring, trust worth and honest and that become very apparent to me when I visited her at the hospital. I noticed that she was surrounded by family, friends, servants and strangers. They were willing to do anything for her. Lying on death bed she did not have any regret just like others you read about earlier. So, what was her secret? Her secret was constant deposit in relationship aka emotional bank account.
The core of our relationship is built on trust, feelings, mutual respect, courtesy, kindness, honesty, empathic listening and keeping my commitments to other human being.
Steven Covey nicely put in his book “The Seven Habits of highly Effective People” in Habit 4 – Chapter THINK WIN/WIN says:
The Foundation of our character, build and maintain on WIN/WIN relationships. The Trust, the Emotional Bank Account, is the essence of WIN/WIN relationships. Without trust, the best we can do is compromise, without trust, we lack credibility for open, mutual learning and communication and real creativity.
Emotional Bank account requires Empathic listening “That Seek first to understand then to be understood “involves very deep shift in paradigm. We typically seek first to be understood. Most people do not listen with the intent to understand; they listen with the intent to reply.
How often do we complain about a Son, a daughter, a spouse, an employee about their attitude “That person just doesn’t understand“? How much time do we really spend with people to understand them before we get understood? The answer is hardly any.
If you came across a father, a husband or a wife complain about “I can’t understand them” you know why?
That is the case with so many of us failed to build relationship with our close family members, and yet we want our love ones, friends to understand us before we understand them. Our conversations become collective monologues and we never really understand what is going on inside another person’s mind. When another person speaks, we are usually use our selective “listening” hearing only what we need to hear. With that attitude, how can we possibly build emotional bank account, especially, when we are not willing to extend the courtesy, kindness and respect to other human being let alone our immediate family members.
I was no different to above situation. I may have change now and doing small deposit on weekly or monthly basis in my emotional bank account, but I wasn’t always like that all the time, courtesy, Kindness and empathic listening was non-existent. I was walking on mine fields.
As Stephen Covey said that our most constant relationships, like marriage and families require constant deposits. But my deposits were non-existent specially with the people who I interact with on daily basis. Life become very painful to live, but we moved on.
Only few years ago, I had paradigm shift and I realise the mistake I was making in building relationship. So, the first thing I did is change my circle of life:
- Job / Business
- Rest of the world.
That improve my relationship aka emotional account little bit. In all honesty, decade pass with little or no deposit will take time to fill, plus it was not easy to stay focus and continue with deposits where I have spent most of life in oblivion. At times, I felt climbing Mount Everest is lot easier than building relationship and making deposit in emotional account.
To overcome my shortcoming, I had to spent time on learning on how to build relationship with everybody around me and you can do the same. So, let me share those techniques with you. They are :
· Spend time in understanding individual that could be your family, friends or work colleagues.
· Attending to little things. Some of those things could be little or has no value to you but they may be life changing events and good memories for the others.
· Keeping commitments & promises.
· Show Personal Integrity / Accountability
· Lastly apologise sincerely when you make mistakes.
It doesn’t require for you to move mountain to practise 5 steps describe above, all you need to do is spend 10-20 minutes every day practicing 5 steps suggested.
The key to implement 5 steps successfully is required you to change your circle of life. Without that change above steps will not work for you.
Let me leave with following questions.
What do you most value in life?
What is the point in your life?