10 Simple Ways to Become a Likable Leader

My favorite show on television is Shark Tank.

I DVR every episode.

I love watching the ideas entrepreneurs come up with and seeing the Sharks give feedback to the business owners on how they can succeed.  I find it fascinating and I’ve learned a lot about life and business from the show.

Barbara Corcoran, Shark Tank celebrity and business mogul said,  “If people like you, they’re going to want to do business with you. And if they don’t, you’re going to have an almost insurmountable obstacle to overcome.”

This statement is not only true of business, but in personal relationships as well.

People want to do business and personal relationships with people they like.

This topic is relevant to all of us because we all are in the “people business” in some form or fashion.

At our very core, we are hardwired to want to be liked.  We need relationships.  If we don’t have them, life becomes a challenge.

It reminds me of Tom Hank’s character in the movie, Castaway.  Out of sheer desperation and loneliness, he created a fictitious character named Wilson out of a volleyball, just to have a friend.

We all want to create better relationships and connections with people.  Better connections happen when people like us.  And when we have something of value to offer, it creates a win-win for everybody involved.

When we get this right, we advance at work faster, create more and better relationships easier and add value to the world around us.

Here are 10 Simple Ways to Become a More Likable Leader:

1)  Smile.  Experts tell us we have only a few seconds to make a good first impression.  A smile is the fastest way to communicate acceptance and welcome.  If people know that you accept them, it creates an immediate bridge to connection.  Nothing communicates a disconnection faster than a frown.  Be aware of what your face is communicating and make sure a smile is one of the first things the other person notices.

2) Be a Good Listener (and put the phone away).  In our fast paced world of technology, it’s so easy to get distracted.  Our attention spans are getting less and less.  Resist the urge to keep checking your phone while your speaking to someone.  Better yet, put your phone out of sight.  This communicates huge respect. Be a good listener and respond with good questions.

3) Maintain Good Eye Contact.  We all have a tendency to want to pay attention to what is going on around us.  Unfortunately, consistently looking over the person’s shoulder at the next “shiny object” (“Squirrel!”) is a quick way to disconnect and cause a person to not like you.  One tip to help maintain eye contact: Notice and pay attention to the person’s eye color. It will help you to make eye contact easier. A good rule of thumb is to use a 10 to 1 ratio for eye contact.  Maintain eye contact for about 10 seconds and break contact for 1 second.  That will keep you interested without looking creepy.

4) Focus on the Interests of the Other Person.  People love to talk about themselves and what they are interested in.  Find out what interests them and you will never run out of things to talk about.  Focusing on their interests makes them feel like the most important person in the room.

5) Keep It Positive.  No one likes a Debbie Downer.  I’m not saying you need to become Pollyanna, but stay away from the complaining.  Consistent complaining is a sure fire way to repel another person.  Look for the positive and keep a good attitude.  Positivity in a negative world will help you to stand out and become contagious. People love connecting with positive people.

6) Use the Person’s Name.  A person’s name is the one of the most sweetest sounds to their ears.  Use it sparingly in a conversation, but use it.  If you are meeting someone for the first time, using their name will also help you to remember their name after you meet them.

7) Lean In.  Leaning in slightly while having a conversation is a great tool to use for better connection.  It helps the person to know your interested and engaged with what is being said.

8) Watch Your Body Language.  In certain situations it’s been said that body language makes up  55% of our communication, tone  of voice represents 38% and actual words spoken represent only 7%.  While those percentages vary based on context, our body language is extremely important in how we connect and communicate with others.  Our body language can communicate disinterest (folded arms, slouching, looking away) or interest (positive facial expressions, nodding head, etc.)  Use it well and you will become more likable.

9)  Have Variety in Your Voice.  As mentioned above, tone of voice can make up a large part of our communication.  If you’ve ever listened to someone who speaks in a quiet, mumbling, monotone voice, you know it’s very difficult to stay interested.  Use some variety and appropriate volume in your voice and you will have an easier time commanding attention.  Your voice is like an instrument.  It can be played very well or not so well.  No one likes to hear the same note played over and over.  Slight variety peaks interest.

10)  Stay Connected.  To set yourself up from the crowd and create lasting value, stay connected with your relationships you develop.  I heard of one business executive that writes 5 hand written notes every morning.  Who wouldn’t like someone that shows that kind of value to them?  Social media, text messages and phone calls also are an easy way to create a quick connection that shows the other person you care and think they are important.

These aren’t the only ways to become a more likable leader, but put these in practice and I guarantee you will create more value for others and for yourself.

Go be likable this week.

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Are You Making This Mistake In Your Marriage?

My wife, Jacque and I were several years into our marriage when I realized I was missing the mark on something.


Photo credit: hotblack from morguefile.com

One night she looked at me with tears welling up and said, “You don’t help me around the house.”  Boom.  She was right and I knew it.

She did such a great job making our house a home and I guess I just figured “she had that part covered.”  Boy was I wrong.  I had to apologize and work on making some changes.

What I came to realize was my mistake.  I wasn’t speaking her love language.

Gary Chapman in his best selling book, The 5 Love Languages, says there are five basic love languages we all relate to.  When someone speaks our “language”, it connects with us and fills our love tank.  When someone doesn’t speak our language our love tank stays empty which can lead to frustration and disappointment.  Not good.

Here are the 5 Love Languages:

1)  Acts of Service

2) Words of Affirmation

3) Quality Time

4) Physical Touch

5) Gifts

Coincidently, we often times give what we desire the most.  It’s usually a key indicator that is our love language.

For example, my wife’s off the chart love language is acts of service.  She loves to serve and do things for others.  It comes naturally to her.  As a result, she also likes to receive that back.

When I finally got a clue and “spoke her language”, it changed everything.  It’s amazing how it works.  However, it was a difficult transition for me because acts of service is probably my weakest love language.  I had to work on giving that, but the effort was worth it because it brought tremendous value to our relationship.

My love language happens to be words of affirmation.  I love it when people say nice things about me.  However, Jacque’s weakest love language is affirmation.  She had to work on speaking that language because it doesn’t mean as much to her to receive it.

Are you curious what your or your spouse’s love language is?  The good news is you can find out for free.  Simply go to the online tool and take the multiple choice assessment.  http://www.5lovelanguages.com/profile/ It even works for your children.  (The 5 Love Languages book by Gary Chapman is excellent as well.)

Once we figured our love language out it was truly a game changer for our marriage.  It can be for you too.  Go ahead and take the assessment.  You’ll be glad you did.  I know we are.

Here’s to many happy years of marriage!

I’d love to hear your thoughts.  What’s your love language?  What’s your spouse’s? 

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3 Fun Ideas For the Best Valentine’s Day Ever. #2 Was a Hit!

Romantic Heart from Love Seeds

Does this sound familiar?

“It’s Valentine’s Day and I’m still not sure what we are going to do to celebrate.”

Don’t worry, you’re not alone.  Valentine’s Day doesn’t have to end up with the two of you ordering pizza and watching re-runs on the DVR.

Here are three ideas to make this the best Valentine’s Day ever.

1) Progressive Dinner.

The idea behind this is to “progress” to different restaurants for each course.  For example, you would have an appetizer at one, the main course at another and dessert at a third place.

If you are celebrating on Valentine’s Day, you will want to call ahead to make reservations so you can minimize the wait.  Otherwise, you can choose to celebrate the day before or after to minimize wait time.

This idea can be a lot of fun because it gives you variety and keeps the night interesting.  You can also make it more fun by having a small gift ready for your Valentine at each place with the location of the next restaurant that you will be going to inside.

2) Surprise Gifts.

Recently, I decided I was going to give Jacque, my wife some surprise gifts.  Instead of just handing over the gifts, I decided to have a little fun with it.

I got four pieces of copy paper and wrote, “Door #1, Door #2, Door #3 and Door #4” on them.  I then proceeded to tape one of those pieces of paper to four of our closet doors in our house.

Behind each door I placed one of the gifts.  Some of the gifts were as simple as a coupon for a back rub.  (This idea doesn’t have to cost you a ton of money.)

I had Jacque pick one door each time revealing what was behind the door.  You can do it all in one evening or make a weekend out of it, having your Valentine pick one door per day. It was a lot of fun for her and a lot of fun for me to surprise her.

3) Competition Night.

One of the best date nights we have had is a competition night.  The idea here is to pick three categories (or games) you will compete in. It may be something like:  bowling, skee ball and air hockey.  You can pick any games you find fun as a couple.  We have a place locally that has lots of fun things in one location.

The winner is the person who wins the most out of the three categories. You can have a fun prize, like winner gets to pick the restaurant to eat dinner afterwards.

The good news is these ideas don’t have to be reserved only for Valentine’s Day.  They make for a great date night anytime.

The goal is to leave room for fun.  Your relationship will be better off because of it.

Happy Valentine’s Day!

 

One Thing Successful People Do

There’s no such thing as an overnight success. Success in the sense that something great and lasting was built. Maybe it’s a great business or marriage. Chances are it took time. Lots of time.

Group of happy business people clapping their hands

As the saying goes, “Rome wasn’t built in a day.”

We often times hear about success stories only after all the hard work is put in and view it as an instant success.

The good news is all of us have been gifted with the potential for success.

The difference between successful people and unsuccessful people is often one thing.

PERSEVERANCE:  Not giving up when things get tough. 

When I think of perseverance, I think of five famous people that you’ve heard of and maybe didn’t know their story.

They didn’t give up when things got tough.  In fact, if they did give up, we would have never heard about them.  PERSEVERANCE was the difference in them being average and them doing great things.

1) Walt Disney

Did you know that Walt once was fired from a job because they thought he wasn’t creative enough? What if he gave up?  There would be no Mickey Mouse.  There would be no Walt Disney World. He didn’t give up when things got tough.

2) Thomas Edison 

Edison tried 1,000 times to make the light bulb.  What if he gave up on the 999th time?  He didn’t give up!

3) Hellen Keller

Helen Keller was blind and deaf and learned to speak and read.  She went on to graduate college and become a speaker and author.

4) Albert Einstein 

When we think of smart people, everyone thinks of Albert Einstein.  One of the greatest thinkers of all time. He didn’t always remember to comb his hair, but he was really smart in Science.  He didn’t talk until he was 4 and didn’t read until he was 7 and some people called him mentally slow and challenged.  He didn’t let that stop him from going on to make some of the greatest discoveries that science has ever seen.

5) Michael Jordan 

Some would say Jordan is the greatest basketball player of all time.  (If you are a Miami Heat fan, you may say that title would go to LeBron James.) Michael Jordan was amazing on the court, many times unstoppable.  But did you know he once got cut from his high school basketball team?  What if he quit?

PERSEVERANCE.  That’s what made the difference in all of these people’s lives between being average and great.  They refused to give up when things got tough.

Here’s the cool thing.  God knew that you and I would have great days and tough days and He made a promise to us that would help us persevere through the tough days.  It was a guy named Paul the Apostle that wrote one of the greatest things in the whole Bible.  He wrote it while he was in prison and it is my favorite scripture, my life verse.

I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me. – Philippians 4:13

I’ve come back to that scripture over and over again in my life, especially when something is hard.  “God, this is tough, but I’m not going to quit because you promised you will give me the strength to succeed.”

What would your life look like if you persevered, followed your dreams and never gave up?

You would become everything God created you to be and you could make a difference in the world!

God has an amazing plan for each and every one of us.  He wants to use your life to make a difference in the world by serving others.

In fact, there is another scripture in the Bible that says, “I know the plans I have for you.  Plans for hope and a future.” – Jeremiah 29:11

God has made you to be great.  So go be great.  Persevere when things are tough, because you can do all things through Christ who strengthens you.  Don’t give up.  Go make a difference in the world!

What is one area you need to persevere in to see your goals achieved?

 

Two Things Every Married Couple Needs to Practice

Today’s post is by a good friend of mine, Mike Teston.  Mike is a marriage coach and pastor who has previously spent the last 10 years working with Andy Stanley at North Point Community Church, one of the largest churches in the country. Enjoy the article.

My wife and I are about to reach a huge milestone: 40 years of marriage. They have been 30 of the best years of our lives – and 10 of the worst.

Loving couple lying in bed

These are round numbers, but they accurately represent our relationship, and I suspect your marriage is somewhat like ours – a mixture of both good and bad.  Your ratios may be different (hopefully better), but you know that marriage can bring out the best and the worst in everyone.

So as 40 year seasoned veterans, we want to offer two simple things we believe will help you reach your own 40-year milestone. They aren’t new or revolutionary; they are just two basic things that need to be practiced repeatedly.

We know this for certain: nothing has been as fulfilling as our long-term marriage in spite of the lost years we experienced.

Here are Two Things Every Married Couple Needs to Practice: 

1) When the worst comes out in you:  humble yourself, put on your big boy/girl pants, own it, and  ask for forgiveness.

If you are human, you will do something stupid. So stop excusing, justifying, blame shifting, lying or denying. Your spouse knows, the kids know, even the parakeet and the dog know. Owning your stuff increases your integrity as well as your credibility – it is the right thing to do.

Try something like, “Wait a minute, I shouldn’t have said that. It was unkind and uncalled for. I was wrong and ask you to forgive me. Can I try this again with a little more kindness?”

If you are not accustomed to doing this, I understand. I wasn’t either. But trust me, it will get easier, and your marriage will benefit.

2) When the worst comes out in your spouse:  remember those words, “for better or for worse.”

You meant them, didn’t you? At your wedding, you just didn’t know the extent of your promise.

First a disclaimer: we aren’t suggesting here that you endure physical endangerment or sexual unfaithfulness without protecting yourself. Please get help from your family, church or counselor.

When your spouse is being unreasonable, unkind, or downright childish, what should be your response?   Keep calm, don’t allow yourself to escalate the tension, and be willing to offer forgiveness.

Try something like, “I don’t understand what you just did. It seemed disrespectful and unnecessary, and I am trying not to respond in my usual bad way. I want to forgive you, and hope we can move our conversation to a more productive place.”

As you read these responses, you may be finding them unrealistic or simplistic. We can assure you that it will take courage and willpower to actually practice them. Both of these responses are rooted in the ancient wisdom of the Apostle Paul in Ephesians 4:31-32. While you may not see immediate external results, your choice to follow his counsel over time will make you better on the inside.

When the worst comes out in you, remember v. 31:  “Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice.”

When the worst comes out in your spouse, remember v. 32:  “Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.”

Every couple has disagreements, misunderstandings, and fights. It is a matter of when, not if.

Research has shown that fighting, or the frequency of fighting, in marriage is not the issue. It is HOW couples fight and HOW they resolve fights that can make or break a marriage.

In other words, you can have many spirited disagreements and still have a great marriage. But you cannot tear each other apart, leave your fights unresolved, and make it to 40 years with a desirable good/bad ratio.

So the next time “bad” shows up in you or your spouse, remember the wisdom that has stood the test of time. Happy future 40th.

12 Life Lessons I’ve Learned in 43 Years

I turned 43 today.

I feel a bit like Forrest Gump sitting on a bench, reflecting on what I’ve learned in my life.  (Cue music and feather floating in the air.)

Sit down
I wish I learned these things earlier, but I guess this is all part of the journey.

Here are 12 Life Lessons I’ve Learned in 43 Years.

1) Giving is better than receiving. Serving others brings great joy.

2) You can’t change other people, but you can change yourself.

3) Life is better when you focus on your strengths instead of your weaknesses.

4) Starting each day with gratitude leads to greater perspective and a happier life.

5) Words are powerful. They can be used to shape people’s futures, for better or for worse.

6) Money doesn’t buy happiness. (But it can be a blessing when you use it in the right ways.)

7) Everybody needs encouragement. People don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care.

8) Life can be hard at times. I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength.

9) Everybody is in the people business. Most of our success in life is built around how well we interact with others.

10) Life is not meant to be boring.  Have fun and create adventures.

11) A marriage of your dreams is possible.  Dating your spouse and learning their “love language” are keys to creating it.

12) God is faithful.

Bonus:  Chipotle is better than Moe’s.  (Moe’s fans, please refer to #2)

What has been the best advice you’ve ever received?  Would you share it in the comments below?  

How Disney Achieves Excellence

You would be hard pressed to find a person that hasn’t experienced the Disney brand in some form or fashion.  Whether it’s a theme park, movie, product or resort, Disney does it right. They are known for their excellence.

Just how do they achieve it?

Cinderella's Castle, Walt Disney World
Walt was a stickler for detail.  He believed details mattered.   To give an example, if Disney was to paint something in one of their parks a certain color (let’s say white for example), they would test dozens of shades of white in various sunlight situations.  All to get just the right shade as it related to the surroundings.

In the early days when Disneyland had opened, Walt would make his “imagineers” (those that designed the park) crawl through the park on their hands and knees to get the same perspective as a child.  He wanted them to experience things as their guests and make changes accordingly.

He also required his staff to ride the rides and eat with the guests to see things from their angle.  Adjustments were easier to make to serve them better.

Walt believed in “Fresh Eyes”.

Fresh eyes as a leader is the ability to see things from a fresh perspective.  Specifically from the perspective of those you serve.

In business, what does your customer experience when they interact with your company?

Is your environment clean?  Were they greeted with a warm welcome?  Was the process efficient?  Did you exceed their expectations so much they would give you a word of mouth referral without you asking?

It’s easy to get so entrenched working “in your business” that you forget to work “on your business”.  

Sadly enough, my experience lately is customer service in many places of business has been in decline.  It’s easier than ever to exceed the competition with just a little extra effort.

Experts say that you can exceed the competition if you can do something just 5% better.

This “Fresh Eyes” principle isn’t just for business.  It can also be used in your personal life.

You can look at your home, your relationships and your life with fresh eyes.  What is the current experience  and how can I make adjustments to make it better?  How can I serve others better?

One tip I would give you is to ask for feedback.  In business, bring in someone to give you some unbiased feedback on their experience with your company.  Set up a survey to get feedback from your customers.  Ask questions regularly with the goal of improvement.

Seeing with “Fresh Eyes” and acting accordingly always leads to improvement.  And when you improve, everybody wins.

What is one area of your organization or life you can look at with “Fresh Eyes” this week?

3 Ways To Make a Good Marriage Great

When I was younger I worked as a life guard at a community pool.

Enamoured couple is played

One day, a disgruntled older man decided he would give me some advice.  He said, “Don’t ever get married.  You’ll be miserable.”

I remember telling him, “Just because you have a bad marriage doesn’t mean I have to have a bad marriage.” It was a sad thing to see someone so negative against marriage.  It doesn’t have to be that way, though.

With the divorce rate in America hovering around 50%, there is a good chance you know someone that has been affected by the devastation of it.

No one sets out on their honeymoon with the goal of getting a divorce, but sadly many people end up there.

For the 50% of couples that don’t end up divorced, there is a percentage of those that feel their marriage is  just not what they thought it would be.

But I believe a large percentage of that 50% have a good marriage, but feel it could be better.

Whether you are married and looking for ways to make your marriage better or you are currently single and desire be married; 

Here are 3 Ways To Make a Good Marriage Great.

1) Consider Your Spouse’s Interests.

My hunch is that when you were first dating you did lots of things that typically “weren’t your thing”.  It doesn’t mean that men need to flock to the mall with their wives every weekend or that women need to go out and buy a set of the latest Duck Dynasty camo.  It does mean that marriage isn’t all about us.

How can you create a connection with your spouse with the things he/she is interested in?  It may be as simple as a conversation asking them about their interest that shows you care.

My wife, Jacque has a love for helping orphans in Mexico.  She oversees a mission trip there with a group of about 100 people.  I know she cares about that deeply and I know it means a lot to her when I ask how things are going with the planning.

2) Apologize When Necessary.

The two words, “I’m sorry” tend to be some of the hardest to say when you are married.  No one likes to admit they are wrong.  If you have offended your spouse, be quick to apologize.  Easier said than done, but sincere apologies create relational equity.  It goes a long way and shows your spouse your relationship is more important than being right.

On a similar note, when your spouse apologizes be quick to forgive.  Unforgiveness and holding grudges create a wedge in your marriage.  It’s impossible to create a great marriage if a spouse is holding onto a grudge.  Drop the rock of unforgiveness and your relationship will move forward.

3) Be a Good Listener.

Listening shows value.  Genuine listening.  Waiting for your turn to talk is not listening.  Your spouse knows you care when you listen.

A word to the men.  We have a tendency to try to “fix things”.  Sometimes our wives need to just be heard and understood.  Ask them if there is anything we can do to help, but many times they will just want to be heard.

Also, a word to the women.  Men have shorter attention spans when it comes to listening.  Men want to serve by listening, but it can be difficult to stay with a long story.  It’s just the way many of us are wired.

If husbands and wives can understand their differences, communication in the relationship can flourish.

These are not the only ways to make a good marriage great, but they certainly are things every couple can put into practice and see results.  

A great marriage is possible.  One great decision at a time.

Which of these do you feel is the most important?

 

5 Strategies To Instantly Improve Your People Skills

I’ve heard it said that 85% of our success in life comes from our people skills.

Closeup portrait of a group of business people laughing
The way we interact with others in our personal and professional life can make or break a situation.

John Maxwell said, “People don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care.”

The good news is everyone can learn to improve their people skills.

Good people skills start with the right heart.  A heart that genuinely cares about others.  This works in business, personal relationships, job interviews and casual conversations.

Here are 5 Strategies To Instantly Improve Your People Skills:

1) Be a Good Listener.  We’ve all heard the adage, “God gave you two ears and one mouth for a reason.”  People love to be heard.  One of the greatest gifts we can give to others is to listen to them.  It’s normal to mistake listening for waiting…waiting for your turn to talk.  Fight the urge and genuinely listen.  Listening shows others we value them and are ready to serve them.

2) Smile.  The was a popular song recently that was called, “What Does the Fox Say?”  A great question to ask is, “What does my face say?”  If we are not careful, we may be sending off a mixed message and not even know it.  Especially for more intense individuals, our face may be communicating a scowl when we are really just thinking about solving a problem.  Be aware that your body language can communicate even more than your words.  If you want to instantly connect with someone, smile more.  Even a slight smile tells others you are approachable and sends a positive message.  Positivity trumps negativity every time.

3) Give a Sincere Compliment.  Positive comments are a bridge to connecting with others.  Everybody loves to be noticed.  Look for ways to connect with others through a sincere compliment.

4) Talk About The Other Person’s Interests. Everyone loves to talk about themselves and what they like.  Talking about the other person’s interests is the fastest way to building a connection.  Look for common interests as that engages you in the conversation and builds an even stronger connection.

5) Follow Up.  Look for ways to continue to build a great relationship by following up.  Bring up the last conversation you had and ask them how they are doing.  I have a business friend that would actually write notes from our conversations.  He would refer to them the next time we talked about restocking his product.  Even though he was in sales, it made me know he cared about more than the sale and that made a big impact on me.

Relationships will always be at the core of who we are and what we do. 

Put these 5 strategies to work and I guarantee you will improve your people skills.

Which of these strategies do you feel is the most effective in connecting with others?

5 Things All Kids Need From Their Parents

If you are a parent, at some point you will connect with the opening words of Charles Dickens’s novel, A Tale of Two Cities.

“It was the best of times, it was the worst of times…”

kids and parents Parenting can be incredibly rewarding, but it can also be very trying. 

Which parent hasn’t wanted to pull their hair out at times? Let’s face it, kids aren’t born with a manual attached.

However, after working with kids and families for almost 20 years and being a parent of two teenagers myself, I have found there are several timeless principles that bring greater success in parenting.

Here are 5 Things All Kids Need From Their Parents:

1) Unconditional love.  Our kids are growing up in a tough world.  I can’t imagine the pressure they must feel from things like media and other peers.  Our kids need to know that no matter what they do (and they will do some things), we will love them.  No strings attached.

One of the greatest stories ever told is the Biblical parable of the prodigal son.  A certain man had a son who decided to basically disown his family, take his inheritance and sow his wild oats.

After his wild living landed him a job feeding and eating with the pigs, he decided to return home and beg his father to be a hired hand.  His father, upon seeing his son, ran to meet him.  He had a robe and a ring put on him and ordered the finest feast be thrown in his prodigal son’s honor.  Unconditional love doesn’t get any better than that.

2) Structure.  Parenting can be exhausting.  It is so much easier to let kids do whatever they want, when they want.  However, kids need structure.  Bedtimes, curfews, homework schedules and chores can seem restrictive.  In the long run though, structure within reason teaches our kids how to be successful adults.

3) Time.  How do kids spell love?  T.I.M.E.  No amount of gifts or freedom can trump time with our kids.  Kids crave it.  Even when they act like they don’t.

One thing that has been effective for me in the past is to pick a day for each child and take them out to breakfast before school.  We would talk about whatever was going on in their life, and I would always reserve about 5 minutes or so to teach a life lesson or leadership principle.

Lastly, don’t forget to make it fun.  One of the best things Jacque and I have ever done with our kids is family competition nights. The kids absolutely love it.

4) A good example.  No amount of teaching can replace living out a good example.  Kids won’t remember most of what we say, but they will remember what we do.  Do we want them to manage their money and time well?  Have great relationships?  How we model those things in front of them will have a huge impact on our children’s future.

5) Grace. Our kids need to see grace in action.  Recently, one of our children was grounded for incurring charges just over $1000 that were connected to our iTunes account.

He was playing a certain video game on his phone and was buying extra add-ons that went along with the video game. To his benefit, he did not realize how much he had actually charged over a period of weeks. He just thought he had the money to pay us back.

Regardless, he was supposed to always check with us before he purchased anything through his phone. (thus, the grounding.)

We told him, not only was he grounded, but that he would also have to pay back every last penny. This would mean that it would take him over two years to pay it back.

Pretty much an eternity for a 13-year-old.

We really thought there was nothing we could do about the charge, and we were going to have to cover it in the meantime.

My wife, Jacque decided that she would try to call iTunes and see if there was anything they could do. To our surprise, they said they do not normally do this, but they canceled the debt.

Ryan thought that this was not going to be a good Christmas because of his poor decision. So we decided we would wait until Christmas morning to tell him.

As he was ready to open his gifts, we handed him an envelope with his name on it. The letter inside said this:

iTunes Debt $1,034.00
Canceled.
You now owe: $0
Love, Jesus

With tears in his eyes, he read the letter. Actually, we all had tears in our eyes.

We explained how this was the true story of Christmas. God sending his Son to the earth as a baby, who grew up to be a man and paid the debt for our sin on a cross.

It was a priceless memory and by far, was the best Christmas gift we have ever been a part of. It showed grace in action.

These are not the only 5 things our kids need from us, but they are definitely principles that contribute to parenting success. 

If you are a parent, take heart.  You will make it to the other side. 

And with the right strategies you can even enjoy the journey. 

What is your biggest challenge as a parent?  Leave a comment below.  

This is the third of three posts about relationships. In the first post, we discussed “4 Things Every Woman Needs To Hear From Her Husband,” and the second post covered “3 Things Every Man Desires From His Wife.” Be sure to read all three and get a well rounded perspective about improving your family relationships.

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