Today is my fifteenth Anniversary. If you don’t mind, I’m going to honor my wife in this week’s blog and still relate it to business (romantic huh?) I’d like to start with a confession. I’m a sucker when it comes to people! If you say black, I assume you believe it’s black, not gray, and certainly not white. But, I’ve learned the hard way, that not everyone is an Honest Abe. People often don’t tell you the truth for a myriad of reasons; from wanting to look good in front of the boss, to avoiding conflict (what’s that?), to simply they are just plain liars who lie for their own perceived gain. I know, I know, most people figure this out by high school, or certainly college, but it took me till I was almost 40 to figure it out. Truthfully, I still haven’t figured it out and I still bite on the pump fake more often than not. It took me being married a dozen years, and with many, many bodies along the path, for me to finally wake up to the simple truth that my wife has Spidey sense when it comes to people!
Before I learned just how much more wise my wife was than me on people, here’s how it often went down with us. Me, “Boy, so-and-so was a real cool guy, can you believe he’s accomplished all of that?! Her, “No, I can’t, I don’t trust him, something’s off.” Me, “Come on honey, he’s funny and he’s even got his MBA from Harvard.” Her, “I don’t like him. In fact, he makes the hair on the back of my neck stand up.” Me, “Ahh come on, he’s a nice guy.” That conversation, or one like it, has happened many a time over the course of my marriage. And the repeated truth was, her counsel proved wise when it came to her initial perceptions of people. And I still bear the burn marks of not hearing her advice. Not anymore! When it comes to people, I don’t trust my way-too-trusting-gut, I trust my wife’s intuition.
It’s ok to have blind spots, or areas you’re weak in. It’s not ok to stay blind, or not surround yourself with people that are strong where you are weak. And often times, the people who know you the best, like your spouse, or when you’re an owner – your managers, are the very ones you should be listening to, but you can’t hear what they are trying to say. I’m guilty of that too; that is not listening to my own management team. They would argue I’d bring in “MBA’s” that would tell me the same things they would, but I couldn’t hear it when they said it. Again, with age, or listening to your spouse, or managers, comes wisdom.
So here’s the question for you: How good of a listener are you to the people who know you best? Can you hear what your spouse has been telling you for years…yet? Does what your trusted right hand guy you work with daily carry as much weight, or more, than your twice-a-year meeting with your accountant? Do the employees you employ even have a forum to have their voices heard or do you pay them not to think just to do? More often than not the sad truth is the people around us are the only ones who really can see what’s going on. And we have become numb to what they say to our own peril.
I can honestly say I have more love, and respect, for my wife today than I ever have. My biggest regret is not seeing what I now see, or knowing what I now know, a lot sooner in our relationship. Everyone who knew me well would always say “She’s perfect for you!” I was smart enough to hear them and now I see it too. Happy 15th Anniversary Carla, don’t ever stop making me better. I will do my best to keep hearing what you’re saying.