Get Rid of That Picture


A middle aged (does ‘middle aged’ mean anything anymore?) CEO (‘stressed, dressed and obsessed’ – is the way his wife describes him) came to see me for some coaching earlier this week. He owns two companies and it’s not enough. His business thrives in down times. He has no cash flow problems. He’s looking at acquiring another business. He’s restless, brilliant and difficult. He drives a Porsche. “

I looked at your web site (www.marriageconversation.com ) and like it. But you have to get rid of that picture. It makes you look wimpy.” “Wimpy?” I gurgled trying to retain some cool. “Yeh. You need a picture where you’re leaning forward, serious but not too, you know, like you’re in charge.”

He went on “the way I see it, you’re trying to influence people to take their marriages more seriously. You’re doing that for my wife and me though I wish you could do it faster.” I grimaced. “And, people, when they come to your site aren’t going to hang around if they think you’re a wimp. I’m not saying you are. You’re a stand up guy but that picture tells me nothing.”

Malcolm Gladwell wrote Blink! an insightful book about how we make decisions about people in the first 30 seconds. It’s a good read and worthy of your time. I started thinking about that and how relationships often teeter totter on first impressions.

A woman comes home full of her day and forgets to transition to the relationships she loves and values most. She’s still in ‘business mode’ and her children recoil at her directives, her husband thinks she’s cold, even the dog backs off. Of course husbands invented this strategy a long time ago and today few of us are exempt from the need to transition.

The world we live in is many worlds. Some require a linear, sequential focus, feelings not allowed, a world of decisions, action and focus. Our families require a shift in attentiveness. They requires us to slow down (♪ “..you move too fast, gotta make the moment last..”) Wives, husbands and children require the attitude you take approaching a gourmet meal. We get to experience one another in bite size chunks. No gobbling allowed. To be present does require discipline.

To be with my honey, to welcome an adult child with his child, to relax into the wonder of a five year old grandchild’s presence – all these require that I stop! look! and listen!

So what should my picture say about me? What face do I come home with? How do I communicate, in those first 30 seconds, that I’m here, I’m happy to be here, I’m delighted to see each of you, and knowing who I am at that moment, I’m eager to know who you are right now. That, will take a picture no one has taken of me ….yet.

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