Do you have margins of success?

The importance of margin of error was first introduced to me as a beginning tennis player at age 14. If you hit the ball too close to the net or to the lines and you were a little off or a gust of wind blew you could have an error. The solution was to clear the net 6-8 feet with top spin and to place the ball a foot inside the lines to decrease errors.
The concept of margins is all around us. Driving down the highway there is typically a shoulder for emergencies. Going over an overpass the lane is wider for safety. Margins in a book create ease of reading. Golfers place their shots with margin of error away from water, trees or out of bounds.
Margin is the space between my current activity and my limits. It is elbow room and breathing space that decreases stress, enhances relationships, and increases success.
I have to admit, creating margins in daily life is difficult for me. I want to live life to the edge. I squeeze too many activities in my day. However I’m discovering that I’m happiest and more successful when I create margins in my day to day life.
How do we create margins of success?
1. Create margins in your daily schedule.
Make time and space for breaks, breakfast, lunch, returning telephone calls, email, running over, and drive time. By arriving early and building cushion in our daily schedule we are prepared for Murphy’s law-what can go wrong will go wrong.
2. Create margins in relationships.
Making time for weekly date’s, a nap, a walk are examples of creating margins in romantic relationships. Building free time so you can play and connect with your kids. Going out to eat, lingering, or having a cup of coffee with friends enhances the relationship. Having a quiet time some time in the day with prayer, meditation, or inspirational reading creates renewal.
3. Do less to accomplish more.
Trying to be all things to all people leaves us empty, frazzled and unfulfilled. Why not focus on 1-3 priorities and free up space in our brain. Creativity and success come from drilling down into one area for deep success. The old saying is “less is best.”
Coaching points:
1. Where do you need to create more margins for success?
2. How will you make sure to follow through with making these changes for more sucess?


What’s your coping quotient?

When you experience overwhelming changes that knock you out of your routine, a multitude of frustrations that block your goals, infuriating conflicts that test your patience and internal pressures that make you choke, you have experienced what psychologist call STRESS.
How do you cope with stress? One woman said, “chocolate, shopping, and wine therapy.”
It’s unfortunate but in excess these strategies can be unhealthy. We call it “indulging.” In moderation they are self soothing strategies but in excess they cause obesity, debt, and addiction.
Here are some top healthy strategies to cope with stress.
1. Have a supportive family environment.
When you genuinely feel connected, unconditionally loved, heard, encouraged, and appreciated then you have a safe place to fall and recharge. Remember just because you have a family doesn’t automatically create a supportive environment. If you can’t have a supportive biological family be sure and create a family of friends, coworkers, church, and community.
* Give yourself 10 points if you have a supportive family.
2. Bursts of physical activity for 30 minutes.
Exercise and physical activity are still one of the best ways to decrease stress. You increase cardio, deep breathing, and release tension in your muscles.
* Give yourself 5 points for each 30 minute’s of 30 minute burst of physical activity you get in an average week.
Be honest!
3. Stay at your ideal weight.
If you are more than five pounds over your ideal weight for your height and frame you are adding stress physically, mentally, and emotionally.
* Give yourself 15 points if you are within your ideal weight of 5 pounds.
4. Consistent deep relaxation.
Being still and doing yoga, meditation, prayer and deep breathing have been shown through research to lower stress.
* Give yourself 15 points if you engage in some form of deep relaxation at least 3 times per week.
5. Eating nutritionally balanced meals each day.
Starting with a healthy breakfast, eating low fat, a variety of food groups, proper amounts strengthen the immune system, raises energy, and decreases stress.
* Give yourself 5 points for each nutritionally balanced meal you eat each day of the week.
6. Drink alcohol in moderation.
Over use of alcohol increases depression, slows metabolism, inhibits sound sleep, and is expensive.
* Subtract 5 points for each day that you drink more than two drinks.
7. Watch television wisely.
(Also applies to surfing the Internet and playing on technology.) Too much TV wastes time, increases sedentary behavior, and creates isolation therefore leading to more stress.
* Subtract 5 points if you watch more than 10 hours of TV per week.
8. Give yourself something you enjoy.
This sounds contradictory yet there is great value in nurturing yourself with something weekly that you truly enjoy.
* Give yourself 5 points if you do something weekly that you enjoy that is just for you.
9. Relax in your favorite room or place at home.
Having a special room or safe haven in your home reduces stress.
* Give yourself 10 points if you have a special place at home you truly relax.
10. Practice time management daily.
Planning your days and weeks, having a scheduling system, staying focused on your priorities and continuing to improve time management add productivity and decrease stress.
* Give yourself 10 points if you practice time management techniques in your daily life.
11. Eliminate smoking cigarettes (or weed).
Smoking has a short term positive effect of giving stimulation or euphoria but long term creates health problems that create more stress.
* Subtract 10 points if you smoke less than one pack per day. Subtract 10 more points for each additional pack you smoke a day.
12. Eliminate caffeinated drinks.
Caffeine like nicotine has short term benefits and long term consequences. Drinking more water helps your body and mind cope with stress.
* Subtract 5 points for each days you drank 2 cups or more of a caffeinated drink.
13. Separate work and home time.
Bringing work home and taking home to work both increase stress.
* Subtract 5 points for each evening of an average week that you bring work home or 5 points for taking your personal problems to work.
14. Eliminate and decrease medication and chemicals.
Taking sleep medication, chemicals, or any medication increases side effects and potential stress.
* Subtract 10 points for each evening you take any form of medication or chemical substance to help you sleep or calm yourself down.
Add up your scores.
Scoring Interpretations:
20 and below: Ball of stress!
21-40: Stressing sometimes
41-60: Holding it together
61 and above: You’re phenomenal!
Coaching points:
1. What were your strengths and weaknesses about your coping style?

What habits do you have in your love relationship?

Couples can easily fall into unconscious routines of not looking, not touching and not connecting. The love relationship slowly becomes comatose or…

Couples can effortlessly open their eyes and wake up out of their slumber to create “Blink” behaviors.

Malcolm Gladwell in his book, Blink describes these behaviors as quick unconscious habits that happen in a blink of an eye.

Here are 7 happy habits of couples that can naturally be done in a blink of an eye.

1. Gaze at each other.

If you want your partner to catch your eye then practice gazing. New parents bond with their infants by gazing into each others eyes. Our soul is filled with wonder when we watch a sunset or admire a spectacular mountain view. Couples quickly create the feeling of being seen and admired when we lovingly gaze into each others eyes.

2. Give 10 second hugs and kisses.

It’s good that you give that quick 2 second hug and peck before you walk out the door. But you get more bang as a couple if you linger for just 8 more seconds on that hug and kiss. Really, don’t tell me you don’t have time for a 10 second hug and kiss. You have about 86,000 seconds in a day make it a habit as a couple every time you hug or kiss just linger for 10 seconds. It’s fun!

3. Walk side by side and hand in hand.

Guys and gals notice how you walk with your partner. Are you walking so fast that you’re way ahead or so slow that you’re  miles behind? Make it a habit to walk side by side and hand in hand from the parking lot to the kids game, to the restaurant or into church.

4. Go to bed at the same time.

Many couples fall into habits of going to bed at different times. I realize we all have different sleep routines and personalities. However remember when you were first married? You couldn’t wait to jump into the bed together. The bed was a safe place to unwind and connect. It can still be a great place for snuggling, spooning, and pillow talk.

5. Eat a sit down meal with music.

One of my favorite times to connect with my wife is when we eat at the dinner table with candles, bottle of wine, and listening to music. Not TV and no TV trays sitting in the living room. There is a time and place for eating and watching TV but make it a habit to have weekly sit down dinners wit your partner. This creates more meaningful communication.

6. Share good news.

When something good happens in your day create the habit of sharing it with your spouse. We all hear bad news so much that we crave to hear the positive story, the success or big win.

7. Say “My Bad.”

When each of you make a mistake make it a habit to quickly say, “My Bad.” This is a habit I have on the tennis court when I’m playing doubles. It is my way of taking responsibility and saying I’ll do better next time. Rather than being defensive with your partner make it a effortless habit of promptly admitting your wrong. It is so refreshing when couples don’t argue but rather say, My Bad.

Coaching points:

1. What habits are you strong in and which ones do you need to improve?

2. What other blink of the eye habits do you use to make your relationship happy?