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Surprise Book Recommendation

My wife wanted me to read Chip and Joanna Gaines' book, The Magnolia Story.  They got famous by their HGTV show, Fixer Upper.

I did not want to read it.

I have stacks of business books I'm trying to work through.  The Magnolia Story might be fun, but at the moment I need to learn, not just read for enjoyment. 

However, I made "her book" a priority because my wife Terry is important to me.  I just finished on Monday of this week.

To be candid, I finished the book at 11:13 p.m. and started crying.  I was in my hotel room, by myself, on a successful business trip.  My tears were for the mistakes I have made in life.  Too many mistakes, which for that moment, crowded out my many successes.

Chip and Jo have not lived flawless lives.  Their book is reasonably candid about mistakes they have made along the way.  Some of them are similar to mine, however they avoided some of my big mistakes.

How about you?  Made any mistakes in your life that still hurt?

Let me share four lessons from The Magnolia Story that hit me the most.  There was a lot of other material in the book that made me think, but these are the biggies.  These life lessons apply to everyone who wants to be an effective leader in their homes, careers, and community.

#1 - Stay Close

When the going gets tough Chip and Joanna work closer together, rather than hide the facts in hopes that things will improve or play the blame game.

(Joanna - page 84)  "Chip and I started working more closely together than ever...

(Joanna - page 86)  "... we seem to grow stronger the more time we spend together..."

(Chip - page 149)  "When things come against us we can either turn on each other, or we can come together and turn on it."

How is your relationship with your spouse affected when times get tough? 

I learned a long time ago that you find out just how good a youth sports coach is by watching them when their team is losing.  Any coach looks great when they are winning.  How well does the losing coach hold it together and remain an encourager and mentor? 

It is the tough times where you really find out what type of leader you are.  You also confirm your priorities, integrity, and depth of love for others.  It is not how your spouse reacts.  When a situation is headed downhill, it is how you respond.

How can you improve your relationship with your spouse when times get tough? What strengths do you have during the tough times that you can build on so your bond with your spouse gets stronger no matter what life throws at you?

These questions can also be asked in consideration of your work relationships. Replace "spouse" with "partner" or "co-worker" and ponder the answers.

#2 - Find Balance

As irritating as it may be at times, humans are designed to often choose spouses with opposite behaviors and motivators.  Joanna had the following revelation after one of Chip's mistakes that we all need to comprehend:

(Joanna - page 73)  "I have a naturally conservative nature, and Chip and I were supposed to balance each other out, not concede to each other's strengths and weaknesses."

Balance in a partnership requires respect, open communication, trust, and a confidence that you are safe explaining a mistake.  Although Chip makes a lot of business decisions on his own, my sense is their best decisions are made together.

If one or both partners play "whack a mole" when the other makes a mistake, then communication breaks down.  Chip and Joanna keep the conversations flowing.

Where can you improve communication with your spouse?

What strengths can you recognize and encourage?

Again, these questions can also be asked in consideration of your work relationships.

#3 - Good Stewardship

Joanna and Chip try to be careful money managers, although their approach is quite different.  Joanna is very risk adverse, whereas Chip is comfortable with what he believes is reasonable risk.  The bottom-line is they both are willing to work hard and smart to earn what they gain.

(Chip - page 98)  "My parents didn't teach me the value of a dollar - and of hard work too."

(Chip - page 99)  "One thing my dad would preach to us when it came to money was, 'I'll provide your needs, but you have to take care your wants.'"

Husband-and-wife need to be equally committed to achieve financial goals.  The standards for spending and saving need to be the same.  Financial boundaries, reporting, and budget discussions need to occur at least monthly, if not more often.  Money is the number one cause of divorce.  Therefore it requires more attention than it typically gets in a marriage.

What are 1-3 improvements you and your spouse can agree to improve the way you manage finances so that stress is lowered, and long-term financial security is attained and retained?

Where are your collective strengths in finances today, and how can you build upon them?

Consider two similar questions in regards to your work relationships.

#4 - No Regrets

There are two voices in our heads.  The one screaming at us is evil or a fool who encourages destructive behavior.  The one softly speaking to us is wisdom.  Couples who make important decisions together typically have better listening skills and consider the soft voice.  This leads to less regrets.

(Joanna - page 148)  "I didn't want to look back at this experience and regret how I handled it."

It is okay to make mistakes, even though some are foolish.  Repeating mistakes is what really hurts.  According to Dr. Henry Cloud's book, Never Go Back, the difference between successful and average people is that successful people do not repeat mistakes.

What mistakes are you and your spouse repeating, and what new habits can you put in place to stop this tragedy?

Where are you and your spouse strongest at avoiding mistakes?  How can you expand this capability to strengthen your marriage and protect your family?

I guess you figured out that I recommend you read Chip and Joanna Gaines's book, The Magnolia Story.

It was fun, but more than that, it was a learning experience. 

Thank you Chip and Joanna!  May you be blessed in all you do, and protected from the dangers success often creates.

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