You Think You’re Winning but You’re Not…

This is a lesson I had to learn early in my marriage.   You see, I like to be right.  I used to take pride in knowing I was right and someone else was wrong in an argument.  If I couldn’t convince someone I knew what I was talking about, I would find other sources to confirm my point.  Then, after they finally admitted defeat, I could hold my head high knowing that I was successful yet again.  Here’s the problem:  Most people don’t like to deal with people like that – these “always right, know-it-alls”.  This is ESPECIALLY true in marriage.  

I used to do this with my wife.  If I knew I was right about something, I would go round after round with her to prove I knew exactly what I was talking about.  I wouldn’t give in, no matter how important (or unimportant) the subject.  But by always trying to prove I was right, I was actually losing out on my relationship with her.  I wasn’t showing grace.  I wasn’t giving her mercy.  I wasn’t loving her the way I should have been.  One day, I realized I needed to change the way I communicate with her or she was going to STOP communicating with me.  So, I backed off.  Amazingly, the world didn’t end when I didn’t try to always prove I was right.  In the grand scheme of most day-to-day things, it doesn’t really matter if I’m right or wrong.  If I am, fine, but not everyone needs to know it.  Who was I serving by always proving my point?  Me – that’s all.  If you’re going to foster relationships, it can’t simply be about you.  When I stopped focusing on making my point at all costs, the channel of communication immediately improved with Eve.  Our talks became much more loving and productive.  Today, on big, important issues, I let Eve know exactly how I feel (and she lets me know how she feels, too), but by dialing back my “I’m right, you’re wrong” style of making points, the quality of our relationship was taken to the next level.  I know this may not sound like rocket science, but you may be doing this right now and not even realize it. 

So, here are a couple of questions to ask yourself when proving you’re right, yet again, to your spouse…

1.  Does proving I’m right on this subject really matter in the grand scheme of things?  Many times, the answer is no.

2.  After you argued your point, ask, “Did this make my relationship with this person stronger or weaker?”  If it made it weaker, was it worth it?

Asking these two questions can serve to you well.  Believe me, I know…

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Predictable…

The Dow is down.  The credit markets seized.  There’s a government bailout.  We read headline after headline about the economic emergency.  Times are tough for many Americans.  Sad part is, it was all predictable.  Most of the problems that we face in this nation and in our lives for that matter, are predictable.  The warning signs are there long before the problems arise.

Insiders working for investment banks were crying fowl long before top brass ever said there was a problem.  The “underlings” in the trenches saw these huge empires becoming too laden with bad debt.  As long as the price of homes and the rate of sales were high, the tower could stand.  However, we all know that didn’t happen.  You can’t keep putting thousands upon thousands of new homes on the market and expect there to be a never-ending flow of buyers.  That’s the typical philosophy behind all “bubbles” – people forget they don’t last.  When home sales and prices started dropping along with the rate of new mortgages, the towers came crashing down.  It’s astounding to think that investment banks, as we knew them, are all gone.  They’re either out of business or are operating as traditional banks.  Many could see it coming from  a mile away and tried sounding the alarms but no one listened.  So, here we are in the mess we’re in.   So, what’s next?  Here are a few thoughts…

1.  Now that the market has lost and astounding and gut-wrenching amount of value, the bottom may have been seen on Friday, October 10th.  The market opened down 700 points, pushing the DOW below 8000.  However, for the first time in this worst-ever week for the market, the DOW recovered to close well off of that low.  That level was tested but the market couldn’t stay there.  That may have been it.  If, in the near future, it falls below that level, resistance would probably be around 7500, so there’s probably not too much more of a fall left even if it does go lower.  Remember, there are many, many well-run, profitable companies still out there.  Those companies are being thrown out with the bath water.  Most of the selling this week came not on fundamentals but out of panic and short traders trying to take profits on the sell-off.  Also, the credit market is likely to thaw over the next 7-10 days allowing money to start flowing from bank to bank and from bank to business.  That will be a bit of a start.  While trillions of dollars of value have been wiped out of the market in only a few days, those who now buy good companies at these amazingly discounted stock prices are going to see amazing gains in the next few years as the stock prices go back up.  Some long-term investors are foaming at the mouth just waiting for a sign of a bottom to get back in and ride the wave back up over the next few months and years.

2.  There’s a glut of new homes still on the market for sale and demand will have to catch up to inventory before there’s a huge rebound in the housing market and the economy in general.  That’s still going to take a while.

3.  There’s still lots of fall-out to come from people losing their homes, retails sales slowing and there will be more job losses in the coming weeks and months before a bottom is reached.

4.   The next crisis coming is people facing mountains of credit card debt.  As the economy has tightened and people have lost jobs and they can’t take out equity in their homes, credit card debt is rising rapidly.  Watch out for this and don’t get caught in this trap!

5.  America will get through this.  We are the most productive, innovative and smartest population on the planet, in my humble opinion.  There are too many great minds in this country not to figure these problems out.  Solutions will come and it will get better.  But to get to these solutions, we have to do things differently than we’ve done them in the past.

6.  We need real leadership in Washington from both parties.  We haven’t had that in a very long time.  People who are true visionaries and smart enough to make real change in Washington want nothing to do with politics because of how nasty that world has become.  Washington should be a magnet for good people with good ideas and with the nation’s interest at heart.  For the most part, we don’t have that now.

These crazy days will one day be behind us and we’ll again be moving forward.  When that happens, we certainly need to remember how we got here.  If we forget, we’ll have another predictable mess on our hands.  Also, are there any warning signs in your own life that you need to stop ignoring?  How’s your health?  What about your finances?  How’s your relationship with your family?  If there are warning signs that are telling you something isn’t right, don’t ignore them.  Work on fixing the problems before they spiral out of control.   Do it now.  No one is going to bail you out but you.  Oh – and you CAN do it…