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How To Be Understood Better By Everyone

This is one of the workshop topics we cover in training our summer camp supervisors.

In fact we cover it with our camp counselors before they work with kids.

And, my wife and I talked and practiced this before we got married.

In fact, I first learned about it reading a parenting book.

This post is a trifecta for my blog. Three of the most common things I write about our marriage, parenting and workplace leadership. This is one of those, Leadership Happens Everywhere kinds of post.

Image courtesy of imagerymajestic at

Image courtesy of imagerymajestic at

Unintentional Covert Messages.

I see three things that mostly effect communication.

  • The words we use,
  • The body language we use,
  • The filters the other person uses to process what we’ve said. These are built on previous life experience.

For the remainder of this post, I want to focus on the words we use.

I used to believe that it wasn’t my responsibility if I accidentally offended someone. But, are people not responsible for car accidents?   I accidentally pushed my brother through an open window when we were kids. I can assure you that my mom held me responsible.  Side note: my brother has reflexes like a cat and caught himself before falling from that second floor window. I believe I deserve the credit for his reflexes by running him through training drills like the window when we were younger. My mom still disagrees.

It’s time to be responsible for our part of clear communication.  

Here are three examples of unintentional covert messages.


Wife says; “You didn’t do that the way I asked you to.”

Husband hears, “I don’t believe in you, I think you must be stupid.”

Husband becomes defensive.


Parent says, “Do I need to remind you again tomorrow to remember your lunch for school?”

Kid hears, “I don’t believe you are smart enough to remember things on your own.”

Kids start to think, if you don’t believe in them: why even try.


Leader says, “Does that make sense to you?”

The team hears, “I don’t think you are smart enough to understand me.”

The team starts thinking, “My boss must think I’m stupid. I’m never getting a promotion or credit for anything.”

Here are three ways to consider rewording the above examples.

Wife, “I see you did it different then I suggested.” The husband can reply with “yep.” They are now free to continue a conversation.

Parent, “How are you planning to remember your lunch tomorrow?” The kid is now empowered and knows you believe in them.

Leader, “What do you see that I’m missing or not explaining well?” The team realizes they work for someone who thinks they are intelligent and values their opinion.


Nobody cares what you said, they want to know what you meant.


  • Identify what wording is in your current vocabulary that needs to go. For me, it’s “Does that make sense to you?”
  • Ask yourself. “If I say this, does it only say what I want it to?” “How can I make this statement positive and uplifting for others?”
  • Identity things others say that annoy or bother you. Do you say them?
  • ?What other Tips and Suggestions Do You Have?


  • Think about the last conversation with your spouse, child or a person at work. Did you unintentionally “say” something you didn’t mean to?
  • Ask someone you’ve built a bridge strong enough to bare the weight of truth with if you have anything you say or do that is hurtful and you aren’t aware of it.


  • If you are on the other end of conversation like this, speak up. Say, “I know you just said “xyz” but what I heard was “Lmnop”.”


Avoid The Biggest Mistake In Setting Goals

The boldness in declaring this The Biggest Mistake in goal setting, is from observations leading several hundred staff and facilitating tens of thousands of people in workshops, conferences, retreats and other personal development experiences in 16 years.

Like many people, I use to have terrible goals. In fact, they weren’t even goals at all.

I had a list of desires I was working towards accomplishing.


Image courtesy of David Castillo Dominici at

Even using S.M.A.R.T. goals. ((see this post on Top Achievement for great information on setting SMART goals), I didn’t have good goals.  And my forward momentum reflected this.

For example;

  • I had a desire to get married.
  • I have a desire to raise kids that have happy marriages.
  • I have a desire to increase enrollment at events at work.

I’m not saying these are bad things to want. I’m saying I can’t accomplish them as goals.

  • I couldn’t getting married until someone wanted to marry me.
  • I can’t choose my kids spouse, nor can I choose the behaviors and decisions my kids or their spouses will one day make.
  • I can’t make more people come to an event at camp.

My goals use to rely on other people for success.  Which in turn really made them desires.

Now, I have goals for my desires.

Mark Batterson shares in his book, Circle Maker, that we pray as if it depends on God and work as if it depends on us.

For me, my desires are up to God to fulfill and my goals are up to me to accomplish, with God’s help of course.

My desire to get married. Is what I prayed for.
My goal was to better myself to become the person I wanted to marry wanted to marry. This is the work I did. And now I’m married to my best friend and the most beautiful woman of God I know.

My desire for my children to have successful marriages. Is what I pray for.
My goal: When I say, “I love you” to my wife, it’s only after I treat her in a way that shows her I love her; all in front of my kids, everyday. I remind myself daily; more is caught than is taught. This is the work I do.

My desire for increased enrollment at work is what I pray for.
My goal: Increase guest satisfaction at every encounter  by studying evaluations monthly looking for innovative solutions to improve quality of service, experience, communication, facilities and deliverables related to Mission and Core Values.  This is the work I do.


We Work Towards Goals, We Pray For Desires


  • If you haven’t, write down your goals.
  • Look at your written goals. Do they rely on someone else to accomplish them? If so, re-title your list Desires.
  • Pray hard for your desires, work hard for your goals.
  • Read the Circle Maker by Mark Batterson (affiliate link).
  • Review your Desires and Goals everyday.
  • Are you married? If so, do you and your wife share any desires for your marriage or, if you have any, your children? Pray together and work together. Couples who pray together stay together.
  • ?What other Tips and Suggestions Do You Have? Comment Below


  • If you don’t have time to work on this, schedule time on your calendar right now.
  • Write down 1 desire and then write 2 goals for that desire.


Thanks For Reading

Write a Letter to Your Spouse For a Growing Relationship Logo Logo

The idea and action steps I’m sharing in today’s post to build a more meaningful marriage can be applied to Valentines Day, your Anniversary or any other date you want.  I did Valentines Day 2014.


Give thought to your relationship, write a letter to your spouse with a promise, send it to them in the future and then work to deliver on that promise.


  • Think before you write.
  • I even spend some time in prayer first. I ask God to highlight areas of our relationship I need to work on
  • Include some details about current decisions you are facing together, it’s interesting to see how things work out in the future.
  • Avoid making promises you can’t keep.
  • Avoid mentioning outcomes you can’t influence or control. For example. I wouldn’t say “Well,. I’m sure by now you got that promotion you have been hoping for.” What if something happened and they didn’t get it? Sure, you want to be all Mr. or Mrs. Positive and Supportive…but you don’t want to sting them unintentionally.
  • Include one or two promises or goals. These can be anything. “By the time you read this, I’ll have painted all three bedrooms.” “I hope we play a board game one night a week for an entire year after the kids go to bed.” “I hope and pray that every time I tell you that I love you, you can reply with…’I Know.’.”
  • Make a copy of the letter and develop an action plan with smaller goals if necessary to hit the big goal or promise in the letter.
  • Schedule on your calendar once per week to read it. This ensures you remember to work on your promise.
  • If using email, use a personal email, not a work email. If you don’t trust they’ll still be using the same email address by then….write the letter by hand, make a copy for yourself, seal it in envelope and file it away. Since you will be reading the letter every week…you won’t forget to give it to them.
  • ?? What suggestions do you have ??

I’m recommending you use the website:  You can create a free account, verify your email address and then send an email to your spouse’s address in the future without them knowing.  Or, you can create the email and send it without an account.  Your spouse will get an email asking them to verify their email address.  They will not see the text of the email.  You will have to tell them you are up to this.  They might love the anticipation and fact you have thought ahead.  (Guys, you might really want to consider this option).


  1. Write a letter to your spouse in Evernote, Word, Textedit, etc.
  2. Go to
  3. Copy and paste the letter into the body of the email.
  4. Schedule the email and send it.
  5. Develop and implement your action plan to regularly review your letter and deliver on your promise..

What variations or other suggestions and tips would you make??

Other Post About Writing Letters for the Future


A Simple Lifehack to Be More Present During Family Time


I’m writing this post on my iPhone. Why? I guess because it’s about my phone.

I was struggling with a self control issue….nothing new for me.

I struggle to keep my hands, eyes and thoughts off my social media and blog stats.

I love engaging with my online community.

Plus, we are trying to expand our online community. My wife, and I have a big project we are putting together. It will help parents have more fun in their parenting, make family fun easier and equip parents with tools to build their children’s character. (I can’t wait to tell you more about it in the next couple of months)

With all that going on, a full time career I’m dedicated to in Christian camping and conferencing….I need to be completely focused during our family time. I also have a goal to be “unplugged” once a week when I practice the spiritual discipline of a Sabbath.

I had been utterly failing at both of these goals, until recently.

What has been helping…

  1.  Using Do Not Disturb function on iPhone and iPad to turn off notifications from Twitter and my blog Comments.
  2. I created a folder I called iFamily & iSabbath. I dragged the apps into that folder that I needed to remind myself not to look at during certain times. I was surprised the first several days how many times I grabbed my phone out of habit to check stats, comments, etc.
  3. I don’t open this folder during predetermined times.
  4. I tell my wife when these times are.

If you don’t struggle with self-control.  This will sound silly to you.  But for me, it’s a lifehack I need.

6 Letters Worth Writing Your Kids to Focus Your Parenting


I’m writing letters to my kids.  Letters they won’t read for many years to come.  It’s how I’m discovering and learning how and what to parent my kids.

Writing Letters To Your Kids

Image courtesy of luigi diamanti at

Most first-time experiences don’t spontaneously happen.  You prepare for them.

The first time you:

  • Drive yourself alone in a car.
  • Sleep in a new house you’ve built.
  • Eat breakfast as a married couple.

These, like most first moments took intentional planning to get to.

I know I’ve got more first experiences yet to come.

The first time I:

  • Attend the wedding of one my children.
  • Celebrate one of them getting a job.
  • Let them drive somewhere alone.
  • Have one of my kids tell me they have accepted Christ as their personal savior.

Now is the time to by intentional to get my kids to these first experiences so they are prepared for them.

I’m using Dr. Steven Covey’s idea out of his book 7 Habits of Highly Effective People; of “starting with the end in mind”.

For me and my kids, I’m writing them letters for future dates and events.

Some of these letters may never get read.

I’ve already shared in a previous post about a letter I wrote to my daughter when she was 29 months old for her wedding day.


Write it today, live it tomorrow, seal it into their future forever.


1.  Some letters I’m already working on:

  • For their first day of their first job.
  • Their first day in high school.
  • When they get their drivers license.
  • Their first date.
  • Their birthdays starting at age eight.

2. I’m writing these letters because:

  • Because, lets be honest, I might not be alive when that first moment arrives for them.
  • I want to know now what I should be teaching my kids to prepare them.
  • I don’t want to arrive at a first moment and have regrets that I didn’t prepare my kids for it.

3. My goal is that every time they read one of the letters:

  • It’s a reminder of what my wife and I have already taught them.
  • It spotlights the way my wife and I have been living our life.
  • The letter helps them connect lessons we are teaching now to outcomes that will happen tomorrow.

4. Each letter is:

  • Handwritten.
  • Includes fun facts about the time I’m writing the letter.
  • How their mom is doing and what she’s up to.
  • Any major decisions we are considering as a family.
  • I tell them the character traits I hope they have learned up to the point they are reading the letter.
  • I tell them about how I hope they are doing.
  • I tell them what I think is the single most important piece of advice for them.

5. After I write the letter:

  • I scan it into Evernote.
  • Seal the original in an envelope
  • Label the outside of the envelope
  • Put it in our fireproof safe.
  • I then reread the scanned copy in my Evernote every so often to remember my promises and parenting goals.


  • It’s never to late to start.  Even if you don’t have kids yet.
  • If you are a grandparent…write letters to your grandkids. Start with the end in mind.
  • Email me and request a free copy of my eBook; Write Your Life.  It includes similar content for your marriage and workplace leadership as well.


  • Do you have any experience with letters to your kids?  Letters from a parent?  
  • What first experiences or future dates would you write a letter for?

If you are another blogger and have a post related to this that others might find helpful, please feel free to share a link in the comments.

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