For those of you who are regulars to my blog, you may have noticed a brief hiatus from regularly scheduled programming. The lack of posts was planned—I just spent a week decompressing here with seven other couples under the guidance of Matt and Chantal McGee.
The McGees are one of those irritating couples that:
(1) Both graduated from the Air Force Academy (probably with honors, and in three years.)
(2) Have been married 23 years and still kiss … in front of people.
(3) Have seven (not a typo) children that are smarter and better looking than yours.
(4) Sing “Climb Every Mountain” while scaling 12,000-foot Colorado peaks. (Had I been able to breathe, I would have sung “I Fall to Pieces” which was a concern for the majority of the climb. Did I mention that their eight year-old daughter blew by me half way up and never looked back? See #3 above.)
(5) Have forsaken the rat race to run a non-profit ministry to help families/couples.
They made all of us feel comfortable despite the fact that they were obviously superior human beings.
I heard about the McGees from my good friends, Scott and Lori Hutchinson, who raved about their perspective on relationships. Since my blog centers on business relationships in the four areas illustrated below, I was very interested in what they had to say.
Relationships play a role in each of these…
During the retreat, on one particular exercise, the McGees asked us to reflect on “STARS”—pivotal points in our life story that defined us and influenced our subsequent path.
I think it is helpful to set the stage here. The participants were not hippies, nor business world rejects looking to “find themselves.” They did not come to the Colorado Mountains to smoke weed and sing around the campfire. (We actually preferred the privacy of our cabins.)
No, this was a veteran group of business owners and executives that understood corporate America. Each had experienced sustained success in their field.
Yet, as each person revealed his or her life story, a fascinating trend begin to unfold. None identified a job promotion, or wealth, or fame, or winning the rat race as a STAR. None.
Instead, one by one, each professional described—often emotionally—the STARS that impacted their life most vividly. The common denominator? Relationships. Many recalled spouses sacrificing for them; or standing by them during health issues; or supporting them through a rough patch. Some described personal setbacks or family member trials that brought clarity around what was truly important. Some remembered others who stuck up for them or demonstrated absolute character in the face of adversity.
This exercise profoundly affected each couple. We associated the STARS from other stories with what was going on in our own universe. Lives became relatable, intertwined, connected. And so did our group.
It took just thirty minutes and the evidence was clear—shared stories strengthen relationships.
It got me thinking.
If meaningful relationships produce such powerful responses with people, why aren’t more businesses seeking them? Can you imagine what could happen if businesses pursued deep relationships with their employees? With their customers?
Wait, we already know what happens when they do. Engaged employees are more productive. Loyal customers are willing to spend more money.
The reason is simple. Relationships. How does a company engage its employees? Research correlates the depth of relationship with the boss to the depth of engagement by the employee. The same idea goes for customers. When companies seek a relationship with customers rather than just a monetary exchange for goods and services, consumers are willing to pay more for the perceived value of the friendship.
So how do STARS and STORIES and RELATIONSHIPS all work for a business? The McGees know. They aren’t called the Sages of Cimarron for nothing.
Try this simple exercise with your employees.
(1) Call a staff meeting.
(2) Spend fifteen minutes asking them to share a memorable story about working in your office/area/department/business.
(3) Repeat once a month.
Here’s what will happen.
The Story-Relationship Cycle
Matt and Chantal McGee claim that story builds relationship and meaning in our lives. I believe it. I saw it last week. When I look at the STARS in my personal life story, I’ve lived it. I bet you have too.
Why not try it in business?
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