On the Importance of Real Relationships and How Passionate Work Can Kill Balance

Written by Scott December 21, 2011

The Dinsmore Family

The Dinsmore Family

“If you were going to die soon and had only one phone call you could make, who would you call and what would you say? And why are you waiting?”

-Stephen Levine

Sometime last night our community here at Live Your Legend tipped over 10,000 subscribers. This has always been a dream but I knew better than to set it as a specific goal since I had very little control over it.

You all are the ones with the control. You’re why this site exists. You’re why I’m able to spend as much time as I do writing and building things for the community. You’re why I get to do work I truly LOVE.

Thank you for that.

This somewhat arbitrary milestone also got me thinking…

Anyone who’s been around this world for more than a decade or two has probably realized one very real and powerful fact.

Relationships rule the world.

Think back for a second to one or two of your most proud accomplishments. Think about where you were and what was going on. Really feel what you felt. Do you remember who was there?

Now think of your most recent accomplishment – big or small. Anything you’re super proud of will do.

What was the first urge you had immediately after the accomplishment?

If you’re anything like the rest of the world, it was to tell someone. Maybe you called your husband or wife, grabbed your business partner or called a close friend. If all else failed, perhaps you grabbed someone on the street.

Whoever it was, one thing doesn’t change. When we accomplish things or have meaningful experiences, our natural reaction is to share it with others. Because when we share it, it takes the experience to a whole new level.

Why is it fun to go to a party, have a workout partner or build a family?

Because relationships make life what it is. Most everything we look forward to has a great deal to do with the people we are going to experience it with. Whether it’s a wedding and the family, friends and person you are about to marry, or if it’s a solo trip around the world and the uncertainty of all the amazing people you are likely to meet along the adventure.

Everything is fun because of people.

It all comes back to relationships.

Especially ones closest to you.

Unfortunately the ones closest to us are the ones we tend to take for granted the most. Ever notice how you can easily be in a nasty mood around your spouse but as soon as you’re around strangers, friends or acquaintances, everything is peaches and cream?

What’s with that? Shouldn’t it be the other way around – Offer your best to those who mean the most to you?

This is probably the most dangerous part of doing work you love.

Loving your work can kill the balance.

I love the work I do. Many of the people in this community feel the same (or are well on their way). That’s something I’m grateful for every day.

Not being able to distinguish between work and play is a pretty awesome thing. And it’s wildly powerful. It allows you to accomplish much bigger and more meaningful things than if you spent most your day slamming your forehead against your computer.

That’s great.

But it also can cause you to lose site of what really matters.

Just because you love your work to the point where you could do it 24/7 does not mean that’s how you should be spending your time. Because one thing’s for sure, just because you love what you do, does not mean that those close to you love you doing what you love every second of every day. It’s easy to miss this when caught deep in the world of creativity.

We need people to remind us of the important.

My wife Chelsea plays this role perfectly. And I’m grateful for that.

As you all probably know, the last few months have been pretty wild with Live Your Legend. First we launched the new brand and site. Then a few months later we launched Live Off Your Passion. This was amazing and a dream come true in many ways but it totally killed my balance. There were two three-week spans in the last six months where I was absolutely all hands on deck. I was driven by excitement but I was still up until midnight and up again at 4 or 5am many days of the week. Might be good for the business (at least in the short term) but not good for my relationships…

I got so caught up in the work I loved doing that I had stopped acting congruent with a fundamental belief that I have.

That belief is that none of this would matter – not the business, the freedom, the followers – if it wasn’t for those close to me.

The only reason all of this is so amazing (and even exists in the first place) is because of my wife Chelsea. Her support. Her being who she is (in fact she she’s the one who encouraged me to start my first blog back in 2006). And for my family and those close to me who keep me smiling, encourage me and are there even when I probably don’t deserve it. They don’t care what I do or don’t accomplish. They’re there no matter what.

That’s priceless.

They are where everything started. And they are where it all will end.

Without the people close to me nothing else matters.

Everyone reading this is in one of two places: You either love your work or are going to love your work real soon. That’s going to change the world and we desperately need it.

But either way, you will no doubt face this problem. Yes, it’s a high-class problem to have,  but also one with serious repercussions if not taken to heart.

Love your work. Get lost in it. Make it a part of who you are.

But don’t let yourself forget why what you do matters in the first place.

The people close to you come first. No matter how big the dreams you’re living or the accomplishments your achieving.

The people close to you come first.

Sure, there will be plenty more 2-3 weeks stretches where I’m about to launch something new and all hands are on deck. But for every one of those stretches, I promise to have plenty more days out on an adventure or laying on the couch with Chelsea getting lost in our favorite game or watching way too many episodes of Friday Night Lights (or whatever show we happen to be obsessed with at the time). And there will be plenty more weeks and months of exploring new parts of the world on top of that.

Because it’s those experiences that make things fun. They’re what matter.

It’s easy to forget. And all of us will from time to time (I know I’ll be guilty of it again). So let this be a reminder. And be thankful of the people close to you who care enough to get angry or hurt when you temporarily lose your way.

We need that wakeup call more than anything.

So what relationships have you let slip? Who deserves more attention? Who do you want to give more attention but have recently convinced yourself you “don’t have the time”? Who do you want to connect with for the first time?

Jot down a list of names and it’s time to play a little catch-up.

I’ve put together a few ideas to help get things back on track…

“Shared joy is a double joy; shared sorrow is half a sorrow.” -Swedish Proverb

9 First Steps to Strengthening, Repairing or Beginning a Meaningful Relationship:

1. Invite someone to dinner. Given that we’re deep in the holidays, ask them to dinner with your family. Do you have a family member or friend who’s usually alone for the holidays? Change that. Bring them back in or expose them to something new.

2. Write a note. Go down the street and pick up a few more holiday cards. Be genuine and speak directly to the person you’re writing to as you compose the message. Express some emotion. It feels pretty good.

3. Say sorry. Have you been stubborn lately? If you say no, then it’s time to get honest. We’re all pigheaded here and there, and often for the most ridiculous things. Get over it. It’s ok to be wrong. And even more noble to admit it.

4. Give something meaningful. Think of a book you know someone could benefit from in their given situation. Personalize it with an inscription on the first page. The cost doesn’t matter. What does is that you give it clear thought and it’s a genuine fit for the recipient. Even better, take something of yours that’s really helped you and give it to someone else. Books and music are perfect for this. Declutter your house a bit and transfer value to the next person. Let them know how helpful the item was for you.

5. Make an introduction. This is the cheapest and most powerful gift you could likely give. Everyone knows someone who can help someone else. We just often don’t take the time to think about it. Who do you know who would get massive benefit from meeting someone else in your circle? This is also a much more comfortable way of reaching out to someone you’ve lost touch with. If you’re too shy to confront the situation head on, you could just send a short note about how you met a person they’d really enjoy meeting. Go from there.

6. Be there. If you know someone’s dealing with something tough or is lonely, just swing by and offer to be there. Don’t make them talk through it if they don’t want to. Just being there and offering company can be enough to make all the difference.

7. Tell people you care. This is one of the most under-practiced acts between people. Stop taking for granted that your family, your husband, your wife, your business partner, you child or your closest friends know how much they mean to you. Tell them straight up. Let them know that without their relationship, you’d be in a very tough spot. Tell them specifically all the things they’ve provided you over the years. This is the last thing to assume those close to you already know. Open up a bit.

8. Spend time. Who are you not as close with as you’d like to be? Who have you lost touch with who you wish you hadn’t? Who are the people who’ve fallen by the wayside lately? They could be people you haven’t spoken to in months or years, or it could be your husband, wife or children whom you know deserve more of your time. You pick. Make a phone call. Take a day off to stay home with everyone. Take someone out to a meal. Anything to make the connection closer than it was.

9. Help someone. This is were it all beings and ends. Every one of the above involves helping in some way. Everyone has pains, needs and goals. Help people bridge the gap. Ask them or ask someone close to them where they could most use a hand. Do something you know will matter to those close to you or those you wish were closer. You can make a bigger difference than you realize.

“Someone to tell it to is one of the fundamental needs of human beings.”

~Miles Franklin

Broken relationships exist because one or both people cannot swallow their pride.

What would happen if you decided to be the bigger person?

What if you decided that whatever happened isn’t going to come between something so important.

How much happier would the two of you be?

That’s totally in our control.

It’s in your control.

In the next two weeks a lot of us are going to spend a lot of time around friends and family. Some we’re excited to see. Some we’re not so excited about. Realize that the people you are about to spend time around are the people who make life what it is. They’re what make accomplishments memorable. They’re what make life interesting (and fun). And they are what make you who you are.

Your work is not more important. 

I don’t care how much you love it.

Nothing is.

Cherish the people close to you – today, this week, forever.

Because without them, nothing else really matters.

Happy Holidays and thank you for being such a big part of this community!

Much love,

-Scott

Images thanks to thebadastronomer & flickrohit

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“It was 18 months ago when I came across Live Your Legend and it just completely blew my mind. I was living this life thinking I have to kind of just do this. Then it was like a kid on Christmas Day with my wife thinking ‘we don’t have to do this anymore.’ It was literally a life change. It opened so many doors. Thanks for everything you’re doing.”

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