Today’s Lesson: Movies Aren’t Real [140810]

I overheard this during vegan brunch today at Brick Road Pizza, and I thought it was a perfect lesson for today. A father was giving advice to his teen boy (who apparently keeps getting into trouble with his friend). He said:

“Dumb and Dumber is a funny movie but it’s no way to go through life, son.”

I remember when I was that young and dumb… occasionally I’m reminded I’m just older now.

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Today The Lesson I Learned Is: Why American Airlines Sucks And How To Be a Better Lover (140801)

American Airlines seems to actively deter customers from choosing them. I’m not sure why they see customers as an inconvenient obstacle to running their business (my guess is a completely disconnected leadership team) but I am pretty sure they do.

I flew from St Louis to Grand Rapids on a roughly half-empty plane. I was in seat 19A (without a neighbor in the seat next to me) and nearly every other seat all the way to first class was unoccupied. Could I move closer and improve my chances of not missing my connection in Chicago? Sure. For an extra $30. Want to take a second carry on that’s bigger than a purse? No problem. $25. What if I wanted to board a little faster than everyone else and have a shot at securing overhead luggage space? Guess what? $20. Did I forget to add my frequent flyer miles when I booked my flight? Bummer; I’ll have to fill out a complete form but I can’t do it until at least a week after my trip ends. Better set a reminder.

American offers absurdly aggressive customer service. The entire boarding and check-in process is like visiting Facebook for any amount of time more than a few minutes. There are a couple of bits of important information but mostly you will be bombarded with a lot of irrelevant babble and a bunch of advertisements.

By contrast, United (who also would not win any customer care awards, but by comparison…) does a lot better. Their mobile app is not just a clunky link to their website but fully functional and well designed. You can change seats all you want almost up until you board the plane. There are no fees for a second carry-on and the advertisements are unobtrusive. You can change seats, add frequent flyer miles, and even choose which program you want to send the rewards to, all right from the app, which also provides an electronic copy of your boarding pass.

The lesson is this…

Think about where your business gets in the way of potential customers. What is the most frustrating part of buying from you?

You can apply the same principle to the rest of your life, too, like relationships.

Where do you get in the way of people who are trying to communicate with you? What do your loved ones know they can not talk to you about because they will get an earful or a heartache?

What is one thing you can do, now, to smooth the friction for people who want to do business (or pleasure) with you?

 


P.S. That was the end of the post, and it didn’t really concentrate on the art of making love as the title suggested, but it’s the same principle (well, mostly): reduce friction.

Also, in case you were wondering…

For me, I know the number one frustration for my customers is that they can not get a simple, straight answer with first time resolution when they have issues. Since I work for two companies with different rules, policies, and empowerment practices, this is an ongoing conversation (and frustration) for me. I am always trying to think of ways to make it easier for customers to buy from us.

In personal affairs, I know I can do better at correcting mistakes. It’s frustrating to be told you are wrong and I think I can be more gentle when I am correcting somebody by, for example, asking if they want my opinion before offering it.

Okay, your turn.

 

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Live With Regret (And Love It!)

If anyone suggests you should “Live without regret”, they are either not alive or do not understand what they are telling you.

If you live, you have regrets. There is nothing wrong with that; if you live long enough to gain any amount of wisdom, you must make and learn from mistakes (or how would you gain wisdom?). If you learn from any mistake (burning your hand, for example), you will regret not having made a better decision in the first place (not putting your hand in the fire). Thus, we live with regret as naturally as we live with thinking.

The secret is not to live without regret. The secret is not to regret living.

 

 

 

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Nice Guys Finish Last; Good Men Finish Right.

 

I hear women say, “There aren’t any good men left; all the good ones are taken.”

Not true. However, many women I know seem to have a difficult time distinguishing what a “Good Man” is, that he should be taken (and taken by what?). They confuse good men for “nice guys”.

 

Here is the situation. Dominique messaged another man and invited him to her bed. Howard, her husband, intercepted the message.

When confronted, Dominique alleged the message did not mean anything to her and insisted she never intended to go through with her proposition.

Reacting to Howard’s anger, Dominique attempted a defense of the other man, Peter. “You don’t even know Peter,” she said, “You don’t know anything about his moral character that you can sit here and judge him for what I did. He is actually a very nice guy.”

Howard, stunned by her brashness, gathered his thoughts. Then he said:

“No. YOU don’t know anything about his moral character. Without having met him, I know two things about him, Dominique. I know that, 1—he makes very bad decisions, and 2—he has NO moral character.

“I know he makes bad decisions because he knows you are married. Clearly he thinks with the wrong head. I know he has no moral fortitude because he not only knows you are married, but also is willing to cheat with a married woman. If he will cheat with a married woman, then it is safe to assume he will also cheat on a married woman. That makes him the lowest scum there is—a man with no morality, pretending to be a man with morals. You think he likes you? Cares about you? Is interested in you? Is that what you think? I believe you when you say you think Peter is a nice guy. Hell, I might even have liked him had we met under different circumstances. We may have been friends, but just because he is a nice guy does not mean he is a Good Man.

“Dominique, life offers simple answers but we sometimes don’t want to accept them. A Good Man does not cheat. Simple. By every right, I should show up at Peter’s doorstep and break him down like kindling, but I won’t. I can’t, because, unlike your nice guy, I have a moral code that I live by. I value life and practice every bit of what I preach. What does he value? How fast do you think he would turn around and trade you in for the next bit of action he could score? What is your body, and your mind, actually worth to him—he, who is willing to break the greatest moral sanction of fidelity, just to sleep with you? Did you think his porn lust said something different about your value to him? Is a moral shell of a man enough to lose an actual Good Man over?

“Being a nice guy is not enough. It takes more than saying nice things and telling you how pretty you are, and paying attention to you when you are pissed off, or horny, or lonely.

“It takes more than getting in your pants to be a Good Man. And it takes more than letting any moral scum do so… to be a Good Woman.”

 

The story of Howard and Dominique has a happy ending, but it takes a long time to get there, and it is very sad most of the way, until Dominique realizes her self-worth and the value of Howard’s love. Before then, Howard and Dominique divorce. She simply can not live on his terms and values, and he will not live on hers. But we can learn from their example without going through their pain.

The women I know, and have met over the years, like to be what they think of as “romanced”. That is, they like to be told they are pretty. They like getting flowers and chocolates, and hearing sincere apologies and feeling their body is the destination of some man’s indiscriminate leer. I am certain many men like this type of “romancing”, too. The problem is we are swept away by this Hollywood version of what romance is dictated to be and we forget the temperance of Reality.

I want to suggest Romance is not any of those things seen on television. Romance is knowing you are the center of someone else’s universe; chocolates are optional.

Romance is loyalty and trust that has been earned in partnership, not flowers that will die on your counter. Romance is having someone come home to you every day because they can not wait to talk to you. It is having someone who cares how your day has been—for real, and not just as prelude to getting in your pants—and who you know, unequivocally, will still care how your day has been for the next 30 or 40 or 50 years. Romance is having a true partner who values you above all others, who can only see you in a crowded room, and who can turn down a flirt with ease because he knows there is you to come home to or go home with… and what flirtatious bimbo can compare to that?

Romance is acknowledging and respecting and celebrating the Value of the person you choose as your companion and partner.

I define that as romantic, and say further romance is not forsaking that value for something or someone of lesser value. Flowers die; chocolates rot; Romeos come and go; romance does not. Candy and trinkets are bribes—bribes at best. What is a greater or more valuable gift than the body and mind of the partner you choose—the companion you choose only and above all others? Being honored like that, frankly, is what should make us hot. It breaks my heart, in a way, to know it usually does not work that way.

I wonder how much we are taught by Hollywood and media to believe absurd fallacies of love… those films, stories, and commercials that relentlessly tell us romance is supposed to be sappy and emotional, all the time. Romantic stories end always where they should begin—at the start of the relationship. The assumed rest of the story is “…And they lived happily ever after.” Movies never go on to say, “…And then, seven years later, with two kids, a job loss, a sick parent, and never-ending work… Prince Charming no longer brings home flowers, the princess has gained 30 pounds, they haven’t made love in three weeks, she’s on her period, he’s always out with the boys, and the stress is driving them both nuts…”

Love is not like the movies.

 

Love is probably not even like what your friends tell you it is (because they are trained to believe love is supposed to be like the movies).

I think love is powerful and long-lasting but at times the romance ebbs, sometimes for a long time; life is difficult and those difficulties can get in the way of partnership. In reality, we are not star-crossed lovers destined to find our one and only soul-mate and live happily ever after, dramatically but effortlessly. No. We are moody and needy, and we always want more, better, or different. In reality, Love takes Work. It is a second full-time job that often demands overtime and offers little pay in return; love is itself, I assert, a “labor of Love”.

Nice guys do not know this; they believe love is whatever or whoever pleases them in the moment. A Good Man, however, understands reality. A Good Man accepts it and bears it as he must. He does not give up easily and he makes the best of it, always. He has a definable moral code by which he lives and he makes no exceptions to his strictly held values—“It just happened; I was drunk; it won’t happen again,” is never a Good Man’s excuse—these phrases are not in a language he speaks.

A Good Man treats his chosen companion as the most valuable asset he has. He enjoys material possessions in life when he has them, but he never puts such things over the partner with whom he chose to spend his life. The gifts that most satisfy him are her body and mind, and he covets those madly, selfishly and righteously, as he would covet a priceless piece of art. He takes it on himself to bring out the best in her even when she does not want to be her best.

He is always his best for her, and strives still to be better. In short, A Good Man values his companion-in-life as he values himself.

 

You can throw a rock and hit a nice guy. But if you recognize your own value, then I say nice guys are not worth your time. Dominique may have lost Howard, and may find the world seems full of Peters ready and willing to devalue her until they can trade her in for the next lease. It is true that good men are very hard to find, but I submit they are worth holding out for. If you know one that is taken, don’t waste your time. You can not sway a Good Man.

If you find a Good Man that is not taken, chase him to the end of the earth. He is more valuable than gold. If you should catch him, never let him go. Value him; satisfy him; understand what real romance is and work to keep him. Forget the rest and don’t look back.

Let the nice guys finish last.

 

Note: This was originally written as a follow up to The Truth About EveryBody – what I consider to be the most important thing I’ve written to date. Please go back and read it or re-read it if you liked this one, and share it with anyone you think will “get it”. Thanks.

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