Why I’m losing my friends (and 4 ways to keep yours)
Over the past two years of blogging, Living Rich on Less has brought more blessings into my life than I can count. But one unexpected challenge has been the impression it seems to leave on my friends.
There have been many times when friends and family members have told me they are reluctant to invite me to their homes because I “have that blog.”
I assume what they mean is that they feel their homes may not measure up to some perceived level of cleanliness or organization reflected on my blog. And that is probably because they see photos that look like this:
While the reality often looks more like this:
This false idea that I somehow keep a perfect home or, worse, live a perfect life, is very troubling because it leaves the opposite impression I want on my readers!
Like most home/DIY bloggers, I assume frazzled folks out there are looking for inspiration and motivation. They want proof that, despite the chaos life brings, beauty is possible. And it is even possible with less money and resources than they realize. Unfortunately, all the pretty pictures shared on these blogs (and Pinterest ;)) can unintentionally create feelings of inadequacy.
So in an effort to be more relatable and stay true to my calling, I came up with four areas where I can improve as a blogger and friend. I wanted to share them with you because I believe they can help and encourage all of us to build more authentic relationships.
1. Share the good … but also the bad and the ugly.
I have always been a huge proponent of performing with excellence; going above and beyond the call of duty; and putting my best face forward. In fact, as a military member, one of the core values ingrained in us from the moment we begin training is “Excellence in all we do.”
The problem is that excellence often gets confused with perfection. And, let’s face it, nobody likes a perfectionist.
Interestingly, one of the Air Force’s other core values is “Integrity first.” And integrity is defined not only as “the quality of being honest and having strong moral principles,” but also as “the state of being whole and undivided.” To me, that means I shouldn’t try to portray an image of myself that isn’t totally accurate, or “compartmentalize” my life so others only see the good parts.
2. Ask for help.
As much as I’m a proponent of excellence, I am an even bigger fan of self-sufficiency. I hate admitting I need help! But this philosophy can also hinder my relationships. Nobody likes a know-it-all or a do-it-all, right?
Surprisingly, I’ve discovered over the years that what seems to attract others to us is our vulnerability, our shortcomings.
In one of my favorite books, The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People, Stephen Covey writes that our maturity as a person begins with our dependence on others (as a young child), followed by independence (learning to do things for ourselves), and finally interdependence (working with others to achieve a common goal).
Stephen notes that the greatest human achievements come from people working at this third level of interdependence. What we can accomplish together is greater than what each of us can create on our own.
I’m sure we could all probably work on improving our listening skills in some way. That’s why I wrote an entire blog post on the subject, which you can read here.
Some of the particular areas I personally struggle with are keeping my mouth closed and not blurting out my own experiences in a situation, and asking permission before giving advice.
4. Give generously of time and resources.
One of my favorite virtual mentors, Michael Hyatt, likes to use the mantra in his home, “There’s always more where that came from.” I love Michael’s philosophy of “abundance thinking.” Michael says abundance thinkers are happy to share with others; default to trust; welcome competition; ask themselves how they can give more than expected; and are thankful and confident.
“One man gives freely, yet gains even more; another withholds unduly, but comes to poverty.” – Proverbs 11:24
“Give, and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over, will be poured into your lap. For with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.” – Luke 6:38
I can’t tell you how many times these biblical principles have rung true in my life.
There are always opportunities for me to improve in the four areas mentioned in this post. In what areas do you think you are doing well as a friend? In what ways can you improve?