JLM & Associates offers personal development counseling to help you take control of your personal and business success. Learn how to seize the kind of income you deserve and achieve the successful future of your dreams.

Thursday, September 28, 2006

The Life Of The Party

In my message today I want to tell you about a business owner I met this past Tuesday at a networking event in Columbus, Ohio. I was in Columbus giving a seminar and attended the networking event immediately after. One of the first people I met at the event was Jay, the owner of a computer store.

Jay told me about his business and then turned his attention to me and what I do. As he asked me questions I could tell immediately how genuinely interested he was in what I do. There was something special about Jay and as I talked with other people at the event I couldn't help but notice how easy networking was for him. It seemed everyone at the event wanted to be around him. He had no trouble making contacts and getting business cards.

What made Jay someone that everyone else wanted to be around was his sparkling personality. Having a gracious and amiable personality is critical part to achieving success but yet it is often overlooked.

As part of your own self-development you should ask yourself if you have trouble making friends? When you're at a social event and you walk over to a group or people are they happy to see you or do they disperse as if you have a some sort of a plague? If you answer yes to either of these questions here are some tips that will help you.

* Build up your poise by learning that a smile and shrug go a long way toward turning an awkward moment into a "no-account" incident, particularly if you have to cope with that moment. When you show you don't take yourself and what happens to you too seriously, you put others at ease.

* Don't hold grudges, and don't spend your time keeping bitter moments alive. No matter how justified your hurt feelings may be, dwelling on them only makes you unhappy. You pass on negative feelings to others through your conversation and actions. People usually find a way to dodge a negative person.

* Don't be quick with a sarcastic quip at someone's expense. It's a tip-off to your own self-dissatisfaction. Building up your ego by undercutting others is a sure way to lose friends and influence others, against you.

* Don't be critical. The old saying that you can't really understand another person until you've walked in his or her shoes teaches us to avoid sitting in judgment of others.

* Practice using your voice to make only pleasant remarks.

* Don't insist on having the last word about everything. Even if you're right, some things are better left unsaid. You never have to apologize for what you don't say.

* Always be interested and not interesting. Don't talk about yourself unless you're asked, rather always ask questions and be interested in the other person.

Having a pleasant and enjoyable personality is not something that just happens, you have to work at it. Developing your personality comes from continuous self-development and constant acts of kindness and consideration on your part for others.

Success can only can only be achieved through other people. The more people you know who know you in a favorable way the more successful you will become. It all starts with having a pleasant and enjoyable personality.

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

It's Never Too Late

Several years ago a man by the name of Chris called me, he had just lost his job at an airline where he had worked for over thirty years. After working his way up to become a successful executive with the airline he now found himself not only out of a job but with very little pension because of all the cuts in employee benefits.

I knew he was going to be all right because had been such a success with the airline and he was very intelligent and hardworking, but he felt very differently. He was over sixty and felt there was no future for him and there would be no retirement for he and his wife.

After working with him for several months to help him get his confidence back. I discovered that he had a passion for coffee. So, in his spare time, he began his studies. He read every book he could find on the history of coffee and how it was grown. He visited countries in South America to see how coffee beans were picked and sample hundreds of different types of coffee. He learned from experts in the industry everything there was to know about how to roast coffee.

To make a long story short, within two years after losing his job he opened up his first coffee shop in New York. He soon opened up another shop and soon another. Within a couple of years he had ten coffee shops all doing very well. He had a Web site were sold his coffee as well. He also published a very popular monthly newsletter about coffee.

My client recently sold his entire business and all of his coffee shops to a very large well-known coffee company for well over seven figures. He and his wife will now have a better retirement then they would have if he had retired with a full pension from the airline.

The point I'm trying to make here is that it's never too late to start a business and do something you really have a passion for.

So here's my advice if you've been laid off or down-sized from a job that you've been with for a long time. First, find out what you'd really like to do. Determine your objective, and actually visualize it in your mind. Picture what you want and the kind of person you want to become.

Next, get the facts. Get all the facts about what will be required to attain the objective you've determined upon and visualized. The more information you can get on the subject the better. Then, analyze, evaluate and group those facts. Try to put them in logical order of accomplishment.

The next thing you want to do is set a timetable for the accomplishment of your objectives, and try to stick to your timetable. Don't let people throw you off the track or tell you you're wrong. You should know what's right for you; what's right for others is their business.

Make sure your entire plan is written out so that you have a blueprint to follow. Make sure you check from time to time, to see how you're really doing by comparing your progress with your blueprint.

The most important thing of all to do is begin! Don't just keep talking about it. Do it! Understand that the time to start will really never be perfect, so start as soon as you can. If you don't start, if you don't take action on your plan, then nothing will ever happen.

Above all, stay with it. Keep your goal firmly fixed in your mind, have faith that you can reach it, and you will reach it. Like my client Chris, you'll find yourself happy, excited, and eventually financially free.

In today's age of layoffs and down sizing there is no such thing as job security. You could lose your job at any time. If that happens to you (and I hope it doesn't) just remember that no matter what your age or situation in life, it's never too late to start a business and do something you love.

Sunday, September 24, 2006

Why She Got Fired

This past week I was having lunch with a good friend of mine who owns a small advertising agency. He told that he had a difficult week because of a very difficult decision that he had to make. He had to fire someone.

Earlier in the week my friend had to discharge a woman who had worked for his company for many years. He told me that when he did she played the role like a charm. Tears, saying that she'd probably never be able to get a job like she had and how much she loved the company. According to my friend she could have won an Oscar.

The reasons she was fired were not because my friend or his company take delight in firing people. On the contrary. In fact, I've never met a business professional who did not hate to have to fire someone. I know when I've had to do, I've often put it off for weeks and months to find a way around it.

This woman was fired because she had gotten the idea someplace that the purpose of business was solely for the benefit of the employees. She had been doing her work in a half-hearted way for a long time. She often came in a little late. She was the first to sprint down the hall for the elevator at just before five every day. She pushed her lunch hour to the maximum, and the coffee breaks too. While she took full advantage of her privileges, when she was at her desk she didn't give as much as she was getting.

Chances are you've known people like this. They want everything they can get. In fact, they feel it's their due, but when the shoe is on the other foot, when the employer wants his or her share, well, they feel picked on or taken advantage of.

Well, anyway, this woman had been fired and it was the best thing that could have happened to her! In the first place, she'll find another job because she is talented and my friend is well connected in the industry and he'll give her a good reference. In the second place, she might realize the truth of why she had been fired, and decide not to make the same mistake again.

The biggest lesson I hope she'll learn is that unless a company can make a profit on an employee, it can't afford to keep that employee. This is simple economics. With the overhead, the cost of rent, payroll, and other expenses today, the person occupying the space becomes critically important, as a person, and as part of the earning capacity of the company.

I think you'll agree that many times people think that companies have unlimited cash reserves. That they should go right on providing jobs and paychecks whether or not a person gives a fair return on that job and paycheck.

I have met thousands of people over the years who are actually on corporate relief roles, who are getting paid for much more than they're worth, but in today's economy companies cannot afford to keep employees who are not producing on their payroll.

Employees who are doing less than they are paid are also hurting themselves. If they are not constantly gaining new skills and knowledge that will help their company, then they are not helping themselves either, and they don't have much of a future.

Believe me, if you've never had to do it, firing someone is one of the hardest things you'll ever have to do in business. Unfortunately, because of the fierce competition in the business world today, employees must understand that if they're not helping their companies grow and prosper, they won't stay employed for very long.

Thursday, September 21, 2006

Why You Must Double Your Knowledge

In my Blog entries the last couple of months I've written quit a bit about the importance of continuous education if you want to be successful, but that it's up to you to do it. No one can force you to learn. You have to want to learn. You have to be motivated to learn.

I want to share with you today a wonderful success story that I found out about when I was conducting a seminar in Anaheim, California this week.

During the break a man came up to me and told me that he attended a seminar I gave in Chicago last year and it had changed his life. When I asked he to tell me more about it, he replied that he was in sales a year ago and was extremely frustrated. He was not doing very well, and he was barley making enough money to cover his bills. He felt like he was spinning his wheels and was ready to quit.

He told me during the seminar I had urged the attendees to carefully analyze their work and determine what was holding them back from achieving their business goals? What was limiting them? What were they good at? What were they poor at? What was their major area of weakness?

He told me that when I asked those questions, he realized that he didn't like prospecting for customers. As a result, he wasn't very good at it and he avoided it as much as possible. The very idea of prospecting filled him with fears of rejection. Not surprisingly, his sales continued to go down. He was working with fewer and fewer customers. He was using his intelligence to justify and rationalize avoiding going out and seeing more people.

In the seminar he realized that if he wanted to be successful, he would have to become excellent at prospecting. Otherwise, there was no future for him in a sales career. He then made up his mind to read every sales and motivational book he could get his hands on. He constantly listened to audio programs everywhere he was able to on the subject of sales, and he took numerous courses on sales and business.

He would start off first thing in the morning and would prospect all day long until he overcame his fear of it and learned how to do it well. He backed his resolution with persistent and continuous action.

As a result of his overcoming the fear of prospecting, primarily by preparing himself and becoming very good at it, his sales went up and up. Within six months, he was making four times what he'd been earning when he came to my seminar initially.

His company was so impressed that it promoted him into sales management and then transferred him to Los Angeles to open a new branch, where he is now responsible for recruiting, training, and fielding a professional sales force. He has a title, a high income, an expense account, and the respect of everyone around him. He is on the road to success, and the turning point for him came when he realized that he would have to prepare for success by becoming excellent at the parts of his job where he was the weakest.

This person was able to accomplish a lot in a very short time not because of my seminar but because he decided to be honest and objective about his strengths and weakness. He then made the decision himself to correct his weaknesses and become excellent at his profession.

Remember, we live in the Information Age, and knowledge in every field is doubling approximately every two to three years. This means that you must double you knowledge in your field every two to three years just to stay even.

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Jobs Don't Have Futures

How many times have you heard someone say, "There's no future in this job." Isn't it amazing that generation after generation, the majority of people never seem to get it? Do you know what causes it? It's caused by people who know how to talk, but little else, passing their well intended but misguided and uneducated point of view down to their children and associates.

It's too bad there isn't an intelligence test given as one of the requirements for a marriage license.

Not that we should expect young people getting married to know a great deal at that stage of their lives; none of us did. But at least they should want to learn so that they can handle the responsibility of passing good information along to their children, instead of misguided beliefs.
There is no such thing as a job with or without a future. A job is a condition, a circumstance, and nothing more. A job is neither good nor bad. It's what we do with a job that makes it good; that gives it a future or keeps us from having one.

Jobs don't have futures, people do!

We are living in a different in the Information Age. A time of unprecedented change. There is no job security anymore. There is no such thing as; "get a good education so you can get a good job, and then you'll be set for life."

In a recent article, the Harvard Business Review found that a college graduate today will have had an average of 13 to 14 different jobs by the time he or she retires. In contrast to the Industrial Age where a college graduate would have had only 1 or 2 jobs during his or her working lifetime.

Instead of looking at this statistic in fear. You need to look at this as a wonderful opportunity to learn. Every job you ever have holds a wealth of opportunity to learn new and valuable things for your future. Things that cannot be learned from school or book alone.

We have to change our attitude in the way we look at a job. Instead of looking at it as a "job that has no future" we need to look at from the standpoint of, "what can I learn from this job that will help me reach my goal." Every job you have should be used as a stepping stone to a better position for yourself in the future. As part of your master plan to reach your goal.

I have a good friend who a successful entrepreneur and owns six businesses. He has done this by working for each of the companies he now owns. He did it by taking a position in a company and learning everything he possibly could learn about the business and making valuable contributions that made every business he worked for more successful and profitable. Then he would make the owner an offer to become a partner or buy the business out right.

You see, my friend never had the opportunity to go to college, but he had an ultimate goal, which was to be a successful entrepreneur. So he saw every job not as a dead end, but as learning experience and stepping stone toward his ultimate goal. You can too!

Jobs don't have futures, people do! This is the reality of today. This is what parents need to be passing down to their children.

Sunday, September 17, 2006

Leave Something For Others

Are you one of those people who tends to ignore wise advice from the older crowd? Perhaps you think that things have changed so dramatically that you don't have to take their coaching seriously. If so you may find that rejecting their ideas may be harming you more than you think.
One of the best pieces of business advice I ever received was from a 78-year old man who first heard it from his father over 60 years ago. This father and son team built a very successful rental business over the years. The valuable advice he gave me was this: "Don't take everything you can take; leave something for the other guy."

I know that this small piece of wisdom is very likely the last thing a budding entrepreneur or an aspiring executive wants to hear. At first glance, the contradictory message in this advice is also insulting to an aggressive salesperson who struggles daily to get all the business he or she can get. This message will probably not be well received by a savvy investor, because I don't think you'd want to ask him or her to leave some profits for the next in line.

The very concept of sharing, especially with competitors, flies in the face of all that is natural to the high achievers out there. As long as most of us can remember, we have been taught to compete for as much of the pie as we can get.

Just for a moment, though, let's step back and examine what happens when we leave something for the next person. First, the gesture will stand out as exceptional by its very nature, and it will prompt the beneficiary to remember the what you did for him or her.

Your competitors will feel less need to squeeze or pressure you if you communicate your desire to share with them. There will be less jealousy or envy, and in time everyone's job will become easier and more pleasant, but there is another important benefit to letter the other person get his or her share. You will sleep better.

Say for example you're hunting, (even if you don't hunt and I don't) you see a deer and you've got him lined up in the cross hairs. You feel the adrenaline pumping and then you consciously decide not to shoot. It's one of the great lessons of becoming successful.

There is a very powerful Universal Law, which is the Law of Compensation. This Law states that the more things you do for other people, the more things other people will want to do for you. What goes around comes around. Whatever you sow you will eventually reap.

Thursday, September 14, 2006

Why People Remain Uneducated

I want to start out today's message with some questions. See if you can answer them: Why don't more people get higher paying jobs? What don't more people get more enjoyment out of life? Why aren't more people financially independent? What don't more people do more with their lives than they do? Why do most people unnecessarily limit their lives to small fractions of what they could be?

Do you know the answer to these questions? The answer is the same for all the questions. It's because most people are, as a general rule uneducated. It seems that most people have a built in resistance to knowledge.

People don't seem to understand how important and profitable knowledge can be to them in every way; how it can enlarge their horizons, give them more zest, charm, and interest in their lives; and how it can improve their incomes and standards of living.

I recently saw a startling study by the American Booksellers Association. The study found that 80 percent of Americans read less than one book per year. The study also found that 58 percent of adult Americans never read a nonfiction book from cover to cover after they graduate from college.

Let's look at another very telling study recently conducted by the Gallup organization. It found that the top 9 percent of people with the highest incomes in America today read at least one nonfiction book per month.

These two studies should tell you all you need to know about the importance of continuing education. If you want to achieve success in life, then your education cannot stop when you graduate, it is a lifelong proposition. It is not an option, but the choice is yours.

Learning; reading the great thoughts of business leaders; keeping an open mind to all the wealth of information that is available today; actively pursuing knowledge as the answer to success in all areas of our lives, this is the mark of the person, who during his or her lifetime, has the best chance to reach the highest levels of success, achievement, and fulfillment.

Another reason why people remain uneducated today is because of their own personal beliefs and prejudices. The world is changing at rate never seen before in all of history and many people are afraid. The cling to old Industrial Age beliefs and refuse to change. The easiest way to spot a person with a small, closed mind is by his or her refusal to ever admit he or she was wrong about something.

I've never been able to understand this. What's wrong with learning new things and being wrong? The only thing that's wrong with it is to cling to it regardless of the evidence.

Unless you're smarter this week than you were last week, you've got a problem. If you learn only from experience, or from events in your daily life, with no other effort on your part for continuing education you will never achieve even a fraction of your true potential in life.

Before you go to sleep at night you should ask yourself two important questions. What did I learn today that I did not know before? How did I make this world a better place today? When you have an answer to both of these questions every night, you will not only sleep better but you will be on your way to a very successful and fulfilling life.

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

The Most Powerful Business Philosophy

I'd like to share with you today a statement that is foundation for the greatest business philosophy I've ever heard. It is a powerful concept with a message that has withstood the test of time. This is the statement: "Anything is possible if you don't care who gets the credit." Think about this for a moment and I think you will begin to agree with its inherent, undeniable strength.

Over the years I've seen hundreds and perhaps thousands of people sabotage themselves and their companies because of their need to be admired and appreciated.

Of course, there's nothing wrong with a little appreciation provided that you've earned it, but I'm more concerned with the applause having more meaning than the actual deed. When that occurs, the deed becomes secondary, its meaning is diluted to insignificant levels, and no one wins except, perhaps, for those who are satisfied with a few fleeting seconds of fame.

Even more devastating is what happens when an act is perceived by others to have been done only for personal gain. If others believe that you did something only because of the recognition it would bring, you might as well not have done it at all. Your effort was of little consequence.
Let's examine the powerful concept embodied in my opening statement: "Anything is possible if you don't care who gets the credit."

In order to live up to this philosophy, a person must be inherently selfless, something that cannot be faked. Selflessness is a quality that comes from life experiences. If comes from your heart. It as a genuine wanting to serve and help others even when you know that you may never get any credit for it.

If along life's way you've witnessed and been part of an abundance of fairness, you'll be prone to fairness. On the other hand, if you've had to struggle in order to retain for yourself even a tiny morsel of recognition for your efforts, it is very likely that you won't understand selflessness. Because selflessness is something that must be learned.

You can begin to recognize the power of selflessness when you adopt the philosophy: "Anything is possible if you don't care who gets the credit." When you do, good things will begin to happen. If you truly understand and apply this principle, your company will have all the customers it needs, you will have all the profits you want, and your employees can have all the credit they crave and deserve for their efforts.

Sunday, September 10, 2006

Trust Your Intuition

My topic today has to do with intuition, that pure and precious little extra information which seems to percolate to the brain just when you need it most. Intuition is often the "still small voice" within. It is an involuntary feeling that tells you to do something other than what you want to do at the moment.

You may experience your intuition as a gut-feeling or as an inner sense of what is right or wrong for you. Sometimes your intuition manifests itself as an inspiration, a hunch, or a flash of insight.

The men and women in our society who achieve the highest levels of success are those who completely trust their intuition to guide them in every situation. They never speak or act until they feel an inner urging to do so. They know that their intuition will always bring them exactly the right answer at exactly the right time.

Here's my concern: Intuition is a natural ability. It is a skill that every person has. All we have to do is develop and take advantage of it. Since we all have the ability to tap into this higher source of information any time we need it; why don't schools teach students how to develop this important success skill?

The answer is that high schools, colleges and Universities are uncomfortable in teaching students to trust something that pops into their heads, seemingly from nowhere. They prefer the more traditional sources of information.

Perhaps it's time to focus on where this information comes from. It think you will agree to a new set of standards for paying heed to it when you understand its source. It comes from you. It comes from all the lessons you've learned. It comes from all the forgotten wisdom that has been held captive by your subconscious mind, and is suddenly born out of frustration for the right fact at the precise moment you need it.

There is nothing mysterious about these gems of intelligence which come to us. They represent our greatest power because they a combination of everything we know. If you consider this source of information lightly, you may harm yourself.

We are trained to study a problem from every angle and then keep studying it until we are certain we can trust the carefully researched answer. If you are ever going to reach the level of achievement that you are capable of, you must learn to blend you intuition into the knowledge equation for the purest and most trustworthy answer.

All of us have at our disposal the same intuitive powers used by some of the smartest men and women who have ever lived. We all have the ability to tap into and use a higher form of intelligence than we have ever used before. Our intuition will help us solve any problem and achieve any goal.

So start tapping into and trusting your built-in encyclopedia today instead of ignoring it.

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

The Leadership Crisis

In today's fast moving, ever changing, and highly competitive world there is a serious and overlooked crises. The crisis is a lack of leadership. More than ever our government, businesses, religious organizations, and our educational institutions need leaders.

This crisis has arisen in part because of the end of the Industrial Age. With the coming of the Information Age that we are now living in, many of our institutions have been reinvented. Life is therefore uncertain for many people, which makes leadership much more risky.

With the coming of the Information Age the Internet has connected the world together like never before. This new way of communication and doing business has brought change in a whirlwind fashion that has never been seen in history. Yet in the midst of all this change that has supposedly brought the world closer together, never have so many people felt so isolated from one another, disconnected from their roots, and unsure of their future.

This feeling of isolation for so many people has happened in large part because, as the world becomes more virtual the skill of human relations is quickly becoming lost. Thus, never before has the skill of human relations been more valuable. In the near future, almost every person will have an e-mail address and every business will have a Web site. The only way you will be able to differentiate yourself and your business is by becoming exceptionally skilled at leading and persuading others.

In the Industrial Age of hierarchal organizations, big government, and traditional families the need for leadership was evident. We knew what the rules were and we needed the leaders to hold us to those rules. However, in the Information Age of Internet based businesses, two career families, and the increasing irrelevance of government we no longer have a clear set of rules to follow. What's more, the command and control leaders that try to hold people to seemingly arbitrary rules, are no longer successful.

What's needed today are the type of leaders who can inspire and motivate others within this virtual world, while never loosing sight of the timeless leadership principles that never change.

Throughout history, great leaders were never invited to become leaders by their followers. They stepped into leadership roles by their own initiative. They formed the habit of doing what needed to be done, whether it was their job to do it or not, whether or not they were paid for it.

It's increasingly clear that drugs, gangs, illiteracy, poverty, crime, and the breakdown of the traditional family, put every aspect of society at risk. Leaders of the future realize, further, that government and social groups aren't going to solve these problems. It's not their fault; they need a broader network of helping hands. Everyone thus needs a sense of responsibility and stewardship for the community.

We also need to develop a similar sense of responsibility in young people. Begin by becoming a role model for your family. Are you serving the community in some way? Are you working to understand community problems to see how you can help solve them? Are you organizing service opportunities for the entire family?

Create a vision for a better society and help bring it to life!

Monday, September 04, 2006

Get The Creative Juices Flowing

It's common knowledge these days that innovation is the lifeblood of any business. Yet our schools continue to teach students how to be good employees for jobs that aren't there anymore. They don't teach our young people the most important skill for success; how to think and create.

In the "Industrial Age" your could graduate from school, get a good job and as long as you worked hard you were set for life. But in 1989 when the Berlin Wall came down and the Internet went up we entered the "Information Age." We entered into a world economy and things changed forever.

To be successful today it is not how hard you work but how smart you work. You have to be learning something new every day and constantly coming up with new and innovative ideas.
But where do your find new ideas? Here are few suggestions for getting the creative juices flowing:

1. Be committed to innovation. Only when you are consistently in the right frame of mind will you be able to see and cultivate new ideas.

2. Look at innovation from different views. Ask yourself if what you are thinking about is new for you or for your company. It doesn't matter if it's being done elsewhere. How can you do it better?

3. Don't worry about rejection. Some ideas are good, but they can't be used right now. They might be used in the future.

4. See the good in the ideas of others. When someone else comes up with a promising idea, don't look for what's wrong with it. Instead, make a conscious effort to look for what's right.

5. Ask your customers the right questions to get new information. Customers can describe unmet needs, and they can help to evaluate a new idea.

New innovations always require more work. Sometimes an innovative idea is almost complete in itself, but it will uncover other questions that must be answered before it's true worth is determined. This is why it's so important to never shoot down ideas before they are fully developed.

The future belongs to the competent. The people who are constantly learning new things, taking risks, making new investments, and starting businesses. The people who are innovative and creative are people who will lead in the 21st century.

Let me finish today's message with a quote from Albert Einstein, "Imagination is more important than knowledge. For knowledge is limited to all we know and understand, while imagination embraces the entire world, and all there ever will be to know and understand."

Friday, September 01, 2006

Building Better Relationships

I had lunch with a good friend of mine recently and he informed that after 16 years he and his wife were getting a divorce. I had known both of them the whole time they were married. They always seemed happy and had three wonderful children. I never had any idea that they had marital problems.

My friend quit his job seven years ago to start a business of his own. He has worked very hard and made his business very successful. His wife has good position at a large bank and she has worked very hard to move up the corporate ladder to where she is.

The point I'm trying to make today is that these two people worked hard to build successful careers and businesses. They were both very loving and dedicated parents but they forgot the most important thing; the age old advice about having to "work" at making your marriage successful.

You can't sit back and expect your spouse to please you, nor can you simply do what your partner wants and expect satisfaction. The strongest and happiest relationships are those in which two independent people draw strength from each other and contribute to and benefit from the relationship in-equal measure.

Here are some things you can do to build a better relationship with your spouse:

* You must respect and accept yourself. You are entitled to receive the same consideration from your spouse that you give, but be sure you are not expecting to get from him or her what you should be giving yourself. You must have a high level of self-esteem if you want your spouse to respect you.

* Build up your spouse's self-esteem with simple complements Take the time every day to point out something your spouse does or says that is really good and that you appreciate.

* Make time to talk every evening. No matter how busy and hectic your day has been or how tired you are, take 30 minutes before you go to sleep to talk with your spouse about how each others day has been.

* Be specific about what you want. When you need something from your spouse, discuss that one issue. Be specific about your need. Focus on the issues, not on the emotions.

* Speak up when something is bothering you, talk about it instead of becoming silent and withdrawn. Get the matter out into the open and hear both sides of the issue. Unless you tell your mate what is bothering you, you will never be able to solve the problem.

* When you don't like something your spouse does always tell him or her, but do it in a positive way. Suggest an alternative that is acceptable to both. For example, if you don't like the way your spouse is dressed, tell him or her how attractive he or she is in the type of clothing you like.

* Avoid the "It's really nothing" syndrome. you set yourself up to be taken for granted by pretending your efforts are not important. For example if you have done work in the yard or cleaned the house, point it out and make it known that you like to have your efforts recognized and appreciated.

* Don't wait to have your efforts noticed. People today, including your spouse are absorbed with their own concerns. You have to tell them or show them what you have done.

Because of the strenuous demands today relationships are more difficult to keep together than ever before, but they are worth it. When you and your spouse work together to keep your relationship strong and happy you're building a strong and prosperous future that is much harder to build alone.