The Power of Names

Next week I move up to Auckland. A new city, new job, new church and new friends all await me. There will be a heap of knowledge to learn, processes to understand, equipment to grapple with and streets to become familiar with. These are important things to be sure, but they don’t compare with the single most important feature of Auckland I can learn: the names of those I meet.

People’s names are, without a doubt, the most important thing I can invest myself in learning in those first few weeks. Learning someone’s name says they mean something to you, and is foundational in kick-starting meaningful friendships. Everything else can be picked up as I go, but getting people’s names right first time has the potential to establish the way other people perceive me, with the effects resonating long into the future.

I want to be better at learning a hundred people’s names, than they are at remembering my random-new-guy name. I’m not going to use the excuse that ‘I suck at learning people’s names.’ I’ll dare to use people’s names even when I’m not entirely positive on it. It will be hard. It will potentially be quite awkward. But if I can pull this off, it could be the difference between a streamlined move to the big smoke, or a lonely battle for acceptance.

Do you have any tips for learning people’s names? Lets hear them in the comments!

You’ll Never be ‘Ready’

When it comes to life stages, I’ve always had this desire to be ‘ready’ for the next one, whatever that meant.

As a single man, I tried to equip myself for the day when I would have a girl by my side. That said, as my relationship with Paula grew beyond a normal friendship I still felt woefully unprepared for the exciting phase I was entering. With so many unresolved issues, unconquered battles and unfinished thoughts I took on this new role of being a boyfriend. What I found was that stepping into the unknown world of relationships was exactly what I needed to figure out the issues that bugged me (or more precisely, helped me get over myself enough to realise that a lot of my personal issues didn’t actually matter).

Likewise, as I counted down to my wedding day, I would occasionally find myself freaking out at how ill-prepared I was to make such a huge, lifelong and life-transforming commitment. We’d talked things through, trying to pre-empt any issues we may encounter on our journey together, but we both knew that our feeble attempts at peering through the mists of time could very easily be misguided. Two and a half years later I’m more informed about what marriage entails, but still learning and discovering how to do this thing as we go.

Now once again, as I look forward to the arrival of my first kid, I’m facing something profoundly life changing that no amount of reading or studying can truly prepare me for. I’m not exactly where I want to be in my career, my relationship with Paula has room for a lot more growth and I still have projects, hopes and dreams that haven’t been fulfilled. Sometimes that scares me, but as I reflect on the curious way life works I’m also excited that the very process of becoming an awesome dad will grow me in ways I can’t even imagine now, with the ripples spreading across the whole of life.

Just to clarify, I’m not saying that trying to prepare yourself for these big changes is a waste of time. What I’ve learnt, though, is that not having all the answers shouldn’t be a reason for not taking the plunge and getting excited about the learning that will result.

Three Cardinal Relationships

Relationships, friendships, networks. Whatever you want to call them, they have a huge bearing on your enjoyment of life. I will dare to suggest, though, that only three of them will truly make or break your life. These three relationships hold the potential to make life a joyous adventure or a terrible drudgery. When your life nears it’s end, whether you reminisce with contented satisfaction or woeful regrets will be decided in large part by the way you conducted these friendships.

God

Belief in a God that can be described as a person, who actually takes an interest and wants to be involved in the lives of mere humans is, i guess, quite peculiar in today’s society. Nonetheless I am absolutely convinced that this can be the greatest source of satisfaction over a lifetime. When facing death, I think it is possible to have a deep sense of contentment, having pursued a friendship with the very one who created you and is, in a way, calling you home. On the other hand, I can’t begin to imagine the dark fear and doubts that could creep in when you haven’t given time to think about this important relationship.

Your Spouse

They’re your best friend, most loyal companion, and have made a sincere commitment to stick by your side through everything that you encounter in life. It makes sense then, that if this relationship is vibrant, dynamic and life-giving, the positive effects will echo throughout a lifetime. Conversely, a marriage that stifles fun, creativity, and joy will wear you down over a lifetime, and the pain of divorce leaves scars that I doubt ever heal completely.

Your Kids

Whether you like it or not, your kids will play a huge role in your life. And whether your kids are a source of joy and happiness, or stress and worry, comes down largely to the decisions you make. I’m not (yet) qualified to say much more than this, beyond the fact that this is a very scary and motivational thought for me.

I’ll dare to say that all other friendships, while very important, pale in comparison to these fundamental connections. No other relationships have quite the same lifetime implications as these, and hence they deserve particular attention.

What are your thoughts? Am I wrong? Do you have other relationships that you consider of paramount importance?