The 2 Tips That Changed My Relationships Forever
“Treat people not because of how you wish to be treated by them. Treat people truly from your heart.”
I learned this from my close friend Dave Mira back when I lived in Syracuse, NY. Dave was someone I trained and raced with often during my Ironman years.
It didn’t matter if it was a homeless person we encountered on a run together or a celebrity athlete – Dave treated everyone with dignity and respect, making them feel seen. He gave WAY more than he took. I miss his big energy, his one-liners, and his diligence in studying and perfecting whatever craft he set his mind and body to.
He lived his “Best Day” every day and it massively inspired me to find my perfect day.
The most valuable piece of life advice I’ve ever gotten came to me when I was training for Ironman competitions during my late 20’s.
For those that don’t know my transformation story, when I was 27 I was overweight and out of shape, and then over the next five years I changed my life and worked to become one of the fittest triathletes in the world.
I became part of the special group of athletes who were invited to compete at the Ironman World Championships in Kona, HI. This was back before social media was really a thing, and before hybrid athletes were making money through brand deals. I trained for 6+ hours a day, not because I was getting paid (or ever thought I would be), I trained because it gave me structure and a clear path to personal improvement.
I was one of the psychos who enjoyed running for 2 hours before work, squeezing a 60-minute swim session in somewhere in the afternoon, and followed that up with bike intervals for dessert.
In order for me to become “one of the fittest Ironman competitors in the world”, I recognized that my friend group needed to change. I was no longer excited about going out to the bars until 2 a.m. before stumbling home and eating whatever fried food I could find. As I struggled with this, one of my new training partners asked if I had a VIP list.
“A VIP list, what’s that?” I asked back, having no idea what we were talking about.
He answered, “A list of people you enjoy interacting with because you gain value and can give value when you interact with them. You know, people who give you energy and people who you get energy from when around you’re them.”
My stomach, dropped “No”.
I didn’t have that. At this point, I realized I was struggling to redefine who I wanted to have in my life.
I was in the middle, caught between the people I knew in my old life and in search of relationships with people who were living the life I wanted. I still cared for my old friends deeply but we were no longer on the same path.
So, when I got home from that ride, I made a list of all the people with whom I interacted on a daily basis, and created a color code next to them: green if I felt they brought energy into my life, or red if after spending time with them I felt drained.
After realizing how many of my “closest friends” weren’t really my closest friends, I started my VIP list, which I still use to this day. At the time, I didn’t know many people on it, but I created opportunities for myself to meet them: going to business events in Syracuse to meet other entrepreneurs, arriving early and staying late at Ironman competitions, and so on.
Whenever I would meet people on a similar path, I would send a handwritten note expressing gratitude for their time and that they came into my life. For years, I would send 30 of these notes per month.
Over time, my “VIP List” has grown to over 100 people whom I make a conscious effort to stay in touch with because they’re such meaningful connections to me. I keep this in Evernote, and have a recurring reminder in my calendar every month to reach out to at least five of them that I haven’t communicated with in a while.
Making a VIP List and sending 30 handwritten “You’re awesome” cards a month has been a game changer in my life not only for fulfillment but also for generating opportunities.
Give them a try and let me know how it goes!
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Complete 3 rounds for time:
- 20 Calorie Air Bike
- 20 Calorie Row
- 20 Calorie Ski Erg
Rest 60 seconds between rounds