Turns out that my heart was damaged in all sorts of ways when I left New York. Needless to say, moving to LA was a good restart for me. LA is where I met my rare specimen- someone who seems too good to be real, but indeed exists. (more of my rare specimen dictionary here)
Yes, we’re long distance, but ever since he entered my life, it hasn’t been the same. When you meet someone that special- someone who becomes a part of your life so naturally and deeply- the things you learn from them on a daily basis bleeds into everything you do in business and life.
Here are things I learn from being in a relationship with a one of a kind person, the rare specimen as I like to call him:
1) Keep the bigger picture in mind. Believe in the long term. Everything we do happens almost automatically at the press of a button. Electronics, technology and the internet has made decision making and communicating with others fast and easy. Things are optimized for convenience and efficiency. This causes us to expect things to happen quickly, but not everything works that way. Relationships certainly don’t. It might be because I’m coming from New York where things are much more fast paced and straight forward, but my rare specimen is teaching me to be more patient. “The foundation you need for a shack is not the foundation you need to build for a skyscraper,” he always reminds me. What are you doing right now for the short term, as well as the long term? It’s about what you do everyday, consistently, as a habit, not just what you do sometimes. What does it mean to be in a relationship that is sustainable and healthy vs one that is transactional and short lived? Which one is more fulfilling? I say the bigger picture aka the one that lasts.
2) Give more than you take. My rare specimen is the most generous person I know. Before, I was dating guys who would get texts from their exes. Now I’m with someone who gets random messages from people saying how he’s inspired them and changed their lives. He’s basically a saint, but he doesn’t give to get that praise. He gives without expectation. He takes the time to listen, learn and help whenever he can, just because he can. This is teaching me to do more than what I am told. Being an overachiever in the things that matter most to you has great benefits because your capacity for love and hard work expands. Also, in general, it is impossible to get more than you give. You can’t get more withdrawals than deposits. Give more, and you can get more.
3) Communication is key. This is so important especially because we are long distance. There are so many ways and means of getting in touch with people, then there’s the matter of using the appropriate language to say what you need to say in exactly the way you need to say it. It’s not just what you say but how you say it. Misunderstandings can happen when you don’t say what you mean, or mean what you say. Take the time to listen and respond (not react) and be sure to keep the lines of communication open and free for optimal satisfaction.
4) Be yourself, and you are/will be empowering others to do the same. My rare specimen often shares his story, lessons and thoughts in a meaningful way so that others can takeaway something of value. He is completely and truly himself with me and is completely ok with my weirdness (in fact he thinks I’m crazy when I point something out that he wouldn’t have noticed otherwise) and this helps to push down walls. By being vulnerable and being open, he allows me to do the same. Now that we’re completely ourselves with each other, I’m empowered to do this more on the blog and in my day to day interactions. Once you are comfortable with someone, you can focus and work on more important things and reach your potential.
5) Strong alone, but even better together. I’ve always been a fan of the Fabolous lyrics: “I’m a movement by myself. But I’m a force when we’re together.” As my rare specimen says “it’s so much more fun and exciting when two powerful, independent people decide to walk in the same direction together.” Work to make yourself an asset and a person of value so that when you’re paired or with a group of people who are just as strong and focused, the results, feeling and energy is something magical. My rare specimen doesn’t complete me, he complements me. He and I = 1+ 1:3.
6) It takes work. Nothing worth doing is easy. It gets easier maybe because you’re getting better at it, but it’s never “easy.” It takes a willingness to grow and learn and constantly improve. If you want something exciting and worth building, know that it takes a lot of work and (mutual) effort, but it’s usually worth it.
7) Nothing is possible without love and trust. A long distance relationship doesn’t really “make sense.” You might be in a phase of your life that is completely unexpected and random. Your hobbies and passions might be different than what you studied or do in your day time job. A lot of things don’t make sense, but with love for what you’re doing and trust in who you’re with (and the process), you’re committed to finding a way to make things work. If you base your decisions off of what something sounds like on paper, or what’s others expect of you, you’ll miss out on the bigger picture. Being a fit on paper doesn’t mean you’re a fit with values, philosophies, chemistry, your capacity to give, ability to communicate and willingness to be vulnerable. Those are much more foundational to love and trust. The heart trumps logic in the things that we can’t quantify or measure, so embrace the feels and include love and trust in your decision making.
8) A shared vision/shared values are essential for success in a relationship/team. As individuals, we have a history of experiences that make us different. But it’s not about what sounds good on paper. I can’t tell you how many times I was disappointed by what I thought would be a good match. At the end of the day, it’s how you see the world and the value system you share that breeds success. If you’re with a team or in a relationship that is committed to misunderstanding you, you’re going to spend more time walking in circles than you are moving forward. Shared values/vision unites people of different backgrounds to accomplish incredible things.
9) Growth mindset makes everything possible. It’s not about where you came from, or who you used to be. It’s who you are now, where you want to go, and what you’re doing to get there. With growth mindset- the belief that anything and everything can be learned or improved, the only limit is yourself. My rare specimen and I have experienced a lot of firsts together, but instead of being embarrassed by it or scared by it, we welcome it and are ready to tackle it together, because we both believe that it’s the first of many more to come and that it’s only going to get better. Failure only happens if you give up or stop trying.
10) It’s the little things. Statistically, there are plenty of guys here in Los Angeles that I could date or be with. Why the rare specimen, someone who is not in the same city I am? It’s how he’ll randomly kiss my hand to show me he’s present and happy, how he writes me letters when I least expect them, how well we fit together. Even with two candidates that might sound similar, what differentiates them is their attitude, their presence and their energy. It’s the little things.
These are the things I knew, but am getting pushed to put in practice each day. As difficult as it is, I’m really trying to make these become solid values that seep into my habits everyday. Thanks to my rare specimen, and his patience and support, I think I will in no time. After all, these are all lessons that apply in business and life.