“Being deeply loved by someone gives you strength while loving someone deeply gives you courage.” Lao Tzu
What is love?
In the wake of Valentine’s Day, and my recently celebrated wedding anniversary, I’ve been thinking about love––also because I just interviewed John Howard and Ana Gabriel Mann about their new book, The Go-Giver Marriage.
Plus, I am watching a K Drama, Because This Is My First Life, which features a couple (landlord and tenant) who get married for convenience. The husband is on the spectrum so he feels he can't commit to loving his new bride, but he does pledge that he will never be a hindrance to her.
One of the themes of The Go-Giver Marriage (the full podcast interview is forthcoming) is the idea of Allow. Love involves allowing the object of our love to be…whatever they are, whatever they want to be, and not to hinder them.
During Valentine’s Day week, we think a lot about giving gifts –– candy, flowers, and such. All of which I love, so I certainly don’t condemn the practice or complain that it’s just a greeting card holiday, a made-up merchandising event sandwiched between Christmas and Easter to keep us buying. It is, but so what? It feels good to commemorate love with a token of our affection––we have some Harry & David truffles sitting in our family room. Definitely not complaining!
But I’m fond of quoting 19th-century American philosopher Ralph Waldo Emerson. Among his memorable contributions is this thought: “Rings and jewels are not gifts, but apologies for gifts. The only gift is a portion of thyself.”
Maybe one of the true gifts that we can give—not just on holidays and anniversaries—is not to hinder those we love but instead allow them to be themselves and fulfill their potential. As I like to tell people—and dedicated in print in my recent book—”to my husband who always says ‘jump’.” When I consider the things that I want to do –– like travel for work –– disrupting myself, it means my husband is also being disrupted, making his life different. This is allowing––not hindering.
I'm also thinking about Apolo Ohno (this week's guest on the podcast) and his father, who sacrificed to raise him alone and to help him train. It's easy to look back and say, “well, it’s Apolo Ohno; any parent would make sacrifices.” But in 1996, he wasn't yet “Apolo Ohno, world-class speed skater.” He was a thirteen-year-old kid showing potential.
There’s a tension here, a give and take. My husband’s sacrifices to allow me to be what I dream of could easily mean that I am limiting him. What I’m wondering about and would encourage you to think about this week is how we give true gifts by making sacrifices for those we love.
How can we show love by being willing to be a little bit disrupted to allow the significant others in our lives to be and become their best selves?
How do we live our dreams without hindering our beloved fellow dreamers?
P.S. Tomorrow (Thursday, February 17, at 9am Eastern) Keith Ferrazzi will be joining me on LinkedIn Live. He has a new book, Competing in the New World of Work. Afterward, we will do an audio version where you can talk to him Live and ask questions. Please tune in; you can follow me to get notifications so you don’t miss it!