So excited to get to know each of you better as we connect through this post! I’ve borrowed this content from Chapter 2 of my book, so you’ll have a head start reading it, if you haven’t already!
Because my book and this blog will share so much about my favorite people in the whole world (my family), I wanted to share with you a little tidbit about each person in my family.
From oldest to youngest, we have:
Moses is 15 months old. He is almost always a very happy guy. Moses is always moving. He loves to make eye contact and climb over his siblings while they’re lying down. He doesn’t talk yet. He does make adorable little sounds. He also walks. He walks all over our house exploring and chewing on everything he can get his hands on.
Because of this, we have rubber bands around all of our lower cupboard doors. He loves to climb up and down the stairs, over the couches, and on anything else he can find. He loves to be tickled and to play peekaboo. He loves to have fun and to go outside, especially in the mountains. Moses was born with an extraordinary grip and can hang from his hands (holding his own weight) for over eight seconds.
My favorite thing about Moses is the way he gives his spectacular hugs. His hugs are full of warm, loving goodness! When Moses gives you a hug, you feel peace flowing out of him into you. It’s as if he is communicating pure, innocent, perfect love from his soul to yours. It feels so wonderful!
Miriam is a fireball. She is three and very active. Like Moses (who she calls “moe-dis”), she loves doing whatever her older siblings are doing, including climbing and going down the three-story slides at the local kids’ museum. She often leads the group in her enthusiasm to go hiking or climbing outside. “I wanna go kai-ming ou-tide!” she says.
Miriam is very independent, preferring to do tasks “with my own self,” as she says. She gets herself dressed and eats food independently. Currently, she is having an identity crisis as she decides whether she is a baby, a little girl, or a big girl. If you tell her she is cute, she may tell you: “I’m not cute! I’m a baby!” Or she may say: “I’m not cute, I’m three!” She keeps us smiling and we try not to laugh at her cuteness, because she takes herself seriously.
E is John’s middle initial, so we pronounce his name “Johnny.” He is five. John E is a very even-keeled little man. He’s somewhat serious about building towers, trucks, and spaceships with his legos, and creating adventure sagas with his astronaut toys.
John E does not enjoy being tickled or kissed, although he does love a good laugh and is sometimes silly. He also defends us against imagined bad guys with his improvised swords and shields. Mostly, he plays in his own imagined worlds and is quite introverted.
Periodically he spouts off a long, thoughtful opinion. Besides that, he typically provides one-word answers to our questions. John E enjoys having space from other people, and he is quieter and less in my face than his siblings (the opposite of baby Moses, who commands my attention with his copious eye contact, loud noises, and grabbing hands).
At eight years old and measuring three-and-a-half feet tall, Eli is old for his size. He could play legos all day long, every day. He builds cities. He builds robots. He builds spaceships and trucks of all sorts. Eli is a soft-natured little man, although he has a bold side. His mind is extremely logical, and he loves to be silly. If you ever meet him, ask him to do his silly dance. Eli often teams up to help his younger brother, John E to get ready for bed, go out, or even just cross the street. He also helps Miriam.
One time I took all the kids to Costco on a Saturday (oops!) and Miriam wandered off into a fast-flowing crowd. Spontaneously and without hesitation, Eli darted after her. It took him a minute to catch up with her. When he did, Miriam wasn’t interested in returning to where I was with the rest of the kids. He persuaded her to come back. In a few minutes I saw them, Eli leading Miriam by the hand. Eli was confident, kind, persuasive, and determined. He is a good man to know. He is working on exhibiting these traits in more and more situations.
Nine-year-old Evie is also our bouncy ball. She enjoys building fairy gardens, cuddling with stuffed unicorns, climbing trees and cliffs, and having fun with friends. Her favorite colors are pink, purple, blue, and red. Evie is very crafty and spontaneously creates art projects around the house. She also enjoys drawing and using her makeup. Evie is a wonderful big sister and is working to balance her needs and wants with those of the people around her. She sometimes watches the other kids while my wife and I go for a walk around the block.
Peesh is my best friend and my better half. She is an introverted, intelligent, selfless, kind, caring, thoughtful, studious, ambitious, hard-working woman. She is beautiful and she loves beautiful things. She loves creating and organizing details. She is full of light. She loves to learn and is always improving. Peesh is the best person I could ever hope to be with forever, and I feel lucky for every single day I get to spend with her. Being married to Peesh is a 5-star experience.
If you have the opportunity to team up with a significant other, co-parent, grandparent, nanny, babysitter, child care provider, or anyone who plays a role in the caregiving of your kids, it is highly recommended to recruit their support and request them to read this book in order to support your efforts. You can even use The 5-Star Approach to request their help. You can make it a 5-star experience for them.
Me? I love my family and would spend every day all day long with them if I could. Sometimes I find myself being a workaholic in an effort to improve our financial stability and I struggle to find a balance.
I do enjoy taking my kids out on the weekends to give Peesh a break. I love to take them hiking and backpacking year-round and rock climbing as soon as the snow melts off the rocks. I’m constantly entertained by my kids. I have my down days and I have a long way to go as a parent. I am very grateful for the rapid progress I’ve made since I discovered, adopted, and documented The 5-Star Approach to Parenting.
Because I spent most of the last decade professionally researching and designing leadership experiences for the business world, much of the research and science behind my book and this blog are based on cutting edge corporate leadership practices. For this reason, I’m confident that by using this book, you and your children will become better leaders and influencers in every aspect of your lives.
Talk to me!
What similarities and differences do you see between my family and yours?
It takes a lot of time and energy to put yourself out there, find and connect with the right people, and have the right conversations in order to generate enough incoming business to meet your organization’s goals.
This post will help you network more efficiently, using none other than The 5-Star Approach.
I’m guessing, if you’re in business development, you’re already reaching out to tight and loose connections giving them referrals and asking for reciprocation.
You’re probably already tracking and measuring your efforts with a CRM such as SalesForce, HubSpot, ZenDesk, or maybe a scrappy spreadsheet.
You may also be involved in 1 Million Cups, BNI, or other networking groups. BNI is a highly structured platform for trading referrals and has nearly unlimited potential for output.
If you’re looking for specific ways to reach out so you can make yourself top of mind for your professional connections, consider the 5-Star Approach to Networking. This follows a “Give and Take” (Adam Grant) philosophy and helps you create three types of 5-Star Moments for others: 5-Star Experiences, 5-Star Apologies, and 5-Star Thank You’s.
Strong professional relationships (and networks) are built when you create these 5-Star Moments for people in your network. It can be paid or unpaid, formal or informal, digital or in person, long or short, in or out of your target market.
In the following sections you’ll learn how to create 5-Star Moments for those you need to connect with, as well as those from whom you have nothing to gain.
This type of 5-Star Moment is the most common, and takes the most work. However, it also goes a long way in terms of building the relationship. Many of these fantastic experiences will be unforgettable for the receiver.
5-Star Experiences follow three steps: Open, Deliver, and Follow Up:
Open: To your colleague’s perspective. Ask “What would make a 5-Star Experience for you?” Together, make a plan.
Deliver: Do what you said you would do. Check in to ensure you’re on target. Modify as needed.
Follow Up: By double checking on details to ensure it really was a 5-Star Experience. Modify as needed.
Example Script (If You’re Taking My Networking Course)
“Hi [Name], I’m taking a really fun networking course and my assignment today is to reach out to one person and see how I can create value for them by helping solve an important problem (any problem). That person is you, so even if we can’t meet today, I’m very interested in fulfilling this assignment as soon as possible. I understand if you’re too busy. If not, when would be the best time for you to connect?”
From there, deliver the experience while checking in, then follow up to ensure it was 5-Stars.
Ideas For 5-Star Experiences (With or Without the Script Above)
Write a recommendation on LinkedIn (remember, it MUST be authentic). Talk about their strengths, why you’ve enjoyed working with them, what they did for you, and any specific occasions they delivered value for you.
Think of someone you can connect them with. It could be someone in their target market or industry, someone very senior to them who does (or did) what they do, or someone they admire (like a favorite author).
Find an article or post that might appeal to their line of work, such as top news in their industry, how-to (for something specific that they – or their clients/customers – do), info about changing regulations, or deals and discounts.
Because it’s so rare, an authentic apology can be enormously powerful. Think about it. When was the last time someone really apologized to you (especially when they didn’t need anything from you)? It’s very rare.
It requires genuine humility, and most people can’t make themselves do it. Therefore, your apology will stand out (if it’s genuine).
The steps of the 5-Star Apology have the following simple components:
What you did
Why you feel bad
How you plan to improve in the future
They don’t have to be long or articulate. It does help to speak slowly and carefully. Speaking slowly can be influential because it’s also rare that people slow down to share a message.
Typically we are breathless and in a rush to get on to the next thing.
A nice, slow apology can help mend the fence and build a relationship up, even if it was in a hole before.
“Hi [Name], I wanted to apologize for…”
Not reaching out to you sooner…
Not sharing this sooner…
Not thanking you sooner…
Not taking more initiative to close the loop…
Not keeping in touch…
“This made me feel uncomfortable because…”
I don’t like to keep people waiting
I don’t like to let relationships get stale
You’ve been such a good partner/teammate/friend to me…
It’s been so long…
“In the future, I’m going to respond to these thoughts sooner, as I have them.”
Note: These last two components may not be necessary if the person really wasn’t expecting anything from you. You could even say (simply): “I should have reached out/shared this sooner.”
5-Star Thank You’s
I love the 5-Star Thank You. It’s the easiest of the three types of 5-Star Moments and can be applied most liberally, with 100% sincerity, in small, rapid doses. Here’s how it goes:
What you’re grateful for that they affected, offered, or influenced.
What impact it had.
Why it’s important to you.
That’s it. Push as many Thank You’s as you can, each day. There’s no limit!
Thank you for showing integrity when you…
Thanks again for connecting me with…
I appreciate the way you mentored/advised/suggested…
I’m grateful for the way you…
When you reach out to someone in an authentic way that is clearly thoughtful and unique to them (as you’ve seen in the examples here), they’re not going to know they are the 100th person you have reached out to today. There is no way for them to know that. They only feel a special connection between you and them, as if for that moment, they are the most important person in your life. And that’s what matters.
Here are a few more ideas of things you can say to break the ice and connect with people in or outside of your rapidly growing network.
I’m always looking out for my peeps…
I was thinking of you when…
This article reminded me of you…
Asking For the Referral
And finally, here is my favorite way to sincerely ask for a referral:
“I’m sorry to bother you with this, I was wondering if you could give me some advice… I came to you because of you [diverse/lengthy/deep/relevant] experience with [product/industry/topic/people/networking]. I was wondering if you introduce me to someone who has [this type of problem/solution/position].”
One Last Tip
Now, with The 5-Star Approach to Networking, your tech systems, your networking groups, and your existing connections, you’re unstoppable. I’m going to give you one last tip that has helped me strategize for my business, push me to perform in my daily work, and that has even been productive for my health. Read this book by Grant Cardone: The 10X Rule. It will change your life.
My Networking Ask For You
Do you want to decrease stress, improve job satisfaction, and give more value to your team mates and your organization?
Of course that’s just the beginning.
Many people don’t know that a 10% increase in emotional intelligence yields (on the average) a salary jump of $13,000 per year.
Would you like to make another $130,000 over the next ten years, just by improving your work relationships? I can help you measure and improve your work relationships on a weekly basis with the easiest approach out there: The 5-Star Approach.
For a limited time, we are offering our Bronze program (for free) to a few lucky people: four structured coaching sessions, access to all our online content, activities, and our online community, in exchange for a short video testimonial.
If you’re interested, please email me: Tyler[at]5StarApproach.com
We are so excited to help you grow and live a happier life by improving your most important, highest impact relationships.
Whether you’re leading from the top, the middle, the side, or the bottom, you are capable of influencing relationships all around you.
This approach is designed to help you move work relationships from Good to Great.
In this article, I’ll review the major components you’ll see in each of our programs.
2.THE ULTIMATE RELATIONSHIP QUESTION
5.5-STAR THANK YOU’S
Your coach has experience across many industries and is an expert in The 5-Star Approach. They will be ecstatic to get to know you, your environments, and help you grow as rapidly as possible.
Your coach will help you do many things, including:
Meet with you weekly for a customized, human to human coaching session.
Advise you as you select your highest impact relationships.
Coach you as you deploy The Ultimate Relationship Question and create the three types of 5-Star Moments.
Guide you to the Learning Resources that will be most beneficial to you.
Help you hold yourself accountable to do your Micro-Journaling.
The Ultimate Relationship Question
Every week ask: “On a 5-Star Scale, how would you rate our relationship?”
Sometimes viewed as the ultimate scary question, the ultimate relationship question is the gateway to the most rapid change in your mindset, your behavior, and your reputation.
Reading books and articles and watching videos can be very informative. The limitation with those passive activities is just that: they’re passive. In order to change your life, you need action. You need to put yourself out there and get the tough, nitty gritty feedback that you’ve been missing (or ignoring) your whole life.
This is the pill to swallow that leads to a complete relationship make-over. As soon as you start to ask, you’re showing people that you care, and you’re ready to change. You’re a master of change.
The Sidekick Question is equally important: “How can I make it better?”
If you need more clarity, these follow-up questions can help: 1.I’m eager to understand. What does that look like for you? 2.This is really important to me. Can you give me specific examples? 3.This really is a blind spot for me. Can you please let me know the next time this happens? 4.It’s okay if you can’t put your finger on it right now. Is it okay if we talk more about this later?
If their response is “5” consider asking: “What can I do to keep it that way?” Or, “I feel like I’ve completely failed in this relationship. Honestly, I feel a little lost. I really want to know how it feels from your perspective and specifically what I can do better.”
The Learning Resources page carry this program’s content.
The resources are packed with valuable tips that cover nuances that come up when you’re applying a very simple approach to a very complex reality with all types of work relationships.
Here are some examples:
A podcast about building relationships virtually
A video about how to introduce The Ultimate Relationship Question with a colleague
A video about how to get other people to do what you want
Example scripts on every aspect of The 5-Star Approach
We’re always creating new learning resources.
Several influential leaders have shared some variation this quote:
5-Star Moments are where the magic happens, and Micro-Journaling (1 minute per day)is where the accountability happens.
You’ll want to create a total of five 5-Star Moments each day, across your relationships.
Each time you create a 5-Star Moment, write down the date, 2 or 3 words to help you remember it, and check the appropriate box in the journal to indicate what type of moment it was.
There are 3 types of 5-Star Moments:
5-Star Thank You’s
Each of these has three steps, which are explained in the following pages.
5-Star Thank You’s
While you’ll need to create (or co-create) all three types of moments regularly, the 5-Star Thank You is by far the easiest 5-Star Moment to make.
There are three steps:
Watch for something that your counterpart does for you or for someone else that makes a 5-Star Experience for you. It can be big or small. Usually it’s going to be tiny.In fact, it doesn’t have to have anything to do with you.
Search and find genuine satisfaction, joy, or gratitude from their action. Avoid sarcasm at all costs, so they have less probability of mistaking your sincerity when you need it to be clear that you’re serious.
Share with your counterpart how it made you feel. It can be anything from a text message to a sticky note or casual comment.
5-Star Experiences are the nitty gritty daily actions that build the other person’s perspective that you are a supportive, trustworthy, respectful, and caring person. This is where you walk the walk. It can be things you start doing, things you do differently, or things you stop doing.
Remember, it doesn’t count as a 5-Star Experience unless your colleague gives the experience a 5-star rating. How do you find out? Ask: “On a scale of 5-stars, how would rate that experience?” If it’s anything less than 5-stars, ask: “How can I make it better?”
Work within existing constraints to collaboratively create that 5-Star Experience.
The Follow Up step is particularly useful before you repeat The Ultimate Relationship Question.
Don’t think of this as a “pat on the back” for yourself. Think of it as a time to seek and receive feedback, and celebrate wins for the relationship.
When you periodically review lists of experiences in this way (experiences that your colleague really enjoyed), it helps them realize you’re working really hard on this relationship, and helps them see the value in it.
If you aren’t the type of person that typically apologizes, you’re about to become one.
Think of building a relationship like adding money to a bank account that you share with a business partner.
In these terms, a 5-Star Apology can sometimes be a critically huge deposit in the relationship’s account, especially when your counterpart feels you were in debt to them.
While apologies come in all different shapes and sizes, the following components can improve the effectiveness of your apology.
What: The offense, & that you’re sorry
Why: Why change is important to you
Plan: How you plan to avoid repeating
I’ve created hundreds of thousands of learning experiences for people all over the world, and I’ve coached hundreds of leaders all over the country. When these components are used individually, I have seen solid results. However, when combined, the results become extremely powerful.
What is your highest priority work relationship?
Which of these components might be most beneficial?
On a 5-star scale, how would you rate this overview?
For more information, contact Tyler@5StarApproach.com
Alright, you got me. I don’t have a romantic bone in my body. I did want to share the beginning of Peesh and I’s love story.
You can read about my awkward dating life later in my soon to be released book: The 5-Star Approach to Thriving as a Couple. For now, you should know that this chapter has nothing to do with The 5-Star Approach. I didn’t know about it back then. So if you’re a tough dude and you need to skip it, I totally understand.
On the other hand, if you like a good Hallmark movie, you’ve come to the right place.
I first saw Peesh in a biology class at Brigham Young University. It was most definitely love at first sight. During the first week of class she caught my attention. Peesh and I were both several years older than most of the students in the class, which was composed mostly of 18 year old freshmen. We were both transfer students, making up some credits, each of starting a new major.
When I saw her the first time, I was overwhelmed with her astonishing beauty, her aura or intense interest in learning, and a genuine sense of sweetness.
Honestly, I revel in the memory.
Peesh was wearing a green blouse with three-quarter length sleeves, brown corduroy pants, and dark brown boots with medium height heels. Her hair had blond highlights and was blowed dried with mousse to a wavy perfection. Her deep eyes sparkled with every color of the rainbow as she leaned forward, taking notes on the lecture in her spiral bound notebook.
I had a flash of inspiration. It said: She could be yours.
I admit, that sounds pretty chauvinist. Come to find out, she had a very similar flash of inspiration when she first saw me. So, I suppose it was a two way street.
I melted in my chair and immediately discounted the inspiration. “That’s crazy talk,” I said. Besides, Peesh was wearing a wedding ring. On top of that complexity, I was somewhat interested in a girl named Janna (Janna is not her real name).
Janna and I had developed some degree of mutual romantic affection, however at the time, Janna had formally cut off all communication with me (for the third time) and I was waiting for her to come around (like she had before).
So I did the only thing I could: nothing.
By some twist of fate, Peesh and I also had a physics course together the same semester.
One day I was in the physics tutor lab when Peesh walked in with a classmate named Becca. They sat down on one side of a table just before I sat down. As Peesh locked eyes with me I recognized both of them from class and I felt compelled to sit down on the other side of their table. Until this day, Peesh and I hadn’t really communicated. I thought we might as well collaborate; we were preparing for the same test.
We had a normal study session, until Becca left. Then something came to my attention. What was this? Peesh’s left hand no longer had a ring on it. I assumed she had forgotten it. Or maybe she had called off an engagement?
A strange curiosity gripped me and I asked a nosey question: “I noticed you were wearing a wedding ring before and you don’t have it on today. Did you forget it today?”
“I was married for 4 years. I just filed for divorce. It will go through in a week or two.”
Hard swallow. “Oh.” I didn’t know how to handle that.
She went on: “I’m new on campus. I haven’t been in college in years. I’m a transfer student. I missed orientation because I was busy moving out.” She gave me a brief life history. I wasn’t sure why. Later, I asked her why she did that. She told me she wanted to lay the foundation for a life long relationship with pure honesty. She was putting all her cards on the table.
Her life story didn’t scare me. The fact that she was sharing her life story terrified me. And when she asked for a tour of campus and help with her classes, I was frozen in fear. Intimidated, I said yes. I thought I could help Peesh adjust to single life until she met her next husband and things took off. I would be the bridge.
A week later, Peesh received notice that her divorce was finalized. What does a new friend do with such news?
I took her out to Black Jack’s pizza to celebrate. And since Black Jack’s didn’t have any chairs, we sat on the curb and stared at the greasy parking lot while we quietly ate our pizzas.
The next semester, Janna started allowing me to see her again – just as friends. She made an interesting rule that she could spend time with me until 9pm, and then she had to go home. I was happy to spend any time with Janna so this worked for me.
After Janna went home, I would call Peesh and debrief. Peesh tried to help me understand Janna. Janna had my heart and Peesh was a supportive friend.
For some reason, Peesh and I would talk for hours on the phone each night. We talked about everything and grew close. Of course I was attracted to Peesh (and come to find out – much later – she was attracted to me), I just didn’t act on my attraction for her because I was pursuing Janna.
Then Janna gave me a very exciting invitation. She asked me to come meet her family in her home state over a holiday break. I thought this was a solid indication she wanted to start dating officially.
Janna and I traveled to her home town and spent time visiting her family members. She took me around her hometown to walk around some of her favorite places. We even kissed a few times at a park that’s name was almost exactly the same as her first and last name. She seemed to enjoy spending time with me.
At this point, I felt strangely about being so close to Peesh – being so attracted to her as I was – while having an official relationship with Janna. I didn’t want to betray Janna in any way, and I didn’t want to string Peesh along. So, I let Peesh know that while I was enormously attracted to her, and found her to be an amazing friend, I needed to choose Janna and have some space.
So I dated Janna. It was a lot of fun and I learned so much from her about how to treat a woman with respect.
Then, two months later, Janna suddenly cut off all communication (for the fourth time). There was no explanation. She only asked me not to reach out to her, indefinitely. I was demolished emotionally.
And, by this time I was familiar with the routine. I decided to hold out for Janna until she recovered and came around again.
My roommates were furious with Janna. They asked how long I was going to pursue her, with all these ups and downs. While I told them each up had been higher than the last, I started to realize each down was also lower than the last. I think they liked Peesh (and how she treated me) much better than Janna.
To make matters worse, that night (of the day Janna cut me off), I had a date planned for us. It included an elaborate scavenger hunt involving several clues around campus, and a visit to a retirement facility across the street, where I volunteered. I had asked one of my friends there to hold one of the clues until we arrived and disclosed a secret passphrase.
Now I had no date, and I didn’t want to leave my friend hanging without the promised visit. I needed a replacement date. Last minute.
I tried to avoid calling Peesh because she was intoxicatingly beautiful and I wanted to be true to Janna even though Janna refused to speak to me. I really loved Janna. So, I called three other girls. No one could come at the last minute. Finally, I called Peesh and she agreed to be my date.
We went on that date and had a great time. I think Peesh continued to like me because I didn’t seem as desperate as I probably was with Janna. I wasn’t trying to get a ring on her finger.
We did open our friendship again, which was refreshing. Peesh is such a kind, supportive, whole hearted companion. She had my roommates and I over for a party and she had me over for lunch. I was impressed with her fancy plates, napkins, silverware, and middle class food. I was used to eating oatmeal, peanut butter, and bananas from the local ghetto-mart.
That semester we studied organic chemistry together. Peesh was always so warm and open. Gradually my feelings for Janna began to fade and my feelings for Peesh became very strong.
Peesh and I decided to date “officially” starting the day after Valentine’s day. You’re probably wondering why we didn’t start dating on Valentine’s day. Peesh is such a committed person. On Valentine’s day she opted to keep a casual date with another guy (named Tyler) to the monster truck rally.
Despite the casual date she had committed to that night (with the other Tyler), I wanted to visit Peesh on Valentine’s day.
I had driven over to her house with my best friend, David Richardson. I told him the plan and he came for emotional support (and to hang out with Peesh’s roommates). Peesh had an office in the house where we went “to clean it up.”
It was in that office that Peesh and I decided to become a couple. And of course we sealed the deal with a kiss. And I’m sure we cleaned up a few things. We’re both pretty good at organizing.
Of course, David was the first to know about it because we had the drive home. That was a fun drive.
Two days later, Peesh sent me a song called “If I fell in love with you” from the movie Across the Universe (originally sung by the Beatles).
The song was written from the perspective of a woman who is pleading with her new love to be true to her and for him not to fall back to a recent love interest.
It even talks about how her heart was broken before, how she couldn’t bare the pain of being rejected again, and how the other girl will probably cry when she finds out about the new couple.
The song couldn’t have been more descriptive of our situation. Peesh had recently been divorced. We were a new couple. She wanted to see if I would be true to her and not be tempted if Janna ever came back into the picture.
“Come visit me tonight,” she said, “if you’ll be true.”
Admittedly, this required some real soul searching on my part.
I had been pursuing Janna for about 18 months before Peesh and I started dating and I still had some residual feelings for her (I had gone so far as to propose at one point).
I realized that part of me was still holding out for Janna as I had several times before. Despite all this, I loved Peesh and saw a happier future with her. A more stable future. I decided to commit to Peesh no matter what.
As I walked down the steps from my apartment to go visit Peesh, I wondered if I was making the right decision. It was the best I could do. And at the moment, it really was my only option.
So I got in my car, turned on the headlights, and backed out of my parking spot.
However, before I could leave my parking lot – completely out of the blue – I received a text from Janna. I pulled over. Janna wanted to meet and talk. She was in a campus building only one block away.
I thought this would be a good opportunity for closure. So I agreed to meet and talk.
When I showed up, Janna asked me about an email I had sent months earlier. At first she perceived something I wrote to be sarcasm. Now she saw that I may have intended to be sincere. She asked me about it and I confirmed my original intent.
Looking back, it was probably my fault for ever allowing myself to be sarcastic. I know the way I speak to people has an effect on how they play my voice in their minds. Even though I didn’t intend to be sarcastic in that email, I had obviously been sarcastic at other times, which caused the confusion.
Janna led me outside to an empty sidewalk and opened up like I had never seen before.
She told me she was very sorry. She told me she loved me (this was new). She told me how special our experiences were to her (a few experiences in particular). She told me she was ready to have a significant, lasting relationship with me. To start over.
What could I say to that? She was giving me everything for which I had been hoping and waiting. For so long, I had wanted her forgiveness, to hug her, to hold her tightly, to kiss her again, to be united with her.
I stood there in the dark a few steps away, listening, my hands limp in my coat pockets.
She paused. I didn’t feel strong enough to go near her. I didn’t feel like I had the strength to give her the traditional goodbye kiss (or even a hug for that matter) without changing my mind. I knew what I had to do.
“Sorry. I’ve made my choice,” I said. It was perhaps the most difficult and best decision I’ve ever made. I walked past her without another word, got in my car, and drove to Peesh’s house… without looking back.
Note: Although I’ve never questioned my decision, I do wish I had been more kind and compassionate with Janna that night. She is an amazing person and she absolutely deserved a better experience. I just didn’t know how to give it without giving in. So I left. Awkwardly.
Peesh and I dated for two whole weeks.
Then, on March 1st, we went for a purposeful walk at the foot of the mountains. It was a dark, cloudy day. We had agreed that we would make a good married couple and I still wasn’t 100% positive I wanted to make that commitment.
We walked, mostly in silence… for a long time. It was such a big deal. I wanted to be sure about spending forever with Peesh.
I definitely loved her and loved spending time with her, no matter what we were doing. She definitely loved me and brought stability to my life. We shared similar values. She was a kind person. I wanted to serve her. I could see no reason not to marry her. And let’s not forget how her beauty made me weak in the knees (as it still does today). I had a general good feeling about it.
As we walked, I prayed to God to know if I should go for it.
I think Peesh knew I was trying to gather my courage. I had probably never been speechless for so long.
Finally, I had a flash of inspiration that I needed to stop in the clearing, just ten steps ahead, and pop the big question.
When we arrived at that spot, the clouds immediately broke and a narrow sunbeam shot down and lit up the tiny patch of ground where we stood. I knelt and proposed.
And she said yes. It was a happy moment. Again, we sealed the deal with a kiss.
Shortly after, I sold my Volkswagen Jetta and bought a ring. Because it was an intricate custom design, the jeweler actually broke the first two rings he tried to make (perhaps symbolic of both our previous failed relationships).
The ring wasn’t done until late the night before our wedding. So early in the morning of our wedding day, my roommates, Doug, Bryce, and John picked it up from the jeweler’s mailbox on their way to the wedding. Random, right?
We chose to be married in a temple in Logan, Utah. It was the best location for all the family and friends coming from different states, and there was something about that town and that temple we really loved.
Peesh’s ex mother-in-law (who still adored her) also lived in Logan. She was kind enough to host a wedding day luncheon in her backyard. We worked all day the Saturday before, pulling weeds and putting down new mulch. The many water features, trees and flowers were gorgeous.
Then, on August 14th, 2009, we were married. It was a beautiful sunny day. And of course, we sealed the deal with a kiss.
Close members of Peesh’s ex family attended. She was so loved by that family. My sister, Serena, made a beautiful triple-layer cake. We spent $250 on the whole event (because that’s all we had). It was the best day, ever. I finally felt like a whole person, because I was united with my other half (my better half), for eternity.
My wedding day was the best day of my life up to that point, by a wide margin.
Fast forward. Eleven years and five kids later, here we are, happy as can be. In fact, we have agreed that every year has been a little happier than the last. Peesh is training me well.
You could say we’re well on our way to happy ever after.