What You’ll Learn Today:

  • What the heck bright spots are and why you care
  • The 5 step process to identifying bright spots in your relationship 
  • A super effective tool to help you identify what’s right in your relationship so you can keep the good stuff front and center

Top Take-A-Ways:

The big reason you get stuck in negativity with your partner is because you’re trying to fix what’s wrong instead of starting building from what’s right. Yeah, I said it! You don’t build great companies, products, life-changing ideas or great relationships by focusing on what’s wrong. That just sends you down a bad rabbit hole without any of the tools you need to fix what you find. 

It’s ALWAYS better to build from strengths than weaknesses. Looking for what’s right in your relationship is also called looking for bright spots. Successful businesses have been using this model for years and I’m going to show you today how you can use it to transform your relationship. 

I’m going to give you the five-step process to finding Bright Spots and what works in your relationship. 

Before I outline the five steps you need to have an understanding of something called the Pareto Principle. You’ve likely heard of the Pareto Principle; it’s also known as the 80/20 rule. This concept is normally used in business. People in sales and marketing use it to identify their most important customers and products. They know that 20% of their customers give them 80% of their revenue or that 20% of their products give them 80% of the revenue. The most successful companies focus the majority of their attention on the 20%; they know that to excel, this 20% is critical. 

By focusing most of their attention on these clients and customers, they’ll make the most money in the least amount of time. They stop focusing on things that don’t add value or they delegate or find support for the things that are necessary, but aren’t in their wheelhouse. 

Now, we’re going to apply the Pareto Principle to your relationship. 

Imagine if you were to only focus on what you do best, what you rock at – imagine the results you could achieve as well as the way you’d feel. By directing the majority of your energy to your relationship bright spots (which are your relationship’s strengths), you’ll get the results you desire more quickly and with less pain, overall.

Step One for Identifying the Bright Spots in Your Relationship: Identify what’s out of whack

Pick an area of your relationship where you feel out of whack, like things are just totally off balance or steeped in negativity. This is harder than you might think, because I need you to be specific. You start the process by saying things like, “We just don’t communicate” or 

“She nags me all the time.” These are very broad statements and 

I need you to dig a little deeper because staying this “big” won’t be helpful.

Step 2 is to Identify the Bright Spots: When you do it right

With this in mind, identify a few, key bright spots. Remember the Pareto Principle; this could be just 10 to 20% of your interactions. Think of a time, when the issue wasn’t there, seemed muted or less important.

Don’t cop out on this and think there’s nothing. Do you never communicate, really? Are you sure she’s always nagging you and there’s not one minute that this doesn’t happen? You might have to dig deep and go back a bit in your relationship memory, but it’s there somewhere if you look.

A trick for this is that it’s often easier if you try to recall feeling a certain way with your partner. Remember a specific time you were cracking up, or came together under stress. Think of a time you felt supported or understood. Find that time that you got a compliment, were working effectively together on a project or problem, or had fun and were laughing. 

Step 3: Break it Down

Now we’re going to break down the Bright Spots into specific components we can use.

In the business world we have lots of great tools for what we call “Root Cause Analysis” or RCA. This is usually part of quality management in a company. This is just what it sounds like: trying to break down what seems like a big problem into its underlying causes. 

With RCA, you’re identifying 4 specific things:

  1. What happened
  2. How it happened
  3. Why it happened…so that (and here’s the really important part)
  4. You can identify specific actions to prevent this issue from happening again in the future.

In this case, we’re going to work it back to see what happened, not so that we can prevent it, but so that we can repeat it!

The tool I use to break down the bright spots into specific components I can use is a popular tool for root cause analysis called the Five Whys. I adapted this from the work I used to do for businesses and it works extremely well in relationships. There’s a link in Resources and Links below.

Step Four: Find ways to emphasize a Bright Spot or Bright Spot component. Think back to what you learned from The Five Whys.

What did the root cause analysis tell you? That you need to take days off from work more often? That you do better when you work out early? That you need to focus on self-awareness and meditate more? Whatever it told you, do these things more. Each day think how you could incorporate a bright spot component or action step from your Five Whys into your day.

Step Five: This is the flip side of Step four. In step four you were focused on adding things. In step five I want you to focus on eliminating things. 

You now want to find ways to downplay, problem-solve or eliminate common negative situations so that these bright spot practices have more focus and can be used more readily. 

Positive psychology research tell us clearly that if we focus on developing and using more of our strengths it’ll help us to get the best from ourselves and feel happier. 

I’m not saying you can completely ignore your weaker areas. You still need to manage those, especially the ones that trip you up the most or that are holding you back. But, don’t try to be great at these. When it comes to limitations, shoot for good enough or get them off your plate. 

Resources and Links:

Switch, by Chip and Dan Heath


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