He is an accomplished speaker and trainer for schools and organizations across the US. He is also a Professor of Communication Studies with Keiser University. He is the host of the podcast ‘Communicate To Motivate’ which focuses on different areas of communication applied to real life. His goal is to turn personal experiences into powerful learning moments with engaging stories, research, and takeaways.
To find out more about Jim, go to https://jimvanallan.com/.
Listen to Jim’s podcast Communicate to Motivate.
For more information about Jon Gordon and his best-selling books, visit https://jongordon.com.
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Marc: Jim, welcome to the show. Glad to have you here.
Jim: Glad to be here. Good to be talking with you.
Marc: Great. To start, tell me a little bit about where you’re coming from your curriculum, because you mentioned that the twists and turns in your life, right. And you mentioned a couple of challenges there, so I’d be very curious what your curriculum was up to now. How did you get this idea to become a speaker?
Jim: This is something I knew I’ve always wanted to do probably since I was 16 years old, I was just putting away Christmas stuff. And I went in the attic and, you know, you have old boxes and stuff.
And I looked through a journal. I had written maybe probably 20 years ago. I found that up there at internet row, you know, what do you see yourself doing in the future? And it said to be a public speaker. I mean, and I, it just kinda hit me. I’m like, this is really something I’ve always. Dreamed of doing, there’s just not a roadmap.
There’s not a blueprint. There’s not a major at university to do it. You know, how do you really break into this? So I was, I was doing competitions in high school speaking competitions, and you would see the keynote speaker on stage and they were electrifying. Right. And they were. Holding the audience in the Palm of their hand.
And I would sit there in the audience as a, as a, as a teenager and say, that looks fun. Right? I would love to do that. I think I’m a pretty good speaker on stage. I would love to do that, but like I said, no major in college. So I went into college, kind of being a public, a public relations major. I thought I’d get into advertising, marketing the business side of communication.
And I was at a, an internship for public relations and the people. In the internship who I worked for had seen a speaker at a conference and they said, he reminds us so much of you. And we see these are like, we know you want to be a speaker. You should reach out. And the speaker’s name is John Gordon.
He’s written “The Energy Bus” and 20 other best selling books. He’s a big time, top 10 speaker in the United States. Now he wasn’t at the time in 2006. So I emailed him one night and I said, John, I’m a university of Florida student. 20 years old, I would love to be a speaker and pick your brain a little bit and Senate not knowing what would happen.
And he wrote me back that night and he said, Jim, here’s my cell phone. Let’s talk the next day. So that was 2006. So now we’re, we’re fast forward to the present day and I’m a vice president in his company. And I’ve been working with him and for him ever since now, I’ve done a few other things on my own.
In that time I’ve went and got a master’s degree and a doctoral degree. And I teach for a university myself. I’m fully online though, so I can speak and teach at the same time, but it just took that. That passion. I never let go of it when I was younger. You know, even when I got into college, I’m like, I have to pursue this dream.
This is something that drives me. I would wake up and go to classes in college and be like, this just isn’t fulfilling. I want to be on stage. I want to be impacting people, but 20 years old, you don’t have life experience. At least I didn’t see. And I didn’t have that type of life experience. I didn’t really gain that until now when I’m in my thirties.
And I can, I’m a much, much better speaker than when I first started out because I had the life experience. And I know I can look back now and say, this really is something that I’ve always wanted to do now that I have the opportunity to do it almost in a full-time nature. Now I travel all over the country, working for John Gordon and doing stuff on my own and doing stuff virtually.
Now that I have that opportunity, I’ve gotten this stall chick where I look back now and I say, look at where you were, how. Hungry. You were to be a speaker, look at where you are now don’t ever lose sight of that hunger. And now I can help others to kind of discover their purpose as I did so many years ago and try to live my purpose and help others to live their purpose too.
Marc: I think that’s a little bit of, what happens with people when they have this passion for reaching a goal, right. And then they are reaching the goal. And then very often what I see and coaching clients, I see, I have achieved that, whatever it is, it could be a career step. It could be buying a house or whatever.
Right. And then you’re there, you have the goal and then what’s next. So rather than being satisfied and happy, people are falling into a vacuum. Right.
Jim: And that’s the pressure. Like there was a good quote about what happens when you find success, while you have to keep finding success. You know, they talk about climbing the ladder at work.
What happens when you reach the top? A lot of times people, when they reach a certain goal, they don’t know how to then hit it. And then scaffold have a new goal and improve on this goal, improve, improve. They get to the top and they fall. Because they don’t know how to then, you know, they have this big idealized goal they want to achieve or job they want to get or, you know, something they want to have.
And then when they get it, what, where do you go from there? Then a lot of people don’t know how to do that. So I like to come in and, and when I’m on stage, when I’m talking to people and to talk, I talked a lot of schools to a lot of principals and teachers and students, and I always. Try to be very clear that once you, once you reach that pinnacle of what you want to accomplish, that’s when the work begins because you can’t just rest knowing you’re there.
You’ve you, whatever success looks like for you, then it’s about improving in this area and moving to this area. And then. Reinventing yourself and reinventing your skills. I mean, reinvention leads to extension, right? You kind of reinvent a little bit and you, you, you develop new products or new, new, new traits, new skills, new things, and that keeps you fresh and always keeps you.
Uh, climbing and elevating as you should. I think,
Marc: yeah, I think it’s not just, you know, like setting a goal and then getting there and then it’s done. And as you say, falling off the ladder, but it’s like really realizing that it’s a continuous process. It’s not like a step on the step. It has to be fluid.
Jim: Right. It’s a process of, it’s more of just something that you live. Right. Successful people. A lot of times they don’t, they’re not sitting there a lot of times. And. You know, counting their monies and looking at their trophies, they’re in, they’re in it.
Right. They’re creating, they’re leading companies, they’re writing books. They’re always creating John Gordon, the man that I’ve worked for known for 14 years, his first book, major book, “The Energy Bus” was a bestseller. I mean, he could have rested on that, but since then he’s written 20 other best-selling books.
Right. We’re always, and he, and recently the team gave him a, like a. We all wrote letters to him, just talking about the impact he’s had on our life. And there’s, there was maybe 20 of us or so, and he appreciated it, but he said, you know, I’m not really at a point where. I want to stop and smell the roses.
Right. You know, I want to always, I P he appreciated it, but he’s like, I still have more to give. I still have more to do. I still have more lives to change, including, you know, the teams, but other people as well. It was like, it meant something to them. But at the same time, he’s on this track of always trying to improve and grow and develop and create.
And that’s what I tell people success love. Right. It’s, it’s something you just do. If you have a family, wife, kids, whoever you love is just something that you experienced. You are, you become it, your actions, your words all are, you know, in the name of love and service to them. It’s not something that you get married or love and then that’s it, right?
Like it’s just something that you live. And I think success and love too. It’s just something that you live and breathe and do. Like the air around you.
Marc: Yeah. It’s not a state, it’s a flow, right?
Jim: It’s a flow. It’s exactly.
Marc: And to be in it’s really connected. Right? One thing while we are at marriage, one thing you mentioned is that starting with marriage with $0, like where should we grow in a rental car?
Tell me a little bit about
Jim: That was, yeah, that was a, the end of 2009. That was one of the most difficult years of my life, I would say. So, as I mentioned, like, you know, I started out, you know, Oh six Oh eight working directly with John Gordon, fresh out of college. I thought I was, I thought that was going to be my job.
I was going to sort of be as executive assistant from early on and to become a speaker right away. It didn’t turn out that way though. There was just some instant week him and I kind of. Deviated paths a little bit. I was, he wanted me to be more on a sales role and I wanted to be more of the speaker role.
And he just wasn’t, we weren’t ready to be ultra connected at that point. So, you know, I went from thinking I was going to be working with him and for him. Yeah. Right out of college. Right. And having an income, I was, I got engaged. I thought life was set and all of us sudden that was taken away and I’m like this January, I’m getting married in 11 months.
What am I going to do? And I was unemployed. I was not in college anymore. I didn’t have a job, but I had a ring on my fiance’s finger, you know, and, uh, marrying her and 11 months and I had to pivot and I just said, you know what, I’m going to go to grad school. I’ve always wanted to teach at the university level.
So I got my went and I applied. I had two weeks to take the GRE test to get into grad school. You know, I had two weeks to study for that test. Two weeks to make the deadline to apply, get all our, my recommendations applied, got into grad school. Luckily I got it paid for because I got an assistantship which helped pay for my graduate school while I taught for them.
But when you move, you know, to Boca, Raton, Florida, I don’t know if you know anything about Boca, Raton, Florida, but it’s North of Miami. Very expensive. And I was living there, going to school. They have to live somewhere. It got really pricey. And by the time my wedding, they rolled around. I’m not kidding you.
I pretty much had a hundred dollars in my bank account and I was getting ready to walk down the aisle. My car died a week before I was getting married. The car that I, my first car, right. My first car I had, I drove it for maybe seven years. It died and I had no car. So I, no car. I had a hundred dollars in my bank account and I was set to marry the love of my life, you know, and.
You know, she, and she knew all that. And my, my sake of a mother, gave me a thousand bucks to put my bank account and rented me a car. For a week. And that’s what I showed up to the altar with is in the rental car paid for, by my mother, a thousand bucks from her. I had no money. And when we had our joint accounts, you know, when we got married, my wife brought in all the money that she had saved and kind of helped kickstart us a little bit.
But you know, when you’re young at the time I got married at 23, 24, it wasn’t like, you know, you’re not, you’re not. You’re not thinking like you’re in that much of a dire straits because you’re trying to live. I mean, I had to walk my bike. I had a bike in my apartment that was broken after my car died. I had to walk my bike four miles to the nearest bike shop just to get my bike fixed so I could get the campus back and forth while I waited for the rental car.
I mean, it was a, it was a tumultuous time of my life, but you know what. I made it work. Right. My wife and I, we made it work. We didn’t fight. We scratched money together. After we got married and use all of our wedding money to buy a $6,000 car, you know, something cheap. And we shared that car, her and I for the first seven years of our marriage, while she had a job and I was going to school and then coaching track, we would share the car.
I would ride the bike that she would ride the bike, or we finally. Got enough money to buy that second car, but we always tried to live within our means. We didn’t have the money for a second car and we weren’t going to take out loans. We weren’t going to do all that. We didn’t want to make the car payment.
And we said, we’re just going to make this work. We lived within our means we didn’t fight about it. And it really set the table early. For her and I on a financial standpoint, how we’re going to handle and deal with money and not take on debt and not just live within your means. Right. And save. So it really helped us at the beginning.
It was a blessing in disguise. Um, but it was something else I would ride the bike, drop it off at our work chain up the bike. Luckily she worked right across from my campus. I would walk across the street, you know, go to campus. She would take the bike home. I would take the car, go here. You know, um, it was, it was comical, but you know, it worked and, uh, we’re better from it
Marc: In that situation.
How, you know, like, what would you say is the key attributes or the key traits of the mindsets? You’re having what you had at the time to keep you going. I mean, you’re like everything seems like falling apart around you, right? Your life is falling apart. Your car is broke. You don’t have money, your apps for a wedding.
Hopefully the ring was paid luckily, um, or not I don’t know (laughing) the mindset that you need there in order to just put us through like yourself individually, but also as a couple.
Jim: That’s a great question. I, I’m not sure I’ve ever actually thought back to what that mindset was for me, you know, because you just sort of we’re, we’re living through it, but just, just now gut off the top of my head, you know, her and I were always, um, we were we’re best friends and we were for the beginning.
She always jokes that, you know, when we first met that, um, I needed a friend and she needed a best friend. Right. I just, I needed a friend that she needed a best friend and I needed. So we were always really connected from the beginning. And I always valued communication. I mean, that’s, that’s what I do now.
That’s my podcast. That’s a lot of the work that I do. And even early on, you know, I was going to school. Uh, to get a master’s in communication studies so I could teach communication. So I think early on communication was a, was a, was big on our minds. We were going to be talking about things, how we’re feeling, how much fun did we have, how we’re going to make this work.
And, you know, my, my. Goal to be an aspiring speaker, you know, and people think more positive about life and perspective. So that was big on our heads too, is, you know what? We’re in this situation, I can either cave to it and be depressed and be angry or bitter that this has happened to me. Right. Or I can be positive and work with my wife.
Who’s my best friend and teammate and be solution oriented. And I think the more positive you are, the more you get your mind in a positive standpoint and position, you have a better likelihood of coming up with good solutions. You know, if you’re depressed, if you’re anxious, if you’re of that mindset, you’re going to be thinking about negative things.
You’re not going to be a solution oriented because you’re not as motivated. So her and I had, we took the other road. We tried to be positive, try to have a healthy perspective, try to have good communication about stuff. That helped us come up with some creative solutions to, to get by because we all need help.
Right. Like, you know, and we all, and it’s the second part is, you know, we all need help a little bit of help every once in a while to get off the ground. And luckily my mom was there to support me and kind of get me off the ground a little bit. And, and I didn’t have any shame in taking it, you know, and some times.
Somebody can show you the door, but you got to go through it too. So we have to, and they may even open the door for you. And sometimes we have to just humble ourselves to take the help and, and, and know that there are better days ahead. So that’s what I would say.
Marc: Great. I think communication is really important.
Not only in relationships, but also one thing that you mentioned in terms of, you know, like being positive, I think much as related to language; as individuals, we also thinking, and in terms of language, right, we are not thinking in terms of pictures first with language. And what I found is that it’s very influential, how people think, or which language patterns they are using, like internally and their inner dialogue.
Jim: Yeah. And that’s, you know, and, and when it comes to that, is we have to talk to ourselves more than we listen to ourselves. So you have this inner dialogue going on in your head, but if you just keep going along with some of these repetitive or negative thoughts, You know, it was nice.
We have to talk ourselves down from those thoughts and inner dialogue is good, as long as you’re controlling it, because if you’re not controlling it, then you’re going to give into a lot of your negative thoughts. Your brain is so powerful, right? I mean, it’s the most powerful thing out there. And yet we S we S and it’s in our own bodies because we have a hard time even controlling ourselves, sometimes indulgences and habits and, and the language we use.
So. We have to talk to ourself more than we listen to ourselves. We have to be the ones to control the language we use. And I’m not perfect. I mean, I’ve, I’ve said things that I wished that I didn’t say and have spoken emotionally about things. And that’s been one of my life goals, right. Is to, I think that’s why I like communication so much is because it forces me to really do the research and figure out how to be up.
A better, more efficient, effective communicator, not, not just for clients and people I work with in my podcast, but for life too, for my family, for my kids, for my wife, for the, my friends around me. So I can be somebody they think is eloquent. Uh, can put a thought together mean back in the old days, right?
Cicero, Roman Greek days, the most powerful men out there were the ones who could speak. Well, all you need to do is have a voice. And if you could do that, well, you had the power, but so nowadays I think if you can speak well, people respect you. I think they’ll listen to you. I think you’ll have better relationships and you’re right.
It starts, it starts with the language, the words we choose. And I’ll tell you why. In an era of social media and an era of instant gratification, we need to learn the word, pause more. And if you look at my Facebook feed, I challenge any listener to go to my Facebook feed. Jim Van Allen, you won’t see one political post.
You won’t see one negative post and I could go on my feed right now and I’m going to see 10 20 anti-bias. But at this, this is, I know there’s a lot going on in America right now. I’m just choosing not to engage on social media. I don’t, you know, if you want to ask me privately, like we, you and I talked off air, I’m happy to have a conversation.
Not going to have that conversation on social media, not the appropriate place. That is a, that is the wild West. It’s the opposite of communication. It’s just people with a megaphone and a keyboard, and I don’t agree with it and I don’t engage. I don’t engage at all. And pause is a word, your listeners in all of our, all of us need to learn as we head into 2021, there’s a world with our language.
Okay. Let’s take a pause. Is that really need to be said, is this really needed to be posted? Is this a battle I need to be fighting, right? If that’s all you’re doing is fighting every battle with a spouse, significant other friend, you know, any little thing that arises or comes up and you’re always attacking, attacking, attacking.
You’re not letting anything go and you’re not learning what to, what to, you know, what to go after what? To have a conflict about what to not, if learning that pause will help your mental health. So very much in real life and, uh, and, and so much on social media too.
Marc: It’s that pause between the potential for action, popping up in the brain and actually doing things right.
Jim: Right. And there’s nothing wrong with, you know, Spontaneity at times. Right? Of course. And you know, some of the, some of the most honest things we say are spontaneous, but it’s, it’s more, the only real control we have is self control.
Jim: And if you can have more self control over how you conduct yourself in society and the things that you say, I know everybody has an opinion, I get it.
They’re everywhere. Right? We all have opinions. Doesn’t mean that has to be shared with every person you meet and every social media post, because most of us are telling our opinions in a very emotional way, very one-sided way. So what you’re seeing is you’re just seeing people broadcast, broadcast, broadcast.
Nobody’s listening, nobody’s listening. So you’re asking about what’s going on in America. Nobody’s listening at all. And with the rest of the world, you know, with, with COVID affecting every single country out there and there’s there’s discrepancies on, should we lock down? Should we not? I mean, I don’t think anybody’s really listening to each other on healthy civil debate.
If I’m talking to Americans listening, I don’t think it exists in this country anymore. I don’t, I don’t think people are listening. I don’t think they want to listen. It’s all about what can I get? What agenda can I push forward? And I think it’s probably like that in a lot of foreign countries too. Um, other than America, I think that it’s, it’s, it’s a sad reality doesn’t mean that I’ve given up on it.
I think it emboldens me to be a better communicator so I can help others do the same and break through whatever, whatever this state of our world, our country is in this non listening device of time. It’s just a time. It’s just an era. We can move past it.
Marc: Yeah. I’m seeing that here as well in the, in the European countries.
And that like, people are very much pushing out their opinion or whether it’s helpful or not. And I mean, ultimately I think we all want the same thing. Right? We want the life that’s worth living. And, it doesn’t really help to just, you know, like communicate as you say, with the megaphone, what my opinion is, if there is no dialogue really based on facts, to decide on what’s the best way forward. Right.
Jim: Exactly. It’s it’s dialogue, but it’s, it’s, it’s more so it’s people who are willing to engage in that dialogue and. When there’s power on the line, that usually doesn’t do a good job of having good dialogue. Because when you have power, you want to just broadcast. It’s my way. It’s the majority’s way, right?
That’s how the system’s set up. The majority wins, you know, even in the US 51, senators is going to win out over 50, you know, and the 50 don’t exist, the 51 to AMA and there’s no dialogue and it’s, it’s a, it’s a shame. And. We can accomplish so much more. look, how much turmoil was in this world this year?
There’s a lot of, there’s a lot of opportunity out there to have real change to, you know, to, to help our environment collectively, but to help our social environments and our, and our economics collectively, there’s a way to do that. Maybe I’m living too much in an idealistic world, but somebody has got to live there.
Right? Somebody has to have that kind of hope and plant that kind of seed because if not, uh, you know, then there’s nobody else planting the seeds of trying to have a better, more inclusive, more open dialogue communication-based society.
Marc: And ultimately it’s not about being right or wrong. It’s about, you might want is the best way forward.
Jim: Yeah, what’s the best way forward exam. And what’s, you know, could we take a little bit from this area and this area and this group and this group, can we kind of find a way to kind of make it work for everybody instead of just putting out a policy that well, maybe good for 50 million people, but what about a hundred, maybe the other a hundred million people that’s not good, you know, I mean, is there some way we can do that and.
It’s complicated. I know it’s easier said than done, but, uh, it’s the, it’s the dialogue part and people willing being willing to do that.
Marc: Yeah. Coming, coming back to the relationship. one thing that you also mentioned is that communication open communication is essential for relationship and has helped you,
evolving, developing your own relationship.
Can you elaborate a bit on that?
Jim: So, you know, wife and I just celebrated our 11 year wedding anniversary, last month and you know, we’ve been together 13 years, we have two kids and I would say that now, you know, 13 years into our relationship, we’re stronger than ever. And we’re much more in love and we’re just a stronger, more unified couple than we were.
You know, when we first met her first starting out or first five years, and I owe that, I owe that to intentional communication. And even for the guy you’re talking to here who has studied communication, who teaches it, it is work for me. And I am by nature. I think. A little bit more of an introverted person, believe it or not.
Okay. If you don’t, if I don’t have the microphone or if I’m not on stage, I can kind of be a little bit more in my head a lot. And it’s taken a lot of work and effort on, on, on my wife and I as part two to. Not take offense when somebody says something and to just ask each other questions and try to get on the same page and to talk about things we should have talked about years ago from relational standpoints and our past and history and just, and then the, and then just our, our current anxieties.
Now, like if you can’t talk to your significant other, your family about your. Your current mental health and your current state of being and your whatever, whatever worries or anxieties are in your heart, no matter how big or small then that I don’t know who you could talk to you about. If you can’t talk to them with your spouse or significant other.
So her and I have done that. I mean, 2020 provided a lot more time to be together and a lot more time to. A lot more topics in which to discuss right as a couple. And luckily her and I are been on the same page politically and socially and religiously. That’s been very helpful. And I knew that from the beginning with her and I, and, but there’s still been a lot more topics we can talk about and it’s just, it’s encouraged us, forced us so to speak, to talk more about what’s going on in our world, and then more importantly, what’s going on personally, too, between her and I mean, this, this year brought out a lot of. Anxieties and worries in my hearts and her as well. And that, that, see, when you do that, when, you, when you open up that door, then you open yourself up to having conversations about A, B, C, D E F.
When you open up that door, you start the ball, the ball rolling. Right. You kick a ball down a hill, and it starts picking up steam a little bit. That’s what, her and I experienced, and I think that’s what we just started talking about things and, looking at each other and saying, Hey, what’s going on?
Right. What, tell me what I can tell something’s wrong. Just, just talk to me what’s going on. I don’t think we did that before. I think we kind of were willing to swallow our tongues and not talk about certain things or dance around it. She was afraid of offending me or whatever the case was. And. We just reached a breaking point.
A lot of couples are going to do that. You reach a breaking point where it’s like, you can’t continue like this anymore. You can’t keep sweeping stuff under the rug and expecting things to be okay. Eventually your rug has mounds everywhere. Right? You can’t walk, you can’t function. So it just took a lot of intentional communication on our part and we’re still working on it.
It’s still, it’s not, it’s not always easy, but we’re committed to the process now. We, we see the results of having a stronger relationship. It’s made us a better team together with making decisions and running our household and, and we’re more loved than ever. Right. And, and I owe that to, you know, to, to communication intentional communication, obviously in a relationship you have to have physical attraction.
No doubt about it. Honestly, the mental part is what’s gonna always went out. Okay. Looks fate, right? It looks fade bodies change. Uh, but you know what? People, you know, people in our thoughts don’t change as much. And if you could be more open with them and say, this is who I am, accept me for who I am, help me.
I can help you. That, that part you need the mental part, physical parts important, but that mental part is something special. And will ultimately connect you, uh, like never before.
Marc: Yeah, I fully agree with that. As I said, looks change, but ultimately the, the human being is inside. Right. And what I observed is that weirdly people who are in a relationship, they are, well, you know, if you start the relationship, you’re always looking for alignment, right? You’re looking for the for the similarities for the same way of thinking and, um, agreements. And then over time, there is, as you say, there as these things where you have disagreements, Yeah, you have different opinions may be or something.
One does the other is bothered by that or whatever. And then people don’t talk about that because of the fear of loss. And that is creating a very difficult situation, right? Because it’s, it’s piling up as potting up and then you have this kind of breaking point where somebody explodes and everything that’s under, the rug is going to be on the table, which is a very unhealthy start, I think.
Right. For, for like a real deep open conversation.
Jim: That’s and that’s the problem is that. You know, conflict can be good if done appropriately. If you’re just having, if you’re just piling things up and you’re waiting for that explosive moment, right. That’s going to really, that’s going to really damage the relationship long-term because when you have that explosion moment, you know, the explosion fight and we’ve all, I think we’ve all been there.
You know, every once in a while, when you, when that happens, you say things you wish, you didn’t say, and you let your emotions run wild. And it starts becoming a game of one-upsmanship. Right. And it raises the elevates the tone. And then you start bringing up stuff that you thought you had already dealt with, put to bed and forgiven and we start bringing up, well, what about this?
And what about that? And do you remember that? And you start getting off, you start getting off topic, you go off on a tangent and what you, and you have a hard time coming back to. What were we originally getting into this about you? You’re already six feet off the limb here. So that’s, that’s the problem.
Conflict is, needs to be done appropriately because, and not everything has to be a conflict. I love what you said. You know, we start relationships seeking alignment and that’s true. I mean, I remember when I was. Looking for Mrs. Van Allen. You know, when I was sort of, you know, I wasn’t a big into dating, I was more, I was, I kind of knew what I wanted.
And then I, in my mind, I kind of had this checklist, like she needs to this and that, that, that, you know, and because you’re looking for, for alignment, you’re looking for, you know, I don’t want to be unequally yoked in certain things. And if somebody. Changes people change, right? People do, you know, personality shift interests change.
It doesn’t mean that you have to grow apart though. You just have to be able to talk about what’s going on in your head that may be leading to that change your desire to change or new interests. And sometimes, like I said, relationships are work. Maybe it’s time that I take an interest in your new interests.
Maybe you’re starting to get into this hobby, or you’re starting to go to church more or whatever the case is. And if I’m your spouse and I’m with you and I, you know, we’ve pledged our lives to each other. Well, maybe I, you know, maybe I can look into what you’re doing and then, then maybe you’ll look into what I’m starting to do a little bit.
And we ask each other questions and we try to spend some time in each other’s worlds. You know, it doesn’t mean just because you’re married. Doesn’t mean you have. We have one world, like we kind of have our own, sometimes we have our own little hobbies or interests or thoughts and we can kind of let each other in those different areas.
So there’s some, there’s some crossover there and you’re not leading separate lives from an interest standpoint.
Marc: The couple as the intersection between the individuals. Right.
Jim: Right. Exactly.
Marc: Otherwise you’re losing yourself. that happens from time to time from, from a communications perspective, what would you say are the most important things or the most important aspects of a couple’s communication?
Jim: I think a lot of it starts with, you know, audience. So if I’m, if I’m talking communication to people, it’s all about audience. I’m constructing a, delivering a message for a specific audience, whether it’s one person, 500 people, it has to message has to be relevant to them. So I need to know that audience, I need to know what’s going to make them tick.
What’s going to what they’re going to react to. I need to know their makeup. I need to know how to, how they want to be best communicated with. So taking that to the relational level, I need to know my partner, meaning I need to know. They’re triggers. I need to know what makes them tick. I need to know what their anxieties are, what their struggles are.
I need to know their love language. What do they want me using words of affirmation? Do they want acts of service? Do they want to gifts? I need to really know that person and then adjust my communication, based on that person. And it’s the chameleon effect, right. Becoming communication chameleons. And that is something I’ve tried very hard to do, where if I’m with, my best friend who lives in Texas, if I’m with him, I may adapt some of his communication style, tone, words, actions, If I’m with people back here.
Some of my, my guy friends, I may sort of take off, I may, I know their communication styles and I kind of take on that. My wife, I can kind of, so that, that can be tiring sometimes though on my end. And I would recommend people just be aware, be more aware of the communication styles of other people around them.
We all have our own styles. You know, we have our own styles and doesn’t mean you put that on the shelf. But you try to mix the two a little bit. Yeah. You try to, when you’re talking to somebody’s friend, client’s significant other relationally, you try to play to their style a little bit and, and know what’s going don’t and don’t use their style against them.
So if, you know, you can say, if you can say something that you know is going to irk them or needle them a little bit. Don’t don’t do that. You know, like if you don’t use it against them. Okay. I know my wife wants to, you know, she wants to be, you know, she wants to be a good wife and a good mom. And I shouldn’t say anything backdoor.
That’s going to make her feel like not a good wife or not a good mom. Like, Oh, you didn’t make the lunches for the kids. What? Oh, I thought you always do that. You know? I mean, we’re heading out the door and then she’s going to feel like a bad mom. I know. I shouldn’t say things and I don’t say things like that.
So it’s audience to me, it’s audience, whoever’s listening know, first of all, know your own communication style, know what your style is, know who you are. Okay. So that doesn’t, so you have that foundation, but most importantly, to know the style of the person that you are doing life with friends, you’re your relational partner to really study their non-verbals. Think back to when you know how they deal with friends and try to get in their heads a little bit. It’s, it’s very helpful. Um, moving forward, it’s very, very helpful. That’s, that’s part of the mental connection that couples really need to have
Marc: Agree. Now, what do we say to people say, yeah, but where is then the essence of Jim? Where is the Jim Jim himself.
I know what you mean. You’re not like, um, I’m a social styles professional and you know, like they had talking about style flexing, communication, and adapting, or adjusting a little bit towards the other person.
And you know, like then you automatically, now the question about, to which extent are you going to flex and where is your authentic self?
What would you say to that?
Jim: That’s the battle and that’s the challenging part. And that’s something that I have in the last probably maybe three, four years have really had this take a step back and say, am I, am I catering too much? Am I serving too much? Cause my, my, you know, I like to serve. I like to serve other people’s needs. And, and, and sometimes you can do that too much where you, you lose yourself a little bit and I’ve had conversations with some, uh, you know, just some just qualified individuals that I’ve needed to talk with, talk through life with, you know, just to kind of have a separate conversation with some professionals on just, you know, having to deal with life.
And I’ve said that I’m like, sometimes I don’t. I don’t know who I am from a communication standpoint. And, and so that’s, that’s the battle. You don’t want to lose yourself in catering too much. So there are, there are periods of time where I can be with my wife or be with my friend or be with my kids and I’ll, and I’ll have an outer body experience and be like, wow, that was, that was the real Jim, you know, like that was real.
That was really like, I’ll say something and I’m like, That’s me like, that’s my personality. And a lot of times right now, it’s, it’s spontaneous. Right? It’ll, he’ll kind of like pop out every once in a while and I’ll be like, yeah, this is, this is me. And then I’ll switch back into kind of, you know, serve cater mode.
So I’m, I’m much more aware of that now. And I think I try to, I try not to pander. Maybe as much as I would have in the past other people’s styles, I try not, not saying you don’t care what other people think, you know, but you, you try to just be more comfortable with who you are and not take on the pressure so much of, of others’ thoughts and feelings. And, and like I said, somebody told me this year, this 2020, they see told me. Yeah, like I said, the only real control you have is self control. So I’ve now had to have more, a little more self control in my own thoughts and emotions on saying, okay. Okay. I can’t control their communication style, their communication style, her communication style.
I can control my own and who I am. And so I’ve had there, I know this is sounding really deep and I’ve had to almost try to reg really rediscover who I am from a communication standpoint. And as a person, really, the last few years here, as I’ve gotten a little bit older and wiser, now I have kids and you know, I’m like a full fledged adult.
Right. And, um, That’s that’s been a personal development journey for sure.
Marc: That’s has been a huge challenge for me, like doing going many years of coaching and organizational development and speaking on company stages and all that stuff. Right. Mean, I think it’s continuous flexing. And then there were a couple of severes it’s that way I just did not like continued to be the that’s called a processional Marc the checks that were marked rather than being the proper individual.
The person who I am, who I am, who I just am. Right. And, and that was a big wake up call for me is saying, you know, like this can’t go on. I, I need to, I need to really take a step back and rediscover myself. And then, you know, like create this awareness when I am going to be flexing into a certain style and when I am going to be really myself and make it a choice, not a habit, right.
Jim: I like that. Yeah. Choice. Not a habit. Life’s about choice. Relationships are a choice and then what we think and who we become as a choice. And so, yeah, I’ve, I’ve, I’ve been working on that too, because it’s just like you going on stage.
Sometimes I’ll all come off the stage after doing an hour long keynote or. Full day training, whatever it is. And I’ll be like, wow, who was that? Not in a bad way, but just like how that was. Um, I look at them, I look at like professional speaking Jim and like, by myself Jim with my family Jim, two very different people and very different people.
One is very extroverted and, and spontaneous and like, you know, quick-witted and energetic and the other one is not the opposite, but it’s just a little bit more reserved. Right. A bit more, uh, in my head, a bit more cautious with my words, a bit more strategic with how I act. So I think the real me is somewhere in the middle.
So I think I have, you want to go on stage and when I’m kind of with my family or friends, I’m sort of the real me is sort of in the middle there. So when I’m with my friends or family, or when I’m on stage, I try not to go to the extreme. Now I try to come more into the center. And I think that’s helped make me a more genuine speaker and genuine person because that’s the real you and your clients, people, you, we interact with people who listen to this, this show and my show.
They want a genuine, real person interacting with them and giving them experiences and telling stories and giving advice and strategies and all that, because they’re searching for that too.
Marc: That’s right. And I can still relate to that. You know, like the, the speaking Marc and, and the, the Marc who can sit in front of the computer, just thinking for an entire day, not talking to anybody from different people.
Right. It’s all context dependent, I think. And, and, uh, if, if you make that a conscious choice, I think that can be very powerful.
Jim: Yeah, absolutely.
Marc: Would you mind sharing
a very difficult situation in your marriage or in your relationship and how you overcame that as a couple of using quote unquote good communication.
Jim: That’s a great question. So I’m just going back and thinking about, you know, our 10 years together and some of the difficulties we had, I would say. There was an opportunity to invest in a project as a family. So if my wife’s one of five, her dad’s a builder and.
Okay. I wanted to build, basically, if he’s a builder, he built a vacation house that we could use, but then we’d rent out. Right. And, it was going to start getting a little bit complicated with the money standpoint. How much do you invest? Do you get into business with family? How much all this, you know, do then do you have to go and work on the place?
So it was starting to get a little bit complicated and you know, she’s very loyal. Well, we, we, you know, we, we, you know, we, we love, I love her family. She loves her family. And I, I think she didn’t want to maybe disappoint them if we didn’t invest. Or, and I was on the side of not really wanting to invest because I just, I knew it was going to the project was going to get bigger than what I wanted to, to do more moving is going to require much more money later on in time and effort that I knew we weren’t.
Ready to do. We were, we just had our first kid, I was just newly enrolled in a PhD program. I was starting to travel more with speaking. I’m like, this is not the time for us to be in our house. Needed some repairs. I knew were coming down the line. I knew we need that money. So it became a little bit of a bone of contention between us.
We were probably fighting more than we ever did, uh, about this issue because. She saw we had, we had some money, we could invest in this and you know, they were, th her is used to kind of offer one, right. Everybody kind of moves together. And this was one of the first times where she especially had to, had to say, You’re my family now like me, you know, the van Allen’s, this is my family now.
And if my husband, this isn’t something that he feels we should do, you know, then, then maybe I need to be open to this. So we had to, we were fighting about it. We were talking about it and it, it, we had to, we had to fight our way to a good communication spot where finally, we, we, we just talked it out and we, we, we, she said, well, she had to say, I had to say what I had to say and, and.
You know, I sort of made the case on why we would need moving forward and why we need this money, whatever I just told you, I kind of outlined it for her FYI. This is six years later, they decided to build and everything that I thought would happen has happened and everything I thought. We would need our money for happened.
New roof, new bathrooms. We have a second kid on all this stuff, so not saying I was right, but so she’s come, she’s come around. And she’s, you know, she finally kind of, saw things, but it wasn’t easy, you know, and anytime you’re talking about money and family, it’s not easy. And it was, it got a little uncomfortable for a little bit, but.
The more we talked about at the time and then continue to talk about it. Even the six years later. Now we’re at a point where we’re like completely on the same page with it completely. Or like, yes, we’re, we’re glad that we didn’t do this. Um, and we made the smart decision for ourselves. But it took a, it took a lot of open communication.
It took a lot of, um, you know, sometimes you have to take the gloves off. Sometimes you can’t sugar coat things sometimes. Right. And it doesn’t mean you have to hurt the other person, but it’s just being honest. It’s just being real. I saw things from a different perspective. I had a little bit more access to forward-thinking and, you know, looking down the line five, 10 years, and I just had to.
I had to articulate that appropriately. And I think I did. And she worked with her, you know, work she kind of did see, she saw things eventually. And you know, we’re obviously stronger now and in a, in a better financial position because of it.
Marc: So we’re going to be open to each other. Say the thing that’s there are no sugar coating.
Jim: when you need to. Right. When you need to, sometimes you, you know, if you’re talking about finances and how to raise your kids, like these, these core, these deeper issues doesn’t mean you have to come at them with a, with a pitchfork, but you have to, we have to speak with, on our hearts sometimes and, and get it out.
The more importantly you get it out, but that remember we talked about that pause button earlier. It’s getting it out without. Getting too emotional. So her and I had to kind of retreat to separate quarters sometimes and have the conversation in pieces, or we ultimately decided we weren’t going to kind of go all the way in with the investments.
So took some time for sure.
Marc: Now you’re all sorted.
Jim: Now. We’re okay. We’re doing great now. Yeah, that’s a good decision.
Marc: That’s perfect. Okay, Jim, you have a podcast, right? “Communicate to motivate.”
Jim: I do. And it’s, it’s available. It’s available everywhere,”Communicate to Motivate”. And a lot of the things that we’ve been discussing on this show, I try to take on a deeper level on my show where we’re talking about various communication issues and how they affect every aspect of your life from relationships, family, work yourself.
And if you know anything about communication or thinking anything about communication, that’s very broad. Non-verbals conflict, listening, you know, relationships. There’s so many different facets of communication. We try to kind of piece it up a little bit and talk about how it affects your life. And there’s always a takeaway is something to be working on as a result of listening to each show.
So I really enjoyed it. I think you’ll see if you’ve been listening to those or you do listen to it. I think that Jim, that you hear on that show is, is. Pretty close to the real Jim. That’s why I really enjoy doing those shows because it’s just me. Most of the time. It’s just me. I’ll bring guests on occasionally, but a lot of times it’s just me, 20 minutes and I speak from the heart.
I have maybe a brief, brief set of notes, just so I know where I’m going, but most of it I’m going as a heart and it makes sense. Uh, but it’s, it’s everything that I’ve sort of learned and gained up until this point, for sure.
Marc: Great. We are putting the link into the show notes, right. And we’ll link to John Gordon, as you mentioned.
Jim: Absolutely in my work with Jon Gordon, Jon Gordon, and my podcast link while about training and helping people and schools and teachers and individuals it’s become my life’s work.
Marc: Perfect. So thank you, Jim was great having you on the show.
Jim: Good to be here. I so appreciate our genuine in-depth conversation. Absolutely.
Marc: Thank you, Jim.
Jim: Thank you.