Personal Growth
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Personal Growth

How Every Great Relationship Begins

“Every great relationship starts from a place of conflict and evolves into something richer” — Mr. Peabody

As the young father of a not-quite-yet two-and-a-half year old, you tend to get roped into a lot of animated films, TV shows and some Disney movies. It’s kinda part of the territory. Believe me — I’ve already had my fill of Mickey Mouse Roadster Racers! My son loves it. But one of the benefits of my exposure to these animated films and shows are some beautiful, heartfelt messages.

If you’ve never seen the updated version of Mr. Peabody and Sherman, I encourage you to watch it. If nothing else, for the themes that are a central part of the film’s message: accepting differences, open-mindedness and a sense of family and belonging. Search a little more and you’ll find the epigraph at the beginning of my post.

courtesy of: DreamWorks Animation

Every great relationship starts from a place of conflict! And then becomes so much better. As I sat there recently and watched my son’s eyes transfixed on the screen, I started thinking about my life. I began to think about all of my relationships: family, friends, business and social. I realized that any great relationship will have its moments of adversity. Difficulty. Conflict.

Examining Our Relationships

Once we’ve cried, sweat, bled and let emotions fly with people, only then can we truly trust them. Think about it — who are the people you really trust? Have you been through a few battles with these individuals?

The people in my life that I’d take a bullet for, are people I have fought, cried with, loved and hurt. And vice versa. It’s a very strange thing to process, but I’ve simply found it to be the truthful thread in all my relationships. Former work colleagues who I now rely on for wisdom and guidance, are those who I first struggled to trust. In some cases, people I resented.

Even my wife and I are very much opposites. We’ve known each other for over 10 years, been married four-and-a-half, and yet we both realize the beginnings of our relationship began in conflict. We fought to find agreement. So we had to work at it. We had to fight for our love. We still do!

Maybe you’ll find fighting is not required. But it was our experience. And many others of those I know. I do think you’ll find conflict. Adversity. We’re emotional creatures with baggage, opinions, unique experiences and problems. As much as we try, these things occasionally affect our relationships. Sometimes for better, sometimes for worse.

A Story to Tell

Michael Jordan and Coach Phil Jackson didn’t start off seeing eye-to-eye. Yes, the men who are considered the greatest basketball player and basketball coach, respectively, in NBA history, weren’t exactly the human equivalent of peanut butter meets jelly. Yet, without Jackson, Jordan never would have reached his zenith as a basketball god.

And Jackson surely never would have become the “Zen Master” without “His Airness.” Jordan’s hyper-competitive, new-school ways clashed with Jackson’s laid-back, Zen-Buddhist, team-first principles — at first. But Jordan learned if he wanted to be the best, he needed his teammates. He couldn’t make it on his own. It hadn’t worked in six previous seasons.

Finally, in his seventh NBA season, Jordan found his stride, and some peace of mind, winning his first NBA title. He clashed with Phil Jackson on the Triangle offense, in-game strategy and more. But he realized Coach Jackson’s approach toward emotional intelligence, camaraderie, team-building and fostering meaningful relationships were the key ingredients that would make Jordan a winner.

Good thing they both listened to each other!

One of Jackson’s favorite quotes comes from American Buddhist nun, Pema Chodron. It’s a beautiful prism through which we can view relationships:

“No man is an island. No man goes his way alone. What I put into the lives of others will come back into its own.”

Back to You

Think about your personal relationships. The way you seek love. How you add value to the lives of others, and how you accept love in return. There will always be challenging times. Many of our best relationships are built on these times! As my Mom has often told me, “Tough times don’t last; tough people do.”

Conflict will always force us to move in one of two directions: toward building or toward destruction.

Life is not always sunshine and rainbows. For as many good days as there are, we also endure suffering, sadness, anger and disappointment. These emotions and experiences manifest themselves in very unique ways in relationships.

Do we take these and use them to make us stronger? Or will we let them destroy us? I think, like Mr. Peabody, you’ll find these experiences make life richer. You have to be self-aware. Be prepared to take on whatever life throws at you. Embrace it. Accept it. And let life reveal itself in all its splendor and wonder as you continue to grow in your relationships.

Build Your Relationships — Build Your Life

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Christopher D. Connors

Christopher D. Connors


Author, Executive Coach & Emotional Intelligence Speaker; Seen on Fox, ABC, CNBC, etc.;