Two women smiling during a work meeting.

The Five Mistakes We Make in Work Relationships

What's the one thing that can make or break a company?Hint: It's not technology, capital or marketing prowess.It's relationships.That's what Gay and Kathlyn "Katie" Hendricks, husband-and-wife founders of the California-based Hendricks Institute, believe after studying personal and business relationships for three-plus decades. In their research and consulting work, they've watched creativity and productivity blossom once people relate to each other in healthy ways.Katie Hendricks says workplace issues are almost always about relationships. "There's some sort of issue keeping people from collaborating or meeting a deadline or making a product," she says. Backstabbing co-workers, meddling supervisors, impossible-to-please executives and down-in-the-dumps naysayers are more than just workplace nuisances—they hinder the whole organization.At the root of this damaging behavior is lack of integrity in interactions, Gay and Katie Hendricks assert. So the couple developed their own definition of "operational integrity," with these four pillars as guidelines for positive behavior. (Read more explanation in How to Improve Office Relations Todayon literacy:Understand your feelings and the source of those feelings. Work through those emotions so they don't sully your interoffice relationships.Impeccable agreements:Keep agreements you make; don't make agreement you can't keep; know when agreements need to be altered.Authentic speaking and resonant listening:Speak truthfully and openly. Listen with empathy.Healthy responsibility:Learn to take full responsibility for your work. Promote and inspire responsibility in others.These principles are the backbone of the institute's relationship coaching. Adhere to them through awareness, evaluation and practice as advised on the next four pages, and the result will be a more positive, productive and creative company, the Hendrickses say. Shatter the principles, and you end up making the five most common mistakes the couple see in the workplace. (Spoiler alert: You may see yourself as a workplace morale-sucker in some of these mistake scenarios. Don't worry; none of us is perfect—and we'll tell you how to change.)Mistake No. 1: Reacting Defensively or Engaging in Other Damaging CommunicationEvery life experience and interaction is a learning opportunity, and the Hendricks Openness-to-Learning Scale measures how much we take advantage of an opportunity—how we talk to other people and how we react when they speak to us. Do we get defensive? Are we willing to hear other people's feedback? Do we rush to judge our colleagues' suggestions, or do we actuallylisten to what they have to say? Are we open to learning from our interactions?"One type of communication takes you to positive resolution. Another takes you toward dissolution," Gay Hendricks says. "People need to know at any given moment if they are communicating in a way that takes them to a positive resolution or if they are leading in a way that makes things fall apart." The Openness-to-Learning Scale ranks what's being said from +10 (high openness to learning) to -10 (low openness to learning).Here's how it works: Let's say you're in a meeting. You earn a +5 if you are listening carefully and able to paraphrase another's words without interjecting your point of view. You'll score a whopping +10 if you start implementing the ideas voiced in the meeting. It's a -5 if you are silent, become edgy or show frustration. You're a relationship-killer if you earn a -10 for creating an uproar or departing abruptly.You don't have to agree with the presenter to earn high marks. You don't even have to like the presenter. What you have to learn to do to keep a coveted high score is to express your reservations or ask your questions in a respectful, non-confrontational way. In other words, it's not what you say but how you say it. Don't mutter, "That's never going to work." Do offer, "You have some interesting ideas, but have you thought about possible complications like..."Clients love the scale, the Hendrickses say. Hold up the chart during the meeting, and you can literally track where your and your colleagues' comments fall. Even better, you can consider where your next statement might land before you say it."It allows people to make a quantifiable shift," Katie Hendricks says. "It gives them very specific things to do." So before you utter something like, "That's never going to work" (-7 on the scale), shift your language to, "I can see how you came to that conclusion based on the data you have" (+4).Ahhh. Those relations are already warming, yielding an atmosphere where people can speak their minds (remember integrity), share ideas and let the creativity erupt.Mistake No. 2: Overusing Analysis and UnderutilizingBody WisdomOur bodies have a lot to do with how we interact with other people. "Often when things aren't going well, it has more to do with what's going on with people's bodies rather than what's going on with people's minds," Gay Hendricks says. And Katie interjects: "When people get this, it's really revolutionary."Think about it: Is there a nagging fear pricking your gut? A sadness pressing on your chest? If your body isn't healthy, your relationships probably aren't, either.Katie remembers an executive who was sitting in a stalemated strategy session. The executive noticed that everyone seemed to be holding his or her breath. "She let herself come into an easy, relaxed breathing.... She did that for about five minutes, and they moved through the impasse and were able to resolve it," Katie says.Gay remembers a similar situation. A top-ranking official at a major computer company had an anger-management issue. After spending about 10 minutes alone with the client, Gay noticed he wasn't breathing easily, and pointed it out, remarking, "I wonder if deep underneath, there is some sadness or disappointment?" Stunned by the revelation, the client realized that was exactly what was going on. He worked through those issues and starting interacting with employees in new, calmer and more respectful ways.So be in tune with your body. Then be aware of others' body language, because it could reveal a strain in relations. Is your business partner voicing agreement but frowning with unease? Remark on that: Tell her you noticed her expression and ask whether something is troubling her. Doing so may draw out that concern, allowing you both to act with integrity because you are communicating truthfully with each other. Whatever tension may have existing can dissolve rather than solidify.Mistake No. 3: Getting Stuck in the Victim/Villain/Hero TriangleDraw a triangle. Label the points "victim," "villain" and "hero." Most people have played one or more of these parts during their careers, but none of them belongs in the workplace. "All problematic human interaction and drama appears on this triangle," Gay Hendricks says.The victim feigns cluelessness and whimpers "you did this to me." The villain hollers, bullies and blames. The hero rushes in to save the day, cleaning up the relationship messes left by the other two—but in doing so, he allows others to shirk their responsibilities. "People are just running around from one role to another without ever getting away from it," Katie Hendricks says. "A shift in that will really enable relationships and the organization to move forward."So how do you remove yourself and your colleagues from the triangle?First, be aware of the roles. Then thing about the lessons you've learned form the previous relationship mistakes. Where does your language fall on the Openness-to-Learning Scale? What is your body language saying? What is your emotional state, and is it interfering with your interactions? Is some old wound turning you into a victim? Is some insecurity making you a villain?Breaking the triangle requires some soul-searching—a task sometimes challenging for the stoic executive."Start by thinking of your emotions as friends. Your feelings have evolved over thousands of years to bring you useful information. For example, if you feel sadness, it's a signal that you've experienced loss of some kind. Anger brings you a message that you perceive some unfairness in a situation you're in; fear lest you know you feel threatened in some way. If you can begin to think of your feelings as friends, rather than enemies to control, it will make a huge difference in creating workplace harmony," Katie says.Starting can be as easy as breathing. Learn to take slow, controlled breaths—five counts in, five counts out—to lessen anxiety.Journaling can also be helpful. The Hendrickses recommend writing without self-editing as a way of expressing those "unruly" emotions. They also suggest listening to classical music as a way of calming the mind and increasing the flow of creativity and problem-solving.If you and your colleagues commit to emotional intelligence goals, maybe your company can write itself a new triangle, one in which employees' roles move their businesses forward through positive relationships and mutual goals.Mistake No. 4: Concealing Things That Don't Need to Be ConcealedKeeping secrets from each other drives a wedge into relationships. "Holding things close to the chest used to be strategic," Katie Hendricks says, but today's emphasis on transparency has superseded the old corporate secrecy. Companies reveal more and more information to employees—from financial information to news about what's going on in all levels of the organization.Doing so helps employees embrace company missions and avoids what Gay calls "niggles," nagging concerns or reservations that keep people from buying in. "The more information they have, the more it helps them overcome niggles and engage their passion," he says.Enacting open communication is not as simple as sending out memos and updates. The real communication mistakes happen when we conceal emotions and concerns. That practice creates rifts in relationships and sabotages productivity.This relates to integrity, too: speaking openly and honestly even when you don't think your colleague really wants to hear what you have to say. So why do people hold back? In training sessions, they give the Hendrickses all sorts of reasons why they conceal their thoughts. Maybe some sound familiar:I don't want to hurt your feelings.I feel dumb (or embarrassed) telling you.If I tell you, it'll create a whole new problem.I'm afraid you'll get mad.I should be able to handle this myself."When people are not being authentic with each other, you have to fight your way through the layers of inauthenticity to get to the real issue," Gay says.Sometimes the layer is a personal matter than influences workplace performance and behavior. No one is suggesting that employees reveal every detail of their personal lives, but simply letting co-workers know you're frazzled because a newborn kept you up all night, for example, lets colleagues know that a short temper or attention span does not stem from a job-related matter.Or when someone is troubled by a workplace matter, concealment can lead to havoc in company operations. Imagine the complications that can arise when someone doesn't speak out about a concern early and it becomes a major issue. Or when nagging fears prevent people from fully engaging in a project. Will those folks really take 100 percent responsibility?Top executives need to create a culture of openness. "The higher up you are in a company, the more it is incumbent on you to be open," Gay says. Of course, in many companies, the higher up you are, the more practiced you are at staying tight-lipped.If you have trouble opening up, Gay suggest first learning how to listen. "A lot of bosses are listening to criticize. They are coming at whatever communication comes their way with the intent of rebutting it," he says.Ninety-nine percent of statements, however, don't need such rebukes. Once managers and executives create an environment of openness for their subordinates, the more these high-ranking employees will be likely to transition from concealment to openness themselves. Imagine the workplace culture that managers and executives can build if they honestly express their fears, doubts, concerns and disappointments with staff members (in a way that doesn't blame them for those doubts and disappointments, of course)."Allowing people to see you be open and vulnerable increases the integrity and it makes the organization stronger," Katie says. It make you a real human being instead of a corporate figurehead—and you're on your way to building superb business relationships.Mistake No. 5: Taking More Than 100 Percent ResponsibilityLet's examine that hero role more carefully because the "model employee" usually isn't considered to be a problem. But that person may be muddying business relations in ways he or she may never have considered.We all know (or have been) the office hero: the one who stays late to ensure the group project gets done, the one who takes on way more than the rest of the team, the one who cleans up a co-worker's mess. "If you do that over and over, it's very easy to become a martyr. And martyrs usually have an unhappy ending," Gay Hendricks says.So before you rush to bail out anyone or everyone, consider: What's your share of responsibility? "It's important for an executive to create an atmosphere where everyone takes 100 percent responsibility," he says. If one team member takes 80 percent responsibility for his work, then someone else is taking 120 percent—his 100 percent share plus the 20 percent carryover from his slacker colleague. This dynamic is bound to lead to conflict.The responsibility mistake plays out in many ways. Katie Hendricks remembers a time earlier in The Hendricks Institute's operations in which her employees would perform well until she walked into the room. "Everyone started acting really stupid," she recalls. Katie eventually realized that she was the problem. She had a habit of grabbing the reins and taking control. Sure, she was the boss, but she wasn't allowing her team members to take their share of responsibility and work to their potential.Take off your cape. Do your share of work to your best ability and let everyone else do the same.The Hendricks Openness-to-Learning ScaleThese actions reflect low openness to learning:-1 Showing polite interest outwardly while inwardly clinging to your point of view and/or rehearsing rebuttal-2 Explaining how the person has misperceived the situation-3 Interpreting what the person is saying as an attack-4 Justifying why you're the way you are or acted the way you did-5 Going silent, getting edgy, snappy or frustrated-6 Finding fault with the way the message is delivered-7 Righteous indignation; demanding evidence in a hostile manner-8 Blaming someone or something else-9 Attacking or threatening the messenger, verbally or otherwise-10 Creating an uproar or making an abrupt departure
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Love Language

You've heard the bad news: Almost 50 percent of marriages in the United States end in divorce.But there is good news. Success in marriage, as in the rest of life, has little to do with statistics about what’s going on out there and everything to do with what’s going on in your life and in your home. The reality is it doesn’t matter what the polls report. The determining factors in your marital success are personal.“Even though divorce is prevalent in our culture today, we don’t want to just walk out,” says relationship expert Gary Chapman. “There is a deep, deep bonding unique to the marriage relationship—a physical and emotional bond. And because of that, we want to make it work despite our differences.”In Hope of Happily Ever AfterEvery year, almost 4 million people pledge to love, honor and cherish each other in ceremonies across the United States. “Almost all of these couples anticipate ‘living happily ever after,’ ” Chapman writes in his latest book,Things I Wish I'd Known Before We Got Married.“No one gets married hoping to be miserable or to make their spouse miserable. … People do not get married planning to divorce.”Chapman believes divorce is often the effect of poor planning and lack of understanding about what marriage means. Individuals plan for their careers, families, finances and vacations, but rarely do they have a plan for marriage. Perhaps that’s because they wander into this life-altering arrangement while intoxicated by the effects of what Chapman calls “euphoric love.” You know the feeling: Your stomach does a flip of excitement every time you see your true love, your heart beats wildly when you hold hands, you feel an electric jolt when you kiss. It’s often while in this he/ she-can-do-no-wrong phase that people pledge undying love to one another. The trouble is that the effects of euphoric love are temporary.“The euphoric experience we typically callfalling in lovehas an average lifespan of two years,” Chapman says. When the feeling of euphoria wears off, you suddenly have a little more clarity about the person with whom you’ve committed to spending your life. “Before, you saw them as a perfect person. Now you see them as a real person, a human with strengths and weakness. Most couples are not prepared for that,” he says.First things first. If you’re not yet married, come to grips with the fact that the euphoria won’t last forever…and that’s OK. Enjoy it while it lasts, but realize that something better could be around the corner—if you plan for it. Having spent the past 35 years counseling couples who were blindsided by the realities of housework, conflicting work schedules, debt, parenting and in-laws, Chapman says, “It is my conviction that many of these struggles could have been avoided had the couple taken the time to prepare more thoroughly for marriage.”How, exactly, does one prepare for marriage? It sounds like a no-brainer, but the place to start is in getting to know the other person. Find out what your sweetheart thinks about politics, debt, religion and faith, charitable giving, whether they want children or pets or pizza every Wednesday night for the rest of their lives. What was their childhood like? What does success mean to them? Do they like sports, movies, going out with friends, or staying in and enjoying a quiet evening at home? Talk about your likes and dislikes. Share your thoughts about how the details of housework, financial planning, child-rearing and caring for elderly parents should be handled. And, by the way, if you’re already married and you don’t know the answer to any of the previous questions, there’s no time like the present to learn about your mate. Creating a plan for life together will put you on the right track.What to Do When the Buzz Wears OffMaybe you’re already married and that feeling of euphoria is long gone. You’re in the thick of real life—bills, busy schedules and babysitters. It’s at this point that “for better or for worse” takes on new meaning. Under the effects of the love drug, “for worse” seemed impossible. You might have even ignored admonitions from others who advised you to plan if you want a great marriage. Like a teenager, you felt invincible.We’re in love; what could go wrong?you thought. As it turns out, plenty.But the maladies of marriage aren’t always rooted in major disasters such as terminal illness or bankruptcy. Real life creeps in, and suddenly you and your spouse are bickering about whose turn it is to empty the dishwasher. “Couples find themselves arguing because they do not have a plan to deal with things like that,” Chapman says. The day-to-day pressures of life combined with the fear caused by losing that loving feeling stress couples out. “They say, ‘Oh no! I don’t feel what I used to feel.’ ”Additionally, there’s a tendency to get busy and distracted. “I think often couples who have been married for a number of years, who have children and have careers, begin to realize they’ve drifted apart,” Chapman says. “When you neglect a marriage, you begin drifting, and you never drift together. You always drift apart. If you don’t make an effort to reconnect, you’ll drift further and further apart.” But that doesn’t mean your marriage is doomed. On the contrary, Chapman says once you get past the tingles of early love, it’s possible to create a stronger, happier marriage: “If you learn to speak each other’s love language, you can keep the emotional connection alive. And that is far deeper than those temporary, euphoric feelings.”Even better, it’s never too late to rekindle that connection. Chapman says he has worked with a number of couples who finally learned to speak one another’s love language after 20 or 30 years of marriage: “Many couples have told me they realized their marriages weren’t super warm, but they didn’t fight either. They’d say, ‘We were like roommates. But when we started speaking each other’s love languages, it changed our marriage.’ Regardless of your stage of marriage, understanding your spouse’s love language has the potential of greatly enhancing the relationship.”Now You’re Speaking My LanguageIn his best-selling bookThe 5 Love Languages: The Secret to Love That Lasts,Chapman defines love languages as the “five ways people speak and understand emotional love.” Take a look at the abbreviated definitions, and see if you can identify your love language.Words of Affirmation: Words matter. This person treasures hearing, “I love you.” Honest compliments and praise mean a great deal, and insults or harsh words are taken to heart.Quality Time: This person wants your undivided attention. The gift of your time is worth more than any material present you could give.Receiving Gifts:From trinkets and flowers to diamond rings and season tickets, this person feels loved when you present them with a token of your affection.Acts of Service:Doing household chores or helping out in the home office is, to this person, the equivalent of saying, “I adore you.”Physical Touch:A gentle hand on the shoulder, a peck on the cheek, a warm embrace or simply sitting beside this person makes them feel loved.Understanding your spouse’s love language is the first step to connecting. “Seldom do a husband and wife speak the same love language,” Chapman says. “We naturally speak our own love language. But if your love language is different from your spouse’s love language, you’re missing them. You may be sincere, but you’re not really touching their heart.”Once you understand your mate’s love language, start using it. But be warned, you may have some difficulty at first. “If you grew up in a home where affirming words were seldom spoken, it may be hard to speak words of affirmation,” Chapman says. The same principle applies to the language of physical touch if you grew up without a lot of hugs and hand-holding or to the language of receiving gifts if you’re especially frugal. Chapman’s advice: Take baby steps.For example, if your mate’s love language is words of affirmation, start by looking for a few phrases in a magazine or book; listen for kind words spoken by other people. When you’re alone, stand in front of a mirror and say those phrases aloud. “Then you can pick one of the phrases and say it to your spouse when they’re not looking at you … then you can run!” Chapman says with a chuckle.If your spouse’s love language is physical touch, but you’re not a touchy-feely person, start small. If you need to, write down a few potential touches: a hand on the shoulder, a pat on the back, reaching over and putting your hand on their leg while driving. “Pick out one that seems easier for you and do it,” Chapman says. “Over time, you can learn how to touch, even if you didn’t grow up receiving a lot of touch.”The more you practice any of the languages, the more natural they will feel for you. “The good thing is that it’s extremely rewarding, and any of these languages can be learned.”Ideally, both partners will make an effort to speak the other’s love language. But that may not always be the case, such as in times of stress or emotional rifts. Still, it’s important to speak your spouse’s love language even if the favor isn’t returned at the time.“Love is the choice to reach out to the other person no matter how they reciprocate. You may even want to ask your spouse, ‘On a scale of one to 10, how much love do you feel from me?’ Then ask, ‘What can I do to make it a 10?’ Before long they may ask you the same question,” Chapman says. “Love is a way of life. Love is a part of who you are so that when a person encounters you, they’re going to feel love. The reality is many times people may reciprocate, but that is not the objective. The objective is to enhance others’ lives.” Make that your objective with your spouse, and you might just find that you arehappily ever after.
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Play Nice, Fight Fair

By the time I married, I’d already been an entrepreneur for several years, but I did bring my spouse into the business… or tried to, anyway. The experiment was short-lived, something that would not surprise David and Jamillah Lamb, business partners, spouses and co-authors ofPerfect Combination: Seven Key Ingredients to Happily Living & Loving Together.Also founders of Between the Lines Productions Inc., a New York theater company, the Lambs have been working together for 10 years, and they’ve learned a lot along the way. “We wrote the book in response to our audiences,” Jamillah says. “People were always surprised to hear we worked together 24-7.” Of course, she will be the first to say that she believesallcouples work together, whether they’re in the same office or not. Managing a household, kids—not to mention the relationship itself—is work.So how does this happily married couple keep the peace on the stage, behind the scenes and at home? They follow the motto “Love like kids; act like adults.” That means combining the joy of being spontaneous, playing together and exploring with taking responsibility for one’s actions. “Don’t say, ‘We never go anywhere,’ ” Jamillah advises. “Take responsibility for going somewhere!”Jamillah says a lot of couples see working together as doubling the opportunity for conflict in a relationship, and that can be true. But she says, “It also doubles the opportunities for growth.”How to Love Like Lambs (David and Jamillah Lamb, That Is)The authors ofPerfect Combination: Seven Key Ingredients to Happily Living & Loving Together share a few tricks of the trade:Let go of the desire to be in control.If one of you does something better than the other, then play to each other’s strengths. Don’t worry about gender roles. If your husband loves to cook, let him do it. There’s no reason you can’t mow the grass if being outdoors is more your style.Appreciate each other, and remember to show it.Pay attention.If you notice something is difficult for your partner, then don’t force her to do it. Notice what she likes to do and what motivates her. “Pay the same attention to each other as you did when you were courting,” David advises.Don’t take the business home.“One of the things we had to learn was not to bring anger or frustration we felt against our employees into our relationship,” Davidsays.Praise first.Even if you have to criticize your spouse, watch how you do it. Point out something he does right first.Learn to disagree without being disagreeable.Take time apart.Cultivate relationships, hobbies and joy outside of the partnership. Maintain your identity as individuals.Let the little stuff go.Take a step back and remember the bigger vision for both your marriage and yourbusiness.
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The Happy Formula for Successful Kids

If you want to raise happy and successful kids, model the traits of a dolphin, says Shawn Achor, author of Before Happinessand The Happiness Advantage, and Harvard researcher. Be playful, friendly, intelligent and social. Dolphin parents raise positive kids, and that sets the stage for future success, Shawn says.Many parents think success first, happiness second, but that’s not how it works. Happiness fuels success and not the other way around, Achor says. The problem with putting success before happiness is that success is a moving target—once you achieve a victory (something you thought would bring happiness) you push the goalpost out, so happiness keeps getting pushed over the horizon. The same philosophy applies to your kids.Parents can increase the likelihood of raising successful kids by focusing on creating a positive environment for their kids because happiness and optimism fuel performance and achievement. “Cultivating positive brains makes us more motivated, efficient, resilient, creative and productive, which drives performance,” Shawn says.To embrace dolphin parenting, Shawn says you need to prioritize happiness and positivity in the present. Here are some ways to do it:Create a positive environment for your kids by modeling optimism. Remember that the lens through which you see the world shapes your reality—and the reality for your kids.Teach your kids to openly express gratitude for three things a day—at the dinner table or before they go to bed each night. Encourage your kids to come up with new things each day. “It gets their brains to operate from a positive place, think about their strengths and cultivate optimism.”Exercise a little bit each day. “Exercise teaches your brain that what you do matters,” Achor says.Encourage your kids to journal about positive experiences. They get to relive happy memories.Make learning fun. Instead of rewarding your kids after they finish homework (delayed gratification), look for creative ways to make the process of doing their homework more enjoyable.Encourage your kids to connect and create deep social support with their friends.Change how your kids view stress. Help them see stress as a challenge and not a threat.Show your kids how to be open to possibilities and make goals attainable. Focus on the positive by reminding kids of past accomplishments to fuel future accomplishments. Break those bigger goals into smaller objectives so kids are encouraged and goals seem reachable.Have your child write a positive note to someone in their life.Have fun and smile.“What we really want is not only to get parents to teach these habits to children, but to model the habits. As the parent becomes more peaceful, calm, compassionate and positive, it becomes easier for the child to respond and do these things as well,” Shawn says.The key is to cultivate happiness in the present moment. When kids are happy and have a positive outlook, success is likely to follow, Shawn says. “When we believe positivity is important in the present, I think we will see a very different future.”Sandra Bienkowski, owner of The Media Concierge, LLC, is a national writer of wellness and personal development content and a social media expert.
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Ron Howard Keeps Family Life in Focus

For Ron Howard, the secrets of happiness are simple, yet profound. “It’s about enthusiastically putting one foot in front of the other, and looking forward to what’s next, handling the challenges and doing the chores,” says the director of Splash, Apollo 13 and now Rush. Ron learned from the imaginary world of movies how to see the real world in fresh ways: “You have to create a special environment in order to catch something extraordinary. You never know when exceptional moments are going to happen, so you have to stay on your toes or you’ll miss them.” In fact, you might say Ron’s mantra and another of his secrets of happiness is the question he’s constantly asking, “How’m I doin’?” Happiness is also all about family and all that represents, Ron explains. It’s about how he treats people. “It’s about noticing what’s in my frame,” says the director, “what’s right in front of me and never allowing myself tobe bored.” Happiness is about love, his favorite word. “It’s loving what I do and who I do it with.” Happiness is about accepting what is beyond a person’s control, including his shrinking hairline–“I got used to it a long time ago.” And it’s much deeper than perfection or bank accounts. “Honestly, if I wasn’t a director, I’d probably be a basketball coach,” he says. “I know I’d love that, too, because I actually did coach my daughters’ high school team a while ago.” Ron married his high school sweetheart and the love of his life, Cheryl Gay Alley, in 1975, when they were 21. About that time he was beginning to experiment with films. He cast Cheryl in the first one, and he still puts her in all his movies. “I call her my good luck charm,” he says. Now they have four grown children and three grandchildren. Cheryl is a pro in her own right, and she’s an adventurous woman whose dad taught her to fly a plane and handle a gun. She researched and wrote the novel In the Face of Jinn, which takes place in Pakistan. “She loves travel and exploring different cultures,” says Ron. According to Cheryl, he says, “one of the things that brought us and has held us together was our appreciation of a good story.” And Cheryl is obviously very much in love with Ron. “He dazzles me,” she told Connecticut magazine. Cheryl coped with the travel requirements of Ron’s career by being willing to move whenever necessary to keep the family together. The couple took their children along on location, and Cheryl handled the logistics, even home-schooling some of the time. “We wanted to live a whole life with our children, so we didn’t compartmentalize,” Ron says. “It was unsettling and confusing. It was chaotic, but they rolled with the punches.” In fact, when Cheryl was pregnant with their son Reed, she arranged for the whole family to be in London. Ron was making Willow, and the move allowed him to be present at Reed’s birth. It was the act of “a real hands-on mom,”he says. Daughter Bryce Dallas remembers, “My mom gave so much to us when we were growing up. Even now she stays very involved in keeping the family together.” A profile of Ron in Connecticut magazine quotes Cheryl telling other moms in their town, “If you ever see any red-haired kids so much as smoking downtown, I want to know about it!” “When I had kids she gave me a piece of surprising advice,” Bryce says. “She said that when it comes to building a strong family, it’s always important to prioritize the marriage. You have to be stable in your marriage and personal relationships before you can impart stability to your children.” Cheryl lives this advice. “My parents have always made time for the little things,” Bryce says. Bryce tells about her parents’ coffee dates, bike rides, trips to the farmers market and watching movies and TV shows together. “As hard as it must be to juggle kids, life, a career and all those responsibilities, they truly prioritize their friendship,” Bryce says. “It’s something my husband and I really pay attention to and try to emulate.” Memorably, Ron and Cheryl gave each of their children a middle name that stands for where he or she was conceived. Daughter Paige says, “I don’t know what they were thinking!” There is Bryce Dallas (representing Texas), her twin sisters Paige and Joselyn Carlyle (in honor of the famed Carlyle Hotel in Manhattan), and son Reed Cross (named after a street in a small town where they were living at the time). Now, Bryce is an accomplished actress and the mother of two children, Theo and Beatrice. She’s married to actor Seth Gabel. Paige is also pursuing an acting career, and Joselyn, a fairly new mom herself, is finishing school and is married to actor/writer Dane Charbeneau. Ron and Cheryl’s son, Reed, is on the pro golf tour. What’s next for Ron and family? He’s already started a project based on a survival story by Herman Melville, who wrote Moby-Dick. “It’s a masterpiece,” Ron says. He found it in the book In the Heart of the Sea: The Tragedy of the Whaleship Essex, by Nathaniel Philbrick. He is currently working with daughter Bryce on Project Imagin8ion, sponsored by Canon. The project encourages the public to submit photos; winners are selected to inspire short films and experimental movies. Joselyn’s husband, Dane, wrote the first film that resulted from the project, and Bryce directed. “It’s the first time we’ve worked together in this way, and I must admit it’s beautiful for me to be able to say the words, ‘my daughter, the director,’ because I know the joy that awaits her,” Ron says. After all, as he says, it’s that joy, and love, that leads to the happinessRon feels.
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