Leadership, Longevity & Life

5 Timeless Practices for True Wealth

Great Leaders invest as much time in building meaningful and long lasting relationships as they do in building empires.

Kevin and Jackie Freiberg

The key to true wealth is meaningful relationships.

Thriving in life, at work and beyond are the result of developing and investing in meaningful relationships.

Longevity and true fulfillment in life is about investing in people.

The depth and quality of your relationships not only adds to your life span but it is the single most significant factor for improving the QUALITY of your life.

According to a 75-year Harvard Study of Adult Development, the biggest key to happiness and fulfillment in life is love.

Yep, love!

And we all know love is the result of having deep and meaningful relationships not deep pockets.

Bottom line, if you want to live long and well, surround yourself with GOOD people, nurture close relationships and connect face to face.

That means put your phones away.

Social media is not an adequate substitute for authentic connection.

Take a cue from the experts, living well is NOT only about your genes, weight, air quality or vices.

If you’re well connected and personally fulfilled, if you feel supported at work and in life, the quality and length of your life will improve.

Here are 5 timeless leadership practices to borrow from to improve your relationships at home and at work. 

  1. Being right is highly overrated!

Being right vs. being kind will screw up a lot of relationships.

You might win the battle, but you may also lose the war, so pick your battles wisely.

And for the skeptics out there, we are not talking surgery, physics, engineering or military missions, we’re talking about relationships.

The need to be right is often about pride, ego, arrogance or perfectionism, it’s a way of ARMORING UP to cover insecurities.

But the rationalizing, scheming and debating for protecting the ego can be stressful, exhausting and becomes a lonesome road.

Being right often comes across as unkind, insensitive and sometimes abrasive. Proving you are right rarely leads to connection, unity and intimacy.

In fact, it usually produces contention and makes others feel undervalued.

The need to be right puts you in a judgmental posture where you scrutinize others’ opinions and look for evidence to prove yours.

Think about it, if you are vehemently affirming your perspective, then it’s likely you are devaluing the perspectives of others.

What if you chose to be OPEN vs. RIGHT?

What if dialing down the need to be right was replaced with dialing up the desire to more open-minded.

  • being open is about exploring differences, possibilities, solutions and new perspectives.
  • being open is about prioritizing learning, growth and self-awareness over protecting and preserving ego and perfectionism?
  • being open is about realizing disagreement doesn’t have to mean right or wrong, it can simply mean difference.

Try it! By dialing down the need to be right and dialing up your desire to be kind and open you’ll grow your reputation as a leader who is respected, liked AND deeply loved.

2. The story I’m telling myself…

In the absence of accurate information and in the midst of uncertainty our brains are wired to makes sense of what’s happening in our lives, it’s our way of self-protecting.

And the brain loves patterns, especially binary patterns:

Good vs. bad…

Safe vs. dangerous…

Ally vs. enemy…

And if patterns are not readily available our brain will try to create them. One way we do that is to create “possible” stories to make sense of anything uncertain.

And guess what, most of the time the stories we create are SFD’s – “shitty first drafts” or stormy first drafts if you are offended by the naughty S word.

And SFD’s are NOT your best work.

Why? Because the brain is also wired to assume worst case so we make up these SFDs from our biggest fears and insecurities.

Think about it, relationships are riddled with uncertainty. People do and say things all the time that we may not fully understand. But we need to make sense of the uncertainty.

So in our feeble attempt to make sense of the behaviors’ of others we create SFDs.

And be warned, SFDs are not grounded in facts and truth, they are inspired by our own worst fears and insecurities.

SFD’s are toxic to building meaningful relationships at work and in life.

Building meaningful relationships is about rumbling with uncertainty, NOT accepting it.

First you have to own your SFD and dare to share it.

By checking with the source and sharing SFDs you are engaging in a RUMBLE, a call to courage.

A rumble is having the grit, grace and gravitas to be vulnerable, to engage in a real discussion or conversation about tough stuff.

A rumble means you show up to serve the relationship not your ego.

Rumbling with your SFD’s to get to truth will lead to more fulfilling relationships and increased quality of life.

3. Be Interesting and interested!

All the respected, liked and loved people we know are BOTH interested and interesting, and in that order!

Interested by definition means, expressing a spirit of curiosity. It is caring about the ideas and opinions of others, asking questions, probing to learn and understand.

Interested people create space for others to talk.

Do you express curiosity by inviting and offering space for others to share their voice?

Interesting by definition means, having a unique point of view, strong convictions, a clear and captivating voice.

Are you someone worth listening to?

Would you want to spend an evening over dinner with you? Have you acquired a body of knowledge you can apply to many things going on in the world?

How would you rate yourself on a scale of 1-7 in terms of being interested and interesting? (1 = low/7 = high).

What do you want to work on, being more interested or more interesting?

Let’s unpack interested…

Peter Drucker was famous for saying, “The leader of the past knows how to TELL and the leader of today knows how to ASK.”

The last time you connected with a group, did you do most of the talking and telling?

Although you may take pride in being the life or the party or holding court during a group dinner, let’s be honest, doing all the talking is selfish and self-absorbed.

We’ve witnessed, first hand, what happens when a CEO holds court during a corporate dinner. The guests sit back, zip it and listen painfully as engagement and connection tank.

Sound familiar? Then don’t sit back and just take it!

Why not bring a spirit of curiosity to the table? ASK and include others in the conversation.

You may be just the lifeline people are hoping for.

We say to our kids, “You don’t have to be the life of the party, but do whatever you can to bring life to the party.”

Now let’s unpack interesting…

Interesting people tell interesting stories. And people of influence know how to tell stories. Why?

Stories are, and always have been, a powerful teaching tool. This fact has been demonstrated for over 2,000 years.

Research shows that stories can increase recall by up to 300 percent!

What happens if you place critical data or an important point in an interesting story? If people remember the story, they will most likely remember the point and the data.

Stories are entertaining, easy to replicate and pass on.

And stories create common experiences that strengthen the unity of a community.

Story telling is a skill and an art.It takes practice to become more interesting, so don’t be shy, practice the art of story telling.

If you want to become a better leader, have more meaningful relationships and improve the quality of your life, then work on being BOTH interested and interesting.

It is a balancing act and it is worthy of practice.

4. Don’t be sorry, change!

If you find yourself apologizing for the same thing more than a couple times, it’s time to show you are sorry and change.

Here is another personal example.

When our kids were young we had a neighborhood carpool. Kevin, self-admittedly, is notoriously late. And that didn’t go over well with a couple of the kids in the carpool.

First day: Kevin showed up late. He pulled up, rolled down the window and said, “Sorry!”

Second day: Kevin showed up late and said, “So sorry!”

Our neighbor looked at Kevin and said, “Don’t be sorry, change!”

Our neighbor was right.

Our neighbor was practicing simple, direct non-emotional communication.

The phrase “Don’t be sorry, change!” made such an impression on us that we have adopted it as a family motto and practice it regularly in our home.

5. Be a feedback junkie.

Self-awareness is an honest understanding of yourself.

It means fully knowing who you are, your values, passions, goals, personality, strengths and yes… your weaknesses.

Self-awareness is also understanding the impact you have on others AND how others perceive you.

The more you know about yourself, the better you are at growing steadily, adapting to change and positioning yourself and others for success.

But there’s a problem.

Almost everyone thinks they’re self-aware but, according to an HBR study, only about 10-15 percent of people really are self-aware.

As an example, When was the last time you saw a social media post in which someone said, “Here are my 3 fatal flaws” or “Here’s how bad my family screwed up?”

Thanks to social media, many of us have become our own public relations firm. Publishing our most polished selves for the world to admire and envy. Unfortunately, a lot of posting on social media is about presenting the facade.

So, if the research is accurate, on any given day 80% of us are bullshitting to ourselves and world about ourselves.

And here’s the kicker. Most people believe they’re well above average on every socially desirable characteristic. But the truth is, the least competent people are the most confident about their abilities and performance.

And the more power a person has, the more likely they are to overestimate their skills and capabilities. The higher you go in an organization, the less feedback you get so, you develop blind spots. And blind spots cause us to become more self-absorbed and less self-aware.

This is a fatal flaw in leadership and relationships.

As we say in our coaching sessions, we are all a work in progress. We all have far more work to do than we think.

But the good news is self-awareness can be developed.

If you want to grow self-awareness become a feedback junkie.

We see what we train ourselves to look for. So…

ASK. Summon the courage to seek feedback from kind and caring critics—people who know you, are for you and will tell you the truth in love because they want you to be better.

OWN what is true. When people give you feedback, find the nuggets of truth. Perhaps you can’t buy into everything, but you should look for themes, common threads. Is there some thread of truth in what people are telling you?

Could you ask and listen more and talk less… sometimes?

Could you be more decisive… sometimes?

Could you be less defensive… sometimes?

Could you take things a little less personally… sometimes?

ACT. Find the NERVE, the courage to act, to change based on the common themes.

Think about it, when you catch yourself drifting into another lane because you were texting while driving, you become more self-aware. But, it’s another thing to act on that self-awareness by breaking the habit.

Don’t drift, change.

Growing your self-awareness is about being your best for those who MATTER MOST in your life.


As the world breaks free from COVID quarantines, forced closures and long-term separation, people are craving connection and change.

It’s time to put the smart technology aside and get real, get face to face, press the flesh, break bread and engage in deep meaningful conversation.

The next time someone extends you a hand, go in for the hug, it might be the key to living long and well!

We spoke on this during a live virtual event on May 6, 2021. During that session we unpacked three of the 5 timeless practices described above: