couple-looking-at-a-laptop2_460x300He was so strong, straight forward, and controlling. She was so sensitive, passive, and wounded. They came to my coaching office as a last ditch effort to save their marriage while they were separated.

In the past I would have tried to fix their weaknesses. Now I immediately spotted their strengths. What if they could have a language to call their talent themes? What if they could both embrace the value of each others strengths? What if they both could begin to leverage each others strengths in their love relationship?

Sure enough my hunch was confirmed. After taking the StrengthsFinder assessment and coming to the next session his #1 talent theme was command and her #1 talent theme empathy. Command is defined as having presence, being direct, and exerting control in situations that seem out of control. Empathy is defined as being sensitive to others feelings and bringing emotional intelligence.

I showed them my Strenghtometer analogy how 1-40 MPH is coasting (under using a talent), 41-80 MPH is cruising (appropriately using a talent) and 81-120 MPH is speeding or (over using a talent to a detriment). How could they both drive their talent themes appropriately with each other, their blended family, in each situation?

That was the work in the next three coaching sessions.

As an intentional way of softening his commanding presence, he shaved off his duck dynasty beard he had grown for years as a surprise for her in the next coaching session. She had never seen him without his beard. You could feel the tender energy in the room when she gently placed her hands on his cleanly shaven face for the first time. This act of empathetic affection drew them closer in love and emotional intimacy.

The journey of leveraging their strengths at being a great spouse was now starting to cruise.

My StrengthsFinder mentor, Curt Liesveld wrote “How to Aim your Talent Themes at Being a Great Spouse” for all 34 StrengthsFinder talent themes.
Read below.

Command – I could use this theme to fight for my marriage by confronting external threats and by dealing directly with internal pressures.

Empathy – I show my love to my spouse by sensing their emotions, accepting and valuing their emotions, and encouraging their expression.

If you and your love partner want to learn how to aim your talent themes at being a great spouse then join me for the (actually webinar)
on Sunday February 9th 6-9 PM CST and Monday February 10th 6-9 PM CST from anywhere in the world.

Recordings will be available from this webinar.

What talents are you and your spouse speeding with?
Are you aiming your strengths at being a great spouse?

Please like, share, and discuss your comments and questions below.

34309xxowoiuc1tWhat habits do you have in your love relationship?

Couples can easily fall into unconscious routines of not looking, not touching, and not connecting. Slowly, the love relationship goes comatose.


Couples can effortlessly open their eyes and wake up out of their slumber to create “Blink” behaviors.

In his book Blink, Malcolm Gladwell describes these behaviors as quick unconscious habits that happen in a blink of an eye.

Here are 7 habits of happy couples that can be done naturally in the blink of an eye:

1. Gaze at each other.

If you want your partner to catch your eye then practice gazing. New parents bond with their infants by gazing into each others’ eyes. Our soul is filled with wonder when we watch a sunset or admire a spectacular mountain view. Couples quickly create the feeling of being seen and admired when we lovingly gaze into each others’ eyes.

2. Give 10 second hugs and kisses.

It’s good that you give that quick 2 second hug and peck before you walk out the door. But you get more bang as a couple if you linger for just 8 more seconds on that hug and kiss. Really, don’t tell me you don’t have time for a 10 second hug and kiss. You have about 86,000 seconds in a day make it a habit as a couple every time you hug or kiss just linger for 10 seconds. It’s fun!

3. Walk side by side and hand in hand.

Guys and gals, notice how you walk with your partner. Are you walking so fast that you’re way ahead or so slow that you’re miles behind? Make it a habit to walk side by side and hand in hand from the parking lot to the kids’ game, the restaurant, or into church.

4. Go to bed at the same time.

Many couples fall into habits of going to bed at different times. I realize we all have different sleep routines and personalities. But remember when you were first married? You couldn’t wait to jump into the bed together. The bed was a safe place to unwind and connect. It can still be a great place for snuggling, spooning, and pillow talk.

5. Eat a sit down meal with music.

One of my favorite times to connect with my wife is when we eat at the dinner table with candles, a bottle of wine, and a little music. Not TV and no TV trays sitting in the living room. There is a time and place for eating and watching TV but make it a habit to have weekly sit down dinners with your partner. This creates more meaningful communication.

6. Share good news.

When something good happens in your day create the habit of sharing it with your spouse. We all hear bad news so much that we crave to hear about the positive experiences, the success stories, or the big wins.

8. Say “My bad.”

When each of you make a mistake, make it a habit to quickly say, “My bad.” This is a habit I have on the tennis court when I’m playing doubles. It is my way of taking responsibility and saying I’ll do better next time. Rather than being defensive with your partner, make it a effortless habit of promptly admitting your wrong. It is so refreshing when couples don’t argue but rather say, “My bad!”

Coaching points:

  1. What habits are you strong in and which ones do you need to improve?
  2. What other blink of the eye habits do you use to make your relationship happy?

Brent O’Bannon creates momentum for outrageous success. He is known as America’s Momentum Coach for individuals, couples in business, and companies. For more information go to and

Image: photostock /

Can money buy happiness?

Every year, millions of people scurry to buy gifts on “Black Friday.”  Add a new shopping to the list of sales holidas–“Cyber Monday.”  The term comes from the hope of putting businesses back in the black.  Cyber Monday is the day when you can get the best deals for online shopping.

The holidays that spur sales like these are emotional times in terms of stress and happiness and people love to give and receive gifts.

We all know that money does not guarantee happiness but it can boost short term happiness.

Want 3 ideas to buy more happiness?

1. Buy experiences

According to Jim Harter in his book Well Being, experiential purchases produce two to three times more happiness than buying an item.  Would I rather get a new flat screen TV or a tee time paid for at Pebble Beach golf course?  Would my daughter rather get a music CD or tickets to a concert?  Would my wife rather get some new jewelry or a vacation to Italy? Okay, maybe that’s a toss up.  However, we both have incredible memories, stories, and experiences from the Italy Christmas and birthday trip I gave her a few years ago.

83% of people remember experiential gifts more than material possessions.  A while back, a friend of mine was taken to the World Series at the Ranger ballpark. He came back to our group and ecstatically said, “Boys I went to the World Series! And my son paid for it.”

For holidays or birthdays, think of experiences you could buy for your family and friends. Maybe a concert ticket, a dinner reservation, a cooking class, a ski vacation, or a train trip. What about a show, a wine tasting, or social event?  Or your experiential gift could be a transformational workshop, retreat, or a coaching package.

2. Buy for others

In an experiment people were given $5 or $20 and were to spend the money each day by 5 PM. They were randomly assigned to give to charity, buy a gift for someone else, or spend the money on themselves.  The people who spent the money on a charity or on someone else experienced more happiness than those who made purchases on themselves.  The essence of healthy retail therapy is not making a major purchase for yourself when you’re sad (66% regret their purchase) but buying for someone else.

3. Buy small indulgences

Many females take care of everyone else around them and are poor at self-care.  That’s why small indulgences such as manicures, pedicures, massages, and other spa treatments are boosters of happiness.  For men it could be paying for that extra valet parking, the shoe shine, outsourcing the Christmas lights or that high end bottle of wine or scotch.

Small indulgences help us live in the moment. Soaking up the here and now brings temporary relief and short term happiness.

This year, when the holidays roll around, give the gift of an experience that will make memories for a lifetime. Give to your favorite charity or a treasured person. Finally give yourself permission to splurge a little and soak up that happy moment. Then you will have oodles of happiness.

Here’s an idea for the next time you have to give a gift–buy a month experience of transformational life coaching with Brent for your family member, friend, or customer. Unlimited face to face or telephone sessions for a month make a great $250 dollar gift.

If you’re doing these three things, you’re killing marriage momentum and increasing odds for divorce.

What are they and what can you do about them?

1. Spewing

Reckless words and nagging criticism that spew out of your mouth to your spouse can feel like stabbing them with a knife and hitting them on the head with a hammer. You say, “I didn’t mean it, I just said those words in anger.” But words pierce our soul and create wounds, hurt, anger, and eventually, hate.

Remember the boy that had an anger problem, saying hateful things all the time? His dad made him go hammer nails into the wood fence for punishment. After the boy was finished, the dad made him pull all the nails from the fence. The boy realized how destructive his words were when his dad said, “Son, that’s what mean words do. They leave holes in people.”

The solution is to learn self-control and share from the heart with tact. There are playful ways to get your point across without being sarcastic. It might be saying, “Rude” like Bon Qui Qui or “Kick me! Kick me! It would hurt less.”

2. Stuffing

Giving the silent treatment, turning a cold shoulder, or stuffing your feelings creates a cold war of indifference. This is sometimes called stonewalling and is just as deadly and destructive as spewing criticism. It’s true that holding your tongue is wise and it’s better to overlook an insult that act out but stuffing is usually a form of hurting your spouse in a passive aggressive way. Spouses who stuff thoughts and feelings need to understand they are feeding a relationship cancer with resentment, bitterness, and unforgiveness.

The danger is that you can grow apart by avoiding problems and both of you may begin to quit with an, “I don’t care attitude.” Doing nothing is the fastest way to create a divorce. The solution is to be courageous and realize that open rebuke is better than stuffing your feelings. Learning to give and receive repair attempts is a momentum builder for outrageous love.

3. Sexless

Sex is the thermometer of a marriage. If the marriage is cold there will be very little sex. If the marriage is hot there will be more sex. I know because I’ve been on both spectrums in 26 years of marriage. Women and men both want hot monogamy and making love even when you don’t want to will make your spouse worship the water you walk on.

Remember sex is more than intercourse. It’s frequent touching, tender words, playful banter, lustful looks, deep eye contact, slow foreplay and bursts of flirting. The solution is to keep the sex cooking. Why not have an emotional and physical affair with your spouse?



In my morning hour of power, I was reading a book by Laurie Beth Jones entitled, Jesus Life Coach. She shared a story how, as a little girl she was struggling with rejection and feeling unloved. She loved ladybugs and told God if He really loved her to please send a ladybug. At that moment, a ladybug landed on her arm. The ladybug became a tangible sign of God’s love for her in difficult situations. Even one winter as an adult she was stranded in a blizzard and she prayed for God’s help and a ladybug blew onto her coat.

Inspired by her stories, I started praying for a visible sign that God could secretly show me his love. One day after counseling a client, I went for a walk around the block to renew myself in the sunshine. I asked God to show me His visible sign of love. At that moment I looked down and there was a rusty nail. Excitedly I said, “Yes that’s it!” Jesus demonstrated His love by being nailed to the cross. I continued to walk and found another completely different nail. Just before I entered the outside building door I discovered a third unique nail–all in a matter of ten minutes. Wow! God confirmed His love in threes. I’m thinking Father, Son, and Holy Spirit! For several years I’ve been collecting nails and placing them in a mason jar. That jar full of nails is beside my bed and is a daily reminder of how much God loves me.

What could be your visible sign that God loves you?

Brent O’Bannon creates momentum for outrageous success. He is known as America’s Momentum Coach for individuals, couples in business, and companies. For more information go to and

Image: Suvro Datta /

BrentsMomRecently, while visiting my mother in a nursing home, I witnessed the most amazing human experience. It was something extraordinary like out of the movie, The Green Mile. It reminded me how John Coffey used supernatural healing powers. (If you haven’t seen this movie, I would encourage you to grab it soon.)

Sadly, my mother has deteriorated in her physical health with a form of dementia and severe panic attacks. We can be talking about happy things and then, out of nowhere, her eyes open wide with fear, she starts shaking, and experiences horrific panic. Even with 20 years of experience counseling people with all kinds of mental health issues, treating your own mother in this state of mind is new territory for me.

So, during this last visit, when my mother experienced another panic attack, a woman named Evelyn walked over to her wheelchair. (Evelyn is a large, strong, gentle soul.) She placed her right arm around my mother’s back securely, then her left hand gently over my mom’s heart, and gazed into my mother’s eyes. With supernatural laser-like focus, she spoke with strength and peace to my mother’s heart and soul. “It’s okay, Patty. It’s okay,” she kept repeating. And each time she spoke it, calm began to appear. This continued for five minutes and my mother was gradually soothed and came back to her normal state of mind. During our hour visit this happened four times.

My wife and my eyes welled up with tears seeing the panic in my mom as well as with wonder and amazement at Evelyn’s gift.

I thanked Evelyn for helping my mom with her panic attacks.

Most of us don’t have the same gifts as Evelyn but we can learn from her how to handle a temper tantrum in a four year old, an irate customer or co-worker, or possibly an aging loved one. Evelyn also reminds us that life is a gift, as is love. What gift will you give someone today?

Brent O’Bannon creates momentum for outrageous success. He is known as America’s Momentum Coach for individuals, couples in business, and companies. For more information go to and

Memorial Day weekend is coming up.  Last year, I asked a group of men outside a local coffee shop if they enjoyed it and was surprised by the answers I received. One man blurted out “Yep!” Another commented, “Yeah, we had fun,” and an older gentleman–about 75–said, “I enjoy every day.”

Those words stuck in my mind. I felt his sincere appreciation for being alive today and every single day. He was basking in the early morning sunlight and having coffee talk with his friends.

Most of us enjoy Fridays, the weekend, and holidays but do we enjoy each and every day?

Coaching points:

  1. What relationships and activities do I enjoy each day?
  2. Do I plan my schedule with simple enjoyments each day?
  3. Do I express gratitude for the little joys of each day?

Balanceability is a word I coined that means the ability to balance your life.  Erik Erikson, the father of balance research, identified 8 stages of psychosocial balance. Each stage represents an internal conflict–a crisis–that people experience as they grow, with positive and negative turning points. According to Erikson, in order to live a healthy life, we need to discover the balance between the positive and negative elements of these crises.

The first stage is trust versus mistrust.

Typically, this stage is from birth to 18 months, though, as with any stage, you can go in and out throughout your lifetime.  And Erikson isn’t alone in his theory. Scores of psychologists have written about the importance of the first two years of life on personality development. Do you know much about your first two years? Ask your parents, caregivers, and extended family to fill in the blanks–you might be surprised.

Some questions to ask:

  • As an infant, could I trust that my parents would care for me when I needed them?
  • In my early years, did I discover that life was safe or unsafe–fair or unfair?
  • Did I experience trust or mistrust with people in my life?
  • Did I begin to believe that I was okay or not okay?

These are the types of experiences that develop your basic sense of trust or mistrust. We need a healthy balance of both. Trust helps us to form attachments, relationships, and friendships with self, family, friends, and the world around us. Mistrust helps us protect ourselves from hurtful people and situations. Problems arise when we’re out of balance on either side.

Too much trust can make you gullible, naive, or Pollyanna-like, making you a target for being taken advantage of in life.

Too much mistrust can make you critical, guarded, pessimistic, and unfulfilled in relationships.

In his book Encounters With the Self, author Don Hamachek summarizes the implicit attitude of a person experiencing trust and mistrust.

Trust is…

  • I’m okay, you’re okay
  • Life is generally fair and good to me
  • I’m willing to share what I have

Mistrust is…

  • You’re not okay, I’m not okay
  • Life is generally unfair and unkind to me
  • I’m not willing to share what I have

Here are 3 tips on developing a healthy balance between trust and mistrust:

  1. View people as good, but realize they are human and will eventually disappoint you. When this happens, it’s not the end of the world because, at their core, people are good and the world is generally a good place.
  2. Practice creating a balance between giving and receiving personal information. Be aware–can the person you’re engaging with match your self disclosure?
  3. Balance the favors, compliments, possessions, and gifts that you give and receive. Giving too much or too little will ultimately disrupt the equilibrium in your relationships.

How’s your balanceability between trust and mistrust? What do you need to do to achieve a happy, healthy balance?

Do you want to build a new friendship or strengthen your marriage? Need to repair conflict with a co-worker? Dream of having the self confidence to speak up for what you want?

Researchers at UCLA report that success in life is 20% intellect and 80% emotional intelligence. Boosting your emotional intelligence begins with growing your people skills–the foundation for a happy, successful life.

Be smart from the heart. Here are my top 5 EI tips:

1. Know your emotions

Knowing your emotions is like being a good wine connoisseur. When an oenophile–a wine lover–sips a Cabernet or Zinfandel, you probably won’t hear them describe it simply as “good” or bad.”  Wine may be dry or fruity, smooth or complex, smoky or spicy, tart or buttery–it’s full of subtle aromas, tastes, and textures.  Does your feeling vocabulary express the complexity, subtleties, and wide range of emotions in your life? Become an emotion connoisseur. Get a feeling magnet and hang it on your refrigerator or filing cabinet at work to help you identify your many emotions throughout the day.

2. Manage your emotions

Stuffing leads to hypertension, headaches, muscle tightness, and emotional constipation. Spewing leads to aggression, impulsive behavior, conflicts with people, and hurt feelings. Take the balanced approach to managing your emotions and share your feelings calmly. Sharing, instead of stuffing or spewing, rewards you with self-awareness, physical relief, improved communication in relationships, and, of course, a boost in your emotional intelligence.

3. Motivate yourself

Self-motivated people enjoy happier relationships, higher spirits, and a stronger sense of self responsibility. Want to crank up your self motivation and win every day?

  • Dive into reading and learning about topics that rev your engines
  • Watch movies and listen to music that inspires you
  • Spend quality time with other motivated people
  • Set goals and compete with yourself to achieve them
  • Celebrate your victories

4. Identify and recognize emotions in other people

Reading facial expressions, body language, tone of voice, and eye contact are crucial to fully understanding others and strengthening your emotional intelligence. Don’t only listen for what is being said, pay attention to what is unsaid, as well. Train yourself to state the obvious. For example; “You keep looking at the floor when you are talking to me. Help me understand what is going on inside of you right now.” The better you can read and understand other peoples’ “traffic signs,” the more successful you will be in connecting and communicating in meaningful, healthy ways. Traffic signals keep us safely on the road to our destination.  The same is true in relationships.

5. Care for your relationships

As leadership expert, John C. Maxwell says, “People don’t care how much we know until they know how much we care.” Caring for relationships is like tending a garden.  You must prepare a foundation, plant seeds, nurture the buds as they grow, manage weeds, and harvest the fruit. Ask yourself, how can I tend to the relationships in my life?  Is it time to plant?  Time to nurture?  Time to harvest? You may not have a green thumb but when you care for the relationships in your life, building emotional intelligence along the way, you are certain to see love and friendship blossom.

Do you use your strengths in your marriage?

Marriage is like a combination lock; your job is to find the right numbers, in the right order, so you can unlock your love potential. Famous management consultant Peter Drucker once said that “Most Americans don’t know their own strengths. When you ask them, they look at you with a blank stare.” Drucker was dead on. When it comes to understanding our strengths most of us are in the dark. Yet the fastest way to marriage success is by discovering and applying our strengths.

How then, can you focus on your strengths if you don’t know what those strengths are?

The short answer is: you can’t.

Through the Strengths Finder 2.0, I can help you and your spouse discover your top 5 strengths.
For example if your spouse is a LEARNER, then sign her up for yoga or piano lessons or a class at the local college. Take her to a book store or a movie or the opera, any place she can learn new ideas and activities. For learners, life is one long deliberate journey from ignorance to competence. Understand this much about her and you’ve just connected in a meaningful way you and she never thought possible.

If one of her strengths is HARMONY then be on the lookout for areas of agreement. Find common ground. Steer clear of debates and lickety-split you find your own life in perfect harmony.

If you husband has the ACTIVATOR strength then utilize it to help you make improvements around the house. They can transform ideas into immediate action.
Maybe your husband has WOO (Winning Others Over). This strength can bring fun, energy and more socialization to your relationship. This strength also can naturally use humor to put the conflict with the teenagers at ease.

So as you approach Valentine’s Day how do you jump over weaknesses and flow in your strengths?

You need a coach to teach you how. And now you have one!