- Perspective by Bahram Akradi -

The Three Sheets

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Bahram-Akradi

A simple method for clear communication that prioritizes the positive.

Every morning and evening, I take a few minutes to say grace for all that I am thankful for. In addition to the obvious — my beautiful family, friends, health, and security — I list specifics from my days, many of which revolve around Life Time, the team that makes our company possible, and the people we serve. 

As the leader of this growing organization, I’m grateful for the way our team has focused over the last couple of years on instilling the values of care and love among our team members. This is important for not only our team, but also you, our members and readers. Let me explain. 

At Life Time, we strive for a culture of care and love, one in which we are all deeply invested in the well-being of one another. We care that our leaders, colleagues, and team members are fulfilled in their roles — personally and professionally — and are passionate about the work they do. It’s a culture in which we take time to connect with one another, to share appreciation as well as honest feedback, and to be clear about expectations. 

We prioritize these principles because if our people are not happy or engaged, we’re not going to achieve our overarching vision of empowering more of you to reach your goals and live a healthy way of life. And we truly want everyone to succeed. 

For this to happen, authentic communication is essential. Yet it’s often one of the first things to suffer when our organization is busy, moving fast, and growing quickly. It’s one of the ways we’ve failed in the past at Life Time.

So to improve alignment, we recently introduced the Three Sheets, a communication tool I developed. I want to share this with you because I believe it can help everyone. It can open the door for more honest conversations and purpose-driven decisions. 

More important, this method can shift the emphasis from what’s wrong to what’s right and good. 

Imagine, for instance, that you strongly disagree with your partner on an important issue. Rather than letting your frustrations simmer, grab three sheets of paper and do this exercise:  

Sheet No. 1: The Positives

Time: 30 minutes, no less. 

On this first sheet, focus on the positives in your relationship. Write down everything you love about your partner. Document the ways he or she contributes, what you agree on, the things you enjoy doing together, the ways he or she makes you laugh, and the unique traits he or she brings to your partnership. Note every positive thing you can think of. 

Sheet No. 2: The Tolerable

Time: 3 minutes, no more.

Identify the things you don’t love (or even like) but can live with. No one is perfect, and to expect otherwise is unrealistic. Be realistic. 

Sheet No. 3: The Deal Breakers 

Time: 30 seconds or three bullets.

These are the make-or-break factors for you — and also where most people get bogged down. This part of the exercise is limited to 30 seconds or three bullets, whichever comes first, to prevent the piling on of grievances that aren’t relevant to the current situation. Focus on what’s happening now. 

Once you’ve completed the exercise, what you do with the information is up to you. You may choose to share your insights as a way of moving beyond the disagreement. You may realize there’s a lot more that’s good than bad and decide to put your attention there instead of focusing on the problem.

The point is, you’re being mindful about the situation, and you’re shifting your mindset. That doesn’t mean that you won’t get frustrated or disagree. You will. It’s simply that you’ve changed the paradigm with this tool, which can create a more positive experience for the two of you going forward. 

That’s the kind of honest communication we want for everyone at Life Time. When our people are happy and fulfilled and have a clear understanding of the vision, that energy spreads through the team to our members — and beyond. And that’s exactly what we need to make our mission of a healthier world a reality.  

I am extremely blessed to be part of this culture of care each and every day.

is the founder, chairman, and CEO of Life Time — Healthy Way of Life.

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