I love my family so very much. Not because we’re all so similar, and everything’s perfect. Rather, we actively work on our our relationships with one another, and we allow iron to sharpen iron.

In my discussion with Keri Roberts on her podcast, Ordinary People doing Extraordinary Things, we got personal. We even talked about my most vulnerable professional moment. So, what gives me courage in those moments? What pushes me to do more, try harder, aim higher? It’s always my family.

First, there’s my husband, Minki.

We’ve been married for 21 years, and in every way, he’s my better half. Thoughtful, steady, accepting, loving. Keri touches on the moment I knew I would marry him at 7:44 in the podcast we recorded. In fact, Minki and I are complete polar opposites; just look at our MBTI: I’m ENTJ, he’s ISFP. Yet, we share a heart for things that matter. We both love music and tennis, our daughter and one another. Most importantly, Minki doesn’t just accept me (which might be the easier path given our personalities!) Rather, he’s the iron that sharpens me – my husband challenges, encourages, and supports me.

Emily Chang | The Spare Room | Minki Tacocat
Dressing for a party at Tacolicious, I wore a Spanish dress, while he donned is TACOCAT t-shirt. Yep, that’s us.

Then, there’s our daughter, Laini.

Our family is shaped like an equilateral triangle because she’s such an amazingly intelligent, thoughtful, compassionate human. No, she’s not a smaller angle simply because she’s a child; Laini is fully 33.33% of our family unity. At 13:39 in the podcast, Keri talks about her critical role in picking up one of our Spare Room kids, Teo. Laini, though only twelve-years old, is iron that sharpens iron. She’s quiet and often keeps to herself. She observes and digests. Yet, in the important moments, she speaks up. My daughter speaks for those who struggle to speak for themselves. Though one of the quieter ones in class, she was the one who reported a teacher who behaved inappropriately. She’s the one to mediates and solves problems, the one who’s sensitive to everyone around her and leaves everyone she comes in contact with, better.

Emily Chang | The Spare Room | Laini glammed up
This is us being glam for an event…
Emily Chang | The Spare Room | with Laini silly
But this is much more reflective of what we’re like day to day!

So, how do we become the iron that sharpens iron?

In thinking about the amazing people I get to share life with, here are some things we can all do, to sharpen those around us.

  1. Demonstrate genuine care. Of course you care about your co-workers… but do they know you do? What visual cues might you give, which would help them believe that you’re on their side, that you care for them and you’re in it with them?
  2. Set aside time for honest conversations. Daily tasks will consume all available time and mind space, if we let them. So show people they’re important to you by setting expectations, discussing where we’ve met or fallen short of each other’s desires, and confronting difficult issues as they arise. Have you established a routine to connect regularly with the people who need to know they matter to you?
  3. Ask unexpected questions. “How was your day?” will elicit the expected result, but “Tell me one thing that caught you by surprise today” will cause someone to think a little harder. Not to mention, they’ll recognize that you really want to know something about how they’re doing.
  4. Enable them to feel seen, heard, and valued. If her mom is in the hospital, send her a week of meals so she doesn’t have to cook when she gets home. Or if he’s learning how to play piano in his free time, give him some old piano books you’re not using anymore. Small gestures, when they reveal big heart, can have meaningful impact.
  5. Call out issues. Proactively address issues you observed, but try and withhold judgment. Ask questions and probe the motivation behind the behavior. Be hard on the issue, soft on the person.
  6. Describe the possibility you see. Paint a vision of who they might become, planting seeds for their future greatness. Because if you see it in them, they may begin to see it too, as those seeds take root.
  7. Laugh together. Sharpening doesn’t always feel good, though we grow from it and normally, appreciate the effort of the other. So even as iron sharpens iron, let’s make sure we find time, value humor, and share experiences together.

To listen to more of my podcasts, click here.