Lessons From a Hug©

If you know me, then you know that I’m a hugger–and, yes, I hug men and women (albeit fewer men, but I’m always looking for more hugging men). In fact, I’m known as a great hugger. While people may not come from miles away for a Jeff Hug (yes, they have been branded), people often tell me that they are looking forward to a Jeff Hug when they know they are going to see me. While I could write an entire article about hugs, my focus today is on a lesson that I recently learned from hugs–a lesson that you can use in many parts of your life and business.

Until recently, I was a traditional hugger in terms of how I positioned myself for the hug–head to the other person’s right side (or head to the left as you look at the other person). Take a moment to get that visual clear in your head. Whether these were short or long hugs, the other person and I always seemed to fit together. It was like a hand in a glove or two perfectly matched shapes. In fact, this perfect fit made me believe that we are all meant to be huggers, but then something happened.

Some of my friends are heart-to-heart huggers, which means putting your head to the other person’s left side (or to the right as you look at the other person). This positioning allows your two hearts to be over one another when you hug. It’s beautiful, intentional and purposeful, but I found the positioning to be extremely awkward. As much I love hugs, I felt odd when I hugged someone heart-to-heart, and I couldn’t put my finger on the problem–at least until recently, and therein lies the important lesson.

When I hug someone the traditional way–head to the other person’s right side–I always put my right arm over their left shoulder and my left arm under their right arm and thus we perfectly align. The problem was that when I hugged someone heart-to-heart I did the same thing with my arms (right arm over their left and left arm under their right). However, this does not work well when hugging heart-to-heart (head to the other person’s left side). It’s physically awkward and the two people simply do not fit together. That was my “duh” moment.

When I switched my arms for a heart-to-heart hug (left arm over their right arm and right arm under their left arm), we again fit together perfectly. We were naturally aligned and, therefore, able to fully enjoy the hugging experience (make no mistake, it is an experience to be enjoyed, savored and shared).

Do you see the lesson? I changed something that I was doing (traditional hug to heart-to-heart hug), but I didn’t change how I was doing it. The results were ineffective hugs, awkwardness and missing the essence of the process. In other words, I had to shift my approach in order to make the new way work. Too often, we make changes, but the changes are incomplete because we don’t change (or even consider) what else needs to change in order to make the first change matter.

From this experience, I also learned the valuable lesson that I often need to shift my perspective in order to see and understand what is not working. I knew it wasn’t working, but I just assumed (and assumptions are usually limiting when it comes to change) that was just the way it was. Heart-to-heart hugs make a lot of sense, but they aren’t comfortable or are even awkward, I thought. But it wasn’t the hug that was the problem–I and my old ways of thinking were the problems and the obstacles.

Who would have thought that I could discern such an important lesson about innovation, change, perspective shifts and implementation from a hug? However, I often find that I learn the most from the things and experiences that I least expect to learn from–if I can be aware of and open to those lessons.

What can you do with these lessons? First of all, start hugging more (men and women) and let the hugging experience improve your physical, emotional and even spiritual health. Second, when you implement change, make sure to consider the other related elements to ensure that they also change in order to align with your new changes.

Third, if some change seems awkward, it could be just a matter of adjusting to something new, but it might be that you have to make other changes in order to make the initial change as effective as possible.

Finally, be aware of the need to check and adjust your perspectives (or get the outside perspectives of others) often so that you can identify those slight shifts that make all the difference in the world. These are simple lessons from a hug, but they have robust and impactful applications in your business and your life.


  1. Hi Jeff…

    It was so nice to meet you Tuesday! I am reading through your blog and really enjoying it! Keep up the good work and hope we run into each other some time again when you are back in town.


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