Category Archives: Uncategorized

The 4 Most Annoying Love Themes


Annoying Love Themes

Valentine’s Day is the time of year when husbands, fathers, and sons run ragged, scratching their heads trying to be romantic. It’s interesting how the onus is on the man to prove his love and devotion. Florists, jewelers, and bakers thrive at this time of the year. When men are trying to figure out what is considered romantic without being cheesy, they tend to rely on popular culture for their ideas. Unfortunately, what mainstream culture portrays as romantic may not be representative for the general population (female population). Below is a list of four themes that can easily backfire.

  1. Love Quote – The worst quote is from the movie Jerry Maguire: “You complete me.” I’ve never understood why this is considered so heartfelt. If you believe that you need to love yourself before you can truly love someone else, then how on earth is it possible for someone else to complete you? I understand I may be a cynic, but I prefer being whole. If you say this to your valentine, she may or may not appreciate the sentiment.
    Love Song – I twitch just thinking about this song, Celine Dion’s hit from the movie
  2. Love Song – I twitch just thinking about this song, Celine Dion’s hit from the movie Titanic, “My Heart Will Go On.” Please don’t play this song for your valentine. I pray it won’t be playing at a restaurant during a romantic evening. Maybe it is because the song was overplayed, but I can’t even listen to more than two beats before I change the channel or leave. Spare yourself and your date, and don’t play this song.
  3. Love Story – The ultimate love story of all time is Romeo and Juliet. It’s been told a dozen times in more modern formats. I know the ending, but I still get sucked in every time. SPOILER ALERT: they both die! How on earth is this considered romantic? Why does every love story end in such tragedy? What kind of message are we sending about love anyway? Can’t we just have a happy ending (no pun intended)?
  4. Fairytale – Cinderella is what every girl grows up wanting to be: a beautiful princess who meets her charming prince. I’m very confused about this one. First of all, how uncomfortable must it be to dance in a glass slipper? Then, how do you lose a glass slipper? You didn’t have one second to pick it up? Instead, you hobble along and waste time walking with one heel? Then Prince Charming finds the glass slipper and tracks down the princess it fits. Really? Do you know how long it would take to find a woman who fits a size 7 glass slipper? Wouldn’t it be easier to just ask if anyone knew who she was?

The best advice is to be present as your best present. Enjoy quality time with your loved one and show your thoughtfulness and appreciation.

Top 3 Reasons People Get Under Our Skin


Feeling trapped

Did you know that we make an impression of someone within one tenth of a second! It usually takes a few seconds thereafter to become aware of the impression. In that short time frame we determine whether someone is attractive, trustworthy, and credible. We are constantly bombarded with an unending stream of cognitive stimulation. Our brain needs to simplify things and create short cuts to process that amount of information coming at us. These impressions can sometimes be reliable and other times they can be faulty. We may find that when we do meet someone there is something about them that just bugs us. We can’t always put our finger on it, but we know they rub us the wrong way and they get under our skin. There are several reasons for this disconnect. Below are the top 3 reasons why people get under our skin.

  1. We expect other people to act and think like us. If I am a detail-oriented person, I think everyone else should be. Or if I love going out and meeting new people, I would expect everyone else to enjoy the same interactions. The minute we expect others to be like us and act like us, we lose sight of our unique differences and strengths.
  2. We secretly wish we could act like others. I have clients who wish they had certain strengths such as being blunt and direct so they don’t have to agonize over hurting other people’s feelings. Yet, when they meet these assertive people, they are frustrated by them and annoyed at how bold they are.
  3. We see something in someone else that is indicative of how we are and we don’t like it. You mayfind that you are easily irritated by people that are not punctual. This may be seen as inconsiderate and offensive. However, if you evaluate your own behavior you might find that you are also frequently late. It’s easier to recognize negative attributes in others than with ourselves.

The MIND the Matters workshop will you identify your own style and that of others to enhance your compatibility in your relationships and sustain productive relationships.

The unspoken truth about giving flowers for Valentine’s Day

Regardless of whether you give your valentine chocolate, diamonds, or flowers. Flowers on Valentine’s Day means roses.

316If you attempt to get any other flower, you are missing the boat. If you really want to be in the dog house, get carnations.or a romantic dinner, flowers are still a must. But there are a few rules to keep in mind:

  1. If you get roses, they must be red. Any other color is a letdown. Yellow for a friend or pink if you’re not sure where you stand? That’s totally confusing. You really can’t go wrong with red roses.
  2. You must get a dozen roses; it doesn’t matter how ridiculously priced they are. If you give one rose, you look cheap. If you want to save money, don’t get the long-stemmed roses.
  3. If you forget to get flowers or they are sold out, a single, fake rose wrapped in cellophane from 7-11 will be brought up in every fight from here until eternity. Tell her “they won’t die,” and you are digging a bigger hole!

These are just the unspoken rules; I didn’t create them. I’m not speaking for all women (but probably for most of them). Taking the time to plan ahead can save money and more than anything, the sweet sentiment on the little card inside the roses will give major bonus points. Be creative. Tell her something you appreciate about her, and have a Happy Valentine’s Day.

5 secrets to running your business like an Olympian


I have often wondered about the characteristics that lead to an Olympic attitude and the winning characteristics of professional athletes. I am even more surprised when I see one of these individuals succeed in a brand new environment. For instance, put a skating champion or a football star on Dancing with the Stars and they still come out on top! I am huge fan of reality television and predicting human behavior. Whenever I see a true athlete I automatically think “that will be the winner.” I’ve come to realize that it is more than just the sport they are in. The drive to succeed is in them, no matter where they find themselves. I see this same drive and potential for success with business owners. Do you have what it takes to run a business like an Olympian? Below are five of the secrets that make Olympians true winners!

  1. Practice, practice, and practice some more! We’ve all heard of the importance of practice. I’m talking about going beyond the normal daily lesson. Driven people are immersed in what they do. They are consumed and maybe even obsessed by it. They live and breathe it. They watch videos of themselves. They learn from people they emulate and look within themselves to get better and better and better.
  2. Take risks and have guts. Anyone who has ever achieved an unbelievable feat took a risk somewhere. It may have meant believing in themselves at their core and reaching out to someone who could help, but also reject them; picking up and moving to a new state where the resources might be more plentiful; or investing their heart, soul, and savings into what they do. Those are risks that are full of conviction.
  3. Blood, sweat, and tears. Be willing to sacrifice. Achieving greatness doesn’t come easy for anyone. If it were easy, everyone would be great. Those who achieve greatness have sacrificed a lot to get where they are. Top athletes remember practicing their sport for countless hours, learning and growing while giving up typical childhood activities. The same is true in running a business. At least in the beginning, there are a lot of sacrifices.
  4. Do what it takes. Anything worth doing is worth doing well. That doesn’t mean it is easy. It means finding a way to make it happen. There are solutions to any obstacle if you look hard enough. Most people spend so much time focusing on what isn’t working that they can’t envision what they need to do to make it happen. Successful athletes reach out, connect, use supports, and set a vision to achieve their goal. A challenge is just part of the process. Figure out a way around it. It doesn’t matter what type of obstacle is involved – money, relationships, time, etc. – there is always a way around it. Adopt an attitude of embracing adversity. Bring it!
  5. Burning desire. You must have true belief in yourself – an inner drive and an inner knowing – that you can do it! Your courage and vision for what is possible will instantly inspire other people. There is great strength of character in the undeniable belief in your own dreams, your ability to just know and then just do.

Take a look at yourself and determine where you are on these five keys. Where do you need to focus to fulfill your dreams? Now get going.

Are your beliefs driving the bus in the wrong direction?

Most people aren’t aware of their underlying beliefs about themselves, their relationships, and their environmeschool_bus_burning_out_500_clr_509nt. In my experience, one of the best ways to predict whether someone will be successful is whether they believe they will be successful. That seems fairly straightforward, but underlying that statement is a host of other beliefs. Do you believe that if you are rich you must not be considerate, or maybe it means you’re greedy? Do you believe you are worthy of success or you are destined to fail? Do you believe you are loveable or not? These deep-seated beliefs drive our actions continuously and they are not always apparent. You may want to achieve a particular goal, but you need to be clear on what is driving the bus. Your beliefs determine your level of motivation, the actions you take, the interactions you have, and the conscious thoughts you have. In order to begin clarify your underlying beliefs, ask yourself the questions below:

  1. What are five beliefs that hinder your progress?
  2. Where did these beliefs originate?
  3. How could you change these beliefs to support your goals?

Are you considered successful?


Are you considered successful?

What does success mean to you? Everybody has a different notion and understanding of the word success. For some, success means raising a happy and healthy family, while others view success as becoming a millionaire, and yet others have definitions that fall somewhere in the middle. It’s really an interesting question. So often, we have a running monologue in our heads about wanting success. We go to work, take care of the kids, and do the right things, all with the underlying motive of achieving success. Yet we very rarely sit and consider what it is that we are really after. What actually is success? How do we know we are successful? It’s not as though someone hands us a ribbon that says “Congratulations — you’ve achieved success!” Often someone else may deem us successful, but that doesn’t mean that we view ourselves that way. So take a moment and reflect on what you are really going after. How would you know that you are truly successful? Would that mean that you are happy, fulfilled, rich?

If you can determine in detail what your definition of success actually is, then you can clearly identify what it looks like, how it feels, and most of all, when you have arrived. (That’s a trick, because I don’t believe we ever really arrive, we just set new goals!) Once you’ve clarified what you are after, then you create a game plan for getting there. Below is a series of questions that will help you fine-tune your specific goals to achieving success.

Top 10 Questions to Clarify Your Goals:

  1. If you knew you couldn’t fail, what would you do?
  2. What were your goals when you were a child?
  3. What have you decided you are too old to do?
  4. What goals did you have last year that you gave up on?
  5. What would you like to accomplish by the end of the year?
  6. What would you like to possess by the end of the year?
  7. Who would you like to be by the end of the year?
  8. Where would you like to be in 10 years?
  9. When are you happy and energized?
  10. What would you really like to do?

Tired of chasing perfect?

Have you been chasing your idea of perfection? Does it end up making you feel that, no matter how hard you try, you’re just not quite cutting it? Perfectionism is a factor all too common among lawyers (as well as other professionals and business owners). Each of us has an idea of what constitutes a “perfect” life — perhaps it’s living in a particular neighborhood, looking a certain way, acquiring an array of material possessions, reaching certain accolades or having your spouse and children do the same. I am 100% in favor of having a vision of what you want your life or career to look like and going for it full throttle. (special thanks to Ann Forno for coining this phrase!)running_walking_500_clr_8351

Here’s part of a message that I wrote to a Platinum Client that may help you understand the difference:

I realized something about me that may apply to you too. One way the Resistance (i.e., self-sabotage as per Steven Pressfield in his book The War of Art) shows up in my life is by SO wanting my future vision to manifest that I am utterly unable to be present in my current life. I get unhappy about not being “there” that it can ruin the present, which then leads me to be unhappy now. I then beat myself up for not being “there”, put undue pressure on myself, get depressed, and then get lethargic. When I am lethargic, I don’t have the energy to do the work. Plus, all my negativity brings about more negative stuff (via principles of Cause & Effect or Law of Attraction). The Resistance WINS. It wins because I give up. It wins because I feel as though I can’t experience any joy until I got “there”. I now see what I have been doing, and how it was the Resistance all along. I don’t think you are as extreme as me with this. But, I offer this so you can learn from my mistakes. One huge reason it took me so long to get to where I am today in my business (& I have a way to go still) is because I kept falling into a pattern of Resistance where I got so miserable, I would derail myself.

So, lesson learned: celebrate what you have now – even the crap — because it is a stepping stone; acknowledge all that IS working, especially things we take for granted living in the USA (like an abundance of food, clothing, shelter, etc.) ; keep doing something that will move you toward your vision DAILY; and most importantly, take time to take care of yourself. When you don’t, you risk succumbing to the Resistance. You will reach your goals faster if you can enjoy the ride now without going into either extreme: the extreme of chasing perfect and the extreme of complete indulgence.

Where do YOU stand? Are you chasing perfect? If so, then I invite you think about how the incessant chase of perfection only delays your ability to accomplish your goals AND makes the journey less fulfilling. Instead, commit to doing some of the actions outlined in the second paragraph of the aforementioned note. You’ll be a lot happier and as a result, you’ll reach your vision of success faster.

Ann Jenrette-Thomas, Esq., CPCC, ACC; President and CEO; Esquire Coaching 800-871-9012, Ext.776250#

Are you a lover or a fighter?

I have always been interested in the variety of ways people deal with conflict. There are some people who thrive on the potential for conflict and others who will hold back so hard they bite their lip until it bleeds. I’ve come to realize that your personality and behavioral style are strongly related to how you manage conflict, miscommunication, and disagreements.

Some people are wonderful in the midst of a crisis. They are decisive, able to use common sense, and protect themselves and others without hesitation. Often, however, the people who do so well in conflict are also not afraid of conflict, so they are more likely to be the people who create conflict! In the MIND the Matters Program, these people are called the Directors. They thrive on conflict, handle crisis situations with ease and make rapid decisions. They love a challenge and are driven for the thrill of victory.


On the flip side is the opposite style, the Nurturers. The Nurturers’ natural response is not to fight, but to flee (at least internally). The Nurturer will tolerate conflict even though it makes their skin crawl to limit the intensity of the conflict. They will hide their emotions as much as possible. Watch out, though! There will be the rare occurrence when all that emotion and resentment reaches a critical pressure point and the pipe bursts. At this point no one should mess with the Nurturer. Once they apologize for their outburst, they will go back to hiding their emotions.

The Investigator flees from conflict and threat by removing themselves from the situation as quickly as possible. They are not quick thinkers, so they step away to keep things calm while they think through to find a way to solve the disagreement. There are times when the Investigator will avoid people and situations if there is the slightest discord or they sense conflict brewing. Investigators remove themselves to analyze the potential threat, calculate the probability of injury, and do a risk analysis, at which time they are paralyzed and frozen.

The Motivators are optimistic and positive. They want to be around people and positive situations and will dodge any conflict if possible. Conflict equates to rejection and they do not want to be disliked. However, since they are so persuasive, they will disarm others with their influence, light-heartedness and skillful persuasion.

Do opposites really attract?

160After training hundreds of classes on personality and behavioral styles I have found that most couple and spouse whom take the class together are almost always opposites. I have been told that I have even saved some relatiooppositesnships. In one class there was a husband, wife and child. All three of them were three different styles!

I believe that we are attracted to people that have qualities we admire. We are drawn to others who seem to have strengths and attributes that are effortless for them and yet agonizing for us. That difference does create an initial attraction and it intrigues us because we want to associate with people that represent want we want. It also explains why in the beginning of a relationship we find their quirks cute….and then…after a few months we no longeMTMr find them quite as cute. Those are the same traits that now drive us nuts!

126In the MIND the matters workshop you will learn the characteristics of all four behavioral styles. The Dominator and Nourisher are exact opposite styles and the Investigator and Motivator are also opposites. That means that the strength of one is the challenge of the other.

Consider you might be very forthright and a straight shooter. The opposite of your style is someone who would find that awfully rude. So they will try very hard to be diplomatic. The straight shooter views this overly considerate person as wishy-washy. Similarly, a creative and imaginative person likes to consider lots of ideas and they are stimulated by brainstorming. The opposite style prefers to think within the box and follow logic.

161It becomes obvious that our unique attributes can help others and make them crazy at the same time. The key to success is to appreciate differences and work to leverage the strengths of each style. Sometimes however that is much easier said than done!

How often are you stood up for a business meeting?

I’m completely surprised when I hear people saying they have been stood up for a business meeting. Now let me clarify. When I say stood up, I mean your appointment was a no-show. They didn’t call to say they were running late, they didn’t call to reschedule, they didn’t pass go, they didn’t collect $200. You had every intention to meet with them as a ‘professional’ to discuss business, either as a referral partner, a prospect, or just a general get-together. And there you sit, waiting patiently. Sipping your five dollar mocha latte or drinking water in a restaurant, or worse yet, in the front office of their building. You look at your watch, check your phone, and look at your watch again. Finally fifteen, even twenty minutes have passed and you decide to call. Bob answers the phone and he is clueless that you had a scheduled appointment. You mention that you are waiting and Bob replies, “Oh, totally forgot. I got tied up. Let’s catch up sometime next week.”

You shake your head in awe that you have been sitting uncomfortably by yourself, you’re annoyed that you’ve wasted your time, and beyond that he didn’t even apologize. As you stutter and gasp in disbelief, you appease Bob and hang up the phone. You can’t believe the audacity of some people.

I’ve had that happen to me. I’ve had it happen to me once! And only once. That person didn’t get another opportunity. As a result, though, I’ve made sure that I confirm my appointment (especially if it’s someone who doesn’t seem the most organized) and I outline the purpose of our meeting. I do that for a couple of reasons. I once scheduled a meeting with a referral partner and the day of the meeting she called me and left a message saying she was unable to meet because she had to schedule an appointment with an important prospect. I called her back to reschedule and realized that what she basically had implied was that her meeting with me was not as important. That was very unfortunate for her, since I had every intention of passing her a couple of referrals. I just wanted to understand a few things first. After the realization hit me, I was offended. She didn’t stand me up, but she blew me off. She also wanted to reschedule and I obliged – but she cancelled that meeting too. Needless to say, I gracefully declined a third meeting.

So if you’ve been stood up, there are really only a couple of explanations: (1) the individual isn’t organized and forgot (unprofessional but it happens); or (2) you aren’t important enough to them. So if you want to avoid the embarrassment of checking your watch or having an awkward conversation, then confirm the appointment (and location) and set the agenda so they see the value of the time they will be spending with you. If it still happens, learn to be selective about how you choose to schedule your time.

Does your business struggle because you shoot yourself in the foot?

I’ve owned my business for several years and I’ve heard all of the stories, the good, the bad, and the ugly. I’ve heard explanations as to why some business owners believe they are successful, and I’ve heard just as many explanations why others believe they aren’t successful. Especially given the ups and downs of the last few years, comments regarding the economy and its impact on business were certainly the norm.


I do believe I have been fortunate to experience continued growth through the eight years I’ve been in business, although fear of the ball dropping has always been present. As a way of managing my own anxiety, I wondered if there was a pattern in the type of explanations and rationale that people use. When we hit the recession, people would ask me all the time, “Well, how is business?” I would smile and say it was going very well. The typical response was, “Well, of course it is. Look at all the struggling businesses; obviously they’d need a coach. So naturally your business is doing well.” The first time I heard that, I was struck. But after hearing it repeatedly, I sort of believed it. Then I ran into a few other coaches and assumed their businesses would be doing just as well. Instead, they commented that the economy had made things difficult for businesses and since coaching was seen as a luxury, fewer people were hiring them. I understood that, too, that coaching could be considered a luxury expense, and I wondered how I’d be impacted.

I really couldn’t make heads or tails out of it and just came to terms with the idea that we create our own results. I’m a big advocate of just putting my head down and doing the work. Never mind what everyone thinks or says; I just keep plugging along. But even now that the economy is beginning to stabilize, I still hear the explanations and complaints. In particular, I belong to a speakers’ association. One man commented that, as a professional, he refuses to speak for free. In the second breath he then commented that he can’t get people to attend his cheap webinar. He complained about the people in Florida and then asked me to get him an opportunity to speak to a civic organization, but he wanted me to ensure he would get paid.

I scratched my head, as I often do. If your business is down, then you need more exposure. You need to fill your pipeline. In order to create buzz, that might mean speaking pro bono, as a way to build goodwill and show value that will ultimately lead to more business. Feeling entitled, complaining about other people, and demanding that others assist you is a sure-fire way to diminish your pipeline. Don’t shoot yourself in the foot, because you’ve painted yourself into a corner!

4 breakfast foods that relate to your style

It’s probably obvious at this point that I am hungry! It dawned on me this morning that there are so many different types of breakfast foods that I could devour. Some of the choices are healthy, some sugary, some not even appetizing (at least to me!). Instead of whetting your appetite, though, consider how you come across to other people. When you are selling your product or service, does it make your prospect’s mouth water? Is there an insatiable need to have it right away? Is there an eagerness and breakfast-selling21anticipation after the order is received?

Would you try to sell steak and eggs to someone who was on a diet? You could. You might even get some takers, but you might lose loyalty. Wouldn’t you think you’d be better off selling them what they are seeking, a smoothie, maybe, or some fruit? Would you alter your pitch depending on who your customer was? Well, of course you would! That’s the point.

However, do you alter your sales style when selling to different prospects? Are you an Eggs Benedict type of person who wants the absolute best? Irrespective of calories, time, or money, that’s what you want. Similarly, when you sell your products or services to others, you go straight for the top of the line. You give your prospect all the reasons they want your product. When they give objections about calories, you insist anyway, because after all it is The Best! If that’s the case, you may be a Director Style when you sell.

On the other hand, maybe you love creativity and variety. You want to taste a little of everything. Wouldn’t a buffet be perfect? You could have unlimited choices and they are all ready for you to take. You are delighted with the option of three different types of muffins, bagels, or even croissants. When you sell your product or service you can’t begin to describe all the fun options. Even if your prospect came specifically for cereal and orange juice, you can describe and explain why so many others prefer grits instead. If so, you may be a Motivator Style. You are so exuberant that you spend so much time talking that your prospect could have eaten their breakfast and been done at that point.

What if you like traditional bacon and eggs? Every time you go out to eat, you order the same thing, the same way: two eggs sunny side up, with two strips of bacon, and wheat toast. You never deviate; this is what you enjoy and this is why you come. When you sell, you are reassuring your prospect about the consistency of the breakfast. The eggs are perfectly cooked each time. The bacon is slightly crispy and the toast is warm, but not soggy. Your prospect comes in and decides they would like to try something new. An omelet might be a nice change of pace. You ask the prospect a few more questions because you are concerned that if they order something they don’t like, they will get upset or be disappointed. So you delay the process to double-check and make sure by asking the prospect a few more times. If so, you may be a Nurturing Style. At this point, you’ve managed to annoy your prospect because you have repeatedly asked them the same question over and over again.

What if you have the same thing every morning? That is your breakfast food, oatmeal. Your routine never changes. You have steel-cut oatmeal cooked with a half-teaspoon of brown sugar and eight blueberries. When you sell, you explain how the oatmeal is all-natural and unprocessed. You make oatmeal the good, old-fashioned way. You explain the perfection of timing and the process you take to ensure stellar oatmeal. You ask the prospect about their preferences for butter, sugar, fruit, plating, size, temperature, and texture. If you sell by process and exact prospect needs, you are likely an Investigator Style. Your prospect becomes frustrated with the interrogation and decides to grab a banana on the way out.

Every salesperson needs to become flexible in how they sell. Just because you like your eggs one way doesn’t mean someone else does!

Now to have some fun . . . what other breakfast food can you think of what does that say about you?

Oh No! Another Slimy Salesman!

There is nothing worse than having someone try to sell you something. Let me be clear. I’m not talking about people who satisfy needs and offer solutions. That’s different than selling to me. There is something that happens to some sales people when they go into ‘sales mode.’ It’s similar to Superman changing in a phone booth or Wonder Woman twirling around to become a superhero, but in reverse. Before you know it, they’ve been engulfed by this slimy character with a fake persona and all they want to do is tell you why they are the best and why you should buy from them.

There is no interaction, no courtesy, and it certainly isn’t a dialogue. It’s a non-reciprocal diatribe. It’s uncomfortable and requires the utmost tact to maneuver your way out of it – followed promptly by a shower! Fortunately it’s happened so often to me that I’ve become quite adept at lunging to the left and then right with a fake-out to get out from underneath them.

help-buttonSo what happens to these people? One minute they are as nice as can be. Then you ask one simple question about their product or service and – boom! – the mask is on, their tone changes, they lean forward, and you are stuck. If people learned how to have conversations and identify needs, there really would be no need to sell, you would just simply communicate information as if you were giving directions.

Here’s something to try if you want to make sure you’re not scaring off potential sales customers. Pretend you are driving home and you are only a couple miles from your house. You’ve lived there for almost ten years and you know the area very well. A young mother and her son stop you to ask for directions to a grocery store. It’s simple: it’s up two blocks on the right. So you take a couple minutes to explain and point in the direction of the store. You tell the woman which street to turn on, how far to go, and any common landmarks. There is no need to sell. You don’t need to convince her to follow your advice, you are just giving information. Imagine your demeanor and your tone as you explain the directions. If you could have sales conversations without turning into a sales villain, remaining just as helpful and engaged as you did giving directions, you’d easily close more sales.

Make up your mind!

During a workshop on personalities, a participant asked, “What does it mean when your spouse won’t give you a straight answer on where to go for dinner?” The room erupted with comments and banter on how annoying that is. You know what I mean? You have one direct person and the other person is far more accommodating. So the direct person always picks where to go for dinner or what movie to watch. After years have gone by, the direct person finally asks, “Well, where do you want to go?” The spouse replies, “Oh, it doesn’t matter. Where do you want to go?” They in turn respond, “It doesn’t matter to me, really. Where do you want to go?” They reply, “Oh, whatever you want is fine!” Okay, I know that exchange is excruciating just to read, let alone engage in!

So what is this all about? Here’s the gist. Each person has an idea of what they want, at least the majority of the time. But they have an inner dialogue running through their head that prevents them from speaking up. On the one hand, you might have dialogue from the direct person thinking, “I’ve made decisions all day. I don’t want to make another decision. I don’t care; just make up your mind. Can you just make a decision? I’m exhausted. I’m trying to be nice. I always pick the place. Last time I picked you complained the whole time, so now you should pick.” All the while, that’s what is going on behind the scene, never to be spoken aloud. Meanwhile, the other person is thinking, “If I tell you where I want to go you will make fun it. You’ll huff and puff and make the night miserable. You are so picky and you only like two places. So it’s just easier if I go along with you.” Again, all these thoughts are behind the scene, never to be spoken.

So what to do? Be honest! How difficult is that? What if you said, “I would like you to choose because I always choose and I know I’m picky so I want to do something nice for you”? Or “I would like to go here, but I want to make sure you’ll have a good time also.” Sometimes we spend so much time avoiding the conflict, but it would just be easier to say it like it is!

Top 5 Default Responses

double_bubble_expression_1600_clr_132882I’ve noticed, in speaking with people, that there are five different thoughts that people default to when preparing for action. They may or may not be aware of these thoughts. After meeting with a client and laying out specific action plans, I’ve noticed that energized and competent people will actually say, “I can do that!” That had me wondering, though, what their default thought is. What is the below-the-surface thought that runs through their head or automatically pops up when they want to take action? Here are the five default thoughts I’ve identified:

  1. I want . . .
  2. I need . . .
  3. I don’t know how . . .
  4. I am going to . . .
  5. I can’t . . .

Not sure where you fall? Consider this. You have identified a specific plan of action for your business, for instance, and you’ve decided that your goal is to create an appreciation event for your clients. Once you’ve identified that goal, what is your most immediate thought?

“I want to have a fun evening with appetizers.”
“I need to figure out how to organize that.”
“I don’t know how to coordinate something like that.”
“I am going to make this a great event.”
“I can’t pull that off.”

There are some situations where you may have slightly different responses depending on your competence and confidence levels. But pay attention to the typical response you have. Did you notice that each of those five phrases will lead to very different action? If your default response is “I don’t know how” instead of “I am going to” you will create self-doubt and insecurity that instantly dampen your enthusiasm. However, saying “I am going to” instantly sets you up to take action with a strong commitment. Over the next week, listen for your below-the-surface default responses; catch yourself and see if you can identify which responses give you motivation and which don’t.

I’d love to hear your insights.

Turn your “should” into a “shoulder.”

There was a time when I thought the line between forgiving and forgetting was very clear. As I get older and learn more about myself, I’ve come to realize this line is blurry for me. I often equate forgiveness with the ability to let things go without harboring resentment and negative feelings. Oprah has spoken about how not forgiving is like drinking poison. I truly believe that. We end up harming ourselves with the negativity that is stored within our body and the endless thoughts that occupy our mind. How, then, do you get to a point where you can forgive someone? I believe forgiveness starts with forgiving ourselves. And that has got to be one of the hardest things a person can do!

hands_around_heart_shape_pc_1600_wht_3583Forgiveness is a skill that needs to be learned and developed.And the first stage starts with yourself. If I have done things in my life that I regret or think I shouldn’t have done, I need to get straight with myself. If I harbor negative feelings towards myself, how can I possibly let things go with someone else?

There is a process, though, for how we forgive ourselves. First and foremost, we need to acknowledge that there are things we wish wouldn’t have done. So often, though, we pretend we don’t have regrets, that we are justified in handling things the way we did. Now I’m not talking about the regrets of criminal activity like robbing a bank. I’m referencing the more subtle elements of our behavior: things like yelling at our kids, ignoring our friends, being rude to a customer service rep, not being home in time for dinner. Whatever it may be, those little tiny things add up. We have these subtle thoughts that are masked as ‘shoulds’: I should spend more time with the kids, I should be more patient, I should call Bob more often. Whatever it might be, we say should all day long, and those shoulds become pebbles of regret. We typically do one of two things with these pebbles. We may pretend they aren’t there and focus on something else to escape the painful thought. We keep walking as if we had a pebble in our shoe, and even though it might be an irritant, we tell ourselves it’s not that bad. The other thing we might do is harp on it. We compound the should with even more shoulds and turn the pebble into a rock. We think, “I know I should call Bob.” I do that all the time. “I need to call Mary, too. I should be on top of this. I should do this and I should do that.” So now we are walking around with a rock in our shoe instead of just a pebble, and agonizing about how painful it is.

The obvious method of handling the pebble, of course, is to recognize we have a pebble, stop, grab the pebble, and discard it. This is the formula for how we forgive ourselves. The first step is knowing we have a pebble. Next, we acknowledge the pebble and expend energy and time to take hold of it. Taking hold of the pebble is analogous to taking responsibility for behavior. This requires us to have a different kind of conversation with ourselves, where we shift the should to a shoulder. We understand it has created a burden for us and we forgive ourselves by having empathy and compassion for being human. Now we have a shoulder to lean on. This doesn’t mean we give ourselves an excuse to continue the behavior. It means we are quite clear on what we have done, what we would like to change, and why we would like to change it. And then we are nice to ourselves about it. In discarding the pebble, we get right with things. This involves telling your kids you didn’t mean to yell, or calling Bob and saying “I really enjoy talking to you.”

If you can do that for yourself, do you think that you would have more compassion for your parents when they yelled at you? You see that what starts the process of forgiving others is learning to do it for ourselves.

Give it a try — forgive yourself and enjoy the day!

Inconsiderate people, Part 2: Cell Phones

I know I’m not going to be the first person to bring up this issue. But some of you may not be aware that you are the culprit, so please pay attention. All cell phones come equipped with a silence or vibrate option. The reason this is standard is that there are situations where the ringing of a phone is distracting and inappropriate. For instance, listening to someone give a eulogy at a funeral would not be the best case scenario for your cell phone to be ringing. I’ll give you the benefit of the doubt that in this case you would either not bring your phone with you or you would think to turn it off. I’ll also give you the benefit of the doubt that maybe the reason you don’t put it on vibrate is that you haven’t figured out how. That doesn’t exactly explain why the ringer must be turned all the way up and you couldn’t at least lower the volume out of courtesy.
This has happened to me many times. I’m sitting in a restaurant and inevitably someone’s cell phone goes off, or maybe during a training or some other occasion where it isn’t critical to have your cell phone next to you. That’s not the worst part, though. Here’s what I don’t understand. I’m at a restaurant enjoying a nice meal and good conversation. Three tables away I hear a cell phone. It not only rings once, it rings twice, and then three times, and then four times. Eventually, it’s picked up by voicemail. The entire restaurant is looking at this one person who is oblivious to the ringing. Why on earth would you just look at the phone and watch it ring as it disrupts everyone else’s conversation? I get that you are deciding whether or not you want to take the call. (And by the way, thank you for not being one of those people who actually answers the call and screams as though the other person is on another planet. That is inconsiderate, but I think most people are beginning to recognize this so it happens less often.)
So instead, they stare at the phone and watch it ring. They haven’t figured out how to hit the button that sends the call to voicemail immediately or they don’t think to simply leave the room. Instead they just stare. The entire restaurant is quiet waiting for the phone to stop ringing. The kicker, though, is that the person has no idea that it disrupted anyone. They are so busy staring that they don’t even realize they’ve offended other people – kind of like the person who cuts you off while driving and isn’t aware they did it. That just adds insult to injury.
Please do me a favor. If you own a cell phone, be responsible enough to learn two main functions: 1) How to silence your phone; and 2) How to send a call to voicemail. If you won’t spend a few minutes learning this, then at the very least, don’t bring your phone with you! Just sayin’.

Visit for Inconsiderate people, Part 1: Airports.

What’s the difference between forgiving and forgetting?

I’ve noticed some people seem to recall the past with vivid detail, typically a resentment that has mounted for years, perhaps even since childhood. They say they have forgiven something, but they will not forget. I, on the other hand, seem to have lived a much more peaceful existence and believed there are many things I had forgiven. Then I came to realize there are many things I did indeed forget, or at least denied for the time being. This is a well-recognized coping mechanism, but is it truly forgiving?

I think it’s pretty evident when we haven’t forgiven. There is a deep-seated anger within our stomachs that mobilizes when we think of a person that we haven’t forgiven. Typically, the mention of their name or the thought of a specific incident is enough to stir the gastrointestinal juices. Others may seem to have endured unbelievable trauma and have the grace to forgive and let things go. Their jaws don’t clench and their hands don’t form into fists. They have compassion for others and there is no ill will, no secret wishes for vengeance, just acceptance and a calm presence. There has been a clear acknowledgment of what occurred and what the consequences were, with no need to retaliate. Forgetting, however, is a lack of acknowledgment of the situation and its consequences. It is as though it didn’t occur at all and doesn’t cloud any future interactions. Often this is surrounded by a desire to avoid discussions and thoughts related to that event. Denial requires energy and resources to pretend things didn’t occur. It requires energy and resources to avoid uncomfortable conversations and topics. It requires energy and resources to attend selectively to only positive situations. True forgiveness doesn’t require energy and resources. There is no escape, there is no avoidance, and there is no denial. Forgiveness just is!