Tag Archives: Self

Superpowers: Motivation

I was in an airport and I needed coffee. I was with colleagues and I walked up to the coffee stand. In my mind I saw the Starbucks symbol and I was approaching. I never look at the menu I always get the same thing – medium (I don’t do the grande, tall stuff) room for cream. I see the same type of breakfast sandwiches in the cooler. I order. I ask, “Do you take this?” handing her my my Starbuck reward card. She said, “No we don’t take that.” So I am still thinking I am at a Starbucks, some airport or mall kiosks don’t take them. Then my friend says, “you really want this to be Starbucks.”  I didn’t really, I just had it in my mind that was where I was. It was my perception….
Cat: Where are you going?
Alice: Which way should I go? Continue reading

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UNcooked Ability

I was looking into buying the domain of RawAbility dot com. I went to the online website store to check it out. It wasn’t available. Actually, it was available for a fee. So I am still thinking about that. A funny thing happened on the way to the checkout stand. Since the domain wasn’t available for immediate use the website I was on provides a service. They provide optional names that you might consider for your site. There were a few names that could work, but the best one was – uncookedability.com.  I chuckled. I thought (in the sarcastic little voice in my head), “Oh that’ll work…uncookedability!?” Those that know me would probably say that sarcastic voice is more than just in my head.   Continue reading

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Objects in mirror

“How did you go to get here?” “What route did you take?” These are common questions upon arriving at a destination or meeting point with friends. As one of the new members of the Southern California driving set this is a common question of mine as well. My goal is to see if there was a better route. A more direct route. Or, if there is some super secret shortcut that nobody told me about. A friend here in Los Angeles told me I need to watch the movie LA Story now that I am part of the culture.

Speaking of culture… the SoCal way Continue reading

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Jokers’ Wild or Jokers Worthwhile

JokerWe meet people throughout our lives. We make impressions on others by what we say, do, act, and react. Some people we see or know for a short time, and others we just click with and feel a bond.  Some years ago I taught a freshman year experience (FYE) class. The experience was a class with a special theme or topic, mine was leadership (of course). Throughout the class we would take field trips around the city, ride the El, and integrate study skills and resources for the students. It helps with the transition into college. Wouldn’t life be grand if we had FYE for many things that happen to us? But, I digress. Continue reading

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Sad aint bad

When I was seven years old my little Pekinese dog, Whitey Ford, died. I was devatated. I had to take a personal day from second grade to mourn. I remember the ride home from the vet. I was sobbing. My little brother was trying to console me. He said, “It’s ok Richie. Whitey’s in heaven now with grandpa…I am sad too.” I responded, “Well you aren’t crying.” He said very plainly, “Well I’m not THAT sad.” My mom retold that story over and over (and over and over). She aid she was trying not to laugh at the conversation and my brother’s response. Continue reading


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New Pants and Negative Self-Talk

Buying new clothes can be fun for some and a chore for others. Some see shopping as a form of torture they just want to finish as soon as possible. Others use retail therapy to make a tough situation easier or perhaps there is an endorphin rush and a ‘hit’ on the credit card makes it all feel better. I think I could put myself into any one of these categories at different times. I have gone shopping out of boredom or the calling of some sale item or advertisement. I get there and it just isn’t there. Sometimes I seem to be on a new stuff runner.

Recently I went shopping for upcoming weddings and events for my students. I wanted new pants and a tie, perhaps a shirt. I got the pants and the tie, ok…I got two of each, but at different times so it wasn’t frivolous. Or so, I told myself. Fast forward, day of, as I was walking to the train noticed that I could not stop looking at the pants and thinking how much I liked them. Then my ties got some comments at the event and the wedding. That felt good. I started to think about when and why we get something new for special occasions.

There are special times that seem to call for new clothes. In the fall to back-to-school, we have all experienced that ritual that started in kindergarten. It was special. Then ceremonies like prom’s, weddings, special life events, Uncle Tommy’s wedding, etc. We need something to wear to other people’s wedding, not sure why really, we just do. Graduation just seems to call for something new. Maybe these markers are a form of “rebirth” and/or a clean start. We want to present ourselves to the world in a new, fresh, this fits better way. We feel good. We look good. And we remember from Fernando Llamas, “You look mahvelous, absolutely mahveleous”… and when you look good, you feel good (Billy Crystal, SNL, 1985). He tells us that it doesn’t matter how you feel, but it does matter how we look. Ah, so he’s the culprit!

I have two shopping stories that come to mind. The first, a girl friend asked me to go shopping for a swim suit. The second, my 16 year old nephew needed tennis shoes. I did not know what I was in for, in either situation. The friend perused, lamented, grimaced, smiled, wondered, and wandered through numerous suits. She took a few to the dressing room. I waited. She reappeared with nothing. Back to the racks she went. I said (oh so naively), “Well you didn’t let me see any of them.” I thought that was my role. NOPE. She looked at me in horror, and laughed. “Oh no, that is not going to happen.” I am still not sure of my role that day. I think she bought one, I think I saw it later. But I am not really sure.

Tennis shoes. White Tennis shoes. Easy enough eh? NOPE. We went to 15 stores. He would walk in glance at the wall and turn around. “There’s nothing here.” We left. It took a week. I made a comment to his mom about the week-long trek. She said, “Why do you think I was so quick to accept your offer to take him?” At one point I asked him, “What kind of shoes are we looking for?”
I picked up 5 different pair…like this, this, this, this or those? “Nope.” Each one was too this or not enough that. We bought a pair at store #15, that happened to also be store #3 or 4 earlier in the week.

We buy clothes as a statement about who we are. Our clothes have to fit just right, hide just right and look like us. My high school niece and I went shopping. We were buying clothes. I tried on some pants (I really like pants, can you tell?). I asked her how they looked. “Fine,” she said. I said (because I wanted to know and I was also trying to shock her), “Do they make my butt look cute?” It worked! She turned red, looked around, laughed and said, “yeah, sure.” I don’t think I bought the pants.

How do we treat ourselves? How do we treat our real selves? Our inner self, that only we truly know. We can be our own harshest critic (I remind you of my friend hiding in the changing room trying on swim suits in private). Her reaction is a theme for all of us. Buying new clothes helps us to feel good and showcase who we are. We want to look Mahvelous.

Grand Opening, Coming soon to a Mall near you

What if there was a store called Confidence R Me? Or Strengthmart? If we could somehow bottle and sell a little shot of confidence (that doesn’t give you hangover, and go away the next day) we could be rich. But our own closets, fears, hopes, and anxiety gets in the way.


I have a personal mission. I try to interrupt the negative self-talk that is rampant among so many of us (me included). Those times when we are quick to say –
I am so stupid
I am such an idiot
With my luck
Of course that will never happen for/to me
etc, etc etc, <INSERT>your favorite little confidence killer here.

Dr. Brene Brown researches, writes, and speaks on vulnerability. I love that she says vulnerability is truly about strength, and confidence. When we are vulnerable, we take a risk. I think secretly others (me included) and have a little sense of jealousy when someone else takes a risk we wish we could. I love how Brown frames some of those fears. One tactic is that she admits (out loud) about her own inner monologue, “The story I am creating in my mind says….” Brilliant. Risky. Honest. She admits it is in her own mind.

Mary Morrissey, transformational coach and Dreambuilder extraordinaire, reframes the “I’m an idiot” waste of time type comments with something better. Try this one on for size, “Up until now I used to think/act/behave…” This acknowledges that we can have some not-so-lucid moments, or a hiccup in brilliance and allow something not perfect to happen. GASP! But that was then. This is now. Next. I fall down. I get up again. Dust myself off. Look around. Laugh. And move on.

Fashion Boutique

The next time you try on some new clothes and think. “I look good!” Smile. Mean it. And wear it. Know that most of the others that have on new clothes are probably too busy worrying if they look good (and hidden) to be noticing anyhow. Go with it! We all have the ability to walk that catwalk with confidence. Work it and walk out to the end of it for YOU. Walk back to the curtain for them. Cause your boots are made for walking, that’s all.

Leaders Take Notes

I am talkin’ to you… notice how much you give to others when you recognize what they are wearing. Step it up, pay it forward and next time notice WHO they are (their inner fashion if you will) and TELL them a little about the accessory of their ability, their strengths, their passion, and what they BRING to you and your organization.

If you need to revist SNL 1985, laugh, and see that we were all young once…

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rejection < RESILIENCE — The REal opportunity to REvise & REcreate

When is a balloon really a balloon? You buy a package of balloons and you have a little bag of lifeless colorful containers. What you really have is a bag of potential. These plastic, rubber, or Mylar envelopes are just waiting to become something; they’re balloons in waiting.

That balloon will get big and round or perhaps it is a longer tubular shape. You cannot really tell until you put some air in them, quite a bit of air actually. The air on the inside keeps stretching the colorful skins into big beautiful balloons. If it pops it makes a loud sound and explosion. So we can tell there is a lot of air (or helium) inside exerting quite a bit of pressure.

A balloon isn’t really a balloon, until it is tested. Those balloons you get with your singing telegram or for your birthday are probably expendable. Move to a reusable balloon now. Have you ever gone ballooning, taken a ride in a hot air balloon, or been to the balloon races (Head to Reno in early September)? The balloon is constantly tested, and retested over an over again.

The concept of RE is an important idea to chat about for a minute. But, I want to start at the opposite end of RE first.

In life and leadership, we need to understand and think about RESILIENCE. Resilience is generally a topic we go to after some sort of Rejection, Refusal, Rebuff, Refutation, Revoke, or repeal. Not so much fun eh? Just reading these words can probably cut deep and we can instantly think of a time (probably more like a whole bunch of times) that this happened to us.

REvising, RElearning, REbuilding, REfocusing, REflecting, REset, REplay

We need to REFRAME any rejection that happens to us. When do we learn? I didn’t ask how do we learn (that was the last blog post). WHEN do we learn? When does learning happen? There is no NEW learning; there is RElearning (there is that RE- word again).

We learn when we make mistakes. We learn when we fall down. Yeah, yeah we learn at other times too. BUT when do we remember the lesson? I am guessing that after a little sting, the learning is more of apparent, or it has a little more import. This is why video games have a REset button. This is why we have instant REplay. It is why we have REwind on the TiVo and DVR. It’s the do over of life.

REsilience, REjoice, REcreate, REbuild, REmodel, REstore, REmake

Just like that balloon we are resilient. We can bounce back and we can rebuild and rejoice while we are taking what we learned from that situation or experience. I am not the first one to say this (I think I first read it in Steven Covey’s 7 Habits book over twenty years ago). Failure isn’t fatal & People don’t fail they quit. I sold life insurance for a number of years. The chance for “rejection” occurred a few times in that sales/service process.

I have studied leadership and identity for a number of years now. Resilience is part of this building of our leadership ability and capacity. I found a book entitled, Rejection (1982) by John White. In the book he tells stories and reports on people who were rejected a time (or lots of times). He has the typical stories about Henry Ford, Thomas Edison, and others that have been told and REtold repeatedly. I love his THREE THINGS ABOUT REJECTION –
1. Rejection is not the same as failure.
2. It is 2-way – while we are facing rejection, we are also doing some rejecting.
3. Rejection is necessary. Lack of it would be disastrous.

Read #3 again – REJECTION IS NECESSARY. What?! Why is that? How could that be? When we are rejected, we REvise and REsubmit. Rejection re-energizes us to win and to create victory. It helps us to see things in a different light. Think about that guy or girl you may have been rejected by…chances are 50/50 that rejection can be seen as, “whoa, I dodged a bullet on that one.” Without REverse on the gearshift, we would still be sitting in the same parking space.

There is a great song that says it best – Tubthumping by Chumbawumba – I actually thought the song was called, I get knocked down.

I get knocked down
But I get up again
You’re never going to keep me down

In another verse, it goes on….
He sings the songs that remind him Of the good times
He sings the songs that remind him Of the better times

Don’t cry for me
Next door neighbor

I get knocked down
But I get up again

You’re never going to keep me down
We’ll be singing When we’re winning We’ll be singing

When was your last bout of REsilience?

Notice the question…it wasn’t directed at the rejection (where I would submit a lot of us tend to focus the energy). When was the last time you got knocked down? When was the last time you got up again?

How big can you inflate the balloon that encompasses your capacity? When were you last stretched and tested? You might get knocked down…but ya gotta get up again, and again, and again. We have to get up one more time than we feel knocked down.

2 quotes – The first I have heard over and over. The second, I think I am going to have this one tattooed… or maybe just printed and framed next to my front door.

“That which doesn’t kill me will make me stronger.” -Nietzsche

“We must be willing to get rid of the life we’ve planned, so as to have the life that is waiting for us.” -Joseph Campbell

Tubthumping — do you need to be reminded of it?

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Baggage or Luggage

You take the good, you take the bad,

you take them both and there you have

The Facts of Life, the Facts of Life.


There’s a time you got to go and show

You’re growin’ now you know about

The Facts of Life, the Facts of Life.


When the world never seems

to be livin up to your dreams

And suddenly you’re finding out

the Facts of Life are all about you, you.


It takes a lot to get ’em right

When you’re learning the Facts of Life.


What if Tootie, Natalie, Blair and Joe were right? Well, I would guess that Mrs. Garrett had a little something to do with all that learnin’. Sorry for getting that “Facts of Life” theme song into your head for the rest of today, over and over and over again. But, that song came to mind when I was thinking about how we look at things.

The only thing that we can truly control is how we react to something. Regardless of right or wrong, we can choose to focus on HOW we respond to something  versus WHAT happened. Where do we put our energy? Let’s go back to the theme-song-of-the-day for some insight. You take the good, you take the bad, you take them both and there you have the secret to life. In some cases, the good for one could be interpreted as the bad for another. I was recently chatting with a friend about her daughter being added to the transplant list. This transplant is a heart transplant. The hope for another chance, for an additional chance, for a longer chance at a full life for the recipient comes as a loss for the donor (and their family). Her comment was, “one person’s (family’s) joy is another person’s (family’s) sorrow.” Sure, there would be some happiness and joy that would come from the donor family’s sense of giving and seeing their loved one giving a tremendous gift; but, it comes with impact.

How we look at “Event A” determines our emotion, outlook and perspective. At times that pertains to the situation at hand, and in some cases; it may truly be our pattern or current theme in life. On nights when I just can’t get to sleep or I don’t sleep well I tend to think, “Well on the bright side I will sleep well tomorrow night.” One of the reasons I can’t sleep is because I am so irritated that I can’t get to sleep that all of my energy is wrapped up in the fact that I will be tired the next day. In many cases, I have to watch TV to distract my brain from what it is that I am so worked up about to allow myself to fall asleep. Most of the time I fall asleep to M*A*S*H, I have seen the shows countless times so I can name that episode in 3-seconds after the theme song ends.

I read somewhere –what we resist persists. Letting go is probably the answer in many things that happen to us on a daily basis. Hey, I think they call that forgiveness. When we forgive something then we release the other from the negative energy, AND (more importantly) we move it out of all that space in our brain/consciousness that it is consuming. Our hard drive space is unlimited, but the gears that run the whole thing can just get tired.

We can focus on the WHAT happened (or is happening to us) or we can just focus on WHAT WE CAN LEARN from this. It is our perspective – or outlook, or angle, or point of view, or prospect. Our lives consist of the cumulative effect of who we are and what we have become in life. We take the good we take the bad. An example I like to use is baggage and luggage. We ALL have both. We pack this stuff around with us EVERYWHERE we go. Our baggage is all that stuff we are afraid of. It is the stuff we don’t particularly like others to know about us. It could be our skeletons in closet, our dark side, etc. Hiding that gets laborious. Our luggage is all the stuff WE WANT people to see/know. These are the war stories we tell over and over (to the same people in some cases). These are the successes, our wins, and our championships that we are proud. BUT, our baggage is never far away. Baggage and luggage, we have both. Most of the time it looks damn good, it is a matched set. What is your baggage you could release? What could you forgive? Is there something you could forgive yourself? It takes a lot to get ’em right, When you’re learning the Facts of Life.

Theme song source: http://www.lyricsondemand.com/ (seasons 2-5)

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We never really get away from multiple-choice tests in life

What do you see?

What do you see?

And now back to our regularly scheduled programming.

How often to we approach our little part of the world as a series of “I-just-gotta-get-through-this and then I can -” Have you caught yourself promising yourself, the gods, the universe that as soon as I get through this project I will be all caught up and I can focus on life in general.

Hmmmmm maybe resolutions are not just for breakfast anymore, or New Years Day for that matter. It seems as if every few weeks some of us set our To Do list aside and adopt a “Resolution of the Month (or week or day) club.”

Maybe I am the sole serial resolutioner in the world. Anyone? Anyone?

How do you see the world around you? When you look around and see the things that are going on around you where does your focus and energy go?

  1. With my luck, what else could go wrong?
  2. That was a great learning experience, NEXT
  3. When will the other shoe drop?
  4. Wow look what I did. Tah-Dah!
  5. When will they realize they hired the wrong person?
  6. I got this!
  7. Other _________________________
  8. More _________________________

So, did you choose something from the odd numbered grouping or the even numbers? How do you see your life and your ability in the world? Is it from a position of LACKING something (odd numbers) or from an ABUNDANT paradigm (even numbers)? There are times that we can realize that we made a wrong decision or that a current idea might not have been our most brilliant approach to the world, that happens from time to time. Our value isn’t wrapped up in the fact that we made a wrong decision. Perhaps we should revel in the fact that we made a decision and had some movement rather than fretting and worrying about the outcome and missing out on an opportunity or just motion of any sort.

Atrophy stinks. If you have ever had a broken bone or sprained something and you have had to have a limb in a cast think of what it looks like (and maybe even the stale odor that wafts out) when you remove the cast. So, move something. Move anything. Move everything. If you make a wrong move, FIX IT. Duh! I read in Covey’s book on seven habits many years ago – People don’t FAIL, they QUIT. Apathy is quitting.

We have an opportunity to look at everything from many (or maybe 2) different vantage points. Take the bar code (image) in the beginning of this post. They don’t call them Universal Product Codes (UPC) for nothing. These ubiquitous patterns are everywhere, everyday. When you first look at it what do you see? Do you see a series of black stripes of various sizes with some numbers in a variety of patterns along the bottom? Yeah. Sure. That is what it could be. OR perhaps you see a series of white stripes of various patterns peaking out at you over those numbers at the bottom. Whether your description was the black stripes or the white stripes isn’t the real point at all. Both are correct. Actually maybe the answer is (c.) All of the Above.

The point of the UPC conversation is that there are more ways to the answers than we sometimes think about. Particularly when we are in the midst of moving from one series of resolutions and/or projects to the next, life is more than preparing for one 100-yard dash to the next.

I have had the blessings of several mentors in my life. One of those cherished individuals along my journey was my adviser and marketing professor. He taught me two important things that I have used almost daily since my undergraduate days. Maxim #1 – The product is what the consumer thinks it is, nothing more. Two key words stick out here that some will read and say – oh, I don’t sell anything so this does not apply to me. Those words are: product and consumer. I SUBMIT, to all who might think this way, which is faulty thinking. We have to stop and think for a minute what is the PRODUCT and who is/are CONSUMER? We all sell something. If you are looking for a job or a promotion…guess what YOU are the product and the consumer is the committee deciding your fate. Feel free to fill in your own products and consumer words along the way. Maxim #2 – Perception is everything. If, our audience (i.e., spouse, partner(s), students, boss, target audience, etc) has a skewed picture of what you are presenting or offering you are stuck with their misinformation and no deal is struck.

What is your perception of your own life and ability? Do you approach from a lacking perspective or are you more of an abundant person? When you work with others, do you help them see their own abundant being? What’s the perception of your products?


“Life is 10 percent what you make it and 90 percent how you take it.”  – Irving Berlin

“Everything that irritates us about others can lead us to an understanding of ourselves.” – CC Jung

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I is me and I can be for we

Two of my favorite poems (or sayings) are by Jewish religious leaders. I like them because they remind me of the fact that I need to be my own person, but my actions are so intertwined with who I am and what I do that it is hard to not have an impact on those around me.

The first is by Rabbi Mendel of Kotzk (1787-1859). I found various versions of this saying, but I am presenting it here as I learned it.

If I am I, and you are you; then I am I and you are you.

But if I am I because you are you, and you are you because I am I, then I am not and you are not.

First, I like this because saying it and listening to it is a little like watching a tennis match. You have to keep your eye on the ball as it volleys back and forth from “I” to “you.” It is fun to listen to and a bit of a brain twister as you are trying to make sense of it. I like the pure simplicity of it as well. I know, bouncing “I” back and forth nine times with one hand and bouncing “you” to and fro with the other hand at first is not really the definition of simplicity. It’s the literary version of patting your head and rubbing your tummy.  But, there are only 11 different words used here in a 41-word stanza.

Think about what it means. “I am I” is that I am my own person with my own agenda doing my own thing. It is up to each of us to define and delineate who we are in the world. The word “I” is always capitalized in the English language (not necessarily in all other languages) as a reminder of our own self-importance to ourselves. Our own self-confidence and self-concept is important to the creation of our values, attitudes and beliefs. The “you are you” piece is the recognition of this I concept for all people. I gotta be me and you gotta be you. It is ok that we maintain our I-ness side by side, but in the end, we are responsible for ourselves. Doesn’t the Cher song say that in the end we all sleep alone?

So, having made the case that we are responsible to and for ourselves it would seem that we are being a little self-centered here. This is where my other favorite saying from these two Jewish leaders steps as a complement. I was visiting Edinburgh, Scotland one year. It was my first day and jet lag, and the fact that the sun was up at 4 in morning made me a little restless. I got up and ran. I ran by the Jewish Center and on the sign in front was this next saying. I stopped to memorize it and then ran back to the B&B and wrote it in my journal. It was a saying of Rabbi Hillel (110 BCE-7CE):

If I am not for myself, who is for me?

And if I am for myself alone, what then am ‘I’?

And if not now, then when?

I like this because, I think, he is saying that we need to stand up for ourselves and have a sense of our own identity and values. We have to make our way in the world and we have to tell people who we are, because, really who will do this for us? At the same time that we have to have the chutzpah to take a stand for ourselves we have to remember the world doesn’t revolve around us alone. If we don’t remember the others in our world, the world around us, and the collective then what are we really? Perhaps just a selfish (insert your own pejorative comment here) that is only out for ourselves.  Finally, when are we going to start this? I just saw a Facebook picture post that said, “There are 7 days in a week and someday isn’t one of them.”

So perhaps I will try my own literary volley

And now I see that I gotta be me to contribute to the we.

And you can toss in a few to do what you can do.

Then together we can say that I am I is not an alibi

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