The Blog

What’s your truth serum?

For some people it’s alcohol. For some it’s a surprise question. For me it’s a nap. When I wake up in the morning I’m eager to remember a dream and have that first hit of coffee and reflect on the dream and think about the day ahead. When I wake up from a nap I’m less eager to bound out of bed for the same reason I was napping to begin with -- I have the time.

That’s when the truth comes out. Here’s mine.

There’s so much more I want to accomplish. Better get cracking.

Bye!

the sunThe older I get the less patience I have with jealous people. No, wait. Make that, the less patience I have with people who are jealous of me -- and bend my ear about that for even a minute.

You want to trade lives? Fine. But you have to take everything. My existence looks pretty sweet during the two hours a week we’re recording the talk show, for example -- granted. But in terms of challenges? I don’t feel ripped off in that department.

I love my life. I do. And much of the reason I love it is what I focus on. When someone crosses my radar who seems to have it all -- or at least, more than me -- I thank my lucky stars for the inspiration.

It just feels like a nicer way to be.

Smug and judgmental as that sounds!

But truly.

We have good friends in Chicago. The guy’s a doctor -- and instead of railing against the healthcare system and malpractice insurance and whatever else, he works with those frustrations while being compassionate to his patients and a role model for his students. His wife is in commercial real estate and is doing really well. But you should’ve heard her account of how many cold calls -- that finally, finally became lukewarm and eventually friendly -- it took to get even one client. She makes it look easy, and it’s always anything but. And their kid? Can you imagine his potential for growing up with two people like that?

Customer service expert Shep Hyken and I compared notes about career envy on the show recently. He’s often asked -- the way I am -- how to get a similar gig. When we explain what’s involved the person almost always interrupts to say, “No, thanks.” It’s too much work.

Life is a lot of work. Speaking only for myself -- well, and Shep, and our friends in Chicago and other people Darrell and Katie and I crave more time with -- it’s thrilling when other people succeed. It gives us hope. That’s why you get up in the morning, right? For an opportunity to work at something that’s meaningful.

The reward is in the work.

Learn to drive on a car with a stick shift and you’ll practically fall asleep at the wheel of an automatic transmission. Train in the mountains and your running partner will find it difficult to keep up with you in a valley. Survive a less-than-ideal childhood -- weren’t they all? -- and you’ll be better prepared for a life that, if lived well, will knock you around but good.

My new friend Dan Gregory calls it training at altitude. I knew we’d be pals when I saw what he named his company: The Impossible Institute.

When I sent him a link to his podcast I told him he’s welcome back on the show whenever he’s interested. “I don’t say that very often!” I added. He replied with the same sentiment, expressed with the same enthusiasm.

Who do you crave time with? People who up your conversational game, who make you feel like you’re soaring through rarified air?

Me, too!

Who’s your boss?
April 20, 2015

People backing out of a parking space do that more slowly if someone’s waiting to pull into it. At least according to Selfish, Scared and Stupid co-author Dan Gregory, who says it’s human nature. In a hurry to get home? Not so much, Dan says, if we see someone waiting. Then we become territorial. Our survival brain hijacks the more rational part of our brain and we make a decision that seems silly.

Silly, but believable. I couldn’t help but laugh when Dan shared this observation on the show recently because -- while I don’t actually remember doing this myself -- I can imagine doing it.

I can totally imagine doing it if the person waiting seems impatient, creeping closer or honking or whatever. “You’re not the boss of me,” I can imagine thinking.

Is that why, when the situation’s reversed and I’m the one waiting, I do it from such a distance the other guy doesn’t realize I am waiting? Maybe. I don’t want to seem impatient. I know the effect it has.

That’s why Dan talks about the darker side of human nature. It’s more pragmatic to work with it, he says, than to pretend it isn’t there.

“I could make croutons for my spinach salads out of the crispbread I eat,” I heard myself report recently. “But I don’t. Too much trouble.”

I chewed on that for a while. Too much trouble? Really? How long would it take to bust up a couple of rectangles of crispbread? Thirty seconds. At the most.

So I did that, and I couldn’t believe how much tastier my salads were. It was like going from a barebones hot dog from a warehouse grocery store -- microwaved and slapped in a stale bun with no condiments -- to the juiciest steak from the fanciest restaurant in town.

You think I’m kidding? Try it. Chunk the apple or the pear, chop the dates, add the walnuts, mix with baby spinach, and drizzle with olive oil and the juice from a real lemon. Not bad. Now add said crispbread.

See! I told you.

We call it discovering a new continent. Find a new way to combine the foods you already eat -- only those foods that make you feel great, by the way -- and watch your life satisfaction skyrocket.

I know. It sounds silly to be this passionate about something so seemingly little. But when you ask me where I find the most joy in life, or what my sweethearts love the most about me, that’s where it is.

In the little things.

The most successful people I know are comfortable sucking at a lot of things -- maybe most things. But they’re really, really good at a couple of things…and they ooze confidence.

They also appear to have one hell of a good time. Infectious laughter? They have you covered.

If you were great at everything -- as if that’s possible -- wouldn’t you feel pressured to be an accomplishment factory?

I like having a narrow band of things I’m good at. It’s easier to decide what to focus on. It also helps the people in my orbit. They can rely on me for what I excel at. And they love that I need them, too -- for all the ways they’re amazing.

A juggler, I’m not.

I don’t know how to keep more than a few plates spinning. And isn’t it funny that’s what Katie -- as a little kid -- wanted to be when she grew up? A plate spinner! Doctor, lawyer, veterinarian? Forget about it. Too boring. She eventually became one heck of a plate spinner, though not in the way we imagined. But I digress.

As Katie grew up I quickly realized I couldn’t be the wife and mother and journalist I wanted to be without saying no to almost everything else. I didn’t host lavish parties or even make it to lunch with my girlfriends more than once or twice a year. I was faithful to workouts and appointments with doctors. Otherwise? It could wait.

And it did.

So I find myself with a few projects that don’t look particularly surmountable in this lifetime. They still matter, though -- so almost every weekday I make a dent in at least a few of them. Just the teeniest, tiniest little dent. Slow progress, to be sure -- but I’m a little bit lighter almost every day.

What direction are you trending?

Once upon a time Darrell and I made the acquaintance of someone who’d been on one of those reality TV shows -- and who isn’t a fan of one of the stars. We weren’t inclined to love said star, not that we gave him more than a moment’s thought. But as we got to know our acquaintance just a little better, he started to annoy. Which put Reality TV Star Man in a different light, a better one.

Which was…not logical. Just because one problem person has an issue with another problem person doesn’t mean either one of them is less of a problem.

Why chew on this for even a few paragraphs? Because assumptions can be costly, that’s why. Someone once told me he was sure his correspondence wasn’t too wordy because no one had ever complained about it. I’m still taking that in. As if people can be counted on to go to that trouble! It’s an assumption I’m not comfortable making. People are busy. Get to the point, and get to it quickly. Show me that courtesy. If you don’t, I won’t be conflicted about moving on -- and I’m certainly not going to give you some writing tips as I do.