The Blog

What anchors you?
December 1, 2013

Some people swear by yoga. For others it’s getting up before dawn to watch the sunrise. They have a little routine, as sacred as it is grounding. Or maybe sacred because it’s grounding.

The only time I take a break from workouts is when I’m ahead on workouts. There’s a certain amount of running and a certain amount of working out with weights I’m committed to no matter what else is going on. It used to be workouts were the first things to go when life started to unravel. Now they’re the last. No problem ever got worse because you went running, someone once pointed out. Well except for running injuries. But you know what I mean.

No matter how quickly the day slips away from me, if it’s a workout day I work out. It amounts to more than an hour of meditation, if you look at exercise that way -- which I do.

“So there’s that.”

I don’t remember Katie using the expression until she started college a few months ago. Now she tells us what did or didn’t go smoothly in some class, but adds she’s sure she’d done her best: “So there’s that.”

If I’m making something happen, working out is a good way to celebrate. It’s hell, granted -- but it’s also a break from the screens. If I’m stalled on work, working out gives me a fresh perspective. It certainly doesn’t make anything worse. And I love how I feel afterward.

So there’s that!

“Hi Maureen!”

That was the response I got from a regular on the talk show when I asked him about a return engagement.

Now imagine if he had said, “Hi Maureen.”

It doesn’t have the same ring to it, does it?

Larry doesn’t use exclamation points gratuitously, so when I see one in a message from him the enthusiasm practically pops off the page.

Less is more. Advice for grammar, advice for life.

“No matter what words she says you can hear every freakin’ letter.” Mary Jane Copps wasn’t offended when someone told her that, not once but many times. To the contrary. You could almost hear the delight in her voice as she shared it.

On her way to a career helping people communicate more effectively over the phone, Mary Jane started making more money when she eliminated the word “just” from her vocabulary. Think of it. “I’m just calling to find out…” Now try: “I’m calling to find out…” The first version makes it easy to dismiss you. The second sounds confident.

Eliminating “just” from my vocabulary won’t be easy. Until I talked with Mary Jane, it didn’t occur to me there was anything wrong with the word. She said it isn’t so bad in person. You can offset it with body language. “But in person, I slouch,” I told her. She cracked up.

She laughed harder when we told her how challenging Darrell finds sales calls. He’s such a nice guy -- so respectful of people’s time -- he makes it easy (too easy?) for his request to sink right to the bottom of someone’s to-do list. Once he got a callback out of pity! The guy actually said that. Mary Jane promised she’d use the story in a presentation. “The pity response,” I think she called it.

So there’s obviously more work to do in the inspiration factory. Maybe you’ve heard the expression, “You teach what you need to learn.” We certainly do.

Mary Jane’s fond of telling clients she can help them know what to say on the phone. “I can’t get over the fear for you, though,” she adds. “The only way to change your behavior is to do it.”

Easy for her to say!

Do you trust your life?
November 25, 2013

A woman who burned out on the whole balancing full-time work with parenting thing was picking up her daughter from school one afternoon when another mom strolled over wondering why she wasn’t at work. Too fried to realize she’d field this question, Katrina Alcorn blurted out the truth: “I burned out.”

Katrina was about to brace herself for the woman’s reaction but there wasn’t time.

“Oh, yeah,” the woman replied without hesitating. “That happened to me once.” She elaborated, and what Katrina thought would be a humiliating thing to admit had only brought them closer.

When it comes to the blog, I’m really open about approximately one percent of my life. But I can relate to Katrina’s story. I shared something I’m embarrassed about with a couple of close friends recently -- only to learn one struggles with the same thing, and the other person is married to someone who does.

All of a sudden I’m not so unique.

But I am chicken! Too chicken to go anywhere near it on the blog. For now, anyway.

For now I hope you’ll consider spending less time curating your Facebook presence and more time admitting -- to your close friends, at least -- just how difficult life can be sometimes.

Katrina has no regrets about her crisis of spirit. Her willingness to admit she isn’t perfect gave her the opportunity to help so many more people than she would’ve otherwise. She loves her work, and now she can reach a wider audience.

Sounds pretty perfect to me.

I don’t remember who said it, but there’s a lot to be said for trusting your life.

It won’t be easy. But it might just be the most fun you’ve ever had -- eventually.

Picture this. You start your day and in no time at all you scold yourself: “Why can’t you ever seem to get on top of things?” You probably don’t leave it at that. “How do you expect to get anywhere with your life if you can’t even manage to knock off a single item on your to-do list by ten o’clock? You’re such a loser…”

I don’t know about you, but when Noah St. John outlined this scenario on the show recently it sounded all too familiar.

And unproductive.

Because if your brain is anything like Noah’s -- or mine -- it will set about to find the answers to those questions. And before very long at all it’ll spew a few. Maybe dozens!

There. Feel better?

I didn’t think so.

If you’re going to give your brain something to figure out, Noah suggests, make sure it isn’t the opposite of what you want.

If this video doesn’t take your breath away, it might make you feel a little better about the time you spend on YouTube!

Thanks, Daniel.

Is there such a thing as making it? And if there is, could it be any more fun than doing it?

I hope we find out someday! I hope we get posed the same question I’m fond of asking my guests on the show: “How, exactly, did you become such a success?”

When we start fielding questions like that we’ll already have the answer. We refused to give up.

We’re also lucky. We found a salesperson whose affection for us -- and ours for him -- is rivaled only by his competence. He’s a junkyard dog. He gets it done.

But it took seventeen years to find him! Seventeen years. Seventeen years of wondering if we were being persistent, or stupid.

So we hung in long enough to get lucky.

When I interviewed for a job as an intern at the Minnesota News Network, the gal I’d be working for wondered why I wanted to be in radio. I told her it was to have a talk show that would inspire people. After it happened -- and that took sixteen years -- I asked her if she was surprised. “Not at all,” she said. “You are relentless.”

So this is our advice, even though we haven’t made it yet -- whatever that means.

Be relentless.

Like this little guy!

I had a long string of shows where I hated how I sounded. A little strained. A bit uncomfortable.

One day I realized I sounded okay again.

It took a while to figure out what had changed, but it was my chair. It was as comfortable as the last one hadn’t been, and it was stunning how much better I suddenly felt about myself and my work.

Anyone who thinks comfort’s overrated has never walked the Brooklyn Bridge in an ill-fitting pair of shoes.

Fixing what’s wrong with your life doesn’t have to be a project, necessarily. A tweak here and there can make a big difference.

It reminds me what a former wife of a friend of mine said about marriage: “It shouldn’t be hard work. But you do have to pay attention.”