The Blog

Maybe you don’t need a prescription drug for your anxiety. Maybe you need a better way to express yourself with your work.

What Color Is Your Parachute? author Dick Bolles says your gifts have a kind of energy, and if you don’t let that out you’ll go crazy. He thinks of a cat who came to their house for the first time. It was an adult cat and they wanted to train it, so for a week they kept it in the house before they’d let it out in the yard. They didn’t want it to run away or run back to where it had come from. And during that week the cat was going nuts, because it would go up to the windows and see all the birds out there. It wanted to be outside, it couldn’t be outside, and it was driving them nuts along with it.

“Finally,” Dick says, “the day of freedom came for this cat. He was able to go out into the garden, and you have never seen such happiness.”

“Your gifts are like that,” Dick adds. “They don’t like to be caged up inside of you. They like to get out there in the world and be used.”

Have you noticed what I have, that the people who most love their work are the most fun to be around? It isn’t selfish to attend to your needs. It’s one of the most life-affirming things you can do. Your kids will learn how to be happy by watching you be happy, and the ripples will keep on spreading.

“If you need anything,” the nurse attending my (very routine) outpatient procedure said, “just use this call button.” I was forty-five minutes away from the proceedings, and after about thirty minutes I did need something. It was trivial and important.

telephone receiverSo I pushed the call button. I waited about a minute. I pushed it again. This time I waited two minutes. I pushed it twice, and waited two more minutes. Then I gave up. What I needed could wait. But I was mighty curious about the supposed “call” in “call button.”

When the gal reappeared I told her what had happened. She laughed when she realized the apparatus wasn’t plugged in. She plugged it in. And that was it. She went about her (I mean, our) business.

“What if this had been an actual emergency?” I kept wondering. For as nice as the woman was she didn’t seem the least bit concerned. I have no way of knowing, of course. But had it been me I would’ve apologized, I would’ve guessed why it happened, and I would’ve explained how I planned to keep it from happening again. I wouldn’t have given anyone the impression I was as unplugged as that button!

Isn’t that what we most want when things don’t go well? Something along the lines of, “Oh, no.” And, “Sorry.” And, “Let me fix that.” It can be life or death.

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photo courtesy of Katie Anderson

It isn’t difficult to keep promises to children. That’s because they’ll badger you so relentlessly you may (1) wish you’d been more careful about the promise, and (2) decide that keeping your word is easier than the alternative.

If only we treated promises to ourselves that way. I once heard the suggestion that if you want something to be different, you’d best do something different…and keep at it.

That’s why I’ve made the decision to do the most important work first. The first task each weekday is advancing the cause I’ve decided is mission critical. Period. No excuses.

If you don’t take yourself seriously, why would anyone else?

Once upon a time I was in a Toastmasters club whose leader was, shall we say, confident. When he told me my hands should be down at my sides while speaking it didn’t occur to me to get a second opinion. Why would it? I hadn’t joined the club because I was already as good as I wanted to be.

That’s one of the first things Dr. Nick Morgan noticed about me when Darrell and Katie and I joined him for a day of coaching last spring. I was an easy sell for keeping my posture open, my hands above my waist. It takes so much energy to keep your hands down and close to your sides. Try it sometime.

Ironically, it signals low energy.

Practically, it made for one strained persona. I’m as high energy as anyone I know, and I was trying to tamp it down. What a relief, not to have to do that.

As I talked with Nick across the conference table, it struck me that I was gesturing just fine in casual conversation. My posture was open, my hands high. Why would it be different just because I stood up? It wouldn’t.

It reminded me what took Darrell forever to get through to me on the talk show. “Just talk,” he’d say. “When the light goes on just start talking the way you’re talking to me right now.” Easier said than done!

That’s the task of all of life, isn’t it? Shed the affectations. Get comfortable with who you really are, and don’t be surprised when you inspire more comfort right back.

How long can you stand on one leg with your eyes closed without losing your balance? Brain expert Dr. Daniel Amen says if you’re in your twenties you should be able to make it to twenty-eight seconds. By the time you’re seventy? Four seconds.

I’m closer to seventy than twenty, but I’m still going for twenty-eight seconds. I made a big leap recently (so to speak) when I realized how much easier it is to do with my arms outstretched and above my waist.

We’re talking much easier.

It reminded me of the photos and video I’ve seen of surfers. They use their arms for balance. Why did I think I was cheating if I used my whole body to stay upright?

Which reminds me of the worst public speaking advice I’ve ever heard -- and, unfortunately, used. I’ll spill (!) tomorrow.

Somebody said there are two types of people: Inbox Zero and Inbox One Million.”

MailbirdI’m an Inbox Zero gal, definitely. And Mailbird would like me to stay that way, judging from the encouraging words (and exclamation points!) when I clear out the last message yet again.

If there’s anything sillier than those greetings it might be my reaction to them. I get such a hit of happiness every time.

What perks you up?

The worst way to find out what someone’s thinking is to ask him. That’s according to emotional marketing expert Graeme Newell, who told us on the show recently people rarely make purchases for the reasons they say they’re making them.

I think I’m an exception to that, but who knows? I do know one thing. I like a pretty package. I’m happy to pay a little more for the name brand just for the packaging.

Darrell knows what he likes, too -- a good deal. Which means it drives him more than a little crazy to spend more money for the same shampoo in a different package.

So we buy one beautiful bottle -- price be damned! -- and refill it with generic. The bottle I like is on display, and the shampoo Darrell likes the price of is stashed where I don’t see it.

A great solution to a minor problem, granted. But anyone who’s been married more than a few months can probably attest to the glee at taking even one problem off the list.

Who defines you?
May 22, 2018

“You are relentless,” a best pal once told me. She meant it as a compliment, and I took it that way. She’s still a best pal, and we make a point to get together in person whenever we can. We could talk all day every day for the rest of our lives, it seems, and still feel like we’re only getting started.

I hope you have people like her.

If you’re anything like me, there are many more people you think of with affection who’ve faded from “best pal” status. I used to feel vaguely guilty about that, until I realized how difficult it was to make time for everyone. It isn’t personal, not necessarily. It’s just math.

And besides, everyone you’ve ever loved is still part of you. You’re the swirl, as Anne Lamott might say, of every person you’ve ever known. Isn’t that the sweetest thought?