R U A Zombie?

A couple of weeks ago, Ann and I saw the summer thriller World War Z. It’s about a pathogen gone wild that turns folks into zombies.

Once infected, their eyes glaze over. They become dull and lifeless until they’re stressed by sound. Then they become dangerously aggressive running wildly in packs.

They’re the ‘un-dead.’

But they might as well be dead.

Are you a zombie?

I’ve just started working with a professional who puts in 17-hour days, seven days a week. He doesn’t know how to stop. He has hasn’t taken a vacation in years. His health is failing. His marriage is suffering. And, despite all the time he spends, his business is unraveling.

He’s stressed and lifeless and running around madly; trying desperately to keep all the balls in the air.

He’s definitely a zombie.

But he’s not alone.

So many of the folks who seek out Ann and me for coaching have lost control of their time; they’ve lost sight of their boundaries; they wake up every day feeling exhausted and depleted; feeling as if they’re already behind; then they run around madly all day long trying desperately to accomplish enough – to be enough; then they fall into bed at the end of the day feeling worn out and frustrated and empty… only to wake up and do it all over again. clip_image002_thumb2

The answer, they think, is to double down. Get busier; work harder; put in more hours.

I know. I owned that tee shirt once. (I had a secretary years ago who referred to me – not so lovingly – as a ‘hamster on a wheel.’ And truth be told, it felt just that way.)

But there is a better way. And it’s not about doing more or accomplishing more or being more.

(In fact, we are already enough, just as we are.)

• It’s about getting clear about our purpose; about our vision for our lives.
• It’s about saying ‘no’ to what’s not working so that we can say ‘yes’ to what is.
• It’s about foregoing the urgent for what is truly important.

It’s about discovering work that makes our hearts sing. It’s about nurturing the relationships that matter. It’s about caring for these magnificent bodies that carry us on this journey.

It’s about resting and recharging and reclaiming ourselves.

Peak performers: They know the secrets:

They know it’s not about working harder.

They’re they ones whose lives are rich and full and happy; who wake up every day excited and on fire about what lies ahead.

They’re the ones who know the rhythms of work and rest and play. They’re the ones with the light in their eyes and the spring in their step.

You can learn these secrets too.

Zombies. They should stay in the movies.

Do You Use Bad Language?

My mother used to threaten to wash my mouth out with soap. Those of you know me well can probably guess why.

All of us, though, have the capacity for bad language. And I’m not talking about the f-bomb kind.

What I’m talking about is the language we use when we view the world, when we consider our challenges, when we evaluate those around us; when we judge ourselves.

Is the world a benevolent place that seeks our good? Or is is dark and foreboding?

Do we ask what might go right? Or what will go wrong?

Are other people fellow journeyers on the path? Or predators waiting to take advantage of us?

How we “language” dictates how we feel about what “happens” to us:

Tony Robbins tells a story about a friend of his who got stuck in a broken-down, open-topped vehicle in the the jungles of Africa as night fell. His friend said: “My, this is inconvenient.”

  • Is the line at the DMV, yet another example or government’s ineptitude? Or a chance to chat with a stranger?
  • Is the traffic jam a disaster of existential proportion likely to lead to catastrophe and the demise of business as we know it? Or a magnificent opportunity to listen to some beautiful music or an inspiring lecture?
  • Is the deal that just fell through the last best chance for profit and prosperity? Or is it a sign that a better opportunity lies ahead?

How we “language” what we face impacts how we feel about others:

Jack Canfield tells the story of standing in a line behind a man who was upbraiding a hotel clerk. Apparently the clerk had been unable to accommodate the man’s request for a larger room. The man went away extraordinarily angry. When Canfield’s turn came at the desk, he complimented the clerk on the kind and patient way in which the clerk had handled an unpleasant customer. The clerk responded, “The man probably was just having a bad day. He’s probably a very nice person.”

  • What if the guy who cuts you off in traffic is really on the way to the hospital to see his dying mother? Would you feel the same rage?
  • What if the cop who angrily tickets you for speeding just tried unsuccessfully to resuscitate an infant? Would you have the same indignation?
  • What if your boss who has ignored your last two emails has just discovered that her daughter is hooked on heroin? Would you be so annoyed?

How we “language” impacts what we believe about ourselves:

  • Do we believe that we are capable? Or that we lack in essential skills?
  • Do we believe that we’re deserving? Or that the train has passed us by?
  • Do we think that we’re the victor? Or do we play the victim?

How we “language” dictates our success:

  • Are there options? Or blind alleys?
  • Are there opportunities? Or just dangers?
  • Are there possibilities? Or just problems?

From the start, we set the stage. Joel Osteen suggests that before we get up in the morning, we tell ourselves these words: “This day will be a great day. I’m expecting God’s favor. I know I’m well able to fulfill my destiny. I’ve been empowered to overcome every obstacle. I have the strength to overlook every offense. I have the grace to rise above every disappointment. Even if things don’t go my way today, I know God’s in control, and that I’m making up my mind right now to be happy and enjoy this day.” That would sure switch things up, wouldn’t it?

What if you used “good” language? What if you believed that anything were possible? What if you believed that you could make your wildest dreams come true? What if you believed that the Universe conspired for your good? What if you believed that the world was an abundant place and that there was enough to go around? How would that change up the way you approached the world?

Negativity pervades. How we language is a constant struggle. And yes, I’m fairly certain that my mother still wants to wash my mouth out with soap.

But Cy Coleman wrote, “The Best Is Yet To Come.” How ’bout we all work with that?


This is an encore of a piece first published on August 12, 2012.








You’re A Fraud


But chances are that you’ve felt like one from time to time.

I had dinner recently with a high-ranking foreign official. She was appointed to her position by the president of her country, the first woman to hold it in over 700 years. Trained as a trial lawyer, she is bright, savvy, shrewd, articulate and attractive. And yet, she confessed, after every television and radio interview she does – and she does many – she comes away feeling like she’s making it up as she goes along, that she’s shallow and transparently inept, that she must have fooled someone to hold such an important job, that she’s… a fraud.  images-1

She’s not alone. More than 70% of folks have suffered from the “Imposter Syndrome;” and it is especially prevalent among successful women.

I can’t remember a time that I haven’t questioned myself before going out on stage to speak to a group: There is a little voice that asks, “Who am I to teach these things I want to say; what can I share with this audience that is of any use whatsoever; and what veracity does any of it have especially when I’ve struggled and thrashed as much if not more than the next guy?”

But here’s the truth: Each of us has gifts and talents that are uniquely ours to share with the world; no on else is equipped to share them the way we can.

And it is our call, our obligation to do so.

There are folks on the path behind us who need to hear what we have to say; who want to hear. We can make their way sweeter and gentler when we have the courage to stand up and be heard.

Every third grader looks up to a fourth grader… each of us can turn around and share the lessons that we’ve learned.

With confidence and integrity… even when we’re scared; even when we feel we have no “standing.”

Marianne Williamson says, “Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won’t feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It’s not just in some of us; it’s in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.”

No one escapes these feeling of inadequacy.

It’s what you do next that matters most: Will you shrink? Or will you step up and lead?

There is a great children’s book called Everyone Poops.

Yup, everybody does.

Be Free

One of the most powerful books of the 20th century was Viktor Frankl’s Man’s Search for Meaning.

Frankl was an Austrian psychiatrist living in Vienna when the Nazi’s came to power. He was aware of the unraveling of things and had obtained a visa to secure refuge in the United States. But at the eleventh hour, he chose to stay in Vienna in order to care for his elderly parents who could not travel.

On September 25, 1942, Frankl, his young wife and his parents were rounded up and sent to the death camps. The Nazi’s took and destroyed all of Frankl’s writings and research. They exterminated his wife and his parent in the gas chambers… and burned their bodies in the crematoria.

Through it all, Frankl chose to care for his fellow prisoners. He chose to believe that, despite the odds, he would survive. He chose to believe that, even in this darkest of times in history, evil would be overcome, good would prevail.

He chose to believe in hope.

Frankl did survive… and after he was released he went on to write Man’s Search for Meaning. Its central tenet: That the greatest gift of our humanity, the greatest of all of our human gifts, is our power – our freedom – to chose how we will be in every moment – regardless of our circumstance.

We get to choose:

Hope over despair;
Kindness over hatred;
Peace instead of turmoil.

We get to choose the work that makes our hearts happy; we get to choose the relationships that nurture our souls; we get to care for these beautiful bodies that have been given to us.

We get to choose to see beauty in all things; to hold all as sacred, as divinely given.

We get to choose to act even in the face of insurmountable odds. We get to choose to begin again no matter how often it is that we have failed. freedomKey

We get to see the majesty of this very moment; and we get to choose to believe that the best is yet to come.

And above all else, we get to choose love…

Because we are free.

Celebrate your independence day.