A self-help tool

… for one of those days when you feel like today is the day you are stuck pushing the bicycle uphill…

Let’s talk about feeling displaced today… that feeling of not belonging, or of not fitting in, or of just not “being you” at your best … because you know what? This feeling can show up at any time – it happens to everybody. Really.

It’s those moments when we feel like we’re “in the wrong place, I shouldn’t be here” or we just “did something stupid – everybody is going to notice my mistake” or even the hard core version: “nobody values me / nobody cares” type of thinking or self talk that can go on in our minds.

I’m not going to go into the dynamics of what this means in terms of self-esteem, self-confidence, feelings of self-worth and so forth … rather, I’d like to give you a quick self-help tool that you can use to pull yourself out of this kind of negative self-talk – like real fast!

Here’s how you do it:

1. Step:
Write down 5 to 10 things that you fear someone will find out about you – what are you afraid of? i.e. That you’re not good enough? That you’re not smart enough? That you’re too old, too young, too bald, too blond, too shy, too uppity? 
What are 5 to 10 things that you are afraid of sharing about yourself? Write them down, every single one – but at least capture 5 – bring those monsters out in to the light.

<See? That wasn’t so hard! And now that it is done, you’ve put it out in the open, you have, figuratively speaking, shown the flashlight under the bed and the monster wasn’t there anymore. Good for you!>

2. Step:
Now write down 5 to 10 things that people have said about you that shows you had some kind of impact on them or their lives. i.e. Even it is your favorite fan (your mother) or somebody who would not dare say anything bad about your (your partner) – capture as many as you can, but write it down:
i.e.: Colleague at work: That was the best meeting I’ve been in for the longest time! Thanks for organizing it this time! (Could you do this at every meeting, then we wouldn’t waste so much time)?
Best friend: I will only go there if you go with me. I couldn’t stand to be there without you!
Online friend: You really shine! 
Boss: “I noticed all the good stuff you’re doing lately …”
At a pitch: “I wish I could afford you – what you’re doing looks so good” (and they didn’t even know what the price would be, because they didn’t ask for it!)

Whatever it is for you – write it down. Better yet: start keeping those little quotes and notes in your notebook or capture them in your calendar. This is your “I need to pick myself back up” process.

I’d love to hear how you used this for yourself … please do share your story here!

Conflict or disagreement?

Disagreements happen. It would be a totally boring world if everyone agreed on everything – then no growth would happen, no progress in science, or anywhere – actually. In my opinion, it isn’t always important to “be understood” – rather I put more weight on “seeking to understand”.

Yet that only gets a person so far.

If your goal is make progress, maybe even to shake up the status quo, then there will always be someone who doesn’t want the status quo changed, or their belief of what is true/good/right challenged. And they will disagree with you. It is, after all, the easy the way out … to just let things stay as they are, or are commonly accepted. It doesn’t cost a lot of brain energy to keep things as they are, after all. Inertia – even mental inertia – is the biggest enemy of growth!

Then there are those that disagree, simply just to disagree. In my experience, these are people that have a history of feeling like they were overlooked and did not receive the recognition they felt they deserved at some point in their life.

There are also those, that disagree because they have a set mindset about something – a belief that, if it were questioned – would change their whole view of how the world works. It is too painful for them to allow for any other variation than their own “truth”.

I love the idea of getting on solid, mutual ground in any disagreement by engaging with the other person through curiosity. Some questions I use to foster curiousity, are:

– What is so important about this for you?
– How is this important to you, personally?
– What kind of experience have you had with xyz – and were there any times that experienced turned out differently than you expected?
– Do you have any role models or examples for this xyz… and what impresses you so much about this role model? 
– Why, do you think, is your role model doing things this way?
– How does what you’re disagreeing with me about, serve you? 
– Let’s imagine we switched places and you were on my side of this disagreement. What would I need to say to you, to get you to understand my side?
– …

Disagreements can be fuel for growth – on both sides! It is how the disagreement is carried through, that demonstrates the maturity of those disagreeing.

Regretfully, we don’t have many role models in politics these days, that are demonstrating good skills at disagreeing in a growth-focused fashion. Too many, “my-way-or-the-highway” examples are being set in the news. Inertia sits deep – and many folks are just following some stated ideology because that is what they’ve always done – it’s the easy way out and they don’t have to exercise their brain cells. People of influence, who are willing to demonstrate how their critical-thinking has brought them to the conclusions they have, why they do what they do, or say what they say, are quite rare these days.

What are you doing to make the most out of a disagreement you may be having? How are you growing when you’re in such a situation?

Complexity or Boundaries?

A waterline is the line upon which a ship’s hull is either under water – or above water. Now imagine someone would drill a hole into the hull of this ship. If you drill a hole in the hull of this ship above the waterline, it won’t sink. If you drill one below the waterline – well, get into your life jackets and into the life boats, folks!
When you are working in a team, or just working together with others, things can get complicated. There are goals that each of the various individuals may deem to be more important than others, or things they value higher than you do. The more people you are working with, and the more objectives you all have to address, the more complicated this can get. 
In this metaphor, it means: if the complications trespass a personal boundary that is “above the line”, it may not be nice, but this “hole” will not cause the ship to sink – you can continue to work together. Yet if you drill a hole beneath the waterline, trespass personal boundaries, then the entire team could down with the ship.
One thing is for sure, if you are all equally invested in the outcome, then you should be investing time and energy into the relationship with the others. Complexity has its own self-perpetuating energy. Unnecessary discussions? Assumptions being made? Half-truths spoken? All of these time-consuming distractions could be avoided if everyone on the team knew how to communicate the boundaries of what is above, and what is below their own personal waterline.
What is your own personal waterline? Do you know the waterline of those who are closest to you?


Look at the time right now, please. Done? Write it down and what you’re doing (uhhh – you’re in Facebook!  LOL!) Now I bet I can tell you what you’ll be doing 5 minutes from now…
Exactly the same thing.

A lot of the time, it isn’t our self-esteem, or self-confidence, or overflowing to-do list that keeps us from doing what we think we should be – or could be – doing, it is …. <drumroll please> …. Inertia. We simply just keep doing what we have been doing, because that is the easiest thing to do.

Ponder over that for a moment. What time is it now?

What do you do, to overcome inertia? How do you stop doing something and move on to the next thing?


Isabelle Mercier said, “What you tolerate, you worry about.”
40% of what we worry about, will never happen
30% of what we worry about, has already happened
12% of what we worry about, are needless worries
10% of what we worry about, are petty and miscellaneous
only 8% of what we worry about, are really worth worrying about.