30 Things I Want My Goddaughter to Know on Her 30th Birthday


Let the young soul look back upon its life and ask itself: what until now have you truly loved, what has raised up your soul, what ruled it and at the same time made it happy?

Line up these objects of reverence before you, and perhaps by what they are and their sequence, they will yield you a law, the fundamental law of your true self.



Earlier this month my goddaughter Clare celebrated her 30th birthday. I am feeling old(er) and gave considerable thought to what I could give her as a gift. Since she’s dripping in Shinola, I thought I’d challenge myself to identify the thirty truths about people and relationships that I’ve grown convinced of in the span of the past thirty years and that I hope she grows convinced of in the coming thirty years.


Clare is a smart woman and she already lives guided by many of these truths. In the years ahead I look forward to witnessing her learn and relearn the value of all these truths.

(a form of this article originally appeared on my LinkedIn page)


  • Everybody has a story – everybody is a story. Homer knew this. So did Chaucer. There are no more magic words than, “let me tell you a story.”


  • Life is whack-a-do. Logic has its place – and should stay in its place – but – let yourself be gobsmacked by what people say and do. Remain open to surprise.


  • Both God and the devil really are in the details. I once saw a well-dressed woman walk down a major Los Angeles boulevard holding a stiff, extended dog leash – with no dog in sight. A friend sitting beside me in the car never noticed. Be a person who notices it all.


  • People struggle with words. Too many words. Too few words. They struggle. Most are confused. There is no greater gift than to help someone gain clarity. There is power to asking, “tell me more.”


  • No need to fear the different. Again, honor the story.


  • Welcome the stranger. Blanche du Bois was right to say, “I have always depended upon the kindness of strangers.” But, remember, you do live in NYC!


  • Not everyone will like you. You are not perfect – nor do you need to be. Inevitably, you will disappoint someone – other than yourself. The smart and the brave learn to “fail forward.”


  • Don’t waste your time with someone who doesn’t say “thank you” to a server. Arrogant people do not deserve your time.


  • It’s ALL about relationships. A client once told me, “I’m dating someone but it’s hard to find time for them.” Another, during the week of her 50th birthday, lamented that she has only one friend. They’re not outliers. Don’t join their company.


  • Ritual grounds us. Establish traditions with those who mean something to you. Those rituals will anchor and energize your life.


  • People are most difficult when most afraid. Remember that – for yourself. Remember that – for when you are engaging with a person acting out in a difficult manner.


  • Lying is a fool’s habit – there are a lot of fools in this world. And most people lie from fear. What are you afraid of?


  • Sidestep your fears at your peril. They will do you in unless you put them in your place.


  • When people say they are going to do something, more times than not, they really want to do what they say they are going to do – but – the road to hell really is paved with good intentions.


  • We all have a remarkable capacity to talk ourselves out of what’s in our own best interest. People are either too thick-headed or too-cautious. Which are you?


  • Never say something to yourself that you wouldn’t want someone to say to you. Be kind.


  • We all do what we do for a reason and so the best thing we can do in a moment of decision is to ask: “Why am I doing this? Why do I think this is in my best interest? Is there something else I could do that would potentially be better?”


  • Magical thinking is deadly. A problem does not magically resolve itself. A person does not heal or evolve by denying a problem is real. Sorcery is for binge-worthy Netflix shows.


  • Given a few spare minutes, people can weave fantastical soap-opera storylines to explain why someone did something or said something, believing the lie, “why else would they be that way?” Hmm. Maybe they were constipated that day.


  • 30 years from now people will have forgotten you and your idiocy. Yeah, people just don’t care that much to remember for 30 years how you made a fool of yourself one day in a meeting.


  • People change only by choosing to do what makes them uncomfortable. Seriously. Embrace Pt. 23.


  • You don’t have to do a Google search before saying “yes!” I spent 3 years on an island in the South Pacific and was clueless as to where I was all those years! And they were the best years of my life.


  • One of the sanest ways to stay honest with yourself, is to ask, “what did I learn this week about myself – people – my work – life?”


  • The heart of power is to believe, “I have value.” To believe I have value to offer. To believe I deserve value. Power is not a dirty word.


  • Confidence is never achieved. It’s exercised and re-exercised. Demons are never eradicated. Don your emotional ALO wear and have at it.


  • Joy runs deeper than happiness. Where your joy meets the world’s need, there you will find your purpose.


  • Desire lofty goals and reconcile with the fact that you will at some point be disappointed. Disappointment is not defeat.


  • “Who do I want to be in this moment?” is the most important question you can ask yourself – in times of crisis and in times of contentment.


  • Eutrapelia (one of my Top 10 all-time fave words) is Greek for the “virtue of play.” The Ancients knew that Knowledge + Wisdom + Healing all come from “wasting time.”


  • Whatever you choose and wherever you go you will find adventure and new people – some of whom will nurture you, some of whom will annoy the hell out of you. The truth is – every decision leads to an adventure.


Mary Oliver, of course, got it right when she wrote:

Instructions for living a life: pay attention – be astonished – tell about it.

Finding Your “Genius”



Wheresoever you go, go with all your heart.



The following is a snippet from an article in The Washington Post written by Pulitzer Prize winning dance critic Sarah L. Kaufman.

While the article gives a peek into the world of ballet, it is the last sentence that devastatingly speaks to the core of “confidence.”

The ability to receive the good people offer.

Without that ability all the business and communication books in the world are of little help or meaning.

Really. . .


One night, former ABT principal Susan Jaffe and her dance partner Jose Manuel Carreno left the theater to find a table in the walkway set with chocolate cake and punch, while a crowd of fans in paper hats sang “Happy Birthday.” (The dancers’ birthdays fall in the same month.) Admirers also have given Jaffe paintings, letters and, once, a mink coat.

The gifts were astonishing, Jaffe said, and simply being greeted with appreciation after performances always moved her.

But at the final performance of her 22-year career, she made a concerted effort “to open up to the audience,” and this, she said, is when she arrived at a different understanding of those who sought only to give.

Taking bows that night, being showered with applause (and flowers), ‘was almost a spiritual moment,’ she said.

“In my whole career, I was so busy worrying about my balances and my performance that I forgot about receiving. I didn’t spend enough time appreciating being the receiver of love.”


We don’t often – if ever – put the words “love” and “business” into the same sentences.

We receive deadlines, feedback and complaints. Love? Not often. Not much.

However, confidence implies being able to receive.


What are the compliments you receive?

Is there a running theme to them?

It’s been said that compliments reveal our genius.

I love that!

So – what’s your genius?!


now THAT’S the business of confidence!


Do you want to hone your Emotional Intelligence

so as to develop and nurture successful professional relationships? 

To explore how life- skills coaching can help you live your life

 with enhanced confidence – and joy

please contact me



Being Committed to Being Confident


If you don’t have confidence, you’ll always find a way not to win. 

Carl Lewis



I spend a lot of time with folks who are afraid. And who are in pain because of that fear.


I’ve been reminded of this in these first six months of 2021. And not because of Covid.


Linda (names changed) is a client who told me in our first session that, “Trouble has followed me all my life.”


It was a dramatic statement and it didn’t take long for me to realize that Linda takes comfort in her victimhood. She thrives (yes, thrives) from the anger she feels because her earlier career plans have never materialized.


Erin reached out to me a few days after I first Zoomed with Linda. She, too, made a startling statement, telling me that she doesn’t want to be ordinary, “I don’t want to play it safe forever.”


What is the difference between these two women?


Linda is harsh and demanding with herself. She walked away from her dream of becoming a CPA because she believed it “can’t” happen. She told me that in school she wasn’t able to attain a perfect GPA and she believed she needed a perfect GPA in order to become a successful CPA and so, she dropped out of school.


In one of our sessions Linda lamented, “I don’t know who I am.”

If you are a stern, unforgiving perfectionist, can you ever know who you are?

Constantly, you question – doubt – distrust – yourself.


Linda boasted to me that she has no tolerance for “bs,” yet, she is the one bs-ing herself, dismissing me when I pointed out that some of the best professionals I’ve encountered had less that sterling GPA’s.


Erin was traumatized when her business entered bankruptcy. She emotionally shut down and for five-years refused to do anything that would challenge her in any significant way.


She remained productive – but within strict bounds. She didn’t want to experience failure again and so she opted to play it safe.


In our last session, Erin told me she’s at a point where she knows someday she wants to run her own company again, proclaiming, “I don’t want to be stuck in the past.”


Linda, too, has told me that she wants to revive her dream of becoming a CPA and working in Import/Export – but – she doesn’t smile when she shares the dream. There’s no excitement in her voice. And that’s because she doubts she can bring her dream to life. Her mantra is: “I tried. I failed. That’s it.”


Linda constantly asks – why?

Erin has begun to ask herself – why not?


Two women. Two dreams.


Each reached out to me for help – but each wanted me to help in starkly different ways. Linda wanted me to help her prove that she can’t succeed. Erin wanted me to help her succeed.


Linda is hypnotized with the phrase, “Why bother?”

Erin is energized by being “bothered.”


How do you become “bothered” again after having been curled-up in a heap for so long?


I’ve personally grappled with this and I’m now convinced that confidence is a process – a process of putting one step in front of the other, no matter how futile you think those steps might be.


Confidence is the process of coming to terms with the reality that Perfection is no ally.


Confidence is the process of acknowledging that “Win or Lose,” action is always demanded.


Peter Sterling wrote that –

Change is not something that passively happens to you, but rather something you are in regular conversation with.


I love that image – having a regular conversation with “change” and so having a regular conversation with “confidence.”


And the two questions that have to be asked in that conversation are –

  • What’s the worst thing that could happen?
  • What’s the best thing that could happen?

Ultimately, in an honest conversation, you figure out a way in either scenario to “handle it.”


As I wrote in the beginning. . .

People come to me afraid.

Afraid for a litany of reasons:

I will not be recognized

I will not be rewarded

I will be judged “less than”

I will hurt someone

I will not be able to recover from a disastrous mistake

I will not be able to “handle” it

I will not succeed

All that fear is bound-up in some sort of lie.


95% of the beliefs we have stored in our minds are nothing but lies

and we suffer because we believe all these lies.

Don Miguel Ruiz / The Four Agreements


The great truth is –

Confidence is not a state of being that can be attained. It is a process. A never-ending process that becomes a way of being.


I’m now convinced you can’t become confident all by yourself as confidence does not take place within a vacuum.

Linda meets with a therapist and with me – but – I have the nagging sense that she doesn’t trust us and is using us to prove that she is beyond help.


Erin has created her “Committee” of three trusted friends to help her set a new five-year plan. Working with me and her Committee, she’s determined to remain freed from the echo chamber of lies she can so easily tell herself.


Here’s the thing –

Confidence implies action and action implies others – others who hold us accountable, cheer us on as we continually learn how to act in and through and from confidence.


Earlier I asked what the difference is between Erin and Linda. And I now think the difference is that Erin has not just “fire in the belly” to change, she has a “Committee” that she trusts and that she allows to call her out on her bs while Linda is stuck in that echo chamber – alone.


Whatever you are not changing, you are choosing.

Laurie Buchanan.


What are YOU changing? What are YOU choosing?


Now THAT’S the business of confidence!