Soul Murder


I know – it’s a dramatic title to a blog post. . .


I first came across this brief short story by famed writer David Mamet in the LA Weekly – decades ago.


Back then I clipped it, saved it and occasionally would read it when sorting through files.


Few stories have haunted me like this has – exquisitely poignant.


And for any of us working towards “confidence” – well, we all need someone to hand us a quarter!





Soul Murder

by David Mamet


The child sat with his head in his hands, rocking back and forth. “And if you did not want it, you should not have asked for it,” the woman said, “for you do not know what it means to deserve something, for you do not know what it is to work for something.” She paused. “Do you?”


The boy did not look up. And it seemed the woman did not require him to. She rubbed one eye for a moment, and while she rubbed it, her mouth went slack. The boy continued rocking.


“Now,” she said, “when we get home, do you know what I’m going to do? I’m going to take your toys and box them. And I’m going to ship them away. Do you think I’m fooling?”


The two other children — probably his brother and sister, the man thought — looked on, not dispassionately, but at a remove. Well certainly, the man said to himself. If they were to intervene, what would they say?


The boy stopped rocking and rose from the bench and began to walk, stiff-legged, looking down.


“Where are you going?” the woman asked.


He raised his head, cow-eyed, to indicate his destination — the men’s room across the waiting room.


“Then why do you walk like that?” the woman said. “I’m talking to you. Why do you walk like that, for God’s sake?”


His mouth moved like a fish’s for a moment.

“You sit down,” she said, “and I’ll tell you when I want you to go somewhere.”


He waited a moment and then sank down on the bench. His mouth was open, and his hands were pressed over his ears. He put his head down, just above his knees, and began rocking again.


The woman addressed herself to the other two. She drew them close around the pile of baggage and spoke softly to them.


Yes, that’s right, the man thought. Yes, that’s right.


She gestured to the baggage and pointed at them, and they nodded; and she gestured at the washroom and she nodded and then she, and then they, looked over at the other boy. She got up quickly and gathered herself together and walked crisply off.

The other children looked guiltily at the boy and then they determinedly busied themselves with their books.


Well, now’s the time, the man thought, and he had this fantasy: He would walk over to the boy and sit beside him. “Do you know who I am?” he would say. The boy would look up. “I am your guardian angel. I have been sent to tell you this: You are not bad, but good. Do you understand? You are not bad, but good. I only have a moment, but you are to keep this.”


He inventoried his pockets for something to give the boy.


“You are to keep this — it’s a magic quarter. Every time you see it, every time you touch it, you will magically remember that you are not bad, but good. You are good. Do you understand?


“Now, listen to me — one day you will lose the quarter. This is part of the plan. When this occurs, it means that each time you see any coin then you will remember that you are good.”


In the fantasy the man pressed the coin into the boy’s hand and quickly stood and walked away.


As he finished the fantasy, he saw the woman walk out of the washroom and return to the two good children and saw the three of them smile and rise and organize themselves around their bags. Just before they left, she looked at the boy on the bench and glared at him as if to say, “Well?” And the boy rose and followed them.


— David Mamet


Do you want to break through the negative thinking that is preventing you from being influential and heard?

To explore how one-on-one communication skills coaching can help you present you with enhanced confidence,

contact me at:

[email protected]


Breaking Through Old Rituals That No Longer Work


What you risk reveals what you value.

Jeanette Winterson


My communication work is based in the belief that we all do what we do and say what we say for a reason.


No one “just is”. 


Flowing from that is my conviction that in every relationship, over time, we fall into dance steps, patterns for dealing with conflict as well as for expressing feelings, needs and desires.


The question, though, becomes – are those dance steps working for you or are they sabotaging you and your partner?


This past week I got an email from Pamela (names changed), a former client. She wrote:


Recently my boyfriend and I have really been working on our communication. For perhaps the very first time I noticed that when I’m upset and need to ask him something, I get very frustrated and then just explode into accusatory statements instead of explaining what I want or what I’m feeling.


Usually that sets off our “normal” fight of “YOU never – well, YOU never –” but this time I stopped and told him, “Look, I have a lot of trouble with this so can you please hug me and work with me instead of reacting to me?”


And he actually did!

It was an interesting moment for both of us.  He said to me, “Well, I never knew that. I thought you were just cruelly accusing me, doing your usual annoying girlfriend thing.”


We talked about ways I can bring up issues without waiting too long and then exploding.  And now he’s being less reactive to my tone and more understanding when I repeat something three times in a row – he gets that it’s because I’m having difficulty expressing my self and am caught in a “broken record mode.”


Now when I do that (which I did this morning), he just pretends to be a broken record too and we make it a joke between us.


I’m excited for Pamela and her boyfriend because of the good that has come about from their mutual kindness and determination to break a habit that chipped away at the quality of their life together.


Pamela’s boyfriend thought her lashing out was just a “girlfriend thing”.


It wasn’t.


However, it wasn’t until she came clean and actually asked him for what she needed that he was able to really understand what was going on.

This was a breakthrough moment in their relationship.


And, hey, never underestimate the power of a good hug!


Pamela reminds us that life really can be far simpler than we make it out to be!


 Do you want to break through the negative thinking that is preventing you from being influential and heard?

To explore how one-on-one communication skills coaching can help you present you with enhanced confidence,

contact me at:

[email protected]



Figuring Out What To Do When You Finally “Grow Up”!

Christmas in July – what can I say?!


Where your deep gladness and the world’s deep hunger meet. –

there you will find your vocation.

Frederick Buechner

Since January I’ve had four new clients approach me with the refrain, “I need help figuring out what I want to do when I grow-up!”

Each of these folks has graduated college (one is a post graduate) and each works at an established company. And each is deeply uncomfortable where they are in life.

So how do you figure out what to do when you “grow-up”?

The first thing is to acknowledge that you already ARE grown-up!

You are an adult – even if you may not always feel like one or act like one.

In addition, although you have a job or had a job, it’s critical to keep in mind that you are not your job – no matter what you do. 

You are the sum of your relationships and your obligations to those relationships, along with your feelings and beliefs, your spirituality and psychology, your values and habits.

All of that guides and influences what you do and how you do it and why you do it.

The legendary theologian John Henry Newman believed that “To live is to change, and to be perfect is to have changed often.”

When someone says they want to figure out what to do when they “grow up” they are muddling the issue because the issue is not “when I grow-up.”

The issue is – given that I am today this grown-up, how will I reinvent myself?

In the early years of my adult life I lived in a religious community and prepared for ordained ministry as a priest. When I resigned from ministry after twenty years of community life I had only a hazy notion of who I was. And, yes, that it is a startling thing to admit!

My therapist told me that I had to find new ways of being “priest.” That required I do things that would force me to become realistically acquainted with the skills and talents I’d acquired and had taken for granted. I had to experiment, try on, risk and reevaluate.

Reinvention doesn’t necessarily require new skills. It does, though, require you to be familiar with the skills you currently have and become comfortable using them in new and possibly unfamiliar ways.

So how do you reinvent yourself – now that you are grown-up?


Cristina Nehring in her book, A Vindication Of Love, writes that when she was in high school:

My English teacher told our class that the most important thing about life was to live it as if it were a good novel – as if, she said, it were a good film script. ‘Would audiences walk out during the movie of your life?’ She believes that by living ‘deliberately, gracefully, inventively, and fearlessly’ any one of us can be “a piece of art.” 

Here are 20 questions for you to rummage around in and grapple with

as you create the piece of art that is YOU

1.     In your present job, what skills do you enjoy putting to use? What comes easy to you?

2.     For what skills do you get your most compliments?

3.     When you last were looking for work, what had you really wanted to do?

4.     What or who pushed you into taking this job?

5.     How you think you’ll emotionally be if you remain in your current job for another five years? Ten years?

6.     What are the practical reasons for you remaining in your current job? How important are those needs? Are those needs really “needed”?

7.     Who else is involved in your decision to reinvent yourself?

8.     What needs do they have? What fears are attached to those needs?

9.     Is there a specific field you’re interested in? Does it require new training? Do you know anyone who is doing what you want to do? Do you know anyone who knows someone doing what you want to do?

10.  Are you most excited by the idea of a new job or by having the opportunity to use skills you currently under-use?

11.  Is there any place within your current company that would let you tap more into the skills you want to be immersed in?

12.  A dream job is just a dream without a strategy. Do you have a dream or a strategy? What does your strategy look like?

13.  How will your life be different in your new job? Is this new job crucial to making your life different in the way you imagine?

14.  What will you miss from your current job and do you think you’ll find it in your new one?

15.  How will the new job make you more “grown-up” than your current one? What “grown-up” responsibilities will you have in your new job that you don’t have in your current?

16.  How are you sabotaging yourself now and would those techniques carry over in whatever new job you take?

17.  Do you have a tolerance for ambiguity, along with a dose of patience and grit?

18.  Do you think you have what it takes to reinvent yourself?

19.  What is one skill you have that will come in handy as you reinvent yourself? One is one skill you need to develop?

20.  What do you want to be remembered for in this life? Will your future job help you be remembered for all the right reasons?


Answer these questions and you will have more insight into your next possible job and clarity into who you want to be, doing what you’ll be doing.

If you strategize with these questions, you will not just find a new job. You will experience transformation.

Leadership guru John Maxwell calls transformation the “journey to significance.” Significance, according to Maxwell, is all about adding value to people.

Angela Duckworth, author and expert on “grit” believes that, “Rather than ask, ‘What do I want to be when I grow up?’ ask, ‘In what way do I wish the world were different? What problem can I help solve?’ This puts the focus where it should be — on how you can serve other people.”


Deep. Yes, I know!

Going deep, though, is what adults do!


Do you want to help discovering who you want to be when you grow up?


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

 with enhanced confidence – and joy

please contact me

  [email protected]


A Brave Act of One’s Own


The only person you are destined to become is the person you decide to be.

Ralph Waldo Emerson


Last weekend I met Marie at a housewarming party. She is the motherly neighbor of my friends who hosted the party. When she learned that I officiate weddings and coach communications, she maneuvered me to a table and proceeded to tell me about her daughter, Clarice, who had filed for divorce just six months after her wedding. Marie asked if I would meet with her.


I doubted Clarice wanted some stranger to “reason” with her; but I felt sorry for Marie and agreed. Out of respect for her mother, Clarice, who had moved back in with her mom, also agreed.


When I stopped by the next day, I reassured Clarice that I had no intention of trying to talk her out of her decision. I admitted it was none of my business, but just out of curiosity, I wondered what had happened in the span of six months to want her to dissolve her marriage.


Embarrassed, Clarice told me that she and her husband Frank had dated since high school. They continued on through college. Everyone just presumed that some day they would marry and once out of college, the pressure was on.


She then told me something that initially shocked me: “We didn’t want to disappoint our families and so we decided to get married and we just got caught-up in it all.”


Then one day, some six months later, they realized that while they loved each other, they had no desire to spend the rest of their lives with each other.


Once again, I was reminded that life can get very whack-a-doo!


The self-help guru from the 1980’s, Leo Buscaglia, maintained that,

Not very many of us are really, in the real sense of the word, alive and living fully. I’m certain that as long as you leave your life in the hands of other people, you’ll never live. You have to take the responsibility for choosing and defining your own life.


As odd as Clarice’s story first sounded, I later realized that she really wasn’t any more “stupid” than most of us are at one time or another in our lives – and I say that respectfully.


I think most of us can be sloppy when caring for our lives, going along with decisions made by others because we don’t want to hurt feelings or accept the consequences of hard decisions.


Ironically, Clarice and Frank deciding to divorce was the kindest and bravest thing they could do for each other because finally, they were choosing and defining their own lives.


What about you? 

What kind, brave thing do you need to do for yourself?


Do you want to learn how to confidently live your life without worrying about what “THEY” will think?


To explore how life-skills coaching can help you present you

with enhanced confidence – and joy

please contact me

  [email protected]



How to Respect YOUR Life


Success is waking up in the morning, whoever you are, wherever you are, however old or young, and bounding out of bed because there’s something out there that you love to do, that you believe in, that you’re good at – something that’s bigger than you are, and you can hardly wait to get at it again today.

John Maxwell


I believe that honoring is the foundation of successful living – honoring:






we fight against beliefs, ideas, emotions, and fears that work to prevent us from living authentic lives.



we set goals, take responsibility, make choices, exert self-discipline, and tackle change.



we recognize that all life is meeting and so we engage the other in our social and work dealings

with care, curiosity, and a readiness to learn.


Through it all, we honor self, work, and the other only when we honor the present, living with self-awareness in the moment.



  1. How openly and comfortably do you honor your life?


  1. Which of the three arenas – self, work, others – is it easiest for you to honor?


  1. Which is the hardest for you to honor?


  1. In which of the three arenas do you have a fire-in-the-belly desire to become more successful?


  1. If you were more successful within that arena, how would you act? How would you communicate – with your own self and with others?


  1. Why are you afraid to act and communicate in the way you believe would allow you to be successful?


Acknowledge the fear and THEN practice acting and speaking the way you want to.


Only THEN will you become WHO you want to be!


Do you want to learn how to skillfully and generously honor

your own self, work and others?


To explore how business skills coaching can help you present you with enhanced confidence – and skill

please contact me

  [email protected]



A Mid-Year Check-In


It does not matter how slowly you go as long as you do not stop.



It’s July and so we’re halfway through 2019. Soon Hallmark Card stores will be premiering their line of Christmas ornaments!


I thought of offering in this posting a review of the ten most important lessons I learned in 2018 with an eye on evaluating how they might help me navigate the rest of 2019.


However, as I reviewed my list, I realized there is really only one great lesson that I (and you) need to keep in mind through the remainder of this year.


And that tip?


“NO” doesn’t have to be the final answer.


Rejection doesn’t equate to the decimation of ideas, plans or dreams.


Throughout this year, I’ve been privy to the struggles of folks who have steadily plodded on until they reached their goals – even if, when reached, those goals looked differently from what they’d originally imagined.


Pat (name changed) is a comedy writer who came to LA from NYC with a TV writing gig. Within just months, the show folded and he was out of work and luck.

It was an unnerving time for him and his family. Do they return or not return to NYC?  Does he stick with comedy or play it safe? Pat had to face the reality that maybe he wouldn’t earn a living from writing funny words.


Pat decided to live his life “as if” he was employed as a comedy writer.


He set-up a schedule and committed to writing a certain number of jokes per day. He went on the rubber chicken circuit and submitted unsolicited jokes to late night shows.  He brought schmoozing to a whole new level. And he did all this in the face of bone-crushing doubt.


Today, you may very well be laughing at his late night jokes as he’s on staff with one of the late-night shows.


Five years ago my friend Melissa signed a contract with a major book publisher. Her first book was released April 2015. And it’s been re-launched in Canada with a new marketing push.


Hers was been a journey of more than twelve years. Twelve years of self-doubt, rejections and being faithful to the writing task.


Nancy contacted me several months ago. Among other things, she wanted to hire me for her company’s annual retreat; however, I was booked that weekend.

Last week she called again, wondering if by chance my weekend had opened up. Turns out, it had freed up as previous clients canceled their event.


Each of these people encountered “no’s” that had the ring of finality to them.


Yet, each person decided that “No” would not be the ultimate arbiter of reality.


Have you come up against any “No’s” in 2019?

Have plans and goals for 2019 been met with a NO?  

What can you do to gain traction on your goal beyond the NO?



Do you want to learn how to confidently live your life without letting other people’s NO derail your goals?

To explore how life-skills coaching can help you pursue and present you

with enhanced confidence – and joy

please contact me

  [email protected]


Who Cares “What Will They Think?”


The #1 refrain I hear from people who come to me seeking to build-up their confidence is, “I’m afraid of what people will say / think of me.”


So much time, so much energy is spent worrying about “them.”


And certainly I get it – I’ve wasted so much time worrying and I’ve silenced myself on way too many occasions out of concern and fear.


Recently I came across an item on the Huffington Post that caught my eye. It’s short and so I’m reprinting it here.


As you read this, imagine (if you can) that you’re Ryan Gosling!


Nicholas Sparks Says No One Wanted To Play Noah In ‘The Notebook’


No one likes Noah. At least, according to author Nicholas Sparks, no one wanted to play the part of “Noah” in the screen version of “The Notebook.”


During a conversation with IMDb Asks on Wednesday, Sparks revealed the difficulties he had casting the famously romantic leading role.


“It was really interesting because a lot of the actors said, “Well, what’s Noah’s arc?” Sparks said. “It’s a guy who falls in love and then he just kinda does nothing, and then waits for her to show up and then he’s there and he’s still in love and then at the end of the film, well, he’s still in love. Where’s the arc? Ryan Gosling came in and he really brought that story to life.”


Gosling managed to bring the story to life, but he apparently landed the part because he wasn’t considered traditionally handsome by Hollywood standards and the film’s director.


“[Director] Nick Cassavetes called me to meet him at his house. When I got there, he was standing in his backyard, and he looked at me and said, “I want you to play this role because you’re not like the other young actors out there in Hollywood. You’re not handsome, you’re not cool, you’re just a regular guy who looks a bit nuts,’” Gosling told Company magazine in 2011.


Definitely the kind of stuff that boosts your self-esteem, right?


I think it’s fair to say that Gosling’s life would be radically different today had he worried about “what will they think?”


Certainly gives me something to think about!

What about you?


Do you want to learn how to confidently live your life without worrying about what “THEY” will think?


To explore how life-skills coaching can help you present you

with enhanced confidence – and joy

please contact me

  [email protected]





How People Can Drive Each Other Nuts!


The first duty of love is to listen.




Last week a couple met with me to explore communications coaching. Cathy (names changed) admitted she didn’t feel a need for coaching – it was her partner Jack’s idea to meet with me.


Cathy claimed everything’s good in how they talk – though at times, she said, she “might” be a bit too passive in their arguments – especially when he becomes “his usual pigheaded” self!


Hmm. . .


Jack readily admitted he’s competitive and enjoys arguing even when he knows he’s wrong. This is true even with Cathy.


I asked if she enjoyed arguing with him when he was in the “zone.”


She didn’t. In fact, she hated it.


But, she said it didn’t matter as she just shuts down and lets him have his way.


Jack jumped in, saying that he hated it when she shut down.


I asked if he heard why she shuts down.  Yes, but. . .


“Then why do you do it?” Cathy demanded.

“I don’t know,” he said, shrugging his shoulders.

“I don’t want to argue. All I want is to get what I want,” Cathy matter-of-factly explained.


“There, that’s the kind of attitude I don’t like. I feel like she’s disrespecting me,” said Jack.


“She doesn’t take what I say seriously. I explain things logically to her. I give her the reasons why we need to do something a certain way and she ignores everything I say.”


“Is that true?” I asked Cathy.  “Do you ignore Jack? Do you intend to disrespect him?”


Cathy was blunt in her response, “I know what he’s going to say – I just don’t want to hear it. I don’t want to know the reasons why I can’t have something when I feel I should have it. The problem is he thinks with his head and I think with my heart. He doesn’t respect me when he doesn’t listen to why I want something.”


Exasperated, Jack, tossed out, “She doesn’t have any reasons for anything. All she has are just feelings.”


Let me freeze frame here – does any of this sound familiar?


I want to point out that Jack and Cathy were very polite in the way they spoke to each other – this wasn’t a shouting match. However, they clearly felt frustrated.


Let me try to distill an hour and a half conversation into some manageable thoughts.


Studies show that the most successful relationships are the ones where the couple is similar enough that they comfortingly compliment each other and different enough that they invitingly challenge each other.


This is certainly true with Cathy and Jack.


By dint of personality and profession (engineer) Jack values logic.

Cathy is a person, by dint of personality and profession (sales), who values feelings.


He spots specifics and she stares at the panorama.


He thinks logic is going to win the day because that is how logic is supposed to work.


However, as soon as she begins to feel that he’s clobbering her with facts, she shuts down.  “What’s the use?  He’s not interested in what I have to say” is her mantra.


And he becomes frustrated when he sees her give up. He wants her to fight for her ideas. He’s a competitor and that’s what competitors do!

They’ve created dance steps, patterns, rituals for arguing and those steps are now like the air they breathe.


They presume, “well, that’s just the way we are.”


Hmm––not exactly.


I asked Jack, “when you’re in an argument, do you notice that she’s becoming more passive?” 


“Then, why do you persist?” 

“I want her to see it my way.” 

“Does she ever come out of her passive state and say, ‘you’re right—I wasn’t thinking straight.’” 


“Never? Then why do you persist?”


And I asked Cathy, “in an argument, what’s your goal?” 

“To get what I want.” 

“And how do you do that?” 

“I plead and then when I get frustrated, I just ask, ‘what do I have to do to get X?” 

“And do you ask in a pleasant tone of voice or do you have attitude?” 


Smiles all around.


“Do you pout; cross your arms, and make it sound like a demand if not an ultimatum?”


She actually looked shocked that I knew!


80% of what we respond to in a conversation is not what is said, but how it is said. 


She tuned him out when he started to lecture.


He tuned her out when she started to pout.


No one likes a know-it-all and no one likes a whiner.


So, what to do? 


It’s not possible to magically change personality. Nor is there any reason to do so.


Choices can be made in how to communicate.


Cathy needs to understand that “because it feels good” is not a reason that is going to advance her cause.  How do you respond to a “reason” like that?


Jack needs to understand that people don’t always make decisions based on what is most logical.


He needs to help Cathy explore her feelings so as to help her understand what she is thinking.

And, she needs to help Jack explore his thoughts so as to help him understand what he’s feeling.


They each need to help the other understand what it is they individually want and explain why they want what they want. 


Together, they need to want to find new ways of having conversations.


And that’s what I’m going to help them do in our future coaching sessions!



Do you want to break through the negative thinking that is preventing you from being influential and heard?

To explore how one-on-one communication skills coaching can help you present you with enhanced confidence,

contact me at:

  [email protected]


12 Most Enduring Life Lessons Gained While Living Unplugged on a South Pacific Island


When I was seven years old I spent four months in the hospital for a heart condition. I got through the ordeal, in part, because an old, reclusive neighbor dropped off three shopping bags of National Geographic magazines.


I devoured stories of exotic locales and vowed that someday I’d have my own Nat Geo experience.


In my senior year of college I was offered the opportunity to teach at Xavier High School on the Pacific island of Weno in the Chuuk Lagoon (part of the Federated States of Micronesia).


I was fortunate to have lived there when life was still unplugged and a trusty portable typewriter was my “tablet.” Today, my home office is a veritable Apple outlet, but the three years I lived in Chuuk was life changing.


Here are the 12 most enduring lessons I learned from that adventure and that have guided my life ever since.



Be in the moment

Imagine being in a meeting with colleagues and no one looks down at a smart phone.  The ability to focus on what is happening in the present is startling.


Offer only your best to others

Whenever I visited, people welcomed me by sharing freely – food, beverage and laughter. By the time I left to return to the States, TV had arrived in the islands. On my last night, I visited the home of my student Salvelo. His family had one of the first TV sets. It was sitting atop a table at the far end of the main room. Everyone was stretched out on mats watching. Salvelo’s mother gave me her mat, so I’d have the best view. It was one of the most surreal moments in my life. Yet, typical of true hospitality – unhesitating giving.


Story begets story

Because there was no TV at the school, we entertained ourselves. At night, I’d go to the back of campus where students would light a fire, lop off some coconuts and we’d sit around telling stories. My grandmother had been a prison guard in NYC for thirty-five years and so I could match any of their shark attack yarns!


All people share three things in common

GiGi, a Filipina who left home for political reasons, had a personal story of love, pain and loss that was poignant and harrowing. She once told me that every person loves someone, has lost someone or something precious and is afraid of something.  Wonderfully dramatic, but I’ve yet to meet the person for whom this isn’t true.


You can’t run away from pain

Sue volunteered to teach in the Science Department because she was fed-up with life in Los Angeles where men ignored all 375-pounds of her. What she didn’t know is that in Chuuk, big women are considered beautiful. Sue lasted three months, as she couldn’t handle the lavish attention. She returned to LA without having made peace with herself.


Carpe Diem

When the job was offered to me, I had no idea where I was going. And that’s what I loved – the adventure of it all. My comfort zone was shattered. Being uncomfortable allowed the world to never be the same for me. Seize the day – and not just a day-planner app!


There’s more to life than meets the eye

My first night at the school the generator was turned off at 10:00 P.M. and the campus was dropped into an inky black, unnerving silence. Norman and Taka, two of the teachers, took me up to the roof where I became dizzy from what I saw. As a boy from the Bronx, no one ever explained how the night sky is exploding with stars. And every day for the next three years I learned that there is just so much more to the world than I could ever take in.


The pen is mightier than the text

Marshall McLuhan famously claimed, “The message is the medium.”  But it’s equally true that the medium dictates the message. Having no laptop, I could only write letters. With pen in hand I reflect and compose differently from when I’m dashing off an email or a scrunched text. Being a multi-tech user allows me to experience a variety of thinking.


Grit has no expiration date

Francoise was a seventy-five-year-old “broad” who wanted an adventure. And so she replaced Sue as head of the Science Department. She was game for anything – including a role in my production of Agatha Christie’s “Ten Little Indians.” She was the first character to be bumped-off and she died with aplomb. Generosity of spirit is ageless.


Resourcefulness animates learning

I was assigned to teach literature, but was given no syllabus and few textbooks. Since I’d never taken an education course in college, I simply recalled all the teachers who I didn’t like and then did the opposite. I trusted my imagination, created a curriculum, made a ton of mistakes and along the way educated my students to appreciate the power of the written word. The power of their imaginations. The power that comes from thinking.


Manhattan is not the center of the universe

For all my enthusiasm and good will, I really wasn’t aware of the breadth of cross-cultural differences I’d encounter.  “Be you” translates differently in a communal-based culture that puts a premium on “we” as opposed to the fast-talking, every person for him/her self world of NYC. I had to learn how to be a guest – and to see the world from a different perspective.


We are who we believe ourselves to be

I taught poetry to the frosh. At end of term, I put together a collection of their work and called it, “AH!” That summer, an Australian anthropologist stayed with the family of Bellarmine, one of mine students. On her first night with them Belarmine asked the anthropologist, “Would you like me to read some poems I’ve written. I’m a poet.” She was amused that he called himself a “poet” – until he began reading his poems and she realized he was a poet! Months later, she told me that her evening with “Bellarmine the poet” was pure magic. And so it is that we become who we say we are.


Although this journey took place years ago, the gifts of that unplugged life anchor me today in my oh-so-plugged-in world.


The enduring gift of Chuuk is simply this:

It is the quality of our daily life that matters most.

With or without technology, each of us is the creator of that quality.



Do you want to break through the negative thinking that is preventing you from being influential and heard?


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The 1 Thing You Need To Remember About Being Confident


It is not joy that makes us grateful; it is gratitude that makes us joyful.

Brother David Steindl-Rast



Last month I was in in San Francisco to catch the performance of my friend Anthony in the riotously funny play “Speakeasy.”


I was early and so popped into one of Little Italy’s many cafes. I was jotting down ideas when a man walked in and went over to the owner. Because I was sitting close by I could overhear their remarkable exchange.


The man said,

I’ve not been back here in seven years but seven years ago I needed a cup of coffee. I was eleven cents short. You told me not to worry and you gave me the coffee. I never properly thanked you but I’ve never forgotten you.




This guy stunned (and I think confused) the owner. He certainly blew me away.


A week later I received a surprise via LinkedIn. I had a message from Emanuela, a UCLA Extension student from nine years ago. She thanked me for helping her learn how to set boundaries and be more confident in expressing her needs and viewpoints.


The class helped her change the way she does business and she wanted me to know that she hasn’t forgotten me. Once again I was blown away!


Emanuela and café guy reminded me that a confident person knows, remembers and acknowledges those who help them.


There can be no confidence without gratitude.


Consider this:

Denise (a former client) told me that she is hurt because Marie hasn’t thanked her for all the strategic help she’s given her at work. Denise is a colleague of Marie’s and feels taken advantage of.


Marie happens to be a current client of mine and she is struggling with what she wants to do with her career. At the core of that struggle are her flimsy and wavering feelings of self-confidence.


Marie wants to move into an executive position because she wants to feel valued and relevant.


However, she’s unable to recognize the gifts and talents she’s developed over an impressive career and so is unable to give thanks for those strengths.


Her personal lack of gratitude is crippling her confidence – and preventing her from being a gracious colleague.


Here’s the great truth – confident people know how to value others.

They know how to show appreciation.


In addition, they are willing to do the challenging work of shining a private light of recognition on their own particular talents and gifts.


Confident people are willing to answer the question, “What are my strengths?”


Not just skills but the strengths that undergird those skills.


Gratitude lets them own their powers and from the gratitude comes the confidence to put those powers to good use.


One final illustration (for why I am fixated this month on gratitude):


Last Saturday I officiated a wedding where Nick, the groom, had big tears streaming down his face as he offered his personal vows to Teresa, his bride.

I seldom see a man cry in public this way and, of course, the cliché is that a crying man is a weak man. But that wasn’t so with Nick.


There was strength to his tears because they flowed with gratitude for the love of this woman.


I have no doubt that Nick’s gratitude let him offer his vows from a place of confidence, loving what he knows of Teresa and trusting what he does not yet know.


A mindful “thank you” is the glue of all relationships – with self and others.


Gratitude is one of the hallmarks of a confident person.


You know you are in the presence of confidence when you hear an emphatic, clear-eyed, strong-voiced “thank you!”


The question I leave you with is –


Who can you thank you this day?

This week?

This month?


Do you want to break through the negative thinking that is preventing you from being influential and heard?


To explore how one-on-one communication skills coaching can help you present you with enhanced confidence,

contact me at:

  [email protected]