No One “Just Is”

It takes courage to grow up and become who you really are.

 e.e. cummings

For the past month I’ve been consulting at a family-owned clothing company.

The president of the firm, Rachel (names changed), asked me to coach Betsy her supply manager, a woman who is loyal to the company, is willing to put in long hours and who has strong relationships with manufacturing plants in Mexico.

The one thing she doesn’t have is people skills.

Betsy treats her team with barely a trace of respect – she yells, slams doors and habitually lies when it suits her.

When I asked Rachel why she tolerated Betsy’s antics, she told me, “I need her. I don’t want to go through a search for her replacement.”

Last week I laid it all out for Betsy.

She bristled and then declared,“Betsy is who Betsy is and there’s no changing her, do you know what I mean?”

Yeah, I did – she meant she has no intention of changing!

When I challenged her, she lamented, “I can’t change. This is who I am.”

That wasn’t the first time someone has boasted to me that they “can’t” change.

However, please understand – that statement is simply not true.  It’s a lie. 

We ALL have the ability to change.

We ALL are responsible for how we present ourselves to other people and how we interact with them.

No one “just is.”

Which brings me to Ken.

He and his fiancée Alice are getting married later in the summer and are in the process of interviewing officiants. Ken didn’t smile when we met and seemed uncomfortable when he sat down.

Alice was friendly and engaged (pun intended) as we talked.

Ken never looked at me, never offered an opinion and answered my questions in a low, mumbling tone.

Hey, there’s shy and then there’s “creepy shy” and Ken was creeping me out!

Something seemed “off” and finally I asked him directly if he was happy getting married.

His head shot back, he nervously smiled and said “of course!”

I asked if anything was wrong, as he seemed unhappy or troubled.

Alice gently smiled and explained, “Ken is reserved; that’s just how he is.”

Once again, there’s that phrase, “just is.”

Here’s the thing – if you need your fiancée to explain that you’re reserved, then you’re more than “reserved.”

Just because a person is reserved doesn’t mean they have to present themselves in a rude, weird manner.

Just because someone is loud and impatient, doesn’t mean they have to intimidate team members by screaming, slamming and shutting down.

“Just is” is never an excuse for feeble, off-putting behavior. 

You don’t have to “just” be an a*hole.

You can “just” be someone who strives to be a more dynamically engaged person!


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:


The Power of a Well-Chosen “Yes!”


Once we believe in ourselves, we can risk

curiosity, wonder, spontaneous delight,

or any experience that reveals the human spirit.

E.E. Cummings


Last Fall my friend, Lyn (all names changed), popped down from Seattle for a visit. We’ve been friends since frosh year at Fordham University.


Lyn came to visit not just me. Earlier in the year she reconnected with a fellow she had served with in a volunteer organization known as the Jesuit Volunteer Corps. Lyn and Bob had not seen each other in almost 40 years.


When she told Bob she’d love to spend time with him and his wife during her LA visit, he readily said, “Yes.”He shared, though, that he’s battling pancreatic cancer and is on chemo.


I’ll admit, I’m not sure if I was in Bob’s position I’d want to visit with someone I hadn’t seen or heard from in 40 years. Would I want to make the effort if I were preoccupied with such all-consuming health issues?


Lyn and her husband, Brian, found an Air B-n-B near Bob’s and over the course of two days Lyn and Bob picked-up where they had left off oh-so-long-ago as friends and fellow volunteers in a remote area of Alaska.

On the third day of their visit, I picked-up Lyn and Brian at Bob’s home. He and his wife, June, offered me warm hospitality and soon I, too, settled into hearty conversation with strangers who quickly felt like old friends.


Because of his health, our visit was less than an hour. Towards the end, though, Bob expressed gratitude to Lyn for making the trek down to visit. He enjoyed their time together just as he did when they were in Alaska and seeing her again was tonic for his spirits.


He admitted, though, that he almost told her not to come. His first thought was, “why bother after all the time that’s passed?”


He then smiled and said something remarkable. He said, “At this stage in my life, I’m resolved to say ‘yes’ to every invitation that is extended me. I want to remain open to being surprised.”


To be open to surprise.



Ever since hearing Bob quietly, with grateful conviction, share this resolution, I haven’t been able to get it out of my head.


I understand you may be thinking that you’re over-extended, over-committed – to the point we’re you want to be committed to a rest home! You’re struggling to juggle calendars chock-full of family demands, work demands, self-care demands. And that neurotic boss of yours doesn’t help.


I get it. Really, I do.


BUT – there’s this guy Bob who I can’t stop thinking about.


He explained that he said “yes” to Lyn’s visit because he didn’t want to deny himself a possible pleasure that he could not anticipate.


And, no, this is not simply about FOMO.


It was something else – a willingness to risk being surprised.


If you’ve read other of my postings, you’ve heard stories about my “unusual” family. My parents approached all invites from a place of suspicion because the world was a dangerous place with people of dubious motivation.


And so, my knee-jerk reaction to an invitation is all too often – NO.


Yep, old habits sure die hard.


You might be thinking, well, Bob is dying so what else does he have to do except say, “yes.”


That’s the thing. I didn’t have the sense I was in the presence of a dying man. I was in the presence of a man who was living life. In the companionship of his wife and with the loving support of three grown children.


He chose his “yes” carefully in that he didn’t want to say “no” out of habit or laziness or convenience.


My client Steve was recently offered the option of taking on a new assignment that required he quickly get-up to speed with a different system and protocol – both of which he’d been wanting to learn for more than a year.


His first reaction was to say “no” and turn down the assignment. Too much trouble, he claimed, even though it had some attractive upsides.


When we talked, it came out that his real concern was, “What if I fail?”


Legit question.


I then asked him an equally legit question –

“What if you succeed?”

As you know by now, this whole Business of Confidence “thing” has many different shadings to it.


Bob reminded me – confidence is about choosing who and what we allow into our precious lives.


Sure, a “yes” can lead to a waste of time – BUT – when chosen not out of guilt or obligation, a “yes” can often lead to someone or something that refreshes, renews, reinvigorates for however brief a time.


Confident people know the power of a well-chosen YES.


now THAT’S the business of confidence!


PS: Steve has taken on that new assignment. A lot of work – and more satisfaction than he ever imagined possible. . .



Too Afraid to Want What You Want!


The possibilities are numerous once we decide to act and not react.

George Bernard Shaw


Todd hired me because he wanted guidance as he searched for a new job. The financial situation at his company is such that he doesn’t see room for either advancement or a raise and he doesn’t want to be stuck on a Titanic.


He works in the entertainment industry as a technical manager at an editing production house. He’s been at it long enough that his knowledge and expertise put him in a valued position.


For several months he’s been going through a series of interviews at a major Studio.  After each one, he’s been encouraged that “the job” is going to be offered to him.


However, in an odd twist, his fifth interview was with an executive who admitted he didn’t know what job he was interviewing Todd for!


At the end, the guy assured Todd that he seemed like a perfect fit – even though he couldn’t say for certain what the job was.


He told Todd that someone from HR would contact him shortly.


Todd realized that with each successive interview, he was becoming more confused as to the job he was a “shoe-in” for.


Ten days went by without a word. So, he called his contact and explained that he’s going on vacation and would like to know what’s up before heading out of town.


His contact asked him to call when he got back because for sure he’ll have good news then.


Todd told me that he’s not going to call; he’s fed up and if they want him, they’ll call.


But there’s more.


Todd admitted he doesn’t want them to offer him a job – whatever the job might be!


Intellectually, he wants “the” job, but emotionally he doesn’t.


He likes his job, he likes the power and influence he has and he’s afraid to lose it, but because the company’s in a financial mess he feels he should move on.


If the Studio says, “No,” then he’ll be happy because he can reassure himself that he tried.


If the Studio says, “Yes,” then he’ll go to his boss and hope he’ll counter-offer, though he doubts he can.


Todd admits he doesn’t want to take power in the situation because then he’ll have to live with the consequences of his decisions.


He’s hoping that what “should” happen, will happen.


Crazy?  Sure.


But most of us do some version of what Todd is doing.


Change is scary.


Taking responsibility for our decisions is scary.


Leaving it up to the “gods” to decide our fate seems less risky.

Playing mind games is more fun than mapping out a strategy.


But, if we don’t create our own life, then who will?


Do you want to break through the fear 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:


Are You Superstitious?


The man who says he can and the man who says he can’t are both correct.




When Chandler Massey won his first daytime Emmy for his role as Will on Days Of Our Lives he was the odds-on favorite in his category, though he didn’t take the predictions seriously.


In fact, he didn’t even bother to write an acceptance speech.


He revealed to reporters that he hadn’t prepared a speech because he didn’t want to “jinx it.”


He later regretted not writing one because he forgot to thank various special people, including his grandparents.


I was amused reading this (yes, of course, I was in a doctor’s waiting room!)  because how often have I refrained from doing or saying something because I didn’t want to “jinx” it – whatever “it” is!


So many of us engage in this primitive practice of superstition.


My father used to say, “Don’t get your hopes up because you don’t want to be disappointed.”


I followed his advice for years – and never got disappointed – or super excited.


I trained myself to focus on the negative and to downplay my talents, wishes and hopes.  I learned that hoping can only lead to disappointment.


I’ve met many people who are reluctant to prepare for the best because that could somehow increase the chances of “the best” not happening.


If you think about it, isn’t it amazing just how much power we think we have over the universe? Instead of, “build it and they will come” their mantra is more like, “don’t dream it and it will come about.”


Had Massey written an acceptance speech, he still would have won since the mere act of writing would not have had the power to make all those winning votes magically disappear!


He engaged in superstitious thinking and we all do it in some form or another:


Let’s not talk about bad jury duty experiences because then we’ll receive a summons the next day (hmm. . .I hope I didn’t just jinx myself!).


Let’s not talk about it raining on my special occasion because then it will rain.


Let’s not prepare since that would entail too much power on our part; but let’s acknowledge we do have power to shape things by simply speaking of them!

What’s wrong with being disappointed?


Okay, that’s such an obnoxious question because we all know being disappointed sucks.


However, had Massey written his speech and lost, he would have been disappointed AND he would have had that thank you written so he could have sent it to those he loved.


After all, he wasn’t thanking them for winning, he was thanking them for loving him and he didn’t need to wait to stand on stage with a trophy to do that!


What kind of superstitious thinking are you doing?


Is it stopping you from doing something you would enjoy?


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: