30 Quotes For a 30th Birthday!

 

It is generally understood among bloggers that an all-quote posting is a “cheat” as it is the easiest of writings. Now that I’ve made that acknowledgement, here is MY all-quote posting!

 

Last month my niece Mary celebrated her 30th birthday. I was flummoxed as to how to celebrate her milestone. Back in June my goddaughter Clare, who is friends with Mary, celebrated her 30th birthday and for her celebration I offered a listing of the “30 Things I Know For Certain.” In the span of two months, I haven’t learned an additional 30 new things for certain and so I’ve turned to quotes.

 

Mary is a collector of quotes – one of the things we have in common. I decided to gift her with the 30 quotes that I am guided by as I navigate life. So, yes, I know these 30 quotes to be true for certain, though you may not know that based on some of the decisions I’ve made and continue to make!

 

But here’s what I do know – embrace these flashes of truth and the next 30 years will be glorious – which is my wish for Mary and for all of you who read this posting!

 

  1. The two most important days in your life are the day you are born and the day you find out why. Mark Twain

And finding that “why” may take more than 30 years!

 

  1. Don’t ask what the world needs; ask what makes you come alive and go do it. Because what the world needs is more people who have come alive.Howard Thurman

There is a world of difference between “living” and “coming alive.”

 

  1. 20 years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you didn’t do than by the ones you did do. Mark Twain

That’s not to say you won’t have some disappointment by what you did – but – Twain is right on this.

 

  1. You must not ever give anyone else the responsibility for your life.       Mary Oliver

Including your parents.

 

  1. And you ask, “What if I fall?” Oh, but my darling, what if you fly?       Erin Hanson

Now there’s a scary thought – what if you succeed?

 

  1. Your time is limited, so don’t waste it living someone else’s life.          Steve Jobs

Imagine all that would not have been if he had!

 

  1. Life isn’t about finding yourself. Life is about creating yourself.           George Bernard Shaw

There’s a difference between being a professional and an artist.

 

  1. If you are always trying to be normal, you will never know how amazing you can be.    Maya Angelou

You want to be amazing, yes?

 

  1. When we die and we go to Heaven, and we meet our Maker, our Maker is not going to say to us, “Why didn’t you become a messiah? Why didn’t you discover the cure for such and such?”  The only thing we’re going to be asked is, “Why didn’t you become YOU?”                                           Eli Wiesel

Becoming YOU – that’s what it means to become amazing.

 

  1. Whenever someone comes to me for help, I listen very hard and ask myself, “What does this person really want— and what will they do to keep from getting it?”                   William Perry

Ponder that.

 

  1. He allowed himself to be swayed by his conviction that human beings are not born once and for all on the day their mothers give birth to them, but that life obliges them over and over again to give birth to themselves. Gabriel Garcia Marquez, Love In The Time Of Cholera

A life-giving life, indeed!

 

  1. Never say anything about yourself you do not want to come true.              Brian Tracy

We live in a time when talk is cheap – but words have magic.

 

  1. Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a great battle.                   Philo of Alexandria

I’ve yet to meet the person who isn’t fighting some battle.

 

  1. If you want to impress people, talk about your successes. But if you want to impact people, talk about your failures.                                                   John Maxwell

Real vulnerability comes from strength and creates connection.

 

  1. Our full humanity is contingent on our hospitality; we can be complete only when we are giving something away; when we sit at the table and pass the peas to the person next to us we see that person in a whole new way.    Alice Waters

Or as they say in Yap, “Hosachigachig!”

 

  1. A student asked Soen Nakagawa during a meditation retreat, “I am very discouraged. What should I do?” Soen replied, “Encourage others.”                       from Essential Zen

Perhaps the easiest of human acts.

 

  1. I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.Maya Angelou

Why do so many forget this?

 

  1. Every single job I got in Hollywood was based on knowing someone. Here’s a piece of advice: Don’t try finding people who can help you. Find people you can help.             Lewis Teague – Cujo / director

From a horror film comes hearty truth.

 

  1. All real living is meeting.                     Martin Buber

And so, there is no need to be afraid.

 

  1. You can’t be everything to everyone, but you can be something great for someone.        Arielle Jackson

Sigh a sigh of relief!

 

 

  1. The aim of life is to live, and to live means to be aware, joyously, drunkenly, serenely, divinely aware.Henry Miller

Which is why Anais Nin loved him.

 

  1. I can’t go back to yesterday — because I was a different person then.           Lewis Carroll

Happy present! Happy future!

 

  1. Am I a success or a failure?” is not a very useful question. It is better to ask “what am I learning?”  Bob Sutton

A great question from the man who wrote the book, “The No Asshole Rule.”

 

  1. Comparison is the thief of joy. Theodore Roosevelt

Easy to rob yourself blind.

 

  1. Just because you’ve gotten accustomed to behaving in a certain way doesn’t mean it’s the right way. Maybe it’s time to get unstuck.                         Twyla Tharp

Wisdom from a goddess.

  1. The business of life is the acquisition of memories. Carson / Downton Abbey

And cherishing them.

 

  1. There are only two ways to live your life: one is as though nothing is a miracle. The other is as though everything is a miracle.             Einstein

He really was a genius.

 

  1. There is no such thing in anyone’s life as an unimportant day.                Alexander Woollcott

Although many days I might want to argue with this truth.

 

  1. The only thing we never get enough of is love; and the only thing we never give enough of is love. Henry Miller

And in the end – as in the beginning – love is all there is. . .

 

  1. Why not? Why not you? Why not now? Aslan / “The Chronicles of Narnia

What’s your answer?

 

 

I thank you God for this most amazing day,

for the leaping greenly spirits of trees,

and for the blue dream of sky

and for everything which is natural,

which is infinite,

which is yes.

e.e. cummings

THE POWER OF CONVERSATION

 

Business, like life, is about how you make people feel.

It’s that simple, and it’s that hard.

Danny Meyer / Setting the Table

 

 

My brother, Peter, was in town for business and we made plans to get together for dinner. He asked if Rod, an associate of his, could tag along. Since Peter doesn’t know boring people, I said, “sure!”

 

That night Peter showed up alone. Seems Rod was nervous that we wouldn’t have anything to talk about and so decided to set out on his own.

 

I’ll admit – I was stunned. How could three world-traveled grown men not have “stuff” to talk about?!

 

Peter explained that Rod could be shy at times.

 

I get that Rod could be shy since I was painfully shy growing-up.

 

I was shy because I believed I was boring. And I believed I was boring because I didn’t live an exciting life by my definition of “exciting.”

 

Lost in the confusion of this jumble of draining thoughts, I shied away from people, claiming to be shy, lamenting that I was boring.

 

I really wanted to buy Rod a drink and assure him – all would be well! Alas, he never showed. . .

 

Conversation may be a dying art and skill. If it isn’t, there are a whole lot of people who do not understand what conversation is and why it is so needed for our well-being.

 

Conversation is not binary opposites centered on agreeing or disagreeing, arguing or withdrawing.

 

Conversation is something GRACIOUS because it is rooted in engaging another, being present to another. That means the graciousness of conversation is laced with matters of responsibility and respect and clarity and discovery.

 

Shy people offer me the common refrain, “I only like to speak when I have something to say,” while overly-confident people boast that they, “like to tell it like it is.”

 

Neither stance opens you to the possibility of conversation because neither attitude allows you to be gracious.

 

REAL conversation springs from a posture of seeing the other person as a Surprise.

In my UCLA class on business communication, I ask participants to reflect on who influenced them as communicators. I expect that they will tell me tales of family or teachers or friends who impacted them. It’s not uncommon, though, for people to name Oprah, Anderson Cooper, and even a Miss America!

 

BUT, these are larger-than-life personalities – not individuals who directly and immediately helped to shape a class participant.

 

We ourselves don’t have to be larger than life. We just have to be within life.

 

I have oft quoted the great poet Mary Oliver’s “lessons for living life” –

Pay attention.  Be astonished.  Tell about it.

 

Victoria’s mom (names changed) died when she was 16 and ever since she has been guarded in her relationships. She hesitantly wondered if there’s a connection. When I suggested therapy, she said her dad nixed the idea since therapy is only for “crazy people.” We ended up talking about what’s really “crazy” when being willing to give-in to fear.

 

Bethany was not forthcoming regarding why she is defensive around her co-workers. She played with her key card and kept her head down. I found her coy attitude annoying and had to force myself to stay with her. And then she randomly mentioned that her son introduced her to the writings of Malcolm Gladwell – and she lit up! We talked about the impact Gladwell had on each of us and I was gobsmacked when I learned she’d done her Master’s thesis on non-verbal communication.

Ken cried as he shared with me that he had not been kind to women and broke several hearts when he was younger. When he met the woman who is now his wife, he did not feel as strongly for her as she felt for him. She’s the one who wanted to get married, more than he did. He married her because he believed that he needed to be punished for having hurt those other women. We ended up talking about love – love for self and the place of forgiveness in love.

Michelle, a sales person at my favorite furniture store, shyly asked if I was a Cancer. She became alarmed when I told her I’m a Capricorn and that I was born in January. She anxiously asked if it was the 10th – and was relieved when I told her it was the 7th. Her mother’s birthday is January 10th.  She assured me that “Things will get better. These last six months have been hard, yes?”  She then abruptly started to talk about the company’s move of the manufacturing plant to North Carolina. Just as abruptly, she asked, “Why are people afraid to love? Is it something in the dirt?” And again, I found myself talking with a stranger about love – and dirt – and Wicca!

 

I didn’t change any one of these folks’ lives. Nor did any change mine. BUT – in the exchange of conversation, unexpected, poignant and, yes, odd – in a moment of vulnerable authenticity – we entertained, we bonded, we opened up each other’s world a bit.

 

GIFT.

Each was gift.

All of which brings me back to the “business” of confidence. . .

Confidence is about seeing the nooks and crannies of your life. About not taking the seemingly insignificant aspects of your life for granted.

 

Confidence is about talking about those nooks and crannies because somehow they are worth sharing.

 

Sharing implies benefit – for you and for the “other.”

 

Can you believe that there’s something “good” you have to share?

 

That’s ultimately what confidence is – it is about trusting that you have some good worth sharing.

 

Confidence is about being open to the surprise of another who is “other.”

 

Interesting people know their story.

Interesting people know others have a story.

 

What you share doesn’t have to be worthy of mention in PEOPLE.

 

There is value richer than PEOPLE from your unique perspective – as there is from that of the other.

When I leave a lively conversation I feel energized because it has encouraged me to be less self-centered, less afraid.

 

Conversation brightens.

Conversation makes you feel less alone.

And so, conversation can make you feel generously unique – can make you feel YOU.

 

and THAT is the business of confidence!

 

 

I look; morning to night I am never done with looking.

Looking.

I mean not just standing around,

but standing around as though with your arms open.

Mary Oliver

 

The “I Didn’t Want to Say Anything” Syndrome

 

Everything becomes a little different as soon as it is spoken out loud.

Hermann Hesse

 

The pandemic has reminded me just how much I don’t like to cook and how much I miss my local hangouts. Sadly, one of those joints, an Italian bistro, has shuttered its doors. It’s going to be hard after the pandemic ends (it will end, yes?) to replace this eatery because the servers knew my usual order and the food was way better than anything I could rustle up.

 

Ellen, the owner, used to have a manager, Louis (names changed), who treated customers as friends, but in an annoying kind of way. He’d stand too near the table, lean in too closely when telling a “joke” and talked incessantly, even after food arrived at the table. He had no sense of boundaries and wouldn’t / couldn’t take a hint.

 

Oddly, no one complained, including me. People simply stopped coming in (not me). Eventually, Ellen figured it out and let Louis go. Customers returned, but Ellen was puzzled.

 

Why hadn’t anyone said anything to her since she could have taken action sooner?

 

Maybe it’s because I’m from New York and am used to neighborhood “characters,” but it wouldn’t have occurred to me to simply stop coming in because of Louis. Besides, I always brought a book and used it as a shield.

 

So why did people not want to tell Ellen about Louis?

 

She asked returning regulars and some claimed they didn’t want to be responsible for him losing his job. Seems it never occurred to them that if they stopped giving Ellen their business, she wouldn’t have money to pay his salary!

 

Other customers gave the vague reason they “didn’t feel comfortable saying anything.” It was easier to stay away from a place they enjoyed than complain.

 

Wow! We can all be so odd!

 

Way back in the lost land of January, I coached a team of four managers who worked in the same department. I was brought in to help them generate a smoother flow of communication. Ideas ranged from replying faster to email to socializing after work so as to get to know each other better. Ah, the good old days of “Happy Hour!”

 

The youngest of the group, Marie, said they needed to have more direct lines of communication. On the job less than six months, she shared with me that she already was afraid to go directly to two of her colleagues as she found them intimidating. Instead, she’d go to the remaining member of the team who usually couldn’t help her, but who lent a sympathetic ear!

 

“Nice” people don’t want to hurt other people’s feelings and don’t want to get others into trouble.  And so, I’m often asked, “What should I do when it really is easier to just say nothing?”  

 

And, in turn, I always ask, “Is it really easier to just say nothing?”

 

Matt came to me wanting to learn how to be assertive. Although embarrassed, he told me the story that drove him to me. . .

 

For eight years he never told his roommate that he wanted the guy to make space for him in their shared freezer. For eight years he stewed – and never said anything. Then, one day, he snapped and emptied half the roommate’s freezer items into the sink. That’s how the roommate found out Matt was annoyed that the guy hogged the freezer!

 

Remember – Matt told me the reason why he had not said anything to his roommate is because he didn’t want to hurt the guy’s feelings.

 

Again, I say, Wow! We can all be so odd!

 

Hey, this is a blog post and not a book on how to have a crucial conversation (thankfully, that book has been written by others and I highly recommend it!)

 

For now, though, consider this:

Before focusing on the risks of having a conversation that you worry will go “wrong,”

focus on considering what the risks are of NOT having that conversation.

 

Louis encroached on customers’ space and drove them away. Because it was no biggie for me, I didn’t feel a need to confront him. For other customers, it was an issue.

 

Rather than not saying anything to the owner, here’s what an unhappy customer could have said:

 

Your manager is a nice guy and tries to give good service. The only problem is he doesn’t seem to have a sense of boundaries and we find it annoying when he leans over and talks while we’re trying to eat or have our own conversation. I don’t know if this is just my issue or if others have said something. I hope you could have a chat with him.”

 

That is what being assertive looks and sounds and feels like.

You’re not complaining or being rude. You’re simply letting the other person know how you feel, why you feel that way and what you’d like from them.

 

Being assertive is grounded in your attitude – towards yourself, the other and the relationship.    

 

None of this is simple since most of us weren’t instructed as children in how to non-manipulatively express our needs.

 

So, yes, it can be awkward.

 

That’s okay – for what’s the alternative?

Give up a favorite meal?

Drown your frustrations at Happy Hour?

Stare longingly at your freezer?

Why complicate your pandemic life? Trust yourself. Trust the other.

 

Do you want to become comfortable speaking assertively so as

to develop and nurture successful professional relationships?

To explore how business skills coaching can help you present you with enhanced confidence,

please contact me

  [email protected]

818-415-8115

The Year Is Half-Over – What Have You Learned?!

 

The future is an infinite succession of presents, and to live now as we think human beings should live, in defiance of all that is bad around us, is itself a marvelous victory. Victory comes from living as human beings should live.

Howard Zinn

 

Hi! How are you?

 

Have you noticed how hard it’s become to answer that question? Back in the good old days of February, a“Good. How are you?” would have sufficed for an answer. Now, I’m hesitant to use this cliched greeting for fear the other person might tell me how they really are!

 

I Zoomed recently with Alex (names changed) a client who is a partner at a boutique financial firm. Alex mentioned he’s been able to guide his team efficiently via remote conditions BUT he’s uncertain how they’re doing personally. He doesn’t know how to check-in on their overall well-being because he views Zoom as an agenda driver. As he said to me, “Just asking ‘how are you?’ seems lame today.”

 

I suggested Alex ask his team non-cliched, unexpected questions, so as to get non-cliched, revealing answers. For instance –

 

  • Now that we’re headed into the 3rd Quarter, what’s something you’ve learned about yourself these past months that will help you going forward?

Or

  • What have you learned about yourself that surprised you?

Or

  • What do you NOT want to return to when things return to (new) normal?

Or

Well, you get the idea. . .

 

I told Alex that asking thought-provoking questions will reassure his team that he’s actually thinking of them.

 

BUT – here’s the thing –

 

You don’t have to lead a team to ask thought-provoking questions.

 

In fact, the first person to whom you should ask thought-provoking questions is – YOU!

 

The year is half-over.

What have YOU learned about YOU that surprised you?

That encouraged you?

That disappointed you?

 

I hear people offer the refrain of how they can’t wait for things to get back to normal. I get it. I’d love to be offering workshops and keynotes on site again. BUT – I sense that too many people consider all of what has happened as a huge, pain-in-the butt interruption to life as it should be.

 

A pandemic + a historical racial reckoning are not mere interruptions to life!

 

We are living in a time of transformation. Personal. Collective.

 

As we ask collectively who we want to be as a society, we need to ask who we want to be personally.

 

According to philosopher and theologian Richard Rohr, there are only two ways we really learn:

Great Love + Great Suffering.

 

Look around you and you’ll see both in abundance. And so, I have to believe that there is a lot of learning going on!

What have you been learning?

Who do you want to become more of as a result of these both numbing + exhilarating days?

 

If we do not ask our own self these questions, then truly this has all been an utter waste of human spirit and effort.

 

But there’s more. . .

 

Asking these questions excites me. Why?

 

Remember back when you’d be asked why you did something in the way you did it – and your cliched answer was, “Because. That’s the way I’ve always done it!”

 

These are the days when you can ask yourself – do I have to do it the way I’ve always done it?!

 

What better time to reassess your life than when life has been turned upside down?

 

What better time to determine (as psychotherapist James Hollis puts it) if we are pursuing a life that enlarges us or a life that diminishes us.

 

As unnerving as this time has been and continues to be have you learned in however bittersweet a way what really matters to you? Have you developed a renewed appreciation for friendships, reordered priorities, living in the moment, small acts of kindness?

 

When the crisis subsides, we might have occasion to ask whether we want to return to normal, or whether there might be something we’ve seen during this break in the routines that we want to bring into the future.

Charles Eisenstein, economist

 

In the words of New York writer and director Julio Vincent Gambuto, “We get to Marie Kondo the sh*t out of it all!” (LOVE IT!)

 

This is the time to examine all the dusty, cliched, cluttering aspects of our lives and ask why we’re keeping habits, modes of thinking, half-baked decisions, draining relationships and some- day dreams. What do we want to keep? Why? What do we want to toss? Why?

 

By the time life reverts to whatever its new normal will look and feel like, sure, it would be nice if you had created a money-generating side gig or could speak six Babble languages – BUT – the real question and hope is –

 

Will you emerge from head-spinning 2020 with a clearer sense of what and who matters in your life – andwill you have more of the confidence you need to create, endorse and cheer-on  that renewed and new YOU?

 

The simple truth is: A change in the world begins with a change in our own self.

 

Change grounded in an attitude of possibility and a posture of generosity – to oneself and to others.

 

Here’s to the second half of 2020 – may it be days of grace and kindness and confidence!

 

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]

818-415-8115