Maybe A Ghost Story

Photo by Vino Li on Unsplash

Discover something new every day.

James Still

I recently visited a store in Toluca Lake that I frequent. Julian (names changed) is the associate who’s been helping me for almost a decade. He knows I write and teach and coach and he excitedly told me that he had a story that might interest me.  

It did, so here it is!

Julian’s family has a home that’s two hours outside Puerto Vallarta. It’s been in the family for generations.  

Down through the years, relatives and friends claimed to have experienced hauntings.  

Julian himself claims to have seen and felt “things” that he can only label as “ghosts.” His father-in law, though, scoffs at such nonsense.

Early this past summer, Julian and his family went down for the Quinceañera of his niece. Per tradition, the local Priest came to hear confessions.  

Julian’s father-in-law has no use for Church ritual and took a nap when the priest arrived. He fell asleep and some time later awoke, feeling like someone was pressing down on him. His legs shook uncontrollably and he freaked out.  

He screamed; people rushed in and – nothing.  He insisted, though, that someone had been on top of him.

Hey, it’s Halloween and what’s a LinkedIn post without a ghost story?! 

I don’t think Julian made-up this tale. Since I don’t know his in-law, I don’t know if the man is a jokester, had a nightmare or – if he really was assaulted by a ghost.  

What I do know is that there’s more to life than we can see.

Not only is there more than we can take in at any one time, I think we’re so overwhelmed that often we don’t pay attention to the little that we can see.

In Thornton Wilder’s classic play, “Our Town”, the lead character Emily dies in childbirth. Soon after, as a spirit she asks the character of the Stage Manager if she can return home to live out just one day. Against his better judgment, he agrees.  

Emily is moved by the simple beauty of ordinary life and stunned by how people are unaware of that beauty. Although invisible to her mother, she cries out, 

“Mama, just look at me one minute as though you really saw me – 

it goes so fast we don’t have time to look at one another.”  

Back at the graveyard, she asks the Stage Manager, 

“Do any human beings ever realize life while they live it?”

It’s easy to take life and others for granted.  

It’s also easy to take our own life for granted.  

The countdown for 2022’s end begins with the last piece of Halloween candy – so how do you want the year to end?  

. . .a few more pieces of Halloween candy. . .

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.

If I’m being honest – I am – the truth is I often have 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. I trained myself to focus on the negative and to downplay my talents, wishes and hopes. I learned to believe that hoping can only jinx happiness.

I’ve met many people who are reluctant to prepare for the best because that could be the direct cause 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” too many people assume the mantra, “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.

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!

Earlier I asked how you’d like 2022 to end – professionally and personally. 

Take a moment to jot down what you’d like to see happen. 

Then assess if your thinking or any of your beliefs are holding you back from creating the final months you’d like to experience.

Toss aside any superstitious thinking and with a clear eye see the possibilities. . .

Creating “the best” in your life is not about tricks or magic. 

Confident people know it’s all about strategy!

Now THAT’s the business of confidence!

Are You a Personable Person? (not a trick question!)

Photo by engin akyurt on Unsplash

What is your relationship to life? 

I’m not sure there is a bigger question than this. It bears repeating: 

What – is – your relationship to life?

Eckhart Tolle

A couple of weeks ago I met with my client Hailey (names changed), who is responsible for mentoring several people at her financial firm. She talked with me about two managers. Each is hampered in the same areas:

  • Lack of self-awareness
  • Too harsh verbally / non-verbally

This pretty much is the definition of someone who is Emotionally Tone-Deaf.

Denisse, one of Hailey’s managers, reached out to me to explore coaching. She sounded aloof during our phone chat. She had minimal energy and asked questions in what I took to be a suspicious tone of voice. I had to make a concerted effort to be present with her in this conversation.

Denisse contacted me because of a recent meeting with a client that didn’t go well because of the poor impression she created (as reported by the client to Hailey).

Denisse told Hailey she’s introverted and has a hard time creating a comfortable rhythm with a client. 

I hear this a lot from professionals and since I’ve got a strong introverted streak running through my personality, I know the challenges. In many settings I have to generate energy that doesn’t come “naturally” to me. What I’ve learned, though, is this:

Relationships are ALL about energy

Recently a colleague with whom I collaborated on an event thanked me for being:

“personable, professional and flexible.”

I appreciated the compliment as I like being known for those three qualities BUT I got to thinking – what does it mean to be “personable”?

I thought about it and I now believe that a personable person is –

A person who knows they are a person dealing with another person!

A personable person realizes that “it” is ALL about relationship.

But there’s more. . .

Hailey told me that she thinks the managers struggle with client relationships because they are either unable or unwilling to self-reflect.

Hmm. . .maybe that’s the “secret” to being personable.

Personable people know how to self-reflect.

In my classes and workshops I give participants “whacks on the head” – prompts to get them thinking about themselves as communicators. Many don’t know how to answer the introspective questions I ask.

While there are various reasons for their struggles, I suspect it comes down to this:

Reflection demands time, patience and a willingness to ask, “Why?” 

Why do I do what I do and say what I say in the way in which I do and speak?

Asking “why?” invites you to understand who shaped you into the communicator you are today.

Understand the influencers in your life and you can choose how to present yourself to people – whether you are introverted or extroverted.

You no longer have to be held hostage by the mantra, “this is just me.”

The more aware you are of the mystery of YOU, the greater is your “chance” of becoming aware of the mystery of others.

And so, you more readily approach others with care and avoid being. . .

Too quick

Too biased

Too afraid

Too judgmental

Too harsh

. . .in your dealings with people.

So, here’s the thing – 

The year is almost over. The Hallmark Channel soon will be rolling out its Christmas movie premiers!

What do you want to do MORE OF beginning NOW and on through to the end of the year?

A few days ago, while writing this post, I heard back from Denisse – she’s decided the problem is not with her – that the problem is with her boss Hailey who doesn’t see what a great job she’s doing.

I told her that I think she’s making a mistake in not doing the challenging (and freeing) work of self-reflection. She was startled by my directness.

How about YOU? 

How about spending the remainder of 2022 becoming more “personable” by focusing on your professional and personal relationships: nurturing the ones that are healthy and tend to the ones that might be frayed, tense-filled or neglected.



To help get you thinking about YOU and people, here are Ten Questions to Generate Curiosity for People:  

  1. Why do you like people? Why don’t you like about people?  
  2. What is the best conversation you ever had with a stranger?
  3. What makes a person boring for you?
  4. What makes you boring to people?
  5. Do you want people to like you?  
  6. Do you have anything to give to people that would benefit them?
  7. In what ways is your life richer for “excluding” people? (yes, trick question)
  8. Who was the kindest person to you?
  9. Who was the nastiest?
  10. Who knew you the best – the kindest or the nastiest?

Let focusing on your relationships help you become MORE OF in the remaining weeks of this year. . .

  • more curious
  • more aware of self
  • more generous in de-complicating your life
  • more grateful
  • more adventuresome