National Positive Thinking Day

 

Your attitude defines your altitude.

Zig Ziglar

 

This Friday, September 13th, is National Positive Thinking Day!

 

My father was a great storyteller who had an appreciation for the absurd. With Scotch in hand, he was a jolly good-fella whom people enjoyed.

 

Although he had a great sense of humor, my father was not an optimist. While he could laugh so hard that he’d cry, the proverbial glass was ALWAYS half empty.

 

We were a Catholic family and like many Catholics of his generation, he could quote the Catechism. The first question in that book is: “Why did God make us?”

 

The classic answer is, “God made us to know, love and serve Him in this world and be happy with Him in the next.”

 

My father would quote this and point out, “It doesn’t say anything about being happy in this world. We’re not meant for happiness.”

 

This belief, which is a perversion of Catholic thought, allowed him to explain every disappointment, misstep and misfortune that happened in his life.

 

He was a fatalist and as such had low expectations for life.

Dreams didn’t amount to much because they most likely would be decimated.

 

Hopes were pleasant but did little more than aspirin.

 

I had to work hard to understand how his belief system was grounded in a lie – a lie that allowed him to aspire for very few things of value.

 

All these years later, I don’t think my father was unique in his fatalism. In fact, I think it’s far more common than we care to admit in this “feel-good” society of ours.

 

Mildred (85) is the oldest resident in my condo building.

 

She told me that she and her husband raised their family in this building although she had never wanted to live here. She wanted to own a house but her husband wouldn’t hear of it.

 

She lamented, “I’ve been miserable in this place for thirty years. Can you believe that?” And I did detect a twinge of pride in her voice.

 

I laughed, saying, “Of course I can!”

 

It’s easy to surrender power and believe that ultimately life is controlled by forces outside our control.

Viktor Frankl, one of last century’s greatest writers and a survivor of Auschwitz, fervently believed that,

“We who lived in the concentration camps can remember the men who walked through the huts comforting others, giving away their last piece of bread. They may have been few in number, but they offer sufficient proof that everything can be taken from a man but one thing: The last of his freedoms – to choose one’s attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one’s own way.”

 

Be happy.  Be powerful.  Think positive!

 

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

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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!

 

Enjoy!

 

 

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]

818-415-8115

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.

 

WHOA!

 

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]

818-415-8115