The Thrill of Victory, The Agony of (Temporary) Defeat

Don’t you just hate it when a person or event “ruins” your day? It could be somebody refusing to help you when you know he or she could. Or it might be an email that politely thanks you for your job application or manuscript submission and concludes with some variation of “There was someone better than you.” While people rarely come out and tell you why they’ve rejected your request for help, employment, publication, or even love – it almost doesn’t matter.

Rejection stings. Ouchy – BIG TIME! So what can a person do? My Aunt Ginger would write a poem to cheer you up and give you a new perspective:

“Today is bad
But don’t be sad,
Setbacks are like grains of sand.
They can burn your feet
Or be really neat,
If you use them to make you glad.”

I guess the point of Aunt Ginger’s little ditty is that setbacks will happen. They can hurt like crazy – at least temporarily.  But like grains of sand, you can mix them with faith in yourself, encouragement, and a little determination and build beautiful castles in your life.

Enjoy your weekend,


Perfect Success and Happiness

Have you ever noticed that after receiving clarity about how to be happier and have more of what you want in life, that sadness, exhaustion, and even a little regret creeps into your consciousness? It has with me. I think to myself, “Why didn’t I ‘get with the program’ sooner? Why did I wait so long to act on what I’ve known to be true for years? Wow . . . now how do I make up for lost time?”

Although I may disappoint and frustrate myself at times with not being a perfectly enlightened human being, deep in my heart I know that I’m on my way. Any regrets stem from my ego wanting to be perfect, not from my heart which already knows that it is.

At times of self-doubt and second-guessing my past choices, I remember to acknowledge myself for my progress to date. I even write down where I started, where I am now, and all of my positive qualities that I’ve used to get to today. That helps a lot. I often pleased to find that my level of commitment to myself and making my home, workplace, and community kinder, gentler, and more fun is alive and well.

So if you find your path toward success and happiness has a bump or two along the way, pause, turn around, and notice how far you’ve come.

Have a great Thursday,

Growing Success

Today, I am down in Hyde Park during a marathon of resume reviews for Chicago Booth students. You might think that this is a painful austerity, but I rather like it. I feel that I am helping a whole lot of students pave the way to greater success.  So the next time you are doing something that seems mundane, remember the broader implication and impact. It will make the task ahead way better on so many levels.

Have a great day,

Why Ask?

 When you want to do something at home, work, or school, do you ask for permission first? Sometimes this can be a great thing, yet other times it is clearly a sign of weakness. Recently, I noticed myself asking before acting a lot. I think that I was in a little bit of a slump and seeking approval before jumping in and doing whatever I wanted to do. Ugh! All I was doing was showing my insecurity, lack of confidence, and fragile ego to others.

I absolutely didn’t want to do that. So now, when I think about asking first – I pause and consider why I am asking. If it is to be polite, I do it. If the “ask” is out of weakness, I stop, muster the courage to move ahead, and I proceed – feeling much more confident, certain, and victorious.

Have a great Tuesday,

Write an Encouragizer Note and Positively Change Your Life

Where Are You Leading?

I have worked in a variety of environments over the years and I have been thinking about the best of each. While I didn’t work for my father, from the time I was a toddler I had the opportunity (sometimes when I didn’t even want it) to observe how a single-mindedly determined entrepreneur leads. His approach was – “I am charging ahead. Come along with me at my pace or good-bye.” For those up to the challenge, a great place to be and the ride was thrilling.

At the other end of the spectrum was the global bank I worked for right out of Chicago Booth. It was big, lots of layers, and many resources. There were “invisible” mentors all around that I didn’t even know I had. My manager, John, seemed very annoying at the time – pushing me into things that I wasn’t sure that I wanted to do (like presenting to the head of the U.S. division of the bank – really scary for me at 26) and being really picky about what I proposed. The environment gave me tons of experience in a short period of time and the safety net to succeed in the longer run even if I had setbacks along the way.

While my dad and John had two VERY different leadership styles – one thing they shared made them really good leaders and that was their commitment to push each person to stretch, transform, and advance and ultimately excel. To me they were both leading others toward success. Where are you leading?


The Great Competition

Perhaps it’s the summer or my need to be around interesting (one of my favorite words) people – yet I have been seeing many more friends than on a typical month. I have been encouraged and inspired by their ideas. One friend, Sarah, has a wonderful idea for a reality show. It’s called “The Great Competition.” Now this has nothing to do with racing around the world, singing your heart out, or getting your own cooking show on the Food Network – it’s way more outrageous than any of those could even hope to be.

“The Great Competition” is about who can become the happiest in real, overt, and tangible ways. It’s not about the money (although a certain amount is very helpful.) This happiness is the real deal kind – where you achieve your goals and dreams, find meaning in your work, family, and more, and have the resilience to bounce ahead using challenges as fuel for even more advancement.

Can’t wait to see it on TV or online. Maybe I could be a contestant. Sarah, how do I submit my application?

Have a great weekend,

It Takes Guts

I was visiting with several friends last night. We were having our “usual” unusual topics of conversation from the heat index of 110F+ to how individuals deliberately transform challenges into opportunity (as cliché as that may sound – it’s truly amazing what people can do.)  Then, one of my friends, Lirella (aka Ever Victorious,) piped up, “You know that it takes guts to be happy.” “Really,” I thought. I used to believe that happiness was something you achieved if you were good enough, worked hard enough, and pleased enough other people. I know that this is not correct, but does it take guts?

While it didn’t keep me from sleeping last night (thank goodness for that,) I haven’t stopped thinking about it – and I believe that my friend, Lirella, is absolutely right. To have the happiness and success we truly want, we have to have the courage to see ourselves for who we are, accept all of the good and the less than perfect stuff, and then advance through any doubts and fears. I know that takes guts.

Have a great day,

The Wisdom of Success and Happiness

On my way to the office, I was reading Wisdom: From Philosophy to Neuroscience by Stephen S. Hall, a fascinating book offering both a complex and reductionist view of the subject. Some of Mr. Hall’s thoughts I agree with and others I do not. That said, one thing in the book really stuck with me: while wisdom is based on knowledge, capacity, and experience, how we reframe what we think, see, and feel creates greater levels of wisdom.

The ability to reframe stems from a commitment to self-awareness which expands and refines perspective – totally makes sense and this continuing mindfulness can give you an edge personally and professionally. I’m on board. Join me.

Have a great Wednesday,

Who is More Successful?

Who has the more successful view of the world, the person who points out everything that needs to be fixed or the baby who is delighted by everything that she sees? While the adult can solve lots of problems, the power of the baby is her ego free innocence. How can you carry this purity of heart into everything that you do today? As you do, your success and happiness will grow.


“Weight Lifting” for Success and Happiness

I met with a friend yesterday afternoon. She’s an educator and not teaching this summer. Yet she has an enormous project for the summer months – she’s become a professional weight lifter of life. She’s training to take her life to a whole new level – which means multiple hours each day delving into the little and big things that are holding her back from being absolutely happy and successful in life. As she spoke, I thought of an Olympic athlete who pushes herself beyond self-imposed limits to achieve magnificent greatness.

She inspires me to do the same.

Have a great Monday,