The Zero Sum Illusion

How generous are you really? How happy are you to see others succeed?

When I entered the “real world” after graduating business school with my MBA, I was scared. I had never worked full time in my life. I approached my career with energy, intelligence, and enthusiasm, but without a strong sense of true self-worth. After all, what could I bring to the workplace that would be embraced, valued, and appreciated that others hadn’t already thought of. Needless to say, I started my professional life insecure and viewing the world as a zero-sum – if you win, I must necessarily lose.

It was hard for me to celebrate my friends’ and colleagues’ successes. I really wanted to (and felt guilty that I didn’t), but I was stuck in the mindset that they got a piece of the pie, I’d go hungry.

As I began to “work on” my inner self, I realized that the zero-sum model was completely bogus. “Anita,” said my friend, Caryl, one day, “the glass isn’t half empty nor half-full. It’s overflowing. So stop moping and get a bigger glass.” How profound! Caryl is wise woman.

I took Caryl’s advice to heart and I began to view the world through my “ocean model” – there’s plenty of water out there and everyone can have a swim.

I am happy for all the wonderful advances my friends and colleagues make. Instead of feeling diminished, I feel proud, encouraged, and motivated to challenge myself to succeed in the ways I desire to.

So when you hear about a friend’s, family member’s, colleague’s, or neighbor’s success – be the first to stand up and cheer. Then go out and make some of your own good news and send it on to me!

Have a great day,


Every Action Counts

How do you behave when no one is looking and you don’t get “extra credit”? While some people make a big show of their kindness and generosity in public, others do incredibly good works behind the scenes.

One such friend comes to mind. He is a truly amazing human being. Everyone knows it, but not because he tells them. I’ll call him EveryMan, since every man and woman could learn a few things from him.

Well, I’ve known EveryMan for a long time. I met him volunteering for my MBA alumni club. I was giving a speech and he was making club announcements in his role as President. He became club president not as a resume enhancer, but for what he could give back to the school.

As time went on, we became friends. One day over lunch, this successful executive slipped in that – oh, by the way – he provides scholarships to two inner city young men, so that they can attend private school. “I want them to have opportunities like I’ve had,” he told me. As I looked at him, this poised businessman suddenly had transformed into a slightly shy and awkward adolescent who had just gotten “caught” doing something good.

“They even write to me and they’re doing great,” he said. A big smile spread across his face – like a proud parent.

We went on with our lunch and conversation. I never looked at EveryMan the same way again. I bet his parents are proud.

Each of us contributes in different ways. EveryMan gives scholarships. Debbie walks to raise money to find a cure. Ellen spends her “extra” money buying supplies for the kids in her elementary school class.

So what will you do? Donate food to your local food pantry. Volunteer in your community. Share encouragement with a friend. It all counts. You count. So go out and do something.


Unhappily Married to Differences

What does it mean to be attached to differences?

It often indicates that a person is trapped in her negative, limiting reactions to those seeming differences. In this mode, a person may judge others in a less than favorable way.

If this sounds like you, what can you do today to open your mind and “unattach” to the differences you see in others?

Have a great day,

Appreciative at First Sight

Ever look at the people you come into contact with and only notice their flaws – a few extra pounds, a missing button, or a squeaky voice. For the next 48 hours, put a new filter on your “sight” so that what you see first and foremost is each person’s internal and external strengths, beauty, and goodness.

Have a great day,

Valuing Others Can Help You

How do you treat people who can no longer give you something important? Are they relegated to a dusty shelf somewhere or do elevate them to an even higher status?

Which approach you take might just predict how healthy you will be during your lifetime. Researchers from Temple University found that individuals who view people at replaceable as the latest and greatest device are likely to suffer from a variety of health problems even if they live a so-called “healthy” life.

Embracing and finding the continuing value in each person’s life can be a priceless elixir. Drink up.


Overcoming First Misimpressions

People often make up their minds up others based on where that person is today.

Consider an alternative. The next time you meet someone ask yourself the following: “How did this person reach his starting point in the first place?”

Your answers will be more fun, joyful, and allow you to tap into your imagination. Then you can get to know the other person and find out the truth.

Have a great day,

12000 Volts of Encouragement

While recovering in the hospital after being crushed by an elevator, I met an extraordinary man. Melvin’s both arms and legs had been burned off after 12000 volts of electricity went through his body.

During an interview for a local cable show I wondered how he kept up his own spirits. “Anita,” he told me, “I was feeling really sorry for myself just this morning. I momentarily wished I had died. I stopped myself and wheeled myself down the hall to cheer up someone else. I made his day and that made my day.”

So the next time you are feeling sorry for yourself, pick up the phone or walk down the hall or street and say hello to someone who could just need to hear from you. You’ll likely make her day and yours in the process.

Enjoy your day,

“My Situation is Different”

“I just want you know that my situation is different,” said Todd when he walked into my office. “What works for the other people you see just won’t work for me.”

When people say this, they often FEAR that this is true, yet it rarely is.

So the next time you lament that a current challenge is too big for the tools and strategies that helped you in the past pause. Start by looking at the fear and list at least six ways that you could handle things more effectively.

Enjoy your day,

The Power of Practical Imagination

Why do two people look have the same dream – one sees it as impossible while the other sees it as possible?

Often the difference between fantasy and a doable dream is an infusion of practical imagination – the ability to see new possibilities along with the means to make them a reality. This is talent and art that can be learned by virtually anyone.

Start with a good teacher – you will some of the best around in kindergarten and first grade classes.

Thank you,

Unblocking Kindness

Kindness is an easy thing to share in theory, but quite another thing in reality.

Fear, greed, and ignorance can be powerful barriers to sharing our loving kindness. “What if the other person rejects me?” “If I give to him will there be enough for me?” “What could I possibly give to her?”

Yet getting beyond those obstacles will yield considerable rewards to you and others. So go out and share your kindness. Start small and enjoy the benefits..