Family Rules

I recently read a comment about someone who was deprived of a $50 rebate from HP, so he used every possible opportunity to disparage the company and prevent people from buying their products. The effect on HP’s multi-billion dollar budget was negligible. But this person has carried this resentment for months, or even years!

This is a lot of energy wasted on the original perpetrator – who did not even notice the offense. We can all relate to a similar – or worse – experience. We return to it regularly – reliving it…imagining the best way to exact vengeance on our enemy! Relishing the sweet taste of righteousness!

But that sweet taste has a bitter aftertaste.

Stop it!

It’s over. Let it go. It happened in the past. You can’t unring the bell.

Many studies have shown that carrying resentment leads to health problems. It’s been said that carrying resentment is like drinking poison and waiting for the other person to die.

So how do you let go of that resentment? Here are a few ideas:

  1. Forgive in Person

    If you can talk it over with the person without the emotion rebuilding, do so. Listen to their perspective – you may be surprised by what you found out. Or you may be reinforced that they are a jerk. Regardless, you forgive the other person – for you.

  2. Write a Letter

    If you can’t talk to the person, write a letter. Say everything you want to. Get it all out. Let them know what they did and how they hurt you. How angry and resentful you felt. What it meant to you. Then say, “I forgive you.” It doesn’t matter if they deserve it. You’re doing this for you. Afterwards, destroy the letter. Perhaps a ceremony where you burn the resentment would be helpful.

  3. Talk to a Chair

    Clint Eastwood was able to vent his frustrations to a chair. Some people respond better to talking it out. Always end with a message of forgiveness.

  4. Set a goal and pursue it

    If you are focused on a goal to achieve, you can’t clutter your mind with the distraction of a resentment. Reliving that resentment in your mind just strengthens it. Distracting yourself from the thought of your percieved (or actual) offense reduces the strength of that feeling. Any time you catch yourself returning to that resentment, just smile, focus on your goal, and take some action towards making it happen. Don’t fight the resentment – it likes that! Just refocus your attention.

Now go out and make today count! You only have 24 hours to make a difference today. Don’t waste a minute of it wallowing in resentment!



This is a busy time. Everyone has so much to do. We have bills to pay, appointments to keep, people to see and things to do. In business we have to make sure to stay on top of the latest technologies and marketing techniques. We have to provide remarkable products and services. We have to promote, network, follow up, propose, negotiate, over-deliver, stay in touch, and insist on remarkable results.

And now the holiday season is upon us. We have gifts to buy, cards to send, parties to attend, preparations to make, and then, even more bills to pay. How can we get it all done?

Slow down. Take a deep breath.

Working ourselves into an overwhelmed lather doesn’t help anyone. I am all to familiar with this self-destructive cycle. One thing I’ve discovered that helps me when I feel a rush of overwhelm coming on is to stop. Take a deep breath. Close my eyes. Think about something calm and serene – like an ocean vista, or clouds in the sky.

Maybe you don’t have 20 minutes every morning and evening for a meditation session. (Here’s an article that might convince you otherwise…) But it’s usually possible to close our eyes for a few seconds, take a deep breath, and picture an image of serenity. You can even do this during a meeting, or while waiting in traffic.

When you start to feel the pressures rise, go to your own personal “happy place”. No one else will know. It’s a simple trick, but you’ll be surprised at the results!

Whither Passion and Obsession?

Rock climbers need focus and intensity

If you are looking for a motivational or inspirational message, the words, “passion” and “obsession” (usually “healthy obsession”) are ubiquitous. We are constantly exhorted to “find our passion”, and develop a “healthy obsession” for our “burning desire”. Recently, I read a comment about how the only times the word “passion” is used in the Bible, it is considered a weakness. I did a little searching, and, sure enough, “passion” in scripture, is considered something to be tamed and brought under control. It is the mark of someone who is out of control, immature, or downright evil. And an obsession is a psychological disorder where someone is unable to control his thoughts. Stalkers and serial killers are the products of obsession. Having a “healthy obsession” is akin to being a “helpful kleptomaniac”, or an “eagle-eyed myopic”.

Why do we have this propensity to redefine “bad” to mean “good”? Words have meaning, and watering them down or redefining them for effect does not really serve us. There are over 170,000 words in the Oxford dictionary. There MUST be some word that means, “intense desire for something good” or “powerful positive motivation to achieve a goal”.

How about these:


This is the result of about three minutes of research. None of these words gives the same image as “passion” or “obsession”. When I think of these words, I picture one of the bad guys in an action movie who just cannot be killed. Like Al Pacino’s character, Tony Montana at the end of Scarface. Riddled with bullets, and knowing he was dying, still shooting until he couldn’t hold his gun any longer, then screaming at people until his ultimate demise.

“Earnestness” or “fervency” gives me a picture of a mountain climber, focused on the next handhold, with the picture of the summit in his mind. Less dramatic, to be sure, but closer to the intended message.

In our sound-bite age we are tempted to be more dramatic or provocative in order to rise above the din. An enduring message with real substance can use words for meaning rather than effect.

Sometimes Preparation Isn’t Enough

Experience matters

Two days. Two presentations. Two technology hiccups.

The first day, we had a speaker with laptop displaying power point slides. She did her preparation: showed up early, got her equipment all set up, but when her speech started, both devices had gone to sleep, so we spent the first minute or so of her speech waking up devices and trying to get them to find one another. Then, since she had some clever transitions programmed into the slides, her handheld controller had problems advancing the slides – sometimes. It distracted from an otherwise excellent presentation.

The second day, the speaker wanted to record his speech. He did his preparation: showed up early, brought his own camera, found a safe location for it, set it up so that it was properly aligned, and found a person to operate the camera. Unfortunately, the operator didn’t practice using the camera, and nothing was recorded.

What went wrong? Both had excellent preparation – but they didn’t do a “dry run.” Experience is a dear teacher, and some things can only be learned the hard way. And it’s better to get that experience during a dry run rather than in production.

So our first speaker could have disabled the power saver – just to make sure nothing changed between the time of her setup and her live presentation. A dry run at home with the handheld controller would have shown her how her slide transitions would affect her presentation.

Our second speaker could have had a dry run with the assistant actually operating the camera to ensure everything would record properly. This would allow a sound and light test as well.

90% is showing up – early. Use that extra preparation time to do a dry run. Proper planning prevents poor performance!


This is a presentation I did for the Services Cooperative Association’s Crossroad$ Business Builders Breakfast meeting. I was the motivational speaker for the day.