Appreciating escaping the rat-race for a while.

Go placidly amid the noise and haste, and remember what peace there may be in silence. — Max Ehrmann, Desiderata

I’m writing this on a Sunday morning. In fact, this is the first Sunday in a long time when I’ve had some time to be by myself. I decided early this morning, with great deliberateness, to take this one day and underachieve.

Normally I would have the television tuned to something informational (not necessarily profound, just informational), a one pot meal beginning to simmer on the stove, and a load of laundry ready for drying.

But not today.

This morning I rediscovered the pleasure of silence. Of doing nothing more than staring into a steaming cup of green tea infused with mint and lemongrass, gently shimmering, residing in temporary glory, in an over-sized, clear glass teacup.

Most of the time a hot beverage is merely a desk-side companion, the main purpose of which is to allow me to punctuate the end of one task and the beginning of another. Something appreciated in passing, but otherwise barely noticed.

But not today.

Momentarily, my thoughts drift back over the past week, a hectic blur of emails and appointments, traffic snarls, and pedestrians, telephone conversations and quick exchanges — first at the bank, then at the UPS store, then at the supermarket.

But not today.

Nothing dramatic has come of this absence of chaos today, just a renewed appreciation for the reinvigorating effects of serene downtime.

I’m not good at building such time into each and every day, but in the future I’m going to make a point of far more periodic breaks like this one. I’m going to say to myself:


Please share your thoughts on this topic in the Comments section below.

In the meantime,

Bestest to all,Cynthia Dalton signature



Negativity in people is a natural phenomenon just like lightening.
Photo: Bo Insogna

One of the things I learned the hard way was that it doesn’t pay to get discouraged. Keeping busy and making optimism a way of life can restore your faith in yourself. — Lucille Ball

Lucille Ball is right, but what causes us to get discouraged and lose faith in ourselves in the first place.

It usually comes down to our reaction to negativity in others.

Everything from snide comments to deliberately unkind gestures can cause us to take things personally, question what it is about us that attracts such treatment, feel like we don’t rate, and stand still in our tracks.

Making decisions, taking on new projects, and moving forward becomes depressing instead of exciting. Following Lucille Ball’s advice seems almost impossible when your morale plummets and you feel dejected.

The thing is, when people treat us badly it’s important to remember that it’s all about something internal to them; it’s not really about us at all. Some people have such massive problems with their own insecurities, power needs, and esteem issues that they routinely take it out on others. As Steve Maraboli has said:

People who lack the clarity, courage, or determination to follow their own dreams will often find ways to discourage yours. Live your truth and don’t EVER stop!

Unfortunately, some people are just messed up. But we don’t have to ‘catch’ the same ‘bug’ and we don’t have to examine ourselves through their eyes. When we do, we see a grossly distorted view of ourselves that can’t help but drag us down.

It’s crucial that we never base our assessment of ourselves on what we presume to be the opinions of others.

Look at it this way, suppose you’re out playing volleyball on a balmy, cloudy day and you’re having so much fun you don’t even hear thunder in the distance. All of a sudden you feel yourself knocked to the ground and your whole left arm is tingling and partially numb; as you regain your equilibrium you realize, “Hey, I just got hit by lightening!” You wouldn’t take that quick jolt of electricity personally, set out to assess what it is about you that made it happen, and conclude yourself unworthy in some regard. You would simply conclude you were in the wrong place at the wrong time.

So my proposal is that we rethink how we process the messages we think we’re getting about ourselves from others and view the negativity of others as a phenomenon of the natural world, not unlike getting struck by lightening.

We can’t always avoid bad treatment from others, but we can limit the damage it causes us by realizing that:

  • Negativity exists as a part of the natural world
  • Negativity has to do with something internal to that person (or group of persons)
  • We can take a brief period of time to ask ourselves, “How does this make me feel and why?”
  • Once we acknowledge our feelings we can choose to let them go because ultimately, considering the source, what we think they think of us is useless and potentially destructive information
  • Mentally clear, we can consciously choose to surround ourselves with happy, positive people who are supportive of our interests and goals

As Craig Ballantyne says:

I know, as the old saying goes, that you become the average of the people you spend the most time with…Long ago I resolved to never spend another minute with people that speak poorly about others behind their backs, or who are selfish, bitter, or negative in any way.

Even if we have to work somewhere where there are negative people or there are negative people in our own family with whom we have to interact, viewing their behavior as a natural phenomenon takes anything ‘personal’ out of the equation and provides us with the emotional distance we need in order to avoid emotional detours.

When we take this approach, it becomes obvious that it is completely unnecessary to let other people rob us of our energy, excitement about our lives, or our faith in ourselves.

It also becomes a lot easier to take Lucille Ball’s advice to keep busy and make optimism a way of life.

So the next time someone crosses your path reeking of negativity, just think about that lightening bolt, and you’ll ‘weather’ the situation nicely.

Please leave your thoughts on avoiding discouragement and a loss of faith in oneself in the Comments section below.

In the meantime,

Bestest to all,

Cynthia Dalton signature






Don't be penny-wise and pound-foolish

Charlie was a wonderful man, but Charlie could squeeze a nickel ’til the buffalo pooped. — Betty White as Rose Nylund in an episode of, The Golden Girls

Yes, it’s wise to be conservative when it comes to one’s finances — the old proverb, ‘Take care of your pennies and your dollars will take care of themselves’ is sound advice, unless it’s taken in the wrong direction.

Here’s a true story I was told that illustrates what I mean.

It seems there was a self-made millionaire who wanted his son to follow in his footsteps in the family manufacturing business. In furtherance of this wish, he sent his son to college and in due course the young man earned an MBA.

It was decided that the son would run his own separate division of his father’s company. The millionaire’s son was anxious to make his father proud of him and in particular, he wanted his father to know that he knew the true value of a dollar — he wanted to avoid even the whiff of being thought of as a spoiled heir to a fortune.

Everything the son did was designed to drive home this point, including his purchase of a modest bungalow in which he and his new bride lived.

One night, as the son lay asleep in his bed, a tremendous thunderstorm blew in and soon rain was pouring. That’s when the first drops of water started hitting his face. The roof was leaking.

The next morning the air was clear, the sky was bright blue, and the day was warm and sunny. The young man decided to take the day off and save money on roof repairs by fixing the leaks himself.

Up on the roof, stripped to the waist, tools in hand, the young man felt downright virtuous.

It was a bigger job than the young man first realized, and one day off from work became two days off from work, and two days off from work became three days off from work. Still, the young man was determined to save the money he would have spent hiring professional roofers.

On the third day the young man’s wife called up to him that his dad was on the phone and wanted to speak to him immediately. He thought, “Great! Wait until Dad hears what I’ve been doing — he’s going to admire my thriftiness!”

Holding the receiver to his ear the young man was dumbstruck at his father’s reaction. “You idiot! You’re risking botched orders and lost accounts to play hooky and get a deeper tan? Get yourself showered and changed and back to work where you belong! There’s no telling what money we’ve potentially lost because of your short-sighted, cheap-assed foolishness!”

To put it another way, the buffalo pooped! And that is why it’s a bad idea to squeeze a nickel too hard.

 I’d love to hear your reaction to this story. Please leave your thoughts in the Comments section below.

In the meantime,

Bestest to all,Cynthia Dalton signature




Look before you leap.
Photo: Ross Hawkes

Thinking before acting is wisdom, but acting before thinking is regret. — Terry Mark

Imagine your horror.

You find the perfect greeting card to send. It’s cute, it’s clever, and it’s perfect. Using your best penmanship you excitedly compose your message, address the envelope, pick out a decorative stamp to match the occasion, and with great confidence, you bound down the street and thrust the envelope into the nearest mailbox.

Then it hits you. Your recipient may take the message on the card all wrong and though your intentions were all good, you now stand a greater chance of hurting the feelings of someone you wouldn’t hurt for the world.

Worse still, you’ll have to wait several days before you can even attempt to smooth things over.

If only you’d thought it through more carefully.

This is exactly what almost happened to my Mom and Dad some years ago, and their experience underscores the need to think before you act.

My parents were the best of friends with a couple who couldn’t have been nicer folks to know. Two really fun characters. He was long and lanky. She was curvy and voluptuous. Unfortunately, she didn’t appreciate her fetching looks, and always felt extremely self-conscious about her weight. She was the only one in the foursome that was concerned about her weight. Everyone else loved her just as she was, for who she was.

The foursome visited one another’s homes often for weekends or short vacations but on one particular occasion, only the gentleman could make the trip because the lady had work commitments.

Everyone had a good time but my parents missed the lady’s presence. She was just that special. So my parents decided to send a card to let her know how much they missed her.

They wanted something fun, bright, and whimsical. They found just the right card. It featured Kermit the Frog on the front of the card waving his little stick arm in greeting, and in green sparkling letters the card read, “Hey There, Sure Enjoyed Our Visit, But Next Time, Bring Your Costar!”

My parents were thrilled with the card. It was just what they wanted to say. Back home, Mom and Dad were still grooving (people ‘grooved’ back then) over their amazing find, and my Dad sat right down to write a little something extra in the card and address the envelope. My Mom went to get the perfect stamp to compliment the green color of the envelope.

The next thing my Dad knew, my Mom was standing over him with the most horrified look on her face. He asked her what was wrong. She said, “Think about it.” He looked back at her puzzled. “Think about it,” she demanded. He was still perplexed. “Who’s Kermit’s costar?” Mom insisted. “OH NO-O-O-O!” my Dad replied after a long pause.

Oh yeah, Kermit’s costar is none other than Miss Piggy! Just the thing you want to send to a gal, shall we say, ‘with issues.’

Mercifully, Mom and Dad were spared the agony of accidentally hurting someone who was quite sensitive, but only because my Mom did the one thing we should all remember to do, THINK!

Thinking before acting really can help us avoid regret. Or, at the very least, it helps us cut way back on our missteps.

Please leave your thoughts on avoiding regret in the Comments section below.

In the meantime,

Bestest to all,Cynthia Dalton signature




Use a worksheet to remember phone conversations

Success is more a function of consistent common sense than it is of genius. — An Wang

It’s just plain old common sense that to have a well-run, successful business, a primary rule must be that everyone within the organization understands that it is crucially important that colleagues keep one another properly informed about anything new or any changes and updates, each and every business day.

Everyone agrees that this is so in theory, but in practice, things often go awry.

You know how it goes, you answer the phone, agree to certain actions, mean to write down what was discussed, but before you can actually do it, the phone rings again, and again, and again. Every time, you mean to write down the particulars of the conversation, but things are moving fast and the day is already careening toward lunchtime.

Now your thoughts are more occupied with the debate you’re having with yourself over whether to give in to that urge for a double cheeseburger and fries for lunch or choose the more virtuous salad option, with dressing on the side (to underscore your self-restraint, in case anyone is looking).

Before you know it, valuable information, you should have shared with your colleagues, is either temporarily or permanently lost.

This can cause you to accidentally appear:

  • Secretive
  • Obstructionist
  • Inconsiderate
  • Incompetent

Just to name a few, undesirable outcomes.

Worse, for the organization this can cause:

  • A lack of timeliness and consistency in business dealings
  • Disconnects between key people within and without the organization
  • Hurt feelings
  • A breakdown in morale within the company
  • A loss of credibility (especially if the public winds up getting different stories and/or promises from different people within the organization)

A Strategy for Dealing With Information Drain

A good strategy for dealing with information drain is to create and maintain a Call Worksheet that includes the following elements:




Contact Information

Relationship (to your business i.e., vendor, customer, etc.)


Action Required

Action Taken/Decision Made

Filling in such a worksheet while the conversation is still in progress has several benefits. It allows the information to be shared with others in a timely fashion, refreshes one’s memory later on, and keeps things running on track far better than without it.

Is this a cure-all for information drain? No, of course not, but it sure does cut down on unnecessary, and unintended consequences.

Please share your thoughts on keeping the flow of information in organizations running smoothly, in the Comments section below.

In the meantime,

Bestest to all,Cynthia Dalton signature





Use your mind, instead of it using you.

“Rabbit’s clever,” said Pooh thoughtfully.
“Yes,” said Piglet, “Rabbit’s clever.”
“And he has brain.”
“Yes,” said Piglet, “Rabbit has Brain.”
There was a long silence.
“I suppose,” said Pooh, “that that’s why he never understands anything.”
— A.A. Milne, Winnie-the-Pooh

Is there anyone of us these days that doesn’t sometimes have a noisy brain full of nervous anxiety and doubt, especially in the wee small hours of the morning when damn it, we need our sleep the most?

It’s a modern affliction. We have so much shouting at us all the time to be this, do that, and all that ‘incoming’ gets mixed into the hot cauldron of our subconscious along with negative programming from our remote, or not so remote, past.

Don’t get me wrong, we have positive programming too, but that’s not what I’m talking about, and in truth, positive programming rarely pushes our buttons on the deepest levels.

I’ve read a lot of stuff about how the brain works on an emotional level, and a lot of what I’ve read talks about this or that study, by this or that group, and after a while, it makes my hair hurt and my jaw ache just trying to sort it all out.

In a nutshell, it appears that we humans are not only contending with outside forces, but also with a tug of war of sorts between our conscious mind and our subconscious mind.

Our conscious mind says, “I should change, and do X or Y or Z” and our subconscious mind says, “No, keep everything where it is because this is where you’re safe. After all, I’ve protected you so far and you haven’t come to any harm staying put, have you?”

So how do we deal with that noisy brain? How do we make sense of our conflicting emotions and thoughts. Or should we ‘do’ anything?

“Sit amicably with confusion and clarity will find you.”

So says Lisa Esile, author of, 7 Secrets Your Mind Doesn’t Want You to Know.

As Lisa writes, “Your mind has you believing you are your thoughts. Except you’re not. No way.”

In her book, Lisa gently and succinctly walks the reader through seven key concepts that serve as an introduction to, as Lisa puts it, “…how you can use your mind, instead of having it use you.”

If you’re looking for some immediate aid and comfort for a sometimes fretful noggin, Lisa’s book is just the ticket.

Hand-written, and hand-drawn, the book is tiny but powerful, whimsical, yet profound.

And, it’s absolutely FREE! All you have to do is go to Lisa’s site, and you can download yourself a copy.

Are you ever at odds with your own thoughts? If so, please share your thoughts on the subject in the Comments section below.

In the meantime,

Bestest to all,Cynthia Dalton signature






No 'brick wall' can stop you when you want something bad enough.
Photo: George Hodan

The brick walls are there for a reason. The brick walls are not there to keep us out. The brick walls are there to give us a chance to show how badly we want something. Because the brick walls are there to stop the people who don’t want it badly enough. They’re there to stop the other people. — Randy Pausch

I love the above quote not only because it points out that obstacles can usually be overcome if you want something badly enough, but also because within the imagery of the quote itself is the perfect analogy for something applicable to goal attainment that I like to call, applied tenacity.

I’ll explain.

Most people believe that tenacity (or grit, perseverance, willpower, or anything else you might want to call it) is a superhuman strength special people are able to summon up in order to accomplish extraordinary feats. Viewed this way, one is tempted to be exhausted before one ever attempts to accomplish anything.

But applied tenacity  is different, and analogous to building a brick wall.

You wouldn’t try to build a brick wall out of willpower alone. You wouldn’t even want to build a brick wall without a good reason. The term applied relates to putting into practice a specific approach to a concrete (pun unintended, but welcome) problem. You don’t build the brick wall because you think it might be morally or philosophically correct in the abstract. You build it for some practical reason, because you have a clear and specific reason to do so, like a desire for privacy or keeping the neighbor’s pet goat out of your flower bed.

Goals need to be nurtured using a rational thought process. We use phrases like, “building an argument” when we want to make a point, but we seldom say we’re, “building a goal” when we want to achieve something — we should.

After all, rational, deliberate thinking has to apply when a bricklayer sets out to build a brick wall, or the whole thing will be built in the wrong place and/or built badly and fall to pieces.

Similarly, goals can fall apart without careful thought. Assuming you will be inserting your particular goal into the brick wall analogy, it goes like this:

Identify the situation you wish to change, or the problem that needs solving. This identifies and assesses the current situation. You will note that there’s no room here to ask useless questions like, “Why did I have to move next door to a guy with a goat?”

Identify your desired outcome. “I need privacy” or “My flower bed needs to be protected from that voracious critter.”

Identify what materials or tools will be necessary to achieve your desired outcome. This might include time between the hours of ___ and ___ everyday until the wall is built, concrete, buckets, bricks, and so on.

Identify each new step that needs to be taken as you implement your plan. As you proceed from marking where the brick wall will be laid with flags and string and laying the first bricks, ask yourself each step of the way, “What’s my next move?” Maybe it’s to mix some more concrete, or clean your trowel. The point is to be deliberate about each step you take. Attaining a goal can never be put on autopilot.

Overestimate how long it will take to accomplish your goal. Contractors often advise adding 30% to budget estimations for any given job to account for the unexpected (ever see Love It or List It on HGTV — enough said). I say, do so with time as well, and if you come in ‘under budget’ you’ll be pleasantly surprised. Underestimate your time and you can wind up feeling frustrated and defeated.

Which brings me to my last point.

Avoid buzz kills. As you build your plans, stay focused, build forward momentum, and avoid negativity in yourself as well as in others. Concentrate on how nice it will be to be able to cut some flowers for your dinner table, instead of supplementing some guy’s goat’s diet.

So, not only are the brick walls there to keep the others out when they don’t want something bad enough, but they’re also there to inspire us to ‘construct’ our own outcomes on our own, ‘applied’ terms.

Please share your thoughts on overcoming obstacles while achieving goals in the Comments section below.

In the meantime,

Bestest to all,Cynthia Dalton signature


Enhancing self-confidence
Photo: WikiImages

Do one thing everyday that scares you. — Eleanor Roosevelt

It may feel like you’ve cast yourself in your own personal horror movie, but there’s great reward in challenging one’s own status quo, by following Eleanor Roosevelt’s advice, to tackle one thing everyday that scares you.

Context is important here. I’m not talking about conquering a fear of heights by jumping off a cliff.

I’m also not talking about developing the negative habit of fear consciousness.

I’m talking about addressing that tiny little thing we avoid here and there because  subconscious, niggling feelings cause us to recoil from it, even though it’s perfectly harmless, easily done by others without even thinking about it, and downright garden-variety in terms of most peoples’ ability to cope with it.

Such things as:

  • Activating your home security system
  • Talking on the phone (hard to believe in the era of the cell phone, but some people do have this fear)
  • Cooking food for another person
  • Taking a photo for a group of tourists with their camera
  • Accepting an invitation to a party
  • Taking responsibility for opening up the office in the morning or closing up the office at night
  • Taking the car for a tune-up


Here’s a real simple three-step process:

One — Pick your task for the day. Often this may fall into your hands by fate, so be ready. Now, take the time to recall a moment when you felt absolutely in control and on top of the world. Maybe you won a contest at the State Fair, or cooked a meal that impressed everyone and garnered beaucoup praise. Truly relive the moment by allowing yourself to feel those same emotions right now in the present. Drink it in until you’re really there. This is the frame of mind you want to be in because your mind will now link these emotions to completing your task. So go ahead, ask a stranger for directions, even though normally, you’d have expended a whole tank of gas and hours driving around in circles, just to avoid approaching a stranger and risk being made to feel stupid.

Two — Stay in the moment. By this I mean, don’t over critique or self edit how you’re doing, while you’re doing it. Nine times out of ten you’ll be pleasantly surprised that your task was completed without any negative repercussion.

Three — Even if it doesn’t go exactly as you would have liked, remember that you’re on track, even if others aren’t. Now it’s time to take a cue from Step One and  link your accomplishment to additional pleasantness. Reward yourself with some small treat – a stick of gum will do – just something that retrains your subconscious to associate  trying new things with reward.

Follow these three steps and you have your own Plan 9, and far from “unspeakable horrors” you can now cast yourself in the feel-good movie of the season.

Plus, you can star in as many sequels as need be!

Please share your thoughts on acquiring new levels of self-confidence by retraining the subconscious, in the Comments section below.

In the meantime,

Bestest to all,Cynthia Dalton signature






We shouldn't make assumptions before opening our mouths.
Photo: Geralt

Most of our assumptions have outlived their uselessness. — Marshall McLuhan

In Part 1, I explained that from an early age, I was warned by my parents, both experienced in the business world and beyond, that one of the worst things I could do was make assumptions about who people were or their place in society.

As I said before, both parents made it clear that the way to avoid making assumptions about others is to treat everyone with impartiality and respect.

Using anecdotes, both parents often drove home the point that making assumptions could lead to all sorts of bad things — from hurt feeling to unintended consequences.

Here’s one of my Dad’s stories (with a name change, of course):

Back in the day, department stores were really like a “mall” is today in terms of the diversity of merchandise sold, but housed in one multi-story building, complete with the ubiquitous “tea room.”

Specialty departments were really like the separate stores that you see in malls today, but all under the same corporate ownership. You could find just about anything you could imagine under one roof — sporting goods, furniture, house wares, luggage, sewing notions, toys — you name it, there was a department for it, each with their own merchandise buyer.

Departmental buyers met regularly with salesmen representing various manufacturers and much showmanship and flourish went into the presentation of new sample items, pictures, catalogs, and brochures. No PowerPoint here, just hands-on theatrics, and ‘good ol’ boy’ camaraderie. In fact, most of the manufacturer’s “reps” were well liked and their visits constituted an occasion.

But not always.

In one particular department store, there was one salesman who really got on everybody’s nerves, every time he visited, even if they didn’t deal with him directly. This guy was always way too loud, obnoxiously know-it-all, and chronically sloppy with his paperwork. Because his products sold well, he was begrudgingly tolerated.

And so, one exceedingly busy afternoon, after many coffees, this hotshot was, so he thought, charming the socks off the furniture buyer when he was suddenly seized with an urgent nature call.

He excused himself to attend to his situation only to find that it wasn’t just the store that was busy, but all the public restrooms were busy as well. Hurriedly he returned to the buyer, explained his dilemma, and the buyer kindly handed him the key to the private, “executive” washroom.

Newly refreshed, the salesman was washing his hands when a very thoughtful older gentleman, of modest dress and comportment, handed him a fresh towel with which to dry his hands. By way of reward, the salesman hastily gave the old gentleman a quarter for his services, and the older man thanked the salesman appreciatively.

Later, as the salesman was getting on the elevator to leave, he remarked to the furniture buyer, “That’s a nice old fella who services the executive restroom.” Other buyers were also within earshot, and all the men quickly exchanged amused glances with one another, barely able to keep from laughing right out loud.

But, sometimes an inflated ego needs a good pin-pricking, and not able to resist, the buyers felt it incumbent upon themselves to explain to the salesman that the “nice ol’ fella” was none other than Mr. Edwin T. Wilson, the multimillionaire owner/president of the store.

It goes without saying that had the salesman avoided making assumptions in the first place, he would have avoided public embarrassment later. It also goes without saying, that such an incident could end in worse consequences — the loss of a job among them.

Please share your thoughts on the dangers of making assumptions in the Comments section below.

In the meantime,

Bestest to all,Cynthia Dalton signature