Monthly Archives: February 2014


Crushed Cans

I am not a product of my circumstances. I am a product of my decisions. – Stephen Covey

There are a lot of things in life that mess with our self-esteem and our sense of self-worth, if we let them:

  • The end of a relationship
  • The loss of a job
  • Having to accept a new job for less pay
  • Having to upgrade skills because our skill-set hasn’t kept up with changing times
  • A less than stellar score on a test or performance review
  • Petty gossip about us
  • Betrayal
  • A snide remark from someone we respect
  • Negative criticism from someone we respect
  • Lack of appreciation for our efforts

 The list is really endless but what these situations share in common is that they arrive in our psyche from our external environment.

 Since we are only human, the usual, knee-jerk reaction to such situations is to feel hurt and/or angry with a sense of rejection, abandonment, sadness, loss, and/or frustration.

 And really, it’s OK to give in to that initial reaction, temporarily.


Policy. That’s right, policy. Corporations have policies (and procedures), why not individuals?

 Because I am the CEO of my own life, I choose to set a policy for dealing with life’s less pleasant side.

 Here’s my policy:

 I can’t control the external environment but I can control my internal environment. I choose to do so by intentionally deciding to take nothing personally.

This isn’t always easy, but it’s far better for me to take charge and manage external events, because to do otherwise is to allow external events to become internal events as well, and in the process, weaken and poison my belief in myself as well as damage my ability to move forward.

 Here’s my procedure:

  •  Allow myself an initial, emotional reaction
  •  Ascribe adjectives to my initial reaction in order to understand my exact feelings, which allows me to control my reaction, instead of it controlling me
  •  Allow myself a second, analytical reaction to the situation
  • Define and describe the situation
  • Outline what lessons I can take away from the experience
  • Determine my next moves to distance myself from the situation
  • Take the first step away from the situation

Having a policy and a procedure for tough breaks ahead of time allows me to take action, which in turn, allows me to take control of my thoughts and distance myself from unpleasantness, while simultaneously coming away from the circumstance not empty-handed, but with new insight and knowledge.

It’s a funny thing about those moments in our lives when we feel at our lowest; when we feel crushed, devastated and defeated. Those moments are exactly where we take our first steps toward new progress in our lives; when we choose to take nothing personally and when we switch from victim to student.

Those are the moments when we feel we can’t, but then we take a deep breath, and know we can.

I’d love to hear from you. Please share your strategies for coping with hardships in the Comments section below.

In the meantime,

Bestest to all,

 Cynthia Dalton signature


How old would you be if you didn’t know how old you are?  – Satchel Paige


I’m not saying there aren’t a lot of perks to being an adult, there are, most notably all manner of ‘adult ’ privileges, like driving a car and being able to set your own bedtime!

But, somewhere along the way we adults get chipped away at, worn-down by complications, minutia, and emergencies.

One week recently I had to deal with:

  • The smoke detector going off at 4:00AM on a Sunday morning (there I was in my nightie and fuzzy clown-shoe slippers perched atop a ten foot ladder fumbling with a 9 volt battery  — so much for the joys of a high ceiling) seriously considering taking a hammer to the damn thing to stop that incessant chirping
  •  Legal matters on Monday
  •  Two crucial deadlines on Wednesday 
  • On Thursday, a hot water heater that went kaputsky at 3:30 AM (the wise-guy designer of the house having decided that the garage wasn’t good enough for the blasted thing, so he put it in its own closet so that it could flood my carpeted downstairs). Oh, and the shut-off for the water was frozen, so then I’m out in front of my darkened house, flashlight in hand, trying to figure out how to shut off the water to the house, fuming and wrestling with a concrete slab cover, weeds, dirt, and a stubborn lever. Then I find that the 24 hr. plumbing service can’t get out to the house until somewhere between 8:00 AM and 10:00 AM (great, no shower!). Let me tell you, sopping up that mess took tons of towels, which later produced many loads of laundry, and a weekend of running floor fans day and night so everything could dry out

 So it’s easy to see why us adults are often operating on ‘diminished capacity’ when it comes to overcoming adversity, getting maximum enjoyment out of our lives, and staying motivated to do our best, both at work, and at home. We tell ourselves, “When things calm down and get on an even keel, then I’ll be able to come up for air, take a breath, and start getting it together. Then I can focus on successfully moving forward.”

Thus, without intending to, gun-shy from what life has tossed our way, we adults spend a great deal of our time either fretting about what curve-ball is coming next, or hoping the future will be less hectic, and brighter. The future becomes a thing to dread. We dream big, but stall in our tracks, procrastinating when it comes to accomplishing our goals. Even though we see the logic in what Tony Robbins says: 

If you do what you’ve always done, you’ll get what you’ve always gotten.

Still, we feel stuck in a loop. So how do we break the cycle?


I believe Satchel Paige’s question in the quote above holds a crucial key. If you suddenly didn’t know your age, and I asked you to say how old you are, what would be your response?

If you’d asked me that question six months ago, I’d probably have said, “100 years old.” That’s because I was stressed out, and overwhelmed with an unfulfilling professional situation and a personal life marred by a series of family tragedies.

Ask me the same question today, and I’ll tell you, “I’m probably somewhere around 7 years old.” What changed? Paige’s question got me to ask myself  similar questions: How old would I like to feel? What would be so special about that particular age?

I answered, 7 years old, because at that age I had the ability to spring-back quickly from hurts and disappointments. I also had: 

  •  Energy
  • Enthusiasm
  • Humor
  • Curiosity
  • A thirst for knowledge 
  •  A willingness to try

And what these traits have in common is: they are rooted in NOW.


With no conscious effort, children simplify their world by staying grounded in the present; they are natural Zen masters. In his book Lessons from the Sandbox: Using the 13 Gifts of Childhood to Rediscover The Keys To Business Success, Dr. Alan Gregerman points out, “When we were kids, we played and laughed a lot, brought great energy and enthusiasm to everything that interested us, concentrated when it suited us, had compelling urgency about the most important things, and took the lead in magical ways. Interestingly, the typical child laughs over one hundred times a day, while the average adult laughs only two or three times a day.”

Imitate children, because they are the most adept at commanding their present moment. Each present moment builds the future. Focus on, and commit to, your present moment, and you capture your best future. As Bill Keane puts it:

Yesterday is history, tomorrow is a mystery, today is a gift from God, which is why we call it the present

Please leave your own thoughts in the Comments section below.

In the meantime,

Bestest to all,

Cynthia Dalton signature





Photo: Cynthia Dalton

So What’s The Big Idea, About Ideas?

Notebook Pens & Pencils
NathanaelB via photopin cc

A mind that is stretched to a new idea never returns to its original dimension. – Oliver Wendell Holmes, Sr.

Ideas are wonderful things.

Among other things, ideas:

  • Get us out of a jam when we’re in one
  • They take us to exciting, previously uncharted destinations
  • Inspire us to take action
  • Encourage community and idea sharing
  • Generate other ideas

Ideas are like rabbits. You get a couple, learn how to handle them, and pretty soon you have a dozen. – John Steinbeck

I see myself as a curator of ideas. I got the ‘bug’ for this early-on in my career teaching business administration. I have been fortunate to work with men and women with exceptional forethought and a ceaseless desire to upgrade their work and life skills.

In many ways, as part teacher, part informal coach, these men and women allowed me to ‘partner’ with them in achieving their goals. Through these relationships I gained insights I otherwise would not have, for which I am extremely grateful.

Because of my students’ extracurricular questions on such topics as motivation, credibility, and finding one’s mission in life, I began collecting and sharing tips on the various topics I knew were of interest to my students.

Naturally, this sharing of ideas led to more ideas, and more sharing.

It goes something like this:

  1. Ambition creates curiosity.
  2. Curiosity generates questions.
  3. Questions lead to ideas.
  4. Ideas inspire plans.
  5. Plans allow a framework for action.
  6. Action creates new outcomes.

As Albert Einstein put it, “I know quite certainly that I myself have no special talent; curiosity, obsession and dogged endurance, combined with self-criticism, have brought me to my ideas.”

So What’s The Big Idea About Ideas? Ideas Make The Difference!

The purpose of this site is to provide the same sharing of ideas I’ve had with my students, but to a wider audience. In the process, it is my desire to provide aid and comfort to all those whose working life could use a ‘tune-up’ or ‘jump-start’ and to do so through a mutually supportive, non-judgmental community of equally curious souls sharing thoughts, questions, and advice on how to create, enrich, and sustain the best working life possible.

This is where ideas make the difference, and make all things possible for each and every one of us.

Please share your thoughts on what working life topics and ideas you’ve been exploring in the Comments section below.

In the meantime,

Bestest to all, Cynthia Dalton signature