Monthly Archives: July 2014


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




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

You must stick to your conviction, but be ready to abandon your assumptions. — Denis Waitley

From an early age, I was warned by my parents, both of whom had a great deal of experience in the business world and otherwise, that one of the worst things I could do was make assumptions about who people were or their place in society.

Both parents made it clear that we’re all part of the human family, and we’re all in this thing called life together, and that making assumptions could lead to all sorts of bad things — from hurt feeling to unintended consequences.

My parents also made it clear that the way to avoid making assumptions about others is to treat everyone with impartiality and respect.

OK, I’ll admit, I’m not talking about blindly respecting known creeps and jerks. The best thing to do with that sort is to stir clear of them, if at all possible.

What I am talking about is ditching the kind of hierarchical thinking that puts men before women, CEOs ahead of receptionists, and owners in front of renters, in terms of our perception of their value both to us personally, and to society at large.

Mom and Dad told me a lot of stories to illustrate how people make assumptions.

Here’s one of my Mom’s favorite stories:

In spite of an important position on a Midwestern Supreme Court my Mom’s great-grandfather (a.k.a. “The Judge”) and his wife (a.k.a. “Mother”) preferred the quiet, rural tranquility of their modest farm.

One hot summer afternoon, as the Judge worked peacefully in his vegetable patch below a bright blue and cloudless sky, his wiry beard glistening with beads of perspiration and his overalls caked with mud, a lone traveler on foot made his way to the back porch of the farmhouse where Mother was shucking corn.

“Ma’am, I’m awful hungry, could you spare me some food?” he inquired. It wasn’t Mother’s way to give handouts. She believed people should earn their way through life, and eyeing the stranger over her spectacles, gestured with a nod of her head to the side yard and said, “I’d be happy to as soon as you cut a goodly amount of that wood over there.”

The stranger was taken aback, but stiffly complied. Soon he returned to the porch ready for his supper. Mother spied the pitiful amount of wood chopped and told the man in no uncertain terms that there would have to be far more wood chopped before he’d get any food.

Again he complied, and cut just enough additional wood to satisfy Mother. He was rewarded with pot roast and gravy, corn on the cob, steaming green beans, and hot country biscuits slathered with fresh-churned butter.

The man ate his dinner fast, and with gusto. As he hastily departed Mother’s kitchen, the man thanked Mother profusely for the meal, and spied a shortcut to the road through the garden.

In the garden he came upon The Judge, and curious to find out this gardener’s story, walked up to The Judge and asked, “How long have you been workin’ here?” The Judge, who had gotten the gist of what was going on out of the corner of his eye, responded wryly, “Oh, nigh-on to twenty years.” The stranger replied, “You’ve lasted that long here? Mister, my hat’s off to you!” And, pointing to the farmhouse with his sauce-stained thumb further exclaimed, “That old lady up there sure is hell, ain’t she?”

Happily for the stranger, there’s no record of his ever having come before The Judge in any subsequent court case. I am sure though, that had such an occasion arisen my great-great-grandfather would have been scrupulously fair.

Light-hearted though this particular story is, avoiding making assumptions in the first place, ipso facto avoids any negative fallout later.

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

In the meantime,

Bestest to all, Cynthia Dalton signature



Words people use can reveal their true character
photo credit: torbakhopper via photopin cc

If you want to know what a man’s like, take a good look at how he treats his inferiors, not his equals. — J.K. Rowling

To unmask a person’s true character you need look no farther than the way that person treats those who they perceive to be beneath them in some regard be it rank, position, social status or some other arbitrary determinant.

This was brought home to me years ago when my Dad related to me an incident he was sorry to have witnessed.

My dad was visiting the office of an associate of his, who I’ll call “Rob.” Together with his wife, who I’ll call “Dale,” he owned and operated a small professional firm.

They also owned the building in which their office was located, and according to my Dad, most of the time they were financially strapped.

As a result, on numerous occasions when he would visit the office, my Dad witnessed Dale running herself ragged wearing multiple hats: receptionist, gofer, telephone operator, bookkeeper, and head of “Maintenance” for the building, just to name a few of her roles, and this of course excludes domestic roles she no doubt took on at home.

Under such circumstances you might jump to the conclusion that Rob would be damn grateful to have such a helpmate and partner. If he was, you’d never know it to hear him talk.

Here’s why.

On this particular day, Dad was talking with Dale in the front office when an agitated Rob broke into the conversation demanding to know why Dale hadn’t gotten around to some bit of business or other.

An argument between the two ensued, and my Dad became increasingly uneasy, trying in vain to lighten the mood by switching the subject.

And then it happened.

In a snide tone, Rob said to Dale, “Just remember who signs your paycheck!”

In one instant Rob unmasked himself.

Knowing the history of the situation, my Dad was horrified and downright disgusted that 1) Rob felt superior to Dale, and 2) Rob said such a thing in front of a third party.

Worse for my Dad, he never again could look upon Rob with the same fondness and respect he previously felt for Rob. It’s not that my Dad couldn’t understand that we all blurt out things for which we later apologize, my Dad was always extremely tolerant of ‘human frailty’ and generous in forgiving others. However, this was just too unkind, self-absorbed, and self-aggrandizing.

It’s a cautionary tale for those of us who truly mean no disrespect to others but may sometimes choose our words unwisely. A moment’s careful consideration can spare the feelings of others as well as prevent one from accidentally and irrevocably looking like a prejudicial jerk!

As for those who are prejudicial jerks, words they speak can be telling, and can help us unmask in advance the likelihood of our getting from them a fair shake, or having with them any sort of win-win relationship.

Please share your thoughts about what you feel is the number one clue to a person’s character in the Comments section below.

In the meantime,

Bestest to all,

Cynthia Dalton signature