Monthly Archives: August 2014


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