CTS corporate consulting http://go2ctsonline.com Thu, 14 Mar 2019 18:24:15 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=4.9.10 Enough is Enough: How to Break the Habit of Not Feeling Enough http://go2ctsonline.com/enough-is-enough-how-to-break-the-habit-of-not-feeling-enough/ http://go2ctsonline.com/enough-is-enough-how-to-break-the-habit-of-not-feeling-enough/#respond Thu, 14 Mar 2019 18:24:15 +0000 http://go2ctsonline.com/?p=1153

Do you ever feel like you’re not enough?

Not good enough?

Not attentive enough?

Not giving enough?

Not smart enough?

Not successful enough?

It’s the feeling that leaves you feeling inadequate.

At home.

At work.

With your spouse.

With your kids.

With your friends.

It’s the feeling that you only have utilitarian value.

If you’re not giving or doing something useful, then you don’t matter.


It’s just an overall horrible feeling!


But what if you didn’t have to feel that way?


Well, you don’t have to feel that way.


You can break that pattern and these are some ways to do it.


Perform a Little “Brain Surgery.”

When you get the first twinge of not feeling enough, change the script.

You don’t control the first thought that comes into your head but you do control the second thought and every thought after that.

So…, the next time you have a thought of not being enough, refuse to let it take hold.

Don’t give the thought air time.

Change the subject.

Think of something else.

Energy follows attention.

If you don’t give the thought energy and attention it will gradually dissipate.

You’ll need to do this more than a few times to begin to rewire your brain.

Be patient and stick with it.


Stop Selling

Part of the not-enough syndrome is “overselling” your reasons for not doing something.

Avoid the tendency to explain, which will often come with a “but.”

‘I feel bad that I can’t do that, but…”

“I really wanted to, but…”

“I planned to do more, but…”

“I wish I could help, but…

All of these responses are an attempt to justify or “sell” the other person on why you’re not available.

The problem with selling is the other side has to “buy” what you’re saying.

Stop selling.

It only fuels the fire of inadequacy.

If you’re not available or you don’t have the time, just say so and leave it at that.


Don’t Get Caught Up in What Other People Need or Want

People don’t have needs to make you feel inadequate.

They have needs because, well, because they have needs.

Their needs are about them, not about you.

Just because someone needs something you’re not obligated to meet that need.

It’s not your job to solve the world’s problems, and you couldn’t even if you tried.

You may need to fight the urge to jump in with a solution when someone brings up an issue they have.

Avoiding volunteering when you’re not asked is the first step.

If you are asked to help you can always politely decline.


Stop Upping the Ante

Do you ever find yourself in this insidious mindset?

“I did ‘six’ but I could have done ‘seven.’”


“Other people do so much more.”

Maybe they do and maybe they don’t.

“Other people are so much more sacrificial.”

So what?

Who cares?

Would you try to motivate anyone else by constantly raising the bar?

If the answer is “no,” stop doing it to yourself.

Focus on what you have done, the contribution you have made, the time you have given and leave at that.



Give up Mind Reading

Oftentimes, the feelings of not being enough are accompanied by the belief that others think less of us if we’re not able to be or do what they want.

Unless you have the gift of telepathy, you don’t know what another person is thinking.

If you want to know how they think or feel about what you can or can’t do for them, you’ll have to ask.

The worst that will happen is they’ll be disappointed.

In my experience, no one ever died of being disappointed.


Change Your Goal

Here’s a radical idea.

What if you decided that being “enough” was no longer your goal?

What if the goal instead was to simply do the best you could realizing that even when you do your “best,” your best will always be good enough for somebody but not good enough for somebody else?

How freeing would it be to not have to anxiously await other people’s judgement of your worth?



Perhaps it’s time to change the way you’re feeling about yourself.

Perhaps is time to say “Enough is enough.”

Enough of comparing yourself to others.

Enough of basing your value on what you do or don’t do for others.

Enough of not feeling satisfied with the effort you give.

Enough of feeling manipulated or guilted into doing things.

Enough of feeling no matter what you do you could or should do more.

Enough of the anxiety you feel when you tell yourself your letting someone down.



Change starts by taking a new approach.

If the suggestions you have just read resonate, give them a try.

Not all these suggestions will work for you but some may.

It will take more than one attempt, but learning to break the not- enough cycle is worth it.

Doing so might allow you to begin to see that your “enough” really is “enough.”

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Lessons from the New Kid in Class http://go2ctsonline.com/lessons-from-the-new-kid-in-class-2/ http://go2ctsonline.com/lessons-from-the-new-kid-in-class-2/#respond Fri, 01 Mar 2019 21:10:00 +0000 http://go2ctsonline.com/?p=1148


When I was growing up our family moved–a lot.

 Twelve times in fifteen years to be exact.

Because of the timing of the moves, I was continually going to new schools.

I became a professional “new kid in class.”

It was perfect training for my work as an organizational consultant. I am at ease in situations where everyone knows everyone and I know no one.

 I can adapt and adjust to new environments with relative ease.

 What about you?

 How do you respond when you’re thrown into a new situation?

The lessons I learned as a new kid in class might prove useful.


 Lesson #1

There are more of “them” than there are of “you,” and they were there first.

I remember the feeling of walking into class.

Everyone would stare and whisper.

The teacher would introduce me and class would resume.

Everybody knew everybody and I knew nobody.

Think about the last time you joined anything–a new organization, a new committee, a new neighborhood, a new family.

Your ability to successfully fit into a new situation starts with the realization that you are the one who will need to adjust.

Are you the kind of person that walks into a new situation and starts “rearranging the desks?”

Do you tell other people what you used to do where you used to work or live? (How things were done in your “old school?”)

Those are quick ways to alienate others.


Lesson #2

Fit in or “die.”

I knew that the other kids in class were going to get along just fine whether I fit in or not.

If I didn’t learn how to get along with them, I was going to be the one left out.

Have you ever worked with someone who just won’t fit in?

Who insists on telling others what to do and how to do it?

Chances are they are the people others exclude or work around.

They are the ones whose careers go nowhere.

They are the ones who are asked to leave if business slows down.


 Lesson #3

Keep your eyes and ears open and your mouth shut.

I quickly realized that getting the lay of the land would take some time.

I was friendly but not overly familiar.

I waited to be asked to join in at recess.

I shared information about myself, but I mainly let the other kids talk.

Once I felt accepted, then I jumped in.

Timing, I learned, was everything.

I was in “Rome” so I needed to learn what the “Romans do” and the best way to do that was to watch and listen.

Its fine to be friendly but gaining acceptance takes time and patience.

It’s all about learning the rules and learning how to fit in.


Lesson #4

Don’t raise your hand too soon.

I was a straight A student in elementary school and scored extremely high on standardized tests.

Sometimes I would go to a new school and realize the material they were covering was something I had already learned in my previous school.

Though I knew the answers, I didn’t raise my hand for quite a while.

Going into a new situation telling people how much you know and what they are doing wrong is the fast track to nowhere.

Nothing will turn people off quite as fast as a know-it-all.


Being the new kid in class may be uncomfortable but it doesn’t have to be painful.

 Learning how to fit in and play well with others works in school– and in life.


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Cats Don’t Bark and Dogs Don’t Meow http://go2ctsonline.com/cats-dont-bark-and-dogs-dont-meow-2/ http://go2ctsonline.com/cats-dont-bark-and-dogs-dont-meow-2/#respond Mon, 04 Feb 2019 18:34:55 +0000 http://go2ctsonline.com/?p=1134

David was beside himself.

Martha, his top producer, was at it again. Not returning customer phone calls, being late for meetings and not finishing her paperwork.

“What, he lamented, “am I going to do?”

“I have addressed these issues with her repeatedly.”

“Every time we talk she promises to do better. She changes her behavior for a couple of days and then we’re back to the same problem. If I wasn’t practically bald I’d pull my hair out!”

It was clear to me David was not dealing with what was actually happening but rather was wishing for a behavior for which there was no evidence.

“David, I explained, you’re asking a cat to bark and a dog to meow.”


Two months ago, Charlie renegotiated his commission structure with his boss. In the past, they would agree on a new structure and even put everything in writing so there would be no misunderstandings. And then his boss would attempt to change the terms citing special circumstances. This time Charlie was sure they had an agreement everyone could live with.

Last week Charlie called.

He was livid.

“They are trying to change the terms again. Just like they did last time!”

I reminded Charlie that his boss’ actions were frustrating but not surprising.

 Cats don’t bark and dogs don’t meow.

Here’s the Deal

 We all want things to be the way we want them to be. We even want this when there is overwhelming evidence that what we want not only is not happening, it has never happened and may never happen.

Although some people can and do change, the reality is that most people’s behaviors are pretty constant and predictable.

Dogs bark.

Cats meow.

People are who they are.

People do what they do.

“But why, we ask, do some people refuse to cooperate and repeatedly go back on their word?”

The short answer is because they can.

We let them.

We may pout, complain, threaten and cajole, but at the end of the day we do nothing about their behavior.

Instead, we look at our behavior.

“I keep my agreements.”

“I return phone calls.”

“I’m on time.”

“I behave in a certain way, and if I just give them enough time they will behave that      way too.”


But probably not.

What to Do?

 Stop being a victim.

Start the meeting without them.

Call them on their behavior if they change the rules.

Will it work every time?

Absolutely not.

But it will work sometimes; and it will definitely send a message that when it comes to dealing with you, they need to pay a little more attention.

More importantly it may empower you and give you a sense of predictability and control over the situation.

It will cause you to examine whether allowing certain behaviors is self-respecting.

If you find over time that their behavior is, in fact, sanctioned by the organization you work for, you may decide it’s time to take your talents elsewhere.


Hopefully most of the people in your universe are reasonable, fair-minded, reliable, responsible and approachable.

Learn to spot those who are not.

Don’t try to make them something they are not, but don’t allow yourself to be victimized by what they do or don’t do.

 Cats meow.

Dogs bark.






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Five Decisions That Could Change Your Life http://go2ctsonline.com/five-decisions-that-could-change-your-life/ http://go2ctsonline.com/five-decisions-that-could-change-your-life/#respond Fri, 26 Oct 2018 20:42:04 +0000 http://go2ctsonline.com/?p=1127

Are there areas in your life where you’re just not moving forward?

Perhaps you need to make some new decisions.

Here are five to consider.


Decision #1

Decide to Invest in the “Machine”

This decision is perhaps the most important decision because it addresses your health and without your health, all the other decisions might be hard to implement.

Think of your body as a” machine.”

A well-cared-for machine has more energy.

Having energy is particularly important as you add “more birthdays,” but is vital at any age.

A well-cared-for machine might last longer.

The longer you can stay active the more you can contribute in ways that matter to you.

So how do you take care of the machine?

It’s as easy as 1, 2, 3.

  1. Fuel the machine- eat real food, not that much.
  2. Exercise the machine-move every day, stay fit.
  3. Rest the machine-get 7-9 hours of sleep every night.


Decision #2

Decide to Connect More with Others

Human beings were not designed to go through life alone.

We are most alive when we connect.

When you can see others as they really are and when you feel truly known, the feeling of safety that comes from connecting is intoxicating.

To authentically connect with others, you have to get out of the inner world of your head and spend more time in the outer world of other people.

We make things up and isolate ourselves when we spend too much time in our heads.

To stay in the outer world, assume less and ask more questions.

Practice empathy and try to put yourself in the other person’s shoes.

Spend more time with the people who really matter to you.

Don’t just think about it.

Do it.


Decision #3

Decide to Manage Time More Effectively

This is sort of a misnomer because you can’t actually “manage” time.

The seconds, minutes and hours hands on the clock continually move and are oblivious to any attempt we might make to speed them up or slow them down.

Though you can’t manage the clock, you can manage yourself.

You can learn to honestly manage your expectations and the expectations of others.

You can learn to say “yes” only when you mean “yes” and “no” when you mean “no.”

You can realize that in a day you can do a day’s worth, and no two days are the same.

One of the best ways to get started is to have a “why” for your “what.”

When approaching a task or making a decision about where you will be spending time, ask yourself “why am I doing this, and why am I doing it right now?”

Being brutally honest with your answer will go a long way towards helping you develop a clarity of vision and help you experience time as your servant not your master.


Decision #4

Decide to Let Go

What you attempt to possess will often possess you.

What you hold onto holds onto you.

It might be the need to be in control or the need to hold a grudge.

It might be the need to have more than others have or the need to appear like something you’re really not to the outside world.

Over time you may find that what you’re trying to control and possess is limiting your ability to find joy and move forward with your life.

So how do you “let go” you may ask?

Just let go?

Sometimes that’s the answer–just make the decision and do it.

In other situations, it’s more complicated.

You may need to have an honest conversation with yourself and find out what benefits you’re deriving by attempting to control things.

Maybe it’s the need for certainty; maybe it’s the need to be seen and heard; maybe you’re attempting to fill a void of some kind.

Only by addressing those underlying needs will you be able to begin letting go, and in doing so experience the aliveness that comes with living free of those burdens.


Decision #5

Decide to Believe You’re Enough

Few things are as debilitating to the human spirit as believing you’re “not enough.”

Feeling you’re not smart enough, not good enough, not generous enough, not available enough.

Even when you try to do your best to satisfy others, you may still feel like you’re coming up short.

Here’s the bottom line:  No matter what you do, your best will be good enough for someone and not good enough for someone else.

What would your life look like if you suddenly decided “being enough” was not your goal but rather your goal was to just be the best you could be?

A new thought pattern might look like this:

  • If it’s good enough for other people that’s great.
  • If it’s not good enough, then that would be their problem not yours.

You would then be able to focus on doing your best and not feel burdened by other people’s expectations.

Imagine what a relief that would be.



Life can be hard, but perhaps it doesn’t have to be as hard as we sometimes make it.

Try adopting one or more of these decisions.

You just might be surprised at how easy and powerful some of them can be!

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Listen Up: Why Listening is So Hard and What We Can Do to Make it Easier http://go2ctsonline.com/listen-up-why-listening-is-so-hard-and-what-we-can-do-to-make-it-easier/ http://go2ctsonline.com/listen-up-why-listening-is-so-hard-and-what-we-can-do-to-make-it-easier/#respond Wed, 30 May 2018 23:54:32 +0000 http://go2ctsonline.com/?p=1120

“We have two ears and one mouth so that we can listen twice as much as we speak.” Epictetus

Wise words from the Greek philosopher.

So why is it so many of us go through the day behaving as if we had five mouths and no ears?

Why it is so hard to be a good listener?

What are some steps we can take to become better?

Listen up.


The Origin of the Problem

Relationship experts Drs. Harville Hendrix and Helen LaKelly Hunt have made some fascinating observations.

The problem with listening starts very early in childhood.

Parents are typically asked two important questions when their toddlers are in the early stages of development.

“Is Johnny walking yet?”


“Is Johnny talking yet?”

In school, we have classes in Public Speaking

We take oral exams.

If you want to pay someone a compliment, you might refer to them as “well spoken.”

Debating teams are rewarded for their ability to present strong oral arguments.

But what about listening??

How often is a parent asked, “How is Johnny’s listening coming along?”

Where are the classes in “Public Listening”?

No wonder so many of are so bad at listening.

No one shows us how.

In addition, if you’re having a hard time effectively communicating with another person, you might be told, “You just need to listen better.”

“How?” you might inquire.

“You know, just listen better…”

“Oh, ok…”


The Other Big Problem

 What’s going on?

The short answer is—a lot.

We are all walking around during the day with a movie in our heads that plays nonstop.

It’s sort of like a voiceover or a documentary.

We are making internal observations and comments throughout the day of what others are doing or saying and how we feel about what is going on around us.

When someone is speaking, these thoughts as well as any number of external distractions make it difficult to accurately track what that person is saying.

Research indicates when we’re not distracted and really try to pay attention, our accuracy rate is only 13-18%.

That means our distortion rate is 82-87%.

Add a distraction, and the distortion rate quickly climbs to 100%!

In addition, all human beings are symbiotic.

We tend to unconsciously fuse with other people throughout the day assuming they, on some level, think our thoughts, want our wants and/or believe our beliefs.

When that happens, it prevents us from seeing individuals as “other” (as in “other than us”) and makes it difficult to really hear what they are actually saying.

Symbiosis occurs when we are stuck in our head (the “cave”) having “conversations” with people who aren’t there.

Those conversations take us to a fantasy world which is not real.

The goal is to stay “in the world” of other people so that we can hear what they are really saying rather than making up stuff about them in our heads.


Solving the Problem

 Let’s examine how we communicate and how that affects what we hear.

I can:

  1. Talk at you in which case I’m simply interested in what I said.
  2. Talk to you and focus not just on what I said but also on what you heard.
  3. Talk with you and shift my focus from what I’m saying to not only what you heard but also how it affected you.

Talking with you moves me from not just communicating but also connecting with you.

For this to happen, however, I must first get out of that symbiotic “cave.”

Here are four ways to get out of the cave:

Let Go (Of assumptions, of winning, of competing, of being right, of controlling and dominating, etc.).

Be Curious/Have Empathy (Ask questions rather than make assumptions. Try to put yourself in the other person’s shoes).

Don’t Judge (Doing so says the other person is “less than”).

Allow for Differences (Different points of view, different beliefs, different ways of defining what is important, etc.).

Once I have done these things, I’m now able to begin the process of meaningful communication and really listening.

In order for this to occur consistently, I need one more set of tools.

For those tools, we turn once again to Drs. Hendrix and LaKelly Hunt.

Over 30 years ago, they developed a communication process called the Imago Dialogue (also called Safe Conversations.)

This approach was first introduced in Harville Hendrix’s best-selling book Getting the Love You Want

Most people, they observed, communicate through a series of monologues – two people talking and no one listening.

During a monologue, the listener is often more interested in what he/she is getting ready to say than in what the speaker

is attempting to communicate.

This lack of attentiveness often leads to misunderstandings.

One way to improve communication, they reasoned, might be to take turns talking and listening engaging in a dialogue.

They created three steps:  mirroring, validating and empathizing.

Mirroring consists of actively listening to the other person in order to accurately reflect what they said.

This is often done by paraphrasing.

The purpose of mirroring is to make sure the message delivered is the message received.

Mirroring also gives the speaker a chance to finish their thought without fear of interruption, argument or analysis.

By mirroring, the listener is agreeing to temporarily put their opinions aside so the speaker can be heard.

Typical mirroring phrases are a variation of “So if I’m hearing you correctly, what you’re saying is…”


“What I heard you say was…”  etc.

After mirroring the person, it is important to check for accuracy and make sure you truly heard what was being communicated.

This is best done by asking “Is that what you said?”

If the person says “No,” ask them to resend the message.

If the person says “Yes,” ask “Is there more?” and repeat the process until they are finished.

Validating follows mirroring and communicates to the speaker that you have heard the information from their point of view, and that you accept what they said as valid for them.

Validation doesn’t mean you agree with the speaker.

Reasonable people can and do disagree all the time.

Validation simply acknowledges that no two people see a situation exactly the same way.  Validation allows the speaker to see that what they said “makes sense.”

(Everybody’s “sense” makes sense to them!)

Some examples of how to validate the speaker include “That makes sense because…,” or “I can see how you could think that…,” etc.

Empathizing follows mirroring and validating and lets the speaker know that you are attempting to “put yourself in their shoes.”

This is done with phrases such as “If that happened to me, I would be feeling…”


“I can imagine you must have felt….”


A sample dialogue might sound like this: “So if I’m hearing you correctly, what you’re saying is that you don’t feel people

really listen to each other in this office.  I can see how you could think that and if that happened to me

I would feel frustrated, isolated and would really want to be heard.”

When the speaker is finished, it is their turn to ask the listener if they would like to say something.

This is best done using phrases such as “After hearing what I said, is there anything you would like to say?”


“How did you feel hearing what I just said?”

The roles are reversed and the mirroring, validation and empathy begin again.


The great thing about the dialogue is that the person talking feels listened to, and

the listener feels like they better understand what is being said.


When people feeling really listened to they feel safe.

Safe people are more open and engaged.

People who are open and engaged are happier and more productive.


And who wouldn’t like to feel safe, happy and productive?!?


Try some of these suggestions.

Who knows, used properly, those two ears may be all you really need to be a great listener.








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How to Have a Good Day (Almost) Every Day http://go2ctsonline.com/how-to-have-a-good-day-almost-every-day-2/ http://go2ctsonline.com/how-to-have-a-good-day-almost-every-day-2/#respond Sun, 11 Feb 2018 23:53:30 +0000 http://go2ctsonline.com/?p=1113         

A client and I were discussing success and how one has a “successful” day.

I asked him to think about how satisfied he was each day and had him rate his satisfaction on a scale of 1 to 10.

“When I think about all I have in my life, it should be at an 8 or 9,” he said “but it often feels more like a 5.”

 Then he asked “What about you?”

“How would you rate your days on a scale of 1 -10?”

Without hesitating I replied, “Almost every day is at least an 8 or 9.”

We discussed how that was possible.

This is what I told him.


Make a Conscious Decision to Have a Good Day

My good days are not an accident.

I expect my days to be 8s and 9s.

I make a conscious decision when I wake up and throughout the day to have a good day.

I focus on what is present and not what is missing.

In addition, I refuse to be a victim.

I rarely use the words “have to.”

I use the words “choose to.”


Control Your Stress and Pace

Everyone has a pace that is too fast when demands become too much.

I have a plan for each week, but I rarely experience a day that turns out exactly as planned.

So I consciously avoid things that create stress.

I work “smart.”

I don’t like to rush around at the last minute, and I don’t like being late so I plan ahead.

When I can, I avoid traffic.

When I don’t finish or complete something, I move on realizing tomorrow is another day.


Take Care of the “Machine”

It’s hard to feel good when you feel physically bad.

I stay healthy.

I exercise at least 300 hours a year, on average.

I eat well.

I get enough sleep.

All these things help.


Avoid Negative People

Negative, problem-oriented talkers are like vampires to me.

They suck the marrow from my bones.

I find them distracting and exhausting.

I avoid them when possible and, if that is not an option, I end encounters with them as fast as I can.


Cultivate Positive People

Positive, results oriented doers fill my tank.

They give me energy and stimulate my creativity.

I seek them out and spend time with them as often as I can.


Laugh Early and Often

I take what I believe in seriously, but I don’t take myself that seriously.

I laugh at myself often, and I love to make other people laugh.

One of my unstated goals each morning is, as quickly as possible to do or say something that will make my wife, Nancy laugh.

Who doesn’t love a good laugh?


Be Thankful and Grateful Each Day

If you wake up each day with your health and you have at least one person you love that also loves you, you’re in the “bonus round.”

I have an amazing wife I adore, a loving family, terrific friends, work that stimulates me, and wonderful clients.

Not a day goes by that I do not realize how truly blessed I am.

And I let people in my life know how I feel about them.

I say “thank you” and give appreciations- often.

(Did you know it’s neurologically impossible for the brain to access a negative thought in a state of thankfulness and gratitude? It’s like trying to sneeze with your eyes open. Can’t be done.)


One last secret–my decision to have great days is really a selfish one.

Since I am in essence “hanging around with me” all day, I’d rather be spending time with someone who is in a good mood than someone who is in a bad mood.

It’s that simple.

Abraham Lincoln purportedly observed, “People are about as happy as they make up their minds to be.”

Make up your mind to have a good day.

It’s easier than you think.

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Outsmarting Your Smartphone http://go2ctsonline.com/outsmarting-your-smartphone/ http://go2ctsonline.com/outsmarting-your-smartphone/#respond Mon, 08 Jan 2018 17:40:30 +0000 http://go2ctsonline.com/?p=1106

After more than forty years of consulting, I find the main problem in

organizations, as in life, continuesto be the difficulty people have staying connected with one another.

With the introduction of smartphones, the challenge of connecting has never been greater.

How challenging have these devices become?

The answer is “pretty challenging” and pretty intrusive.

The numbers don’t lie.

A study reported in the November 2017 edition of the Ericsson Mobility Report

estimates by 2020, 90% of the world’s population over the age of six will have a mobile phone.

According to a 2016 study, the average person checks their cell phone 110 times a day.

In addition:

  • 40% check their phones while in the bathroom.
  • 12% use their phones in the shower.
  • 56% check their phones before falling asleep.
  • 50% of teenagers say they are addicted to their phones.
  • 50% feel uneasy when they forget their phones at home.
  • 75% say they have texted at least once while driving.
  • 56% of parents check their phones while driving.
  • 44% check job-related emails daily while on vacation.

Perhaps most interesting bit of research was the PEW Research Center finding that 67% of smartphone

owners have admitted to checking their phone for calls or messages when their phone didn’t vibrate or ring.

What’s going on?

In a nutshell, many of us have become addicted to our cell phones.

(There is now a name for this condition. It’s called “nomophobia,” which means the

fear of being without one’s mobile device.)

Seems these smartphones are a lot “smarter” than we thought.

So why is it so hard to put these devices down?

The answer is a chemical in our brain called Dopamine.

It makes us feel good, and every time we receive a “ding” on our phone a little Dopamine is released.

The message is, “We won!” “Let’s see what we won!”

And it’s addictive.

Unfortunately, like other addictions, eventually we have to increase the “dosage” to get the “high.”

Are you addicted?

Want to see how much of a hold your cell phone has on you?

Here are some signs you might be addicted to cell phone use:

  • As with many addictions, your phone is the first thing you reach for when you get up in the morning/the last thing you reach for at night before bed.
  • You experience actual feelings of withdrawal (cravings, urges to seek use of the phone) when you’re away from it.
  • You use the phone to cope when you are bored, angry, or upset; you pick up the phone to deal with or get away from these feelings.
  • You experience signs of intolerance; you need to use the phone more and more to gain enough satisfaction from it.
  • You have an inability to stop using the phone; you can’t connect to the moment because you have to be using your phone to capture it or post it.
  • You use your phone for things you could do without it—like checking the time.
  • You find yourself making a conscious effort to put the phone down for certain activities.
  • You use your phone excessively while driving even if you know you shouldn’t because you can’t leave it alone.

These devices are impacting every aspect of our lives and are becoming an increasing problem in staying connected at work.

The work effect.

A study by University of Southern California’s Marshall School of Business found:

  • 86% think it’s inappropriate to answer phone calls during formal meetings.
  • 84% think it’s inappropriate to write texts or emails during formal meetings.
  • 75% think it’s inappropriate to read texts or emails during formal meetings.
  • 66% think it’s inappropriate to write texts or emails during any meetings.
  • At least 22% think it’s inappropriate to use phones during any meetings.

Here’s the problem:

Research cited by relationship expert, Harville Hendrix found there is an 87% distortion rate even when people are actively

engaged in a conversation –that’s because we all have an internal dialogue going on throughout the day making receiving accurate external information difficult.

In other words, even when we are really paying attention only 13% of the other person’s message accurately gets through all our filters.

Add a cell phone and other distracting devices to the mix and the distortion rate climbs to near 100%!

When you are on your cell phone and another human being is trying to connect with you, that connection is really not possible.

What can be done?

Here are some ideas:

#1- When you’re talking to another human being, turn your phone off and put it away.

Learn to look the other person in the eye.

Learn to engage in face-to-face meaningful dialogues.

#2- Don’t allow cellphones in meetings–period.

That means the phone is not allowed in the room, not in your pocket, not in your purse–even if it’s turned off.

This involves making a decision as a culture to value true, authentic connection.

You may get some serious blowback. (Remember these devices are addictive.)

“Well I’m expecting an important call,” you might add.


Do you think people never had “important calls” before the advent of cell phones?

#3- Lead from the top.

The biggest culprit in your organization may be the leaders.

They call meetings yet are continually gazing at their phone.

They may even get up in a meeting to walk out of the room to take a call leaving everyone

else to sit in a state of suspended animation until they return.

There are three problems with this behavior:

1.    It sends the message that this behavior is acceptable and even supported.

2.    It says to the people around you, “What you have to say is so unimportant I’d

rather focus on someone who is not even in the room.”

3.    And most important, it’s rude!

As Rachel Druckenmiller, Director of Wellbeing at SIG (and my very wise daughter)

so astutely noted, “We are more digitally connected yet more intimately disconnected than ever before.”



It’s time to reverse that trend.

Learning to outsmart your smart phone could be the first step.


If you are interested in learning more about bringing training to your organization

to show people how to outsmart their smartphones and reclaim connection, email me at mb3126@gmail.com.



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Seven Lessons from a 70.3 http://go2ctsonline.com/seven-lessons-from-a-70-3/ http://go2ctsonline.com/seven-lessons-from-a-70-3/#respond Thu, 12 Oct 2017 14:02:15 +0000 http://go2ctsonline.com/?p=1101

I have always been an active person.

I wrestled in high school and college, then became a runner and then a triathlete.

In my mid-50s, I decided to take exercise and fitness to a whole new level and completed the first of six (and counting) Ironman triathlons.

My life as an endurance athlete has continued unabated as I enter my late 60s.

Last year after completing my sixth Ironman, I decided to devote the next two or three years to racing half Ironman races.

I find covering half the distance of the full Ironman is not only easier to train for but the 70.3-mile distance (a 1.2-mile swim, 56-mile bike, and 13.1 mile run) involves much less wear and tear on my body.

In addition, after finishing second in my age group at the 2016 Raleigh 70.3 race, I suddenly realized I could actually be competitive with my peers and had a good chance of making the podium reserved for the top five finishers.

In 2016, Ironman USA decided to add a half-Ironman in Lake Placid in 2017to complement the full-distance race.

As we have a summer home near Lake Placid, all my Ironman finishes have been here. 

Because I love and know the course like the back of my hand, I enthusiastically signed up for the September 10 event.

While I love being in great shape and competing, over the last few years I have grown to really look forward to the life lessons I’ve learned during these events.

Race day is always memorable, and this day would prove to be no exception.

Herein lies the tale of that day, some lessons I learned and how you might apply those lessons in your own life.


Lesson #1- Life is Full of Surprises

At the beginning of the day most of us have an idea of some of the things we want to accomplish.

On race day, I too had an idea.

I would set up my bike and running gear in the transition area, go to the body markers and get my race numbers on my arm and leg, put on my wetsuit and proceed to the swim start.

This plan did not include discovering my front tire had gone flat overnight and I would quickly need to find bike support before the transition area closed.

How often does life surprise you?

A coworker has supposedly completed their part of a project but in fact has not.

A phone call that was supposed to be returned hasn’t happened.

Your spouse told you they were going to fill up the car but you turn on the ignition and see the “E” staring you in the face.

Life is full of surprises.

Our ability to adapt and adjust to those unexpected events often determines how the rest of our day goes.


Lesson #2- Things May Sometimes Get Worse Before They Get Better

One of the reasons I was so excited about doing the race was that the weather in Lake Placid is normally in the low 70s in the beginning of September, which would make for ideal racing conditions.

What was not ideal was the cold front that had arrived a few days before the competition.

As the week before the race unfolded, temperatures at night were dropping into the low 40s and the lake temperature was dropping as well.

I decided to try to acclimate my body by swimming the 1.2 mile loop a couple of times before the race.

The cooler nights continued to cause the water temperature to fall and during my workouts I found myself getting increasingly colder and my swim times increasingly slower.

Race day morning arrived and the air temp was a chilly 38 degrees and the water was hovering in the very low 60s.

With more than 2,000 athletes participating, for safety reasons they would enter the water every few seconds in small clusters.

I was lined up toward the rear with the slower swimmers.

After standing around in the chilly air for over a half hour, I was now a cold swimmer entering cold water.

Although I was dressed like an aqua mummy, the neoprene cap, booties and arm warmers plus my wetsuit did little to ward off the cold.

I exited the water with my slowest time for that distance and to add insult to injury, I couldn’t feel my fingers.

It was much worse than I had ever expected.

Has that ever happened to you?

You’re late for an appointment and the bad traffic you normally encounter is suddenly horrendous.

Your boss calls you into their office.

You know business is slow, but you’re not prepared when he informs you you’re being let go.

A loved one gets an unexpected diagnosis of an illness only to find out the prognosis is much worse than expected.

It can be hard to stay positive when things seem to be spiraling out of control.


Lesson #3- Stay Focused

As I exited the water and removed my wetsuit, the now 40-degree temperature began to grab hold of me and I was shaking like a leaf.

I tried to put my clothes on but could not stop shaking.

Person after person was leaving the transition area to begin the bike leg of the race.

Even though I was moving unbelievably slow, I continued to concentrate and eventually put on the multiple layers I felt would be necessary for the cold morning ride.

A transition that normally takes a few minutes had taken 25 minutes, but I had stayed focused.

How often in your life have you had to block out distractions and stay focused to successfully complete a task?

Maybe it’s an overly talkative employee who makes getting work done difficult when they’re around.

Maybe it’s the dog, the kids and the phone all going off simultaneously.

Maybe it’s the nice day on a weekend bidding you “come outside” when there is work to be done indoors.

Staying focused can be tough!


Lesson #4 – Have a Specific Plan

As I finally exited the transition area, I looked to my wife Nancy and youngest daughter Jane and shouted, “It’s not a swim meet!”

The longest parts of the race were in still in front of me.

I had a 56-mile bike ride to complete and it would be hours before I began thinking about the 13.1 mile run.

There was literally no one on the road as I began the bike–no fans, not even another cyclist.

I might as well have been out on a training ride.

And that was when I hatched my plan.

I decided to count how many people I could pass on the bike.

I didn’t know how many racers that would involve, but at least it would give me something to do and some way of measuring my progress.

And off I went.

What about you? When you make plans, are they specific?

Is your goal, for example, to exercise three times a week for at least 45 minutes or is it simply to “get in shape?”

Do you just want to “communicate better” with a spouse or coworker, or have you set a goal to spend 15 minutes a day of uninterrupted time to talk and listen to each other?

Your brain likes specificity.

How specific are your goals and plans?


Lesson #5- Stay Positive and Make Things Better

Though I was one of the last people out of the swim to bike transition, I had reason to be optimistic.

Over the last 11 years, I had ridden literally thousands of miles on this bike course.

I knew almost every one of the twists and turns of roads ahead.

I knew when to speed up, when to slow down, when a hill was coming and what gear I needed to be in.

I assumed that most the riders were unfamiliar with those twists and turns.

I would begin to put that advantage to use.

If things were going to “get better,” I reasoned I was going to have to “make them better.”

And that’s exactly what I did.

Within ten minutes I saw my first group of stragglers, and I took off in hot pursuit.

As I passed that group, I took aim at the next rider.

And the next.

And the next.

I suddenly realized, “This is fun!”

When life throws you “lemons,” what is your plan to make “lemonade?”

Maybe you didn’t get off to a good start in a job, but it ended up being a great career move.

Perhaps you choose a college you didn’t like initially, but it turned out to be a fantastic experience.

Or you might have moved to a new area knowing no one and ending up with lifelong friends.

Focusing on the good in any situation can make all the difference.


Lesson #6 – It’s Not How You Start; It’s How You Finish

Here is how my day unfolded by the numbers:

Approximately 2,164 athletes started the race.

Coming out of the water I was 2,034th.

By the time I got on my bike, I was 2,134th as 100 people passed me in transition.

Then I got rolling.

I passed over 300 people on the bike.

All told, including the bike, the second transition and the run, I passed over 630 competitors.

After beginning the bike as one of the last people in the race, my finish was good enough for 5th place and a podium spot in the 65-69 age group.

So, what about your starts and finishes?

Maybe your marriage got off to a rocky start.

It doesn’t mean you can’t still have a great relationship.

Maybe you’re struggling getting your business off the ground.

It doesn’t mean you can’t turn it around.

Maybe you and that client got off on the wrong foot.

It doesn’t mean you can’t repair it.


Lesson #7- Success in Large Measure is Based on How You Handle Adversity

As my friend and fellow endurance athlete 76- year old Murray Sarubin notes, “Adversity fosters success.”

I have competed in 95-degree heat, pouring rain and now freezing cold.

I have raced with a torn rotator cuff and tendonitis in both knees.

Overcoming the adversity that these circumstances have created has made me mentally tough in ways I would have never imagined.

My ability to focus when circumstances are difficult has served me well in my races but more importantly in my life.

Where have you had to dig deep and how can you use those successes moving forward?

The adversity could be financial.

You might have worked your way out of debt.

It could be related to your education.

Perhaps you went to night school for ten years to get that degree.

Maybe a professional or personal relationship was just not for you so you mustered the courage to leave a situation where you were unhappy.

The great thing about going into a dark place and coming out on the other side is what you learn about yourself.

There is a quiet confidence that comes from knowing you overcame a difficult situation.

Well that’s my story.

What about you?

What “story” do you need to write?

What lessons do you need to learn?

If you enjoy these stories about the world of endurance athletics, I would love to talk to you about bringing my signature presentation, Iron Lessons, to your next professional conference or company event. This keynote presentation follows my 12-year odyssey as a late-blooming Ironman competitor. The stories will make your audience laugh, think and, most importantly, question what is possible in their personal and professional lives.

For more information, you can contact me at go2ctsonline.com or at mb3126@gmail.com.

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An Open Letter to My Children-What I Believe http://go2ctsonline.com/an-open-letter-to-my-children-what-i-believe/ http://go2ctsonline.com/an-open-letter-to-my-children-what-i-believe/#respond Fri, 25 Aug 2017 02:07:29 +0000 http://go2ctsonline.com/?p=1097

Dear Rachel, Zachary and Jane,

Please excuse the open- letter format.

Next to marrying Mom, helping to raise each of you has been the most important thing I have ever done.

I have tried to be a good person, a good husband and father and lead a good life.

I have tried to do the right thing and be honest in my dealings with others.

I have tried to set a good example.

When I make mistakes, I try to learn from those mistakes.

I will continue to do that.

Before I leave this earth (which I hope will not be for a long, long time), I want to share in writing some of my beliefs.

They are yours to use as you see fit.

Never forget how proud I am of each one of you.

I love you very, very much,



 What I Believe


No matter how hard you try, your best will always be good enough for somebody and not good enough for somebody else.


Take what you believe in seriously. Don’t take yourself seriously.


Choose your friends and colleagues wisely. You will become like the people with whom you associate.


Beware of people who answer questions nobody asked.


People who have nothing to hide, hide nothing.


Nobody hides good news for long.


Never let what other people think of you become more important than what you think of yourself.


No matter how old you get, right is still right and wrong is still wrong.


Learning to be patient with yourself and others is one of life’s greatest virtues.


We’re all making it up as we go along.


Maybe you can and maybe you can’t but never because somebody else said so.


Be careful believing you know what other people are thinking or intending. If you really want to know, ask.


People are as healthy as their biggest secret.


Confidence is a byproduct of options. The more options you have the more confident you will be.


Never respond to unkindness with unkindness.


Be careful about the decisions you make. You will carry the consequences.


Where you spend your time and your resources determine what you truly value.


People are entitled to their opinion. They’re just not entitled to make their opinion your opinion.


At the end of the day the only thing that really matters is the quality of your relationships.


People are more important than things.


When you mess up, own up.


We go as far as our fears let us.


At the end of your life you will not regret your failures nearly as much as you’ll regret what you never tried.


Never miss the opportunity to tell the important people in your life how you feel about them.


If you wake up each morning and have your health and at least one person you love who loves you, you are rich beyond measure.

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When Lightening Strikes http://go2ctsonline.com/when-lightening-strikes/ http://go2ctsonline.com/when-lightening-strikes/#respond Fri, 04 Aug 2017 22:56:12 +0000 http://go2ctsonline.com/?p=1089


I like anniversaries.

They’re a great way to remember significant moments in one’s life.

This week I am celebrating a rather unique anniversary.

It happened the first week in August, 2005 as I was beginning to train for the first of six Lake Placid Ironman triathlons.

It is a moment I will never forget, and the lessons I learned are still relevant today.

(The lessons have been updated a bit.)

Read on as I share my story.


Did you ever have to write an essay for school entitled “How I spent my summer vacation?”

Well, if I was to write one this year I would substitute the following article that appeared in

the Thursday, August 4, 2005 issue of the Adirondack Daily Enterprise.

Read the story and then we’ll look at some lessons and the relevance of those lessons to your business.



Rescued—Before Lightning Could Hit Again


By Laurie Besanceney


LAKE PLACID – As the sky grew darker over Mirror Lake Monday, as rain started falling and as thunder started rumbling in the distance,

Michael Bryant knew he had to cut his swim short and head for shore.


Before he made it, though, lightning struck the lake.


Bryant, about halfway done with the 1.2 mile loop on the lake, said it felt like he had stuck his finger in an electric socket as the electricity coursed through his entire body.


Luckily for the Baltimore resident, who has a summerhouse in Wilmington and is training for next year’s Ironman, he had a guardian angel that day.


“I yelled for someone to come help me—I wanted to get out of the water,” Bryant said.  With the thunder and heavy rain, however, he was afraid no one would see or hear him.


Kate Chilson, 20, was working at nearby Mirror Lake Boat Rentals.  When rain started pouring down, she said, she and a friend heard someone screaming for help from across the lake. 

After trying to figure out what to do, they decided to go out on the lake because no one else was helping the man. 


Chilson grabbed a plastic double kayak—and an extra life jacket and paddle—and headed out into the storm. 

Her friend, Abby Curran of Wilmington, followed behind in a single kayak just in case.              


Not being a kayaker, Chilson said she was surprised at how fast she got out to Bryant, who was about three-quarters of the way across the lake. 

Chilson said Bryant was able to pull himself about halfway into the kayak while she sat in the back seat, and then she helped him all the way in, saying it was a “very sloppy process.”


“She’s a real hero,” Bryant said.  “I didn’t want to be out there for another hit (of lightning).”


Chilson said Wednesday she wasn’t nervous going out to rescue Bryant because her adrenaline must have been rushing, but she knew if he had drowned and she hadn’t attempted to help him, she would have felt guilty.   


When asked if she realized that she herself could have been killed by going out on a boat during a bad storm, she said, “It didn’t occur to me…It happened so fast.”


Back on shore, Bryant used Chilson’s cell phone to call his wife.  Guests from the Hilton Hotel who had witnessed the action came over with dry towels for Bryant. 

A man in a rowboat had called 911.  When the emergency service crews arrived, though, Bryant was already out of the water, thanks to Chilson.


Later that day, a friend asked Bryant if he was going to participate in the High Peaks Cyclery Mini-Triathlon held every Monday during the summer. 

He said “no,” he’d take a break from swimming in Mirror Lake for the rest of the day.


When Bryant’s family returned to Mirror Lake Boat Rentals Tuesday to thank Chilson, they discovered a strange coincidence: 

Bryant’s daughter attends the same small, liberal arts school—McDaniel College in Westminster, MD—that Chilson attends.


“It was very brave of her,” Bryant said, adding that young people are not often pointed out for their good deeds.



Lessons from the Lake


Hopefully you will never have a literal encounter with lightning.

There are times, however, when “lightning” can strike your organization.

You suddenly lose your largest account, one of your key employees leaves,

or an idea in which you’ve invested significant time and money comes up empty.

There are lessons from the lake that can apply to handling your own lightning strikes.


Change can happen suddenly. 


When I started my swim, the skies were cloudy but hardly threatening.

The storm came over the mountains in a matter of minutes.

Sometimes a client or valuable employee can leave without warning.


When change happens, you need to develop a plan and focus on what you can

control not on the chaos that may be happening around you.


When the lightning hit the lake (and then me), my focus was on trying to get out of the water as quickly as possible.

I had no control over the storm. When change suddenly happens in your business, focus on the known.

If a key employee suddenly leaves, make sure the remaining workers feel safe and cared about.

If they have concerns about their future or the future of the organization, address those concerns.

If a major client walks, make sure the other clients are satisfied and start focusing on ways to replace the lost business.


Get help.

In high school and college, I was a water safety instructor.

I knew better than most how dangerous it was to be in that water and how important it was to get help.

It was a long way to shore and even though I’m a good swimmer I clearly cannot move faster than lightning.

I knew I needed help and set about trying to find it. When change suddenly overwhelms your business,

DON’T close your door and try to handle it alone. Reach out to your remaining employees and coworkers.

Many hands make light work.


Learn from the experience

I now know that I have to be more aware of the weather when I swim.

I need to make sure if I’m in the water that I have a quick way out.

The solution is not to stop swimming. It’s to become a more aware swimmer.

If a large client leaves, maybe the lesson is not to have so many eggs in one basket.

If a key employee suddenly departs, maybe the lesson is to make sure more than one person knows how to do that job.



Hopefully your business is experiencing “sunny skies.” 

However, the next time a “dark cloud” appears, the aforementioned suggestions might come in handy.




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