It’s The 4th Quarter – Time For Your Big Push

Still Time In 2017 For Your Big PushVacations are over, the kids are back in school, and Fall officially started today. So dust off your 2017 Dreamboard and review your progress to date. It’s time to start your big push.

Goal Power

We set our goals so we continue to push, even when we’d rather cozy up on the couch and watch football. We’re three-quarters of the way through the year, but now comes the most important part.

Take a look at what you hoped to accomplish when you were singing Auld Lang Syne and swilling champagne last December 31st. Sure, you were full of optimistic hubris and threw down some lofty goals.

And yes, you’ve probably had some setbacks this year, and maybe you’ve forgotten the bravado that caused you to declare all those wonderful milestones for yourself. If you’re like me, you’ve probably met some of your goals, but you’re also probably lagging far behind on some others.

But none of that matters if you get it together for your big push.

What Matters and What Doesn’t

As we learned from those damned Patriots in the last Superbowl, the score at the beginning of your 4th quarter doesn’t much matter. Only the score at the end counts.

The Pats trailed the Falcons by 25 during the 3rd quarter and were behind  28-9 when the 4th quarter started. But none of that mattered in the end. The Patriots scored 25 unanswered points and won the game 34-28 in overtime.

Damn those Patriots! They didn’t give up or give in, though they had 25 good reasons to quit. They just put their collective heads down and ground out the greatest comeback in Superbowl history.

Focus On What’s Left To Accomplish

Like the Superbowl champs, you need to focus on what’s left to do. No sense beating yourself up over what you haven’t done or how far behind you may feel. Nothing’s been decided yet.

So get out your Dreamboard and your calendar. It’s time to schedule some hustle. What’s left to do? What’s it going to take to get there? If you break your remaining goals down to the task level, what exactly do you still need to do?

Make a list of activities you need to complete to reach your goals. Then start placing them on your calendar. This is the key. If it can be scheduled, it can be done. And if you have each task down to the date and time you will work on it, you are halfway there.

Don’t let your demons psyche you out. Like those Falcon fans at the Superbowl, they’ll say you’re too far behind and the game is over. They’ll encourage you to give up and lose gracefully, to take life easy and start your Christmas shopping early. But they are full of beer and don’t know what they’re talking about. They think you can’t put your head down and grind it out. They think you’re weak.

Trust me on this. You’re not weak, and there is still plenty of time on the clock.

Your Big Push

You’ve got 8 solid weeks between now and Thanksgiving week. Then 3 more weeks before the holidays heat up in December. That’s 77 days to make it happen. Plenty of time to mount your big push and come up big by year’s end.

Pretend you’re the Patriots (damn them!) and you don’t care what the score is now. Pretend you are making the greatest comeback ever. Do that now, and in a few weeks, you’ll have enough points on the board to start believing it’s gonna happen. Then put your head down and push all the way until December 31st. It will be worth it.

Stop Being Your Own Worst Critic

Worst CriticI gave my very first keynote last month and big thanks to all of you who came and cheered me on. I got it all on video, and though you’d think I’d be anxious to view the tape, it took me a month to get myself to watch it. Why? Because I am my own worst critic.

Though I’ve logged over 20,000 hours of speaking and performing, this time felt different. This was my own material, performed for the first time, so I had a lot at stake. I was prepared, the audience was receptive, and overall it went pretty well. I even got a dozen folks to give testimonials on camera at the end of the night.

But still, I procrastinated a solid month before I could force myself to watch the performance. Because I knew, inevitably, there would be moments that would cause me to cringe.

The Disease of Perfectionism

Everyone does this to some extent, but we Manic Impressives tend to outdo most folks when it comes to perfectionism. We know we’re capable of great things, so seeing ourselves being less than perfect is hard to take.

Reasonable people don’t expect perfection the first time out. And we creatives know that performing in front of an audience is an iterative process. We get better each time out by learning from mistakes and striving for better. But it’s still tough to view our mistakes, no matter how much good stuff there is in between.

We become our own worst critic.

I’ve seen perfectionism destroy people. Like my friend Josh, a brilliant guitarist and singer. He would obsess over the tiniest flaws in his performances, and drive himself nuts. He couldn’t live up to his own impossibly high standards. In the end, he quit performing altogether. It was a shame.

Your Own Worst Critic

Many of us are overly harsh when critiquing our performances. Have you ever done this to yourself?  You overlook the good things you do and dwell on the negative. The missed lines, the mispronunciations, the flubs, the glitches, and the miscues.

It’s natural to want to do better. But many of us are too critical of ourselves. We need to be as gentle with ourselves as we are with our friends. Or our kids.

Otherwise, getting back out on stage becomes too difficult. And even if we don’t realize it, we can subconsciously avoid opportunities to shine. Or worse, when we are performing, we focus so much on past mistakes, that we drive ourselves to commit the same mistakes when we try again.

Olympic Failure

Like speed skater Dan Jansen in the 1988 Winter Olympics. Dan was the world champion and gold medal favorite when he lined up for the 500-meter race. But to the shock of everyone, he fell in the first turn and did not place.

Four days later in the 1000 meter race, Dan was leading the pack in world record time. But with just one lap to go, he fell in the exact same place on the ice where he’d fallen in the 500-meter race.

I remember seeing this as it happened  – it was heartbreaking. Dan had psyched himself out. He obsessed over his earlier mistake to the point where he couldn’t avoid making that same mistake again. He was his own worst critic and it cost him dearly.

Getting Over Yourself

So to balance your need to be critical with your need to feel good about yourself, I suggest you take the following approach.

Know that no matter what you do, some of your audience won’t like it. You’ll remind them of their 8th grade bully or their condescending mother in law. You can’t do anything about their bias, so don’t worry about them.

A percentage of your audience will love you no matter what you do. You’ll remind them of themselves or who they want to become, and they’ll rave about your performance just because you’re you. You can’t count on their objectivity, so take their adulation with a grain of salt.

Focus on the rest. The ones who are impartial enough to be honest. Value their feedback, and look for ways to improve in the areas they point out.

If you can’t get enough feedback from them, hire a coach. Someone honest enough to be direct and give specific feedback to help you improve. And knowledgeable enough to validate what you do well and encourage you to continue.

If you outsource this, you won’t have to be your own worst critic.

Practicing What I Preach

So in the spirit of killing my perfectionism, here is a link to the video of the maiden voyage of “Do You Know Who You’re Dealing With?”  Consider it a rough draft, and enjoy the flubs and glitches.

I welcome your honest feedback, so don’t hold back. And don’t worry about hurting my feelings. I did that to myself already…

How To Know When Being Resilient is Bad For You

Being Resilient is Bad For YouWe hear it all the time. Successful people are resilient. They take what life throws at them in stride, and keep getting up whenever they get knocked down. This is usually a very good thing. But sometimes it’s not. Being too resilient can be bad for you.

You’ve probably seen this in action before. A friend faces their challenges with grim determination. They soldier on in the face of long odds because they don’t want to give up and quit. We admire this quality in our friend.

But have you ever noticed that your friend seems to be in this situation an awful lot? Could it be that your friend is too resilient, and accustomed to slogging away at something they shouldn’t be?

How To Know When Being Resilient Is Bad For You

If you’re constantly picking yourself back up, you may need to ask yourself why you’re getting knocked down so much. Are you taking on things you shouldn’t?  Are you challenging the status quo at every turn? Are you swimming upstream when there’s an easier way?

Sometimes we become so determined to carry our load to the finish line, that we don’t stop long enough to consider the load. Just ’cause you have a bag of rocks over your shoulder, doesn’t mean you should be hauling them around wherever you go.

The Dip

Seth Godin wrote about this 10 years ago in his book The Dip. He used Vince Lombardi’s quote, “Winners never quit and quitters never win” as a starting point to examine when it makes sense to give up on something. He even challenged the great Lombardi’s philosophy by stating this – “Bad advice. Winners quit all the time. They just quit the right stuff at the right time.

Whoa. You mean I can quit and still win?

According to Seth, The Dip is a point in your venture where your results are not matching your effort. Most of us are trained to be resilient at this point and keep on marching. Seth says you should stop and reassess. If you focus harder and apply more resources, will your results improve? Or are you venturing further into a Dead End?

A Dead End is a project that will not pay off, no matter how much effort and resources you put into it. Perhaps the market has shifted or become saturated. Maybe your competition has too much of an advantage for you to succeed. Or maybe you’re not the best at it.

At this point you’re better off quitting, shifting your energy to something more promising, and just walking away.

Ouch.

Nobody wants to face this kind of painful truth. It takes so much gumption and hope to launch something that we can’t help but tell ourselves that “failure is not an option.” But it is.

And sometimes it’s the best, most practical option.

So How Do You Know?

Yes, that’s the trick, isn’t it? Like Kenny Rogers said all those years ago, “You’ve got to know when to hold ’em, know when to fold ’em, know when to walk away, know when to run.” Great advice, and not just for gamblers. Great advice for Manic Impressives.

We are famous for dreaming up lots of schemes and ventures. And famous for starting things we never finish. After awhile it can wear on you, not finishing what you start. You can start believing there’s some fatal flaw in you that’s keeping you from the finish line.

But it’s part of our nature to be great at the ideation and not the execution. Ideation is our strength. Execution, not so much.

Pushing through the Dip can lead you to great success. But if you’re facing a Dead End, the sooner you turn around the better. So here are a few good questions to ask yourself when you’re facing a Dip.

  • Is my lack of results caused by my lack of effort?
  • If so, can I give more to it? (And why the hell haven’t I?)
  • If not, is this really in my wheelhouse and worth more effort?
  • Do I really need to succeed at this, or could I be just as happy succeeding at something else?
  • Am I persisting just because I’m too afraid to admit defeat?

A ‘no’ on the first four could indicate a Dead End. A ‘yes’ on the last one is all the permission you need to fold ’em and walk away. Or run.

There’s No Shame In Quitting

At least there shouldn’t be. If you’ve taken your hacks, it’s okay to accept your strikeout gracefully and walk back to the dugout. Life is a lot like baseball. You may not score today, and as long as you don’t beat yourself up too much about it, it’s okay. Because tomorrow there will be another opportunity to swing for the fences…

 

 

3 Reasons Why You Should Celebrate Labor Day

width="449"Labor Day Weekend is here, a time for parties, camping trips, and conventions. Whoohoo! A 3 day weekend! But it should mean far more than that to you. The Labor Movement in America earned us all a lot of benefits. So go celebrate Labor Day like it’s your birthday.

The Accidental Labor Organizer

I happen to know a bit about organized labor. In 1999, I worked for a company that made us work on ergonomically dangerous equipment. I developed a repetitive strain injury, and though Workers Comp covered my medical treatment, the company did nothing to correct the problem.

So I did what any of you would do. I took action. No, I didn’t hire a lawyer and sue. I called up AFTRA, the American Federation of Television and Recording Artists, and asked for an appointment with the Union president.

He met with me, then sent me home with a stack of Union organizing cards. If I could get the majority of my co-workers to sign for a union vote, AFTRA could come in and represent us.

There was only one catch. If management found out what I was up to before I submitted the cards, they could fire me on the spot and the Union could not protect me. Gulp.

But my co-workers had my back, and two days later I returned to AFTRA with signed cards from 90% of the unit. No one ratted me out, though Management soon figured out who the shit-disturber was. And just as the Union president warned, they went after me.

The Empire Strikes Back

They started by changing my schedule from the weekdays to weekends, and from morning shift to graveyard. Then they cut my hours just enough to deny me health care coverage. Moves designed to make me quit.

Meanwhile, AFTRA came in, conducted a vote, and the employees chose union representation by an overwhelming margin. I got to supervise the balloting on voting day, as an official Witness chosen by the National Labor Relations Board. That was a cool day at work.

But I would not be around to enjoy the fruits of my labor. I resisted the illegal treatment for a while, but soon gave into their pressure and left for a better job.

Return Of The Jedi

As it turned out, the Union couldn’t prevent the company from violating my rights under the National Labor Relations Act. They could only sue to make me whole after the fact.

So sue we did. It took a full year, but I had my day in court. I testified as the witness for the prosecution, in a lawsuit brought by the National Labor Relations Board. That was a cool day too.

In the end, the judge acknowledged the company’s wrongdoing and pushed for a settlement. I got a check for ten times what the company owed me – enough for a new synthesizer and a week’s vacation in Hawaii. Probably my coolest day ever.

A New Appreciation

The whole experience left me a bit wiser, and a whole lot more appreciative. Grateful for the sacrifices other people made to get the National Labor Relations Act signed into law back in 1935. Though most Americans aren’t represented by a collective bargaining agreement today, most of us have been receiving benefits for generations thanks to the labor movement.

It’s easy to complain about Union workers. Always the joke about a group of Union guys resting on their shovels watching one man dig. And there’s been corruption in Union leadership just as in corporate leadership. You’ve probably heard a few Jimmy Hoffa jokes as well. These are the stereotypes we know about Unions.

But we owe those folks plenty. Their willingness to fight for fair wages and workplace treatment benefits us all.

Things most of us have taken for granted. Things like…

Worker Safety

in 1911, 146 low-wage immigrant workers died in the Triangle Shirtwaist factory fire, due to criminally unsafe working conditions. It was the deadliest workplace incident in New York history, right up until the World Trade Center attack on 9/11.

Public outcry from this tragedy, and steady advocacy from labor unions, led to the formation of OSHA, which has been protecting us on the job ever since. If you’ve ever had a company issue you a hard hat, steel-toed boots, an ergonomic office chair or computer accessories, you have the Labor Movement to thank for it. And if you do get injured on the job, you can thank them for the Worker’s Comp and State Disability Insurance that will make you whole again.

Health Insurance

The main reason Congress got away with voting 54 times to undo the Affordable Care Act, is that the vast majority of working Americans get their health insurance from their employers.

But if it weren’t for the Labor Movement, you wouldn’t be getting company-sponsored health insurance. There were no employer-sponsored health benefits before WWII. It took the threat of a strike by organized labor to create our current system. If you have an employer plan, thank those lazy, shovel-leaning union workers for sticking their necks out for you. And their corrupt Mafia bosses too.

Paid Time Off

The 40-Hour work week, weekends, lunch breaks, vacation and sick days are all benefits we enjoy thanks to the Labor Movement.

Back in the day, companies would work you for as little and as long as they could. They’d work your kids to the bone in factories too. And if you balked, they’d bring in slaves from Africa or low-paid workers from China and cut you right out of the deal.

And you could forget about retirement. There were no such things as pensions or 401k contributions before organized labor. This country has a long history of workers being exploiting for profit.

So Party Like It’s Your Birthday

That’s right. Get together with friends and family, and do it up right. Just make sure you honor those who sacrificed so you get paid well and treated fairly at work. And when politicians start pouting anti-union rhetoric, remember who’s always had your back on the job.

Then if you feel like walking on the wild side, go ahead and show up for work next Tuesday wearing white slacks. Because I for one will fight for your right to wear white after Labor Day.

 

 

Why Catfish Are The Most Important Fish In The Sea

Yes, I know that Catfish are freshwater fish and don’t usually live in the sea. But we’re talking metaphor here, smarty pants, so don’t get so literal on me. If you can hold your horses long enough for me to explain, you will see why catfish are, in fact, the most important fish in the sea.

First, it’s important to know the other meaning of Catfish.

The Term Catfish

You may be too old to know this on your own, but Catfish is a term that means to pose as someone else online to lure someone into a relationship with you. It comes from the MTV show called Catfish, where they expose people who post phony profiles of themselves in order to trick people into online relationships.

Nev Schulman and his sidekick Max investigate these cases, and expose the Catfish, who are often lovesick individuals who lack the confidence or good looks to attract the ones they desire.

The Origin Story

We’re 6 seasons into this show, but most people don’t know the origin of the term “Catfish.”

It comes from Nev’s own personal experience of being “Catfished.” He had entered into a relationship with a woman who approached him online. But she was not who she claimed to be, and he made a documentary film about the experience. The film, a hit at Sundance and the impetus for the TV series, unraveled the woman’s deceptions, until finally uncovering the bizarre truth.

Angela, the woman who “Catfished” Nev, went to great lengths to hide her true identity from him, telling lie after lie. A married woman, she was somehow living out a fantasy at Nev’s expense.

When the documentary team uncovers the scheme, Angela’s husband Ronald learns about his wife’s deceptions. The most understanding husband in America, Ronald is not angry. He does not express feelings of betrayal. Instead, he explains his wife’s behavior by saying the most brilliant thing I’ve ever heard on TV.

Why Catfish Are Valuable

Ronald explains that when Cod fish are caught in Alaska and shipped to China, they lose their freshness in the hold of the ship. Their flesh becomes mushy before they reach market.

So they put some Catfish in the vats with the Cod. The Catfish chase the Cod around, keep them agile, and preserve their freshness.

Ronald explains that his wife Angela is like a Catfish.

“There are those people who are Catfish in life, and they keep you on your toes. They keep you guessing, they keep you thinking, they keep you fresh.”

“I thank God for the Catfish, because we’d be droll, boring and dull if we didn’t have somebody nipping at our fin.”  Ronald is brilliant, and this is how the TV show got its name.

The Dark Side Of Catfish In Social Media

Catfishing has become a common phenomenon in our Social Media driven culture. But I’m not suggesting that this practice is good. I think it’s rotten. Even Crappie (see what I did there? Rimshot).

It ruins people emotionally, and often, financially.  Manti Te’o, an All-American linebacker at Notre Dame, was Catfished during  his senior year,  just before the NFL draft. A projected first-round pick, Manti dropped to the second round, due to the cloud of controversy over him when his Catfish story became public. Though he recovered and went on to play in the NFL, his Catfish experience cost him a lucrative first-round contract.

Despite all that, I do think there are good and honest Catfish among us that keep the Cod agile, keep them thinking, and keep them fresh.

If you haven’t figured it out by now, I’m talking about you.

Why Manic Impressives Are Valuable

Yes, you Manic Impressives play a vital role in society. You challenge cultural norms, you speak truth to power, and you make people think.

You dream up outrageous schemes and try to influence your organizations to swing for the fences instead of laying down bunts. You challenge others to innovate, and to stop doing things the way they’ve always been done. You are a positive force for change.

Manic Impressives do more to realize mission statements than the administrators who write them up and post them on office walls. You keep everyone around you agile. You innovate, you challenge, then you make folks laugh.

You are the Catfish among the Cod, and we desperately need you to keep things fresh.

Yes, your spontaneity may come across as impulsiveness, and your extroversion may challenge the introverts. Your risk-taking may make the conservative thinkers uncomfortable at times. But we need you.

You keep us all healthy and fresh, so we fetch a better price at market. Don’t stop. Keep up the good work. Keep chasing the Cod around the tank and know you’re making the world a better place.

How To Capture Your Most Powerful Brain Storms

Storm DoorEver have Brain Storms? A bunch of ideas flooding into your brain?  I do. But not in a steady, consistent way. They seem to come in waves and at very unpredictable times. But when they do come, they just tumble on in, one after the other, connected by thin strands of logic.

Capturing the Brain Storms

I’ve learned over the years to try to catch these waves when they happen. Write them down, record them in some way, then try to take action on them. But sometimes I don’t pay enough attention to the storm that’s coming, and when it makes landfall in my head, I get overwhelmed, and lose a lot of potential brilliance.

During a recent brain storm, as I marveled at the speed and strength of the ideas coming to me, I thought of the cycle and how and when it happens. Suddenly, my vast knowledge of TV weather reporting came to mind, and a metaphor for creativity emerged. Continue reading How To Capture Your Most Powerful Brain Storms

3 Important Reasons Why You Need To Watch Fight Club Again

Fight Club

Fight Club is a movie you need to watch over and over. Because Tyler Durden, played by Brad Pitt, says brilliant things you should be thinking about. Sure, you’ve all heard, “The first rule of Fight Club is you don’t talk about Fight Club.”  No doubt you’ve heard about the second rule too.

But all that is just a vehicle for the message. It’s not about fighting in the literal sense. It’s about fighting the values of modern society that are killing your dreams. About fighting Materialism, Perfectionism and Authority.

The Genius of Fight Club

The genius of Fight Club is the language Tyler uses to rally his tribe of disaffected young men. His words inspire them to examine the direction of their lives and take action. He’s not just speaking to the disaffected, though.

He’s speaking to you.

Here are some brilliant quotes you might not have remembered from watching it just once.

On Materialism

“Reject the basic assumptions of civilization, especially the importance of material possessions.”
“The things you own end up owning you. It’s only after we’ve lost everything that we’re free to do anything.”

This reminds me of a conversation I had with a woman from my son’s school. I hadn’t seen her around for a while, so I blurted out an insensitive question (where the hell you been?) and received an amazing answer.

They had to leave town and hunker down in their in-laws’ guest room, because they’d gotten in over their heads and lost their home to foreclosure. They lost everything.

I was mortified. But she wasn’t. She told me it was the best thing that could have happened to her family. They were on the wrong path. They got off the materialism merry-go-round and re-focused on their values because of the setback. It brought them closer as a family, and had a powerful, positive effect on the kids. I was amazed.

But I shouldn’t have been. Materialism is a toxic force in our society. Sometimes a financial loss leads to a huge gain. Therefore, we should embrace these opportunities that look like failure. They can lead to better things. And make us better people.

For more on this, see the movies Larry Crowne, Everything Must Go, or The Jerk.

On Perfectionism

“On a long enough time-line, the survival rate for everyone drops to zero.”
“I say never be complete, I say stop being perfect, I say let… let’s evolve, let the chips fall where they may.” 

There you go. All the permission you need to start letting go. Let go of the need to be perfect, to have all your ducks in a row, to be fully ready for the next item on your list. Tyler thinks you should start before you’re ready and adjust on the way.

Because you’re going to die. Hopefully on a long time-line, but you’re going to die. So forget about perfect and get out there and live. Though to do that, you need to change your mind on whose rules you’re going to follow…

On Authority

“Warning: If you are reading this then this warning is for you. Every word you read of this useless fine print is another second off your life. Don’t you have other things to do? Is your life so empty that you honestly can’t think of a better way to spend these moments? Or are you so impressed with authority that you give respect and credence to all that claim it?
“Do you read everything you’re supposed to read? Do you think everything you’re supposed to think? Buy what you’re told to want? Get out of your apartment. … Quit your job. Start a fight. Prove you’re alive. If you don’t claim your humanity you will become a statistic. You have been warned.”

Tyler challenged authority at every step. He set a good example for us all. We should fight authority much more often. Maybe not how he did it, though, since the dude was bat shit crazy. Perhaps we can fight the power in a more effective way.

And we should always ask “why” before we follow along. We should question our leaders, and they should answer without retribution or shame. There needs to be constant dialogue about what we’re doing, how we’re doing it, and most importantly, why we’re doing it.

Yes, challenging authority has its price. Manic Impressives pay this price all the time. But the price of blindly following even the most beneficent leaders is too high. Blind obedience produces results that are blind to reality. It spreads blindness. And causes catastrophe.

Watch It Again

So listen to Tyler. Watch this movie again and again. Let it inspire you to ask why, and come up with a better way to accomplish your mission. Just don’t go around blowing things up. Please.

Now I leave you with my favorite quote of the movie. Sorry, but you’ll need to analyze it on your own:

“Sticking feathers up your butt does not make you a chicken.” 

Amen to that, Tyler.

 

Vibrant Life Lessons from People of Earth

Alien Dickery AfootPeople of Earth is a sitcom on TBS that just launched its second season. Wyatt Cenac (The Daily Show) plays Ozzie, a journalist interviewing a group of people who claim to have had alien encounters. He starts out mocking them, but finds repressed memories of his own, and soon becomes a member of the group.

I think I am going to join them.

Alien Encounters

No, I have not been abducted and probed. But something weird is going on in my life right now that I can’t explain in normal terms.

As Ozzie and his new buddy Jerry are piecing together clues of an alien presence on Earth, Ozzie coins a term that’s been stuck in my head all week. I think it will be my new explanation for all of the mysterious forces at play that make life so hard. Ozzie blurted out…

“There is Alien Dickery Afoot”

I know, the language is a bit coarse, but it got past the TBS censors so I’m thinking it’s okay for this blog. Ozzie and Jerry add up the clues, realize what’s going on, and call it out for all to hear.

Alien Dickery. Afoot.

This could explain what’s been happening to me.

We’ll start with afoot. Monday, I woke with a sharp, piercing pain in my foot. Friends suggested it could be gout or plantar fasciitis, but whatever it is, it’s killing me.

I couldn’t get a doctor appointment ’til next week, so in the meantime I’m popping Ibuprofen and hobbling around with a cane.

Worse, it’s gotten into my head, and made everything in my life look and feel bleak. Really freaking bleak.

But Wait, There’s More

Last week I was in a strange souvenir shop in Kissimmee, Florida, looking at alligator heads. Actual alligators, chopped off at the head, their eyes replaced with marbles. Even stranger, I was actually considering buying one, when my phone rang.

It was my therapist (yes, I see one regularly) and I picked up. But it wasn’t my therapist – it was her colleague. Suddenly I knew there was alien dickery afoot. The colleague broke the news. My trusted coach and counselor, the one person who always gave me validation and encouragement, had come down with flu-like symptoms two weeks ago.

Then she died.

It was some sort of bizarre infection that led to renal failure. I’m mourning the loss of her, and the huge help she’s given me the last four years. I’m having a good cry right now.

Who’s Mocking Who?

But it occurs to me that there is some form of dickery afoot. Because this renal failure happened to a very important person in my life.

Named Rena.

Yes, let that sink in. Rena died of Renal Failure.

Tragedy or a New Beginning?

At first I thought it was some cosmic message that her time had come, and now it was time for me to sprout my wings and fly on my own. To the next level. To greater success and happiness. So I won’t be Rena’s Failure.

I’m crying again, knowing that a good woman, who helped me and many other people, was cut down in her prime, while she was still healthy and very productive. If this is a new beginning, why does it feel so bad?

Because that’s not what this is. I now know this for what it really is.

It is Alien Dickery Afoot.

So What Now?

All we People of Earth can do at this point, is band together, forget our differences, and fight off the pending invasion. Laugh and cry at the alien dickery afoot that fills us with encouragement one minute, and despair the next.

That, and follow along on TBS Monday nights to find out what Ozzie and friends will do to save themselves. Have yourself a good laugh.

Meanwhile, I’ll have a good cry. For Rena. She taught me Yiddish and how to go easy on myself. My mentor and cheerleader, Rena saw  my humor as my greatest weapon to fight the battles in my life.

She’d approve of my irreverent tone here, and encourage me to find the humor in all of life’s pain. It’s what I’ll need to do now to get by without her. I’ll cry for a while, then I’ll find a way to laugh.

At those fucking aliens, their dickery, and my foot!

How To Use Jedi Mind Tricks For Fun And Profit

Obi-Wan Kenobi, Master of Jedi Mind TricksObi-Wan Kenobi was the Master. He showed us the way with his Jedi Mind Tricks. Call it guile, charm, persuasion or influence, this is a vital skill for Manic Impressives. It’s how we get past our Stormtroopers and remove obstacles designed to stop us from moving forward.

Case in point.  While trying to penetrate the Death Star’s defenses (parking lot at Disney’s Animal Kingdom) the other day, I came face to face with a Stormtrooper  (parking attendant). He greeted me civilly enough, but he was looking to get into my wallet. I was looking to slip past him and save my wallet for overpriced crap still to come.

Step One – Disrupt Their Thinking

Obi-Wan was dealing with highly trained, disciplined actors working from a script. When he said, “These aren’t the droids you’re looking for“, he was guaranteed the results he wanted.

I was dealing with a highly trained Disney employee working from a script, guaranteed to get the results Disney wanted. So I had to get him off script. This is the key to successful Jedi Mind Tricks.

I did it with a powerful left jab, metaphorically speaking. An open-ended question designed to throw him off his game.

I led with, “So what are we doing here?”

“Matthew” (in quotes since it was clearly a stage name for this “Cast Member”) was momentarily dazed, no doubt because the thousands of drivers before me had never said anything like that to him before. But he staggered back to his script.

“That depends on what you want. Regular Parking is $20, and Preferred Parking is $40.”

Step 2 – The Counter Offer

“What I want is Preferred Parking for free.”

It’s important to let people know they’re in a negotiation. Especially people in charge, used to enforcing rules. Just because everybody else complies doesn’t mean you have to.

Stunned by a right hook to his midsection, “Matthew” leaned against the ropes. In a flash, my tag-team partner was on him.

Step 3 – The Reasoned Argument

My wife came back with a classic that had worked before“We’re not parking. We’re just going to go into the park for a bit, go on some rides, eat some lunch, buy a few souvenirs, and then head right back to the car.”

Once you’re in a position to negotiate, you need to do their thinking for them. You must give them the words they need to justify giving you what you’re asking for.

Step 4 – The Close

Obi-Wan closed by controlling their minds. You have to close by controlling their logic and emotions. You do this by giving them the justification for what you’re asking, being charming, funny and nice, and then, this is key, you shut up and let the silence work its magic.

After my wife gave the Reasoned Argument, I closed with, “So we’re not really parking.” All I had to do then was shut up and keep a straight face.

“Matthew” complied. “Alright then, since you’re not really parking, you can go on in.”  Score – Disney 0, Us $40. A knockout by any measure.

Jedi Mind Tricks For Fun And Profit

Using Jedi Mind Tricks is tremendous fun and can be financially rewarding. They come in handy in dozens of situations every day.

It worked for Obi-Wan, and it will work for you. Disrupt Their Thinking, Counter, give a Reasoned Argument, then Close with a straight face and silence.

Ask for what you want, even if you think it’s impossible to get. When I blurted out, “What I want is Preferred Parking for free”, I felt unbridled glee. I guarantee that no one had been audacious enough to say that to “Matthew” before.

I won the round, and that alone could have been my prize.

But by continuing my influence with “Matthew” I achieved my actual goal. No, I didn’t really think it would happen. But I did it with a straight face anyway because I believe in The Force. It has rewarded me enough times over the years that I do not doubt it.

It’s real.

And so are the two 20-dollar bills still sitting safely in my pocket.