Category Archives: Advice for the Manic Impressive

Brain Wash

Brain Wash
Brain Wash

Brainwashed. The term we use when someone manipulates us, convinces us that something false is real, steals our identity and self-esteem. Something bad.

Brain Wash. The term I use when I need to manipulate myself, convince myself that something I think is real is actually false, saving my identity and self-esteem. Something good.

I know, you’ve never heard of this because it’s not a thing yet. I just made it up. But it’s based on something real that’s happened to me many times before.

The first time was in a hotel in New Orleans. I was there to deliver a seminar and I was feeling good. I stepped onto the elevator, one of those fancy glass ones with a view of the atrium lobby. A window washer had been working on the windows but hadn’t finished. One side was cloudy, spotted and smudged. The other was beautifully clear.

There was no actual difference in the view, but as I rode up to my room, looking through the clean glass made me feel good. The lobby, the plants, the people, all looked good. Clear and clean. I was happy to be there.

The side that hadn’t been cleaned yielded a different scene. The lobby looked dingy, the plants dirty, the people shady. There was no difference in reality, but my view of things was dirty. I didn’t feel as good about the place. It changed how I felt. Continue reading Brain Wash

The Myth of the Morning Person

early v late 2

“Early to bed and early to rise makes a man healthy, wealthy, and wise.”

― Benjamin Franklin

I’ve never been a morning person, and I find many Manic Impressives share this trait. Though I work in a corporate world full of morning types, this is one area where I’ve always been out of step with the rest of the herd.

I’d often thought it was because I was born at 9:33 at night or that I spent my formative years as a musician. But now, thanks to this article on Huffington Post, I know it’s because I was born this way.

It’s in my genetic makeup.

Scoff all you want, but I’ve got science on my side. Many of us have circadian rhythms that just don’t follow the sun. It takes effort for us to get up early and join the others. Our natural rhythm is to be far more alert and productive as the day goes on. Our ideas and creativity kick in when most people are shutting it down.

For years we’ve been told this was a character flaw or immaturity. We MaEarly Birdnics have been pounded with that “Early to Bed, Early to Rise” crap, or worse, “The Early Bird Gets the Worm”.  Who the hell wants worms!? Have you actually tasted worm? Why would anyone get up early for that? Seriously, do you want to be a worm-eating weenie like this guy↑, or a  fear-inducing night flyer like this ↓bad-ass? Continue reading The Myth of the Morning Person

Disciplined & Diligent Vs. Smart & Lazy

Einstein'sDesk2

Tomorrow’s the big day. The day all Americans face a hard deadline. You either get that midnight postmark or you pay penalties and interest. Procrastinate all you want, but when April 15th rolls around you’d better have your act together.

I imagine you have some friends who filed their taxes months ago. They’re probably at the mall right now spending their refunds. But not you. You’re sweating that deadline like you do every year. And even though you should be working on your return right now, you’re doing everything in your power to distract yourself  and procrastinate (like reading this blog) instead of buckling down and getting your taxes done.

Your organized friends have never filed an extension. You try every year not to, but somehow this annual deadline creeps up and there you are, right up against it, debating whether or not to throw in the towel, file an extension, and put it all off until October.

Again.

If any of this sounds familiar, then you are in the right place. Last minute cramming is the hallmark of the Manic Impressive and April 15th is our final. The key is knowing what kind of person you are and accepting your reality. This, then, is all about two simple strategies:

Disciplined & Diligent or Smart & Lazy

You know all about the methods of the Disciplined & Diligent. It’s all the things you’ve failed at since Kindergarten. Smart people are too lazy to waste time being fastidious. They use their smarts to cut corners on drudgery to allow more time for innovation and sex.

Just follow these four simple methods of the Smart & Lazy and you’ll get your return in on time. Continue reading Disciplined & Diligent Vs. Smart & Lazy

Just Say ‘No’

Just Say Nancy
Redskin Superbowl Quarterback Doug Williams with Nancy “Just Say No” Reagan

Nancy Reagan passed away recently after a 94 year run.  An actress in 11 feature films for MGM, Nancy married a fellow actor, then took on her most visible role as First Lady of the United States when that actor became president. All told, a long, successful life, and the 2nd longest lifespan of an American First Lady.

As most First Ladys do during their time in the White House, Nancy chose a cause to promote. While Michelle Obama’s cause was Childhood Obesity and Laura Bush’s was Child Literacy, Nancy chose to address teenage drug abuse with a campaign she called, “Just Say No.”

Nancy Reagan became synonymous with “Just Say No”, and her efforts led to a nationwide campaign of anti-drug use training for school kids. Backed by two billion dollars of government spending (that’s billion) and her husband’s minimum drug sentencing legislation, Just Say No” became one of the largest initiatives of its kind anywhere.

Ever.

But critics argued that it was an overly simplistic, expensive and ineffective approach to a complex problem. Abbie Hoffman, noted 70’s radical activist, declared that it was akin to “telling a manic-depressive to just cheer up” (that’s manic-depressive, BTW not Manic Impressive).

Their concerns were bolstered by two studies in 1988 that showed no lasting positive effect of the effort. Just the opposite, in fact, as rates of marijuana, cocaine, and L.S.D. use among 8th graders actually increased after they had been in decline for many years.

But as I found out for myself the other day, just saying ‘No’ can work for other, simpler things. Continue reading Just Say ‘No’

Trigger(s)

When I was little, TV cowboys were all the rage. There was Gene Autry The Roy Rogers & TriggerSinging Cowboy, The Lone Ranger and his horse Silver, and the most beloved of them all, Roy Rogers. Roy and his partner Dale Evans were huge celebrities, as was Dale’s horse Buttermilk, and Roy’s horse Trigger.

Trigger was so famous that his hoof prints are in Hollywood’s Walk of Fame next to Roy’s (no, not Roy’s hoof prints, his footprints, wiseguy). He even had his own comic book series, and millions of Trigger action figures were packaged and sold to little kids all over the world.

So famous, that when he died in 1965, Roy had him stuffed and mounted. 45 years later Trigger was sold at auction for over a quarter million dollars (or buckaroos for you cowpokes out there).

Now I bring this up, not to reminisce about mangy old horse carcasses, but to talk about the triggers that all of us own. The deep-rooted things in all of us that trigger our behaviors. In the Behavioral Science world we call them Antecedents, the situations and things that come before we act. The Triggers that cause our behavior.

Trigger
Good Trigger

Triggers can lead to good or bad behavior. Triggers like praise, applause or blue ribbons can cause us to practice more, study harder or challenge ourselves to do more. But often our triggers initiate poor performance, like anger, substance abuse, or worse, giving up. 

In the recovery movement triggers are usually the things that set off our mental health issues, and cause people to act out, veg out, or stress eat pints of ice cream or Costco-sized bags of cheesy poofs.  Bad triggers.

Bad Trigger
Bad Trigger

So I ask you, what are your triggers? What situations or actions cause you to lose your composure, break your promises, or devolve into self-harm of some sort? Are there certain people in your life that know where your buttons are and push them to get you out of control, or away from your goals? I know I have them, plenty of them.

But if we’re going to break out of our present circumstances and achieve the things we desire, we need to get real clear on what these triggers are, in order to (again, in cowboy parlance) head them off at the pass before they manifest themselves into negative behaviors.

Sound easy? Hell no, we’ve all been there and know how hard it is. But if we identify our triggers and plan in advance to instead, deploy productive healthy behaviors, we’ll be able to stay on target and make progress when we would otherwise give up, go off our diets or go off on other people.

The key is to look at our behaviors and figure what happens right before we act. When we do well, let’s figure out what triggered the positive behavior that led to the good work, and replicate those conditions. When we fail, we need to find what happened right before we f!#*ed up, and try to prevent those conditions from triggering our epic fail responses.

So when you hit the end of your dusty trail, when you ride off into the sunset, we want them all singing Happy Trails, not Another One Bites the Dust. And maybe, just maybe, someone will want to drop a quarter mill on your taxidermied remains…

 

Give NO For An Answer

No blocksYou know that expression, “Don’t Take No for an Answer?” Great advice on persistence. Keep moving forward, assume the sale, don’t stop when people reject you, persist, persist, persist.

Yes, that is great advice in many situations. Persistence is a powerful force that helps less talented people out-produce their competition. But sometimes the more powerful technique is just the opposite.

Instead of not taking ‘No’ for an answer, how about giving ‘No’ for an answer?

Here’s what I’m talking about. I had to get my car towed recently. I had $75 of towing coverage with my insurance, so anything more than that would come out of my pocket. called around and found prices from $90 – $130. Then I called the insurance company. They offered to set it up for me for $130. It would have been the easiest way, the path of least resistance, and they had it all lined up for me to say ‘Yes’.

But ‘Yes’ would have cost me $40 more than if we went with the $90 company. My insurance company was not concerned with my out of pocket expense. They were just doing what was easiest for them. So I paused a moment, then did something real smart.

I gave ‘No’ for an answer. Continue reading Give NO For An Answer

The Final Piece of The Plan

If you spend any time in Corporate America you’ll hear this phrase over and over: “What gets measured gets done.” The reality in today’s metric-crazed business climate is that you have to measure things or people won’t do them. Lots of sad truth to that.

Often it’s just about focus. Most people are assigned more work than they can finish, so they make sure they finish the things that are going to show up on some muckity muck’s scorecard. Everyone knows that when a muckity gets a bad score, someone has to pay. And since, as they say, sh*t flows downhill, it’s probably going to be you. So you make damn sure you get those visible, measured and punishable things done, stat, above all else.

But this same dreadful principle that sucks in business, can help you win big with your personal goals. You won’t have to worry about being punished, either. Because when you measure and get things done for you, you’re the big winner, not some glad-handing, credit-stealing, kiss-up kick-down Vice President. Continue reading The Final Piece of The Plan

What I Learned From Xerox On Making Resolutions Happen

XeroxWearing my best suit, clutching 25 copies of my resume and flat broke, I approached the Xerox booth at the SF Job Fair. They were the big blue- chip firm at the fair and had the longest line in the hall. I left to visit the other company booths until the Xerox line died down, then stepped up to take my shot.

I looked the sales manager in the eye, shook his hand and handed him my resume. He looked me and my suit up and down, then said, “Why do you think you could work at Xerox?” No doubt that question had thrown a lot of people back on their heels, causing plenty of bowing and scraping throughout the day.

But I was having none of that. I reached into my pants, hoisted my balls onto the table and replied, “Why would I want to work for Xerox? I’m a closer, and everywhere I’ve worked, I’ve made people money. What would Xerox do for me?”

That’s all it took.  He handed me his business card and said, “Call me first thing Monday morning.” He hired me Monday afternoon.

I learned three important things in my time as a Sales Rep for Xerox:

  1. I was not cut out for life in a huge multinational corporation
  2. My title of “Reproduction Specialist” was very misleading
  3. You can’t manage results – you can only manage activities

Continue reading What I Learned From Xerox On Making Resolutions Happen

Resolutions

ny reso

The end of the calendar year has always been a time for me to wrap things up, enjoy some down time, and get ready to start the new year strong. I know some folks believe that New Year resolutions don’t work, but they do for me.

I do an annual review and assess where I’ve been, where I am, where I want to be, and which course corrections I need to get me there. The symbolic starting point of January 1 always helps me re-commit to new and better habits and goals. Sure, I often fall off as the year grows, but that good start always helps me with whatever I’m trying to accomplish.

It also helps me create some urgency in my life. Why do that? Well,  we just don’t know how much time we have left. No matter your age or physical condition, your expiration date is still a mystery. Sure, you can improve your odds with good, healthy choices on diet and exercise, but even then, those are just odds, not guarantees. If you have more to accomplish in your life, then you’d better get to it, ‘cuz you never know when you’ve seen your last New Year.

Just ask Kathy Baker. She was doing everything she was supposed to do. She went to college then worked hard for years to become CFO of the prestigious Lawrence Livermore Lab. She was an accomplished and well liked  leader, and very disciplined about her exercise. 3-4 times a week she went to the gym for a 6:00 am class before heading to the office at 7:00 am. Every week. Like clockwork.

Until about three months ago. Continue reading Resolutions

Unwanted Gifts

Mitzy

Meet Mitzy, our sweet, beautiful cat. She’s sociable and likes to sit on your chest while you stroke her behind the ears. She is calming, warm, and as far as cats go, very bright.

She is also a ruthless killer.

She stalks small animals, pounces, then drags them into the house to be tortured for sport. Over the years she has dragged in and tortured mice, rats, moles, gophers, birds, lizards and snakes.

Sometimes we find them partly alive and rescue them to the outside where they may or may not survive. Often we find them bloodied, missing fur and feathers, and very, very dead.

This cat is one sick puppy. Continue reading Unwanted Gifts