The 3-Letter Word That Immediately Begins To Defrost The Learning-Something-New Brain Freeze

I love learning stuff. Fun stuff. Interesting stuff. Cool stuff. Exciting stuff. Not always useful but who-knew stuff.

I’m not a fan of learning boring stuff.

I was always told by others of authority that I didn’t apply myself, or it was too hard for me to learn, or I wasn’t good at “that” (whatever ‘that’ was I was trying to learn at the time). I knew a lot of critics.

I also don’t like to look stupid. I always thought everyone else got what was going on in classes and I was suffering silently.

I learned learning was hard. I adopted this and told myself this mantra. Learning is hard. Old dogs and new tricks don’t match up.

The problem with all this was my subconscious was listening.

Any time I attempted to try to learn something new, I would go back to that mantra “learning is hard” and my subconscious responded with “Okey-dokey, we’re going to make this hard since that’s what you want.”

Instead of a three-letter word, I had plenty of a four-letter one.

Then I stumbled upon NLP. Neuro-Linguistic Programming and discovered that all these years, the harshest critic of all was me.

I programmed myself to struggle against learning.

I’ll make a wager. If someone recorded the way you talk to yourself for a day then a week later replayed it to you and told you that’s how you talked to a stranger, you would be mortified. No way would you be so mean to another human being, especially someone you don’t know!

We’re mean to ourselves. Way. Too. Much.

But let’s get back to this learning thing (yet do reach out if you want help learning to talk nicer to yourself).

This one three-letter word makes all the difference. I’m proof. More than once.

While in the financial industry, in one year I earned my Series 7, 9, 10, 63, and 65.

Over a decade later, in one year I earned my NLP Practitioner and Coach Certification, as well as Emotional Intelligence Coaching and Confidence Coaching Certifications.

The one word that made the difference from struggling to succeeding is yet.

Try it out for size. Add it to the end of your sentence:

I don’t understand this….yet

I don’t know how to do this….yet

I can’t figure this out….yet

You’re allowing yourself a little emotional release of frustration while telling your brain that you will make it happen.

Try it the next time you are stuck on a problem or trying to learn something new and feel the difference that three letter word can make.

Then please, let me know how it works for you!


I help amazing people get career happy and companies stay true to brand.

Coaching: Career, Emotional Intelligence, Confidence, Business, Brand, Yoga

Click here – – to find out more.

All opinions and views expressed in this article are my own, unless attributed. They’re normally pretty spot-on (because I’m obsessive about career topics and communications). The humor sprinkled in is Mr. B approved, my dog, who thinks I’m hilarious (maybe because I’m his meal ticket?).

The 8 Life & Business Lessons My 4 Year Old Little Buddha Taught Me

boy swingingNext door to me lives a precocious four year old who I am convinced is more wise than many of those I have met throughout my career journey.  Instead of calling him my buddy, I might just have to start calling him my Little Buddha, although I am not sure how to explain that one to him.

This week his mom and dad needed a little help in adjusting to dad’s new job.  He does not get home by the time mom needs to leave for her job so this is how I get to help. It has not been for quite an hour each day, but boy, can that kid pack a lot in an hour!

“I have to fart”

My buddy is a huge car guy, he loves to climb in and pretend he is driving. The other day he abruptly stopped while we were ‘driving’ and looked at me and said, “I’ll be right back” I asked where he was going and he told me he had to fart. He then got out of the vehicle, pointed his little butt away from the car and then hopped back in to continue driving.

Be kind and respectful to others

“I’m sour”

As we were sitting outside there were a few bugs that were swooping down on us. He swatted at one and told it, “You don’t want to eat me, I’m sour”

We are not all the same – accept yourself just the way you are

“I’m scared”

I have three dogs, two are pretty good size. Luke is his favorite, and the biggest. Luke is a Lab mix who we have decided bounces like Tigger. Every day we come in the house and are greeted by three exuberant dogs.

Every day he huddles behind me when we first get in the door and the pack runs toward us tails wagging and says, “I’m scared”. Every day he then comes out from behind me and giggles when Luke gives him a puppy kiss.

It is okay to be afraid, come out from hiding anyway

“Can I have a pickle?”

He has been helping me feed the dogs. After he counts out the food scoops, puts the bowls down and gets them all settled, he asks for a pickle. He loves to eat a sweet pickle that I have stabbed on a fork (so he doesn’t get pickle juice running down his hands and arms). I am not sure if it is the pickle or the neat way of eating it that he likes, either way, this is a new tradition.

Define your own rewards

“Can I do that?”

He has helped me feed the dogs, fill up the fountain, pull weeds and fill the bird feeder. He has asked me if what he can do that day. He loves helping – plus these are all short little tasks perfect for our short attention spans. He takes great delight in performing these tasks and makes sure he does a good job.

Look for something new to do, even if it is work, you might just enjoy it

“I love you Lisa”

Yesterday we were in between driving (him driving us to the drug store for cough syrup, then the store for dog food) and I found a sheet of bubble wrap. He popped it with his fingers, twisted it with his hands, stomped on it with his feet and even tried to elbow it to pop all the bubbles. In between the fun his little voice said, “I love you Lisa” and then went back to bubble destruction.

Take the time to say nice things

“When I am a dog I can eat that”

When he was helping me feed the dogs he asked that when he is a dog, would he be able to eat their food. When we were filling the bird feeder, he asked that when he is a bird, would he eat that bird food. When watching the bees on the flowers – you get the idea. I never questioned when he was going to transform into these things or why he thought he would, I just enjoyed the imagination and his process of learning.

Put yourself in new situations and take a look at the world from there

“It’s gone now”

He was telling me about a recent injury and trying to describe it in as much detail as possible. When it got to the point of showing me the “owwie”, he could not find it. He looked and looked then simply said, “it’s gone now, it does not hurt”

Let go of the past, it is gone now, it does not have to hurt anymore


I hope you enjoyed this article and it provided value for you. If so, please click on the follow button so I may continue to share valuable content with you or the share buttons to share with your network.

I help people identify and set a path to achieve their career goals by using the V Formula:

Your Value + Your Voice = Visibility

Visibility is the leverage to move in, move up or move on in your career; expand your book of business or territory, grow your company and strengthen your team.


Lisa K. McDonald, Owner and Principal of Career Polish, Inc. is a favorite speaker and seminar facilitator at colleges, professional organizations and companies around the US speaking to leadership, sales and athletic teams; transitioning/downsized employees and networking groups about personal branding, networking, creating executive presence and achieving career movement success. To find out more, visit Career Polish, Inc.

You are an Example to Yourself

When did we start expecting perfection from ourselves?  When did we start believing that mistakes and failures were fatal?  When did we get so darn uptight?  I’m perplexed.


I am a human full of flaws which put together tell the story of me, my growth, my value, my lessons and my life.  I am very fortunate that I had a very supportive environment growing up; my parents were realistic enough to know that they did not create the perfect child in me.  I obliged by proving it several times over.


I was the youngest of three.  My brother was the brain and my sister was the social one.  Then there was me.  I didn’t fit into a category.  This is where my dad was such a major influence on me.  He taught me to use power tools, how to change a tire, how to bait my own hook, the importance of knowing being honest and respectful, as well as above all else, being a girl was not a factor in anything I did.  Not taking anything away from my mom at all.  She served as an example of many of the lessons he taught.


My brother patiently mentored me with my school work, especially in math.  We both loved math, but it came easily to him and I had to learn how to crack its code.  There is a definiteness about math.  He allowed me to make mistakes and never made me feel stupid for doing so, then steered me back on the path of mastery.


I tried to take these lessons with me as an adult, mother and coach.  When my son was younger I made a huge mistake at work.  That night I told him about it because it was important to demonstrate two things: mom isn’t perfect and it isn’t always the mistake but the corrective action that is important.


This week I attended an event where I had the pleasure of hearing Dr. Rob Bell speak.  He teaches mental toughness training for sports, business and life.  Early in his presentation he used an example involving golf.


Let me set the record straight – I am not a golfer.  I was married to a golfer and seemed to only be invited to go when the weather was horrible and his golfing buddies didn’t want to go in that kind of a mess.  The day I chipped in for a birdie was pretty much the end of that.


The point of the story was about a mistake Dr. Rob had made and the ripple effects.  Not being a golfer I didn’t participate in the groan that was heard after he mentioned his mistake, but I was still as engaged.  Why – because he made himself the example without demeaning himself.


By the way, Dr Rob gave a fantastic presentation and I highly recommend you visit his website to learn more about him ( and while you are there be sure to check out his newest book!


Self-depreciation is charming to a point.  Self-slamming is uncomfortable and unnecessary. 


We all make mistakes.  I find we are much easier on others in accepting their mistakes than we are for ourselves. 


Knock it off.


Give yourself a break, will ya?


Next time you screw up, and you will – we are all human, try something a little different.  Tell the story out loud.  Not to yourself in a bashing kind of way.  Instead, as though you were talking to your child, your best friend or your spouse.  How would you tell the story to someone that you either want to serve as an example for or someone that loves you unconditionally?  We tell those that love us our failures because we know they will say it is ok, we will do better. 


Start saying that to yourself.  “It is ok, you will do better.”


What did you learn from this?  How can you improve it right now?  What can you do in the future to make sure it doesn’t happen again?  What other surprise lessons were learned from this?  There are often hidden treasures for us that we just need to open our eyes to see.  Once we discover them it is quite amazing how much we can truly learn from one mistake or failure.


Abraham Lincoln’s mother told her family on her deathbed to be kind to one another.  Yes, be kind to one another and be kind to yourself.


Lisa K. McDonald, CPRW

Brand Strategist & Career Coach

Certified Professional Resume Writer


Manners Used To Be The Rule Now It Seems They Are The Exception

I really hated typing that title. Maybe it is just me, maybe I am the only one who mourns the loss of manners. Perhaps it isn’t a loss of manners it is instead the absence of manners. Either way for me it seems like a personal loss. In the last two days I have had two conversations and it just reiterated the absence/loss of manners.

Yesterday I was talking to James Ryan Owner and Chief Development Officer at Lotus Development. James is a business coach – check out his website at Our discussion was primarily regarding the lack of follow through from job seekers. This is a blog all on its own, but at one point he had stated that of six people that responded to a tweet he sent out only one followed up. I mentioned something about manners and he said that he hadn’t thought of it that way, but it would have been nice.

Late yesterday I received a call while I was on a conference call. I emailed the caller and told her that I was on the other line and would call her back. Once I hung up from my conference call I got another call which triggered several other events and by the time I sat down it was 9:00pm. The next thing I knew I woke up this morning on the couch with four dogs. The oldest doesn’t cuddle and she was glaring at me from the chair across the room.

I emailed her this morning and explained the situation. She responded that she knew I was busy and it was okay. I emailed her back and told her busy or not it was rude and I apologize. Her response surprised me. She literally said “Wow…Thanks! I’ve never had someone apologize or say it was rude.” Now, I emailed her because she is working and I do not want to interrupt her day otherwise I would have called.

I don’t think that I am in any way better than anyone else because I have this fixation with manners. Personally, I grew up with wonderful examples in my life and that helped form my behavior and thinking. Some are not so lucky, some people were never taught manners unfortunately and others, well I think some people just don’t give a damn.

My grandmother was the essence of a lady. She was intelligent, head strong, independent, loving, worldly, classy, nurturing, tough and had a shoe collection to die for! She was beautiful and carried herself with class and dignity. She could walk in a room and her presence drew admiring looks and positive attention from all. She set the bar for me in representing a real woman. I miss her to no end.

At her funeral a friend of hers who had known my grandmother for decades told me that one thing that struck her about my grandmother is she never heard her utter a negative word about another human being ever. My grandmother had a sharp wit and keen sense of humor, she had it in her; but she chose not to utilize it.

My grandmother had impeccable manners and as I wanted to be like her I emulated her to the best of my ability. My parents were wonderful examples. From my mom and dad I learned the value and appreciation of employing manners to your partner, family and friends. They were best friends and partners in crime. They treated each other with the utmost respect and never failed to use manners in their interactions. I remember growing up hearing lots of “please” and “thank you” and appreciation. We may not have had a lot but I was rich in learning the value of how to treat ones you love.

Doesn’t it make you feel better or just make your moment when someone uses manners? When someone holds the door open, when they send a follow up thank you, when they take that small extra step – doesn’t it make you smile just for a moment? I know it does for me and it’s not something that I immediately say, “Oh, they used manners”.

So if it does help make your day, why wouldn’t you do the same for someone else? It really does not take but a moment to do; however we get so lost in the business of our day that it is the one area that suffers. If you are going to carve out a few minutes today to do something, try taking a few seconds to use your manners. The results will be positive – I will bet dollars to donuts.

Apparently it is time to pay attention to one of the puppies as he just brought me a toy. Actually he dumped it in my lap and then plopped his head right next to it. And of course, I thanked him for giving me his toy.

Lisa K. McDonald, CPRW
Coach & Strategist
Certified Professional Resume Writer
Career Polish, Inc.

There are No Stupid Questions

I had to get a new pair of earbuds the other day, I listen to my Ipod constantly and am very hard on my earphones. This morning as I was putting them in I looked down and noticed there was a little “R” and “L” letting me know which one should go in which ear. Really? Does this make a difference? Is it going to affect the sound quality if I put the R in the L ear? Nope, it didn’t, I just tried.

Of course this little exercise of futility got me thinking about instructions and why they are needed. Oh we have all heard the jokes about the hair dryer that says not to use it in the bathtub and how we have never been in that big of a hurry to get ready. Or the Preparation H and not to use that product orally. I’m not touching that one.

We can all have a good laugh; however, I also realize that sometimes the “simple” instructions are needed because others have not had the fortune of our own experience. Let go of the Preparation H joke now, follow me.

When I teach a class often times I get a question which to me might seem like a no-brainer; however I have to remember that writing a resume is not taught to us as children or adults and it is a scary process. I encourage all and any questions because I realize people just really do not know and they are more afraid of doing something wrong than taking a chance of doing something right. You may think that asking if you should put your name on the second page would seem silly, but not knowing the “rules” can intimidate someone into inaction. Fear makes us second-guess everything.

Think about it, the only way you know some of these rules are because you were taught in one way or another. Either by a parent, teacher, boss, co-worker, or perhaps picked it up overhearing a conversation. We were not born with a set of rules automatically programed into us.

The next time your child, co-worker or even a stranger asks you a question which you think should be common sense, take a second to remember that not everyone knows what you do. If you mock or shame this person for asking you could really be doing some major damage. What if your child feels so badly for asking what they were just told was a “silly” question and that makes them so embarrassed that they stop asking questions in class?

There is nothing wrong in not knowing the answer to something. What may be common sense to you isn’t to me and visa versa. I used to be embarrassed to ask questions, I did not want to look “stupid” or uneducated. I got over it. I realize that I just don’t know everything and the only way I am going to know the information I want to know is to ask. So I ask, and I ask a lot of questions. Not only did I get over this fear I totally conquered and destroyed it to the point that I ask A LOT of questions because I want to understand things completely.

When my boys were growing up they knew that my house was one were you were not judged and could ask any question. Before they went off to college and the service some of them stopped by to have one of our talks and they all said they appreciated the fact that I never made them feel stupid. That no matter how silly the question was I would always answer and treated them with respect, they felt safe here and respected. What greater gift can you give a child than by a creating these two feelings just by not mocking them but rather simply answering a question?

Occasionally I am still mocked for asking questions that others assume should be common knowledge and I just laugh it off. I have also learned to laugh at myself. I can deal with a little mockery and teasing. The way I see it, I would rather have a moment of embarrassment than a lifetime of ignorance.

Lisa K. McDonald, CPRW
Certified Professional Resume Writer
Transition Strategist
Career Polish, Inc.