How to “Trick” Your Brain to Get It on Your Side

head and heart playing niceI am all about positive affirmations, looking on the bright side and seeing the opportunities in challenges.

My brain, on the other hand, is not always on the same page.

My name is Lisa, and I am an over-analyzer.

It is a blessing and a curse. For my business and my clients it is a quality that allows me to add a great deal of value in coaching and writing. For my personal relationships, it is cause for laughter and strange looks followed by, “are you kidding me?”

Welcome to my world.

When I get stuck in a rut or need a positive boost, it is natural for me to think of a positive affirmation or quote to inspire me.

The problem is, when I say things like, “I am going to do this!” that little voice in my head says, “No you are not.”

Then it gives me plenty of cold, hard facts or observations to prove its point. Darn realist.

It is very frustrating. Instead of buying into the affirmation, my head digs its heels in and makes what I am trying to get over worse because I am more focused on the problem by trying to fake my way into believing the positive.

If you understood that last sentence, you get my world.

Here is what I have found that works to hush that voice and gain acceptance and agreement with where I want to go.

I trick it.

I start far away and with statements that I know are true and that my brain will not argue and then lead it to the positive that I want to embrace.

Let’s give an example, something simple: I am working on a tiling project. I am no Bob Villa, but I can do some things around the house ok.

Beginning this project my thought was, “I’m going to rock this tiling”

Brain response was, “No you’re not, you’ve done this once before, really?” My brain is also a bit sarcastic, big surprise.

Time to implement the long way strategy:

I love my house, it is my home. (Brain agrees)
I like working around my house, making it truly my own space. (Brain agrees)
I have completed a lot of projects here. (Brain agrees)
Some of the projects were really challenging. (Brain agrees)
I didn’t know what I was doing when I started, but I was able to get a lot of resources to help me. (Brain agrees)
In the end, I was able to finish them and did them well. (Brain agrees)
When I put down the laminate, I had no idea what I was doing, but with some research and work, it turned out great. (Brain agrees)
Same thing when I built the bookcases, installed the ceiling fans and changed out the lighting in the bathroom and kitchen. (Brain agrees)
Those things all look really good. (Brain agrees)
I did a really good job, I am happy with them. (Brain agrees)
Based on the last tiling I did and the research I have done, this project isn’t nearly as bad as some of the others. (Brain agrees)
I don’t have a time crunch so I can relax when I do this one. (Brain agrees)
I think I can do this job. (Brain agrees)

By this time I have built up enough true (to my brain) statements that are positive and allow me to weave my way to the ultimate confidence or feeling I want to complete my task.

The next time you have a project, event, interview or opportunity and you try to force yourself into a positive head space, try taking the long way and see if your brain doesn’t get on board!

When the Dog Pees on the Bed



Overall, I am positive person.  I do not look at a glass half empty or half full – I look at it as I need more wine.  I have learned long ago that it is up to me to take full accountability for my life. I am solely responsible for my failures and my successes. 


Given that, I still have crappy days.  I remember one night I walked into my bedroom after letting the dogs out for the night only to watch my biggest pup jump up on my bed, turn around a few times and then pee on the comforter.  Seriously.  He peed on my bed.  Luckily, I was able to let out some sort of noise that interrupted the flow and it was only a bit, but still.


He peed on my bed!


I gathering my bedding and hauling it to the washing machine and, I will admit, cursing at the dog not so much under my breath.  I was tired, ready for bed and here I was waiting for the wash.  It helped a little when I looked over and saw the look on his face as if saying to me, “What, I’m doing this because I love you.  Rub my belly!”  Still, it was a crappy night. 


Luckily, it was at the end of the day and not the beginning or it could have possibly turned into starting the day with the dog peeing on the bed and ended with a full moon, mercury in retrograde, zombie apocalypse type of day.  


Lately I have been in a funk.  The dog hasn’t peed on the bed for some time, full moons have come and gone and I have no idea what Mercury is up to so what the heck?  I am being positive and yet I was feeling like the whole pack peed all over the bed and I didn’t know it until I climbed into bed. 


The positive in me was reaching for the wine.  But then that the little voice in my head whispered one little word:




What I realized is that in the last few days a couple of people in my life are going through a rough time.  As a recovering fixer, I was taking on their anger, frustration, heartbreak and sadness.  I was soaking up all that crap like a sponge and they were oblivious. 


Well, that is just darn selfish.  How selfish of me to assume anything on their account.  It didn’t help their situation and it certainly was not helping me. 


That is when I realized the positive in me wasn’t reaching for the wine to pour more, it was reaching for it to knock me upside the head with it.


I have had some big projects that I have been working on and soaking up their stuff was interfering with it. 


How many times do we do this?  Maybe we have a big project at work, are looking for a job or trying to position ourselves for a promotion at work and then all of a sudden we are completely side-tracked.


We start taking on other people’s stuff and start having the dog peed on the bed kind of days.


Stop it.  It isn’t your bed.


I am going to suggest something that will sound completely selfish: focus on you.


Yes, that is selfish, but that is the point.  If I had called you and told you the dog peed on my bed you would probably laugh.  You aren’t going to be mad at my dogs or take on my bad mood.  Heck no, you would laugh.  I would.  Maybe even tell me to have fun cleaning that up or better me than you.


So why do we feel it necessary to take the sheets of the bed for other people?  Now if I continued to go on and on and on about the dog peeing on the bed most people would probably start to limit their communications with me.  I would.  My thought would be, “for crying out loud, wash the sheets and get over it.”


But too often we allow other people to keep telling us over and over about the dog peeing.  That is when we need to put space between us, even if temporarily.  That is what being selfish is all about: giving yourself space.  They may get mad at you and call you selfish, but that is just because they are too wrapped up in the incident to move forward.  Leave them be.


It is like playing a game of basketball and sitting on the bench so the other guy can keep shooting because he is having a bad day.  No, you do not lower yourself because someone else is not able to raise his or herself.


The most important thing you can do for yourself is to be selfish in your commitment to take care of yourself, achieve your goals and be a positive world citizen.  This makes you a better leader, family member and candidate for a position.  Allow others to have their days while returning focus to yourself and your goals. 


It is okay to offer to help make the bed when the washing is done, just don’t let them bring the bedding with the pee on it to your house to wash. 


Lisa K McDonald, CPRW

Career Coach & Brand Strategist

Certified Professional Resume Writer


Thanksgiving is Over – Does This Mean No More Daily Gratitude?

daily gratitudeFacebook can be such a fun thing – a place to share pictures of your family (two and four legged), funny stories, interesting news tidbits and the occasional lists.  A tradition, it seems, is for the month of November for you to post every day something you are grateful for.


I watched closely this month out of curiosity and trying not to have a hypothesis proven.  Unfortunately, it was.


The month started with the robust proclamations of gratitude for God and Family.  They posts were really lovely and heart felt.


During week two we started to see some cracks in the wall, people having to make up because they forgot to post the day before.


Week three it seemed to be getting to a stretch people trying to put down something “meaningful” to be thankful for.  My favorites were my friends who were completely themselves and thankful for what others might have thought as silly or meaningless.  Thanks is thanks.


Week four it was a sad dwindle; only a fraction of those who started had completed this “task”.   Yes, task, because unfortunately it seemed that maybe it felt like a task there at the end.


Now, don’t get me wrong – I am all about gratitude.  But more importantly for myself I am more about putting the “hey that’s a great idea” into practice.  I took a different approach several months ago because I wanted to take it to another level.


You have all heard the inspirational quotes and mantras what you praise grows, happy people aren’t grateful/grateful people are happy etc.  I wanted to take that initial feel good and see how far I could take it.


I’m a list maker anyway, so on my daily To-Do list I made a small change: I added a Gratitude section.  Right there on the top of the page.  The night before I add to the next days to-dos but leave this part blank so first thing in the morning before I start my day I write down three things I am grateful for.  Yes, three.  I wanted to really stretch myself.


At first it was easy: my son, my family, my friends but I stretched it out: I listed them out individually.


Then it started getting a little harder.  Why?  Because I was putting some expectation on myself that no where in any of those happy positive inspirational quotes or mantras does it give rules.  But I had imposed rules.


I thought that my gratitude should have meaning, big meaning:  Thankful for my freedom, my family, my faith – things like that.  I couldn’t possibly put down that I was thankful for finding a new scent for my wax burner.  That seems silly, insignificant and well, unworthy.


How could God or the Universe bless me with more to be grateful for if I wasn’t appropriately thankful?


About a month into the daily gratitude it hit me – I was being an idiot.


Gratitude isn’t a competition sport.  It was a feeling.  And your feelings are not wrong – they are yours. Period.


So I started putting down the “silly” things: the scents, the sale on fresh asparagus, the new recipe for avocado/black olive salad, my friendly mail carrier, finding a five in the pocket of my jeans the night before.


I also started putting down characteristics in those I love that I was grateful for: the playfulness of my big puppy, the sometimes irritating way the little dog noses her way up on my office chair to take a nap while I am working, my son’s humor, my best friend’s grace – things I admired and were lucky enough to experience.


I start my day out this way for another purpose: sometimes I need a reminder.  Sometimes my day seems to turn into a black hole of crap that I can then look over at my overwhelming to do list and see three things that I recognized in the morning and it helps.  It helps me give myself a little kick in the butt to stop being so negative and suck it up.


You know most of my blogs come back around to job searching or business building – so here is the tie-in: start making your own list for yourself.


When trying to get hired by the right company or the right client we tend to focus on the bigger things and only the big things.  When we come to a lull in progress we tend to get a little down on ourselves or the situation.  This is when you need the list the most.


You have more to offer than just your big ticket items.  Beyond the expertise, length of experience or job title: you have your personal qualities.  The little things that make you – you.


If you think making a gratitude list every day is hard try making a self-appreciation list.  At first you are not going to like me too much for this.  But hang in there.


Every day start off by writing three things you appreciate about yourself.  Yes – make it all about you.  Step out of that comfy little box and give yourself some love.


That is going to be the hardest part because we are not used to doing it.  Especially women.  We really suck at it.  I tell all my female clients I get it, as a woman we are used to putting everyone on top of the list: first our family, friends, community, job, home…and somewhere at the bottom of the list, behind the dogs is our name.


I have four dogs, I was way down there.


Do it anyway.


Be uncomfortable.


You don’t have to share it with anyone, you don’t even have to tell anyone you are doing it.  If you have an amazingly supportive spouse or best friend you might want to tell them so they can help you identify some things to get you going, but that is up to you.


Write the darn list.


Give yourself permission to recognize and appreciate you, your qualities and your attributes.


Then here is something that will start to happen.  You will start to see a connection there with those big ticket items and it will give you an additional layer to add when talking to those prospective companies or clients.


When you discuss your expertise you can add a layer of how you do what you do and now that you have full appreciation for the details of how you do it you will be speaking for a place of excitement, admiration or love.


Let’s give an example to help with this.


I am an analytical person, no, let me rephrase that – I am a very over-analytical, research the hell out of it, break it down, dissect it gotta know all the details or death kind of girl.


At first blush it doesn’t sound like a positive, right?


But it is.  I have come to love this quality about myself.  Here are some things I could say on my Self Appreciation List:


  1. I love the fact that I have been called “a dog with a bone” when there is a problem to solve.
  2. I love the part of me that is so inquisitive that I keep digging to find out all that I can.
  3. I love the fact that I won’t settle for surface information.
  4. I love that this is a quirk about me – it makes me unique.
  5. I love it when I get so involved in it that my best friend has to say things like, “sweetie – you really don’t have to know every single detail about this, it was just a thought.”
  6. I love the fact that I still get excited to learn new things.
  7. I love the fact that I feel brave in reaching out to ask people to help me understand and I have grown up enough to realize that ignorance is curable, stupidity is not.
  8. I love the fact that I have a best friend that supports me in my ridiculous efforts and lets me share with her what I found out.
  9. I love the fact that I can take a mountain of information from digging and then put it into a simple way to understand when explaining it to her.


Now, if I were job searching or networking in my old playing field of compliance in the financial industry I would definitely use these things to support and sell my expertise.


In talking about rules, regulations or compliance requirements I would add in that in working with my brokers I don’t just tell them this is what needs to be done because the Fed said so because I am a very analytical and communicative person.  I personally want to know the whys so I can them work with them in incorporating the new regulation in a way that makes sense to them, doesn’t detract from their business and allows me to protect and serve them better because I have all the behind the scenes “whys” to make the “have to-s” possible.


Sounds a lot better than: “I’m good at compliance – I have a decade of experience in it and hold five series license and two insurance licenses.”


Not only will you gain a greater appreciation for yourself, but you will have solid, positive examples of how you do it better than anyone else.


In the end, isn’t that what you are trying to sell to the prospective employer or client?



Lisa K. McDonald, CPRW

Career Coach-Strategist

Certified Professional Resume Writer

Career Polish, Inc.


Not Reaching a Goal – Maybe You Need a Change to the People in Your Personal Environment

Me and Frank out Dancing
Me and Frank out Dancing

You have all the right tools, knowledge and ambition yet you still can’t reach that goal.  Whether it be landing the right job or client – it just seems out of reach.  So what are you missing?

It may not be a question of what you are missing, rather what you need to subtract.

If you feel you have all the right pieces put in place take a look at your personal environment; more specifically the people in your environment.

Do you have a bunch of Debbie Downers or Doubting Thomas-es?  Do the people around you invite you in with their energy, make you laugh, support you, inspire you and just generally make you feel good?

Have you ever heard the phrase you become the people you associate with the most?  There is a bit to that, you know.

If you are surrounded by “poor me” and “it will never work” attitudes you are naturally going to get the happy, positive, encouragement and quite frankly life sucked right out of you.

One person is probably not going to represent all the above mentioned positive qualities.  It is the lovely combination of unique individuals in your life that bring in the sum whole of a can’t-fail environment.

If you have ever read any of my blogs or know me personally then you know about my main support system:

Jackie: my bestest friend, confidant, twin, co-conspirator and kicker-in-the-butt.

Jake: my son, the center of my world, the one that can make me the most proud and most angry in a matter of seconds, the young unrecognized philosopher and the one that keeps me centered.

Jeff: a best friend who has known me for a quarter of a century, the one that sees the world in black and white, point A to point B and keeps me on my toes by always allowing for another viewpoint.

My parents: my dad who passed 18 years ago but impacted me, along with my grandmother, more than any other person in my life, my mom who supports me by allowing me to make my own way and Jim, my step-dad who brings balance to the very strong-willed women.

But there are many others that I can’t possibly go into, friends and family that give something of themselves to me through their friendship for which I am eternally grateful.

One of those friends is Frank.

Frank and I grew up in the same neighborhood with him being a year (or so) older than I but his brother and I were in the same grade.  Talk to anyone in my town and just say “Frank” and they knew exactly who you were talking about – not Frank who or which Frank – there is only one Frank.

He is, in a word – infectious.  His laughter, smile, wit, intelligence and amazingly positive attitude about life and appreciation for each and every day.  Frank is the guy that men instantly bond to and women fall in love with – yes, Frank is that guy.  Because he radiates life.

Here is the thing about Frank, it is not just that he makes you feel good when you are around him; he is inspiring.

Frank doesn’t have goals.  Frank has missions.  Come hell or high water if he sets his mind to something he is going to do it, and by God, do it well.

When I talk to people who bemoan that they can’t do something because they don’t have the skills, abilities, physical traits, blah, blah, blah – or –because they have always been stuck in a certain typecast, position, industry, blah, blah, blah – I think of Frank.

Frank is the epitome of no boundaries.

Here are a few things about Frank:

He is a world-class Olympic Athlete.

He hit on Natalie Cole.

He was pretty much told by Stevie Wonder once not to sing his song on an elevator (great story).

He is a former DJ and Bouncer.

He is a poet.

He is an inspirational speaker.

He is a highly sought after ballroom dancer.

He is an ADA Employment Consultant at a major university.

He’s a chick magnet – just ask any of his male friends.

And he is just getting started…

He has never seen himself in a box or only as one type of person, job, task, performance.  He makes a determination to try something new and off he goes with boundless energy.  Shortly thereafter we begin to get a stream on Facebook about how is accomplishing this task.


He inspires me because he refused to be classified, stop reinventing himself, giving of himself to others and appreciate every opportunity whether it presented itself to him or he had to knock the door down to go get it.

When I think I can’t – I think of Frank.  I don’t know that can’t exists in his vocabulary.  Having someone like this in my life keeps my personal environment nothing short of positive.  So no matter what is going on in my personal or professional life, he is always there as a supporter, inspiration and source of complete positive energy.

It is because of my support system that my personal environment is fun, full of energy, inspiration, accountability, excitement, joy and love.  With this type of environment any hurdle isn’t a monumental task, it is merely a challenge that my friends encourage me to conquer.

Oh, and one more thing about Frank: he was born with a condition that resulted in him being a wheelchair user for life.

Lisa K. McDonald, CPRW

Two Things I Happily Do Not Own

game show hostThere is so much that is uncontrollable in this world that I make a concentrated effort to create a peaceful and joyous place within my office and home. These are my little worlds that I can control and I choose to maintain a positive environment.

That is just one reason that I do not own a television or a scale.

Another reason is that both of these things can suck the life out of you.

I have never been one of those people that can leave a tv on in the background while I am doing other things. Nope, I zero in, get sucked in and next thing I know two hours have gone by while I learned something new on A&E.

When I made the conscious decision to cancel all television programming I did not mention it to anyone because when someone finds out I don’t own a tv they look at me like either I have three heads or that I am a pitiful creature who just doesn’t know what I am missing.

I do. I chose to miss it. I am not a complete freak, there are a couple of shows that I am a die-hard fan, but I watch them online. I have news streamed online and to my phone, I get my Colts and Cubs updates via my phone, CNN is readily available online – trust me kids, I am still connected to the outside world. Also, for drama – there is always Facebook.

What I found is without a tv I had much more time for the things I really love – reading and real conversations.

Another reason I do not own a tv is that I just don’t want all the negativity. I can choose what I read on CNN online, on the local or national news I was subjected to over-sensationalism. Never a big fan of reality shows anyway, but then to see what was coming out and was being passed off as “real” – seriously?

It was like cleaning out all the junk food in the fridge – liberating and really not missed once it was gone.

Same with the scale. I hate scales. I don’t weigh myself. I don’t care what I weigh, it has never mattered to me. This started in college when I was on the dance team. They decided they wanted to institute some stupid program of matching our ideal weight with out height.

It was stupid and I refused. I thought it stupid that someone had to loose 20 pounds and I had to gain 20 pounds to be ideal. I have never been my “ideal” weight, for that matter I have never been my ideal height either.

I base any changes I need to make to my diet or routines based on how I feel and what I accept for myself. If I feel sluggish I increase the red meat and cut out the sugars and carbs. I know I need to ramp up the workout if I look down and my belly sticks out further than my boobs. Seriously, that is my scale. And it is doctor approved.

When I go in for my physical my doctor does all the routine checks and tests. Then he asks me if I exercise, eat right or have any special plan that I follow. I told him my above plan. He literally laughed at me. He also told me it is working for me because I am very healthy for not really trying so keep it up.

Listening to my own body and accepting my “flaws” for what they are has made me pretty healthy and happy since college. I haven’t had body issues, eating issues, crash diets, overeating or depression related to my body. This is all I have to work with and I’m ok with it.

My point is that if I owned a scale or tv I might find myself subject to falling for some myth about what I should be or look like or some other “ideal”. I have freed myself from these things and have seen tremendous benefit.

Sometimes we listen to others way too much. If you are looking for a job figure out what it is that you want, not what others think you should do. If you love your job but others seem to think that you “can do better” tune them out, or better yet, get rid of the tv.

Listen to yourself not anyone else. Even if it seems unconventional, throw out what is not working for you and concentrate on what is making you happy. Not only will it eliminate some of the negativity that has been invading your space, it makes room for more positive to come in!

Lisa K. McDonald, CPRW

Try a Little Tenderness

lexi lovingI am definitely a dog person.  No matter what my day it is made better with my dogs.  If I am having a horrible day they know.  That’s when they nuzzle and look up at me like, “Your day may be bad but you’re awesome.”  You just can’t beat that.

When my day is great – they make it better.  I think they know that too.  It is almost like they are saying, “Congratulations!  I think we should play to celebrate!”

I am also a big believer in gratitude.  Every day I give thanks for all that has come into my life, is in now and yet to come.  I also believe in kindness and positive behavior.

Have you ever told your dog or any dog that they are pretty?  If you are a dog person you know exactly what I am talking about.  They can be across the room and you tell them “you are a pretty boy” and what happens? They wag their tail.  They know.  They can sense your kindness and tenderness.  They accept it and it makes you feel good.

What I find amazing is people, even non dog people, are more willing and free to tell a dog that they are pretty before they would even consider giving themselves a compliment or nice word.

We do not praise or recognize ourselves enough. When was the last time you accomplished something and told yourself, “Self, you did good.”?  If you had to ask what year it was that is a bad sign.

Not only do we not tell ourselves that we did good, we also really, really stink at taking compliments.

Dogs aren’t like that.  When you tell them they are pretty they don’t turn around, put a paw over their snout and say, “oh no, I look like hell today and I know this collar makes me look fat.”  They just don’t do that.  They wag their tail in saying, “thank you.”  Simple.  The end. Period.

Try living a bit like your dog today.  Give kindness just because you are there and accept compliments with a simple thank you.  We all deserve a little tenderness.


Lisa K. McDonald, CPRW


As I wrote this I had the song from the title running through my head.  It is from one of my favorite movies of all time – bonus – can you name the artist and movie?  Double bonus – do you remember the scene?

Happy Complaining Is Still Complaining

mouth taped shutI read something the other day about trying an experiment – try going an entire day without complaining.  Seems being the key word here.


I did not give it much thought until I got a double whammy this week.


I was talking to my best friend and she was asking the status of the projects going on and how I was doing.  I’ve been very busy at work and every other available moment I’ve been helping a friend get his house ready and move out of his apartment.  Today is drop date.


I was telling her how things were progressing and about the exhaustion.  Then she said, “But you’re not complaining.”


It was a statement, not a question.  But it did get me to thinking – did I sound like I was complaining?  That would be bad because I am actually extremely grateful.  Grateful for being able to help my clients and love helping as many as I can; I love being busy!


I am grateful to be able to help my friend because it is just a small measure of being able to help him as much as he has helped me over the years and he is family.  My mom and step-dad have also been helping as well.  I’m grateful that I have a family that is there no matter what when one of us needs it.


That was the first whammy – thinking I might sound like I’m complaining when I am actually very grateful.


The second whammy came when I was talking to a friend and he was said something about being exhausted himself.  His work has been very busy and he has been working at 3 am.  Of course I asked what on earth he was doing at 3 am and his response was my second whammy.


“Walking the streets waking up homeless people to give them blankets socks and water, and medical attention if needed and counting them.”


Wow.  Perspective.   And let me be clear – he was not complaining.


Earlier this week we had major rain storms and strong winds but temperatures reached in the sixties; there was a lot of grumbling about the storms.  This morning it is snowing.  More grumbling.  It is Indiana, really, we should not be surprised.


It is cold – but you have a warm place to stay.  It is wet – but you have shelter to stay dry.  You may not be exactly where you want to be in life but you have resources and support.


Maybe you do not have that dream job, a decent job or a job at all.  But what you do have is the ability to change that.  You have resources to get the information you need to move forward.  Research what it will take to get to where you need to go, take appropriate steps and ask for help when you need it.  If you choose not to take actions or ask for help then shut the hell up about being miserable.  You are choosing to stay in that position and have no one to blame but yourself.


Maybe your finances are a complete wreck and you are on a limited income.  Instead of looking at what you don’t have look at what you do.  You have income coming in, you have food on the table, you have people in your life that love you and you have your health.  You do not need money to spend time with people you love you just need to be available and open to them.  Those memories you cannot buy.  If you think that the only way you can be happy is with material items then shut the hell up and don’t complain to your loved ones.  What you are telling them is they come in second to material items or financial stability.  Personally I would rather be a loving broke than a lonely rich.


Maybe you do not have the relationship you want but again, you have the ability to change that.  If you are not where you want to be, move.  If you are not getting what you want then communicate.  If you want something more then say it; if you are afraid suck it up.  Take control because it is not the responsibility of someone else to make you happy.  That is your responsibility.  Someone else can bring value into your life but they cannot define you.  And running from it will not make it happen so if you choose to avoid then shut the hell up about being unhappy.


What is positive in your life right now?  What do you have to be grateful for at this moment?  Your health, your family or how about the fact that you woke up today?  Whatever it is be thankful for that and do not add a “yes but”.


No complaining – try a day of it.  It might surprise you how often you express gratitude yet add the subtle complaint at the end.  You may not be ready to go after that job, relationship or change right now but you can take a step back and realize where you are, the positives that it has to offer and how you can make changes to move forward.



Lisa K. McDonald, CPRW

Career Coach-Strategist

Certified Professional Resume Writer

Career Polish, Inc.



Who Taught You To Look At The World?

I was talking to my best friend last night and she was a little weepy about the ending of the football season for her high school son.  She was talking about what a great group of kids they have and an inspirational coach.


One thing that is unique about their school district is it has kids from well over 30 countries – a phenomenal combination of children from all religions, races, backgrounds and beliefs.


When the coach gives his inspirational speech he tells the boys to thank whatever God or deity that they believe in for giving them the opportunity to be a part of that team.  He is very team oriented and backs his words by benching a kid, not matter who, if he feels that player has put himself above the team.


She said the most amazing thing to her is that her boys don’t say, “Oh, that’s Raj, he is Indian and doesn’t eat meat” they say, “Don’t forget to bring something Raj can eat to the team meal.”


This coach is teaching these boys to look at each other as equals and teammates, not as individuals who have differences.  They are all responsible for themselves and their team, to their family and to the opportunities they have outside of football.


He is helping them view the world in a much larger scale.


We are all not as fortunate as she to have a coach like this in our lives or our children’s lives.  Pity.  But as you take a look at where you are now, take a moment to think about how you view your world; and why you view it the way you do.


Your parents could have told you that you have to work really hard to make any money and it will never be enough.  Or they could have taught you that you can accomplish anything in life you want if you put your mind to it.


Mostly we are taught, and teach our children, based on what we know.  But what if what we know is too limited?  Our upbringing is just a guideline, as is our experiences with our first job, our first home and our first love.  They are all experiences with some truths and some limitations; but they are never the be all end all of the world view.


How would your life be different if you just adopted a different view point?  What if you took a different route to work or school today?  Would you notice something different?  Would it awaken just a little something in you?


Oftentimes I work with individuals who desperately want a change and they think to have change means doing something radical.  That is not always necessary.  Sometimes it is the smallest of changes that make the biggest differences.


Think about driving from Maine to California in a car that was set for a straight line so you did not have to navigate at all.  What would happen if you changed the line one degree north?  Where might you end up with just that tiny change?


Change is scary and often we make it so hard on ourselves.  So today I want people to think about making one little change, just one.  Perhaps on your afternoon coffee break you buy the coffee for the person behind you – just because.  Or you bring one back for someone in your office who has had a rough day.


Or you compliment the person next to you in line.  Nothing major or extravagant, just something little and honest.  Try letting someone go in front of you at the grocery store.  Send a former colleague a note telling them that you have not spoken to them for some time and you hope all is going well.  Write a thank you note to someone for even the smallest gesture.


The theme on all of these is giving a small change to someone else, which makes the biggest impact on you personally.  When you can see how you can make a positive impact on someone else’s world you begin to see yours in a different light.



Lisa K. McDonald, CPRW

Career Coach-Strategist

Certified Professional Resume Writer

Career Polish, Inc.



There Are No Shoes Lingering Above Your Head

Everyone needs a person in their life that helps them get through the bad times, but equally as important, helps them let in the good.

I have an amazing best friend – she is my life accountability person, my gut check, my reality check and that annoying little voice in my head at times. She is the one that knows me so well and respects me enough to tell me at times, “Really, you really think so?” which just annoys that heck out of me because I know she is right in calling me out on something.

And we are exactly the same so I know I serve this same value to her – which brings me great joy knowing I’m the annoying voice in her head sometimes – payback!

Yet it is so common to adopt the tendency of resisting good things that come into your life. This may sound ridiculous – who would not want more good things in our life and why on earth would we resist them? Ask yourself this, have you ever thought to yourself:

• This is too good to be true…
• What good can come of this…
• I’m just waiting for the second shoe to drop…
• Wonder how long this is going to last…

If so, then you, my friend, have resisted something good. We all love positive things, but we get so ingrained to prepare for the best expect the worse that we tend to under-appreciate the good or let it pass all together.

This is a choice. Change your choice. Now.

Think of any type of good, no matter how big or small, as a compliment. Most people I know are terrible at receiving compliments. I had to learn how to shut up and say thank you. So when any type of good comes your way simply tell your mind to shut up and say thank you – period.

I do a bit of contract writing. This is a small project and not especially lucrative; however, with every assignment I stop and say thank you aloud. It helps me remember to be grateful for everything positive that comes into my life.

Sometimes we get so fixated on the larger, end result that we neglect the simple everyday positives that come along the road to achievement. When we start to neglect or ignore them our path can be diverted. If we end up not achieving that goal we can tend to become even more negative.

A couple of months ago I was working on a collaborative project with an amazing woman who also owned her own company. We had a goal and a target and I was very excited about seeing this project come to fruition. To date, it has not, and quite possibly will not.

Now, I had a choice – on one hand I could be upset that this project did not pan out like we had hoped and grumble about time or opportunity lost. But I chose the other hand. I am grateful.

Had it not been for this project I would not have gotten to know this woman as well as I do, and I can say that she is bright, intelligent and business savvy. We process information and create vision in a very similar manner. She is a good sounding board for ideas and thoughts.

I also enjoy her humor, wit and personal commentary. I am grateful that I was able to spend some time getting to know this person in a personal and professional manner and consider her a friend and ally on both counts.

You may not get the job you want or land the prospect you want – but that does not mean that the journey was worthless. Take some time to step back and look at the entire picture to find and appreciate the good.

With this choice in attitude your next adventure should heed you even more positive results – if you are willing to recognize them and let them in.

Next post…Everyone succeeds; some are just successful at failing. Why it is important and how to recognize your successes and build on them.

Lisa K. McDonald, CPRW
Career 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.