Unseen Mastery Enlightened by Malcolm Gladwell

Monday, 22nd February 2010

For most my life I have been plagued with the desire to be a master at something.  And for most of my life I have felt like a complete failure.  I used to hate it when someone would get this bright idea that it was time for a talent show.  I would do anything I could to skip right out of that event, but there were times, mostly family reunions when some over energetic aunt would think it would be so cute to have all the kids do something for the whole group.  Having been blessed with two left feet, fingers that had a mind of their own on the piano, a memory that always failed, and a voice that would sometimes hit the right note on accident, there wasn’t much to do but hide behind the other performers and hoped no one would notice.

So it came as a big surprised the other day when I realized that I had mastered something in my life.  This huge revelation came to me as I read Malcolm Gladwell’s landmark book, Outliers.  In the book he explained people like the Beatles and Bill Gates didn’t just come from nowhere.  They had lucky breaks, talent, plus a whole bunch of time to learn whatever they were gifted in.  Gladwell analyzed the facts and concluded that it takes 10,0000 hours of doing something to become quite good at it.  Now, I don’t know about you, but that sounds like a lot of hours, something that I could only dream about doing, especially with my current lifestyle.  (EIGHT KIDS!)

But then I went on a trip to California to escape the nasty cold of Utah.  While there I love meeting people and learning about different ways people live.  Okay, I admit it I also enjoy being asked how many children I have because I just love people’s expressions.  Their eyes get really large, they start choking, “Eight,” they stammer.  So I add, “That doesn’t count the step-children.  That would make it twelve.”  The next thing they say is, “but you don’t old enough.”  Which of course, I love hearing.  Then more times than not, they say, “You don’t looked stress enough.  You don’t look worn-out and don’t have bags under eyes.  You seem like you are happy.”

I had always laughed that off, but then as I thought about Gladwell’s findings of the 10,000 hours I realized that I had put more than that into childrearing.  I had started help raise my siblings since I was three.  By the time I was ten, I was often left for eight to ten hours a day to watch the other seven children.  My siblings would often call me, “Mom.”  I have put my time in big time.  I only had a year and half of my life where I wasn’t watching children so it’s no wonder that having eight kids isn’t as stressful for me as it would be for others.  (I am going to make the exception of teenagers here.  I am real good with the younger kids.  The teenager thing I don’t have the 10,000 hours and I am not sure that I want to.)

I wonder how many of us have an unseen talent or mastery in something that we don’t realize and give ourselves credit for?  I think if we looked at what others are amazed at in us we can discover our master skills.  I would love to hear what you are really good.

Joy is manifest in healthy close relationships.

Monday, 22nd February 2010


The most joyful and complete moments come out of having deeply enriching relationships. Being connected on a deep level to our spouse, our children and our friends is where all the goodness is at. There is a type of joy found in these relationships and a richness that can’t be found anywhere else. It is worth the price it takes to make those relationships healthy.

I am going to stop lying

Friday, 19th February 2010

All right I’ve had it.  When you self proclaim yourself as the Step It Up Queen, well, you kind of have to step it up.  That or be called a liar and live with the guilt of not measuring you to your self proclaimed title.  Most of the time I do step it up that is why my friends came up with the Step It Up Queen.  Most of the time when I hear that label I get warm fuzzes, but not tonight.  Tonight I am having a dark cloud of guilt hanging over me.  All week I haven’t been Stepping It Up.  I went on a trip to the coast last week and had a great exhausting time.   When I arrived home, I was tired, grouchy, and had eight kids wanting attention along with the old hubby.  Fine.  They deserve it.  I’ve been gone.  I give them the attention and then the bills, and then backed to work, start on the laundry, etc… everything and anything but taking care of my diet.

Yep that is right.  It has come time that I can’t make excuses like I just had a baby when she’s eleven months ago.  Besides it is more than vanity pounds, I have health issues that I must stay on top of and I know one of the first things to do is to stop eating white flour and sugar, but have I done it?  NO!  I’ve been too busy, too tired, too much to do.  Enough already.  I don’t let my clients get away with all those excuses so why do I do it to myself?

That ends now.  Tomorrow—all day tomorrow I am not eating one bite of sugar or white flour.  I don’t care what temptation I come across or how much I deserve or need it.  All day Friday no flour and sugar.  Anyone else ready for this challenge?

PS How many grammar mistakes did you find?

Conquer Poverty Thinking

Monday, 15th February 2010


How often do we go through the journey of life suffering needlessly, thinking we have to put up with uncomfortable situations, being convinced that things can’t change, and the best thing to do is just suck it up and go on? Unfortunately, more often than not, a lot of us are guilty of this. This habit has really come to the forefront for me as I worked with one of my clients.

She confided in me that she couldn’t have another child because she’d never be able to handle it. Curious by what she meant by that, I probed deeper. She then described this huge scenario that made having children seem dismal.

I told her, being a mother of eight, that if I had her belief system, I’d never want to have children either. The way she was looking at it made the child-raising experience seem really burdensome.

She laughed and said, “You’re right!”

We explored different ways she could look at the same situation, and then left it at that. Months later she came running up to me at a meeting. “I have to tell you something. I’m pregnant!” She radiated so much peace and happiness that I knew all the doubts had dramatically diminished. As the months go by, and I watch her in the pregnancy, I have witnessed a happy pregnant woman. She has totally embraced this new experience with enthusiasm and joy.

If she had never examined her thoughts and beliefs, she would have missed out on all this joy in her life. Wow. Are we missing out on our own joyful experiences because of not examining our current beliefs? How do we know what is an unhealthy belief and what are things that we can’t change and need to accept?

Are You Damaging Your Bottom Line?

Monday, 8th February 2010


We all know them…the folks who MUST CONTROL EVERYTHING. Perhaps it’s the mother-in-law whom you secretly call “Controller of the Universe,” or the boss at work who has to have a hand in every little detail of your work, or the parent who directs every aspect of their child’s life. However well-meaning controlling people might be, their actions often result in alienation, resentment and a lack of intimacy with loved ones. When they have a choice, people don’t usually like to be around controlling individuals. As a business owner, you might think, “So.  I don’t care if people like me.”  But the problem there is people do business with people they like.  It’s important to build business relationships and maintain trust and respect.  Part of doing that  is by not controlling.  Take this quiz to see how controlling you might be.

Set 1

1. I discourage the people around me from expressing anger, fear or sadness.

2. It aggravates me when others don’t want to do something the way I suggest; I’m only trying to help them.

3. I hate to admit to others that I am wrong or make mistakes; in fact, I rarely do.

4. I’d rather do most things myself.

5. Others probably describe me as driven and rarely satisfied. I admit to being a perfectionist.

6. When someone goes against my advice or suggestions, I tend to withdraw my affection; but when people do what I say, I’ll lavish the praise.

7. I take it as disloyalty or personal rejection when others act or feel differently than I do.

8. When I’m in a relationship, I want to know where my significant other is all the time.

9. I know what’s best for others; that’s why they should listen to what I have to say.

10. When watching television with others, I have to have the remote. Similarly, when in a car with others, I feel uncomfortable unless I’m the driver.

11. I am easily irritated, especially by others’ incompetence or rebelliousness.

Set 2

1. I encourage others to express their true feelings around me.

2. I would rather people be themselves than try to please me, and that they do things out of choice, not obligation.

3. It doesn’t bother me when others question or disagree with me. In fact, I enjoy a lively debate.

4. I steer clear of micromanaging family members or employees, and instead encourage independence and independent thinking.

5. I choose not to focus on power, prestige or perfection; I hold others to be the best they can be, while remaining true to themselves.

6. I find it easy to relax, laugh or be spontaneous.

7. I value stability and consistency, and don’t get caught up in chaos and drama.

8. Getting someone to do something by yelling at them isn’t something that works for me.

If you answered true more often in Set 1 and false more often in Set 2, you may wish to examine where your urge to control is coming from. Most often, fear is the deep culprit. Learning how to approach and handle fear in a positive manner helps us accept others—and ourselves—better. And doing so sets us up for better relationships, better health and better self-esteem. Please don’t hesitate to email if you’d like to explore this issue in your life.

Value the blessing that you receive from having others in your life.

Monday, 1st February 2010

Isn’t it sad that for most of us we have to lose what is most precious in order to understand and appreciate the value of what we had? Death has a way of really highlighting what a person or relationship meant to us. As I have lost my friends to the grim reaper, I have come to appreciate that the people in my life aren’t always going to be there. The people that I count on and love are a blessing if they stay in my life for a few short days or for years or even decades.

I used to be the worst at events where people meet and grow close, knowing that you more than likely will never see those people again. It used to rip my heart to shreds. I wouldn’t want to get to know anyone because I didn’t want to feel the pain of loss. I still don’t like that pain and I still wish that I could build and maintain relationships with people with whom I have connected, but I have learned this truth: I am going to value the time I have with them whether it be for a few brief moments in a grocery store line or as lifelong friends. Having other people in my life is a blessing.

The people that you meet are there for a reason. To get the true richness out of life, cherish the moments and the memories that you have.