Saturday, December 31, 2011

Volun-Cheers

By Julie Rahm

Three cheers for volunteers! As America’s Mindset Mechanic, I inevitably coach non-profit directors who lead volunteers. Leading volunteers can be both challenging and rewarding. When a manager has underachieving volunteers, I first attempt to improve the manager’s understanding. The wise say, “Seek first to understand”. So, it is important to understand why the volunteer volunteers. Even the most minor of issues won’t be resolved if the manager doesn’t understand why the volunteer is there. Six basic reasons for volunteering come to mind.

The first is recognition and feedback. Most volunteers seek to be recognized for their contributions. Public recognition may not be required. The recognition can be quiet appreciation from their manager or from the people they serve. A simple “Thank-you” can go a long way to re-motivate a volunteer. Recognition and feedback cure most of the challenges managers may have with volunteers.

The second reason for volunteering is personal growth. Volunteers learn on the job. The volunteer finds the learning fulfilling enough to keep coming back and contributing more.

Third is giving something back. The volunteer has been fortunate in some way. And now, the volunteer is returning the good fortune.

Fourth is bringing about social change. Many people volunteer for prison programs. These volunteers want to change lives and improve the lot of others. When my husband John was in prison, I first met him there while volunteering. (I’m only kidding about that! It was the Marine Corps.)

Family ties are the fifth reason. Often, people join their family members who are volunteers. When John or I decide to volunteer, we inevitably sweep each other into the cause.

Lastly, people volunteer for friendship, support, bonding and a feeling of belonging. Social needs are fulfilled when people volunteer as a part of a group. Accomplishment as a group can be very rewarding.

During the aftermath of hurricane Irene, volunteers were abundant. Neighborhoods were drawn together as residents came to each others aid. Often, it was those who were hurt the worst that gave the most. Our neighbor’s house was damaged far worse than ours. But, we are still thankful for their electric extension cord that kept our refrigerator alive until power was restored. In another case, a Pamlico County neighbor, who was totally isolated without a car, a phone, or electricity, barbequed the contents of his freezer thus feeding his neighborhood for days.

I also have great admiration for our local first responders. Despite their personal situations, they volunteered all over Pamlico County. A volunteer fireman’s home in our neighborhood was completely trashed by the hurricane. Disregarding the condition of his home, he was at the firehouse for weeks helping distribute food and water.

“Others first” seemed to be the cultural theme in the last quarter of 2011. I hope hurricane Irene gave us a taste of service and a big appetite to continue. Volunteering can be one of the most rewarding experiences of a lifetime. The return on your investment will be immeasurable. Visit my websites at http://www.americasmindsetmechanic.com/ and http://www.militarykidsspeak.com/!

Saturday, December 17, 2011

FighterLights

By Julie Rahm

I am married to a former Marine fighter pilot. I say former because John has been retired for three years. In his retirement, John has calmed himself and worked hard to fit into Pamlico County society. He is far less competitive than when he was flying jets for the Marine Corps.

The inherent competitive nature of Marine fighter pilots cannot be overstated. At every opportunity, they are trained to win. As the famous football coach Vince Lombardi said, “Winning isn’t everything, it’s the only thing”. Marine pilots think like Coach Lombardi. As you can imagine, flying jets from ships in the middle of the ocean during dark and stormy nights is not for the meek. The alternative to success during these events can be catastrophic. However, the drive to compete and win can have unintended consequences.

We were living on base at Marine Corps Air Station Cherry Point. It was Christmas. Lights were hung on most of the houses. Across from us lived the Smith family. They had a particularity beautiful display of lights in their front yard. John and Major Smith were friends since the beginning of time. The two men deployed together on numerous occasions and knew more about one another than men should. However, this season, John grew weary of the Smith Christmas light accolades. Competition reared its ugly head. One expensive trip to WalMart and now, we had the best Christmas lights on the street! Not to be outdone, Major Smith retaliated by adding even more lights. The back and forth competition continued for over a week. It reminded me of the nuclear arms race in miniature. Each fighter pilot was determined to best the other. Eventually, the military police had to direct traffic because everyone was driving into the cul-de-sac to see the two light displays. There were thousands of lights on the two houses. There was some legitimate concern the blazing lights could blind the other pilots attempting to land at night. I am not exaggerating. The end of the escalation was not in sight. Both men were buying all the outdoor lighting for sale in Craven County. And, with John, nothing is over until he says it’s over. But, this aerial combat of Christmas lights was ended suddenly.

John and Major Smith were simultaneously summoned to the Commanding General’s office. The General had a sense of humor failure over the Christmas light competition. After spending what seemed liked hours hearing the General’s perspective on the light competition, both men emerged from the General’s office with new understanding. John described it as “getting my face sanded with eighty grit sandpaper”. Major Smith said his face got burned from the heat coming off the General.

I’m sure the General’s scolding was unpleasant. I was secretly thankful. Christmas is not about the glow of house lights. The spirit of Christmas comes from within and reminds us that love and light reside in all of us. Merry Christmas from your Mindset Mechanic! Visit my websites at http://www.americasmindsetmechanic.com/ and http://www.militarykidsspeak.com/!

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Coefficient of Friction

By Julie Rahm

This week, my husband, John was stepping off our boat when his cell phone fell into the water. Even more unfortunate; the cell phone was in his pocket! You see, the steps were wet from the morning dew. When his front foot touched down on the wet plastic steps, his slick bottomed, four-year-old Crocs failed to provide an adequate coefficient of friction. His fall into the water allowed me to use my University of Nebraska physics degree one more time.

The static friction coefficient between two solid surfaces is defined as the ratio of the tangential force required to produce sliding divided by the normal force between the surfaces. Clearly, John has not studied enough physics! His front foot slipped forward. John attempted to regain his balance by getting his back foot down onto something solid. Unfortunately, he stepped down onto the thin air between the boat and pier. At this exact moment, the coefficient of friction gave way to gravity. And, another opportunity for physics!

Newton's law of universal gravitation states that every point mass in the universe attracts every other point mass with a force that is directly proportional to the product of their masses and inversely proportional to the square of the distance between them. A simple enough concept from 1687! Had John studied physics instead of PhysEd, he would still have a cell phone! Regardless, he hurled toward the water accelerating at 32 feet-per-second squared until his chest caught the edge of the pier. As you remember, Newton’s first law states the velocity of a body remains constant unless the body is acted upon by an external force. And, John’s body was definitely acted upon by the static force of the pier! One good bounce and splash, he was in the water and swimming, with his cell phone in his pocket.

As soon as John hit the water, the second law of thermodynamics kicked in. The law asserts that when two isolated systems in separate but nearby regions of space, each in thermodynamic equilibrium in itself, are at some time allowed to interact allowing them to exchange matter or energy, they will eventually reach a mutual thermodynamic equilibrium. You see, when John hit the water, the two systems interacted. John and the water were going to reach thermodynamic equilibrium. Simply, John was going to freeze if he didn’t get out of the water and dry off quickly. He confirmed the second thermodynamic law by uttering, “Wow, the water is cold.” John swam to our dingy platform and pulled himself out of the cold water.

John is no worse for the experience. A skinned shin, a bruised wrist, bruised ribs and loss of a cell phone are minor compared to the other possible outcomes. Life can unexpectedly turn on a dime. So, I encourage everyone to savor the moments of their lives. Enjoy and care for your blessings. Because, in a splash, they can be gone. Can you tell I've been watching late night Big Bang Theory re-runs? Visit my websites at http://http://www.themindsetmechanic.com/ and http://www.militarykidsspeak.com/ for more inspiration!

Do you know a child who is struggling with the challenges and pain of being part of a military family? Give them the gift of Military Kids Speak and help them exhale into their lives by learning they are not alone and how peers handle their feelings.  Get Military Kids Speak at Amazon.com (click here)!

Saturday, November 26, 2011

No Failure to Launch

By Julie Rahm
My father graduated from the University of Nebraska with a master’s degree in physics. After joining the Navy, he was hired by the infamous Admiral Rickover to teach at the Navy’s Nuclear Power School in California. Admiral Rickover was the father of the Nuclear Navy and largely responsible for the nation’s nuclear power program. Admiral Rickover was hyperactive, political, blunt, confrontational, insulting and flamboyant. He was also a workaholic who, without regard for rank or position, was always demanding of himself and others. Moreover, Admiral Rickover had little tolerance for mediocrity, none for stupidity. “If a man is dumb," said a Chicago friend, "Rickover thinks he ought to be dead.”

My father confirms this assessment of Admiral Rickover. During my father’s employment interview at the Nuclear Power School, Admiral Rickover reviewed my father’s college transcripts and noticed my father had earned all “A”s and only one “B”. The one “B” caught the Admiral’s attention and he demanded to know if my father was lazy or stupid! Of course, neither is true. Admiral Rickover hired my father.

Later in life, my father was employed by NASA’s Space Program. He worked on the Space Shuttle main engines. People tease others about their intelligence naming them “rocket scientists”. However, my father truly is an actual rocket scientist. At my house, every Space Shuttle launch was a big deal. There was huge anticipation. It was imperative to launch the Space Shuttle on time. Any delay would be opportunity lost and millions of dollars wasted. My father understands the necessity of a timely launch. So, when I became of age to get “launched” I was well prepared. When I graduated from high school, I was getting launched out of the house, either to college or to my own self-supported life. No doubt about it. There was not going to be any parental welfare for me. I was not going to hang around the house while “I found myself”. And, once launched, I was not ever coming back. It was clear to me I had to choose my husband wisely. There would no returning home with my ex-husband’s children. I was raised to be a self-supporting independent woman.

My father’s tough love seems harsh both then and now. But, he understood what love is. Love is not dependency. Dependency in physically healthy adults is a manifestation of a mental illness or defect. Dependency may appear to be love because it is a force that causes people to fiercely attach themselves to one another. Dependency is not love. It is anti-love. Dependency has its genesis in a parental failure to love and it perpetuates failure. It nourishes infantilism rather than growth. Dependency works to trap and constrict rather than to liberate. Ultimately, it destroys rather than builds relationships. And, it destroys rather than builds people. My thanks to Dr. M. Scott Peck whose book The Road Less Traveled enabled me to understand what my father knew all along. Visit my websites at http://www.themindsetmechanic.com/ and http://www.militarykidsspeak.com/.

Friday, November 18, 2011

The Quantum Theory Thanksgiving

By Julie Rahm

Quantum Theory is mostly based on the concept that subatomic particles can have both wave-like and particle-like properties. This phenomenon is known as wave–particle duality. The theory is widely accepted because experiments have shown that electrons can bend around objects and can display wave shapes. Also fascinating is the fact that particles travel in probabilistic waves. Electrons always “are” where we attempt to measure them.

Quantum Theory is still incomplete and mind blowing to most of us. However, it has a direct connection to our Rahm household Thanksgiving Day dinner. In Quantum Theory, subatomic particles travel in probabilistic waves. Probabilities are a vital ingredient in all the theories. In our Rahm Thanksgiving Day dinner, probabilities also play an important role. There is a certain probability that my husband, John, will start a minor fire while deep frying the turkey. The probabilistic nature of this minor fire is confirmed by the annual presence of a big fire extinguisher positioned by the deep fryer. John will not fry anything without our big fire extinguisher. I don’t think John understands Quantum Theory. But, he has, at least, an acquired understanding of grease fires. And, like electrons circling in an atom, John will keep everything and everybody at an appropriate circling radius by positioning the fryer in the middle of our driveway.

Early Quantum Theory was developed through extensive measurements and experimentation. Likewise, our Thanksgiving Day turkey frying requires quantum like measurement and preparation. The frozen turkey is placed in the pot and covered with water. Then, the turkey is removed and the waterline is marked on the inside of the pot. This line will indicate the amount of oil that is required to cover the turkey and not spill into the fire, in theory!

In both Quantum Theory and turkey frying, how you do the experiment matters. It is important to get the procedures correct. For example, if the turkey is incorrectly inserted into the boiling oil feet first, its narrow neck will act like a funnel atop a boiling pot. Hot boiling oil will geyser and spew upward. And, just like light behaves in Quantum Theory there will be reflection, refraction, diffraction, and interference! Mostly it will be John yelling and running for the fire extinguisher.

Modern physicists are now trying to reconcile the well proven Quantum theories and the classical, Einstein-like description of how the universe operates. String theory has emerged as the latest attempt to bridge the gap. Essentially, String Theory hypothesizes that particles wobble around like strings. I believe in String Theory because on numerous occasions I’ve forgotten to remove the string, neck and bagged giblets from inside the turkey. Consequently, all the fixins got deep fried inside the turkey. So, if you want to learn more about fried turkeys and Quantum Theory you can visit my website at www.themindsetmechanic.com. Lastly, I want to thank Dr. Pearlstein who taught me Quantum Theory at the University of Nebraska. Perhaps we’ll name the turkey in his honor this year!

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Trench Boxes

By Julie Rahm


I have a friend who owned a heavy construction business. He and my husband, John, were childhood friends. Recently, our friend was sued in civil court.

Months earlier, this thriving construction company was working along side a road digging a deep trench. They were installing some big drainage pipes. The trench was very deep. Usually, when digging a deep trench, the construction workers set a trench box down into the trench. A trench box is a sided frame made from heavy steel. The trench box keeps the sides of trench from caving in, allowing the workers to safely work in the trench. One fateful day, the trench box was not set into the trench. The trench caved in on some workers killing one. The jury found our friend negligent for a wrongful death. The widow/plaintiff was awarded a generous settlement. The liability insurance that the construction business carried did not cover “obvious” negligence. The business went bankrupt. All the company assets were confiscated and sold. Twenty employees lost their well paying jobs. It was very sad. On this particular day, the consequences caused by failure to use a trench box were horrible. The road of life can turn quickly. I wonder how many of us fail to use our own trench boxes.

Metaphorical trench boxes are a good way to keep life from caving in on us. One important trench box prevents financial cave-ins. Spending less money than you make is a good financial trench box. Spending more than you make creates debt. And, large debt is like working in a financial trench without a trench box. You risk a financial cave-in if you fail to meet your over extended financial obligations.

Another financial trench box is a low credit card limit. Credit card interest rates are high. When incurred credit card interest exceeds your minimum payment, the balance grows even though no purchases are being made. Debt snowballs and the credit card trench caves in burying you and your well being.

Metaphorical trench boxes are also essential in relationships. An extended period of dating, before marriage, helps prevent marital cave-ins. One of my best girl friends left her home in Virginia and moved in with her significant other in Ohio. She found him through an on-line dating service, they met in person a few times and she moved in. She completely disregarded the trench box concept. As you can guess, the relationship trench caved in. He drank a lot. She received a broken nose, broken cheek bone, and a severe concussion. He received probation and court mandated counseling. Both had no dating trench box!

Kids need parents to put trench boxes in their trenches for them. Young people need guidance. Some choices in life are irreversible. Empowering kids to choose wisely is an important trench box to prevent a young life from caving in.

The trench box concept is a valuable and useful metaphor. Use it liberally and be careful in life’s ditches! Visit my web site at http://www.americasmindsetmechanic.com/.

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Roofing

By Julie Rahm

Our contractor began work on our new roof this week. Our old roof was trashed. Hurricane Irene did enough damage to warrant a brand new covering for our house. Roofing is unpleasant and demanding work. Our roof is particularly difficult. It has a lot of pitch making it a real challenge to walk on. Roofing is an occupation for those sure footed and not afraid of heights. The contractor brought in a five man crew. Two workers stripped the old roof, one did clean up on the ground, while the other two nailed down the new shingles. The most difficult part for me was the color decision. I did not realize the variety of shingle colors. Thankfully, I did not allow my husband, John, to choose the color. I think he preferred a nice shade of Tarheel blue. I finally convinced him a favorite color is not a choice prerequisite. What looks nice on the basketball court or football field may not translate into an appropriate roof color. I persevered and we are having a nice shade of brown installed.

So when we (I) made the color decision, I thought all the roofing controversy was over. Until, I arrived home one afternoon and found John on the roof stripping shingles. Now, it would be impolite to reveal John’s age. However, his age well doubles the next closest worker stripping the roof. I asked him, “What the heck are you doing on the roof?” John replied, “I’m helping the guys out a bit.” Immediately, I realized I did not start a direct conversation. I didn’t say what I meant. I meant, “John, get the heck down off the roof. You might kill yourself and leave me a widow.” Not being direct gave John the opportunity to string the conversation along. But now, the conversation was at a decision point. Should I order my husband down off the roof? At considerable risk, he was three stories high proving something to himself. At what point would you intervene? John didn’t have anything to prove to me. I know he is quite capable of working all day on a roof. Perhaps he was seeing how it felt. He did some roofing work as a teenager, a long time ago. Perhaps he misses the adrenaline from flying Harriers. I don’t know what possessed him to be on our roof. However, ordering him down would injure our relationship. He might not comply. And, my lack of confidence in him would injure his pride. It was an interesting dilemma. How far would you let your husband go? How far do you let your teenager go? In life, where is the tipping point between risk and relationship? How far do you let a loved one go before you can’t stand it anymore? It is a personal decision underpinned by your level of tolerance. In the end, I corrected my mindset for worry and John remained on our roof.

If a loved one is “on your roof”, visit my website at www.TheMindsetMechanic.com.

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Winds of Change

By Julie Rahm
Obvious to county residents, it is windy here in North Carolina. Allegedly, Chicago is the windy city. However, I think not. It was no mistake two bicycle making brothers from Ohio chose to fly their aircraft here. Orville and Wilber didn’t fly their craft on the banks of Lake Michigan. They came to our Outer Banks at considerable inconvenience. The winds are a mixed blessing. Sometimes, the winds arrive bringing a pleasant change of season. Other times, the wind roars into the county leaving a path of destruction unlike anything in recent history. Regardless, the wind always brings change. I wonder what causes the change in people’s lives. I guess that change is part of life and being human. I see that some county residents deal with change better than others. There are a lot of theories on change acceptance. But generally, the experts think there are four stages of change as they relate to human emotion.

The first stage of change is Denial. My husband, John, gets stuck here a lot. I know because often, the first words out of his mouth are “No way” or “You gotta be kiddin me.” Words like these are evidence of denial. An extreme example was John’s Grandfather. He was stuck in denial when, in 1954, the Philadelphia Athletics baseball team moved to Kansas City and eventually Oakland California. He refused to call the team the Oakland A’s. Until he passed away in 1997, John’s Grandfather always referred to the Oakland A’s as the Philadelphia A’s! Forty-three years is really being stuck in denial! It is important to move out of denial and into the next stage which is Anger and Blame.

Anger and Blame are easy to recognize. This stage of change is charged with emotion. It can be paralyzing and extremely unproductive for the individual. At times, the worst in an individual surfaces causing unintended consequences. Self discipline and self awareness are good remedies to move on to the next stage of change which is Reluctant Acceptance.

Reluctant Acceptance is often characterized by bargaining and compromise. Children are masters of this stage of change. They usually move quickly through Denial and Anger and into Reluctant Acceptance. Most children, as dependents, realize they are not masters of their own destiny and focus their efforts in this stage of change in order to minimize the impact of the impending change. As an example, when children change schools, they attempt to negotiate for return visits, Skype accounts etc. This bargaining is evidence they are through the Denial and Anger.

Commitment is the final stage of change. Commitment is also easy to recognize. John says commitment in the Marine Corps is like the turkey at Thanksgiving, you’re all in!

So, when the winds bring change into your life, remember the four stages of change. When you recognize them in yourself and others, your awareness will lead you to a more productive mindset and a better outcome. Learn more at my website www.themindsetmechanic.com.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Stuck in Punctuation

By Julie Rahm


Written language does not come easily to me. Writing this column requires a lot of effort. I struggle with most sentences. I’m reluctant to learn how much time each of my words takes to move from my mind onto the paper (or computer monitor). It probably takes an inordinate amount of time per word. A subset of the struggle to compose a column is the punctuation. If writing is difficult, then the punctuation really requires effort. I still recollect my English teacher administering tests that required us to properly add the punctuation to sentences. For me, and most, the tests were nightmarish. I dislike punctuation. One week, while writing this column, I left out all the punctuation. I omitted all the periods, commas, question marks, exclamation marks and apostrophes. My thought was; it wouldn’t matter and I would be able to capture my thoughts without all the punctuation. I just slammed my thoughts into the computer with total disregard. Well, the column turned out a real mess. I could not decipher anything I wrote. I had to start all over from scratch making sure to include the punctuation. Then it occurred to me. Punctuation is a natural part of life. The universe and all things natural require punctuation. Even relationships require punctuation. The punctuation in your relationship helps organize the details.


As my own example, most times, when my husband John asks me “What to do?”, he is not asking a question. Before the words leave his mouth, he has thought about the possibilities and outcomes. He knows what he wants to do before the “What to do?” question comes my way. He has usually mentally discussed “What to do?” before he asks me. Therefore, in our relationship, the “What to do?” questions come my way without question marks. John’s “What to do?” questions come with periods instead. With these questions, I understand the punctuation in our relationship. Instead of “What to do?”, I have learned to hear; “I have thought about this and already know what I want to do. I just want a little discussion to ensure I have chosen correctly, offer you a small opportunity to voice an opinion and gain your concurrence with my choice.” This is what John exactly means when he asks me “What to do?”.

Another example of relationship punctuation is my use of exclamation marks. When speaking, I over use exclamation marks!!! Most sentences that leave my mouth have exclamation marks!!! I am passionate about everything!!! John has mastered the punctuation and mentally omits the extraneous exclamation marks. As a result, he doesn’t get excited about my excitement. It calms our dialogue and we have more productive conversations.

Mastery of punctuation in a relationship is an acquired skill that once learned provides great reward. So when listening to your significant other, consider the punctuation. Is the question really a question? Is an exclamation mark really required? Enjoy better conversations and a healthier mindset!

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Bare Spots

By Julie Rahm

Hurricane Irene trashed our landscaping. Water from the creek uprooted then swept away our shrubs, small trees and pine straw. For a few hours, we really had property on the water or rather, in the water! When the water did recede, our yard resembled a trench warfare scene from World War I. Everything was scoured and stripped bare. We’ve spent hours hauling fill and mulch back onto the yard to cover the bare spots. The yard cover up has been a huge effort. As we neared completion, it occurred to me people also expend a lot of effort covering up their own bare spots. Similar to us covering the bare spots in our yard, some people go to great lengths to cover their own shortcomings.

Why are some so concerned about their shortcomings? Do they have a fear of being judged? Will we like them less if we know them more? Some people practice image control as a hobby. I once had a client who wanted desperately to have her own business. The community had a need for what she wanted to offer. I had no doubt her business would be an overwhelming success. However, her fear of being judged caused her to constantly lie about how well the business was going. She never could catch up with her stories. The energy she expended on image stifled her creativity and initiative. Even though her business seemed destined to be successful, her fear of failure kept her merely limping along. The root of her concern was the inevitable criticism from her family should she fail at her new business. It was sad to see a vibrant and intelligent entrepreneur stuck in the status quo.

How often do we fail to make our relationships better because we’re worried about exposing our “bare spots”? Especially during the early part of any relationship there is marketing. Bare spots are definitely covered up. Everyone puts their best foot forward in order to woo a perspective mate. And then it’s difficult to meet expectations later. I credit the success of my marriage to John with not having those first six months or so of good behavior. We met at work during a meeting when neither of us was looking for a relationship. The mother of all arguments ensued between us and in front of everyone. I not only won the argument, but also earned a new nickname, the Blond Pitbull. So when John asked me to dinner the following year I had a sudden thought that maybe a relationship between us could work. The opportunity for marketing ourselves to each other had long since passed. And yet he still wanted to have dinner with me, “bare spots” and all.

The next time you find yourself masking your “bare spots”, take a moment for self-reflection. It takes a lot of energy to be something you’re not. And who you are may be exactly perfect for the situation at hand.

Saturday, October 1, 2011

Do You Care?

By Julie Rahm


I’ve visited different parts of our county to witness firsthand how the hurricane recovery effort is progressing. I’m pleased to report we’re making great progress with still a great distance to cover. Help arrives from all over. But, the best assistance doesn’t come from Washington D.C. or Raleigh. The best assistance comes from within the county itself; from neighbors, friends, relatives, clubs and churches. County residents truly care about one another. So, it is “caring” that brings you my message this week. You see, caring is not just a way of feeling. Caring is also a way of behaving. Often, we treat “care” like an adjective. We say “I care”, when we describe ourselves. It is too often used a passive descriptor. In reality, the word “care” is a verb and implies action. In relationships, couples stop “caring” because behavior has changed. Feelings follow behavior. Without caring behavior, there will be no caring feelings. Here are some small behaviors that will rekindle the caring in your relationships:

Do it, don’t say it. Your actions speak louder than words and hollow words are a worthless commodity. Of course, this doesn’t mean you don’t have to say it. You still must communicate your feelings. Words still matter. But, what matters even more are the actions behind the words. Do what you say.

Refuse to argue and pick your battles. You can be right or you can be happy. The choice is yours. My husband John says, “Great countries don’t fight small wars”. Letting the “small ones” go is a good strategy for a successful relationship. Keep in mind the end state you’re trying to achieve. What will be the cost of winning a particular argument? To their detriment, couples often lack a long term perspective.

Apologize even if you’re not wrong. And, apologies must be genuine. “I’m sorry you were hurt by that”, is not an apology! I prefer the words “I apologize” rather than “I’m sorry”. The latter just describes how you’re feeling and offers nothing to your partner. Again, “sorry” is an adjective and “apologize” is a verb. Verbs are more effective.

Do something unexpected. Unexpected is one of the ingredients of romance. Unexpected doesn’t have to be big or expensive. Bring home her favorite food. Leave a note in his shoe. Do your partner’s chore. I get huge appreciation when I drag the trash can to the curb. You’ll get big points for unexpected. Romance doesn’t have to be expensive.

Sharing is caring. Everything must be, at the very least, offered for sharing. Sharing is the foundation for a relationship. Even the bad things must be shared. Successes and failures must be jointly experienced. No sharing equals no caring. Food, drinks, finances etc. without exception.

Fake it till you make it. Behaviors foster feelings. If you’ve lost the spark, do those caring things that earned you the relationship you remember. For more tidbits, visit my website at www.TheMindsetMechanic.com.

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Snow Shovels

By Julie Rahm

Three weeks after hurricane Irene, our yard is getting back to normal. We have moved tons of washed-in debris off our property and onto the curb. At least it seems like tons! All this debris was not ours. Most of it washed in with the storm and got deposited on our lawn. During the cleanup, we found our snow shovel’s lost utility. It has only been used once or twice since moving down south. But, we almost wore it out shoveling the lawn. The amount and coverage of the lawn debris was amazing.

Interestingly, the storm was good at carrying debris in but not out. To me, the lawn debris is a mental metaphor. I liken the debris to another person’s judgment and criticism. Like the storm’s debris, unwanted judgment and criticism arrive and stay. Criticism lingers on our mental lawn ruining the landscape and our perspective of ourselves. When inevitable criticism does arrive, it must be met with resilience and maturity. Often, we feel anger when criticized. This is our ego defending us. Our unconscious mind asks, “What if this criticism is true?” and reacts with a dose of anger in defense. Unlike football, the best defense against criticism is not offense. The best defense against criticism is actually defense. Don’t personalize criticism. Keep it on your outside. If the criticism is true, embrace it and work harder at becoming better. If the criticism is not true, deal with it in a constructive manner. In either case, criticism must be processed on the outside of ourselves. Don’t let anyone leave storm debris on your mental lawn.

Sometimes criticism is not intended. Many critical people don’t know they’re critical. Once, I was hired by a company to “fix” a middle manger. He was viewed as confrontational and critical. Productivity was suffering along with the employees. Lacking self awareness, this manager viewed himself as helpful and constructive. The real issue was his delivery. My husband John says, “If your only tool is a hammer, you see every problem as a nail.” This manager just needed some more tools. After a few short sessions with me, he learned to always lead with a positive and understate the negative. He learned to think about the end states he desired and best way to achieve them. And, after learning some effective techniques to change employee behavior, the critical work environment in this company morphed into a positive healthy place.

In life, storms come and go. At some point, we can all expect a storm surge of judgment and criticism to sweep into our lives. The key to happiness is a quick clean up. So, don’t let the debris come to rest on your mental lawn. Meet judgment and criticism with resilience and maturity. Snow shovel that unwanted debris right to the curb where it belongs!

Get your own metaphorical snow shovel and remove storm debris from your mental lawn by visiting my website at www.TheMindsetMechanic.com.

Friday, September 2, 2011

Should Be and As Is

By Julie Rahm

Hurricane Irene has ripped into Pamlico County leaving a huge amount of devastation. Unfortunately, with the devastation, often comes despair. When the storm surge subsides, despair remains behind. It is not the destruction left behind by hurricane Irene that is fatal. Often fatal is the despair that remains long after the hurricane has moved up the coast. The loss of possessions will not ruin a life. But the accompanying despair will ruin those things most dear. Relationships, marriages, employment and health will all eventually fall victim to despair. Despair is a mental cancer that spreads into a life leaving the victim hopeless. Even worse, a case of despair is not easily cured.

However, some Pamlico County residents handle the devastation and despair with little effort. They are credited with resilience and positive attitudes. Their strength is touted as an example for all of us to follow. But as I examine these residents, I have learned the resilient are fundamentally different than the rest of the majority. They view their world in a fundamentally different way. Those that thrive, in any circumstance, view the world “As Is” not as it “Should Be”. They are focused in a constructive way. Being focused on things “As Is” makes individuals neutral about their personal losses from hurricane Irene.

For example, when the entire first floor of their beautiful home gets blown back into the Neuse River, the resilient are not focused on “Should Be”. They are focused on the fact that the first floor is gone, “As Is”. Despair doesn’t take hold in these residents. They remain in the present; ready to move forward with their lives. As a contrast, those focused on “Should Be” are stuck facing backward. They cannot move on from the thought that their first floor “Should Be” here. They cannot move forward because they are not in the present. A focus on “Should Be” leaves the door open for despair to arrive and thrive.

As another example of “As Is”, a Pamlico County resident was without electric, water and phones for days. His car was totally flooded. This resident was completely cut off from everything comfortable and routine. However, he was not focused on his current plight and what “Should Be”. He was focused on “As Is”. A few days after the storm, I found him barbequing his soon to be spoiled freezer contents for his neighbors. He was still cheerful without an ounce of despair. He camped out on his back deck and enjoyed things “As Is” without a thought of how his circumstances “Should Be”.

The distinction between “Should Be” and “As Is” cannot be overstated. It is a very subtle but substantial difference in the mindset of people allowing them to thrive despite the circumstance.

Get your prescription of “As Is” by visiting my website at www.TheMindsetMechanic.com. And, listen to the Mindset Mechanic Radio Show, Saturdays at 5PM on FM107.1 WTKF.



Friday, August 26, 2011

Choppin’ Doors

By Julie Rahm

A thousand years ago, my husband John worked at a K-Mart. He worked there while attending the local Community College. He was hired during the Christmas season to work in the toy department. When spring arrived, he worked in the garden center and later on the loading dock. He also waxed the floors when the store was closed. The store managers actually locked him inside, alone and “released” him by unlocking the doors in the morning. He was held captive inside the store, waxing and buffing floors, until the manager returned in the morning.

One evening, as John tells the story, he smelled smoke inside the store and called the police, asking them to send a patrol car to check the outside of building. As John hung up the phone with the police, he heard the fire sirens. Instead of a patrol car to check the outside of the building, the police dispatcher had immediately called the fire department. In three minutes there were seven fire trucks and a score of volunteer firemen outside the locked door of the K-Mart! The Fire Chief was yelling for John to open the door. John yelled back he didn’t have a key. The fire fighters were determined to get inside and wouldn’t wait for the manager to arrive to unlock the door. Out came the big fire axe. And, the fire fighters chopped in the door of the K-Mart! The door exploded inward and burglar alarm screamed loud enough to wake everyone within two city blocks. Those remaining residents, who slept through the arrival of the seven fire trucks, were now wide awake. In bath robes and bedroom slippers, neighbors began to gather at the K-mart to investigate the commotion. There was quite a crowd for two o’clock in the morning. John called the store manger who promptly arrived to turn off the alarm. At this point, John was certain to be fired. However, the Fire Chief gave the store manager a “stern talking to” for locking John inside at night. John didn’t get fired. To add insult to injury, the fire fighters tracked their boots all over John’s freshly waxed floor. There was no sign of any fire. Customers entering the K-mart the next morning were bewildered by the missing front doors.

This story is John’s favorite. It serves as a lesson when asking for help. How often in life have we asked for help and been disappointed. Sometimes the help is too much or too little. And, like John, sometimes the help is not what we expected. So, my message this week is when asking for help, be sure everyone involved understands your expectations. Be careful what you ask for. Or, the fire department may arrive to help and chop in your front door!

Get your own help that always meets your expectations by joining the Mindset Mechanic Community at www.TheMindsetMechanic.com. Listen to the Mindset Mechanic Radio Show, Saturdays at 5PM on FM107.1 WTKF.

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Bang on Coffins

By Julie Rahm


A thousand years ago, when my husband was a teenager, he worked in a cemetery. He mainly cut grass. But, as a part-time job, he dug foundations for the tombstones. Tombstones are quite heavy and will settle into the ground if they are not supported underneath by a cement foundation. It was John’s job to dig an appropriate size hole, mix and fill it with concrete. His boss was Mr. Edgar Case. Edgar was at least eighty years old and his family had owned the local tombstone business for three generations. Edgar knew how everyone was buried in the cemetery. You see, the cemetery was quite old. Revolutionary War soldiers are buried there. Everyone is not “laid out” in nice neat rows. A lot of the customers are buried haphazardly. Edgar remembered who was where and how.

In addition to an excellent memory, Edgar was retentive. The holes for the foundations were roped off and dug deep. Gravel, sand, cement, water buckets and the tarp for the dirt were laid out exactly the same way for every hole. The process was consistent and exact. John did most of the digging. But, Edgar would do his share. Edgar worked slow but steady; all day long. Most often the duo would dig all the way down to the ground box. (Coffins are placed in a cement ground box.) When the bottom of the hole would reach the ground box, Edgar would inevitably take the shovel and bang on the box to rattle the coffin. John was mortified at Edgar’s antics. Edgar would yell the name of the deceased along with a slanderous remark or two while laughing big and loud. As you can imagine, some of Edgar’s remarks were quite colorful. Edgar often performed a celebratory dance on top of the ground box and coffin. You see, Edgar always knew the deceased. It was a small town.

At first, I thought the story was morbid and somewhat disrespectful. But after some thought, I have changed my view of Edgar’s celebration. In a weird way, it was like two long-lost friends meeting again. Except in this case, one was dead and one was not. Edgar continued to out live his friends. He watched them get buried one by one. How did Edgar live long enough to bang on all of his friends coffins? The answer is evident. Edgar’s body, mind and spirit triad had strength and balance. For his body, Edgar ate well, worked hard and got plenty of rest. For his mind, Edgar always had something meaningful he needed to accomplish everyday. And lastly, Edgar fed his spirit by banging on his friends coffins, expressing joy and rejoicing in the memories of friends departed.

Like Edgar, you too can live long enough to bang on your friends coffins! Tune-up your body, mind, spirit triad by joining the Mindset Mechanic Community at http://www.themindsetmechanic.com/. Listen to the Mindset Mechanic Radio Show, Saturdays at 5PM on FM107.1 WTKF.

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Junk in the Front Yard

By Julie Rahm
Some homes here in my County have junk in their front yards. A lot of this junk has resided in these yards for a long time. It seems most of this trash is multi-generational junk. There is Granddad’s car, Dad’s boat, the family refrigerator from 1970 and assorted farm implements meant for horses. All of this junk could be recycled instead of rusting away in a front yard. Within city limits, there are ordinances preventing the tarnishing of the landscape. But, outside the limits of town incorporation, folks are free to use their front yards as a personal landfill.

It sounds like I am bothered by all the front yard junk. In fact, I am not bothered by it at all. It’s not the front yard junk that bothers me. As America’s Mindset Mechanic, I am bothered by the mental junk that individuals carry around in their heads. Mental junk is those useless beliefs that clutter our thinking. Just like an old family car that rusts away in the yard, useless mental junk muddles the mind and never leaves the landscape. The lawn can grow up around the car and partially hide the eyesore. But, you can see it from the street and you still know it’s there. Likewise with mental junk; it can be partially hidden but others often recognize it. Some examples of mental junk that I hear are: “I’m not smart. I can’t do it. I’m not pretty”. This negative self talk bothers me more than all the lawn junk in the County combined. The destructive nature of negative thoughts can’t be over stated. Why? Because your thoughts affect the way you feel. The way you feel affects your actions. And, your actions drive the results you get in life. Your thoughts are the single most important factor in living the life you want. Like the front yard junk, some of this negative thinking is multi-generational mental junk.

As a multi-generational example of mental lawn junk, I’ve heard, “I can’t go to college. Nobody in my family ever goes to college.” This young person, even though he’s got the intelligence and financial resources to attend college, will not go to college to better his station in life. What you believe, you will get. The junk in this young man’s head destines him to life of labor free from choices, in the family tradition.

So, instead of using your mind as your personal landfill by putting that worthless junk in your mental front yard, toss out those negative thoughts about yourself. Get them off the property and away from you. You are a special person. Beware of letting negative self talk ruin your life. Keep your mental front lawn free from the debris of life.

Get some mental landscaping help by joining the Mindset Mechanic Community at www.TheMindsetMechanic.com. Listen to the Mindset Mechanic Radio Show, Saturdays at 5PM on FM107.1 WTKF in Eastern NC, or via http://www.thetalkstation.com/. Listen all week at http://www.TheMindsetMechanic.com/radio-show.php.



Friday, August 5, 2011

Horses of Different Colors

By Julie Rahm


There are about 56 thousand Apache Indians in the United States. Apaches are a proud and noble people. Their culture is rich in tradition. For hundreds of years, they dominated the southwest. Now, Apaches live mainly in Arizona, New Mexico and Oklahoma. Most Apaches don’t like to be called Apaches. Why? Because our western culture mistakenly labels all of the Apachean people as Apaches. Really, there are about 28 distinct tribes of Apachean peoples. And, the modern generic term Apache generally refers to the largest six or seven tribes. For example, it is impolite to refer to Mescaleros as Apaches. Mescaleros will correct you if you refer to them as generic Apaches. More familiar are the Navajos who are Apachean, but definitely not Apaches.

My husband, John, says Apaches, when required, rode their horses until the horses dropped dead from exhaustion. Then, these same Apaches ate their dead horses! This is probably not true. But, John uses the story to describe an employee consuming management style. John says “Apache Managers” ride their employees until they die, then eat them, then complain about how bad they tasted. That’s John’s definition of Apache management! If you’re working for an Apache manager, you can surely relate to the description.

I also see John’s definition of Apache management in relationships. I have a client whose ex-wife was an Apache spouse. When the two were married, she rode my client until he had nothing left to give. He was her man servant and became exhausted. The relationship ended and she “ate him” by taking most of the possessions and leaving him with severe alimony. When I see her, she complains about him, the relationship and the divorce settlement; in effect “how bad he tasted”. There are plenty of other examples where the husband is the Apache. Apache husbands stand by, idle, while the wife becomes exhausted by the kids, household responsibilities and her full-time job.

In addition, horses come in different flavors. John lovingly refers to me a thoroughbred. He says I’m good at the mile but not good at plowing fields. I’m high spirited and require great care. Don’t try to plow a field with your prize thoroughbred. And, don’t take your prize farm horse to the race track. Know who you have in the stable. Enjoy each other strengths. And, help each other with the weaknesses.

So, my mindset message this week is simple. Examine your relationships at home and at work. Is the horse you’re riding slowing down? Don’t be an Apache who rides their mate or employees into exhaustion. The horse you’re riding needs rest, care and feeding.

Lastly, I apologize to the Apacheans. I think John is wrong. I’ll bet they never ate their horses.

Tune up your mindset and get your free 52-week online guided journal by joining the Mindset Mechanic Community at www.TheMindsetMechanic.com. Listen to the Mindset Mechanic Radio Show, Saturdays at 5PM on FM107.1 WTKF.

Saturday, July 30, 2011

Pass the Salt

By Julie Rahm


Salt is big business. In 2007, the total world production of salt was estimated at 257 million metric tons, the top five producers being China (59.8 million tons), the United States (44.5), Germany (19.8), India (16.0), and Canada (11.8). Americans are responsible for most of the demand. We consume more than two-and-a-half times the recommended amount of salt. The Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommend that adults should consume less than 2,300 mg of sodium or about one teaspoon of salt per day. The Center for Disease Control found nearly 70 percent of U.S. adults are in high-risk groups that would benefit from a lower-salt diet of no more than 1,500 mg per day, yet most consume closer to 3,500 mg per day. Nearly everyone is aware of the risks. The Wall Street Journal reported that Pepsi is developing a “designer salt” that is slightly more powdery than the salt it regularly uses. The company hopes this new form of salt will cut sodium levels by 25-percent in its Lay’s potato chips. NestlĂ© prepared foods company, which produces frozen meals, announced that it will reduce sodium in its foods 10-percent by the year 2015. Also, General Mills announced that it will reduce the sodium content of 40-percent of its foods 20-percent by the year 2015.

It seems everyone is working toward lower salt consumption. But, salt is often consumed in a different way. Salt is sometimes rubbed into the wounds of others. And, even worse, some people rub salt into their own wounds. What do I mean? As an example, one of my clients, a tactless manager, was quick to point out the failures of others. He put salt in others’ wounds. His managerial style rendered him less effective than his counterparts. Instead of instructing, this manager would critique his employees in a harsh demeaning way. Productivity suffered until the manager was able to hear and feel the words he delivered. Once he stopped putting salt in wounds, productivity increased and the workplace environment improved dramatically. Most often, others know they have failed and don’t need to feel any additive pain.

Another misuse of salt is putting it in your own wounds. Self ridicule and negative self talk leads to underachieving. Your mind is your most powerful asset. Unfortunately, if you speak ill of yourself, your mind will believe what you tell it. What you focus on grows. The ability to turn a negative thought into a positive thought is the vital ingredient for a successful and fulfilling life. So, easy with the salt! Leave salt out of your wounds and be kind in what you say to yourself and others. Your mindset is the difference between achieving your desires and falling short.

Tune up your mindset and get your free 52-week online guided journal by joining the Mindset Mechanic Community at www.TheMindsetMechanic.com. Listen to the Mindset Mechanic Radio Show, Saturdays and Sundays at 5PM on FM107.1 WTKF.

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Recipes

By Julie Rahm


We all have favorite recipes. And, most of our favorite recipes have been in our families for generations. Some family recipes are guarded secrets. Family recipes are traded and given like a valuable commodity. A high watermark of friendship is when your friend gives you her grandmother’s favorite recipe. Everyone has a grandmother recipe for this or that.

When I was younger, attendance at my grandparent’s Sunday dinner was a required event. Grandma’s pot roast was the usual dish. I have always enjoyed my grandmother’s pot roast recipe. Her roast was always cooked with the ends cut off. Consequently, following Grandma’s example, I always cut off the ends before cooking any roast. One evening, with Grandma’s recipe roast (without ends) on our table, John asked why I always cut off the ends. I gave the obvious answer, “Grandma did it.” I realized my answer was unsatisfying. So, the next day I asked my mother why grandma cut the ends off the roasts. My mother answered, “So it would fit in her small pot.” True! I had been blindly cutting the ends off the roasts most of my adult life! John won’t let me live it down. But the good news is; I have stopped the legacy and ensured our daughters know they don’t have cut off the ends!

In our home, another favorite recipe is Nana Rahm’s Chicken Squares. These Chicken Squares are my husband’s favorite. Really, the recipe is not that great. (Sorry Nana!) Even though the recipe is mediocre, my husband likes it above all others. I was slow to understand. I thought perhaps I had the recipe wrong. Then finally, I realized why these (average at best) Chicken Squares are the most requested meal in our household. It was so simple. The taste of the chicken squares returns John to his childhood and his adoring grandmother. Before he was a teen, John spent storybook summers with his grandparents in the Pocono Mountains in eastern Pennsylvania. The Chicken Squares flood his mind with those summer memories of lakes and bikes. We are all familiar with the magic of family recipes. The tastes return us to a sanctuary of memories. The familiar food provides medicine for the soul and bonds us to the past. The recipes are tangible ties to our family that has come and gone. Our literal taste of the past helps ease our concerns for the future. There is no mindset medicine stronger than your Grandmother’s favorite recipe. It is nearly impossible to be grumpy when you’re eating food the way your Grandmother fixed it. Comfort food can be a great way to turn your day around and improve your mindset. For Nana Rahm’s Chicken Square recipe, e-mail me at julie@americasmindsetmechanic.com. Let me know how you liked them.

Get your free 52-week online guided journal by joining the Mindset Mechanic Community at http://www.themindsetmechanic.com/. Listen to the Mindset Mechanic Radio Show, Saturdays at 5PM on FM107.1 WTKF or via http://www.TheMindsetMechanic.com/radio-show.php.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Worry-nation

By Julie Rahm

My coaching business makes me well traveled. I have wonderful experiences with a lot of different clients from all walks of life. As their Mindset Mechanic, I help them work through their challenges. One of the commonalities I see is worry.

Worry seems to be a common thread that runs through the fabric of all our personalities. It is inherent in the human species. This worry can be paralyzing. Some are unable to make decisions and move forward in their lives. The sum of their unknowns overcomes their ability to “get going”. Worry is an obstacle that can prevent people from achieving their dreams. It can stop people from taking even marginal risks that might better their lives. It is sad to witness individuals with so much potential that will not move forward because they are worried about consequences.

Dan Zadra says, “Worry is misuse of our imagination”. So, I use a simple imagination exercise to get my clients over their worry. Together we write down their major concerns. Then, we imagine the worst and all their worries happen. After they imagined all their worries came true, we discuss the “now what”. At the end of this simple exercise, my clients realize if their worries materialize, the consequences are really not that bad. They stop worrying and move forward with their lives. One client was reluctant to leave his employer and start his own business. He wouldn’t make the leap to entrepreneurship. He was worried about failure. He feared being judged if he failed and had to go back to a job. To help him through his dilemma, we discussed his fears. At the end of our session, he realized that whatever happened he could handle it. Then, he wrote detailed visions for his new thriving business and how he feels running a successful business, as if his wish was already fulfilled. Free from fear, he made the leap. Now, his new business is flourishing, reflecting his vision.

Fear is the largest component of worry. When you master your fears, worry disappears. My husband, John, is not a worrier. He doesn’t carry around a lot of fear. Yet, he is cautious. He tends to prepare for the worst and hope for the best. His time in the Marine Corps has served him well. He says being shot at provides a new perspective on fear. Really, you don’t have to be shot at to become the master of your worries. My metaphorical tools can help. When your level tilts, you are dwelling in worry. Use the flashlight to figure out why. Pluck those worries from your mind with the pliers. Use the hammer to pound in a positive vision of your wish fulfilled. Finally, the tape measures your progress toward a better mindset.

Journal your way to success! Get your free 52-week online guided journal by joining the Mindset Mechanic Community at www.TheMindsetMechanic.com. Listen to the Mindset Mechanic Radio Show,

Friday, July 8, 2011

UnderAssumptions

By Julie Rahm


Humans are an interesting species. We are complex creatures who have created a complex world. The resulting human understanding of the universe is impressive. Each generation builds on the knowledge of the previous. It is astounding to think the first powered flight by the Wright brothers was only 108 years ago. Now, with the number at 135, Space Shuttle flights are so common they rarely get news coverage. Number 135 received some spotlight only because it was the final flight. Apathy seems to be an unintended by-product of technology. Still, the advancement of technology and understanding is truly amazing. But, it is impossible to have complete understanding of our surroundings at all times. Unfortunately, when our understanding stops, our assumptions begin. And, the slip from understanding to assumptions takes place in our minds. This simple process, from understanding to assumptions, happens by default. It takes place in our heads and causes complications in our lives. Our minds are not our friends. Our minds attempt to derail us. And, when understanding stops, assumptions kick in allowing our minds use the void to wreak havoc with us.

As a personal example, my husband, John, is an “on-time” guy. He usually arrives everywhere 10 minutes early to avoid being late. He flew Close-Air Support missions in the Marine Corps where timing was critical. So, any late or soon-to-be late arrival will send John spinning. My assumption is: John will always be on time. So, when I am standing on the curb waiting to be picked up and John is late, my mind uses the assumption against me and I start believing he has had an accident. Understanding has stopped. Assumptions have intervened. My mind has decided to create havoc with my thoughts. I picture him crashed in a Pamlico County ditch and begin listening for the fire trucks. Really, John just had trouble starting his 1985 Toyota truck! My mind is not my friend. As another example, when I go to Yoga and John doesn’t see my car parked in front, his understanding stops. He assumes I’m not there. And, his unfriendly mind tells him I have played hooky from yoga and gone swimming at Brenna’s! Really, without a parking place in front, I parked the car down the side street.

So my message this week is to be aware when understanding wanes and you default to your assumptions. Usually, your unfriendly mind interjects to mess up your day. My metaphorical toolkit can help. The level tells you understanding has defaulted to assumptions and your mind is about to mess you up. The flashlight tells your pliers what unhealthy thoughts to extract. Then you can hammer in a mindset for seeking to understand. And, the measuring tape shows your progress toward a tuned-up mindset!

Get your free 52-week online guided journal by joining the Mindset Mechanic Community at www.TheMindsetMechanic.com. Listen to the Mindset Mechanic Radio Show, Saturdays at 5PM on FM107.1 WTKF/AM1240 WJNC and

Saturday, July 2, 2011

Good Truth and Bad Truth

By Julie Rahm


My coaching business allows me insight into my client’s lives. My clients are professionals who hire me to improve themselves and their performance. All have challenges in their workplace with relationships they find particularly difficult. These dysfunctional relationships are often fueled with the intent to discredit each other. Like crabs in bucket, employees try to claw their way up by pushing those around them back down into the bucket. These unproductive and unhealthy relationships fill the workplace with tension. And surprisingly, the primary weapon in these employees’ interpersonal arsenal is often the truth. Yes indeed, workplace combatants use the truth as a weapon with the goal of making the adversary employee yield. Injustice is often administered by true words. But, truth does not vindicate one from bad intent. There is bad truth. Truth becomes bad when delivered with bad intent. One of my favorite quotes is by English poet William Blake who lived from 1757 to 1827. He wrote, “A truth that's told with bad intent beats all the lies you can invent.”

Well being demands that differences must be settled in a constructive fashion. I mediate differences by constructing a win-win situation. If everyone wins, everyone moves forward and the organization achieves its goals. And, if a win-win solution can’t be constructed, it is important for the loser to save face. Along those lines, another quote my husband likes is from Sun Tzu. Sun Tzu was an ancient Chinese military general, strategist and philosopher who lived from 544–496 BC. He stated, “To fight and conquer in all our battles is not supreme excellence; supreme excellence consists in breaking the enemy's resistance without fighting”. This is a good philosophy for business management as well as life. We could all use more diplomacy in our lives and homes.

My husband John and I have an enduring rule for our home. Our rule is, “Everything that is said must be true. But, everything that is true doesn’t need to be said”. As an example, when dinner is overcooked, we don’t belabor the point. No need to restate the obvious. Be forward focused. Some are the sportscasters of their relationships. They continually recap what happened or offer opinion. This is not good medicine for any relationship. If this sounds familiar, my Mindset Mechanic metaphorical tools can help. The level confirms you are sliding into an unhealthy mindset of bad intentions. The flashlight illuminates why. The pliers pull out those unproductive thoughts. Then, hammer in a new mindset framework for positive intent. Connect your positive intent with your actions by using the screwdriver. Finally, the measuring tape demonstrates your forward progress. And remember, there is both good and bad truth. Intent makes all the difference.

Uncover beliefs that keep you stuck. Get your free 52-week online guided journal by joining the Mindset Mechanic Community at www.TheMindsetMechanic.com. Listen to the Mindset Mechanic Radio Show, Saturdays at 5PM on FM107.1 WTKF/AM1240 WJNC and via www.TheTalkStation.com.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Pigs with Lipstick

By Julie Rahm

Pigs are a frequent theme in my newspaper column. My husband, John, is responsible. Many of his leadership lessons use one-liners with pigs as metaphors. So, pigs are a frequent topic in our home. For example, John’s friend recently leased a luxury car. He is leasing the car from a dealer who has no morals or conscience. The leasing arrangement is a terrible financial decision. However, John’s friend persists in trying to convince us on the merits of leasing this particular car. John accuses him of putting “lipstick on a pig”. You see, no matter how thick the lipstick, the pig will still be ugly. In spite of color and amount, there is no way you can make a pig a beautiful with lipstick. John’s friend will be financially burdened with this lease for many years. I see other examples all around.

Our good friends purchased a 35-year-old sailboat with intentions of fixing it up and going cruising. The boat is tired and needs a major overhaul. They are spending enough on the old boat to have purchased a new boat. Sadly, after spending a new-boat amount of money, they will still have a 35-year-old boat. However, while wondering if they will actually get to cruise, our friends still expend a lot of energy trying to convince others in the wisdom of their choice. We find it awkward as all discussions seem to lead back to their boat choice. But, no matter how thick the lipstick, the pig is still ugly.

My husband, John, and I had a whole herd of lipstick-wearing pigs living in our house. Now, we don’t bother with the lipstick which makes life with pigs a lot easier. Recently, John got caught up in some good marketing and purchased a rigid dinghy for our sailboat trip. Almost immediately, we realized the dinghy was too unstable. Rather than take an unsuitable dinghy, John admitted his poor choice and purchased an inflatable dinghy with a hard bottom. It was an expensive mistake. But, John didn’t try to put any lipstick on his pig. He “fessed-up” and moved on.

It is difficult to “fess-up” when we’ve made a poor decision. So often, we are engaged in image control or have fear of being judged. However difficult, it is necessary to confront our failures and move on. Most often, others already know we’ve made a mistake. There is no sense in trying to convince them otherwise. However, if you do find yourself applying lipstick to your pig, stop! My metaphorical tools can help. The level lets you know you are off center. Shine the flashlight to examine your mindset. Use the pliers to remove those unhealthy motives. And finally, use the measuring tape to visualize your progress. And, most importantly, don’t put lipstick on your pigs!

Get your free 52-week online guided journal by joining the Mindset Mechanic Community at www.TheMindsetMechanic.com. Listen to the Mindset Mechanic, Saturdays at 5PM on FM107.1 WTKF.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

The Ultimate Designer Drug

By Julie Rahm


Illegal drug use hasn’t subsided much over the years. Awareness education has been intended to reduce the demand. And, law enforcement has intended to reduce the supply. But, despite our efforts, illegal drug use is still a prevalent part of our society. Any teenager can attest to the availability of illegal drugs. Even the variety can be difficult to comprehend. Recently, some students were prosecuted for taking cat tranquilizers stolen from a veterinary clinic! As if abuse of illegal drugs isn’t enough, abuse of legal prescription drugs adds to the problem.

My husband John and I don’t abuse drugs. But, that doesn’t stop John from having fun at the pharmacy. While waiting in line for a prescription, he routinely tries to get a “custom” pill from the pharmacist. His usual request is a concoction of Grecian Formula for gray hair, Rogaine for more hair, Prozac for his attitude, Coumadin for his heart, Lipitor for high cholesterol, Vicodin for aches and Viagra for you know what! Most of the pharmacists now recognize John and look forward to his banter. Of course, all can see he is joking. But, unknown to most, his joke is deliberate and calculated. He intends to lift the spirits of those around him. Those needing prescriptions are often hurting. John makes everyone laugh and improves their day. Once, I was mortified when John asked an elderly man in his 80s if he wanted to share some Viagra! The gentlemen replied indeed it was difficult keeping up with both a wife and girlfriend but he didn’t need it yet. I almost fell down laughing. I asked John why he does this at the pharmacy. He replied, “I took my own pill today.” I took the bait and asked for clarification. His answer was brilliant. He contends the most powerful pill in the world is the “Give-a-damn” pill. When people take their “Give-a-damn” pills, great things happen. Spirits are lifted at the pharmacy and men get to walk on the moon. There is not a more powerful narcotic than the “Give-a-damn” pill. The effects from Cocaine and Heroine pale in comparison to the results of a few “Give-a Damn” pills. They are the ultimate designer drug. Because someone gave a damn, life on this planet improves. So my message this week is to keep taking those “Give-a-damn” pills and there will be no limit to your achievements! But, if you find yourself out of “Give-a-damn” pills, my metaphorical tools can help. The tilt of your level gives you warning that your attitude is slipping. The flashlight points to the cause. Use the pliers to pluck out those negative thoughts and feelings. The hammer rebuilds a good mental framework. And finally, the measuring tape helps you record your progress back to a renewed and healthier mindset.

Get your free 52-week online guided journal by joining the Mindset Mechanic Community at www.TheMindsetMechanic.com. Listen to the Mindset Mechanic, Saturdays at 5PM on FM107.1 WTKF.

Friday, June 10, 2011

Singing Pigs

By Julie Rahm

There are over 8,800,000 pigs in North Carolina making pig farming one of the top economic activities in the State. Economists and politicians pay close attention to the welfare of the State’s pig farming. Even though there are few pigs here in Pamlico County, residents still expend a lot of effort on “pigs”. Unfortunately, the effort expended is a waste of time. You see, some residents expend a lot of effort trying to teach “pigs” to sing. They just don’t know or haven’t learned; “Don’t try to teach a pig to sing. It is a waste of time and it annoys the pig.” “Pigs” are stubborn. They will not change their point of view. You will not get them to sing the words you want to hear. Despite your best efforts at a rational argument, a “pig” will just go on believing what he wants to. No matter what you say, the “pig” will not come around to your point of view. Trying to convince the pig to some other view will simply be annoying.

Admittedly, it is difficult to prevent yourself from trying to teach a pig to sing. It takes a lot of mental discipline to refrain. Often, the conversation is well underway when you find yourself pitted against an unreasonable and unchangeable point of view. It takes a measure of mental toughness to leave a person alone with his own faulty opinion. And, it is often hard to extract yourself from a dialogue that has turned distasteful. My husband has mastered the art of abruptly leaving a conversation. John simply announces very loudly, publicly and without embarrassment, “Holy cow, I’ve got to go to the bathroom!” I’ve seen him do this numerous times. After his proclamation, all talking will stop and he simply walks away. Even an unyielding and argumentative person will release you from the discussion. This is the best technique I’ve seen to leave a conversation! Anyone with an ounce of compassion will not detain someone who needs a trip to the bathroom, especially if the need is forcefully vocalized.

So, don’t try to teach a pig a sing. It is a waste of time and it annoys the pig. And, if you find yourself in just that situation, stop and spare yourself the frustration. Recognition can be the key. My metaphorical tools can help. If, during a conversation, you feel your emotional level begin to tilt, break out the metaphorical flashlight and examine the dynamics of the conversation. Use the pliers to puck out the urge to be right and use the hammer to build some emotional resilience. Lastly, the measuring tape can help you get some distance between you that that adversarial opinion. And, as a last resort, you can always announce your way to the bathroom!

Get your free 52-week online guided journal by joining the Mindset Mechanic Community at www.TheMindsetMechanic.com. Listen to the Mindset Mechanic, Saturdays at 5PM on FM107.1 WTKF.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Electric Fences

By Julie Rahm

My husband, John can be very direct. His time in the Marine Corps certainly didn’t help. He reminds me, “The Marine Corps is not the Girl Scouts”. My husband is comfortable saying just about anything to anybody. The truth is his directness is always dead right. It is descriptive and exact. And, it usually sums up whatever situation we’re talking about.

As a small example, we were discussing some repeat criminals whose names keep showing up on the courthouse docket. My husband’s comment was simply two words: “electric fences”. Now John was raised next to a farm with electric fences. The fences kept the Angus cattle in the pasture. At age seven, John would routinely step through the electric fence and short cut his way to the bus stop. He taught his younger brother Jimmy the proper “step through the fence” technique when Jimmy was barely old enough to walk. So, I didn’t know where John’s comment was leading. I was afraid to ask. But, I couldn’t help myself. “Okay, I give up. What do you mean electric fences?” John explained, “Some guys have to pee on the electric fence before they learn.” There it was; a life lesson in a nut shell. The offenders at the courthouse hadn’t yet peed on the electric fence so they haven’t learned it is electric. Some people must learn the hard way. It is not enough for some to be told the fence is electric. They must pee on it to believe. It was a simple explanation for repeat offenders at the court house, “electric fences”.

John has a touch of the electric fence syndrome. When we eat at our favorite Mexican restaurant, the server always warns John, “The plate is really hot.” Without fail, John will touch the plate, get burned and exclaim, “Wow the plate is really hot!’.

As another example, John’s brother bought us an electrified tennis racket for zapping bugs. The warning label clearly states, “Do not touch the mesh when electrified”. Of course, both brothers had to touch the electrified racket! It packed “quite the wallop”. John’s arm was numb for half an hour.

It turns out that electric fence syndrome is contagious. If you see me gasping over my sushi at M&M’s Restaurant, don’t worry. I simply added too much wasabi to the soy sauce after John warned me that it was “volcano hot”!

So friends, don’t learn the hard way when confronted with one of life’s electric fences. Make a good decision. Don’t pee on electric fences. My metaphorical tools can help. Use the level to stay in balance and make good choices. The flashlight can reveal why you don’t believe the fence is electric. The pliers can remove the unwise thinking. Then, hammer in better decisions and use the measuring tape to record your success.

Get your free 52-week online guided journal by joining the Mindset Mechanic Community at www.TheMindsetMechanic.com. Listen to the Mindset Mechanic, Saturdays at 5PM on FM107.1 WTKF.

Friday, May 27, 2011

Choices, Wise and Other Wise

By Julie Rahm

My husband entertains me with his “one-liners”. He has a “one-liner” comeback for everything. The “one-liners” are short, summarize the situation and ultimately instruct. They were a part of his leadership repertoire when he was in the Marine Corps. He still continues to administer doses of wisdom one line at a time. One of his favorite pearls is, “Life is about choices, so choose wisely”. This one-liner gets the most use in our house. It is only seven words. But, behind the seven words is a whole philosophy for life.

The largest tenant of this philosophy is responsibility. People are responsible for their choices. We are where we are in life because of our choices. This can be an unpopular notion. Often, poor choices are rationalized by volunteering to become a victim. Plights are often couched as some else’s fault. For instance, our daughter’s excuse for poor grades was, “My teacher doesn’t like me”. When, in fact, there wasn’t enough effort to earn good grades. Effort applied to endeavors is a choice. Another gem told to me was, “I got a DUI because of entrapment”. No, DUI arrests are a result of choosing to drive above the legal blood alcohol content limit. End of story. Violations of the law are choices. Lawbreakers have decided how, where, when and who. Only the why is left up to their rationalization.

Often, we are faced with a choice between easy and best. The best choices require personal discipline and a long term perspective. Don’t trade away tomorrows. Easier choices can be detrimental in the long term. Avoid regret by asking, “How does this decision contribute to my values and goals?”

The “choose wisely” part of the philosophy also reveals, with any choice, there may be a large dose of unintended outcomes. This week our daughter is attending a baby shower for her unmarried friend who is seventeen years old. This pregnancy was a choice not an accident. They know what causes babies now. So, choose wisely knowing that some choices are irreversible. It is easier to learn life lessons when young and the tests are easy. When a life test is failed, the repeat tests get harder and harder.

There are no mistakes in life. It’s true. There are only unintended outcomes driven by choices. An important key to happiness is the ability to learn and work through those unintended outcomes. Use my metaphorical level to ensure choices are made with the right emotional balance. The flashlight sheds light on the situation and helps develop your awareness. The pliers can remove negative thoughts and confusion so you make clear decisions with confidence. And finally, the measuring tape can measure your progress toward successful decision making. And….remember, life is about choices so choose wisely!

Get your free 52-week online guided journal by joining the Mindset Mechanic Community at www.TheMindsetMechanic.com. Listen to the Mindset Mechanic, Saturdays at 5PM on FM107.1 WTKF.

Saturday, May 14, 2011

The State Unfairness

By Julie Rahm
In the American culture, tremendous effort is expended to make everything fair and even. Fairness is a construct of most thoughtfully engineered man made systems. There are rules for sporting events to make the competition fair. Instant Replay has invaded sports to make sure officiating is fair and errorless. Promotion systems in the workplace are constructed to be as fair as possible. Even warfare has the Geneva Convention to make armed conflict as fair as possible. However, fairness is a man made concept not a natural one. Our lives operate in the natural world and they unfold in a natural system. And, in nature, things are not “fair”. Nature has no regard for fairness. Sometimes even the fastest animal gets eaten at the watering hole. The wildebeest and lions don’t have arguments about fairness.

When dealt an injustice, our daughters will complain, “That’s not fair”. And, without fail, my husband responds, “Life is not fair. The fair come once a year to Raleigh.” He knows there is no fairness guarantee on the back of anyone’s birth certificate.

Injustices are placed in our path as opportunities to learn and overcome. Obstacles in our lives create resistance and without resistance, there would be no character development. Obstacles provide the opportunity to develop your character and become the person you were born to be.

Brianna Carp was a recent guest on my radio show. Her book, The Girl’s Guide to Homelessness, is fast becoming a bestseller. She was “unfairly” laid off from her well paying job in Orange County, California. Homeless, Brianna ended up living in a trailer, without hook-ups, in a Wal-Mart parking lot. Now, she is financially recovered and “back on her feet”. Her story is a remarkable example of the emotional resilience required to overcome “unfairness”. She didn’t stay focused on her plight. She took an inventory of her assets, made and executed a plan, and continued to look forward.

As another example, Norris, a lumber buyer for a hardware franchise, made big money for his company in his rookie year. Profit he created was the basis of his annual bonus. He delighted in imagining how he would spend the money he earned. However, the company called his success “rookie luck” and did not pay the bonus he was owed. A competing franchise heard the news and hired him. He created big profits for that company and quickly became a vice president. Norris’ set back was a set up for his continued success.

If you’ve received a dose of unfairness, perform an assessment of your situation. Use my floral tools metaphorically to restore your emotional resilience. Keep your emotional level balanced and use the pliers to pluck out any negative thoughts. Hammer a plan together and use the measuring tape to assess your forward progress!

Get your free 52-week online guided journal by joining the Mindset Mechanic Community at www.TheMindsetMechanic.com. Listen to the Mindset Mechanic, Saturdays at 5PM on FM107.1 WTKF.

Saturday, May 7, 2011

The “Shoulda” Virus

By Julie Rahm


The Black Plague is estimated to have killed over 100 million people during the middle 1300s. The awful epidemic is believed to have reduced the world population by an astounding 30-percent. And, more recently, the Spanish Flu pandemic in 1918 killed another estimated 100 million people. Throughout history diseases have come and gone causing devastating effects. Lately, I have noticed a less deadly, yet debilitating disease. It is a disease of the mind. The symptoms are subtle and characterized by regret. This regret is caused by the dreaded “Shoulda” virus.

People are often unaware they are inflected with the “Shouldas”. Their symptoms surface during routine conversations. As a recent example, one of my friends said he “shoulda” stayed in the Navy. If he had stayed in the Navy, he would be retired and living a more leisurely life. This retrospective regret is extremely unhealthy. In fact, we don’t know how his life would have unfolded if he stayed in the Navy. He certainly would not have the wonderful family he has now. You see, contrary to popular belief, life happens perfectly. Challenges simply mean we are still alive. The challenges placed before us provide the opportunity to learn our intended life lessons. Our challenges provide resistance. We must do the work in order to overcome this resistance and build our character. And, in the process we develop into the persons God intended us to be.

Unfortunately, the “Shoulda” virus infects our minds and inadvertently focuses our attention backwards preventing us from moving forward in our lives. If you continue to have the same negative life experiences, you have not learned your intended lessons. One of my girlfriends continues to date bachelors who are not good partners. She continues to have negative experiences because she hasn’t yet learned her lessons. Until she does the work, learns and develops her character, she will not have good relationships. The “shouldas” keep her focused backwards and mired in what “should” be instead what she needs to do now. She often states, “I should have a loving husband”. But, her character flaws are still firmly entrenched in her personality. Her potential worthy suitors flee the scene. She doesn’t move forward. An important key to happiness is the ability to learn and work through lessons of life. Avoid the “Shouldas”. Those parasitic “Shoulas” will drag you down and disrupt your focus. To get restarted in the right direction use my metaphorical tools. Use the flashlight to examine what is going on in your life. Find that “Shoulda” virus and pluck it out with the pliers. Then hammer in a new framework for learning the lesson at hand and moving forward in your life. Measure your success with the measuring tape and be surprised at your progress!

Visit Julie and get your copy of Military Kids Speak during her book signing on Friday, May 13 from 5PM – 8PM at Mitchell Hardware during the Art Walk in New Bern.

Saturday, April 30, 2011

Pig Wrestling

By Julie Rahm


Pig farming is an important commercial activity here in North Carolina. Our state is a leading producer of pigs with sales topping $3 billion every year. In North Carolina, there are 9,535,483 people and 8,800,000 pigs; almost a pig for every person! But, there are no pigs in the Town of Oriental. And yet, pig wrestling is fast becoming one of the most popular sports in town. I see pig wrestling everyday. How can there be pig wrestling without pigs? The answer is simple. Pig wrestling occurs when, during a conversation, a person tries to muddy another. My husband, John taught me about pig wrestling 17 years ago following our first meeting and coincidental first argument. “Never wrestle with a pig. The pig likes it and you get muddy,” he said with a Cheshire cat grin. The only person who likes “pig” wrestling is the “pig”. The “pig” lures you into the mud pit with an opinion you can’t resist challenging. Once in the discussion mud pit, the wrestling begins. Mud flies. There is no way the “pig” will ever change his opinion. He is not interested in hearing other points of view. He doesn’t care about the facts. His view is not intellectual. His joy is in raising your level of frustration. He gets satisfaction by seeing the energy you’re wasting. And, in the end, you’re muddy trying to convince the “pig” he is wrong.

As a small example, I recall a leash law conversation at The Bean. In Oriental, few topics evoke more emotion than a leash law for dogs. The emotion makes leash laws a great topic to bait someone into the mud pit. And, sure enough, one morning at The Bean there was a highly charged conversation when a “pig”, looking for a mud wrestling opponent, proclaimed there needs to be leash law in Oriental. Someone took the bait. And, during the conversation, they got muddy and the “pig” liked it. Nobody’s viewpoint was changed. Only the “pig” got satisfaction. If you really want to see pig wrestling in action, attend a town council meeting. “Pigs” are drawn to this forum and use the venue as a mud wrestling arena. Everyone gets muddy. The “pigs” like it.

The solution when faced with a “pig” is to remain steady. My metaphorical tools help. Use the level to sense when your emotional balance begins to tilt. Shine the flashlight to reveal the motive of the “pig”. Use the pliers to pull out your argumentative thoughts. Remain calm and allow the “pig” to be. Use the utility knife to cut any emotional ties to the subject. Hammer in the framework for dealing with a mud-wrestling “pig” and enjoy your new found fortitude to remain outside the mud wrestling area of ridiculous opinion.

Get your free 52-week online guided journal by joining the Mindset Mechanic Community at www.TheMindsetMechanic.com. Listen to the Mindset Mechanic, Saturdays at 5PM on FM107.1 WTKF/AM1240 WJNC and via www.TheTalkStation.com.

Friday, April 22, 2011

Paint Your Toenails

By Julie Rahm
My husband, John makes us watch the Ultimate Fighting Championships (UFC) on the television. I don’t care much for the individualized violence. The appeal of the fighting is probably testosterone driven. Regardless, it is impossible for me to wrestle control of the remote and change the channel. This week, the UFC event involved an eccentric fighter who paints his toenails bright colors. This fighter’s opponent did not take him seriously. UFC fights are a tough primordial event. There is no place in the UFC for exotic pedicures. Everyone expected the free-spirited, nail-painting fighter to lose. The unknowing judged this book by its cover and didn’t give Mr. Neon Pedicure the slightest chance of winning. Well, right from the start, Mr. Neon Pedicure completely ravaged his opponent. Mercifully, the fight finally ended with a choke hold. There was no doubt about the outcome at any moment during the fight. The bigger, more experienced fighter got a severe beating by the free-spirit with painted toenails. It was a good life lesson for all the other fighters and for us as well.

Too often we judge and then underestimate others. In Oriental, we are an eclectic town full of mixed characters. One never knows the experiences of a fellow customer at the Bean. For instance, I have witnessed a novice bragging about his sailing experiences to a circumnavigator. It was painful to watch as the circumnavigator and I exchanged knowing glances. The circumnavigator was gracious and the conversation ended politely without any embarrassment to the braggart.

As another example, a wealthy man often spends time at the fishing pier. He is eccentric and dresses like a homeless person. I guarantee our towns folk have no idea or he would treated differently. Townsfolk see him at the pier and think, “That poor soul is fishing for his dinner”! Nothing could be further from the truth.

I also find it amusing when new friends start discussing the military with my husband. With a pony tail and a few extra pounds, no one would figure him for 26 years in the Marine Corps. In a conversation about the military, unlike the gracious circumnavigator, he will let out enough rope to entangle the unknowing and self-absorbed.

We know Oriental is full of eccentric people. They metaphorically paint their toenails like the UFC fighter. They are comfortable in their own skin without fear of judgment. They are authentic. This authenticity is the ingredient that makes Oriental a special place to live. And, for those with naked toenails, consider my metaphorical tools to help free the real you. The pliers can pull out thoughts of unworthiness and fear of rejection. The flashlight illuminates the spirit inside of you. Be bold. Paint your toenails, be the real you and enjoy the blessings of life.

Get your free 52-week online guided journal by joining the Mindset Mechanic Community at www.TheMindsetMechanic.com. Listen to the Mindset Mechanic, Saturdays at 5PM on FM107.1 WTKF/AM1240 WJNC and via www.TheTalkStation.com.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Boiling Frogs

By Julie Rahm

Boiling frogs is an acquired skill learned through patience. Frog boiling expertise gets passed from one person to the next by mentorship and example. The challenge to frog boiling is that placing the frog in already boiling water will result in the frog jumping out of the pot. Even worse, the frog will not get back into the pot once he knows the water is hot. The secret method to properly boiling a frog is to start the frog comfortably in a pot of cool water and gradually turn up the heat. Soon, the frog is boiled and he didn’t see it coming.

So often, we rush in with boiling water in order to get our way. We want the 100-percent solution immediately. The impatient throw the frog right into the boiling water. And, the frog jumps out. Like the frog, people are driven by self-preservation and are rarely changed by having “boiling water” or harsh words thrown on them. A better method for change is to build consensus. Then, slowly turn up the heat and work out the things you don’t agree on.

As a personal example, I boiled my frog husband, John into cooking some of our meals. Instead of demanding he cooks now that he has retired, I suggested he try cooking as an outlet for his creativity. When he did cook, I boiled him with lavish praise. Soon, he was doing a lot of the cooking. Now he shops for food and plans most of the meals. It took more than a year. He is completely boiled into cooking and he didn’t see it coming.

As another example, I wanted to adopt “Tank”, our puppy from the Pet Parlor. John said no! So, I started bringing Tank home for afternoon play days. We returned Tank to the Pet Parlor after a few hours. Soon, John was sad to see Tank go home. The frog was boiled and Tank is now part of the family. And, John and Tank are inseparable.

If you’re feeling badly for John, no need. John has been retired for three years. I am still working. And we have two boats. I have been the frog.

So, my message this week is to have patience. Don’t rush in to pound others into your way of thinking. Consider my metaphorical tools to help achieve your desired end state. The level tells you emotions are too high and the water is too hot for the frog. The flashlight lights the way to compromise. The pliers can pull out those feeling of impatience and the hammer can construct a good long term plan that everyone can live with. However, one word of caution, its good to know if you’re about to be the frog!

Get your free 52-week online guided journal by joining the Mindset Mechanic Community at www.TheMindsetMechanic.com. Listen to the Mindset Mechanic, Saturdays at 5PM on FM107.1 WTKF/AM1240 WJNC and via www.TheTalkStation.com.

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Family Furniture

By Julie Rahm


Last week, one of my coaching clients had his grandmother pass away. She was age 99. She did not have much money. She did, however, have quite a collection of furniture. Despite his personal desires, my client was persuaded by the other members of the family to assume ownership of the furniture. He already had all the furniture he needed. Now, he was acquiring a truckload of out-of-style furniture. And, the unspoken contract he had with the rest of his family did not allow him to sell or dispose of grandma’s furniture. His parents, aunts and uncles did not want the furniture, but they wanted it to stay in the family, forever.

How often in our own lives do we assume ownership of the “family furniture”? “Family furniture” is akin to beliefs and expectations. Family beliefs and expectations are thrust on us like my client’s unwanted furniture. The desire not to disappoint makes the unspoken contracts binding. We are expected to abide by family beliefs and expectations, quietly and obediently. Perhaps we are expected to inherit and run the family business, or go to college, or vote democrat/republican. Failure to comply amounts to failure as an individual. Parents lay out the blueprint. We follow. The round peg gets pounded into the square hole crushing our spirits and preventing us from becoming the creative individuals God intended us to be. More important than doing what we think we should, is doing what our heart tells us to do. When we deny the desires of our hearts, we miss out on our greatest joy and the world misses out on the unique contribution we are here to make.

As another example, a 70-year-old woman I know always wanted to start an orphanage. Her dream remains unfilled because she is paralyzed by her father’s beliefs and expectations. “Women are teachers, nurses, or housewives/mothers.” She inherited the “family furniture”! Unfortunately, her orphanage is not built and the world is not benefiting from the fine citizens that might be.

Let’s get into my Mindset Mechanic Tool Kit and examine the origin of your beliefs and expectations. Reach into the tool kit for the metaphorical flashlight and level. Use the flashlight to illuminate who is in the room with you when you make decisions. When they speak, is your level in balance or not? If not, reach for the metaphorical hammer. Hammer in beliefs and expectations that bring your level back in balance.

So, if you are going to inherit your “family furniture”, do so with total awareness of what you are accepting. In times of constant change, what worked five years ago may not work today. Follow your dreams thoughtfully and with purpose. You will have a rich and fulfilling life being who you really are!

Learn more about the Mindset Mechanic and her tool kit online at www.AmericasMindsetMechanic.com and on the radio Saturdays at 8PM and Sundays at 5PM on FM107.1 WTKF/AM1240 WJNC, http://www.thetalkstation.com/ and http://webtalkradio.net/shows/the-mindset-mechanic/.

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