Saturday, September 29, 2012

The Pump Out

By Julie Rahm                                                     
We were spending vacation time on our sailboat. We had been aboard for a few weeks and it was time to pump out our holding tank. As you may know, sewage generated onboard a boat is held in a tank and pumped out at a marina. Our holding tank was full. So, we pulled up to a marina pump out dock. The attendant handed my husband, John the business end of the pump out hose. When the pump out hose is pressed into a boat’s deck fitting, it vacuums the waste out of the holding tank. In our case, the hose wasn’t sucking properly.  The pump out attendant directed John to break the vacuum seal and re-seat the end of the hose back into our boat’s deck fitting. John, very obediently and without thought, broke the seal on the apparatus. Instantly, “Old Faithful” erupted from the deck fitting. In a scene reminiscent of Yellowstone, the two-week-old contents of our holding tank geysered up from the fitting. The jet fountain of filth caught John squarely in the chest with collateral damage to his face and arms. John uttered some technical language as he removed the larger chunks of toilet tissue from his hair. You can imagine the stench. John considered jumping off the boat. However, the water was cold and he did not want to create an environmental incident!
To my credit, I did not laugh (although difficult). However, I did maneuver myself upwind. My only words were, “Well, I guess “stuff” happens.” (John didn’t find that amusing until later.) I am proud of my husband. He didn’t vomit, departed the pump out dock and drove our boat to its assigned slip. I managed to work all of our dock lines while staying upwind from him. When the boat was safely tied in its slip, I made John strip down to his skivvies above deck. There was no way I was going to let him below. Everything went into a garbage bag for a triple wash with Clorox. John wished he had worn some colored boxers that day. As he walked down the pier to the marina showers, daylight was fading and his white briefs were like a beacon from a cotton lighthouse! The other marina guests tried not to notice John walking down the pier in his underwear. Some things just have to be done.
Ultimately, both John and our boat cleaned up nicely. I closely monitored John’s health for the next couple of weeks for signs of strange infections. John received kudos for parking our boat while covered in two-week-old excrement and not vomiting. He says it wasn’t that bad once he got the large chucks of toilet tissue off! There is no substitute for fortitude and a strong stomach.
So, I tell you this story to tell you this. Often, it’s not what happens to you, but how you handle it. For help with handling your life’s incidents, visit my website at

Saturday, September 22, 2012

In Business and in Life - Draft Wisely!

By Julie Rahm

     I am thankful football season is well underway. Unlike some of my female friends, I don’t complain about being a “football widow”. I learned to like football while growing up in Thousand Oaks, California. Thousand Oaks was then the training camp of the Dallas Cowboys. During the summer, my friends and I often stopped in to watch the Cowboys practice. I recall asking Coach Landry why Randy White was running extra laps at the end of practice. Coach Landry answered that Randy didn’t have a good practice. I guess a few extra laps at the end of a tough summer practice was incentive to do better. One of my prized possessions is a picture of me knee high to Ed “Too Tall” Jones. I often carried Charlie Waters’ pads and helmet. He said I reminded him of his daughter whom he missed while at training camp. In addition, I graduated from the University of Nebraska, home to some of most rabid football fans in the Midwest. So, I tell you all that to tell you this.
     Good football teams recognize talent and character. They are skilled at picking and retaining the best players. Good teams understand who they have on their team. A recent example is the retirement of Brett Farve from the Green Bay Packers. When Farve retired, sportscasters predicted the demise of the team. It was going to be the end of the Green Bay Packers. Sportscasters said it would be a lifetime before the Packers made the playoffs. Well, not so fast! Standing in the wings was Aaron Rodgers. Rogers was more than capable of winning a Super Bowl and Most Valuable Player honors. Also, consider Tom Brady who was not chosen until the sixth round of the NFL draft. Brady was drafted by the New England Patriots and was pick number 199 of the year 2000 NFL draft. Other NFL teams chose six quarterbacks before Brady was picked by the Patriots. Now, Brady’s achievements abound; five Super Bowl appearances with three wins, two Super Bowl Most Valuable Player awards, eight Pro Bowls and the list goes on and on.  But, I tell you that to tell you this.
     Tom Brady, in his rookie season completed one pass in three attempts for six yards! But, the New England Patriots recognized his talent and character. Like the Green Bay Packers with Aaron Rodgers, the Patriots knew who they had with Tom Brady. How about you?
     In your personal and business relationships, do you know who you have? What are the talents and character of the people with whom you spend the most time? Unfortunately, I have seen too many instances where both men and women have made poor spouse draft choices. I encourage everyone to be like the New England Patriots or Green Bay Packers and draft partners, friends and business associates well. My point is recognition is one of the keys to successful relationships. Learn more by visiting my website at 

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Out of Balance

By Julie Rahm                                  
Balance is normally defined as a state of equilibrium or equipoise; equal distribution of weight or amount. Sometimes balance refers to mental steadiness or emotional stability; the habit of calm behavior and judgment. Or, balance can be a state of body equilibrium. For example, he lost his balance and fell down.
When my husband John flew fighters in the Marine Corps, his jet needed to be in balance in order to fly. Lift produced by the wings needed to balance the weight of the jet. And, the thrust produced by the engine needed to balance the drag produced by the forward motion. There are examples of balance throughout both our man-made and natural worlds. However, even more interesting than balance is out of balance.
When things are out of balance, change occurs. A large part of my personal coaching business is generated by out of balance conditions. Clients come to me because their workplace is unbalanced. Or, their relationships are not balanced. Even business transactions can be out of balance. As an example, lending practices have become quite painful for borrowers. Banks are dragging borrowers through broken glass in order to get financing. Tropical rain forest trees are falling by the millions in order to satisfy the paperwork requirements levied by lenders. Lending transactions are lopsided and consequently feel awful to the borrowers. The banks intrude into every aspect of their personal lives in order to qualify the borrowers. And, the borrowers don’t know anything about the lives of the loan officer and underwriter sitting in judgment. Respect has taken a back seat to the banks appetite for financial discovery. As a result, not enough lending is taking place. When the economy was booming, banks should have curbed their lending; but they didn’t. They loaned money to everyone without a lot of regard. Now that the economy is slow and lending restrictions should be eased, banks have made borrowing really hard. My point is that some of my coaching business is generated by the angst caused by my clients attempting to get business loans. Sad but true!
In personal relationships, imbalance is easy to spot. Imbalance in relationships manifests as resentment. There are many examples. Common is when one partner works full time, takes care of the kids and does the bulk of the household chores, while the other works and does not help at home. Another example is when the breadwinner is working two jobs to make ends meet and the partner’s career is watching television at home. The imbalance is a recipe for resentment. The good news, balance is easily restored and resentment is easily remedied.
Words matter. And, nothing restores balance like words of understanding. Words of understanding carry a lot of weight and can re-balance the relationship. Mix in some compassion, and the words of understanding can have a medicinal affect that alleviates festering resentment. Are your relationships balanced?
Want to learn more? Contact me by visiting my website at 

Sunday, September 9, 2012


By Julie Rahm

         This week is the eleventh anniversary of terrorist attacks on U.S. soil. Like President Kennedy’s assassination, most Americans remember where they were on the morning of September 11th. For me, the date triggers memories of not only where I was that morning, but also where I might have been. As it turns out, that day I was working as a Department of Defense Consultant in my home office in Havelock. A meeting I was scheduled to attend in the Pentagon on September 11th had been delayed for one week. At 7:37AM on September 11th, I started my workday. At 8:37AM, I felt annoyed by the meeting delay. At 9:37AM I felt numb. John’s mom had called to tell me the news. I turned on the television only to see American Airlines Flight 77 crash into the Pentagon over and over again. I was supposed to be there.
Back then, plans, schedules, and control held my world together. I should say the perceived control from driving hard to accomplish plans and meet schedules gave me a sense of comfort. After all, how can people achieve the outcomes they want if they don’t have plans and schedules? Thank goodness I didn’t get my way and the meeting was delayed. Otherwise, I could have been crawling my way through the darkness, smoke, and debris out of the Pentagon. Or, I might have been crushed to death.
The events of September 11th shook my rigid beliefs to their core. Not being in the Pentagon was a huge gift. Was it just a coincidence? Some would call it a lucky day. Others would say it was God or The Universe at work. The bottom line was that sense of control I felt was delusional. Surprisingly, I felt relieved. The lesson I took away was that coping well with what happens trumps making things happen. And, my power to make things happen only goes so far, which is actually good.
Fast-forward to the present and a world of new uncertainties hanging in the air. This is an especially challenging time for anyone who likes to work their plan and achieve results accordingly. There are more and more circumstances in which we seem to have little or no control. Maybe you’ve seen your career or retirement derail, or your investments devastated. You may be dealing with health, family, and other personal challenges beyond anything you anticipated. How can you find the wisdom, the power, and the confidence to cope?
Sometimes external changes can lead to incredible soul-seeking, and spark creative ideas. Opportunity rides on the back of challenges. Avoid being blinded by challenges and thus missing opportunities. As the old story goes, two shoe salesmen landed in Africa. All of the local people had bare feet. The first salesman got back on the plane thinking no one was interested in having shoes. The second salesman saw opportunity everywhere. Everyone needed shoes! So, make peace with where you are. Suddenly, opportunities are everywhere.

Sunday, September 2, 2012

Naked in a Box

By Julie Rahm                           
My husband, John spent three days naked in a plywood box! It was part of his military training. All Marine pilots go through SERE training. The pilots get SERE training to help them survive if shot down behind enemy lines. SERE stands for Survival, Evasion, Resistance and Escape. John is not allowed to discuss the training. However, from what I know, the training started with survival and evasion lessons. Pretend enemy soldiers chased him through the woods for a few days. Eventually he was caught and placed in a mock prisoner of war camp for the resistance and escape portion of his training. While a “prisoner of war”, John earned a reputation for being a belligerent prisoner. The “guards” quickly labeled him as uncooperative. Imagine that! Regardless, John’s uncooperative attitude landed him in a plywood box sans clothes. John spent three naked days in his box. The box was small and he could not sit upright or extend his legs. Of course, he was not allowed to sleep. It was hot during the day and cold at night. I suspect it was unpleasant. But, the training gave him a very small taste of the mental toughness required to survive as a prisoner of war. And, my family might add, it equips him for being married to me! Now that John is retired, his three naked days in the plywood box serves as a benchmark for what really constitutes a bad day.
In life, there are plenty of opportunities to have bad days. Examples abound. For us, Hurricane Irene is still a vivid memory. And, I am sure the arrival of Hurricane Isaac on the anniversary of Hurricane Katrina made for some really bad days on the gulf coast. Our loved ones get old and leave the planet. Some loved ones leave prematurely. Our precious pets pass on. So, my point is; in the midst of all this potential for the negative, mindset can be a powerful tool to get you through the bad days. Resilience is the key ingredient. During the bad days, there is very little substitute for the resilience associated with mental toughness. It can get you through. All my successful and happy clients have an identifiable measure of resilience.
So, in our house, during a bad time, John will say, “It’s not as bad as the box.” John has a personal benchmark for what constitutes a bad day. I know things are really bad when John says, “I’d rather be in the box.” Now, I’m not suggesting you should spend time naked in an undersized plywood box! In fact, don’t do it! I am advocating perspective on things that seem bad and things that are just annoying. A mindset for perceiving situations accurately can be your greatest asset. It is your mindset that turns bad days around.
If you would like some help converting your bad days into better days, contact me by visiting my website at

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