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Wednesday, October 21, 2015

5 Pieces of Advice on Success, Among Other Stuff.

Hi Readers, 

A few things on my mind this week.

1.  Take a look at my study. It’s a disaster area. Waiting for missing parts to arrive before the husband gets my new shelves up and I can finally organize my stuff. Not that I’m going to be a neatnik. It’s not in my genetics. I like some mess. But I like it organized. Organized mess.  
It's disaster, not organized mess, just mess. Dislike. 

2. I listened to a podcast called "Becoming Your Best” about success, by a father-son team of business consultants on leadership excellence or something. I think they’re Mormon, as are so many famous business coaches. I’m thinking of Stephen Covey and Clayton Christiansen in particular.  

Anyway, “Success is a mindset,” they said. And I agree. Then they trotted out 5 ways of creating a good mindset for success. I shall summarize as follows:

  1. What a blessing!  Even if you step in dog poop and track it all over your floor, say to yourself, “What a blessing.” And figure out how to make something good out of it. For example, “Now I get to practice my cleaning skills AND my patience AND my kindness towards my little beastie kick-dog.”
  2. Smile and be nice. This is simple and simpleminded. And hard to do. Be pleasant and kind, even when you want to kick someone, or your little beastie kick-dog. Because you never know where help might come from in return.
  3. Affirmations. “I’m smart, I’m healthy, and I feel terrific.” Or similar.
  4. Positive self-talk. Related to affirmations, but more in depth, talking yourself out of negativity and giving encouragement. Duh. 
  5. Delete critical or negative thoughts. Gee, thanks, I never thought of that. Poof! They are gone.

So nothing new here. In fact, most of it you’ll find in Dale Carnegie’s book How to Win Friends and Influence People,. This, I may have mentioned (I have) is one of the original success books, from the 1920s. If you add in Norman Vincent Peale’s The Power of Positive Thinking, you’ll definitely get all that advice, and that was written before 1960. 

Is this repetitive advice-giving a problem? Well, the lack of attribution bothers the hell - bothers the heck out of - bothers me. On the other hand, maybe this advice counts as general knowledge by now and so attribution is unnecessary. After all, I do agree that success is a mindset and therefore, the next step is to achieve that mindset. And I agree because I have read it about a bazillion times as well as have experienced it myself. And these five things do help create a positive mindset, and a positive mindset helps to create positive results. Furthermore, if you’re in a snit or stressed out, and you have to perform, i.e. interact with people, either on stage, at work, at home, out in public, then you do sometimes need to have a few tricks ready to psych yourself up and put that snit aside. 

However, these five pieces of advice don’t work all the time. And they smack of feelings-stuffing. Feelings-stuffing leads to internal emotional bleeding, depression, divorce, and internal ticking time-bombs. I do not advocate feelings-stuffing as a lifestyle choice. How could I, product of as much psychotherapy as I am? Feelings-stuffing is not the healthy, long-term way of working with your mindset. However, if you’re frustrated because you’re running late for a speaking engagement, get pulled over for speeding, and get stuck with a big fat ticket and you get grumpy, feelings-stuffing is just fine, to get you ready to march out there and give your speech. 

Then you need to go home and no, you may not pop a Valium or drink a tumbler of scotch. You need to debrief and get acquainted with your stuffed feelings. Deal with them more thoroughly. Acknowledge them and scratch them behind their little ears. Then they will sleep peacefully at your feet and you will have cleared some space for your mindset to improve. And you won’t want to kick them.

By the way, I described this podcast to the 12th Grader, and she said, “They sound like the kind of people you would avoid at a party.” Which I thought was accurate. And I hadn’t even mentioned how they both punctuated everything they said with fake laughter. 

3. The husband wants us to get rid of our land line phone. I am attached to the land line phone. Something about having a single number to reach the family. Something about remembering being on Martha’s Vineyard when Agnew resigned and the house where we stayed had a party line. A party line. Readers, do you remember party lines? Where you might pick up your handset and discover that someone else was on the phone, someone in another house, someone you didn’t know? And you could listen in on both sides of the conversation? Rock Hudson and Doris Day fell in love because of one, in “Pillow Talk”. It’s a cute film, and not entirely sexist because Doris Day is a successful business woman who is more than equal to flibbertigibbet Rock. Nevertheless, I don’t miss party lines. But I do miss my copper wire land line. I could always depend on it to work, even during a power outage. Like most everyone now, we get almost no calls except sales calls on our land line, and we pay a fortune for it, along with Internet and TV. In fact, it’s not actually a land line anymore, since its a fiber optic cable line and therefore subject to the same interruptions in service as our Internet. This means that my old feeling of security that we can always count on our land line to work is a false feeling of security. 

In short, I have few if any rational reasons to hang onto the land line. And then yesterday, I left my cellphone somewhere, and I used my house phone to call my cell phone and located it between the seats of my car, thereby providing me with one last reasonable excuse for having the house line. The other excuse, which I’m not sure is reasonable, is that the idea that each person gets his or her separate calls on his or her cell phone makes me feel all sad and splintery. Further disintegration of the nuclear family and so forth. Plus, how can a mom maintain effective nosiness if all phone calls go to personal cell phones? Not that kids actually speak on the phone much. Most of their conversations already go to their individual devices via texts. So this is just another way of holding on to something outmoded. And paying dearly for it. 

4. Finally, I bought a selfie-stick for the iPhone. This has been the cause of much put-upon sighing by my teens, and I don’t really know why. What is so wrong with a selfie-stick, I ask you? After all, I’m of a certain age, the Blanche Dubois age, when I look better in soft light - and at a longer distance than my own arm’s length. This is something about which they know naught. Poor things. 
Another view of my chaotic, transitional office. And hair. 


  1. funny post, I heard about the fixed and growth mindsets today, sigh.

    1. Thanks - but why the sigh? Because it's too late for a growth mindset? Never too late!

  2. And there's also the fact that your landline caller ID bears the name of a convicted felon.

    1. True, true. But we don't get too many calls for him anymore. Just a couple a month.