Mindset over mood

We all have moods. Moods are a constant visitor to our days, be it the dependence on caffeine, nicotine or any other drug or our reaction to resistance in the day. Not all of them are bad. They can color our experiences and our connectedness to others with vibrant colors bringing brightness, encouragement and joy. They can also darken any visit or chat with clouds of depression and hopelessness.

Call it mindset over mood. Stop and think about your last conversation with your spouse, sibling, friend or co-worker. What was yours, or probably easier to discern, their impact on you during the interaction? Did it leave you with a skip in your step? We all have a rub on each other. We have way more of control over how people make us feel than we want to own up to. But still, it also goes the other way. We have more control than we allow ourselves to have over the temperature of our day to day moments. Yes, positive thinking and all that does play a part. More so, it has to do with making a decision, setting our goals on a mindset, and then through plain and simple discipline choosing to stick with it no matter what comes with the unfolding of the day.

Words, like discipline, hard-work and delayed gratification are not very popular. We want to be heard now, satisfied in the moment and if anything takes the work of painful habit bending then we would rather put up with drama and mediocrity.

Here is an experiment. Challenged yourself to find ways to lead in every situation. In doing that we realize the need for a mindset. We can’t start a call and let a mood, caffeine level or daily frustrations guide the conversation.

Some of the most influential people are steady and constant. Yes, they all have bad days. The difference is the level to which they allow it to impact their day.

This past year the world lost a great mentor and hero. Louis Zamperini, was an olympian, war hero and friend to many men and women over his 97 years. In Unbroken, Laura Hillenbrand tells of Zamperini’s survival through World War II as not only a survivor lost at sea but two grueling years as a prisoner of war in Japan. His suffering is beyond imagination. He survived much due to a solid mindset.

The signs

Signs are everywhere if we are mindful enough to see them.

-That heartburn from the extra piece of cake.
-Talking about politics always puts you in a sour mood.
-Anything your father says upsets you.
-the smell of fresh pine or rosemary lifts your mood instantly.
-Rosemary makes you sick.
-You always cut off the same person when they try to tell a story.
-You always tell a story.
-Your pillow makes you wake up with a sore neck.
-The red light on your car dashboard.
-Fuzzy blankets make you feel safe.
-A recent song made you smile, cry, or both.
-You had to replay a great portion of a podcast over and over.
-You cry at every birth scene in a movie.
-Seeing a person who suffering makes your knees ache.

Notice these are all signs of things that need attention. Some highlight positive experiences. Others like the dash-light on your car point to things unseen that need attention. Things that have gone wrong.

Just recognizing these creates change. We get to be the scientist and our own lives are the subject. We can go after the little tweaks that make our days (and nights) better. We can amplify the things that make life great. Look up life hacking on google and you will see a whole culture that is dedicated to this.

The Advocate

The advocate gets to be the super hero, rule breaker, squeaky wheel.

Who needs one?

-There is the kid who knows how to solve every math problem but hates to show how she did it.

-The law student who is too busy fighting for the lives of inner city homeless kids to attend classes.

-The brilliant scientist who can’t navigate himself out of university red tape.

-The patient who has no one to fight the administration that wants to make him a statistic.

-The parolee who needs help integrating.

-The retired ballerina in assisted care who is only left with obligatory care-givers.

-The new employee.

Eric Weinstein, managing director of Thiel Capital calls them the mavericks in the machine, the rebel end of corporate or universities. These individuals help those who they see can’t navigate the system without them. (More on that here)

Who will you fight for?

In the moment

On Monday’s my friend Gary Barkalow sends out a quote from his book It’s Your Call. Yesterday’s post was so good. It is well worth expanding, sharing, dissecting.

“We can work so hard for understanding in our circumstances that we lose the purpose and experience of it, not to mention God’s presence within it. Understanding comes to us more fully after the event, upon reflection; so what we must do during the event is stay fully engaged.” – From, It’s Your Call, by Gary Barkalow

Our world is so fast paced. A friend recently lost a job over night. Basically it was a “wait, I can’t log into my laptop” kind of quick. A whole division was shut down.

It is in moments like these where we quickly sprint to “what is next”, How will I pay…”, “why did this happen”.

Before we jump to questions, these times are great opportunities to check in on our life pace, state of mind, relationships.

Take other shakeups, ones that involve greater grief. A loss of life will change everything. Do we really give ourselves time to process?

Really any sudden change requires much of us. We can choose to stop. Stop trying to understand. We can let it hit us fully. Roll over us with each wave of emotion. We don’t let it wreck us or fall apart, useless to those who need us, but we do allow ourselves to be engaged to the hurt, relief, betrayal and everything else we are experiencing.

Even though circumstances like these are difficult they are also grow us. They expose what we are made of.


Instead of all caps and red maybe gentle and instructive works better.

A newcomer in the community broke an unwritten rule or an employee committed a company culture taboo? Did someone use a favorite cup in the break room cupboard.

Maybe the opposite of what we feel like doing in the moment would work better. Did they ever get the right instruction? Was it included in the manual?

How often do others respond this way? Is this a venting because something else happened?

Look back at the times all caps were issued. Did they get the results the writer hoped? Likely an email, whiteboard message or voicemail resulted in the target being shamed, catching the anger or worse yet gave up trying. If they did comply it was probably out of fear.

Do you have someone?

Do you have someone who:

-tells you the truth?
-loves your art?
helps you back up?
shows up?
-forgives you?
-challenges you?
-knows when you are not yourself?
sticks with you even in failure?
is there through it all?
is there for the long haul?
-celebrate with you?
-you can grieve with?

What did we learn?

Yesterday we learned something.

Was it how something worked.

Maybe what didn’t.

Today we begin a little smarter, wiser, braver.

Will we:


-break something?

-fix something?

-create something?

-hesitate less?

-love better?


And tomorrow we get to learn from today.

Offended no more than he pleased

“He offended no more than he pleased” from Madame Bovary via Hugh MacLeod in his book Evil Plans.

This is a great description of mr. nice guy. So where do you fall? A friend admits she tends to water down her rants because she is known to over state things in either anger or opinion. Others fight the tendency to water themselves down or hold back in fear of offending those who disagree. Both keep us from connecting with others and influencing them for good. We impact when we are honest and truthful but also respectful. Where do you fall?

Pulling over and letting them by

Having a 15 year old means you get to brush up on your driving laws. It also means they are watching your every habit behind the wheel. I learned again in the drivers manual that the the best choice when being tailgated by an impatient driver is to pull over and let them by. I tried this the other day. It worked. My stress went down, they drove on and the situation disappeared.

Really it is a good choice for any one coming at you with angst be it a troll on the internet or someone criticizing your work or picking a fight. Letting them go by defuses escalation. Not everything is your battle. Not everyone is worth engaging. Not every critic is worth listening to.

Here is a test. For one day choose to not read negative comments on FB or your blog. Let the angry person by. Choose your battles carefully. See if it makes a difference.

Endnote: A good resource for learning to be a good ignorer is Hugh MacLeod’s book Ignore Everybody. Check it out.

Unzombies at work

I love having an employee that is all there during the scrum, brainstorm, and grind of a big project. I think the most valuable employee (and engaged) though is the one who does not see her job as the most important part of life. I would rather have someone who is passionate about what they bring to life in general. And that of course would include work. Out of that I find an engaged employee who comes to the table with a full tank AND knows when to turn off the work and recharge. They are also the most helpful to the organization as a whole, encouraging, resourceful, rested….

Interesting article and survey on the subject:
The thing about employee engagement is there’s very little engagement happening

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