Build Your Leaders

Postcard from Asheville, NC

August 2009

I have few regrets in life; I have a great life. But when I think about what I'd do differently if I had to do it again, I would have children and I would live in New York.

Several years ago, I explored several creative ways to bring a child into my life. Very quickly, I reached the conclusion that I was too old. I now accept that being a dad is not something that is going to happen in this lifetime. (I'll probably come back in the next lifetime as a single mother with ten kids.)

I could still live in New York, and one day I might, but I love these mountains and I'm not sure that I can afford to live in New York. Now an opportunity has presented itself that's too good to refuse. My friend Andrew has offered me his apartment in Long Island City for two weeks in August. My bags are packed, and I leave in a few days.

I'll do some networking. Maybe I'll even meet with a client or two. But mostly, I'm going to explore the city. Museums, galleries, plays...I cannot wait. Follow my blog at, and I'll let you know how it's going.

This month, we'll explore "stinking thinking."

Stinking Thinking

It's finally here, my much-needed vacation. I've rented an expensive condo overlooking the water on Ocracoke Island on the Outer Banks of North Carolina.'s raining. High winds angrily whip rain pellets against the window, and it's cold. "My vacation is ruined," I whine. Then I catch my reflection in the window. What am I doing? I ask.

My friend Cheri Britton of Boomthinking would call this "stinking thinking." Stinking thinking is a form of self-sabotage and prevents us from living our best life. Like a shape- shifter, it takes different forms. See if you can recognize any of these in your own life.

Black and White Thinker: The black and white thinker sees no shades of gray. He heads right for the extreme. "I always screw up." "I never get anything right."

"Should-er": No matter the situation, the "should-er" second-guesses herself; she's always thinking about what she should have done. "I should have gone to Florida instead of the Outer Banks," I say to myself.

Wet Blanket: The wet blanket negates the positive, refusing to accept compliments or the good things that come his or her way. For example, someone compliments me on a painting I've just completed, and I reply, "It's not very good."

Loser: The loser is always comparing himself to others and how much better off they are than him. "Greg is so much more successful than me," I might think.

Overgeneralizer: One bad thing happens, and the overgeneralizer sees it as a pattern. A prospective client chooses another trainer, and I say to myself, "I am losing my edge. This is the beginning of the end."

Crystal Baller: The crystal baller knows what the future will bring, and it ain't good. One morning of rain, and I've decided the entire week's vacation is a wash-out.

Pitiful Me: Even the small setbacks become proofs that pitiful me will never enjoy a happy life. I miss the ferry and I think, "Nothing ever goes my way."

Labeler: Something silly happens, and the labeler begins name-calling. I find a spot on my tie and think to myself, "I am such a slob."

"Being in control of the mind means that literally anything that happens can be a source of joy," writes author Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi. When we become conscious of stinking thinking, the choice is ours. I choose happiness.

As the rain pelts the window, I see the stack of trashy books I've bought for the beach. What better weather to curl up on the sofa and read? Ahhhh. What a wonderful vacation!