Balancing Act: The Newsletter (No. 189, May 2015)

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  • The high speed Acela only travels at about 10 MPH where the track is very weak (it can go 150 MPH). You can't travel at maximum speed if your foundation isn�t maintained properly
  • It's refreshing to meet restaurant valets who know how to drive a manual transmission (though my heart is still in my throat).
  • I don't write (or speak) to be liked, but rather to provoke people. If you like me for making you think, I'm happy with that, but I don't require it to be happy myself.
  • The problem with great, engrossing serial television (The Sopranos, Downton Abbey, Mad Men, Boardwalk Empire) is that they are nearly impossible to end powerfully because we have rejoiced in their continuation. (The first two episodes of this final season of Mad Men have been self-indulgent conceits.)
  • "Don't go changing, trying to please me," is one of the great lines in modern music and reinforces the fact that Billy Joel has been our troubadour.
  • "Road rage" to me is a deeply-seated character flaw based on the dysfunctional belief that errors and ignorance of others are somehow directed personally at you.
  • When clerks don't approach me when I walk into a retail store I always want to ask, "Why on earth did you take this job?"
  • If you put your left hand out the driver's window and bend it at the elbow 90 degrees vertically, do you know what that means?
  • You will not improve much if you're constantly trying to correct "weaknesses" (most self-help books begin with the proposition that you are somehow damaged and not as good as the author). Identify your true strengths and build on them to fix problems and improve your condition.
  • If you don't think that show business is overwhelmingly about luck and timing�as opposed to sheer talent�watch the TV show "Madam Secretary" where the writing and acting are so bad I actually laugh out loud while I'm waiting for the outstanding "The Good Wife" to follow it.


Empathy is the understanding of another's condition. Sympathy is the expression of pity or sorrow for that condition. The latter often leads to commiseration because the other person has also experienced or is experiencing the identical problem.

I want an empathetic counselor or coach or therapist. I don't want sympathy. I need understanding that will lead to ideas for resolution and improvement, not a "woe is us" wallowing. Victimization is always sympathetic. It's the agreement that we have no power, others control our fate, it's not our fault, we are helpless. Conversely, empathy allows for improvement, new ideas, self-mastery, and personal accountability.

However, there is a false empathy. Just this morning, a hotel manager told me on the phone that he understood my frustration over a continuing inconvenience in a very expensive suite. I told him that he did not understand it, because if he did, I wouldn't still be experiencing it. He was practicing "customer service 101," some human resources class which teaches employees to tell the customer that they are "understood."

I remember the old Seinfeld routine, where they gave away his rental car. "But I had a reservation," he told the clerk. "I know what a reservation is," she replied. "Apparently you don't," said the satirical Seinfeld.

For empathy to be sincere, one must demonstrate that he or she truly understands the extent of the other's unhappiness, misfortune, or discontent, and provide relevant actions and suggestions to improve the situation. "We're working on it" (the hotel manager's response) is totally insufficient. He needed to say "We can move you to another suite," or "We are paying for the prior day," or something similar. Whether or not I accepted the offer is a different story. His offer would have been empathetic.

What are you doing to truly understand and improve your relationships? Telling someone they were certainly treated poorly (because you once were in similar situations) is a terrible response (validating their feelings of helplessness) as compared to telling them how they can take control and escape the predicament.

Do you understand me?


The human condition: Procrastinating

"Procrastination" is the act of postponing. It is the behavior of people who choose not to take immediate action.

Are we good so far, or do you want to think about that before reading on?!

Everyone procrastinates, because every so often we are rewarded for doing so. I hate carrying boxes up and down stairs, but if I wait long enough my wife will have the cleaning crew do it. I used to wait until my son visited from school a couple of times a semester, but my wife was afraid he'd stop coming home altogether.

My trash basket sometimes overflows because I keep balancing more papers and debris rather than just emptying it, but then, of course, it's even harder to empty. But my wife stopped doing it, which has taught me to do it myself because the dogs start playing with the overflow if I don't.

We procrastinate out of sloth (I don't want to get up); out of fear (what if it's not good enough); out of lack of consequences (they won't do anything about it); out of ignorance (I didn't know there was a financial penalty after that date). We all do it, it's not a matter of obliterating the habit, it's a matter of priority.

It's one thing not to go to the post office because you hate the lines, yet you finally have to grit your teeth to send the certified mail and spend a half-hour facing unmotivated clerks. But it's another to wait until Christmas eve and not buy your spouse a really good present, or find the stores are sold out of the stuff you had promised your kids.

I'm suggesting that it's not "procrastination" so much, per se, that we must attack, but the poor priority setting that underlies it. Whether or not you pull the weeds today won't destroy your garden, but not making the proper reservations can destroy your vacation. You can get away with being late on a report, but not your taxes.

You'd be surprised at the amount of mail I get praising my suggestions here�months after they first appear, when some people finally get around to them. That means, if really useful, they've denied themselves the application for quite some time.

I've never procrastinated about eating the lobster that I ordered. We ought to treat our priorities in life the same way, as a great meal that can spoil if you just let it sit.


I sent a new teleconference offering to my crack technical team and asked that they post it on my site for purchase. I included the satirical comment that "slides could be purchased for an extra $15." It's a teleconference, there are no slides.

However, the aforementioned crack technical team not only posted this verbatim, but provided an option in my shopping cart to order the slides for $15. And before I could get to them to remove it, two people had ordered them!

My next offering will be invisible coaching. It's $2,000, but there's zero time investment.

Gain access to my entire body of work�video, audio, print, electronic, hard copy, workshops, etc. Imagine your productivity gain watching a video of a first meeting with a buyer before you walk into one, or listening to a referral request on audio before calling for one! Tens of thousands of dollars of material for a few dollars a week. Order now and you get a bigger discount on Consulting Convention, below, if you so choose.

May 14, 2015, 11:00am US Eastern Time

Are you interested in a frank rant about the topics that are generally avoided? Join Alan for 55 minutes (a therapist's "hour") of frank and often frightening discussions. Have both a rollicking good time and some sober insights as Alan lets loose on topics seldom raised in polite company.

March 16-18, 2016

There is no other gathering like this for consultants, coaches, and related professions. Join me and my special guest, Marshall Goldsmith, author of the soon to be released Triggers, along with a variety of experts, experiences, and interactions. Nearly 200 people attended the Atlanta event which continues to draw rave reviews. Major discounts if you register now. Twelve countries were represented in Atlanta.

Launched September 2, 2014

For almost pennies an item, receive very brief video, audio, and print assistance each week to build your self-esteem and deal with your life and career from a position of confidence and calm. Poor self-esteem is the biggest obstacle I've seen to people's progress. Join a thousand global colleagues and receive every past and future episode.

May 18-22, 2015

I've been asked to create this extended workshop for years but always resisted. The closest I've come were the Rainmaking Seminars that lasted for a day and a half and were presented three times a year. But it's time, because I want to codify all that I know about establishing, operating, and growing a consulting practice in one place.

December 7-11, 2015

I've been asked to create this extended workshop for years but always resisted. The closest I've come were the Rainmaking Seminars that lasted for a day and a half and were presented three times a year. But it's time, because I want to codify all that I know about establishing, operating, and growing a consulting practice in one place.

October 7-9, 2015

THE master of influence, Robert Cialdini is my special guest. Join a small group of global colleagues for three days of learning and exchange, and an intimate dinner with Dr. Cialdini. Every past offering has been sold out, secure your place now. SOLD OUT, ask for wait list.
I've helped people: obtain six-figure contracts, make major media appearances, gain meetings with top people (some nationally known), have proposals closed, start new businesses, gain greater visibility, build self-worth, obtain book contracts, create new brands, improve their web sites and blogs, and so on. Most recently: Four six-figure contracts, five book proposals purchased by publishers, to start-up business thriving within six months.
THE ALAN CARD and THE BENTLEY CARD now available for 2015-16
As of 2015 there will be a Diamond Alan Card. (Colleen Francis calls this "all in," which is a poker term, and Colleen gambles on cards. My biggest gamble is wolfing down shellfish at dives on the Jersey Shore.) The card will entitle the bearer to partake of my offerings below (I've indicated as much as I can about next year and whether fees will increase or be stable).

MAY 28, 2015, 11:00am US Eastern Time

This 50-minute teleconference will focus on the classic role of religion in history and its evolution, as well as its impact in today�s society. This will be a lively tour through my own journey and my extensive study of the evolution of religious origins and impact, with provocation, historical fact, and even an explanation of some miracles!
Digital Empire Creation
Work with the strategic technological genius, Chad Barr, Master Mentor and Mentor Hall of Fame member, who is behind all of my web activity (and co-author with me of Million Dollar Web Presence). His team will create "instant" intellectual property from your material and place it in a variety of forms on the Internet on a continuing basis.


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Balancing Act® is a monthly electronic newsletter discussing the blending of life, work, and relationships, based on the popular Balancing Act workshops and writing of Alan Weiss, Ph.D. Contact us for further information at: [email protected].
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If you're not fulfilled unless you get a "deal" you'll lead a very frustrating life. Become successful and be motivated by the reality that you don't need a deal.

Alan Weiss