Balancing Act #205: September 2016



A free monthly newsletter about balancing life, work, and relationships based on the books and popular workshops conducted by Alan Weiss, Ph.D. Past copies are archived on our web site:

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Balancing act is in four sections this month:

1. Techniques for balance

2. Musings

3. The human condition: Attack dog



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1. Techniques for balance

• “Getting even” as in a grudge is not progress. Getting to your destination is.

• If you assume results which will be positive but less than perfect, you’ll be disappointed a lot less often.

• Your kids (and pets) have self-interests not always congruent with yours. Why would that surprise you?

• Why aren’t you planning your 2018 vacations right now?

• Don’t improve your home because it will “increase its value.” Improve your home if it increases your well-being.

• Stop depending on, expecting, and hoping others to validate you. You’re valid. Move on.

• If you want to do the opposite of staying in the moment and enjoying life as it comes, start a bucket list.

• If you insist your name be on something as a result of a contribution, is that really charity or a purchased piece of public relations?

• Golf is in serious decline in the U.S., I suspect because it’s become too hard, takes too long, and is the exact opposite of immediate gratification.

• If you’re wondering how organization can hire sales reps who can’t sell, call center operators who can’t solve problems, and hostesses who are rude to diners, just look at what our country has produced in terms of presidential candidates.

• Life is a lot like baseball: A great deal of waiting around and delay punctuated by split second action, controversy, and second-guessing.

2. Musings

As you might imagine, I’ve been asked repeatedly what my assessment is of the factors differentiating the highly successful from the less successful. The comparison isn’t against the unsuccessful, which an entirely different dynamic, but against those who do well but aren’t the best, the thought leaders, the champions.

You can easily read how it’s a kibillion hours of practice (I find that to be nonsense), or heredity (perhaps appropriate in swimming or basketball), or IQ (I know too many smart failures), or education (I went to college and grad school with a lot of people who were no better off after the experience). Some people advocate coaching and some trial and error, and some sheer passion.

My general conclusions is that perseverance is the key, all else being fairly equal, and that perseverance is based on disciplined focus and resilience. (The closest work I’d recommend is Andrea Duckworth’s excellent Grit).

Focused discipline is the ability to stay the course, to limit and overcome distractions, to handle multiple priority projects at once without sacrificing any. The operative word here is “priority.” Focus requires the jettisoning of the non-priority, and if everything is a priority then nothing is a priority.

Resilience (see my book co-authored with Dr. Richard Citrin, The Resilience Advantage) is the ability to accept temporary, unavoidable pain without allowing voluntary, endless suffering to intervene. It’s the ability to get back on the horse, to apologize, to return to the scene of defeat, to learn from failure.

I’ll tell you here and now that most people aren’t happy with my conclusions, because perseverance and resilience are within the control of the performer. They are not functions of DNA, or the right school, or particular life experiences. You can probably improve at both right now.

But do you choose to?

3. The human condition: Attack dog

Sometimes I receive nice letters in response to one of my many columns or newsletters, suggesting that I have a fact or source wrong. These are not the crazed “typo-hunters,” but erudite readers who are seeking to find out if they are wrong or I made an error on an important point. For example, a quote I had attributed to Oscar Wilde was actually uttered by Bertrand Russell, and that was important to know and correct.

Sometimes, however, much more rarely, the letter is irate. One person questioned my credentials as a consultant, and another called me a “liar.” Those are just two examples. I find these fascinating, because they are forms of emotional illness.

Imagine arising in the morning eager to “attack”? Instead of finding something questionable to investigate or pursue in the newspapers, online, or on the air, you are instantly angered and choose to pursue the object of your wrath with scorn and slander! Metaphorically, your day is about frothing at the mouth and seeking some kind of perverted vengeance. You don’t want to help or construct, you want to destroy.

We all know people like this. It is the foundation of polarization. If you’re not with me, you’re stupid or lying. (A woman whom I told had her fact wrong about global warming told me, “You’re just a ‘denier,’ why would I listen to you?”)

These people are basically threatened. Their world is tightly strung, they will brook no exceptions to the order they want to create. However, just as anger against others is usually self-anger directed outwards, I’ve found that these “attack dogs” have mostly committed the sins they accuse others of committing. Their own motives were unscrupulous, so they blame others’, similar mistakes as being the result of those same motives.

Undisciplined attack dogs are a menace. Fortunately, most of them are afraid to leave their own yards.

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February 14, Dallas

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Retreat: Developing Creativity, IP, and Brands

September 15-16, San Francisco

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The Transatlantic Workshops

Featuring Matt Kolbusa from Hamburg

October 24-25, Washington, DC

You’ll hear numerous examples to enter high-fee territory. Taking our own experience as the starting point, we’ll describe how to gradually increase project volumes from $50k to $100K, to $200K, to $300K and, finally, even to $500k. What errors were made along the way? What were the profits of these projects and what will they be in the future? What erroneous reasoning and attitudes do we have to overcome to achieve this development? Based on hit workshops in Munich and Hamburg.

Million Dollar Consulting® College

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December 13-16

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Role-Play Workshop

November 2

New York City

A maximum of 26 people in the toughest and/or most common challenges, from marketing to implementation, from referrals requests to dealing with difficult clients. Write me to apply: [email protected]. First ten people are $950, second ten are $1,150, final six are $1,350.

Thought Leadership 2016

October 5-7

Four Seasons, Palm Beach

We sell-out every year and for our next one I've secured Harvard's Dan Gilbert, the expert on happiness, as my special guest for a discussion as well as dinner. His TED talk has been viewed by over 15 million people thus far. Three seats remain.

Million Dollar Consulting® Convention 2017

April 26-28, Chicago

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8. Endorsed Programming

I offer fabulous resources through global experts in areas such as positioning, wealth building, fitness, social media excellence, coaching, and other areas, all of whom I personally work with and support. Consider this your "galaxy of expertise."

**Special New Offer**

Lisa McLeod’s Noble Purpose Institute

Nov 16-18, 2016 Atlanta GA

A three-day program for entrepreneurs, consultants, and small businesses.

How often do you struggle to articulate what makes your firm unique? Do prospects call you, or are you constantly calling them?

Without a Noble Purpose, you’re just another salesperson. A Noble Purpose is the reason your firm exists. It tells the world why you’re different. A ten-year growth study of 50,000 brands revealed: Organizations with a Noble Purpose outperform the market by over 350%. (Source: Stengel and Millward Brown, Optimor.)

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• A clear articulation of your own Noble Purpose.

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4. Only Read This If You Know Me Well Or You’ll Be Needlessly Ticked-Off

I was sitting on the beach in Nantucket when the lifeguard arrived to set up shop about 50 yards away on the small beach adjoining our house. He walked toward me with a flag I’ve never seen, planting it nearby.

“What does that stand for?” I asked, hoping it wasn’t Portuguese men-of-war, which have toxic venom in their tentacles.

“It’s our limit of liability boundary,” he said.

I stared, speechless, so he continued, “Technically, if you’re drowning beyond this flag, I don’t have to try to save you. But since we’ve now met, I’ll watch out for you!”

Is there anyone out there who doesn’t think there are too many lawyers in this country?


“Learned helplessness” arises when pain or suffering in one area is voluntarily transferred to another. Stop it. — AW


© Alan Weiss 2016