A Mother’s Mantra for Motivational Speakers

“You have got to be freakin’ kidding me!”

Breathe Paul, breathe.

“Our new guy did what?”

“Sent an email offering his own services to one of our existing clients using our company e-mail.”

“He’s gotta go.”

“Look it’s 10:00 pm. Let’s talk again in the morning,” my business partner Patrick, a.k.a., The Voice of Reason, suggested.

Early the next morning, as I fumbled through my wallet looking for a phone number I’d scribbled down on a receipt, I unearthed a tattered card that said “It’s not what it is.  It’s how you choose to look at it.”

My mom loves to hide notes. It’s her way of making make sure that I don’t lose sight of some of the things she feels I need to remember. She also quite enjoys reminding me that Motivational Speakers don’t always have it all figured out. And in this instance, she was right.  I really was in danger of making a mess of things.

Looking through this lens, my reaction to the events of the previous day kinda’ stunk. As my self-righteous indignation dissipated, it was replaced by the realization that it was possible that our new guy’s transgression might not be as egregious as I was convinced it was.

Since the scale was tipped in my favor, there was no need to move hastily; I was free to move in a mood of discovery rather than one of certainty. Since I wasn’t really a victim, at least not yet, I had the opportunity . . .  and dare I say . . . the responsibility, to resolve the situation optimally.

Go figure! When I did that, I invested less energy in being offended and making sure I was right and more energy in discovering what actually happened. Then I had the mindset to move forward. And, as it turned out, moving forward led me to learn that our new guy’s unauthorized use of our company email account was a technological snafu; he didn’t mean to do it and guaranteed it would not happen again. So, with everyone’s dignity intact, we all ended up in a pretty good place.

End result: A mistake was made. It won’t happen again. We have enhanced our trust in one another while adopting explicitly clear operating procedures. As we move ahead, I’ll refer to mom’s tattered note and remind myself: It’s not how it is. It’s how I choose to look at it. Thanks Mom!


Success simplified; lessons learned down a hippo's throat. Speaker, Author, Coach who will parachute in when traditional solutions won’t get it done.

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  1. True. And the other point you raise is that it really is okay and normal to have these “instant” reactions. We’ve gotten a lot of practice at that, haven’t we? Where the mastery comes in, I think, is in doing what you did – which is to take the time to CHOOSE your response. Now THAT is graduate level stuff! Great story, Paul!

  2. Gotta love a man who uses “freakin'” and “egregious” in the same post. Great job Paul! I already love you. I’m pretty sure I love your wife. And now, after this post, I’m thinking I love your mother too. Moms often don’t realize the impact that those “little notes” have on our childrens’ lives. Thanks for the reminder. And what a great lesson here. I am trying to learn to act instead of react – and not to react with emotion, but with ration. But it’s not always easy. This motivational speaker has a long way to go!

  3. Your mother is obviously a motivational speaker at heart!

  4. Now I know that you’re an awesome motivational speaker with that perspective, Paul!

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