Thursday, April 26, 2007

The Measure of a Civilization

The measure of a civilization at war is
how it treats those who have hurt it;

The measure of a civilization in peace
is how it treats those who are
hurting in it.

- Mark Goulston

U.S. Military Dead in Iraq : 3,333

U.S. Military Wounded/Mutilated in Iraq: 24,314

Incomplete List Of Contractors Dead in Iraq: 393 (incomplete list)

Journalists Dead in Iraq: 117 (incomplete list)

Iraqi Civilians Dead: 62,281

Child Abuse: 2006 report from 2004 data: 3,000,000 alleged abused or neglected; 872,000 confirmed

Child Abuse: 2005 report from 2003 data: 2,900,000 alleged abused or neglected; 906,000 confirmed

Child Abuse: 2004 report from 2002 data: 1,800,000 alleged abused or neglected; 896,000 confirmed

2005 National Crime Victimization Survey: 191,670 victims of rape, attempted rape or sexual assaults

The Annual Homeless Assessment Report to Congress (February 2007): 754,000 homeless on any given night in the United States

Just how civilized are we?

Talk Out Your Grief and You'll Begin to Heal

The second longest wait in life
is the time it takes for angst from a tragedy
to turn into grief;
the longest wait in life is the time it takes for grief
to turn into wisdom.

-Mark Goulston

The tragedy at Virginia Tech is such a devastating loss to those closely and even not so closely affected by it and creates an emotional abscess that needs to be drained completely before it can begin to heal. To clean this wound to their hearts and souls, they will need to feel and express, then pause and feel and express again, until they have drained the pus completely.

This will not be easy. Once you begin to grieve a certain tragedy, you risk opening the floodgates to unfelt, unexpressed and unhealed inner angst from other traumatic events in your life.

Yet sharing your feelings with people who can relate based on their own similar experiences can be extremely valuable during the recovery process. This explains why women with breast cancer are so helped by "Reach to Recovery" groups, and why the group experience is the foundation of Alcoholics Anonymous recovery programs.

To open the door to your own process of emotional excavation, healing and rebuilding, begin to talk in great detail with others about what you saw and heard, thought and felt, as you watched the tragedy of this awful event unfold.

Also use the following 10 signposts as a guide through the Valley of this Shadow of Death:

1. Cry
2. Scream
3. Shriek
4. Reach out to others
5. Reach into yourself
6. Sob
7. Take a deep breath
8. Whimper
9. Rest
10. Repeat the above as often as needed until you know that you'll make it through.
(c) 2007 Mark Goulston

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Mark Goulston is a partner at Los Angeles-based Ferrazzi Greenlight and the author of the upcoming book, Post Traumatic Stress Disorder for Dummies (due November, 2007). Visit Mark at:

Monday, April 23, 2007

Getting an Upset Person to Listen to Reason

A person can’t actively listen and scream at the same time,
and when they don’t listen to you,
get them to listen to them.

- Mark Goulston

One of the key tipping points in calming an upset person down who you're having a conversation with is to repeat what they are saying to you in a calm and measured voice. This takes discipline and focus, because your tendency is to react to people who are venting, blaming, etc. and either become defensive, competitive or hostile back at them.

So if someone is saying to you: "I hate this job, it's a bunch of bullsh-t, and nobody gives a damn," wait until they completely finish and then say calmly: "It's very important (just using the word "important" in connection with a person who is feeling unimportant is calming in itself) that I heard you correctly (pause) so what you're saying is that you hate this job, you think it's a bunch of bullsh-t, and you believe nobody gives a damn, is that correct?"

When you do this, it forces the upset person to go from venting to listening. They will begin to listen at the speed you are talking and will be drawn to listening, because you're saying what they told you.

If they resist and say, “You’re just trying to make fun of me” or “I’m not going to listen to anything you say,” repeat back to them in a calm voice, “This really is TOO important for me to have not correctly heard what you said, because if I did, it will be more difficult to figure out what to do to make things better.” Persist with this approach until they begin to listen.

It's important not to have a "passive aggressive" baiting, or ridiculing tone in your voice, but to assume a true inquiring attitude to sincerely check if you have heard them correctly.

If they tell you that you didn't hear them correctly, ask them to correct what you said and then repeat the corrected phrase back to them.

After you have repeated it correctly and they have agreed with what you say, you have not only caused them to listen, but you have caused them to say, "yes" to you in their mind which begins to ease them away from the hostile and agitated "no" in their head.

From here there are a variety of places you can take them. Such as asking them: "Do you really believe what you are saying and if so why?" or "It's also very important for me to know what has caused you to feel and think that way so I can see what might be done to make things better, so tell me, you hate your job and you think it's a bunch of bullsh-t and that nobody gives a damn because ---------"

By the way asking someone to fill in the blank as in the last phrase, " tell me, you hate your job and you think it's a bunch of bullsh-t and that nobody gives a damn because ---------" validates there thoughts and feeling and is more inviting and less confrontational than asking a question such as: "why do you hate your job and why do you think it's a bunch of bullsh-t."

By using this conversation you have led the person away from their animal reflex attack mode into listening and then into thinking what they’re saying and when they do that, they will begin to calm down and if you're patient, they will begin to listen to reason.

(c) 2007 Mark Goulston

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Mark Goulston is a partner at Los Angeles-based Ferrazzi Greenlight and the author of Get Out of Your Own Way at Work...and Help Others Do the Same the upcoming book, Post Traumatic Stress Disorder for Dummies (due November, 2007). Visit Mark at:

Friday, April 20, 2007

Triggers of Violence in Teens

Put Down + Pushed Away = Get In + Get Even

Nearly all the violence that we hear about in the media is triggered by rage--- and more specifically, impotent rage. Impotent rage results when someone is rejected and humiliated by real or imagined people and then feels powerless to do anything about it. Having few effective internal coping skills, they explode outward at the world.

At Virginia Tech Cho Seung-Hui was teased and taunted as much by the untreated and unmitigated thoughts and perhaps voices in his head as by other students, all of which pushed him beyond his breaking point and sought deadly retribution.

Teasing and mocking from others, from self-loathing or in the case of Cho Seung-Hui from thoughts and/or voices are nearly a universal part of teenage life and fairly common in many competitive adult settings. So why do the majority of people tolerate it, with at worst some blows to their ego, whereas others have hair-triggered personalities primed to explode at the next person who irritates them and is just in the wrong place at the wrong time?

As is often the case there are biological, psychological and social factors at work. When your biology, psychology and social functioning are strong, you can withstand insults from the world without becoming injured and incensed. If however any of these three personality-supporting pillars are weak, you will have less ability to tolerate upset.

Biologically some people come from a family of "hot heads" or have that extra Y chromosome that so many of the prison population possess or more rarely have the paranoia or paranoid schizophrenia that Cho is thought to have had. Or their physiology is off balance. All "testosteroned-up" and nowhere to blow, they view everything as a challenge to their manhood. Add to this the thirst for adrenaline rush excitement and the lowering of inhibitions by alcohol or drugs and you have a human Molotov cocktail set to explode.

From the psychological perspective, violent people possess little if any "object constancy." Object constancy is the ability to retain and feel some positive attachment (meager though it may be) to another person even in the face of feeling disappointed, hurt or angry with them. Violent people have an extremely low tolerance for frustration and lose all emotional and psychological connection with anyone that is upsetting them. When that connective link is broken, people become objects to be destroyed in the same way as one might smash a tennis racket or golf club on the ground following a lousy shot. When violent people are disappointed, they react by shooting from their hip with no regard for consequences instead of pausing to think and shooting from their head and making the best decision possible.

Social factors include learned "violence." Study after study show that most child abusers were themselves abused as children. Most teens or adults, who resort to violence, personally experienced or witnessed violence in their homes. This teaches them a rather unfortunate lesson--- violence and anger repeatedly wins over logic and reason.

The vast majority of people tolerate and survive the slings and arrows of their fellow human beings without resorting to murder and mayhem as long as either two or even one of their biological, psychological or social functioning is strong. But if they're batting zero for three in all of those areas, it will take very little to trigger them to become violent.

(c) 2007 Mark Goulston

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Mark Goulston is a partner at Los Angeles-based Ferrazzi Greenlight and the author of the upcoming book, Post Traumatic Stress Disorder for Dummies (due November, 2007). Visit Mark at:

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Recognizing Potentially Violent People

Every time a child kills another child,
God thunders down at us:
"THAT is not why I gave you the gift of life!"
and then God cries...

- Mark Goulston

You don't have to be a rocket scientist to recognize potentially violent people. You just have to scrape away some of your denial and tune into what your stomach is trying to tell you.

Many potentially violent people make us feel physically nervous and we often experience this as uneasiness in our stomachs, necks or throats or we may develop a severe headache. We have built into us many early warning signals that tell us when a person or a situation is unsafe. Sometimes we can be fooled, but more often than not, when we feel in danger, there is usually something or someone to be frightened about.

Our general reaction when we feel unsafe around a person is to avoid them, look away from them, and try not to provoke them. We employ an "out of sight, out of mind" approach to them, because they make us feel so uncomfortable. We hope they'll just go away.

What are clues that you should LOOK and LISTEN for to tell you that you might be dealing with a potentially imminently violent person? (although women do commit violence, I will refer to the person as male, since the majority of violent acts are still perpetrated by men)

What to LOOK for:

  • loss of temper on a daily basis
  • frequent physical fighting
  • significant vandalism or property damage
  • increase in use of drugs or alcohol
  • increase in risk-taking behavior
  • detailed plans to commit acts of violence
  • enjoying hurting animals
  • carrying a weapon
  • agitated movement – difficulty keeping still
  • easily irritated – you walk on "eggshells" around him
  • very impatient when having to wait in lines or wait to speak
  • shifty eye movements – tends to look evasively to left or right as if hiding something, if looks downward this may be a sign of submissiveness, but may then incense him later on
  • change in usual routines in terms of hobbies or exercises, etc.
  • stays to self or starts associating with "marginal" people
  • drawn to violent movies, newspaper stories, internet sites, television and radio shows
  • less attention to hygiene
  • paradoxical calmness in someone who has been agitated (may signal that has come up with a violent solution to his problems)

What to LISTEN for:

  • announcing threats or plans for hurting others
  • argumentative
  • becomes defensive easily
  • takes things personally that are not meant that way
  • negative comments about most things
  • complaining done with underlying agitation
  • blaming – most of what he talks about is blaming someone or something
  • sullen more than sulking– he can be silent in an intense way that doesn't feel quiet, sulking means he's getting some frustrations out

And if you notice the following signs over a period of time, the potential for violence exists:

  • a history of violent or aggressive behavior
  • serious drug or alcohol use
  • gang membership or strong desire to be in a gang
  • access to or fascination with weapons, especially guns
  • threatening others regularly
  • trouble controlling feelings like anger
  • withdrawal from friends and usual activities
  • feeling rejected or alone
  • having been a victim of bullying
  • poor school performance
  • history of discipline problems or frequent run-ins with authority
  • feeling constantly disrespected
  • failing to acknowledge the feelings or rights of others
(C) 2007 Mark Goulston (including material from the American Psychological Association)

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Friday, March 23, 2007

A Bitter Pill to Swallow

f you’re angry, you’re losing;
If you’re bitter, you’ve lost.

Getting angry is often seen as losing control. It isn’t. When you get angry, you have already lost control and it is your effort to get it back after you’ve lost it. Getting angry is the equivalent of a temper tantrum, where something gets taken away or is not given to an infant and that baby feels mortally wounded. The tantrum is an effort to get whatever it needs to stop the emotional hemorrhaging that the baby feels from that wound.

Getting angry may frighten people into giving you what you want in the short run, but it will take away their trust and respect in the long run. Over time, frequent anger has nowhere to go, but to harden into bitterness at which point it not only takes others’ trust, and respect away, it takes and keeps them away as they try to avoid you.

© 2007 Mark Goulston

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Tuesday, March 06, 2007


Never be:
- too rushed to say, "Thank You"
- too proud to say, "I'm sorry"
- or too angry to say, "Goodnight."

If you are too rushed to say, "Thank you," your relationship is leaning more towards being an arrangement than a relationship. If you're too proud to say, "I'm sorry" and too angry to say, "Goodnight," you'd rather be right than make things better and you're dangerously close to becoming the unforgiving person (you knew in your childhood) that you swore you'd never grow up to be like.

(c) 2007 Mark Goulston

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Thursday, March 01, 2007

"Never Eat Alone" meets "Get Out of Your Own Way"

Guess what has happened since I first wrote my blog Never Eat Alone made Simple in June, 2006?

Not only am I not eating alone anymore, I’ve joined Keith’s company, Ferrazzi Greenlight, and as they say, “The rest is future.”

And since we are all acts in progress I was delighted when Keith pointed out to me how my work in helping people get out of their own way was a critical element to people succeeding in using his ideas.

Here’s an integration of the two:

1. Focus – identify where you want to get to in your career (and in your life), because other than therapists, most people don’t want to spend too much time helping you figure out what you want to do when you grow up (and “Yes, butting” their suggestions will quickly wear out your welcome).

2. Target – identify key people from your past and present that you already know who can help and the people you don’t yet know, who would be in a position to help you.

3. Align – match the people you have identified with your goals. Which of the people you’ve identified can assist you in attaining which goals through introduction, advice, referrals, etc.

4. Prioritize – given how little time we have in our lives, prioritize which goals and consequently which people and in what order you want to start building mutually helpful relationships.

5. Define – now comes the generous and gracious part and where you get to let go of the Machiavellian and somewhat self-serving steps 1-3. Forget about yourself and think of how you can help those people be more successful in what is important to them. That can be their business or their career, their personal life or family, their community. Most people who are above the survival (= purely transactional) level are reciprocators by nature and will want to naturally want to help you.

6. Outreach – figure the ways to connect with those people either by meeting them one on one, inviting them to events, or staying in touch by “pinging” them via email, voice mail, snail mail (Never Eat Alone is the best resource on this component).

7. Diagnose – figure out where and how you get in your own way and that has prevented you from being successful, stop and overcome it. This step occurs here, because if you’ve done steps 1 – 5, you’ve developed momentum and have already put in a lot of time and effort that you won’t want to squander by doing something self-defeating that is going to turn someone off, just when you have succeeded in meeting them. It’s not rocket science, it’s simply a matter of identifying and stopping bad habits and replacing them with good habits long enough so that you automatically do what’s effective and no longer do what’s ineffective (check out Get Out of Your Own Way at Work and Get Out of Your Own Way for assistance with this).

8. Renew – this is the toughest step. Make and take time to stay in contact with the people you help and let help you.

9. Rejoice – follow steps 1 – 7 and when you become successful and happy and help others do the same, take time to enjoy your success…you’ve earned it.

10. Repeat – keep doing this process until it becomes a habit and an automatic way of living your life.

© 2007 Mark Goulston

Tuesday, February 27, 2007

The Secret to Solving ANY Relationship Problem

You can't be empathic and angry at the same time

One of the most common causes of relationship problems is presuming to really understand your partner, when it's clear to him or her that you couldn't be more off target. Over time, such presumption -- which goes in both directions -- can kill off any relationship.

Presuming is something you do at your partner from your inside out. Exploring sincere curiosity, on the other hand, is something you do with your partner from their inside out.

The next time you and your partner are stuck in a heated argument that's not going anywhere, try this surefire three-step strategy:

1. Realize when you're being on the offensive or defensive, and stop talking.
2. Admit to yourself that you and your partner are having problem.
3. Ask yourself, "What's it like for my partner right now?"

You will discover an amazing fact about human nature: You can't be sincerely curious about how and what another person is feeling and be angry with him or her at the same moment.

For instance, if you were to say to your partner during a tense time, "I didn't like where this conversation was going, and then I stopped and wondered what it was like for you. I realized that you don't like where it's going either, do you?"

If your partner agrees that he or she doesn't like what's happening, make the following offer: "If you don't like where it's going and I don't either, why don't we stop, start over, and have both of us try to talk without becoming hostile or defensive?" Unless your partner enjoys arguments, there's a good chance he or she will take you up on your invitation.

If your partner doesn't agree, he or she may want to hold onto the anger, rather than make things better. If you're the one who doesn't want to do this, then you're the one who'd rather be right than improve your relationship.

Now check out Cross Cultural Communication Made Simple.

(c) 2007 Mark Goulston

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

The Secret of "The Secret"

Forgiveness + Gratitude + Generosity = Attraction = The Secret

My partner, Keith Ferrazzi, has been recommending The Secret and I recently watched it on DVD and saw the show about it on Oprah and had some resistance to its message until I practiced what it preached, especially forgiveness. I realized that as long as I was not forgiving (others, myself, past situations, etc.), I was chasing after something that was impossible to fix, i.e. trying to rewrite some past disappointment or hurt that was not going to change, and diverting energy from my present and future. Being unforgving is an emotional "black hole" that sucks from everything else.

As soon as I decided to forgive and let it go, my unforgiving state of mind lost its power over me. After I recentered since I no longer needed to chase the impossible, I was able to recenter on gratitude.

Gratitude is wonderful. It is the gift that keeps on giving. When you're in a state of gratitude, nothing is missing in your mind, your life or the world. You can't be truly grateful and angry, hurt, disappointed or frustrated at the same time. When you are truly grateful, your cup runneth over and you want to give back, i.e. be generous towards the world. Read more on gratitude.

Generosity is what fuels the law of attraction. If you give to others and the world, without keeping score, you will discover another universal principle, i.e. reciprocity. Give to the world and it will want to give back. That is what the law of attraction is about.

A great example of this is the movie, Groundhog Day. In it Bill Murray starts out very self-centered and attracts very little towards himself (and even repulsed Andie MacDowall, the object of his lust). As he keeps dying and reliving each day, he starts to discover what Andie MacDowall truly wants and needs and when he becomes those things, he so attracts her that she bids for him in an auction at the end of the movie.

Too girlie an example, for you guys? Then think of the movie, Field of Dreams. In it, Kevin Costner sacrifices everything to build a baseball field and keeps building it without knowing why. All through the movie his "generosity" is tested by his asking why he is doing it. In the end, he builds a field that helps baseball players (including his dad) to fulfill the dreams they never got to live in life. And the lesson of the story? Build something that fulfills the dreams of people and "people will come."

So think of the people who are most important to you. Figure out what they most want and need and help them get those and you, too, will attract more than you can imagine.

Let me close by saying to you the words of Kevin Costner's character, Ray Kinsella, to his dad near the end of the movie, "Do you want to have a catch?"

(c) 2007 Mark Goulston

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Monday, February 19, 2007

Before George W, there was another George W

On succession planning, ego and being presidential

Friends, And Fellow Citizens

The period for a new election of a citizen to administer the executive government of the United States, being not far distant, and the time actually arrived when your thoughts must be employed in designating the person who is to be clothed with that important trust, it appears to me proper, especially as it may conduce to a more distinct expression of the public voice, that I should now apprise you of the resolution I have formed, to decline being considered among the number of those out of whom a choice is to be made...

Though, in reviewing the incidents of my administration, I am unconscious of intentional error, I am nevertheless too sensible of my defects not to think it probable that I may have committed many errors. Whatever they may be, I fervently beseech the Almighty to avert or mitigate the evils to which they may tend. I shall also carry with me the hope, that my country will never cease to view them with indulgence; and that, after forty-five years of my life dedicated to its service with an upright zeal, the faults of incompetent abilities will be consigned to oblivion, as myself must soon be to the mansions of rest.

- G. Washington

United States, 17th September 1796

These words represent a transition of leadership unprecedented in all of human history up to that time. This can be said without American bias. This was the first time a soldier, turned citizen-leader, willingly and voluntary turned over the power of a civilian government to another yet to be determined citizen leader. Known as Washington’s Farewell address, it was not an address at all but an open letter to the then nascent American People.

In order to fully appreciate the magnitude of this transfer of power, some historical context is important. Also, there is much that can be learned by entrepreneurs from George Washington, aside from this act of selfless leadership and dedication to his ultimate objective of creating a nation. Washington was after all, an entrepreneur himself. He had to creatively resource the new and under-resourced Continental Army. As a leader he had to train, organize, motivate and manage this new and different fighting force. His competition was larger, better trained, more mature and better established in its approach and very well capitalized. He led his people through very adverse circumstances, always keeping them focused on their higher purpose rather than their current difficult state of affairs.

Washington had a keen understanding of the importance of making time your ally rather than your enemy. He did this through conscious procrastination, the art of picking your spots and not acting in haste. He knew that in order to achieve his ultimate objective, he did not have to defeat his enemy in every situation. He needed to achieve small, important victories that would inspire his people and sow the seeds of doubt in his enemy. Washington understood that the most important thing was to sustain and persevere. Rather than defeat the British militarily, he had to break their will. He had to convince the British command and the British soldier in the field that while the Continental Army might not achieve a decisive military victory, they would also deny that opportunity to the British. He needed to give the new enterprise known as America the gift of time. The time to develop, congeal and coalesce as a nation. Then the people would have even more to fight for, their higher purpose.

To understand the monumental task that Washington had undertaken, is to understand his stature in having achieved it. Achieving victory with the forced expulsion of the British via the Treaty of Paris, gave Washington nearly unprecedented power and popularity. He was a truly mythic figure. His likeness was everywhere. Nearly all revered him and even his enemies and detractors had deep respect for his achievement. There were greater thinkers, orators and writers at the time, but no greater recognized leader then Washington. Washington could have had himself crowned king of America at that time and there would have been little to stop him.

Instead he chose a different path. And with that choice set off a chain of events that has led to over two hundred years of peaceful, orderly transitions of power in the world’s oldest operating democratic republic.

In September of 1796, Washington demonstrated that he knew something that entrepreneurs, founders and leaders of all types should know but all too often fail to realize; that it was time. It was time to transition to the next level of stability and maturity as a government and as a nation. Good leaders know how and when to lead, great leaders also know how and when to leave. Had Washington chosen to continue, he knew intuitively, that the entire future, and nature of leadership in America would be forever different; and not better. He would have left this new democratic republic with the sense of dependency on charismatic leadership vested in a man, rather than the independence derived from faith in themselves, institutions, process and their guiding principles.

In effect, Washington had come to an inflection point in the development of the new nation. Done well, the orderly transition would set this new country on an upward trajectory for growth and prosperity. Done poorly, the course would be set for dissention, dependency and the strong possibility this new enterprise would never reach its potential or survive at all.

By powerful example, Washington created a fundamental precept that resonates today in American culture. That dedication to a cause, an idea, or a principle larger than yourself, demands that you subjugate yourself to it for the good of the whole. The power of humility cannot be underestimated in a great leader. A clear understanding and recognition of our faults can have a profound impact on others. The Farewell Address is a masterfully conceived message that in its entirety embodies both great ideas with the humility of a Virginia farmer of the day.

The Farewell Address is a great study of how one gets the message out, and also about knowing your audience. The Farewell Address was never delivered as a speech, as many messages of its type were delivered at the time. Instead it was published as an open letter in to the American public in a local newspaper and subsequently picked up and reprinted all over the country.

Washington was a master of symbolism, rituals and traditions from his years of military service. The crafting and placement of this message is no exception. Instead of an address to the Congress which may or may not have made its way to the people, he bypassed Congress completely and took his case directly to the public. It was his way of sending a powerful message about their role as a central player in the future success of their country. Again, an unprecedented notion for the time.

The new country and its people were still trying to find their way in this new experiment, in effect, seeking their vision. This strategically brilliant use of media and direct communication not only conveyed the message in its content, but reinforced it through its method and use of plain language. Certainly, most of those reading the message then, did not take the time to analyze the strategic nature of it, but it set a tone and created an environment that while conceptual, was also palpable. That is what great leaders do. They set the tone and create the environment for future success for those best placed to make it happen, on the street, the shop floor or the local cubicle.


Mark Goulston, M.D. is a partner at Ferrazzi Greenlight and author of Get Out of Your Own Way at Work. Kevin Gregson is CEO Sherwood Solutions. For more info on Mark, go to: for more info on Kevin, go to: .

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

For Valentine's Day

Happy couples know that the real relationship begins when the honeymoon is over. Unless you maintain a garden of love, it will grow weeds and its beauty will wither and die. So let's explore the 10 habits* of highly happy couples (with all due respect and appreciation to Stephen Covey):

1. Go to bed at the same time. Remember the beginning of your relationship, when you couldn't wait to go to bed with each other to make love? Happy couples resist the temptation to go to bed at different times. They go to bed at the same time, even if one partner wakes up later to do things while their partner sleeps.

2. Cultivate common interests. After the passion settles down, it's common to realize that you have few interests in common. But don't minimize the importance of activities you can do together that you both enjoy. If common interests are not present, happy couples develop them. At the same time, be sure to cultivate interests of your own; this will make you more interesting to your mate and prevent you from appearing too dependent.

3. Walk hand in hand or side by side. Rather than one partner lagging or dragging behind the other, happy couples walk comfortably hand in hand or side by side. They know it's more important to be with their partner than to see the sights along the way.

4. Make trust and forgiveness your default mode. If and when they have a disagreement or argument, and if they can't resolve it, happy couples default to trusting and forgiving rather than distrusting and begrudging.

5. Focus more on what your partner does right than what he or she does wrong. If you look for things your partner does wrong, you can always find something. If you look for what he or she does right, you can always find something, too. It all depends on what you want to look for. Happy couples accentuate the positive.

6. Hug each other as soon as you see each other after work. Our skin has a memory of "good touch" (loved), "bad touch" (abused) and "no touch" (neglected). Couples who say hello with a hug keep their skin bathed in the "good touch," which can inoculate your spirit against anonymity in the world.

7. Say "I love you" and "Have a good day" every morning. This is a great way to buy some patience and tolerance as each partner sets out each day to battle traffic jams, long lines and other annoyances.

8. Say "Good night" every night, regardless of how you feel. This tells your partner that, regardless of how upset you are with him or her, you still want to be in the relationship. It says that what you and your partner have is bigger than any single upsetting incident.

9. Do a "weather" check during the day. Call your partner at home or at work to see how his or her day is going. This is a great way to adjust expectations so that you're more in sync when you connect after work. For instance, if your partner is having an awful day, it might be unreasonable to expect him or her to be enthusiastic about something good that happened to you.

10. Be proud to be seen with your partner. Happy couples are pleased to be seen together and are often in some kind of affectionate contact -- hand on hand or hand on shoulder or knee or back of neck. They are not showing off but rather just saying that they belong with each other.

Even if these actions don't come naturally, happy couples stick with them until they do become a part of their relationship. They know that it takes 30 days for a change in behavior to become a habit, and a minimum of six months for a habit to become a way of life and love.

(* According to Dan Sullivan, founder of The Strategic Coach: "Self-discipline is an ugly word. People mainly use it to beat up on themselves or others for not having enough of it. What it comes down to is habits. Happy and successful people have different habits than unhappy and unsuccessful people. And habits are specific behaviors that you do on a consistent basis until you internalize them into your personality.")

(c) 2007 Mark Goulston

P.S. Next week discover: "One of the Best Conversations You'll Ever Have With Your Partner" and for more relationship help check out: The 6 Secrets of a Lasting Relationship: How to Fall in Love Again...and Stay There

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Thursday, February 08, 2007

On being Lisa Nowak, female and male

If you haven't noticed, the world is not a ghetto. It's a silo. Silos help us to to tune out distractions, to keep our eye on the prize or goal, and drill down deeply into our areas of competence. All good stuff.

Now the bad. Although silos help us coordinate our skills and functions--the "human doing" part of our personality--with those of others to achieve amazing things, including a successful space shuttle, they prevent us from connecting from the "human being" inside us with that part within others. Left ignored it can cause people to do desperate things such as Lisa Nowak's reckless and wreckful journey.

Women face different stresses and face stress differently than men, for many reasons. One of the most important is that at their cores women are much better and often more motivated at connecting deeply with others in the service of closeness. Men connect with others more often in the service of achieving goals and objectives.

It is not just a whole host of different hormones at play here, but men's and women's brains are anatomically different. One of the main differences is that the connecting pathway between the left (logical) hemisphere and right (emotional) called the corpus callosum is significantly thicker in women than in men. That means that women's left and right brain are better connected than a man's. At its best, it makes women more understanding; at its worst, it makes them indecisive. At its best, it makes men more decisive; at its worst, it gets them locked into an "either or" myopia.

This means that women may become emotional about trivial matters for which they are ridiculed by men, but on the other hand they won't go to war as quickly as men, because they are more in touch with the grief than the anger of losing a child. Women know that retaliating against an enemy (as men are likely to do) will not bring back a dead child and will only prolong the misery.

In the end, men connect women to the world; women connect men to each other...and themselves. Men can provide a house, but only women can turn it into a home.

Can't we just get along?

Sunday, January 21, 2007

Hillary's Problem and Our Problem with Hillary

Accurately and deservedly or not with Bill Clinton we always believed we knew what he was feeling; with Hillary (and John Kerry and Al Gore - until recently and unfortunately too late) we never know. When we are unable to know what someone is feeling, we too often project either confusion (as with Kerry) or cunning and ulterior motives (as with Hillary) and causes us to be tentative in our support.

Saturday, January 20, 2007

A "No Lose" Proposition

Winning is one of the best opportunities
to demonstrate graciousness and generosity;
Losing is one of the best opportunities
to show poise, humility and take responsibility ;
Graciousness, generosity, poise, humility
and taking responsibility
are five of your best opportunities
to earn and gain respect and esteem
from others and yourself.

(c) 2007 Mark Goulston

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Sunday, January 14, 2007

Senator Obama, Read "Your" Lips

“How would that make you feel if somebody did that to you?”

With that phrase, you are not only saying and living by what your mother taught you, but it also implies – to all the non-lawyers in the world—that in negotiations and legislation you would accept the deal you are proposing, if you were on the other side of the table.

I am saying this not to chastise, but to forewarn you to not fall prey to the “Read my lips” debacle of President Bush part 1 and too-many-to-mention gaffes from President Bush part 2. Because you see, I am just as excited about your being not merely the next best thing, but the best thing, period for our country to come along in a long time--a “neo Reagan” following a “Carteresque Bush” (policies, P.O.V. notwithstanding).

In all honesty, only 30 % of my enthusiasm is about you. The remaining 70 % is about the deep ache and hunger to find someone to believe in who just might not turn out to have feet of clay, if not hardened intractable concrete. I am not alone in personally starving for someone who can break through or at least thaw the skepticism, cynicism, transactional myopia and ROI blindness that has engulfed, consumed and ultimately betrayed all of us.

It’s not an impossible task, but here is something to keep in mind as you plan your and possibly our future. A skeptic is someone who is reluctant to trust and believe; a cynic is someone who refuses to trust and believe. A skeptic is someone who once trusted and believed and was disappointed; a cynic is someone who once trusted and believed and was betrayed. Nevertheless deep inside all skeptics and most cynics is a deep abiding ache to trust and believe once more, but to do so without the fear of being disappointed or betrayed again.

Something else to consider. As you are evolving (and hopefully not merely morphing), don’t be merely motivational or even inspirational.

To motivate is to pump people up (or from a cynical point of view, puff people up). It aims people toward a goal (usually the leader’s personal one) and then fires them toward it like a rifle shot. Too often, the people listening do not have the courage of the leader who is doing the pumping and aiming. When the pump's away, the people deflate. After such calls to action I have heard people say to each other, "That's easy for him to say. He’s got enough power and money to have the courage of his convictions." Too many people are too far down and too weary to buy into being pumped up momentarily.

More people need to be lifted up than pumped up. This is what inspiration does. Whereas motivation seeks to mobilize you by telling you to take action, inspiration accounts for the notion that if you are too wounded you may need some compassion and healing before you get back on your feet. That compassion is not wasted. It feels good to be understood--to have others know that sometimes you're not being lazy; sometimes you are too hurt to do anything other than lick your wounds after a truck has hit you. But as with motivation, inspiration, although more satisfying to the spirit, can also fall short of helping people reach a goal. Too often, inspiration lifts you up but doesn't give you specific steps to take. So you are left feeling better, but still just as lost about what to do next.

If trying to motivate or even to inspire falls short of helping people reach a goal, what's a leader to do? He can enspire his people. To enlarge is to make larger; to enable is to make able; to ennoble is to make noble. To enspire is to both lift up and direct. Enspiration makes something happen. It gives people the will to find the way and also the way to sustain the will.

To find one of best and most endearing and enduring examples of this, you needn’t look beyond an enspirational leader that has enchanted both you and your children. Just remember how Peter Pan enspired Wendy to go to Neverland with the simple directive: “Second star to the left and straight on ‘til morning.”

For us to achieve the audacity of hope, we may need you to have the audacity of Pan.

© 2007 Mark Goulston

No More Bullsh*t

Toleration of bullsh*t
is directly proportionate
to fear of confrontation;
Bullsh*t is inevitable,
believing and accepting it are not.


BULLSH*T – the delusion that something will work out which experience, common sense and life have consistently shown has a snowball’s chance in hell of happening.

TO BULLSH*T – to try to convince someone else or yourself that the above is true.

EMPLOYEE – someone who because of fear and security concerns must often tolerate a great deal of bullsh*t.

SOLE PRACTITIONER - someone whose single greatest perk is the ability to get up and leave when confronted with bullsh*t.

One of the benefits of nearly dying –which happened to me three years ago—is to get a second chance to do life differently. Although the doctors said my colon had perforated from diverticulitis, I knew better. It had imploded after I had bullsh*tted myself that I could stay ahead of the bullsh*t around me without it hurting me.

I had been able to recognize it for years, but I didn’t always confront or deal with it. That can change when you’re changing a cute little accessory attached to your body (which fortunately was repaired). Check out my values to see how I've tried to keep from giving bullsh*t a second chance to kill me. Don’t bullsh*t yourself.

(c) 2007 Mark Goulston