27 Year End Reflection Questions to Ask Your Partner

“Life is only a reflection of what we allow ourselves to see”

It’s New Years Eve 2021 and tonight Michelle and I are going to one of our favourite brew pubs for beer and nachos. Something both of us enjoy more than fancy balls and cocktail parties. We’ve opted to keep it to the two of us so that we can have a nice date night. Beer and nachos at Campio Brewing Co. One of Michelle’s requests was for it to be a “distraction free” night, which means no cell phones.

I love our distraction free time and recognize that we do not do it enough. I wanted to up the ante a little and make sure that our date night tonight was truly intentional so I sat down and brainstormed 27 year end reflection questions for us to ask each other. I haven’t shared this list with her yet and I am sure it will grow based on our conversation tonight.

Year end reflection questions
Nachos at Campio

I invite you to share these with your partner and see what kind of conversation they provoke. Please drop me a note in the comments with your additions to this list. I have created a downloadable PDF version here in case you want to print them and take them out on your date like I’m going to.

Year End Reflection Questions

  1. When did you feel the most connected with me this year?
  2. When did you feel the least connected with me this year?
  3. What do you wish we had done more of this past year?
  4. What do you wish we had done less of this year?
  5. What was your favourite couples moment this year?
  6. What is your favourite sexual position?
  7. What do you like most in the bedroom?
  8. Who had the biggest impact on our relationship this year?
  9. What was your favourite getaway this year?
  10. How did we grow together this year?
  11. How do you feel I best supported you this year?
  12. Were there areas where I could have better supported you this year?
  13. What were some of the biggest challenges we overcame as a couple this year?
  14. How were we intentional about the impact that we want to make in the world together?
  15. What are your favorite activities for us to do together?
  16. What would you like to see us accomplish together next year?
  17. What did you learn about me this year?
  18. What surprised you most about us this year?
  19. How has our relationship shifted this year?
  20. What is your favorite “you and me” tradition or ritual?
  21. What routines would you like to see us implement this next year?
  22. What areas of our relationship need the most improvement?
  23. Where do you think you could show up as a better partner?
  24. Where do you think I could show up as a better partner?
  25. What is one thing that stands out to you that I did that really says “I love you” without saying “I love you”?
  26. If you could pick a food to represent our relationship this past year what would it be and why?
  27. What word would you like to use for us as an intention word for the year ahead?
Time Confetti

Is Time Confetti Ruining Your Life?

Audio Blog

Focus seems to be an incredibly rare commodity these days. It is something I have struggled with most of my life. Do you remember the scene in the movie Up! In the scene, Dug the Dog introduces himself to the main characters and halfway through he stops, mid sentence, looks sharply to his left and says “Squirrel!” then brings his focus back to the conversation at hand. 

That scene resonated strongly for so many that all you have to do is yell “Squirrel!” and people will immediately get the reference. It speaks to our collective tendency to succumb to distraction.

Time Confetti

In her 2014 book, “Overwhelmed: Work, Love, And Play When No One Has The Time” Brigitte Schulte coined the term “Time Confetti” to describe what she found to be the shredding of what should be plenty of time, into small, unenjoyable chunks. After a time-use researcher suggested to her that like every other American she had 30 hours a week of ‘leisure time’ she was skeptical. He challenged her to keep a journal of her leisure time which led her to discover vast amounts of what she describes as “Time Confetti”.

For me when I think of Time Confetti and the damage that it does in my life, I think of the amount of times that I switch tasks during my work day. Ultimately I often end up feeling like I spent all day being incredibly busy but surprisingly unproductive. What I realized years ago (yet still struggle to implement) was that when I am at my best I am working in short, focused blocks of time. 

Rarely did I truly lack the time to get things done, but often I lacked the focus to get things done. In order for any of us to be truly productive we require focused attention and effort. While we tend to applaud people’s ability to “multitask” what we really need to learn to do is to “monotask”. We need to learn to actually focus on one thing at a time. This is true whether we are talking about specific home or work projects or we are talking about personal relationships. 

How often have you been on the phone with someone sharing a story only to realize that they are not actually listening. Their focus is clearly elsewhere. Maybe they are in the middle of writing an email or simply thinking about the next task that they have to do. How does that make you feel? Right?! It’s annoying as fuck. Yet we all are guilty of it from time to time. 

My partner Michelle and I were discussing the concept of time confetti this morning and she laughed when I first mentioned it. She explained that she had just used the word confetti to describe strings of her work emails. When working in a team environment, how often do you receive separate emails on a single topic from multiple people? 

All potentially valuable information yet somehow incredibly fragmented. Everyone contributes their own relevant bits however, if there isn’t an easy way to tie them all together we end up with a giant box of unassembled puzzle pieces. All the pieces are there, yet all the individual team members are left to assemble them on their own. This has the potential to prevent any one person from actually seeing the whole picture. Or worse everyone seeing the picture differently. 

So how do we manage “Time Confetti” in our life? 

It Always Starts With Awareness

I’ve said it a thousand times and I will say it a thousand times more. It always starts with awareness. We can’t manage what we don’t see. With awareness comes choice. If you prefer a more philosophical lens the philosopher Gurdjieff says 

“You are in prison. If you wish to get out of prison, the first thing you must do is realize that you are in prison. If you think you are free, you can’t escape.”

George Gurdjieff

In other words if you don’t know you are in prison, escape is impossible. For many of us we are loath to admit it but we are addicted to the confetti. These small bursts of dopamine hits that give us temporary satisfaction as we jump from thing to thing to thing. Sometimes it is easier just to pretend that the problem does not exist and carry on complaining about our lack of time.

“What I really need Mike is more time in the day” 

I hear this so often yet when we get down to really examining where time is spent it is rarely true that we actually need more time in the day. For most of the clients I coach they simply need to be more efficient with the time that they have and focus on the priorities. That means reverse engineering the confetti and putting it back together into an entire sheet of paper. 

There are a few tactical ways you can do this. You could create a scorecard and tally all the times in a day you get drawn off task. If you are the kind of person that carries around a notebook, use one of the back pages and write down the date and simply add a tick mark beside or under that date every time you catch yourself getting pulled off task. 

November 26, 2021: IIIII IIIII IIIII IIIII 

Yep, it’s been a lot for me and it’s only 9:30am. This is why I need to use some of the techniques below to maximize my opportunities to stay on task and be the most productive version of myself possible. 

Track where you actually spend your time. I’ve written about this before but using a time tracking app such as Toggl or something similar can be very helpful. Simply start the timer when you begin working on a task or project and stop it the moment you stop working on that task or project. If you are anything like me you will likely find that in an 8 hour work day you can only account for half the time. I found that much of my time was not directly attributed to specific projects or tasks. 

That means that the rest of that time has been shredded into those tiny little flakes of confetti. This presents us with a huge opportunity to actually create more time in the day. That dream that so many of us have. 


As I discussed above, it can be fun and gratifying to switch tasks a hundred times a day. That means that it really all starts with discipline. It will take discipline to sit down and track where you actually spend your time and how often you get pulled off task.

It will take discipline to not allow yourself to get sucked into that industrial size, micro cut, time shredder. I love visualizations so one of the things I do when I catch myself getting pulled off task is to picture a giant vortex sucking my time away from me and funneling into one of these giant shredders. The next time you find yourself saying “If only I had more time” try replacing that with “If only I had a little more discipline” and see how that feels. 

Time Blocking

For me this has been the most powerful shift in how I approach my day. It started when I wrote my book. The thought of writing an entire book over a long period of time was overwhelming. I came across a method that many are likely familiar with but I would suggest few actually employ with any consistency. 

The method is called the Pomodoro technique. Initially by Francesco Cirillo in the late 1980’s. It uses a timer to break work into shorter intervals. Traditionally 25 minute blocks followed by a 5 minute break. Lather, rinse, repeat. 

I do almost all of my work in “Poms” now. It’s similar to how I run ultramarathons. If I think about having to run 100 miles all in one go the task seems overwhelming and largely impossible. However when I break that run down into running from one aid station to the next it becomes much more doable. I can always run the 8-10 miles required to get me to the next aid station. 

Email Management

Emails have become so ubiquitous that it is easy to allow them to shred our time into a million little pieces. When I started to recognize the number of times I was checking email, looking for something to respond to, it became very clear that this was a huge source of Time Confetti for me. 

With awareness comes choice. 

I created an autoresponder that replies to every email letting the sender know that I check emails at noon and then again at 4pm. I also give them my cellular number so that if they really need to get ahold of me urgently they can simply text me. Now I just have to be disciplined enough not to look at my emails until those time slots. 

The reality is that there is rarely an email that cannot wait at least four hours. Immediately my productivity went through the roof. I stopped responding to other people’s “demands” and could then focus on my priorities. I could do this in a much more efficient manner and I am certain that none of my clients felt that they were any less of a priority for me because of it. That was the lie that I had been telling myself. 

I told myself that in order to be exceptional I needed to be ‘responsive’. I told myself that would be one of my differentiators. The truth is that responding in four hours is still incredibly ‘responsive’ when you compare to the rest of the business world. It can still be a differentiator for me.

It just means that I have to be disciplined about sitting down and providing thoughtful responses at the right time. For things that will require larger amounts of time to respond to I will schedule a “Pom” or two or three in my calendar. I will reply to the email immediately at noon or four and set expectations on the timing for a thorough response.


By now you should know that I am a big fan of ‘sound bites’. Little digestible descriptors that I can easily hang onto and reference throughout my day. It is a large part of what I practice sharing with you. When I heard the term “Time Confetti” I knew that it would stick for me. 

I’ve shared with you some of the tools that I use to minimize the Time Confetti as much as possible. My challenge for you today is to start with some of the awareness practices. Start to document your confetti. See if you can identify how much “Time Confetti” is impacting your life and your productivity. 

I’d also love to hear some of the strategies that you use in order to manage the amount of time shredding that happens in your life. Drop a note in the comments below.

How to set boundaries

How to Set Boundaries

How to set boundaries audio

In my work I talk a lot about leading with empathy and compassion. I talk about the value of kindness, acceptance and love in leadership. These words can be mistaken for “soft” or “weak” and therefore some are hesitant to employ those qualities in a leadership role. This is only the case if we do not learn how to set boundaries.

There is a truth that took me a little longer to learn than perhaps it should have. 

Empathy and compassion without boundaries and accountability are a recipe for disaster. 

They are not mutually exclusive. Far too often I see good, talented, even gifted individuals not live up to their potential because they lack the ability to set boundaries. They confuse being a good, kind person with having no boundaries. 

The truth of the matter is that you can be both someone who is kind, caring, and compassionate as well as have firm boundaries as to what is acceptable in your life. The cold, hard truth of the matter is that if you have one without the other you are ripe to be taken advantage of. Abused even. 

This holds true for all of our relationships. Personal as well as professional. Setting boundaries is a skill that takes practice, repetition and effort to master. Once you start to learn the art of articulating what is acceptable to you, and that which is not, life/business becomes so much better. There is a profound freedom in learning to assert your boundaries. 

What are boundaries

Boundaries are a set of guidelines. A list of what is acceptable in your life and what is not. Boundaries aren’t beholden to right or wrong, they are simply about identifying what you will allow in your life. Don’t get me wrong, I think it is reasonable to consistently challenge your boundaries and ensure that they continue to match the values which you strive to live by. 

Walls vs. Boundaries

This is an important distinction. There are many times when we seek to improve ourselves we can implement practices that are counterproductive. In the context of boundaries it is very easy to mistake putting up walls for setting boundaries. 

Walls keep people out. They are protectionist in nature and usually stem from fear. They create disconnection and can lead to loneliness and isolation. As human beings we are hardwired for connection. When we create disconnection by putting up walls we risk that disconnection becoming a much larger mental and emotional well being issue. We may put up walls in order to protect but ultimately those walls can become our downfall. 

We don’t have to do life alone. We don’t have to keep people out. We don’t have to be the lone wolf (yes men I am looking at us). We need to have the courage to value ourselves enough to make sure that we are clear and firm in our boundaries. 

Boundaries simply let people in relationship with us know the rules of engagement. When we are able to clearly articulate what those are, then the people in our lives can choose to abide by them or not. If they choose not to respect our boundaries then at some point we need to make the decision to limit the amount of opportunity that we allow them to break those boundaries. Why don’t we set boundaries?

Why Don’t We Set Boundaries?

  • A fear of losing love and belonging
  • It takes effort (especially if you haven’t before)
  • We lack self worth
  • We don’t want to appear selfish

How to set Boundaries

Identify what your boundaries are

As with everything in life, with awareness comes choice. If we do not know what is acceptable in our life then we really will not be able to articulate what is not acceptable. Often times we know when something just doesn’t feel right. However, it is easy to gloss over these feelings and ignore those items that really are not acceptable in our life. Over time these things will add up and ultimately start to do damage. 

Listen to your gut. If you are a list kind of person, create a list of things that are not acceptable that you are currently allowing in your life.

Are there patterns starting to emerge? 

I suspect there will be patterns that you can begin to recognize. In the beginning you may want to simply focus on finding the patterns without trying to change them. It can be overwhelming trying to do it all at once. Simply start to notice the patterns. Let them become clear first, then you can start to do the work to change.

It will be difficult

If you’ve had a hard time expressing and asserting your boundaries for most of your life then you need to understand a few things. The first is that it is not going to be easy to change old patterns of behaviour and you will need to give yourself some grace as you start to make the shift. 

One of my favorite expressions is “When I am at my best…” 

When I am at my best I am living my values and standing firm in my boundaries.

For me this subtle shift in language is powerful. First it is a reminder that these are the things I do when I am living my best life. Secondly it allows me to acknowledge that I do not always get it right. There is no way I am “at my best” 100% of the time. I don’t expect that to be the case and allows me the latitude to have a little bit of self compassion when I am not operating “at my best”. 

Those that have been in your life the longest will push back the hardest. If you have not been good in the past of setting boundaries then people have come to expect a certain way of being from you. So when you start to alter that and start asserting those boundaries, the ones you love the most will likely be the ones to make it the most difficult to do. It is uncomfortable for them, they may not be able to see the harm that the lack of boundaries has caused you in the past. Or worse, they may not care because it was more convenient for them when you were not setting those clear and concise rules of engagement. 

Consistency is key

As I mentioned earlier there will be times when you fail. There will be times when you drop the ball and let people cross those boundaries. That is perfectly OK, just gently re-establish them and be consistent. 

Do not engage in the drama. When you start setting boundaries you will get challenged. You will get questioned and you will likely feel like you need to justify your position. 

You don’t. You simply need to decide what is acceptable in your life and what is not. It honestly doesn’t matter if you are right or wrong, all that matters is what you are willing to tolerate in your life.

Make the decision

Do you ever feel ‘stuck’ in your relationships? Do you vacillate on what is right and what is wrong? 

So often we live in nowhere land. We accept behaviours that are unacceptable. We let resentment build and harbor ill feelings. We live in this low simmer of discomfort and angst because we are living in indecision. We haven’t decided that we will accept the unacceptable nor have we decided that we won’t. 

When we live in this purgatory. It is an awful way to live. I’m not here to tell you the right or wrong decision, I am here to tell you to simply decide. Either way. Right or wrong doesn’t really matter what does is that you make the decision. 

Decide that you are willing to live with the behavior or decide that you are not willing to live with the behaviour. You cannot start to make change until you have made the decision.  

The Weapon of Guilt

Oh, I know! Right? For many of you this subtitle landed hard! I see it so often. I see it from family, I see it from religion, I see it from cultural norms. Guilt used as a weapon to breech your boundaries. To manipulate you into tolerating the intolerable. 

I was recently having this conversation with a client who has someone in their life that weaponizes guilt against them in order to push boundaries. They lamented the fact that it was so hard because they felt so guilty for asserting themselves. They allowed themselves to feel like they were a bad person if they stood firm in their boundaries. Sound at all familiar?

I’m fairly certain we have all experienced this at some point in our lives. 

  • “You must not really love me”
  • “A good {insert religion} wouldn’t do that”
  • “If this was valuable to you then you would…”
  • “A good daughter/son/wife/husband would do this…”

After listening to all of the reasons why they felt so guilty and acknowledging how hard it was going to be I asked them a question. 

Would you rather live with temporary guilt or permanent exhaustion? 

You see the things they were being manipulated into doing were literally killing them. They were putting their life on hold for a family member that was using guilt as a weapon to manipulate. It feels incredibly difficult at the moment but the reality is that the whole thing is quite simple. Simple but not easy. 

You have a choice. 

You can choose to try and appease those around you (many of whom will never be appeased regardless of what you do) or you can choose to stand firm in your values, beliefs and boundaries. While this is temporarily difficult I can assure you that it will give you a lifetime of relief. 

Reason or Excuse

I’ve talked about this exercise in a variety of contexts. There are moments when we need to ask ourselves this simple question.

“Is this a legitimate reason to allow this behavior in my life or is this really just an excuse to make me feel better about allowing it to happen?”

When it comes to setting boundaries it is easy to mistake excuses for reasons. 

  • “It’s a cultural thing”
  • “It’s a religious thing”
  • “It’s just how they were raised.”
  • “They don’t know any better.”
  • “They aren’t ill intentioned.”

All of these things may be true. Truth doesn’t turn an excuse into a reason. These things being true doesn’t mean you need to sacrifice yourself and your values because of them. 

It can be true that it is a cultural thing and it can also be true that you won’t allow it in your life.
It can be true that it is a religious thing and it can also be true that you won’t allow it in your life.
It can be true that it is how they were raised and it can also be true that you won’t allow it in your life.
It can be true that they don’t know any better and it can also be true that you won’t allow it in your life.
It can be true that the person encroaching on your boundary isn’t ill intentioned and it can also be true that their behaviour is unacceptable to you. 

Like anything in life worth having, setting your boundaries will take practice and discipline. It will take discipline to consistently stick to your boundaries and not acquiesce to pressure. No different than any diet or exercise program, you will need to be disciplined in your execution. If you miss a time or two don’t let that dissuade you. 

Imagine what your life will look like once you become a master of setting boundaries. Use that as your intrinsic motivation to stick to it. 

Once you master the art of setting boundaries you will find that there are so many areas of life where you can apply this skill. With your kids, with your partner, with your work, with your employees, with your teams, with your boss, and your family. When executed with care and attention solid boundaries will only help solidify and deepen your relationships, not compromise them. 

I’d love to know how you make out. Drop me a note in the comments and let me know.


Is Accountability the Secret Sauce to Productivity?

Audio Blog

Productivity hacks, hustle culture and busy, busy, busy seem to be the prescription of the day. If you’ve followed me for any length of time you know I am not a fan of “busy”. As an executive coach who takes a very holistic view of those I work with, I am always looking to see what I can do to distill that magic formula. The one that allows my clients to do more, in less time so they can focus on what really matters to them. 

Sadly there is no one size fits all magic formula. Accepting that I will continue to share practices that you can implement in order for you to be more efficient and productive.  

I’ve shared time management strategies, I’ve studied a variety of different productivity methodologies but there is one thing I have seen as a common thread. Most of us will do whatever we can to avoid letting someone else down. Now, that’s not to say that we don’t all at some point or another run into situations where we fall short, but in my experience this want to live up to expectations is a powerful motivator. 

In fact, it is one of the primary tools that I use with clients to assist with productivity.

Accountability; The act of being accountable;


  1. (of a person, organization, or institution) required or expected to justify actions or decisions; responsible.

Accountability is a key driver for productivity. How many times have you procrastinated on a project or task until you reach a point where you will finally be held accountable to someone that you finally get that job done? For me this TED talk, “Inside the mind of a master procrastinator” really rang true. It is well worth the time to watch it. 

Accountability is really about making a commitment to yourself, to someone directly or the public at large. We all like to honor our commitments and making a commitment to someone directly or making it publicly can be a powerful motivator.

Let’s unpack accountability a little bit and look at the different types of accountability.

Personal accountability

The subtitle of my book “When ‘Something’s Gotta Change’, Maybe It’s You!” is all about this. Personal accountability is about shifting the focus from external to internal. When Colleen was murdered, I had many friends and colleagues surround me, put their hand on my shoulder, shaking their head. They would mutter that phrase “Something’s gotta change”. 

I found that phrase became a bit of a mantra for me. I would wake up every morning and look in the mirror shaking my head saying “Something’s gotta change, something’s gotta change.” Day in, day out. Week in, week out I would just stare in that mirror and repeat that phrase “Something’s gotta change, Something’s gotta change”.

It wasn’t until I added those last three words that things really started to shift for me. That one day I stood in front of the mirror and said “Something’s gotta change…. Maybe it’s you, Mike, maybe it’s you.” 

What happened to her certainly wasn’t my fault. I could spend my days reflecting on all the things that needed to change in this world. I could lament what happened, shaking my head in despair or I could take personal accountability. I could become accountable to myself to do my best to become the change. 

It’s amazing how liberating it is when you shift to personal accountability. All of a sudden you are no longer beholden to a raft of things that are outside of your control. When you take personal accountability for your life all of a sudden you are in control. You have the power and it is incredibly freeing.   

Direct accountability

This is one of the many reasons why someone might hire a coach. Someone to hold them directly accountable for the things that they need to be getting done. There is a power when you make a commitment to someone specifically to get a thing accomplished.

As human beings we really do not like to fall short of our commitments. There are so many examples of the power of this. For me one of the best direct accountability examples is my early morning runs. Most mornings I pick Michelle up from her house at 5:30am to drive to our favourite river valley trail for our morning run. 

I am accountable to Michelle to show up and run. When my alarm goes off at 5am often the only thing that gets me out of bed is knowing that I have made a commitment to her to pick her up.

We see this kind of direct accountability in a variety of domains. It could be fitness with a workout buddy or a personal trainer. It may be in saving money with your financial planner.

When you have a goal you want to hit that is going to take some focused action, there are times when your personal discipline needs a little help. That is when finding someone to hold you directly accountable can be extremely powerful. Here are a few ways you can create some direct accountability in your life.

  • Hire a coach, trainer or other professional
    Finding a professional in whatever area you are striving in can be incredibly helpful. Not only can they assist with accountability but they can also give you some tools, techniques and tactics to ensure that you are maximizing your efficiency in achieving your goals.
  • Find an accountability buddy who is looking to accomplish something similar
    This is a simple, yet incredibly effective method. Just like Michelle and I hold each other accountable to get our runs done, I have made accountability pacts with business partners, friends and strangers who have common objectives.
  • Join a group of individuals who are striving for the same thing.
    Group dynamics can be powerful motivators. A group of people who are looking to accomplish similar goals can hold each other accountable while also cheering each other on.    

Public accountability

When I did my first Iron distance triathlon it was absolutely the most challenging physical activity I had undertaken up to that point. I remember when I first signed up for that race I knew that there was a refund period and that no one, except a select few knew that I had registered for the event. At that point in time I wasn’t really committed to the race at all. The few people who knew would certainly not hold me accountable as I would have been completely justified in bailing as a single dad and a business owner with a busy life. The race itself wouldn’t even hold me accountable as I could still get a full refund on my registration fees.

It wasn’t until I wrote a full blog post and shared it on social media that I really started to feel like I was actually committed to doing the work required to train for this event. Once I put it out there I felt very publicly accountable to get the job done. 

On the other side of the publicly accountable equation we have our political leaders, our business leaders, celebrities and the like that we, the public, hold accountable for their actions.    


If you are a leader then part of your role is not only to be accountable but also to hold others accountable for what needs to be done as well as accountable for their actions. This is never as easy as it sounds. There are many different approaches to holding people accountable and as leaders it serves us well to recognize how individuals best respond to being held accountable. 

Compassionate accountability

This is an important piece to note. Accountability needs to be done with compassion. When we talk about compassion and empathy many people tend to think of this as weak. That we make excuses and let people off the hook. This doesn’t need to be the case. We can still have accountability with compassion. 

Compassion doesn’t mean that we excuse those who we are holding accountable from the consequences of their actions, it simply means that we do so with care, kindness and seek understanding. This is especially important when we are talking about personal or self accountability. If we don’t do so with compassion it is easy to turn personal accountability into personal judgement and self loathing. We can “should” all over ourselves and this is not at all productive.

When we can hold ourselves accountable with compassion we can accept that we fell short, chalk it up as a lesson to learn from and move forward with confidence. It is about accepting that because we did not do the thing doesn’t mean that we are a failure or worthless. There is lots of literature on self-compassion and if this one rings true for you then I would suggest having a look at the work by Dr. Kristen Neff here at https://self-compassion.org/   

Agreement vs. Expectation

This concept is a whole article in and of itself, however it is important to mention here. If we are going to hold people accountable then it is paramount that both those holding people to account and those being held accountable are on the same page. There have been many times when I have seen leaders frustrated because, in their eyes, team members were not being accountable to getting a job done. Yet when we dive a little deeper we see that what the team member thinks they agreed to is substantially different than the leader’s expectations. 

This can be a very big point of friction in any relationship. This is why it is incredibly important to make sure that you very clearly articulate any expectations and make sure that the person on the other end actually agrees to meet those expectations. When you are able to articulate your expectations and obtain an agreement to meet those expectations you now have a commitment. When you have a commitment now you have something that each party can be held accountable to uphold. 

Holding accountable vs. being accountable

There is a difference between making someone accountable and holding them accountable. For me this is readily apparent with my kids. I can make them accountable to do the dishes or do their laundry, however if I don’t hold them accountable and ultimately do the tasks for them then there really isn’t any accountability. 

This will vary from circumstance to circumstance however as leaders we need to do more than simply tell people that they are accountable we actually need to hold them accountable. This means a few things.

  1. It means that you need to have regular check ins
  2. It means there needs to be a timeline (This could be recurring or it could be a deadline)
  3. It means that there needs to be consequences if the commitment is not upheld.


When it comes to accountability and the usefulness of it, I think in terms of getting shit done. As you can see from the commentary above there are a variety of ways we can implement accountability to ensure that we stay on track with our objectives. A gentle reminder that as always when we look at these productivity tools we need to ensure that they align with our values and we aren’t employing them chasing the wrong thing. 

The bottom line is that accountability is not something that just happens. Accountability is something that has to be cultivated with intentionality. When we employ accountability with compassion and consistency we can dramatically improve the quality of our lives. 

What are some of the best methods of accountability you have seen employed?

What Does “Stuck” Look Like (and how to get unstuck in life)

Blog Audio

How to get unstuck in life

As I sit here at my computer, with my Pomodoro Technique timer quietly counting down I sit staring at a blank computer screen. A list of a million different “things I could be doing” starts to form in my head. The procrastination monster is strong in this one my friend. I have so many different pieces I want to write. I have the beginnings of several books in my head, I even have some of them started. I have committed to publishing at least one article per week. There is no shortage of things to do yet somehow I still feel like I’m not even sure where to start. 

For me this is one of the myriad forms of what “stuck” feels like. It comes into my life a lot and requires an immense amount of discipline to move through it. Discipline. That seems to be the answer for me.

For many of the clients I work with in a one on one coaching capacity, the reason they came to me is because of this feeling of “stuckness”. Often they come from the context of business. They feel like they have hit a bit of a plateau and are restricted in their ability to move their business forward. 

I find it fascinating to note that typically when someone comes to me with this feeling of “stuck” or they report that something is impeding their business growth, we almost always find that the “stuck” extends out to most arenas in their life. 

I can’t tell you how many times when talking to a business leader we end up spending a fair amount of time talking about their personal relationships. Almost always it ends with a “Well, I really didn’t expect that we would go down that path!”

For many visionary leaders there comes a time in their life where they feel overwhelmed. They feel defeated with the sheer enormity of what they want to bring to the world. The weight of the task at hand becomes crippling at times so they stick with the tried and true. They stay with what they know or at least what they think they know. The challenge of course is the well known quote “If you continue to do what you have always done you will continue to get what you’ve always got.” 

And that my friends is exactly what “stuck” feels like. 

Add to that the feelings of anxiety, depression and our desire to avoid difficult emotions, it can become very easy to get caught up in a cycle of avoidance and procrastination. Stuck might include a fear of success, it might include a fear of failure, it might include a longing so large that it seems impossible, causing indecision and paralysis of action. 

How do we break out of stuck?

Motivation follows action. For me there have been many times where I have sought to cultivate motivation in order to inspire me to take action. I spend time reading texts, listening to speeches and digesting words of wisdom from gurus around the world. 

There are certainly days where I feel ill equipped to carry on my mission. There are times where I feel like I just need to learn a little bit more. That I need just a little more training, knowledge or expertise to move forward.

There is this feeling of imposter syndrome. Often accompanied by the question “Who the fuck am I to think I can do this?” Or “Who am I to think that people will care about what I have to say or what my vision is?” Surely I need to be better before I can proceed.

While there are times when you need to enhance skills, this line of thinking can also very easily contribute to the “stuckness” by giving us a justifiable place to spend our time. After all, we are taking in knowledge, we are learning and we are growing. Certainly that is a worthwhile endeavor right?

Sure. Maybe. Well, no not really. 

My guess is that you likely have all the knowledge you need to get unstuck and what you really need is to take action. It took me a long time to realize that it isn’t motivation that drives action but rather action that drives motivation. Seeking motivation is simply another form of procrastination. In his book The War of Art, Stephen Pressfield talks about Resistance, that mythical force that keeps you stuck. 

He has a very eloquent way of defining “Resistance” and talks about how ‘Seeking support” can easily be just another form of resistance.

“Seeking support from friends and family is like having people gathered around at your deathbed. It’s nice, but when the ship sails, all they can do is stand on the dock waving goodbye”

Stephen Pressfield

In my experience, “stuck” rarely has anything to do with a lack of knowledge, resources, or preparation and almost always has to do with a lack of action. It is not about looking for external resources, conditions or information. It is all about our internal discipline. 

What can we do?

Once we realize and accept that “stuckness” is internal then we can start to make change. As my friend and editor, who is a Canadian living in the southern United States reminded me, being stuck feels like spinning your wheels. It feels like being caught in a heavy Canadian snowfall with nothing but summer tires on your vehicle. It doesn’t matter how hard you tromp on the gas pedal your tires just spin faster and faster. 

In order to break out of being stuck in a snowstorm it means that we need to first off slow down. If you’ve read or listened to any of my other work this may be starting to sound familiar to you. The first piece of almost any puzzle is to slow the F down. In our snowstorm analogy taking your foot off the gas is the first thing that needs to happen. When we talk about this in the context of being stuck in a snowstorm it immediately makes sense. It doesn’t matter how hard you push the gas pedal, all you do is spin faster. 

Most of us have been in this situation at one point or another in our lives. However when it comes to business, life and what we want to accomplish, this idea of taking our foot off the gas is incredibly counterintuitive. I mean certainly if you want to move forward faster you need to be working harder, doing more not less right? 

The reality is that this is not at all the case and in fact just like spinning your tires in the snow the harder we work, the more we push, the deeper the rut that we are stuck in starts to become. This is what makes “stuck” feel all the more frustrating. 

“It doesn’t make any sense!” 
“I’m working harder than ever, why am I not moving forward??!!”

Sometimes when we are stuck it isn’t even just that we need to take our foot off the gas, but sometimes we actually need to put the car into reverse. Sometimes we need to put a little backward momentum into our efforts. 

If you’ve ever been stuck in a Canadian snowstorm you likely know this well. There’s this art to putting the car in reverse and then back to drive. Creating a rocking motion. Slowly but surely starting to build some momentum so that you can eventually move far enough forward that you are out of the rut and back on solid ground.  

Why do we get stuck?

Once we start to slow down we can really take a look at where this stuck feeling is coming from. I am cautious writing these words since much of “stuck” for me can be perpetuated with over analysis. Don’t spend a lot of time here but see if any of these resonate with you. 


Stuck can come when we start to play a role in our life, when we stop being authentic and we try to live the kind of life that we think others feel we should be living.


Stuck can also be a result of being held back. Your environment. What is the environment that you have created for yourself? Who is it that you are surrounding yourself with? Is it time to reevaluate all of that?


What are you committed to? Who are you committed to? Are these commitments moving you forward or are they holding you back? Is it time to reevaluate what and who you are committed to?

These are incredibly difficult questions to really look at with open and honest eyes. It is really hard to have a deep, honest look in the mirror. The truth is that often “stuck” is a result of our reluctance to look at what is holding us back. The truth is that if we were to actually admit what is keeping us stuck, we might have to make some difficult decisions. So instead of having an honest look at ourselves we avoid and distract.

In business I have seen this in the form of ignoring employees whom we really like but truly are not a fit for the role they are in. Maybe if we have an honest look in the mirror in a business context it means we need to adjust our budget, or have a difficult conversation with a supplier, competitor, colleague or boss. 

In personal life there are many things that might be keeping us stuck. Do we need to improve our physical, mental or emotional fitness? That takes time, effort and commitment.

Do we need to cut some people out of our lives? 
Do we need to stop drinking, gambling, overeating? 

These are all incredibly difficult decisions we have to make and even once we make them we have to have the discipline to see it through. When we find ourselves “stuck” it is often because we are not willing to have honest conversations about these decisions that need to be made. 

Before I wrap things up, I want to talk about one of the biggest reasons people remain “stuck” by choice. Even when they have identified the thing that is keeping them stuck it can still be hard to move forward for this one major reason. I have had this conversation with dozens, if not hundreds of people.    

Sunk cost fallacy

The Sunk Cost Fallacy describes our tendency to follow through on an endeavor if we have already invested time, effort, or money into it, whether or not the current costs outweigh the benefits.

In other words, the more time and energy we have invested into a course of action, a relationship or a certain direction the harder it becomes to abandon. This happens because no matter how logical we like to think we are, our decisions are heavily influenced by our emotions. Feelings of guilt, regret or even shame if we do not follow through with a decision influence our desire to stick with it even if that decision no longer serves us. 

Sunk Cost Fallacy is tied to commitment bias where we continue to support past decisions despite new evidence that the decision may not be the appropriate one.


As I write this I realize I could easily write an entire book on what it feels like to be stuck, and how to move forward out of the “stuckness”. I hope that this article has given you a little food for thought and I will leave you with another Stephen Pressfield quote from “The War of Art”.

“It’s not the writing that is hard. It’s the sitting down to write.”    

Stephen Pressfield
How to get unstuck in life

Pressfield is speaking in the context of writing however this statement can be applied to any course of action. It’s not the doing of the thing that is hard, it is starting doing the thing that is hard. That being the case then let’s make sure our energy is focused on starting the thing.

If you take nothing else from this article then take this, motivation follows action. Therefore action is the most important piece. You don’t need any more skill, you don’t need any more knowledge, you don’t need any more support, you simply need to take action. 

If you have a list of 1000 things you need to do and don’t know where to start, simply close your eyes and point at the list. The item you land on is where you start. Don’t second guess, just sit down and get it done. 

Motivation follows action.

Where You Sit Determines What You See

Audio Blog

Her three year old son sat in the back seat of the car as she stopped at a traffic light. They liked to play word games while driving so she asked him what color the traffic light was. 

He replied “It’s green mommy! It’s green!”

A little dismayed that her otherwise bright boy would misidentify the color of the light she nudged him again. “Well son, we’re stopped right now so let me ask you again. What color is the traffic light?” 

Once again he replied emphatically “It’s green mommy! It’s green!”  

“No son, the light is red.” She said

“It’s green mom!”

She decided to leave it alone at the moment but the incident stayed with her. She thought about the possibility of him being color blind. She chuckled to herself “It must be my husband’s fault for this sight deficiency” She was worried however and somewhat prone to catastrophizing the stories started to swirl in her head. Was he just not as bright as I thought he was? Was there some type of disorder or syndrome at play?

It wasn’t til about three weeks later when her mother in law was in town and her husband driving she sat in the back seat. As she sat there with her child’s vantage point she looked up and realized that the height of the headrest on the front seat made it impossible for her boy to have a decent view out the front window. There was no way he could have seen the traffic light in front of the car. 

Puzzled, she let that sink in for a second. Her mind jumped back to the scene earlier when he had misidentified the color of the light. 

In a heartbeat it all came clear. He wasn’t color blind, he wasn’t dim witted, he did not have some sort of brain abnormality. What he had was a different view of the world than she did at that moment. 

He had been looking out the side window at the light for the cross traffic. That light was 100% green when she had asked him the question. Now she could only imagine his thought process at the time. “Well, my mother seems bright on most other accounts. I don’t know why she’s insisting the light is red. Maybe she’s color blind. Maybe she has some kind of disorder” 

Where you sit determines what you see. 

This is a highly paraphrased version of a story that author Sheila Heen shared in a recent interview with Tim Ferriss. Sheila is the New York times best selling author of  Difficult Conversations: How to Discuss What Matters Most

I would highly recommend checking out the interview. This story however, was the nugget that stuck out the most to me. As a leadership and business coach and someone who is always striving to grow, I keep my eye open for easy to carry insights. Three or four word mantras or phrases that very quickly get to the heart of an issue. One of my core values is the value of Empathy. My value mantra for Empathy is “Seek first to understand”. When I heard this story and heard this phrase I knew it would stick, giving me yet another anchor to my value of empathy. 

Where you sit determines what you see.

I think most of us would like to believe that we have the capacity for empathy. We care about how others feel and how the way in which we interact with them makes them feel as well. I haven’t met many people that willingly state that they don’t give a shit about anyone but themselves. 

Most of us would say that we are kind and caring individuals. Myself included. However, this story is an excellent reminder that sometimes in order to understand the views, feelings and experiences of those around us we might need to change where we sit. At minimum we need to be able to acknowledge that where we sit determines what and how we see the world. 

Coming at any of the difficult conversations we face in the world today through this lens really starts to open possibilities. It opens up opportunities to see things through the lens of another. It allows us to realize that our view may be substantially different from those we are interacting with. 

I love getting out to the mountains and I have a lot of outdoorsy friends. Many are very adventurous and like to climb mountains that provide some incredible views of the Canadian Rocky Mountains. There are a few spots that are favourites and summit photos often get shared on social media. Yesterday a friend posted a photo of a mountain summit that I know to have stunning vistas and views. Yesterday, however, that was not the case. Those vistas were shrouded in a deep dense fog which completely obliterated any possibility of a decent view. 

That same location had been visited by a different set of friends the weekend prior and they had shared some beautiful, blue sky, soft cloud views that stretched for as far as the eye could see. How is that possible? How is it that the exact same view can look so different from one day to the next? 

When we think in terms of mountain views and inclement weather there really is no need to explore or explain. We simply understand that what we see is going to be different depending on the environment we are in. 

Yet when it comes to having deep, meaningful and especially difficult conversations it is significantly more challenging to consider factors that might cause someone who is looking at the exact same view to see it completely differently. Their lens may well be different from the lens that you are viewing the world through. 

My vantage point of the world as a middle aged white dude is substantially different from many of those in marginalized communities. If I want to have meaningful conversations about how to impact change I need to be able to recognize and acknowledge that the seat I have at the table is very likely to create a ton of blind spots. 

My social status, class, gender and ethnicity is simply one of many more examples that illustrates this.

Where we sit determines what we see.

Can you imagine how our conversations might start to alter if we can start to see things through the lens of another? 

What kind of deeper understanding could we gain if we really became adept at changing where we sit, allowing us to see the world differently?

This doesn’t mean that you need to let go of your beliefs, perspectives or ideas. It does mean though that you should start to look at them from different angles. Challenge your beliefs and attitudes from the viewpoint of another. See how they might shift. Change where you sit so that you can change what you see. 

It’s so easy to dismiss beliefs and ideas that are not congruent with our own. It’s easy to say “That just doesn’t make any sense at all” and move on. However, just like in the story of the young boy, sometimes when you do a little more digging the source of those opposing viewpoints becomes crystal clear. It is only when you can see clearly from the view of another that you can start to have the conversations that move the needle.

I talked earlier about values and my value mantras. Another one for me that fits very well here is the value of curiosity. My mantra around curiosity is “Curiosity Over Judgement”. A reminder for me that anytime I start to get a little judgemental, to jump back to curiosity. A reminder that I perhaps need to do a little more digging to understand why someone views the world differently than I do.    

My challenge for you today is the next time you run into a conversation where there are opposing views, see if you can take a moment, pause and reflect on how you are seeing things. Challenge yourself to shift your perspective. Move yourself to that back seat like the young boy in the story and see how the world starts to change. 

Everything is Sales: Simple sales tools for everybody, everywhere

Most people think sales is icky

The truth is that sales is a part of everything we do.

I love selling. I think it is one of the most underrated skills on the planet. Everything is sales and today I am going to tell you why you need to be a better salesperson. I’m also going to tell you how you can do that.

WAIT!! Don’t go! I can imagine what you are thinking right now. “Um, hell no Mike. I hate sales. I never want to be THAT person. I’m outta here!” 

Let me tell you why you should change that mindset and give you some sales tools you can actually use. I recognize that most people think of “selling” as a bad thing. There is this visceral feeling that sales is all about manipulating someone into buying something they don’t need. Take a pause. Take a breath. Let that feeling settle.

The truth is that all of us sell. All the time. In all facets of life. We can’t avoid it. Sales is all around us and it is part of our life. Let’s look at a few examples that we don’t immediately think of as sales. 

Non-profit Organizations

Do you do volunteer work? Do you donate to charities?

At some point you had to be “sold” on those organizations worthiness of your time and or money. 

I do a lot of volunteer work in the nonprofit sector. It is one of the ways that I give back and find some meaning in my life. I serve on committees and boards, I discount some of my professional services in order to make a contribution to the fabric of our society.  

I come from a 25 year background in sales and business. I often see things differently than those who have spent their life in the non-profit sector. I often hear “We’re non-profit. We don’t sell anything.” Wrong!

I’m here to challenge that way of thinking. 

You see as a non-profit with a cause you are 100% in the business of sales whether you want to acknowledge it or not. Whether we are talking about fundraising, grant requests or something a little less obvious like having the clientele you serve buy into your message or service. You are constantly selling people on getting behind your cause. We are all vying for the same limited resources. There are private, for profit corporations that spend billions of dollars to gain the time, attention and dollars of the same consumers you serve. 

Isn’t the “product” you “sell” more valuable than a Coca-Cola? Then you better gain at least some skill in selling what it is you do. 


If you are a parent you know this. As a parent you are selling all the time. 

You are ‘selling’ your kids on the idea of doing their homework. 

You are selling them on the idea of cleaning up their rooms. 

As a parent I definitely had things I enjoyed doing with my kids more than others. I also had the things I really disliked doing with my kids. 

Anyone remember Caillou?? If you know, you know. 

If you have ever had to sit and watch that TV show you know exactly what I am talking about. I became very adept at the art of selling my kids on the idea of an alternate TV shows.

My kids are now 18 and 20. Both graduated from high school and both unsure about what path to take. Clearly I have a little bit of experience figuring out which path to take. My challenge today is to “sell” my kids on listening to the wisdom of that experience as they debate career paths and schooling choices. This may be the most difficult thing I have ever had to “sell” and I certainly do not have the magic formula for “closing” this “sale”. 


In your intimate partner relationship there is always a modicum of sales. Again understanding that sales isn’t about persuading someone to do something they don’t want but rather it is about helping people with their buying decision. When you and your partner are making decisions on vacation destinations, options for your kids, or even where to go on date night you are actively engaged in the sales process.  

The truth is that I make an effort to ‘sell’ my partner on the ‘value’ of being with me every day. You may feel that I shouldn’t have to ‘sell’ my partner on being with me. You are right. I shouldn’t HAVE to, however how much better is my relationship because I choose to make that effort?

How strong would your relationship be if you sought to actively demonstrate your value every single day?

Engaging Men and Boys in Violence Prevention

If you have followed me for awhile you know that I am an advocate for the prevention of violence against women. For those who I work with in the violence prevention space the question often arises “Why should we have to ‘sell’ what we do? Doesn’t it just make sense? Doesn’t everyone want a world with less violence?” 

Obviously the answer is an emphatic “Hell Yeah” The reality is that for those who are not living with the direct impacts of domestic violence the message is pretty easy to tune out.

We live in a noisy world. If we want our message to be heard we have to constantly demonstrate the value of listening to what we have to say.

My Sales Pitch 

When Colleen was murdered, I started looking hard at how I could best make an impact in the world. How I might somehow make a dent in the problem of violence against women. I reflected on her experience with the justice system and where things could have been done differently to prevent such a tragic outcome. There were certainly a lot of areas where how the ‘system’ handled her case could be improved. 

However, it became clear to me that the best way to prevent violence against women was not by improving the justice system. It wasn’t about building a better restraining order. These were simply symptoms to a bigger problem. The real question for me became 

“How do we prevent men from getting to this point in the first place?”

I know that if you asked men about violence against women the vast majority of them would tell you that it is not OK. Ever. Period. End of story. However we know the reality is that violence still happens and that the majority of violence in any domain is perpetrated by men. So how do we engage men in the conversation when most of them are not directly part of the problem or at least do not believe that they are part of the problem?

For me the answer is pretty obvious. The solution ties back to a field that I have studied for 25 years in the context of sales and leadership. For decades I have studied the impact emotion has on human behavior. 

When violence occurs It is not often an overt desire to be violent.  More often than not it is a burst of unmanaged emotion that drives an undesirable behavior. I talk about the science behind this a lot in my Keynotes as well as my TEDx talk

We make decisions based on emotion, if we do not understand the underlying emotion that drives the decisions we make then we have little hope of living a purposeful life. 

I come back to the statement that emotionally connected men do not abuse their partners. 

Emotionally connected men do not kill people. 

  • Emotionally connected men do not kill themselves. 
  • Emotionally connected men make better fathers. 
  • Emotionally connected men make better leaders.
  • Emotionally connected men live richer lives and do less harm.

The man that killed Colleen was a man that made a decision with very permanent consequences based on a very temporary emotion.

Teaching men to become more self aware when it comes to emotions is not necessarily a compelling sales pitch to someone who does not believe that he currently does not, nor will ever  be in an abusive relationship. 

A more identifiable problem however is the truth that men everywhere are hurting. Suicide rates, depression, anxiety are at all time highs. Men are seeking solutions to these challenges and I can assure you that there is overlap in the solution. 

So the sales pitch, if you will, is for men to become more emotionally connected for their own benefit. For them to become more emotionally vulnerable and to take stock of their feelings and how those feelings impact how they show up in the world. 

If you were to ask men if they would like a “product” that will alleviate violence against women most will shrug their shoulders and say “meh, maybe. As long as it doesn’t cost too much”.

However if you ask those same men if they would like a “product” that will fill that gaping hole in their soul, a ‘product’ that will lift the crushing weight of the world off their shoulders, I can assure you that the answer will be a resounding “Hell yes!”

For me it becomes very clear that preventing violence against women is only part of the sales pitch. The more compelling sales pitch for most men is about helping them deal with their own shit. Many men are feeling lost, alone, stuck and unsure how to navigate the world. Many men would be loath to admit that for fear of repercussions from the rest of our kind. 

Bell Hooks, an american feminst author says it well. 

“The first act of violence that patriarchy demands of males is not violence toward women. Instead patriarchy demands of all males that they engage in acts of psychic self-mutilation, that they kill off the emotional parts of themselves. If an individual is not successful in emotionally crippling himself, he can count on patriarchal men to enact rituals of power that will assault his self-esteem.”

Bell Hooks

You see if we can help men to deal with their own shit, teach them to heal their past traumas, insecurities and get comfortable with who they are, then much of the violence in this world goes away. Period. End of story. 

Sales Tools to take with you

The bottom line is that I am here to sell you on the fact that everything in life is sales. That whatever you want to achieve or whoever you want to be in this world likely relies on your ability to convince (aka sell) another human being on a thought, an idea, a service or a product. 

So rather than resist “selling” because you are “not that person”, perhaps it is in your (and the world’s) best interest for you to start to learn to be more effective in the art of persuasion regardless of your formal role or title. 

There are thousands of books written on how to be a better salesperson. Hopefully I have convinced you that sales is a skill you need to have in your arsenal. Today let me leave you with a few of the most powerful sales insights that I have come across over the years.  

Sales is a listening proposition

This one is important. Especially if we are talking about selling something you are passionate about. It is very, very easy for us to get caught up in promoting our message. In espousing the virtues of the service that we offer. The problem is that when we get wrapped up in vehemently sharing our message, regardless of how powerful it may be to you, we can easily miss what is important to the person you are talking to. The mantra below is one of my favorites when it comes to sales. When I am at my best I use this as a reminder to do more listening and less talking. 

Mantra: If you are telling you aren’t selling

Simple Sells

The more complex the idea the more difficult it is to get communal buy in. The less complicated you can make your idea, request or product the easier it becomes to demonstrate the value that it holds. This means that it makes a lot of sense to spend some time breaking down your message into simple, bite-sized, digestible pieces. Get intentional about this so that you have your sound bites ready when an opportunity arises. Sit down and write out a simple version of the message that you want to convey. Then experiment. Watch how people react and respond to your message and refine it based on what you notice.  

Mantra: Uncomplicate

We buy on emotion, justified by logic

We discussed this earlier. There is a ton of scientific evidence that supports the fact that as human beings we make decisions based on emotion. Find ways to make an emotional connection between the person you are persuading and the idea you want them to embrace. When I am on stage I will often tell the story of how, at the age of 26 years old, I bought my first Porsche. The sales person at the dealership knew this insight well. 

It didn’t take him long to help make a powerful connection between me and that car. He illustrated how I would feel as a young, up and coming businessman driving around in this fancy car. We buy on emotion. I can assure you that there was nothing logical about buying a Porsche at 26 years old.

I still remember the first time I shared that purchase with my Dad. “What do you think?” I said. He looked at me and said “Yes, it is very nice. Only slightly more expensive than our first house.”

Stories are the most powerful sales tool 

Stories are an important part of our culture. It is how ideas are passed from one generation to the next. When it comes to creating a meaningful connection with another human being it turns out that stories are a powerful way of doing that.

People are more likely to remember a story than a fact, or even an idea. I remember when I used to teach an affordable housing workshop. At one point I would share some ideas on how to pay off your mortgage faster. These tips included increasing payment frequency and making lump sum payments.

I demonstrated the ideas by sharing the story of how I removed a single expense from our household. I would tell them about how we used to have a water cooler in the house that we paid a monthly fee to have refilled and maintained. I got rid of the water cooler and immediately applied the monthly savings to our mortgage payments thus carving a few years off of our mortgage.

One day I had a woman come up to me in the grocery store. She had taken the workshop five years earlier. She approached me and said “Hey, you’re that water cooler guy aren’t you?” You see, all those years later, she remembered the story. I wrote another piece about this a few years ago. You can read that here…

Mantra: Sell it with a story 

I’ve spent 25 years practicing the art of persuasion. There is always more to learn. Let me know what has been valuable to you in this article. Consider sharing it with someone you know that would find it valuable. Most importantly please share with me some of your favorite insights when it comes to sales and the art of persuasion.

How to Have a Respectful Conversation About the COVID Vaccine

He sat quietly, just looking at her. His head cocked, eyes wide with disbelief. In a pained voice filled with disgust

“I cannot believe you did that” he said. 

“Of course I did!” she replied defensively. “I did it to protect all of us. It’s the right thing to do”

Tears started to well up in her eyes as the conversation continued to go south. How could they have come to this point? How is it possible that this conversation had devolved so quickly into contempt and animosity.

And just like that the first serious relationship of her 21 year old life came to an abrupt end…

Sadly, the above exchange is based on a true story. Equally sad is that it is likely not that surprising to you. Amongst all the nuances and complexities of the many societal issues we face, it appears that we seek to reduce everything down to 1’s and 0’s. Binary. Right or wrong. Left or Right. Black or White. Us vs. Them.

We see this more and more and it is destroying relationships, lives and communities at large because we do not seem to know how to have respectful conversations. It appears that the human race has forgotten how to make space for dissenting opinions. We forget that our ‘Truth’ does not negate somebody else’s ‘Truth’. In our quest for simplicity we stop acknowledging the complex paradigm that says there can be multiple truths. 

When I was recently asked to write this piece I immediately recognized the importance of this topic. While I am not one to suggest I have all of the answers, I have long recognized that often the value is less in finding the right answer but rather in asking the right questions. 

I’m sure based on the title of the article you have likely come here with a position. If it is anything like most of the conversations I have witnessed over the past few months it is likely a strong position at that. It really feels like there is no more middle ground in any of the important topics we face as a society. Our inability to have conversations on opinions that are contrary to our own is something that I find truly frightening. 

What follows are some of the things that I have found to be effective in my own conversations. I am also a guy that likes to understand the ‘why’ behind the ‘what’ so I have done a fair bit of research to better understand my observations. 

Strong Opinions, Loosely Held 

This is a mental model or thought framework often floated in tech circles. While the efficacy and value of the concept is widely debated I love this as a guiding principle for my own beliefs. It serves to remind me that there are more than two sides to almost every issue. It is my reminder to challenge what I believe on a regular basis.  

Historically I have tended to be the kind of person that, once convinced of an idea, would hold tightly to that idea. In many cases I would hold fast to an idea or belief far longer than was useful. 

So when I was introduced to the phrase “Strong opinions, loosely held” it became a very powerful mantra that allowed me to hold fast to my overarching values while still actively challenging my beliefs.

This doesn’t mean that I easily discarded my beliefs. It simply means that I continually challenge them. In that scenario one of two things happen. Either I realize that my belief is erroneous and I can let it go in good conscience or I solidify that belief even further.

Keeping this mantra top of mind in conversations like the vaccine debate allows me to more readily practice some of the techniques we will discuss through the rest of this article.    

High Conflict vs. Good Conflict 

How to have a conversation on COVID

In her book “High Conflict: Why We Get Trapped, and How to Get Out”, Amanda Ripley talks about the difference between “High conflict” and ‘Good conflict’. 

The author suggests that “Good Conflict” is productive and actually goes somewhere. It is that ongoing challenge of ideas and thoughts that ultimately lead to growth. After all, if there is zero conflict, no friction at all anywhere, then we are often left with stagnation. It is important to understand that conflict in and of itself is not necessarily a bad thing. 

“High Conflict” on the other hand is not productive and is the destination itself. It is the kind of conflict where one or both parties dig their heels in so deep that there is no moving the needle in any direction. There is no productive discussion and usually ends with name calling. 

Unfortunately, more often than not when it comes to polarizing issues, such as the COVID vaccine, it is very easy to find ourselves in “High Conflict”. 

Add to that the fact that ‘High Conflict’ is what sells. It sells movies, it sells magazines and news media. There are many institutions who rely on ‘High Conflict’ to provide massive revenue streams and as a result have a vested interest in ensuring that, as a society, we perpetuate this negative form of conflict. 

While none of this may be new information to you, I always find it useful to recap where we are and where we want to get to. For me it makes it easier to recognize when i am somewhere I don’t want to be (High Conflict) reminding me to take the steps to move to where I do want to be (Good Conflict)

How Do We Have Respectful Dialogue?

Well first off it is important to understand that, in a two way conversation, you really only have control of 50% of the equation. What I propose below presupposes that you have an interest in engaging in a dialogue. You may find that in some scenarios it simply is not worth the time and effort participating in a conversation that cannot be moved from high conflict to good conflict. I would also suggest if you are starting from a place of intent to change another’s mind you may be setting both of you up for failure.

There are lots of positives that can come out of good conflict coupled with respectful dialogue so if you choose to engage here are some ways I would suggest you approach it.

Beginner’s Mind

Shoshin is a word from Zen Buddhism that means “beginner’s mind”. It refers to having an attitude of eagerness, openness and a willingness to drop any preconceived notions. Even when dealing with complex subject matters regardless of the level of expertise one might have. 

One of my favorite quotes on the subject comes from the Zen Monk Shunryu Suzuki: 

“In the beginner’s mind there are many possibilities. In the expert’s mind there are few.”

Shunryu Suzuki

When one is well versed in subjects such as vaccine efficacy and/or safety it can become very difficult to put this concept into practice. It is easy to believe that our vast array of knowledge means that we do definitively know the answer. While at the end of the conversation we may still hold fast to our knowledge and therefore our conclusion it is rarely a useful place to start the conversation from.

If we truly care about the conversation and the person on the other side of it, it is critical to practice the art of Shoshin with earnestness. 


While closely related to my last point, curiosity is really the lynchpin for productive conversation. When we start with that Beginner’s Mind mindset we can come in with genuine curiosity, seeking to gain understanding of the other side of the conversation. 

In his book “7 Habits of Highly Effective People” Steven Covey’s habit 5 is very useful here. Covey says “Seek first to understand, then to be understood”. 

So often we go into a conversation with the intent to make our point understood. Flipping that around is a powerful driver for conversation. Curiosity is what gets us there. 

Curiosity is high on my list of values and as with all my top values I like to create a mantra I can grab onto when I need to live those values. 

Curiosity over judgement

This is my mantra when it comes to curiosity. It reminds me that as soon as I start to feel judgmental, it is time to put on my curiosity hat. 

There is a big difference between the inner dialogue of 

“Why the F do they believe that?!?” 


“Hmmmm…. I wonder why they believe that?”   

I would suggest the latter is far more productive. One of my favorite books on coaching is “The Coaching Habit” by Michael Bungay Stanier. His mantra around curiosity is to stay curious just a little bit longer. So when it comes to potentially High Conflict conversations ask yourself that question. “Where can I stay curious just a little bit longer?”

Facts don’t matter

When we are discussing hot button issues such as vaccines you may be tempted to arm yourself with facts in order to persuade the other person of your point of view. As it turns out once an individual has formed an opinion their beliefs are remarkably perseverant. 

I found an interesting article in the New Yorker that talks about why facts do not matter. https://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2017/02/27/why-facts-dont-change-our-minds 

Peter Boghossian talks about The backfire effect in his book “How to Have Impossible Conversations”. The Backfire Effect is a cognitive bias that causes people to reject evidence that challenges their belief. This bias will often cause them to strengthen rather than soften their original stance. 

If using facts changed peoples minds then everyone would believe the same thing based on the facts. We know this is not true for a number of reasons. Over the years I have learned that for the most part, in difficult conversations facts are not really relevant. 

Acknowledge the nuance

One of the techniques for moving from High Conflict to Good Conflict that Amanda Ripley talks about is to “complicate the issue”. That is to say that there is a lot of value in acknowledging the complexity of the issues. To acknowledge that none of us truly know enough about vaccines at this point in time. 

Even the world’s foremost epidemiologists disagree on certain points. When you acknowledge the complexity of issues you create space for discussion. You remove the ones and zeros, allowing for more nuanced conversation and potentially an opportunity to find middle ground.

That’s Right vs. Your Right

According to Chris Voss, author of Never Split the Difference, your goal in any high conflict conversation should be to get the other side to say “That’s right” instead of looking for them to say “your right”. The idea is to make certain that they know that you have heard them and understand their point of view. This doesn’t mean that you agree with them it simply means that you have truly heard them. When people feel like they have been heard they are much more receptive to conversations.

In my experience this is a powerful way to slow down the conversation. Especially if things are starting to get heated. We can do this by restating what we understand to be the other side’s position. This is an active listening skill that has been taught for decades and is incredibly useful in high conflict conversations. For example in a highly charged vaccine conversation you might provide feedback like:

“It feels like you are saying that you believe there is a microchip in the vaccine and that terrifies you. Is that right?”

“It feels like you are suggesting that you are comfortable taking the vaccine because you trust the scientists who have created it. Is that right?”

Feedback questions like the above are a great way to slow down the conversation and also open up an opportunity to get curious a little bit longer. The key is to be genuine in your approach. Restating someone’s opinion with exaggerated sarcasm never moves a high conflict conversation to a good conflict one.   

Bringing it all together

The above techniques work really well to create meaningful conversations when used with authenticity. If you take nothing else away from this article I would suggest that the most powerful piece is to simply drop judgement and replace it with curiosity.

Understand that while all of these pieces may sound simple, they are not always easy to practice. So let’s practice and have some compassion for self and for others when we let our emotions get the best of us. I would love to hear from you what are some of the practices that you employ when you need to move a conversation from ‘High Conflict’ to ‘Good Conflict’?   

ISTAR: Changing lives through communication

Last Friday I had the privilege of being invited to a luncheon for one of the charities that our company supports through our affiliation with REALTORS® Community Foundation.  I have to admit I wasn’t quite sure what to expect but had been encouraged to attend.  I was honestly expecting a fancy luncheon where they sold donors on the merits of the organization and encouraged continued funding, highlighting some of the work they had done to date.  The organization was called ISTAR,  institute for stuttering treatment and research.  While perhaps a worthy cause not one that I really expected to be all that ‘touching’.  I was wrong.

The event was scheduled for a reception from 11:30 – noon with what I expected to be the luncheon at noon to 1pm.  The event was at the U of A and when we arrived at about 11:50 (felt I could miss the reception) we were already being ushered from the reception room (a small classroom type room) and up to another lecture room on another floor.  I quickly grabbed one of the cold sandwiches that were provided and we headed up to the lecture room.  It was explained to me as we made our way up to the room that what we were about to experience was actually the graduation of 5 individuals who had gone through ISTAR’s comprehensive stuttering treatment program.  The Executive Director, Deryk Beal welcomed us and talked a little about the emotional impact that stuttering had on those afflicted and how their program dealt with both the stuttering and the emotional issues that arose as a result.  My eyes were starting to open to the importance of exactly what they were doing here at ISTAR but I could not have believed what we saw next.  This three week program culminated with participants with varying degrees of stutters, giving a final speech.  That is what we were about to witness.

They began by playing video clips of the five individuals who would be presenting that day from there initial assessments.  The stuttering ranged in severity but was very evident in each of them.  One of the ISTAR ‘graduates to be’, was actually called upon to MC the presentations.  The first speaker was a young immigrant who had a very pronounced stutter in his video clip.  I was blown away by his intelligent, articulate and impactful speech about ‘Avoidance’.  He talked about how as a stutterer you often avoided putting yourself in situations where you had to speak.  He talked about the perils of avoidance and how by avoiding putting yourself in circumstances that challenged you you completely limit your growth potential.  He used the analogy of an Olympic gymnast who put themselves repeatedly in situations where they performed extremely difficult feats.  It is only by repeatedly putting themselves in these positions that they can become comfortable enough to perform their routines with precision and confidence on the big day.  He reminded us that it is only with repetition and practice that we become good at anything.  His message was one that I try to remember everyday.  Only by putting yourself in uncomfortable positions, only by stretching yourself will you grow.  He had to stop several times to wipe tears from his eyes as he told his tale.

The other four individuals demonstrated similarly remarkable transformations in their communication skills.  We learned about the emotional impact that stuttering had on each of their lives.  We learned about some of the tools they used to overcome their stutter and the negative emotions that accompanied it.  The final young lady I found particularly moving.  The depth of intellect and wisdom that went into the body of her speech astounded me.  I have asked her for permission to share some of the body of her speech and if I receive that I will post more.

The value of what ISTAR does resonated with me after watching these five individuals completely transform.  I was struck once again by the thought that truly anything is possible with the right amount of discipline and guidance.  I am thankful that ISTAR has been able to help these individuals become comfortable enough that they were able to share there thoughts, ideas and intellect with those of us in the room.  For what a shame it would be if the thoughts, ideas and inspiration we witnessed on Friday was forever locked behind a stutter.

The Power of The Follow UP Call

A couple of weeks ago my car broke down and was going to be out of commission for at least a week (don’t ask.  That’s another blog post).  I found myself in a position where I needed to rent a vehicle for at least a week.  Since I broke down in Red Deer and needed to get back to Edmonton I would need to find a rental company that would allow me to rent in Red Deer and drop off in Edmonton.  After phoning around to a few places I decided to go with Discount Car rentals and called them back to confirm availability and that I would be by to pick up shortly.  At that time it was disclosed that there would be a $250 drop off fee for dropping it off in Edmonton.  This information would have been handy in the first call but no matter their price was still competitive and they were extremely friendly.

Off I went to pick up the vehicle and again was greeted by enthusiastic, friendly staff.  I was taken out to the vehicle for the walk around inspection and when we got in the car noted the ‘no-smoking’ sign and assumed the smell of smoke was coming from the gentleman showing me the vehicle.  Flash forward: I get the vehicle home to Edmonton and pick up my kids both of whom comment on the smoky smell.  I am now a little concerned about the possibility of them trying to charge me the $250 cleaning fee if you smoke in their ‘non-smoking’ vehicle.  I am now 24 hours into my rental agreement and the initiating branch is 150KM away so I was tempted to let it slide and deal with it if it came up upon return.

This is when the magic happens.  The branch manager from Red Deer where I rented the vehicle phones me with a follow up call to see if I was satisfied with the service and the vehicle.  Awesome! I can now easily address the smoke issue.  After I told him about the smoke issue he seemed legitimately distressed and suggested I return the vehicle immediately to be replaced with a new one.  I reminded him I was in Edmonton so that wasn’t as easy as that.  He asked me to give him a few minutes and he would call the Edmonton branch to see if they could accommodate the swap and he would call me back.  Before he hung up he asked if there was anything else they could have done to make my experience better.  I suggested that it would have been useful to know about the drop off fee on the first inquiry call.  Again, he apologized and said that he would have the $250 drop off fee waived for the confusion and inconvenience.  He called me back within 5 minutes to say that everything was arranged at the Edmonton branch and that if I took the existing (smokey) vehicle in they would swap it for me and they had already done all the paperwork and it should take less than 5 minutes to swap it.

The point of the story is that with a 2 minute follow up call that branch manager took my experience from ‘meh’ to ‘stellar’ in a matter of minutes.  If you are in the sales or service business the follow up call is a must.  How many times could a minor annoyance you weren’t aware of be uncovered and give you the opportunity to really shine.  So great to see that customer service is not entirely dead in this world.

Thirteen years ago

Thirteen years ago today my life changed forever.  While you often hear that having kids will change your life, I am not sure you ever really understand the full impact of that statement.  Christopher you have made an enormous impact on my life and likely more than you will understand until you too have a thirteen year old child.  You have made me laugh, you have made me cry, you have kept me awake at night but most of all you have made me proud.  From the time you were a toddler with your independent defiance, you always had your own personality and your own style.  I knew early on that your spirit could not be corralled or dampened and that excited me and scared the hell out of me all at the same time. Although I may have been angry at the time I think even when you fought being strapped into your car seat at the age of 2 I was secretly proud.  “You can’t restrain me!”.  I think back of watching you at the 2012 Edmonton ITU triathlon being led down to the water following a bag piper.  I thought my heart would burst with pride.  This is an emotion that you just cannot describe with any justice and you have to experience but I hope you know what you mean to me and how much I love the little man that you are becoming.  I cherish every moment that we have together and love that we can do our sports together.

As we move together into this new phase of your life I want you to understand how truly proud of you I am.  While we don’t always agree on things I can see in you a depth of character and integrity that will carry you through the good times and the tough ones.  I have been thirteen and I have been thirty.  I know that these coming years can be some of the most challenging of your life.  You will struggle to try and discover who you are as a young man.  You have the intelligence many of us can only dream of and the kindness of heart that will ensure you always have a positive impact on those whose lives you come in contact with.  As you navigate these teenage waters stay strong and stay true to your core values and beliefs and you will come out the other side successful.   I have no doubt that there is greatness in your future and look forward to watching you develop and seeing you start to realize the kind of footprint you can leave on this earth.

While I may not have all the answers, know that I will do whatever it takes to help you develop into the man you deserve to become.  I love you more than I can say.

Happy Thirteenth Birthday little man!  Welcome to being a teenager!

Love Dad

Thank You: Amy Holden

Recently I came across a blog titled 365 days of “Thank You”.  The author has made a point of writing a blog post daily of thanking someone in his life that has made an impact on him.  As I read some of the posts I was struck by what a brilliant, simple idea that was.  Now I am not certain I can commit to writing a daily thank you to everyone who touches my life but I am going to start to try and recognize as many as I can going forward.  There are so many in my life that make an impact daily and I do my best to thank and appreciate them as they make an impact. Certainly adding the odd blog post to recognize those in my life who make an impact could not hurt.  After all, if you look at most of my posts they are some version of recognition of people in my life who have made an impact.

Today I am going to start with someone who touches me almost daily.  My assistant Amy Holden.  Amy is one of the most sincere and genuine people you will ever meet in your life.  She has the uncanny ability of making you feel like you are the most important person in the world.  It is part of what makes her great at her job.  When people speak with her and need assistance, she never makes them feel like they are putting her out, never makes them feel like there is anything more important than the conversation she is having with them at the moment.  This is a real natural ability or talent and I am inspired watching her interact with those around her.  If you have had the opportunity to speak with her you know exactly what I am talking about. It is a talent that I strive to add to my repertoire of skills and struggle with daily.

As far as Amy’s role as my assistant, obviously her job description dictates that she take care of my daily business needs including scheduling and keeping me organized and on task (no small feat for those that know me).  While it is her job to manage my business affairs, Amy always, always, always goes far beyond what one would require and expect from such a role.  I recently heard her describing her role to one of our franchisees.  When asked exactly what her role was she quickly explained that her job was to make sure “Mike looks good at all times”. She does so many things that are so far outside her job description I would be embarrassed to admit them all.  Amy, you go above and beyond every day and inspire me with your positive attitude and your attention to making sure people ‘feel good’ after they have spoken with you.  I try and say it often to you how grateful I am to have you in our office but thought I would take a few moments and post publicly how much of an impact you have made in my life.


Reflection: What do you see in the mirror?

This week at our Toastmasters club our theme was “Being Reflective”. As the Toastmaster for the meeting I had the privilege of leading the meeting and keeping it on track with the theme. In my preamble I talked about what “Being Reflective” meant to me. I talked about the fact that I felt being reflective meant taking the time to step back from ‘doing’ and look back at what we have ‘done’ and take some time to look at and learn from both our successes and our failures. As I prepared for the meeting and prepared for the theme it struck me that while I truly believe in the value of self reflection and the value of making time to look back, it is not something I actually do as much as I should. It is so easy to get caught up in the day to day ‘doing’, and even the ‘future planning’ that it is easy to forget to stop and look back and learn from our previous experiences. My eyes were starting to open. Do I actually practice what I preach and believe in?

I went to the meeting ready to lead a great group through another stimulating meeting. Unfortunately our scheduled speaker had been in a minor car accident and wouldn’t be able to make it to the meeting. Well any of you Toastmasters out there know exactly what that means. Yes, a whole lot of Table Topics!! For those of you who are not familiar with a Toastmasters meeting Table Topics is the part of the meeting where our Topic Master comes up with questions, usually in line with the meeting theme, which they will read then choose someone in the club at random to give a mini speech on the topic for 2 minutes. It is a great way to practice thinking on your feet and once you get used to it it is actually a lot of fun.

As Toastmaster for the meeting one of my duties is to introduce the Topic Master which I did and promptly sat down feeling some relief as usually the Toastmaster is exempt from being called on to answer a Topic. This meeting was different. We had no formal speaker and our Topic Master had all the time in the world. Henry read out his topic; “When you look in the mirror what do you see?” He scans the room, makes eye contact with me, points and shouts out “Mike!”. Oh boy! He has caught me off guard. Fortunately as I stand to address the topic he remembers that he has forgotten to give the evaluator instructions on what specific attributes of the response he is looking for. This buys me a few seconds to get my thoughts together as he announces that he is looking for ‘enthusiasm’ today. Well, that certainly makes it easier! I jump up, clap my hands and shout out “Why thank you Mr. Table Topic Master. I am so glad you chose me for this very first topic! Let me tell you, when I wake up in the morning and look in the mirror I see nothing BUT a bundle of enthusiasm.” I ramble on energetically for about a minute discussing my enthusiasm and my love of Monday mornings. This sets the tone and I have everyone engaged. I pause, slow my pace and talk a little more seriously about the potential that I see in the mirror. I talk a little bit about the man that I am proud of that I see in the mirror. I talked a little bit about the man that I didn’t see. I also talk a little bit about the  raw, unfinished product that is beaming with potential and discussed how exciting that is to think about how much more in life I have to give. I summed up my mini speech by recapping what I saw and turned control back to our Toastmaster. What a fabulous excercise!! I had no time to think or prepare but rather answered from the heart. This meeting made an impact on me.

This week I have really tried to take the time and look back and reflect on all that I am, all that I have, and all that I can be grateful for as well as all that I can be. I took some time to reflect on those around me and how they carry themselves in good times and in bad. I looked for things to be grateful for and things that I can be proud of. Things that make me happy and things that make those around me happy.

My sister posted something on Facebook that really touched me as well. It really made me stop and think “Who the heck are you to be unhappy with anything in your life?”. After all, I can walk, I can talk, I have some great friends, a job I love that makes a difference, two beautiful children…. Who the heck am I to EVER complain about my life? The image to the right is what she posted. You see Judi is a physiotherapist who works with disabled children. When I asked her about the girl she responded with

She was a 14 year old girl who I worked with at different times.  She had a very rare central nervous system disability which left her developmentally delayed in all areas (unable to walk/talk).  I think what I remember most about her is her beautiful smile and that she rarely complained about anything despite her disability (yes she could let you know when she was happy or upset).  She recently recovered from back surgery and so it was quite a shock when she passed last week.  She also had the most amazing family.  Her mom spent the last 14 years caring for her and was such a great advocate for her.  She feels completely lost now.  It was also touching to see all the kids from her elementary school (she went to catholic school til this year) attend the funeral, many of whom wore pink cause it was her favorite colour.  Very cool to see the community come around her family too.l”.

So when I reflect on my life and what I have been blessed with I smile very widely. It has been interesting to note that in the past 48 hours I have had two separate people on two separate occasions make the same comment.
“You seem happy Mike””
How could I not be? When I sit back and take stock of all that I have and how fortunate I am. It is impossible to be anything but happy.
Let me ask you the question. When you look in the mirror what do you see? Share with me in the comments section below.

It’s the little things…

How often do we hear the line “It’s the little things that make a big difference”?  I tend to use that line alot and truly believe that is the case. It is often not the massive large scale gestures of others that make a significant impact in our lives but usually the very small ones.  The small things like a sincere compliment or a random act of kindness. These are the things that can change lives. I don’t know about you but I certainly notice it when someone does a ‘little thing’ that impacts my life. I have been fortunate enough in the past few months to have a number of these happen to me. I want to share with you one significant little thing that happened to me last week.

I go to a toastmasters group every Monday at noon.  Last week I gave a speech about sharing your passion which included a story about how I read to my kids every night before bed and our trip to our local Chapters book store. When you give a speech each member of the club gives written feedback on your speech. Last week one of our members, after giving me feedback on my speech also added this comment: “On a related note, I found your devotion to your kids quite heartwarming. My dad drank; we never went to Chapters. You are the type of father that I aspire to be.”

Talk about a “little thing” that had a HUGE impact!! At a time in my life when I sometimes question whether or not I am doing all I can to be the best father I can possibly be, reading this remark made my entire week. It took all of two sentences and likely less than 30 seconds for him to write that note. That statement, from a weekly acquaintance, will stay with me for the rest of my life. I have kept that slip of paper and have it sitting on my desk and reread it frequently. The sheer simplicity of the statement and the magnitude of the impact it had on me really got me thinking. How many times do we have thoughts like this that we do not share. How many times do we think these things and just quietly keep them to ourselves. I have made a resolution to myself that when someone moves me, inspires me or simply makes me feel good, that I will let them know the impact their actions or words have had on me.

It also stopped and made me think about how easy it is for all of us to have a significant impact on the lives of others. We don’t need to do massive things, we don’t have to spend a lot of money, we don’t even have to put forth a ton of effort. All we have to do is be somewhat conscious of the world around us and make sure that we take every opportunity we can to provide a ‘little thing’ to those around us. You can make an impact in a significant way. All you have to do is keep an eye out for your opportunity to do so.

What are some of the little things that you do or have been done to you that have made an impact? Share yours in the comments section.

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