How Hillary Became the Democrat’s Next Great Hope

US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton salutes ...

How Hillary Clinton became the Democrat’s next big hope. (Image credit: AFP/Getty Images via @daylife)

One of this month’s biggest news stories was not the current election, but whether or not Hillary Clinton would run in 2016. The Washington Post’s Anne Kornblut wrote a lengthy op-ed piece highlighting the insider chatter on Clinton’s plans and what her candidacy would mean for igniting the Democratic party. Clinton’s approval rating, at 65 percent, is the highest level in her career. Gallup Organization says she’s the most admired woman in America.

I can’t help but ponder what a difference four short years has made. How does a person go from being hailed as unelectable, whose mere face could rally the opposition and open their checkbooks, to the party’s great shot?

Certainly, being out of the campaign hot seat has helped. With cool distance from the presidential race, Clinton’s actions are seen in a different light. (Though this has had the opposite effect with Sarah Palin, the other high-profile woman in the 2008, whom Bloomberg puts at a 28% approval rating.)

But through my lens as a leadership coach who specializes in presence, I see a more richly textured story. Clinton has exhibited many behaviors that increase trust, connection, and credibility — three qualities that are essential to building followership. Whether she’s planning to run again, only she knows. However, her actions in the last four years speak volumes about how to rehabilitate a leader’s image. (Wall Street, take note.)  Here’s what stands out:

Putting the greater good above personal interests. Clinton shocked many when she joined Obama’s cabinet, and there were concerns that her ego would upstage the President. Instead, she’s been a loyal steward, representing both the President and the country through some of the toughest diplomatic issues in modern history. She’s admired and respected throughout the world.

Authenticity. Those who know Clinton often speak of her deep, wonkish intellect and love of policy. At State, she’s in a position to play to her strengths. We need the Secretary to know the intricate nuances of foreign policy, and be able to layer those against domestic issues. This is a job where being the smartest person in the room is a very good thing. Clinton seems at ease in this role, and as Kornblut writes, has nothing to prove.

Sense of humor. While we want our leaders to be capable, we also want them to be human. Clinton was dinged in 2008 for not being relatable. Her poll numbers went up only after she broke down and cried from exhaustion during a campaign stop. At State, we’ve seen a different aspect of her personality, in which she’s been able to reveal a lighter side. Whether it’s over being asked about the famous photo without makeup, her longer hairstyle, or the humorous “Texts from Hillary” site, she’s been able to take it in the appropriate stride.

Equanimity. I can’t think of any job that’s more stressful than Secretary of State, and especially during the last four years. Through it all, whether dealing with Libya, Afghanistan or now Syria, Clinton has been the calm amidst the storm. She’s appropriately forceful about U.S. involvement but always with supreme diplomacy. We’ve seen her exhibit this behavior through many trying times, and I believe that part of her approval rating is the safety she makes the American people feel that what we see is what we’ll continue to get. In leaders, we don’t like surprises.

What do you think of Hillary Clinton’s prospects in 2016? Comment here or @kristihedges.

Kristi Hedges is a leadership coach, speaker and author of Power of Presence: Unlock Your Potential to Influence and Engage OthersFind her at kristihedges.com and @kristihedges.

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Four Steps to Recover After You Lose It at Work

Tears, frustration and anger are common in the workplace, but you don't have to let an accidental outburst derail your career. Here's how to recover. (Image credit: David Castillo Dominici)

One of the most useless pieces of advice out there is to not take work personally. Work is inherently personal. It’s your ambition, capability, intelligence, and likeability intertwined, at play, every day. It’s better to consider that given how personal work is for most of us, what’s the best way to manage and cope when things don’t go as we desire.

Because sometimes they don’t. And though we struggle to do our best, we lose our composure.

I regularly coach through how to repair damage from these blow-ups (whether my client is the cause or the recipient). These stress-filled moments happen anywhere and to anyone. It can be a manager who hurls anger at a politically motivated colleague, or lashes out in frustration at an employee. Or the outbursts take the form of tears. (And no, not just from women.) People sometimes cry in response to negative feedback or out of sheer aggravation. We’re human; it happens.

Most of us have been in this emotional neighborhood. And we feel awful afterwards. The last thing we want is for our credibility to be permanently damaged.

We want to recover from the  incident, but we’re often paralyzed over anxiety that we’ll make matters worse. After having an emotional outburst, you can temporarily lose trust in yourself to communicate dispassionately.

If you find yourself in this situation, here are some guidelines to follow:

1. Let the steam leave the room.

Give yourself enough time and distance to collect yourself. For many situations, letting the issue rest overnight is a good rule of thumb. If the issue hits a duller nerve, an hour away at lunch might do the trick. Be intentional about giving yourself some space but be mindful of not using it as an excuse to dodge the issue.

2. Make amends quickly and decisively.

We all understand that dust-ups happen, but all the same, they leave a wake. You want to circle back to the person as soon as you’re relatively calm, and apologize for the behavior. Key note: this  is not the same as apologizing for the reason for the behavior. You may be entirely justified in your feelings. Don’t get stuck on that point.

You don’t have to say a lot. You can deliver a simple “I want to apologize for raising my voice earlier today. It’s not how I wanted to approach this issue.” If it’s highly charged, you may want to make the apology quickly, and set a date to circle back later to discuss the wider issue.

3. Repair interpersonal relationships.

There are certain people that set us off more than others. You may even find yourself gearing up for conversations with them because they cause you to react to negatively. As management consultant Steve Tobak explains, these are exactly the people with whom you need to proactively strengthen relationships. Even though it seems scary and intimidating, if you need to work with them, you’re better off expanding your perspective by getting to know their motivations. You may even learn that you’ve been misinterpreting their behavior.

4. Figure out what’s behind the emotion.

Tobak also cautions to explore where the frustration comes from. Some people are prone to anger — researchers have even identified an “angry gene” that hotheaded people have. We also know from neuroscience research that humans have universal triggers that put us into fight or flight mode. Author David Rock calls this set of emotional derailers SCARF — status, certainty, autonomy, relatedness and fairness. When we feel threats to them, we overreact from instinct.

I find that it can be helpful to cross-examine yourself. Start with the incident and repeatedly ask, “What’s that about?” For example, if you blew up at a colleague the first answer might be, “He made me angry by ignoring my request.” Then ask again, “What’s that about?” The second answer might be, “I feel like people here don’t respect me.” Keep going until you get to the root issue.

When you figure out what the core issue is, then decide how much merit it has in the first place. Often times, it’s more unconscious emotional trigger than fact. If you recognize and label it, you can gain the wisdom to help avoid outbursts in the future.

Share your comments here or @kristihedges.

Kristi Hedges is a leadership coach, speaker and author of Power of Presence: Unlock Your Potential to Influence and Engage Others. More at thehedgescompany.com.


Having A Greg Smith Moment

NEW YORK, NY - MARCH 15: A man pauses in front...

Many people have their own "Greg Smith" moments when their values are tested at work. (Image credit: Getty Images via @daylife)

When I read Greg Smith’s blistering op-ed about Goldman Sachs in the New York Times two weeks ago, like many, I was floored. My first thought was “How brave!” quickly followed by, “Is he crazy?” Publicly quitting your job with a resignation letter to the world stating that your former company is “ripping people off” with “morally bankrupt” leadership is not a good career move.

(No matter if he can get a great book deal as the media quickly pointed out. The guy was already raking it in at Goldman, after all.)

Despite our collective cynicism about his motivations, I’m choosing to take him at his word that he could no longer quietly take the misalignment between Goldman’s values and his own.

Though Goldman attempted to undermine his credibility by calling him a “disgruntled, mid-level employee,” numerous accounts corroborate what Smith himself said: he was a star performer on a fast-track who felt compelled to call out an ethical breakdown in one of our vaulted institutions. One of Smith’s colleagues described him as having a “clear moral compass.”

I can’t speak to the accuracy of Smith’s account at Goldman, or why it took him 12 years to figure all this out. And frankly, that’s not why I’m writing about it.

At some point in our careers, many of us will find ourselves in a place where what we’re asked to do at work directly contradicts our own deeply held values. I’m not talking about the small indignities that come from having a boss on a power trip or a job you hate. But rather the piercing jabs at your conscience that make you wonder who you really are.

If you don’t know what I’m talking about, count yourself lucky. Many of us can call up more than one. (I spent the first part of my career in politics so I’m fully stocked.)

As a coach, I counsel executives every day on how to be more effective, to reframe problems, and salvage damaged relationships. Most corporate issues can be overcome.

Except when your values are at stake. Then it’s time to go.

There’s no grey area in integrity. On more occasions than I can count, I’ve coached people who were asked to sacrifice deeply held values for their jobs. They may think it’s just this once, but it’s never a single point in time. It eats at them, eroding how they feel about the company and themselves. It’s a destructive cycle.

You don’t have to publicly lambast the company on your way out, and in fact I’d certainly not  recommend it. As I wrote previously, people remember how you leave, not what you did prior. (Do you think anyone cares how well Greg Smith performed for a decade?)

Many years ago I heard a talk by a former executive who served jail time for the savings and loan scandal in the 1980s. He wasn’t a bad guy; on the contrary he was self-aware, warm and normal. He described how he went down the path of his undoing by one tiny ethical lapse at a time, until he was squarely in criminal territory. His warning to his CEO audience: clearly know your values and don’t break them. For anything.

With that advice, Greg Smith would have quit far ahead of any unstoppable need to write in the New York Times.

If you’re in the middle of your own Greg Smith situation, whether it’s caused by an interpersonal situation or the broad corporate culture, give yourself permission to move on. The circumstances don’t have to be egregious to everyone, only to you. Ethics are personal. Quitting doesn’t mean you’re weak; it means you’re strong.

“If you stand for nothing, you’ll fall for anything.”  — attributed to both Alexander Hamilton and Malcolm X

“Happiness is when what you think, what you say, and what you do are in harmony.” — Gandhi

Have you had to overcome a breach of your values at work? Comment here or @kristihedges.

Kristi Hedges is a leadership coach, speaker and author. This column includes excerpts from the author’s book, Power of Presence: Unlock Your Potential to Influence and Engage Others.

How To Improve Your Memory Over Lunch

Feel like your brain is made of swiss cheese? You can fix it by giving up simple distractions. (Image by Ambro)

Driving back from a meeting recently, balancing a cacophony of mental to-dos while flipping channels on satellite radio, I landed on an NPR interview with P.M. Forni. What he said made me stop and give him my full attention. Forni, a professor at Johns Hopkins University, was discussing his book The Thinking Life: How to Survive in the Age of Distraction. This is an idea that landed in the right car.

Forni’s point is that we’re turning into a society that’s addicted to distraction. Besides making us unsafe drivers and annoying dinner companions, there are deeper consequences. Forni posits that we’re losing our ability to think critically, which also chips away at the human need to be contemplative and strategic about our work and our lives.

Forni isn’t the first person to arrive at this conclusion, though his thesis is relatable to many of us.

Whether your particular distraction is email, Twitter, a smartphone or television, you’ll likely find some truth here. How many of us have quiet time in our day at all? And if we don’t have mental space to process, how do our decisions suffer?

Angelika Dimoka, director of the Center for Neural Decision Making at Temple University, explains this point scientifically. She explains that the dorsolateral prefrontal cortex, a region of the brain responsible for decision making and control of emotions, goes on hiatus when it gets overloaded. “With too much information,” says Dimoka, “people’s decisions make less and less sense.”

We need to develop our thinking muscle or it atrophies, Forni says. Relying on knee-jerk decision making is a risky endeavor. As popular writers on behavioral economics, like Jonah Lehrer and Dan Ariely have shown us, gut instinct is highly suspect.

A recent study in Harvard Business Review found that 87% of people made an ethical decision with only three minutes of processing time versus 56% of those who had to respond immediately.

Part of the problem we’re facing, according to Forni, is that information retrieval has replaced memory as what passes for knowledge.

In 2008, an article written by John Naughton of The Observer was headlined: “I Google, therefore I am losing the ability to think.” His conclusion: “The combination of powerful search facilities with the web’s facilitation of associative linking is what is eroding [our] powers of concentration. It implicitly assigns an ever-decreasing priority to the ability to remember things in favor of the ability to search efficiently.”

All of this resonates with me. I find that the Internet has made my memory lazy. I have trouble recalling names of books I’ve read, or historical details. After all, in one click I can go back and look again. And I find that I can have an issue rattling around upstairs for weeks, but when I take a quiet hour or two to process it, I can often knock it out with a good a-ha moment.

So what’s a busy person to do? Can swiss cheese brain be reversed? Fortunately, Forni offers practical ideas for increasing our ability to think without adding more hours in the day. He maintains that with small changes we can seize the time we need for thought. Here are a few tips I found helpful.

  1. The Thinking Lunch. A couple of times a week simply eat lunch and use the time to think. All too often we use our lunch time to read the paper or catch up on email.  If you don’t have a business meeting over lunch, have the meeting with yourself.
  2. Make Car Time Count. We spend a lot of time in our cars, and it’s a prime place for distraction. Forni advises to consider having a quiet car. Don’t automatically turn on the radio or make calls. Instead, use the time to process thoughts or develop ideas.
  3. Embrace Waiting Time. For most of us, when we’re forced to wait we get impatient and reach for any distraction — usually our smartphone or the latest US Magazine at the doctor’s office. Instead, keep a small notebook and use that waiting time for thinking about whatever’s on your mind: that big idea you’re working on, your PowerPoint presentation, or an article you’re writing.
  4. Use the “One-Third Solution.” A good part of what we schedule in our day is out of routine, not necessity. If you want to create more time to think, you may find it by eliminating needless items in your schedule. Whatever you do at work, see if you can do 1/3 less of it. Forni uses business lunches as an example. When we get introduced to someone, lunch is the default. See how many meetings can be done via phone, or over email instead.  With a few small tweaks, you can reclaim hours in your week. The challenge is to not fill them up by surfing Facebook.

Do you have an opinion about creating more thinking time? Share here or @kristihedges.

Kristi Hedges is a leadership coach, speaker and author of Power of Presence: Unlock Your Potential to Influence and Engage Others. This post also appears on Forbes.com.

The Real Reason Most New Year’s Resolutions Fail by February 1

The Biggest Loser's Bob Harper will tell you; big goals require more than a New Year's resolution. (Image via Wikipedia)

As we start another year, like clockwork, all the resolution stories start to appear.

Make 2012 your year! Set your goals! Get the job! Live your dreams! Lose weight!

And yet, as the economics of gym memberships illustrate, most people honor New Year’s  resolutions for a short time. Tara Parker-Pope wrote in her New York Timescolumn that a third are ditched by the end of January. Four out of five people simply give their resolutions up.

It’s the a new year all right, but it’s the same you.

Does that mean we shouldn’t even bother thinking big? Not at all. In fact, I’m a fan of setting big goals for yourself and saying them <gasp> out loud. Like so many of you, I stand in awe of people who state audacious goals then go about accomplishing them.

I love the new year for the fact that it inspires us to do something we have the power to do all year long. At any time. Even on a random Wednesday in August.

I would argue our problem isn’t that we shouldn’t think big, but that we consider ourselves too small of a player in the quest for our own goals. We set all-or-nothing New Year’s resolutions that we can’t possibly keep, and frankly don’t expect ourselves to.  Most resolutions are general, vague, and unrealistic. We don’t really believe we can hit them because we’re not committed to our own locus of control.

We fail because we always expected to. We live up (or in this case down) to our own expectations. Then we can pull out all of our familiar excuses of being too busy, overwhelmed, or inadequate to face the challenge. It also plays into the cynical zeitgeist which supports the gravitational pull of the status quo.

You may be familiar with the field of positive psychology which was started by Dr. Martin Seligman, author of bestsellers on the topic like Authentic Happiness. Seligman began his work by trying to determine why so many people are depressed, including young kids. This interest spawned a new field, in which behavioral approaches have been found to combat “learned helplessness” and help people face adversity with positivity.

One of the root causes that Seligman identified was a national mood of entrenched cynicism. Starting in the 1960s, it became intellectually cool to be mistrustful and negative. The Pollyanna attitude to “Accentuate the Positive” was washed away and never returned. You can see this alive and well in public opinion polls or news coverage which celebrate the negative. (And don’t even get me started on the disaster that is the 112th Congress.)


Consequently, we’ve been trained to be critical and think small. We’re cautious of new ideas and motives, and we wait for the other shoe to drop. We get a lot of social reinforcement for this posture by being heralded as savvy, analytical, and smart.

Unfortunately what cynicism is not is inspiring — to us or anyone else. It will never get us the job of our dreams or the lifestyle we aspire to. If there’s even a hint of cynicism or learned helplessness in your New Year’s resolution, it too will be dead by February.

We need to create big ideas, and also value our own ability to achieve them. We need to shed cynicism for a belief in own sense of agency. A good start is by setting resolutions, or any other goals, that are tangible, actionable, and possible. Here’s how:

  1. Set goals that matter to you, and that you can put energy around. Don’t make them just because it’s what you do in January. Be ready to commit.
  2. Every resolution should have a plan to accomplish it. Don’t just vow to change your career, determine what steps you’ll need to take.
  3. Rather than making all-or-nothing resolutions, build in milestones. For example, instead of attempting to hit the gym every day, commit to exercising 2-3 times a week and gradually increasing.
  4. Believe in your own ability to change. Consider that every day, people in the worst of circumstances — whose lives have been wrecked by factors like addiction or trauma –decide to change their lives and do. If they can; you can. Whatever has happened in the past has no impact on what you can do with your future. None.

I’ll end with this passage by author Marianne Williamson, which has inspired so many to  step into their goals, even when they feel unachievable. Ponder it, and see if it does the same for you.

“Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness, that most frightens us.”

Have ideas for making resolutions real? Share here or @kristihedges.

Kristi Hedges is a leadership coach, speaker and author of Power of Presence: Unlock Your Potential to Influence and Engage Others.


How to Bring Your “A” Game and Push Through Nerves

Have a stressful job and need to perform at your best? (Image The Guardian)

Somewhere out there, someone is reading this to get that last tip in preparation for a pivotal career event.

Someone else is reading it frustrated at what didn’t go their way, and looking to figure out how to do better next time.

And still others are considering what their next big event will be, and want to maximize it when it gets here.

We all find ourselves in make or break moments, and most of us feel the pressure. Intensely. Nothing is more nerve-inducing than facing high stakes, when our potential is even higher if we perform at our best.

It could be a presentation to the executive team, or the pitch to land your largest customer deal ever. It could be your first closing argument in court or a meeting with a venture capital firm to get your first million. Or perhaps, with a new year approaching, it’s nailing a job interview so you can start 2012 in the position of your dreams.

No matter the situation, you know it when you’re there. So how do you stay focused to be at your best when it matters the most?

The human body needs a combination of physical and mental conditioning to perform. You need to take care of yourself all the time if you want to be great some of the time.

Tony Schwartz writes extensively on this topic, and one of his early articles in Harvard Business Review sums it up aptly by describing executives as corporate athletes. He and co-author Loehr posit that leaders must spend as much effort on renewing energy as they do expending it. Specifically, they relate it to how athletes train, which includes physical, mental and spiritual aspects. Leaders should emulate this model, and pay heed to the link between mental and physical performance.

Yes, this sounds preachy but think about it – you would never expect an athlete who doesn’t exercise, runs on limited sleep, and fuels with junk food to focus and excel on command. And yet this is exactly the regimen many professionals are training under. This might work for a while, but not if you want to be on your game for the longer term.

This physical conditioning is the underpinning that helps all performance, and creates an optimal environment for mental focus. But we all know there’s a large and looming on-demand, stress management aspect that threatens to derail even the best training. If you find yourself wishing you could have a tried and true A-game no matter the circumstances — or nerves — read on for what I’ve seen work:

1)     Know the players. Much stress comes from not knowing, and the more knowledge you walk in with, the better you’ll feel. Learn everything you can about the people you’ll be meeting with. The more you know about the history and dynamics of the people involved, the better you’ll be able to anticipate the questions you’ll be asked.

On the day of, get there early so you can make small talk and gauge the room before you begin. As a bonus, this can help assuage nerves as you turn the faces into real people with whom you’ve found a connection point.

2)     Go through the motions. Don’t underestimate the importance of creating muscle memory in preparation. Know the points you want to make and practice them out loud. The goal isn’t to sound rehearsed, but to know your points well enough to be conversational. Rehearse your tone, cadence, and body language. For big group events, it’s helpful to stage the meeting ahead of time to determine who sits where, and how to hand-off different parts of the presentation so it flows naturally. Walk the area if you can.

3)     Visualization. This comes up in the article mentioned above, and for good reason. The ability to visualize your success has been shown to improve your chances of achieving it. (Or as Henry Ford said, “Whether you think you can or you think you can’t, you’re right.”) Mentally go through a perfect scenario for how the meeting will go, including your peak performance. This should be an ongoing internal movie that you view a few times before the actual event.

4)     Find your pre-game ritual. Create your own pre-game ritual – something that helps pump you up and makes you feel positive before walking into a big meeting. For me, I use laughter. If I’ve just been laughing and talking about something fun, I will carry those feelings into the meeting. So I use the drive to an important event to laugh and trade entertaining stories with the other folks I’m going with, or if I’m alone I’ll call a friend. Some people like to listen to their favorite rock band, or even relax quietly. Find what works and keep doing it.

5)     Don’t fight your nerves, detach from them. As a communications coach, I can tell you with conviction that even the most polished presenters feel anxiety and nervousness. As do rock stars, actors, famous CEOs, politicians, and anyone else in the public spotlight who also happens to have a pulse. At times anxiety can come from out of nowhere — it certainly does for me. What great performers have is not the ability to eliminate nerves, but to succeed in spite of them.

Repeat after me: I can feel nervous and still bring my A game.

Don’t even try to fight your nerves, you’ll lose. When you’re just about to go into the meeting or event, and your shoulders tighten, hands shake, heart thumps –notice it, and then let it go. Don’t let these normal physical reactions to a stressful event spiral you into more anxiety. No need to suppress the feeling (as if you could anyway). Use the age-old technique and breathe deeply — four counts in and out. Focus on your visualization and practice the pre-game ritual.

And if nerves hit you in the middle of a key event, have “safety content” you can pull out that you’re most comfortable with. It could be a story, anecdote, data, case study, a question for the room to elicit response, or anything else you personally enjoy discussing.

Then get out there and wow them.

 

Have other tips for performing at your best? Comment here or @kristihedges. Kristi Hedges is a leadership coach, speaker, and author of Power of Presence: Unlock Your Potential to Influence and Engage Others.

(This post also appears on Forbes.com.)

Learning From a Tragedy That The Right Time Is Often Right Now

Finding Meaning from Tragedy (Image from Flickr)

What is it about human nature that we’re obsessed with finding the right time to do what we can easily do now? I wish I could say that my pondering of this question emerged from a book or a work engagement, but unfortunately it came from a tragedy.

A few weeks ago, a dear friend of mine took his own life.

This was not one of those collective head-nodding, I-could-see-that, situations. It was a mouth agape, incredulous, sorrowful, and confusing one. For those who knew him, and knew him well, it was what could only be called a complete and utter shock. His Facebook page was filled with laments from friends who had seen him only days before, sporting his characteristic upbeat humor and ready smile. He was the kind of guy who made everyone who knew him feel better for it, with legions of friends spanning both coasts.

Though I’ve tried every which way, it still doesn’t make sense. And maybe it never will.

For myself, I’m left with trying to find some sort of meaning from it. I need to in order to process such a horrible event — to find a self-comforting coping mechanism that in some way provides closure.  It hasn’t been easy.

Is the lesson to live every day to the fullest? Not in this case.

You never really know the heart of someone? I hope not.

The best I can find is that it’s something about reaching out to those we care about and not letting distance and miles get in the way. And not waiting for the right time.

I hadn’t seen my friend in several years, though at one time we were such close co-workers working on frenzied political campaigns that we ate three meals together at work, and then got together on the weekends. There was a group of us who were inseparable. Then we did, to different coasts and divergent lives. Over the course of many years, we got to a place of exchanging  a few emails a year and perhaps a phone call, with careers, kids and busy lives to lead.

I was just about to call my friend the week before he died to say I was coming out to California for work and hoped to visit, and then I put it off until the right time. I wish I’d made the call. I’m not self-important enough to think I could have made a difference when he had such a loving family around him, but the call might have helped in some small way.

In coaching and in life, I see a lot of holding back and waiting for that elusive right time. Waiting for the best opportunity. Waiting for the phone to ring. Waiting to be recognized. Even waiting to lose weight or get healthy.

There are times the waiting is necessary, and many more where it’s a front for fear, laziness, or distraction.

So I’m going to be marinating in that question, of what does the right time really mean — is the construct for the situation or for ourselves? And pushing myself to acknowledge colleagues and friends who have meant so much to me. One good rule regarding positive expression: if you feel it, say it.

And I’m trying on the idea that the right time is generally now.

Now to find a new job. Now to make the call. Now to say thank you. Now to tell your kids they’re perfect. Now to see a friend.

I’m a fan of appreciation letters — where you write a sincere letter to someone who has been meaningful in your life. The act can be transformative for both you and the person you’re sending it to. I was inspired by someone once to write one, and I’m committed to writing more.

I’m reminded of that Neil Young song One of These Days that says:

One of these days/I’m gonna sit down and write a long letter/to all the good friends I’ve known
And I’m gonna try/And thank them all for the good times together/Though so apart we’ve grown.

I almost didn’t write this post today as I was waiting for the, you guessed it, right time. If this encourages one person to reach out whether by appreciation letter or simple words, or to take a needed step, you’ll be proving that the right time was really now.

Rest in peace A.P. You were glorious, just the way you were.

This post also appears in Forbes.com.

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