“I don’t want to go there; I don’t want to talk about that…”

I hear this quite a bit within the different aspects of my work. The frequency of this isn’t surprising, but the high price we pay for this choice often is. There’s a large, collective cost attached to avoidance and denial. It’s often not immediately apparent, but it’s definitely there. It’s called “avoid-dance” for a reason. Because that’s exactly what it is: a fucking dance… a death dance that slowly kills you from the inside out.

Anywhere you don’t want go (emotionally) is exactly where you need to be… (immediately). – @tomleu

It’s normal to want to avoid problems because problems = pain. Nobody wants more pain, we’ve got enough of that shit already right? Many psychologists suggest that the human drive to avoid pain is higher and tends to be more prevalent than our drive to seek pleasure. Read that again. It’s called “avoidance coping” or “escape coping” for a reason. But here’s the thing: side-stepping isn’t a solution; it’s a band-aid, and a weak one at that. The longer anyone avoids their own crap and refuses “to go there,” the bigger the problem becomes, and the less effective the band-aid becomes over time. Have the stones to rip that shit off.

We all have to “go there” sometimes because “there” is where the real solutions to the problems live. Believe it or not, the pain of dealing with the here and now is far less than enduring the pain accumulated by avoiding shit week-after-month-after-year-after-year. It’s called recovery (from whatever is ailing you). Going there is good. Go there so you don’t have to live there.

Face it, fix it, and move on. It’s a risk worth taking. Easier said than done, but no less possible…

Stay tuned-in…

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Feel the Shake

You’ve been there: obsessing about that very important meeting, or event, or opportunity that’s coming up very soon. You’re looking forward to it, but you’re worried about it, and possibly dreading it at the same time. You can feel the tension mounting the more you think about it. You feel all alone in your anxiety. It’s a clusterfuck of competing emotions. As this moment fast approaches, you’re wondering: “Why the hell did I sign-up for this… ?” 

Through my lifelong research and in my personal experience, managing this stuff effectively is what separates the ‘haves’ from the ‘have-nots.’ I’ve always been fascinated by the factors that separate the famously successful from everyone else. I’ve been devouring biographies, watching documentaries, and studying successful musicians, actors, artists, entrepreneurs, and others for years to learn about their journey’s. How they got from here to there, and to uncover what truly sets them apart.

Rob Lowe, one of the original 1980’s “brat-packers,” has had a long, and storied career in both film and television spanning over three decades. To me, he continues to epitomize the tenets of a real-world rock star as an enduring acting icon. His autobiography, Stories I Only Tell My Friends, includes the riviting details about his career-launching, yet arduous audition process for the Francis Ford Coppola flim, The Outsiders in 1982.

“There were days when I would’ve liked to have faced lower expectations and less pressure than learning at what this particular level demanded.” ~ Rob Lowe

This story made clear to me that two things must happen for people to achieve any type of “success” personally or professionally. First, you have to consistently take action and do what most others will not do. And second, you must be able to deliver results in the midst of the inevitable stress, angst, and anxiety that follows.

I’ve heard it said: “Nothing hurts a failure but a try.”

You must be deliberate about putting yourself into uncomfortable and uncertain situations at times. These are the types of situations that have you shaking in your boots, figuratively and literally. Extraordinary outcomes only come from first making choices that most others will not make. These are the difficult decisions, and ensuing actions that have the great potential to expose you to ridicule; and to place you in very vulnerable positions that make you a target for scrutiny and criticism. You’re thinking: “Am I out of my fucking mind?” The answer is… YES, you are out of your mind, and waaay out of your comfort zone. But, this is also the place where most worthwhile happenings, happen…

It’s at this point that the majority of people will opt out; they’ll quit because it’s the softer, easier way. Very often, our natural instincts are to go small; to retreat; to get invisible when faced with challenges or change. Instead, the best go big. They run into, instead of run away. They forge ahead, though often afraid. They then do their damndest to deliver the goods.

At some point, we all find ourselves alone on the “stage.” It’s an inevitability, and it’s exhilarating.

So how do you NOT get so shaken that you cannot perform? Three things:

  1. Feel the shake. Let it be. Don’t run from it, lean into it. You not only have to be willing to face it, but you must also embrace it. Let it help you by allowing it to push you to higher levels of performance. It’s a friend, not your foe.
  2. Focus on what the shake really is. It’s fear. But fear of what? When you boil it down, it’s simply the fear of looking bad or of being seen as not good enough in the eyes of others. That’s it; and that ain’t shit. It means nothing. Once you understand how base and universal these fears really are, they are much easier to manage and overcome. Everybody has them… EVERYBODY. And most people are actually rooting for you, whether you know it or not. Take comfort in knowing this, and let it empower and embolden you.
  3. Finally, let #1 and #2 Fuel your performance. Channel that energy into executing what your hard work and preparation has positioned you to do. Turn it into positive energy, not just negative anxiety. You’ve earned the right to be there, and deserve to be there, because you GOT there in the first place.

Now go kick ass!

Stay tuned-in…

Click HERE for info on my Communichology course.

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Doubt… It creeps in. It lingers. It’s infectious and fucks with you if left unabated. No matter how many times it happens, or how much experience you have… a good dose of doubt can cripple the most confident among us.

The antidote for doubt is action… not assessment, nor analysis. Go DO what you’re in doubt about. GO DO what you’re afraid of. GO DO what you’re avoiding. It’s the only way to overcome the fear of failure >> which is what doubt is really all about.

When you know it, yet you doubt it, you kill it.

Facing the fear = Doing it scared = Defeating the doubt = Winning…

Stay tuned-in…

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Change nothing… expect nothing to change. This is regularly expressed, but rarely executed. Why? Because aside from the human need for variety and some uncertainty at times, the idea of change (especially changing ourselves) is an unwelcome intrusion. People don’t like change because it’s one of the best catalysts to produce fear in most of us. 

And fear is one of the, if not THE, most powerful forces, and potent motivators… many unfortunately choose to avoid at all costs. I know, because I used to as well. So here’s the shiFt: Get clear of which kind of fear you’re actually facing… >> Is it the fear of losing something you already have, or is it the fear of not getting something you want? Clarity around these questions immediately begins to diminish the fear simply by beginning to take a closer look at it. You’ve overcome it before; you can again.

Stay tuned-in…


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A scarcity mentality is fear-based ultimately, and the product of a learned, limited possibility perspective.

Intellectually, this makes rational sense. This mentality says “protect what’s yours; minimize risk; play it safe.” Emotionally, this is hard as hell to reconcile rationally because this mentality also says “you’re stuck in a rut; you’re going nowhere; you’re limited.”

And these sentiments all run contrary to the universal human needs for fulfillment and contribution, among others. Ultimately, the lifetime costs tallied from the paralysis of choosing a scarcity mentality run deep and wide. Choose differently.

Stay tuned-in…

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One (1)

Welcome to the talk shiFt™ shorts series with Tom Leu >> (short posts that cut to the chase to help you kick your business or personal brand to the next level)

A new year. A big deal… or is it? Lately, I’m thinking about new changes (I’ve just recently moved to a new state), I’m thinking about good intentions, I’m thinking about new year’s resolutions, and my disdain for the previous two. Truth is, I often worry about worrying. I have exhilaration for new ideas and projects that are simultaneously stifled by fear. I often examine what’s old that’s now new again, as well as the reverse of the previous. And as always, as a card carrying introvert, I marinate in melancholy reflection.

To combat my own self-defeating tendencies past and present, I’ve organized my nearly 30 years of experience, education, successes, and lessons learned from failures to create a set of principles and success strategies I call Lifestyle Initiative Training™ to do my part to give back as I have been given through the years. It’s here I talk shiFt™ with weekly blog posts and videos, to teach people how to get unstuck and out of ruts; to recover and retain their personal and professional EDGE to get ahead. Why me? Because at 50 years old with 15 years of continuous sobriety, and three decades professional experience in education, media, sales, marketing, and management… I’ve learned a few things that are valuable and worth sharing.

So here’s my first message on this first day of the new year: resolve to make no resolutions this new year, or any other “new” year. Why not? Because it’s counter-productive. It sets you up for disappointment if you fail to accomplish all of your good intentions. Resolutions are typically too big, over-generalized, not time specific, and unrealistic. It’s a recipe for producing the exact opposite of what you think you want.

What to do instead: Set small, but deliberate DAILY goals that are challenging, but doable. Things you can actually accomplish daily, see your progress, and feel good about. Doing it this way builds and keeps momentum. It’s empowering whereas lofty, ill-defined, big-picture goals often serve to do the opposite. For example, I embrace physical fitness, so one doable, but challenging goal I have is to do 100 push-ups per day. I do them in small increments spread out throughout the day. The quick math of 100 push-ups per day totals 36,500 per year. Even if I were to fall short by 15-20 per day, I’m still cranking out over 30,000 push-ups annually. That’s a shit ton of upper body resistance training that DOES produce results. Again, daily goals that are challenging, but doable, is the key.

Small shiFts in lifestyle choices daily, over time, produces big changes. If this speaks to you, and if you think you can benefit from this type of coaching, encouragement, and challenge, then keep coming back.

Stay tuned-in…

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Too Hard?

What Happened:

You approach someone at a place you’re working to proactively share some skills you have to offer the company, and to communicate the additional value you bring to the table. This person’s been there awhile. Since you’re new, (and just because it’s the way you’re wired), you’re nice-as-hell because you genuinely want to help, while also being assertive and making your other talents known. Their very passive-aggressive and off-putting response to your offer:

“Yeeeaaahhh… ummmm, that’s kinda my job so… I don’t think so.”

A very awkward pause immediately follows which is rivaled only by their defensive body language which is screaming “please leave this office now, and never come in here again threatening my fragile-little-fucking-ego.” 

What Else They Likely Wanted to Say:

“Sorry, but your mere presence here makes me uncomfortable because I’ve heard about you and want to keep you the fuck outta my business for fear of looking bad.” “Plus, I don’t want to do any additional work above and beyond the work I already have to do, and am trying desperately to look like I’m doing at a high-level.”

What Should Have Happened:

New person approaches old person with an offer to help and to get more assimilated into the company. Dialogue ought to go something like this:

New person to old person…

“Hi [their name], my name is [your name] and I do this [outline of skills you’re offering to bring to the table]. Wondering if you could use some help with [stuff they do that you think your skills could help with]? I’d love to contribute more here and show you what I can do for [compay name here].”

Old person to new person…

“Hey [your name], thanks for stopping by. I really appreciate the offer. Here’s how things typically work around here. Normally, stuff like this is handled this way [the way shit is typically handled there]. I really appreciate the offer, and if something comes up down the road where we can use your talents, I will certainly get ahold of you. Let me take down your contact info for future reference. I appreciate you bringing this to my attention …”

See, it’s not too hard… or is it?

Stay tuned-in…

Click HERE for info on my Communichology course.

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