Holiday Dinner Survival Tips


As someone who helps my clients with communication, many times with very toxic and dysfunctional people, I get a lot of calls this time of year.

This is the time of year that we all sit down at holidays dinners, we’re ready to battle, so to speak and nerves are exposed. So I get a lot of calls of how to manage these waters, how to make our way through it.

Just about everybody no matter how healthy your family is, there’s one or two people who are difficult to deal with, so I want to talk about the three “Don’ts”–three things not to do in order to have a nicer, more peaceful holiday dinner, and so you don’t set of these landminds that may be around you with some of these difficult personalities.

The first thing is: Don’t take anything personally. You may have heard this before, maybe in The Four Agreements, I’ll put a link here to so you can check it out. The thing is, for some of your relatives, you’ve been frozen in time. In their mind, you’re still 5 years old or 14 years old, and they have this opinion of you that is very, very set. So when you have new information, they don’t really take it in, they don’t really believe you.

Now, to turn this around for a second, I have a question for you: What could one of your relatives (pick one) say or do that would significantly change your opinion of them? Probably nothing, right? Unless they showed up high on heroine and threw up on the table, you would probably have the same opinion of them. Same thing for them. Let them have their opinion. Don’t take it personally.

Second, don’t ask or answer “why” questions. This may sound strange, but here’s something I know after years of experience, why or why not questions make people defensive, it’s very sensitive, so when people already kind of ready for battle, if you will, that extra little factor can set somebody off. The other thing is, in answering why questions, if you are explaining, you are losing.

For example, somebody throws a question at you like “Why the hell did you get re-married?” You can ask with curiosity, not sarcasm, “well, how do you mean?”  You can answer a question, with a question. There’s no reason you have to be explaining things, so keep that in mind.

The third thing is: don’t engage. So when you’re not in agreement with someone, people are going to be talking about politics, sensitive family issues, etc. You don’t have to engage with them – you can use phrases like “I get that” or “I hear you” – it doesn’t mean you’re agreeing with them. You’re still being honest and true to yourself that you listened to the person and you understood their point, you don’t have to agree or disagree. You don’t have to get in this battle of who’s right. You don’t have to keep people from being right – let them be right if they want to, and you don’t have to hang onto your thing of your having to be right, okay? So let go of that.

So those are the three: don’t take it personally, don’t ask or answer why or why not questions, and don’t engage.

Those are my three “don’ts” to have a happy holiday season, and if you are looking to let go of the things that have been weighing you down, and you want to truly live, give me a call, totally free of charge to have a chat, we’ll just have a casual conversation and see if we’re a fit for working together.

Happy Holidays.

[blooper reel]

The One Thing that Makes the Ultra-Successful Miserable

Business image created by Katemangostar –

* To address previous reader comments, I am sure what I describe in this article can pertain to many Western countries – I am simply writing from my American perspective.

It always surprises me when I uncover an insight into my own culture. I did an undergrad in Anthropology and lived on three different continents, so when something has been in such plain sight my entire life, I wonder why no one else is writing about it.

Humans love stories. We tell them to pass on valuable cultural knowledge, to entertain, to move us emotionally, and how we tell our personal story not only can shape how others view us, but how we view ourselves.

According to renowned author Kurt Vonnegut, every great story has one simple structure: 1) Man falls in hole. 2) Man climbs out of hole.

But what if you never fell in a hole? What if you were born into a family with plenty of resources, a good upbringing, school was relatively easy for you, you studied what you wanted, you became great at it, you started a business and it made you millions? What if you got everything that was promised to finally make you really happy – you married someone great, have great kids, they’re happy and doing well in school – only to find that something inside you felt wrong, heavy, like there’s something missing?

Having worked with hundreds of successful entrepreneurs and business owners over the years, the vast majority of these clients who “have it all” suffer from the same thing: guilt.

The guilt is from not having suffered. Funny, isn’t it? Incredibly successful people who have never really suffered, end up suffering for not having suffered. It’s like a form of Surivor’s Guilt (which is now grouped with Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder or PTSD in the DSM-V) in which family, friends and colleagues seem to have this story of suffering that is either ongoing or something they overcame, and the client feels guilty for not having gone through any serious ordeals to achieve what he/she has.

Regardless of your religious affiliation or lack thereof, American culture has a deep-rooted Protestant Christian psyche. In the Bible, when Paul goes through an enormous amount of suffering and near-death experiences, God’s answer to him when he pleaded for healing the thorn in his flesh was basically “be grateful you’re alive and stop being a little bitch.” There’s a repeated association throughout with a lack of suffering being associated with being a sinner. It’s as if suffering is noble and good, and if you don’t do it, you’re just not a good person.

So here’s the message: you can’t achieve or have anything good come into your life without paying the price of suffering. When good things happen, many of us are waiting for the bad thing to happen in order to balance it out. In fact, we criticize people who have had it easy. Even many parents who are attached to their own story of suffering, who went to great lengths create a life for their children to minimize suffering, ironically end up berating their own children for “having it easy” or being “soft.”

When working with these “ultra-successful” clients (I used quotations here because most of them would not classify themselves as successful), I repeatedly find this guilt as a big driver of their lack of satisfaction. They may have carried around this extra heaviness for years thinking that’s just how it has to be.  It isn’t, and getting the right professional to help you lighten the load may be just what you need.

What’s your story of how you got to where you are today? How much of it has suffering in it? What areas came into your life easily and without suffering?

Keep Negative People in Your Life…for a Little Bit

There’s a lot of talk out there about getting rid of negative people to live a happier life.  You know, the ones who drain you when you spend time with them.  While no one wants to have unpleasant experiences, you may be making a huge mistake.

The most difficult people in your life teach you the most about yourself.  If you don’t undo the stuff that made it okay for them to be in your life, you’ll attract another one just like them.  The question is this: “what part of you decided it was okay to be with them in the first place?”

When you are honest with yourself, you will see that you are re-creating interactions and contexts from your past.  Interactions that you didn’t want, but they were very familiar to you.  Much like a woman who had an abusive father and repeatedly chooses abusive boyfriends, we are attracted to the dysfunctions we grew up in – they are “comfortable.”


There is a key distinction between agreement with someone’s behavior and acceptance of the facts that they are how they are. When you are in acceptance, you see a person with emotional limitations, and not how you think they should be.  We don’t berate someone in a wheel chair for not being able to compete in the high jump and think that they should be able to jump.  That would be absurd.

When you let go of the shoulds of others and realize that they are who they are right now, and that there’s nothing for you to do to change them (nor is it your responsibility), you can decide whether to keep them in your life or not in a practical, balanced way.

Once you’ve learned your lessons, and see where you have to grow, then you can peacefully kick them to the curb.


How Renaissance Entrepreneurs are Wired: A Conversation with Joe Abraham

I recently caught up with Joe Abraham, author of Entrepreneurial DNA and founder of BOSI Global, an operating partner for high-growth companies.  Joe has a deep understanding of how Entrepreneurs are wired, which is why I chose his methodology as an important piece for identifying the Renaissance Entrepreneur.

The follow is a transcript of a recent conversation we had where we talk about what sets apart the Renaissance Entrepreneurs from other entrepreneurs:

Paul:  What is the Renaissance Entrepreneur?

The BOSI Quadrant

Joe:  What we’re finding more and more is that what you define as the Renaissance Entrepreneur (RE) ends up being a “right quadrant” entrepreneur. Typically “O” (Opportunist) or “I” (Innovator) DNA.  They’re not in this just to earn a paycheck, they’re not in this just to be their own boss, they are on a much greater mission, and they don’t really care how they get there. They really see business as a vehicle to either get them to their goal of financial freedom, or it’s a vehicle to help them change the world. The Opportunists see it as an opportunity to make pile of cash and attain financial freedom. The Innovator sees it as a way to change the world with what they have come up with. But in both cases, they don’t care how they get there-they want to be as creative as possible on the way there, so they aren’t as obsessed with what happens today, what happens tomorrow and what’s the micro detail control factor.  They don’t concern themselves with how much of the process they control and how much of it is going to be them to feed their ego. It’s more like “Look, I’d rather hand off some of this operations stuff to someone else–I’d rather find creative ways to get to my goals, than the old school way of show up to an office and sit there from 8 a.m. to 10 o’clock at night.” We call them a “Renaissance Entrepreneur” because they are not treating their business like a job. Left quadrant entrepreneurs on the other hand, especially S’s (Specialists) really turn their businesses into glorified jobs- they show up at 8 o’clock in the morning, they leave at 5 o’clock at night, they do all the work, they see every customer, they have to know every customer, visit every customer, sign every track, they have to know the QuickBooks system inside and out. They get so obsessed into the doing that they end up essentially with a job. Meanwhile, the renaissance entrepreneur is like “The last thing I want is a job–I want this business to work for me, I want people running it I want to enjoy my life.  I don’t want to be doing this 5 years or 10 years from now.”

Paul:  They have other interests, they have other things they identify with that they enjoy, they love learning, and they maybe have a garage full of things that represent different hobbies that they’ve played with. Whereas the left quadrant, the left side is more likely to do this one thing, identify with it, not a ton of hobbies – just one or two things they enjoy.

Joe:  Yeah, this is my identity if I’m on the left side of the quadrant.  On the right side of the quadrant, the business is really just a way to accomplish something really big. And so it’s just a perspective: Renaissance Entrepreneur, or the right quadrant entrepreneur is just happier, they are much more easy going when challenges and setbacks happen. They don’t take business so seriously that everything is wrapped up about their identity or wrapped up in what happened today.  We all know the reality is businesses have their ups and downs and we find that Renaissance Entrepreneurs are much more nimble; they are much more pliable, and they get through those challenges much better as long as they clearly understand their weaknesses. There is a dark side of the Renaissance Entrepreneur, however, the dark side of the renaissance entrepreneur with no guard rails or a renaissance entrepreneur who actually thinks they have mostly Builder DNA. These RE’s don’t ask for help, they try and do it all themselves, and they usually blow up the ship along the way.

Paul:  And from the coaching standpoint, there are some of these things like the “hot and coldness” of creativity where they get a whole flurry of creative ideas and then they struggle to be productive.  It’s important that they have an understanding that those flurries of ideas got them where they are–not the down time where they beat themselves up.

Joe:  And then when they really start to measure how long it’s going to take to implement the idea, that’s what’s draining to the O or I entrepreneur, and that’s when, if they are a Renaissance Entrepreneur, they will say “who can I trust or who can I hand off to implement this for me?” so I can stay in creative mode or I can stay in an acquisition of new ideas mode. Every O and I knows that the minute you start focusing on the implementation and how every detail works, you’re outside your sweet spot.

Paul:  Yeah, and it’s not a new idea anymore, right?  A new idea is always more exciting, it’s that “what’s the next thing?” that really excites them.

Joe:  So if somebody reading this and identifies themselves as a Renaissance Entrepreneur, they’ve scratched their heads in the past thinking “yeah, all my peers want to do it by the book, and they are so analytical, and they just want everything cookie cutter, and I’m more out of the box–I want things to be different, creative, unique and game changing.”  If this is you, then you probably are a Renaissance Entrepreneur–you don’t have an office full of people slogging away making widgets all day long, and you don’t enjoy sitting there watching them make widgets. If this is you, then you’ve got to stop going to the events everybody else goes to.  You’ve got to stop hiring consultants that everyone else is hiring.  You’ve got to start getting around people who understand who you are and know how to coach you through those things and help you build your business the way it should be built. The risk you run is hiring that next marketing firm or that next business coach or that next employee who doesn’t understand the Renaissance Entrepreneur and ends up implementing things that are going to drive you insane.

Paul:  Agreed, and much of the business philosophy out there like The E-myth and Traction, and stuff like that just won’t work with the Renaissance Entrepreneur.

Joe:  Yes!  All those systems-focused ideas and many of the other operating systems are essentially built for the Specialist and S’s are very comfortable with those and can get some great results, but they are not built for the Renaissance Entrepreneur.

***If you are interested in knowing about your Entrepreneurial DNA, Click Here for a free 10-questions assessment.

Balancing Business and Life

Life Balance Houston CoachIt has occurred to me when working with clients that many of us have the tendency to think of life balance in terms of daily or weekly perfection, and if we don’t do all of the habits or tasks within a given time period, we are “out of balance.”

There tends to be guilt while at work and away from family, and guilt while with family and not working.  Or maybe even the self-criticisms of not exercising enough, or eating too much, or whatever.

I have two thoughts on this.

1)  Let yourself off the hook a little more.  Most of us cause ourselves more emotional anguish beating ourselves up for what we haven’t done rather than just accepting that we didn’t do it.  Chill.

2)  Think of life balance more as the way science defines equilibrium.  Equilibrium is the point through which a system passes-not a perfect balancing act on a daily basis.  Maybe you miss a couple of workouts because a friend had a family member pass away.  Maybe you don’t see your friends much for a couple weeks because you are starting a new project you are excited about.

Broadening the length of time you evaluate your life balance may find yourself feeling good about how balanced you are, and giving yourself a little compassion isn’t going to drive your business off a cliff.

Circular Things

“The most important decision we make is whether we believe we live in a friendly or hostile universe.” –Albert Einstein

Transformational Coach HoustonWe have evidence that the universe is hostile because we know what it feels like when things don’t go the way we want them to.  The question is:  where does the pain come from?

It comes from ourselves.

When the outcome is negative, we beat ourselves up.  “I should have known better.”  “I’m stupid.”  We wait for ourselves around every corner with a big stick to beat ourselves up for making a mistake because that is what’s comfortable.  We’re used to it.

So do we fear the outcome, or do we fear what we do to ourselves when things go awry?

When we believe that the world is hostile, we are always vigilant. We are waiting for the other shoe to drop.  We are tensely anticipating the next attack or bad situation.  We tell ourselves stories about other people:  “He probably thinks I’m a loser.”  “She’s disappointed with my work performance.”  “They think I’m a terrible person.”

In our defense (to our own negative thoughts), we react, we attack or we run away from people and situations and cause conflict.

We create a hostile universe for ourselves.

If we dropped our stories about other people, the world would be friendlier.  If we put down the stick, we would learn to have compassion for ourselves.

Don’t believe everything you hear – this includes your own thoughts.  Question them and get rid of what is stressful.  The universe will suddenly become more and more friendly.



Brave vs. Selfish

suicide houstonWhen someone ends his/her own life because they are facing a great amount of physical suffering, we totally get it. We are compassionate. Many of us say to ourselves, “if I knew I were going to die a slow and painful death, I’d just end it now.” Hollywood shows us images of brave heroes who take their own life rather than be captured by torturers.

Yet somehow, when the pain is emotional, we call them cowards. We judge a person who sees no end in sight to the pain they are feeling.

If you were in a burning building, and your two choices were stay in a room and burn or jump out the window, would you sit quietly and burn to death, or would take the dive?

This is what suicide is. From this person’s perspective, they see no way out. They do not believe their pain will end.

You do not have to agree with or like the fact that someone close to you took his/her own life, but unless you learn to accept and respect the decision, you will only perpetuate the pain they tried to stop. It is not your burden to carry.

In 2005, I spoke to my brother on the phone several hours before he took his life. He did not tell me what he had planned to do, and I was shocked by how happy he sounded. I hadn’t heard him that easy-going and upbeat for years. I thought he was getting back on track.

Looking back, I realized that the reason he was so happy was because his decision was made. He was being liberated from his prison of pain.

After the anger and sadness, I learned to accept his decision. Who am I to call him a coward? To call him selfish?

Find the gift in everything that comes. Life happens through you, not to you.

**If you are in Houston and you or a person you know has thought about suicide, I highly recommend the tremendous work of Jennifer Chapple.

photo credit:

Confide Coaching Wins Houston Business Award


Confide Coaching Receives 2013 Houston Award

Houston Award Program Honors the Achievement

HOUSTON December 11, 2013 — Confide Coaching has been selected for the 2013 Houston Award in the Life Coaches category by the Houston Award Program.

Each year, the Houston Award Program identifies companies that we believe have achieved exceptional marketing success in their local community and business category. These are local companies that enhance the positive image of small business through service to their customers and our community. These exceptional companies help make the Houston area a great place to live, work and play.

Various sources of information were gathered and analyzed to choose the winners in each category. The 2013 Houston Award Program focuses on quality, not quantity. Winners are determined based on the information gathered both internally by the Houston Award Program and data provided by third parties.

About Houston Award Program

The Houston Award Program is an annual awards program honoring the achievements and accomplishments of local businesses throughout the Houston area. Recognition is given to those companies that have shown the ability to use their best practices and implemented programs to generate competitive advantages and long-term value.

The Houston Award Program was established to recognize the best of local businesses in our community. Our organization works exclusively with local business owners, trade groups, professional associations and other business advertising and marketing groups. Our mission is to recognize the small business community’s contributions to the U.S. economy.

SOURCE: Houston Award Program

Houston Award Program Email:

A Word on Forgiveness


Houston Life Coach Forgiveness


Make your life better by learning to forgive.  Make your life extraordinary by realizing there was nothing to forgive in the first place.

Try this on:  “Everyone is doing the best they can all the time, no exceptions…”  Where’s the resistance?