“I don’t know what that is but I’m sure I can do it!”

Years ago I interviewed a candidate for a role under another manager.  I asked her about her skill level on something relative to the job.  She leaned forward, smiled and without missing a beat said, “I don’t know what that is but I’m sure I can do it!”  I ended the interview and recommended we hire her immediately.

She joined the company and performed with distinction for years to come.  It wasn’t her ability, it was her attitude.  We should all include a little more of that positive attitude in our responses to life.

Three crows

Three crows were sitting on a fence.

One of them decides to fly away.

How many crows are now sitting on the fence?

Three.  While the one crow decided to fly away, it didn’t take any action.  What fence have you decided to fly away from but still haven’t taken any action?  What can you do today to fly off of that fence?  What action can you do right now to fly off of that fence?  Well, get off of the internet and do that action.  Now!

Want to exercise? Make it a habit.

A study on exercise shows that making exercise a habit is crucial to making exercise part of your life.  The key, the study shows, to making exercise a habit is having an appropriate trigger.  Whether your trigger is end of work day or putting the first pot of coffee on, pick a trigger that you do on a frequent basis and exercise immediately after.  An important note about triggers, they must precede you habit.  It isn’t, “just before I come home from work, I’ll exercise.”  A much better trigger is, “when I leave work, I go to the gym.”

Exercise study

Sticky ideas

In a study, participants were asked to add hot sauce to a chili someone on the other side of a one way mirror would have to eat.  The other person couldn’t see the participant and would never know who they were.  The participant could choose between three hot sauces, each one with a more painful sounding name than the last, and could add as much or as little as they wanted.  The participants didn’t know that the person eating the chili was actually an actor.  The study was ran three times with different groups of participants.  In the first group, the participants had no prior interaction with the chili eater.  Generally speaking, these participants added only the mildest hot sauce and only a small amount at that.  In the second group, the chili eater was in the waiting room with the participants and was intentionally rude.  Not surprisingly, these participants used the much hotter sauce and a lot more of it.  In the third group, the chili eater was similarly rude in the waiting room but after the participant was called in to participate, the researcher was very kind; complemented the participants, smiled, offered them water or something to make them more comfortable.  Even though the researcher had nothing to do with the rude chili eater, this group of participants also used a small amount of the milder hot sauce.

In a separate study, participants were asked to rate whether words they were shown on a screen were positive or negative.  The researchers could influence how many participants rated fairly neutral words as positive or negative by flashing a positive or negative word just prior to the word the participants were selecting.  That is more participants would rate a word like “chair” negatively if the researchers flashed the word “hate” just prior to showing the word “chair.”  Those positive or negative influencer words could be flashed so quickly that the participant wasn’t consciously aware of the words.  That is the participant didn’t know the word “hate” was shown to them but their subconscious was aware of it and it affected how the participant perceived the next word.

In a final study I want to talk about today, participants were given a number of sets of five words and were asked to use four of them in a sentence.  They were told that when they were finished they should go get the researcher.  The researcher was in a conversation with a person the participants didn’t know and didn’t stop to encourage the participants to interrupt.  Some participants were given sets of words that had words that were more passive and stressed understanding.  Some participants were given sets of words that were more aggressive and stressed getting things done.  The passive set of participants waited ten minutes longer to interrupt the researcher than the aggressive set of participants.  Simply by making sentences that stressed aggression, the participants became more aggressive.

So why are we talking about these studies?  These studies show that thoughts and feelings have a certain amount of stickiness.  A good or negative feeling from a prior but unrelated situation will affect how we react to the next situation.  Basically, a good mood leads to good reactions.  A bad mood leads to negative reactions.

How can we use this understanding to enrich our own life and the lives of those around us?

1.) Positive prep – before you enter a situation be sure to create a positive mindset for yourself.  Whether you are meeting with your boss, your client or your mother-in-law, do something positive just prior to your meeting.  Play uplifting music, listen to a comedian, talk to your perpetually “up” friend, read appropriate quotes out loud.  Craft your prep to the person you want to be in the upcoming situation.  Going into a sales meeting?  Combine positive and uplifting prep with something respectfully aggressive.  Going to a family reunion?  Combine positive with easy going.

2.) Setting the tone – Most situations involve other people.  So when you first enter that situation be sure to set the positive tone by smiling and making small talk.  Get the people you are interacting with in the proper mood by treating them appropriately.  Negotiators have found that a few minutes of small talk can have a significant positive outcome in the final negotiations.

3.) Pay it forward – Help your friends and family have positive reactions by being a positive and appropriate influence, especially as you say goodbye.  The last words you say to teens before they go out at night shouldn’t be, “You better be good,” with a stern look.  (Tell them that earlier).  When they head out, tell them you love them with a smile and a hug.

Are you the elephant or the rider?

Actually, you are both.  Jonathan Haidt, psychologist from the University of Virginia, wrote in his book The Happiness Hypothesis that people are like a rider on an elephant.  The rider reflects the thinking, rational, future oriented part of you.  The elephant represents the instinctive, emotional, now oriented part of you.  This is similar to Id and the Superego.  The rider’s job is to pick a destination and path, then guide the elephant along that path.  The elephant actually walks that path.  The rider can force the elephant to do things over the short term but, eventually, the rider will tire or the elephant’s strength will overpower the rider.  The elephant can ignore the rider for short periods but can never actually progress without the rider.

Both the rider and the elephant are necessary and have their strengths.  Without the rider, the elephant will wander aimless.  Without the elephant, the rider won’t be able to travel at all.  The only way to be successful is to get the elephant and the rider working toward the same goal.  In other words, you need to align your heart AND your mind with the goal you wish to achieve.

When you create a goal, your rider is engaged.  Make sure the rider is truly engaged by expressing your goal in factual accomplishments.  Engage your elephant by also detailing the outcome of your goal in emotional terms.  How will you feel when you accomplish your goal.  Since your elephant is concerned with “now,” celebrate small victories along the path.  Feed the emotional elephant with every victory, no matter how small.

5 hacks to cut calories

We at Wolski Success Partners believe success happens by taking many small positive actions consistently.  Here are a few easy actions that can help those with a goal of losing weight make a little progress each day.

1.)  During dinner, dish up in the kitchen and leave the serving dishes with extra food behind.  When the serving dishes are at the table, it makes it too easy to load on seconds…..or thirds…….or maybe just that little extra bite.  These are basically unconscious calories you didn’t really want or need.  When the food is just sitting there in front of you, it is too easy to nibble.  By leaving the serving dishes in the kitchen, it  makes getting seconds a conscious decision.  We aren’t saying don’t go for seconds, but that extra effort of having to step away from the table to get more gives you pause to be mindful if you really want or need it.

2.) Use smaller plates.  We know you’ve probably heard this many times before, but it really does work.  Most of us use the plate size, not the size of our appetite, to determine how big our first course will be.  By using smaller plates and bowls for everything from dinner to ice cream, we can easily cut our serving size by 25%.  Combined with the mindfulness of leaving the excess food in the kitchen, this can be a great first step in adding mindfulness to your meals.

3.)  Make your own frozen treats.  Keep bananas and berries in the freezer.  Throw either or both of them into a blender with milk or yogurt and blend away.  You can’t really go wrong.  Really make it a treat by adding a little vanilla or cinnamon in the blender.  You can make it thicker by using less milk and it can replace your ice cream, or add a little more milk and make a wonderful drink.  A two-scoop sundae can easily have over 500 calories.  Trading a sundae for a frozen fruit treat adds fiber, nutrients and calcium to your diet for less than 250 calories.  You will satisfy your sweet-tooth (guilt-free) as well as lower your caloric intake.  This is a win/win all around!

4.)  Tapas it! – Instead of ordering one main dish for dinner, order two non-fried appetizers.  Better yet, have everyone on the table forgo main dishes and order no more than two non-fried appetizers each and share!  For example, if four of you go out, order six non-fried appetizers.  You’ll get to satisfy your hunger with smaller portions and more variety.

5.)  Swap the 8-inch tortillas for 6-inch tortillas when you make wraps, tacos and burritos.  Not only do the smaller tortillas have less calories, you simply can’t stuff them as full.  So feel free to fulfill your Tex-Mex cravings, but do it mini-sized.  Again, satisfying your hunger with smaller portions.

1 minute to improve the world

Sometimes all it takes is a minute to make a difference in someone’s life and that difference can improve the world.  This is a story about a high school senior who took it on himself to make a difference in people’s lives.  All he did was create an anonymous account and start posting positive captions about his classmates.  He used social media to build up the people in his community without the possibility of returned benefit.  Most of his posts probably didn’t take more than a minute to write but the impact he had on his classmates was enormous.

I suggest we each spend a minute a day trying to make someone’s life just a little bit better.  Do it without the expectation that the person will return the favor.  It can be something as simple as taking out the trash, letting someone in front of you in traffic or simply asking that quiet person about their day.  Small things matter.


Habits: Good or Evil

Habits have a bad reputation.  To be fair, some bad habits have led to many ills in society today.  Smoking, over eating, etc. have killed off more people than wars in the last 50 years.  Ok.  It lends some credence to the “habits are bad” logic.

On the other hand, have you ever driven home and not remembered the trip?  Habits kept you on the road.  Habits helped you follow traffic laws.  Habits watched for other cars and habits knew the route home.  Looking at it this way, habits kept you alive while your mind was somewhere else.

Maybe we need to step back and really think about what a habit is before we decide if they are good or bad.  Basically, a habit is your mind trying to do efficiently a series of actions you take in response to a trigger on a regular basis.  Your mind is wonderfully powerful at recognizing patterns and connections between things.  It recognizes, without any conscious effort on your behalf, what you do in specific situations and then automatically prompts you to do the same thing in the same situation.  It is incredibly efficient, freeing your mind to do other things.  It is labor saving for your mind and, therefore, for you.  By this definition, habits actually are very good . . . . . it is just that sometimes the long term outcome of our habits are damaging.  That isn’t the habit’s fault.  It is our fault because our our initial decisions led to the habit.

A habit has three main components:  Trigger, action and reward.  The trigger is also sometimes called the anchor or the cue.  This is the situation that causes your mind to default to its labor saving device.  Think of Maslow’s dogs.  By ringing a bell just before he fed them, Maslow built a trigger (the bell) to the action of feeding (action and reward).  For you, the trigger can be something like “finished lunch” which leads to the action of visiting the vending machine.  The reward is the sugar rush for doing the action.  Rewards can be enjoying the chocolate bar after lunch or staying alive on the drive home.  Not normally discussed is a fourth component of a habit, that is the long term effect of repeated action.  The repeated action of checking your rearview mirror every few minutes will lead to a very different long term effect than the repeated action of eating a king sized bag of M&Ms after every lunch.

In life, success is more a result of consistent positive action over time than any decision or any short term rush of effort.  The very nature of habits make them a powerful tool for success.  By establishing habits that lead to good long term results, you will put in consistent positive action without much thought.  The trick is to determine what habits will lead you toward your definition of long term success, identifying appropriate triggers and rewards.


We all know to get and stay healthy we need to move more.  But the reality is, most of us dread dragging our butts to the gym or forcing ourselves to formally exercise.  Face it.  We are busy, tired and don’t always have the time or drive to go to the gym.  Here are some exercise hacks to painlessly work in extra movement into your day, taking very little time and energy, and will make a big difference in your activity level.  And as we all know, every step counts…

Hack #1

Park in the middle or towards the back of the parking lot.

Every time you go to any store, whether it is the grocery store, the mall or even Walmart, don’t drive around looking for the closest parking spot.  Find a spot in the middle of the lot, and park there.  You’ll find a few wonderful things very quickly.  You will be working in extra steps to get fit and healthy.  It won’t take long before you are able to and wanting to park further and further away from the store, as you get healthier and build stamina.  And finally, you will actually find parking quicker and reduce stress as there are many more open spots toward the back of the parking lot.  These extra steps add up quickly.  If you only park ten spaces further away twice a day, you will walk an additional 10 miles a year.  Don’t think of it as a daily burden but just a part of your ten mile journey……or maybe 20 miles.

Hack #2

Take one flight of stairs instead of an escalator or elevator.

Any time you have the choice, take one flight of stairs instead of the escalator or elevator.  If you live in an apartment building with an elevator, get off one floor before your own and go up the last flight by stairs.  If you’re at an airport choose the flight of stairs.  Make the same choice if you’re at a hotel, a friend’s apartment building or even in a medical building.  Taking one flight of stairs instead of the elevator/escalator will build strength and stamina.  As you build strength and stamina, you may find you’d even like to try two flights of stairs.  It takes very little of your time, will burn extra calories and build muscle.  Make a game of it.  If your friends or co-workers are taking the elevator the whole way, see if you can beat them by taking the stairs.

Hack #3

While at work, get out of your chair once an hour.

Set a reminder on you computer or smart phone.  Every hour on the hour, have your alarm go off.  At that time stand up.  In the office there are unlimited ways to vary up some quick and easy movements to keep you blood flowing and your body active.  Take one minute.  Just simply one minute.  Do squats at your desk.  Take a quick walk around the perimeter of the office floor.  Go down then up one flight of stairs.  Take the longest possible route to the kitchen, the bathrooms or conference rooms.  Place your feet two to three feet from the wall, lean in to the wall and do standing push-ups for one minute.  Stretches are wonderful as well.  Bend down and touch your toes.  Reach up high and stretch that way.  There are endless ways to move for just one minute.  Again, like hack #1 and #2, once you start and build strength and stamina, you may surprise yourself and want to increase the movement to 1 1/2 minutes or even 2 minutes.  Your body will very quickly adapt and look forward to it.

These are very simple hacks that will change your sedentary life into a more active one.  You can start small and still reap the healthy benefits of activity.  These are easy activities that nearly anyone can accomplish.  Every journey begins with a single step.  Take your single step today.  And remember, every step counts!

Wolski Success Partners, Life coaches.

Epic Fails – Milton

Milton grew up on a farm in rural Pennsylvania in the late 1800s.  He worked hard and helped his parents on the farm.  He dropped out of school after the 4th grade because he had to work to help support his family.  Later, he worked as a printer’s apprentice and thought he had a start at a career.  Unfortunately, he discovered that printing wasn’t for him and left.  At age 15, he worked as an apprentice for a confectioner and found candy suited him better than printing.

At 19, he borrowed $100 from his aunt and opened a candy shop in Philadelphia.    He made caramels at night and sold them with a push cart during the day.  He worked 15 to 16 hours a day, 7 days a week.  Even so, his business failed after only six years.

Milton moved to Denver with his father to try his luck at prospecting silver.  They  had no luck.  Eventually, Milton ended up working for another confectioner.  There, he learned skills that eventually would prove to be even more valuable than silver.  Milton eventually left Denver and launched a business in Chicago.  It failed.  Then he moved to New Orleans and launched another business.  It failed.  He moved to New York and launched another business.  It failed.

Finally after failing at so many opportunities and businesses, Milton moved back home to Pennsylvania.  He was penniless and his family had given up on him.  They wouldn’t even take him in and definitely would not lend him money.  He was alone, broke and without support.  He was a failure.  Then a former employee, Henry, came to his rescue.  Henry took Milton in and lent him the money to move his candy making equipment from New York to Pennsylvania.  He experimented tirelessly with different recipes.  By using the techniques he learned in Denver, he founded the Lancaster Caramel Company, which is still in business 125 years later.  One day he saw a demonstration of chocolate-making equipment and felt that chocolates were a bigger opportunity than caramels.  He followed his heart and sold Lancaster Caramel Company and used the money to found Hershey’s Chocolate Company.  You may have heard of it.

The moral here is that it may take a person a thousand failed attempts before they reach their success!  Milton Hershey worked for many years, failed at several careers and many businesses before his first success with Lancaster Caramel.  With each failure, he took away valuable lessons.  With each learned lesson, he launched into the next opportunity.  Even though his family had given up on him, he kept on.  He didn’t listen to others telling him that he couldn’t do it or telling him to give up.  He kept trying and trying.  Milton never gave up.  He eventually founded one of the most successful chocolate companies in American history.

Marketing tidbits for yourself and your business

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