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MAY 2000
Success Harmony Newsletter


Perhaps only hopelessly sentimental people like me have memory books and, even then, I forget to use it at times. When I remember to look at it, I get upset I don't use it often enough to get entries from all the people who have meant something to me.

What is a memory book? I like to think of it as a reverse autograph book. You are the famous person and all the people who mean something to you get to write or draw something in it for you. I had a memory book as a child - a couple of them, in fact. One of them got lost as our apartment and everything in it got confiscated after our escape from Czechoslovakia, but an earlier one got found when I visited the country after the fall of the communist regime. I sat on the floor in my Grandma's house and leafed through the book. I cried as I was reading through the entries and looked at the sometimes clumsy drawings. There was even an entry from my Mom who gave me the book, from February 24th, 1980. It said how much she loved me. I rediscovered the memory book and started to use it again.

Now there is an entry from Grandpa - a poem he made up, just for me. A couple of drawings from my sisters. An entry from a friend who passed away since. An ex-boyfriend or two. Lots of memories and people passing through the pages. Have you got your memory book yet? Get a hard-cover book with clean pages! Price is about $10 when empty and totally priceless when full!

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Not enough options in life are a problem. Too many options are also a problem but, out of the two, too many options are a better problem than too few options.

A few years ago, suffering from a "not-enough-men-out-there-itis" and ready to be in a relationship, I decided to sign up for the TelePersonals. Oh goodness, I thought, that must mean I am a geek and that everyone responding will be a geek, too. Well, at least there would be a match... I put in my ad, I recorded a telephone response and called back to check for responses after a couple of days. The message said "there are 42 messages for you." At first I figured it was a mistake but, no, there were 42 men who left a message and selling their best qualities over the phone so that I would call back.

Funny enough, I stopped feeling like a geek very quickly. It also occurred to me that, in fact, there are a lot of men out there and it is mainly a matter of meeting enough of them to be able to find the "right" man for who I am the "right" woman. Were there a couple of frogs? Yes, there was one message which I erased immediately and a couple of odd and uncomfortable meetings. However, I did end up seeing someone for close to a year and kept in touch with a couple of the other guys. Geeks? Not at all. Nice guys.

So, what's the point of talking about this? So that you can laugh at my personal history? No, although you can do that too, if you want. The point is that the same process works for anyone who doesn't feel there are enough options. The salesperson with not enough leads. The person with not enough money at the end of the month. The employee feeling that all options to deal with an insanely difficult coworker have been exhausted. What can you do in a similar situation?

1) Identify your strengths and weaknesses regarding the situation you are in. Not enough money? The strengths would be all the skills and abilities you have that you could put to use. Be as specific as you can. List everything. The weaknesses may be limits on your time or lack of a degree that is absolutely required for a job. Spend more time on identifying the strengths - the weaknesses are only to watch out for;

2) Identify what you would want to get. Be as specific as possible. Not enough sales? Get specific on the kind of customer would be ideal. Usually the answer is "rich, kind, with lots of similar friends" - that isn't quite specific enough (even in the personal ad, I was very specific about who I was and the kind of person I was looking for). Often, people will identify this at first by "well, I DON'T want ..." This is good and important to identify as well, and it is equally (and usually much harder) to identify the ideal thing in the positive;

3) Identify where the kinds of people or opportunities that you identified in 2) will be likely to hang out in high numbers. If you are trying to reach an audience, pick the places they go to or something they read. If you are problem-solving, simply brainstorm for as many possible ways to solve the problem - common sense, outside-the-box and off-the-wall;

4) Identify the most effective and efficient delivery of your message from above to your target audience. Make it easy for the options to reach you. And then...

5) Separate the wheat from the chaff. The clearer you were with the first steps, the better quality your options tend to be at this point. To choose the BEST option, go back to 1) and 2) to compare your options to. Does the process sound "too simple"? Often it is. Easy? Another story...

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A long time ago I read an analogy that has stuck with me because of the truth it holds. It talked about a fictional school which teaches three kinds of courses - swimming, flying, and running. The school has three students in it. A fish, an eagle, and a rabbit. Although each of the students excels in one course, each student also flunks the other two courses, very badly in fact. The teachers want to produce "well-rounded" individuals to prepare them for "real-life". It's their job.

What would the result be in such a school? At first, each student would be super proud of their performance in the courses they are naturally suited for. If their teachers remembered, they may praise them for the good job. If their teachers were concerned about keeping their own jobs, they would likely spend a lot of time with the other two "problem" students, trying to help them improve performance at something that was completely unnatural. For example, the eagle would come close to drowning in every swimming lesson.

Maybe the rabbit would be told that flying is where the world is going, that's where the future jobs lie. So he'd be determined to fly and he'd be upset at his own incompetence. His teachers and his report cards would likely support him in that view. If he was smart, he may even learn some ways of cheating the system. Maybe he'd run up the hill as fast as he could (he's good at running, after all...) and then he'd jump off the hill. Might get some low marks and lots of pity. Meanwhile, the eagle would fly with no effort at all. Great for the rabbit's confidence? Unlikely.

Maybe this situation is clearly laughable but it happens all the time. Did you ever take a job that was wrong for you, because it was "in"? Did you feel like the eagle trying to swim, upset at seeing all the fish around you swim happily and easily?

Know yourself and your talents and passions first. If running is what you are best at, there will always be space for a great runner. It may be tougher when running isn't in these days, but a superb runner will always do better than a consistently drowning swimmer!


"When in doubt, make a fool of yourself. There is a microscopically thin line between being brilliantly creative and acting like the most gigantic idiot on earth. So what the hell, leap."
Cynthia Heimel

"When love and skill work together, expect a masterpiece."
John Ruskin


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"Opportunity is missed by most people because it is dressed in overalls and looks like work."
Thomas Edison






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© 2002 Pavla Michaela Polcarova, CPR Coaching Services, Vancouver, BC, Canada