Stickin’ it to “the Man”: A Cautionary Tale of (Self) Sabotage, Wasted Energy, and Really Strong Cleaning Products

Many people are familiar with the term “saboteur” – a person who secretly and intentionally destroys property or equipment belonging to another. In the context of coaching, a saboteur is an “inner voice” (often negative) that often articulates seemingly logical roadblocks which in the end, prevent you from taking bold action in pursuit of your dreams. As a coach I help people come up with strategies to recognize and overcome their saboteurs so they can find the energy and a way to “make things happen” – getting them closer to fulfilling their goals.


That big hammer? Many saboteurs are a bit more subtle.

The following story, however, is an example of what can happen when we let the saboteur run rampant. Unfortunately, it is all true!

A little over three years ago, in the far-away land of England, a 41-year old mid-level employee at a global marketing research firm was denied a pay raise. While understandably upset, the employee decided at that point that he needed to take action, and put his considerable skills to work devising a plan. And while his plan involved staying in his current position at his current pay, he committed himself to it, knowing that he would be rewarded for his diligence and determination. What do you think that plan might have been? What type of plan would you commit to when faced with a similar setback?


Maybe it’s time for a clean slate.

Well, if your plan didn’t involve spraying caustic chemicals into company computers over a span of three years, you weren’t on the same wavelength as Mr. Edward Sobolewski. That’s right, his plan was revenge. Rather than look inwardly to address some of the issues in his own life (which he did finally share in court – just before being sentenced to 8 months in prison on top of a $16,000 fine), he decided to destroy £32,000 (that’s a lot of £s – just over $50,000) worth of his employer’s computer equipment over a three year period.  Not in a fit of rage after being denied his raise, not three months later after some other boardroom slight, but slowly, thoughtfully, and deliberately from 2009 until he was eventually caught in 2012. While that is one of the longest acts of workplace (self) destruction I have heard of, the real shame is in what could have been. What if he had turned that energy into improving himself instead of harming others? What if he had turned his focus into pursuing an outside interest that would have made him happy, instead of a long-term covert action campaign that would land him in jail (with much diminished employment prospects)?


Using art to stick it to The Man – unlikely to land you in jail.

It’s a little too late for Ed to confront his saboteurs, but not for us. Despite Jack Black’s entertaining “you can’t win” rant (the “live” version of the .gif image above) from “School of Rock”, he manages to succeed by focusing his energy on what he really wants, not really by trying to “fight the man” (although it is a recurring theme).

Where is your energy directed? Who are you fighting? The Man? Or maybe yourself?



photo credits:

Bugs Bunny Gremlin –

Spray Bottle –

School of Rock .gif – tumblr

Science Says: Stress out and be helpful – it’s good for you!!

Want to live a longer, healthier life? Researchers in California who recently updated the results of a longevity study begun in 1921 (yes, 90+ years ago) have come up with some advice for those who do, and it may fly in the face of what many of us have been taught:

“The people who said, ‘I don’t stress, I take it easy, I retire early,’ – those were the people who tended to die at a young age.


Yes. Seriously.

Well there goes my plan – totally not cool! Thank you very much smart people from  Stanford University and the University of California. Now I need to hone my road rage skills and work until I die.

Wait a minute, that’s not what it means at all! What they’re really telling us is that a little worry is a good thing, just don’t overdo it (Moderation? Balance? What’s that?). The idea of eustress vs distress. And although it is pronounced “you stress”, it may not mean what you think it means.


No. It does not. Nor does “Dessert Sue” serve eustress.

Okay – I kind of figured that already. A little stress is what “gets us going”, gives us the “edge” we need to perform at our best and to be ready for action when sharpness and alertness really counts, like here:


No stress, no rescue of Princess Peach. It’s that simple.

The most interesting part of the research (for me, anyhow) suggests that people who lived a more worthwhile and socially responsible life, helping others, being involved with other people and in their community groups, lived longer.

Huzzah! New plan: develop eustress around helping others, live forever. Maybe not physically, but certainly in the hearts and minds of those I am able to help along the way. Even if the theory doesn’t pan out, I will have hopefully left the world a better place.

So what will you stress about today? You-stress … see what I did there?




Check out the full article here: BBC News – The science of a long life.

photo credits:

Seriously? face –

Futurama Fry –

Super Mario Bros. “Boss Fight” –

Which door do you choose?

So I’m turning Who/What/Where/When/Why Wednesday around and asking you a question instead. Several questions, actually:


Pick a door, any door …

Good choices all, especially for fantasy buffs. While I am a fan of magic, knights, elves, wizards, dragons, dwarves, and of course hobbits (and pirates!  Mustn’t forget them!), I like to keep my doors a bit more realistic.  I choose this one:


Totally real. And bigger on the inside.

Who couldn’t use their very own TARDIS (Time and Relative Dimension in Space machine for the non-Whovians among us)?

Anyhow – which door would you choose? What other doors should be on the list? Where do they go? Go as deep (or as shallow) as you’d like. Most importantly – have the courage to open it up and step through!




photo credits:

Door Quiz:

Tardis Door:

Is Your Zombie Plan Better than Your Life Plan?

Quick – what’s your Zombie Plan?

Some of you have no idea what I am talking about. Many of you know exactly what I am talking about. Here’s a quick, Halo-themed recap of what zombie plans are all about, brought to you by the fine folks at Rooster Teeth. A few years old but worth a watch – shockingly profanity free and only a wee bit of innuendo during the ending credits: Zombie PSA.


Coming soon to a street near you? Probably not.

As crazy as the rise of the undead sounds (or maybe not – I won’t judge), it seems like another one of those highly unlikely scenarios that people choose to spend their time worrying about (like that giant asteroid, efficient government, or trying to figure out how to spend your lottery winnings). So much so that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have an official page for the Zombie Apocalypse (okay – it’s really a bait and switch for all-hazards planning, but that’s not my point), and just last month the British Government released its own national level zombie plan. Yes, yes – they were kind of joking too, but here’s some food for thought (brain food?): it’s easier to find help making a zombie plan than it is to make a life plan. has “zombie plan” consistently beating “life plan” by as much as 2 to 1. What’s up with that?


I’ll bet you Larry has a zombie plan though …

So that leads to the question: How am I spending my time? Am I planning (and living) my life according to my own values, or am I planning/worrying about what everybody else is worried about?  Hopefully more of the former – I’ll keep watch for the latter.  And for the zombies.



photo credits:

Zombie Sign: Austin Statesman online – Jan 28, 2009

Life Plan Cartoon: Ned & Larry @


Why Procrastination is Good for You

So I was going to blog about this book – “Wait: The Useful Art of Procrastination” – earlier, but never got around to reading it.


That’s a GOOD BOY!

See what I did there?

So, next best thing – here is an interview with the author, Frank Partnoy: Why Procrastination is Good for You | Science & Nature | Smithsonian Magazine. Defining the differences between “mindless” and  “intentional” procrastination should be a big help to those of us who never seem to get to “the important things”, or when working with clients who just have too much “other stuff” to do. The key understanding is that when procrastinating with intent, you WILL be taking action, it is simply a matter of knowing exactly WHEN. The author argues that taking action too quickly often has disastrous consequences, and thus waiting until the last possible moment to make that decision results in better outcomes.

Makes sense, but at the same time I worry that this will provide the perfect excuse to putting things off until that “perfect” time, or otherwise lending support to saboteurs. Read with caution. But, you know. When you’re ready.


What? Can’t a sister have a little fun every once in a while?



photo credits:

Book Cover –
Nun playing solitaire – via photopin cc

One Gene To Rule Them All?

Recently, researchers announced that they have discovered the “Leadership Gene” – a genetic marker (otherwise known as rs4950) which seems to identify a person’s “innate predisposition” to occupy a “leadership role”. The report, in all of its scientific glory, can be found here: – The Leadership Quarterly – Born to lead? A twin design and genetic association study of leadership role occupancy.


Just because you are pointing the way doesn’t mean everyone is following.

Since I am a “leadership guy”, I looked through this study and immediately noted a few things:

  1. Genetic studies have lots of big words.
  2. The folks who conducted this study seem to know their stuff when it comes to identifying genetic markers and conducting studies. Of course this is coming from a Political Science major who last took a biology class in the mid to late 80’s. (But I got a 5 on the AP Exam!)
  3. While they may also know their stuff about leadership – I am hesitant to call what they have found a “leadership gene” (as most media outlets have labeled it). My biggest issue lies with how they determined if someone was occupying a leadership role: by asking them if they were a supervisor or not!

I understand you need a “clean” definition for a good study. The researchers understood the limitations of such a definition, and made it very clear that “leadership role occupancy” is only one aspect of one type of leadership, and that environmental factors (such as training, for example) play a huge role in an individual’s development as a leader. Unfortunately, when a study like this hits the news, they don’t talk about the shift leader at your local fast food joint. Names like Martin Luther King, Ghandi, and Churchill get thrown about. Newspapers talk about whether your genetics will make you “Born to Rule”, or whether you will wind up as a “manager or a minion” (from the UK’s Independent).


Who couldn’t use a few minions?

As much as that hype bothers me, it is nothing compared to the thought of how this type of information will play out. Will companies start testing employees before investing time and money in their development (laws against genetic discrimination notwithstanding)? Will the question, “Do I really have what it takes?” have an actual answer? (Note: It already does – you do.) Are you a “real” leader if you don’t have rs4950 in your genetic code? Like any good research effort, this one has identified the need for more research, but I wonder to what end? Wouldn’t it be better to research the outwardly focused, “teachable” characteristics of leaders and leadership rather than further identifying genetic markers of leaders after the fact? I like to think so.



photo credits: lumaxart via photopin cc, and Universal Pictures/Illumination Entertainment

Secret Ingredient for Success

A client recently shared this article from the NY Times with me. It really sums up my belief that each of us has the answers to whatever “issue” we’re dealing with. It’s just a matter of looking closely, and honestly, at everything we are (or aren’t) doing/being: Secret Ingredient for Success –


“Momma always said life was like a bowl of noodles.”
Wait a minute…

What assumptions do you need to challenge about yourself in order to get where you want to be? Can any of us truly challenge ourselves, or do we always need “another set of eyes”?



photo credit: SodanieChea via photopin cc