Business and Life Patterns Patterns

What is your Overall Life Satisfaction?

Many of us stop and pause during certain times of the year to think about our how content we are with our lives…or our OLS quotient.  It may be at the end of the year, the beginning, or for that matter any time when events make us want to stop and think deeper.

What is an OLS?

It’s your Overall Life Satisfaction quotient. It’s about how content you are with your life right now. Is it all you want it to be? How are you handling stress? How do you make your day more fulfilling, more fun? How are relationships more rewarding?

Here is a simple Overall Life Satisfaction test to see where you are right now.

Rate each of the following on a scale of 1-10 (10 being the best; 5 being not bad, could be better; 1 being rather bleak). Do this quickly and don’t over-think it).

Is your life:

Amazing ____

Creative ____

Challenging ____

Blissful _____

Exciting _____

Fulfilling ____

Powerful ____

Add all the scores and then divide by 7

Okay, all done. Now for what you need or don’t need.

What is your overall Life Satisfaction score?

If your score is 8 or above, you are in a super good spot. Go do something else, don’t even bother reading the rest of this blog.

Did you score under 7? Read on….

You are in a pattern rut. You can do with an emotional make-over. Here is an assignment to get you going in a new direction and move into new territory.  If you want a more amazing, creative, challenging, blissful, exciting, fulfilling, and powerful life you must engage your brain in a new way.

Some call it “thinking outside of the box,” I call it being “pattern aware.”

You just must do one thing, that’s right, just one thing to begin the process for positive change. Pick from the following list. And remember, all you need to do for a system to change is begin with one small shift into an improved overall Life Satisfaction score.

  • Take a different route to work (even if it takes longer)
  • Go to a new restaurant for lunch or dinner (eat something new)
  • Come to work an hour earlier or later or leave an hour earlier or later (stop to smell the roses)
  • Talk with a co-worker you don’t like very much (ask questions)
  • Take a cup of java to your boss and chat for a few minutes (ask questions)
  • Read a magazine cover to cover that is different from you interests (about cooking if you love motorcycles and about motorcycles, if you love cooking)
  • Text an old friend to check in (ask questions)

You get the idea. Just do one thing you would not ordinarily do. Add to the above list. These are just ideas for you to consider. Make up your own. Make a list of 25. Do one each day for several weeks and just see what happens.

It’s about looking at your life from a different perspective with new eyes – you might be pleasantly surprised with the opportunities that come your way when you get out of your pattern rut.

And, of course, remember, an amazing life is not one where the sun shines every day. That would cause a drought. Rain, cloudy days, stress, and disappointment are also part of the richness of growth and development.

Here’s another way to continue to do strength training and become the best you can be. Buy a copy of Don’t Bring It To Work, send us the receipt, and we will send you a complimentary copy of the Pattern Aware Success Guide that gives you three months of exercises to help you improve your leadership and have a higher Overall Life Satisfaction score.

Here’s to the best you ever,


Business and Life Patterns Leadership Patterns

Transforming Splitters into Peacemakers

Identifying and transforming splitters into peacemakers is the topic of this post.  As you’ll see in my story, they can be tricky to spot and oftentimes it isn’t until they’ve done their dirty work.

Did you ever get sucked into some juicy gossip and then see it backfire? UG! That’s what happened to me. And while I’m so embarrassed, it’s such a good learning moment.

I had an employee who was always telling me how wonderful I am. She would smile such a sweet smile and say “You are so smart and perceptive. I bet you can always tell when people are lying or being deceptive.”

I would stand up straighter, nod my head in the affirmative, and say with profound modesty “Yup.”

Then Janice would tell me about all the issues with the staff that happened when I was traveling around the country to work with teams and leaders.

Her response was always, “You know how much I care about you. Don’t worry, I’ve got your back.”

Listen, if you ever hear those words from someone, I beg you, be careful.

They sound soothing. Yet, real BS.

Finally, a staff member and I were having coffee, just taking a peaceful break and she said, “I hear you and Janice are at odds with each other.”

I guess at times of surprise I’m not so eloquent. I looked at Lois and merely went, “Huh?”

Then I got an earful about everything I ever did that was not perfect, actually everything I ever did that was, well, merely human.

And suddenly, it hit me. I had been lulled into dreamland by a splitter.

In my defense, I always teach that the splitter is the hardest pattern to observe and the hardest pattern to transform.

Here’s why: Splitters are especially insidious because they are so hard to spot. They’re always so congenial and helpful (at least to your face). They always want to protect you and be there when needed.

Transforming splitters into peacemakers, is it possible?

Watch this short video and see what I have to say.

OKAY, you’re wondering what did I do?

I had to call several on my leadership team and ask the pointed questions that were hard to ask and listen to answers that made me sad and uncomfortable.

I had missed the mark by a mile.

Truth telling is freeing. Just remember, sometimes you must dig for the truth. It’s worth it. The thick veil of pollution I had been feeling lately began to lift.

Next, was my discussion with Janice. It didn’t go very well. She claimed I was tormenting her with my questions and was going to sue saying it was a hostile work environment.

She did quit. I was lucky. Her husband was going to be transferred to another part of the country. Our HR partner spoke with her and in a kind way simply told her it would be best to just leave since there were so many who would come forward to respond to her “splitting ways.”

This is one battle never won. From what I hear she leaves shards of glass wherever she goes. Often splitters grew up in families where they learned very early you had to take sides, and yet neither side had any safety. Thus, you play people off to never get caught being the one to get yelled at.  

I still hope.

You see, splitters who do see the light of day can transform to become peacemakers. That is my wish for her. She is talented and could be a great force for good. I just missed the signals.

Business Business and Life Patterns Leadership Leadership Styles Patterns

How to know if he or she is a denier

I recently received a curious email asking for help. Most of the time I get questions about work and leadership issues. This one is a bit different however it does fit into the patterns I’ve been discussing on the blog here.

Dear Dr. Sylvia,

You know that last week was Valentine’s Day. Well, you know, and I know. I am recently divorced and one of my co-workers (actually, my supervisor) asked me to go to dinner with him. He is also divorced, and I made sure there was nothing behind the screen for me to worry about. All looked good.

So, I said yes.

We were at a posh place in town and there were hearts filled with Belgian chocolate on each table as a gift from the chef. The maître d wished us a happy Valentine’s Day as he seated us. The wait staff all smiled and talked about the perfect weather for Valentine’s Day.

Got the picture.

Then Mr. Very Smart began making some comments about not knowing it was Valentine’s Day and wondering what the fuss was about. Onto other topics. He commented that the very cold weather in the Eastern U.S. proved all those jerks wrong about global warming. He later said he hadn’t seen his ex-wife nor his teen age children for over a year.

I was getting uncomfortable.

His reason was they were fine without him and children don’t really need two parents.

OK, my question, “Does he fit the description of the denier in your pattern model? If yes, is there hope for him? Can he change? He’s drop dead gorgeous and on his way to a big promotion and when he doesn’t sound like a dumb jerk he’s fun and engaging.”


No Time to Waste

Let me tackle the pattern first. Yes, to the denier in him. He’s great at blocking out what is going on in the world (i.e. Valentine’s Day when the whole country is painted in roses, chocolate hearts and red balloons) and global warming which is bigger than a winter snow storm and cold temperatures).

Mostly, I worry about how easily he dismissed his children’s need for their dad. Guess if you got deep into a relationship with him he could dismiss you and your needs pretty fast also.

Deniers often grew up where there was so much turmoil they simply pulled the curtain down and turned to noise off for the sake of survival. And never got out of the place of fear and mistrust.

This video will help a bit.

My question is, how many warning signs do you need to stop you from what could be a painful partnership? That is, unless he is willing to do some heavy emotional lifting to change. You see, Dear, No Time to Waste, unless you are willing to live in a fantasy world with Mr. very Smart, you are destined to a world of disappointment.

Perhaps this video will help.




Business Business and Life Patterns Conflict Resolutions Leadership Leadership Styles Patterns

Are you an avoider or initiator at work?

Are you (or someone you know) an avoider?  You know…when there is conflict, contention, carrying-on in a nasty way that doesn’t stop, do you ever think “I gotta get outta here?”

We all have that feeling at some time. However, when it happens over and over it’s a powerful behavior pattern…the avoider.

Avoiders often grew up in families where dissension and disagreement never got resolved. In worst case situations, it became violent with physical or verbal abuse, hitting with hands or with words. In other cases (actually, equally as bad) it was the silent treatment with icicles and frozen one word meaningless responses.

Those I coach who wear the avoider jacket tell of hiding from the unpleasantness of the adults by going to a vacant room and closing the door and putting their hands over their ears or getting out of the house just to get some quiet.

Think for a minute about how your family handled conflict.

                                         Was it a continuous blame game?

                                         Was it pushed under the rug?

                                         Wat it resolved by negotiation?

                                         Was it ended by agreeing to disagree?

                                         Was it left hanging in the air?

                                         Was it handled with respect or dissing?

There is a gender issue here also. More often than not, guys want to get the hell away from an angry woman. And women want resolution, or at least want to be heard and acknowledged.

At work avoiders are absolutely aware of contentious issues, they just don’t want to face them. So you will hear “I’ll get back to you,” or “Let me think about it,” or “Let’s let it work itself out.”

Want to know how to talk with an avoider? Watch the video here:

The good news about transformed avoiders is they are amazing at flipping that run-away energy into becoming initiators. They start the dialogue to have difficult conversations and they stay with it to resolution with out judgement, blame or attack. They become the go-to individuals when stuff gets out of hand. They make amazing leaders who are admired and revered.


Business Business and Life Patterns Leadership Patterns

Transforming the martyr to the integrator

Imagine what it’s like to work from dawn till, no not dusk, till the middle of the night. Imagine if you do this while you have a background program in your head saying “Worry, the catastrophe is about to happen.”

Even when there’s no big deal issue there are those whose first love is to see impending doom.

Welcome to the world of the martyr.

We had a martyr work for our company and she made Debbie Downer look like a first rate happy go lucky fun gal.

Janine was always first in and last out of the office. She ate lunch, if in fact she ever took the time to chow down a sandwich or salad, while working, working, working. And then….. complain about her indigestion…. to everyone.

While she did get a great deal done each day there was a cost. It was listening to her bitch and complain about too much to do and never enough time. Yet, when she was offered help, she refused. “No” she would say with a weary sigh, “It’s something only I can do!”

Martyrs suck the energy from any office. They want to appear as “servant leaders” yet, in reality, they make everything harder and slower.

Martyrs are nervous individuals who have a huge need to be needed. Not just needed, be someone you depend on and cannot, absolutely cannot be without. It’s called job security.

The more you want to get help for them the more they will chew up those who may, just may, be as good as or better at their job.

Here is how you know you have a martyr in your midst. They will bring in homemade cookies. So far, that’s a good offering. However, they will make sure you know they did this at 2am when they couldn’t sleep because they worried about work that had to be done.

Often, the pattern from childhood is one of being discounted or ignored by parents and they spend all their time wanting someone to tell them how great they are….. over and over and over. It’s like a bottomless emotional pit that can never be filled.

If you work with (or live with) a martyr, watch the video below for some ideas on how to help them see the rut they have created.

The good news is that martyrs, once transformed, take all the pent -up energy pleading for recognition and turn it into being a great team leader. They become, ta dah, integrators who know how to divide tasks so everyone participates to help each other. Whew, that sure sounds good, feels good and looks good. A team with a transformed martyr will make miracles happen and have fun at the same time.

And, just so you know, no martyr buttons allowed, only integrator buttons that say “E Pluribus Unum.” You know, “From many, one.”

Ok…. This is a bit of a stretch, however, it really works. The martyr brings together people to work effectively so all are included. Who would you give an integrator button to?

Business Business and Life Patterns Leadership Patterns

Why being a clown just doesn’t work

What happens at work when meetings get tense?

Does the team leader call for a break? Is there simply a deafening silence for a few minutes and then you just keep plodding on, ignoring the elephant in the room? Or does someone jump in with a joke, hoping to warm the frigid emotions?

Let me share a story that happened a few weeks ago at a meeting that perfectly illustrates the clown pattern at play.

After you read about how the tension was relieved, think about how you would have handled being in charge.

Here’s the scene: Dan, a jovial marketing expert, was known for his wit. He often jumped in when two or three individuals were throwing verbal darts at each other. This particular day, one of the strong and very opinionated women was under attack.

Dan waited till there was a short silence and said “Hey, you guys, this tension reminds me of a story I heard about a woman who killed her husband. Not just killed, she chopped him into pieces. The note in the house entry was that she had had enough. He never listened and for the umptenth time she told him NOT to walk on the newly washed hallway and kitchen floors and, well, he ignored her once too often.

The police arrived at the house and called into headquarters. We’re ready to look for the culprit. Response from headquarters, “What are you waiting for?” Response from police on site “We’re waiting for the floors to dry.”

What do you think was the reaction from the team of ten?

Meet Dan, a perfect example of the clown pattern.

Sometimes humor is the best way to drive a point home. It can communicate ideas that are serious in a lighthearted way. My question to you is, “How was Dan’s timing?”

The answer. The guys on the team laughed. The gals were furious. Instead of moving forward this team had to take a break and meet several days later when tempers cooled. Dan was asked by the VP to please, please not make any more jokes like the one from the other day.

The major work for those who have the clown pattern is to become a humorist.

Watch the video below and find out the best way to give effective feedback to those “Clowns” when they show up

The difference is all in the timing.

In my book “Don’t Bring It To Work” on pages 141-142 you can learn about how Mark Twain became a great model of how to use humor in difficult situations.

Let me know if you have any great jokes that can help lower the tension in meetings.

Business Business and Life Patterns Patterns

How to become an elegant truth teller instead of a people pleaser

Are you worried that too many of your employees are people pleasers who do whatever you say and never speak up or challenge you?

When this happens, stagnation sets in and creativity is nowhere to be found.

Of course, you want your team to all row together and be collaborative. However, if you have a bunch of lemmings – those who blindly follow the crowd – even to catastrophe, as the myth of lemmings goes (they jump off cliffs, well, just because others do), you won’t be able to stay competitive in this fast- paced world.

Pleasers want to fit in and this desire leads them to become intensely self-conscious. One pleaser I know was so proud of a butterfly tattoo she put on her ankle to be “in” with her work team (they were butterfly tattoo addicted because of their logo). However, she said it was painful and would never do it again. That is, until the new trend came to put a different butterfly on the back of her neck.

Yes, she did.

Being “part of the crowd” and saying “yes” to just about everything is the people pleaser way.

Transforming this pattern is what the world needs now. Pleasers become truth tellers. They care about what other people think, yet not at the expense of their own integrity. Truth tellers talk in simple sentences, without lecturing or grandstanding. They don’t change their minds just to pacify someone, although they are willing to adjust their opinions when the facts warrant it.

Take a few minutes to watch this short video where I give tips that will help you quickly identify those people pleasers and help them make the shift.

Truth tellers are not a populous species, yet they pack quite a punch. Oprah Winfrey was recently awarded the Cecil B. DeMille Lifetime Achievement Award at the Golden Globes.

Here is her speech, a model of truth-telling in its most elegant form.

Also, check out my column about the dilemma of social media and the addiction of teens who are the consummate people pleasers to be part of the biggest trend in the world of our growing youngsters.

We really need to band together to change what can be a bigger and more destructive epidemic than opioids.

As always, your comments and questions are welcome here! 

Let me know if you agree with my take on why it’s so important to be a truth teller rather than a people pleaser.

Business and Life Patterns Conflict Resolutions Leadership Leadership Styles Patterns

How to harness the drama queen and turn it into story telling

One of the main behavior patterns that is showing up strong these days is the Drama King/Queen.

So many people have emailed me, just this week, asking how to harness the excess noise that comes with drama people at work and home. And the most frustrated are those who see how social media can become a disturbing force and make the drama even more intense.

First, I’d like to disclose that this pattern is one I know all too well. I know how to have Academy Award hissy fits when I don’t get my way. Actually, I USED to have noisy, disruptive blow-outs on a regular basis until….

That’s what I want to discuss. For each of the patterns, 13 in all, that I believe are the key ones that show up in every workplace as well as in every family. There’s really good news that with a bit of strength training they can be transformed to their healthy and positive opposite. You want to find your primary pattern?

Take the quiz. Better yet, take the quiz >>HERE<< and then contact us.

The Drama King/Queen was often pushed to the side as a kid. There may have been other siblings that got more attention (my brother in my case) and the main way to be heard and seen was to create a fuss, a loud fuss.

It usually works (it did for me) and I became an expert at getting my way, just to “shut me up.” This lasted into adulthood until I started to get feedback that I was “acting lik a child.” (more like acting like an ass).

Here’s what I found and those of you out there with the drama-thing, pay attention. I learned to transform my bragging, sobbing, demanding, and annoying behavior into being a really good storyteller.

That way, I can still get attention, in a positive way. I’ve learned to tell stories that have meaning and yet, still let me be front and center and keep the adrenaline rushing through my system.

I promise, when you harness the drama and turn it into story telling everyone you know at work and at home will hear you better and love you more.

Business Business and Life Patterns Growth Leadership Leadership Styles Patterns

Let’s vision 2018 as a year of hope

Here is my wish for you, for all of us, as we get ready to release the old and ring in the new.

Would you say its been a roller coaster year?

It’s hard to process all the political dramas, climate challenges with hurricanes and fires, terrorist attacks, sexual harassment allegations, along with the usual concerns with traffic congestion, higher food prices, new tax possibilities, and whatever else you choose to add to the list.

I would like to tell you a quick story about Pandora and the box she was told not to open. It will be less than a minute.

In ancient Greek mythology this story was used to discuss the weaknesses of humans and the misfortunes that occur in our species.

Pandora in Greek means “the one who bears all gifts.”

Now, just like any curious person, Pandora was told the box contained special gifts. Yet, she was directed NOT to open the box. Talk about a dilemma. What would you do?

She, like most of us, finally opened the box. And in “a New York minute,” all the evils of the world were released. She did what I think most of us would do.

She was scared and closed the box as fast as she could

Then she heard a voice in the box pleading to be let out. Finally, not sure what to do, she did open the box.

And what flew out was HOPE.

There are many versions of this myth. This is the one I choose to hold close to my heart. When all looks bleak and almost impossible, hope is often all we have. It’s the feeling that something desired can be had or will happen.

It’s the ability to vision a better way.

It’s about those who gave hope to people who lost everything in the hurricanes and fires. It’s the ability to reach out and help someone…. just because.

Let’s start to vision 2018 as a year of hope and taking that hope and acting upon it, each and everyone of us. To build bridges, smile at a stranger, share the bounty, take the words of newly elected Alabama Senator, Doug Jones when he quoted Dr. Marin Luther King “the moral arc of the universe is long, but it bends toward justice.”

Herb and I would like to share the words of our mascot, Willy the Wombat, giving us hope and helping us see clearly how we are all connected.


Enjoy and let’s vision a fantastic New Year. Best, Sylvia

Business and Life Patterns Leadership Patterns

How to effectively say “No More” to the persecutor

Here’s how the Persecutor (aka bully) stays in charge until someone (as in you) or (as in me) says STOP.

First a true story:

Dina told me in our coaching session that she did not think of herself as pretty. A bit overweight and with, as she said, dull, wispy hair she was always one of the last to be picked for teams in school and the last to be sought out at school dances to slide gracefully around the room with a prince charming.

When her boss would wink at her and tell semi stupid and semi lewd jokes she would laugh with delight.

At least someone was paying attention to her.

She felt seen and heard.

That was all she needed.

And then, the boundaries started to loosen. He would make demands on her, sometimes raising his voice and other times sweet talking with more stupid jokes. Eventually, his hands would casually swat her on her rump. Later you will see how Dina decided to face her fear and take a stand.

First, from my book “Don’t Bring It to Work” you can see that big shot persecutors are all cut from a similar cloth. They are bullies who love to control and micromanage. They tend to display contempt for others, usually through verbal abuse and sheer exploitation.

Sexual harassment is simply taking what is theirs to begin with, or so they think.

How did these men (and women) become the way they are?

First, let’s add to the list of difficult behavior. And while I’m outlining, think of who you know who behaves this way, or maybe even look into a mirror.

Persecutors need to:

  • Feel important
  • Dominate conversations
  • Talk about themselves all the time
  • Find fault with others
  • Don’t admit mistakes
  • Point fingers of blame
  • Enjoy watching people fail
  • Withhold information
  • Ignore any degree of protocol or etiquette

I have spent years looking for the antidote to the persecutors poison. First, the need to understand. I didn’t’ say forgive, I said understand.

Persecutors and bullies were not born into the role. Oh no, it was something they learned at a very young age.

Often, they had little alternative than to fight to be heard. They are afraid that if they show their “soft side” they will be annihilated. They had parents or caretakers who beat the crap out of them.

The other side of the persecutor-bully is that they had parents who were unavailable and gave over their adult responsibilities to the son or daughter who jumped in to take care of their siblings. In this way, the bully learned to make demands to get things done.

They learned to boss other around and it became the internal pattern for success. No matter what they look like physically, they see themselves and are seen by others as “large and in charge.”

In this video you can learn how to talk with a persecutor and begin the process of helping them change into a visionary leader.

Think of it this way, they are often wagging their index finger at you in their nasty manner. If they can just take all that angry energy and point their finger upwards, they can transform to become a visionary.
Most of the time they know a better way, they are just caught in old baggage that weighs them down.

Now, back to Dina.

Once she was able to see her bully boss as a kid who had the wright of the world on his shoulders and who didn’t have a clue on how to behave kindly she stopped being furious. She did go to human resources with a complaint. But wait, there’s more. She also, with an HR representative, decided to talk with her boss directly. She told him how uncomfortable he made her feel and also acknowledged that he had to now begin to sort out why he acted the way he did.

Initially it looked like either she would be fired or he would have to leave.

Because of her courage to address the issue and not let it fester for years, she grew stronger and he had a choice to seek counseling if he was to stay in his job.

Within a year, Dina was promoted, not to get her away from her boss, she was promoted because she had the courage of her convictions to say what she meant and do what she said.

And her boss, he was held accountable and yet, given the opportunity to change his ways.

They don’t see much of each other anymore. However, they both acknowledge that their relationship changed both of them for the better.