Throw Out Fifty Things

Monday Morning Motivator-THE MESS INSIDE...



Remember Rex Harrison as Professor Higgins in “My Fair Lady”? His delightful, tongue in cheek rendition of the song, “Why Can’t a Woman Be More Like a Man?!” popped into my head the other day. (Probably because of the barrage of controversial commentary about Sheryl Sandberg’s book, Lean In.. Actually, I’m trying to decide if she would - or wouldn’t - like that song..) One of my favorite lines near the end is, “Straightening up their hair is all they ever do! Why can’t they straighten up...the mess that’s inside?!”  As an executive and life coach, I can tell you that “the mess that’s inside” - what I call “emotional debris” or “life plaque” - is something we all (men are just as messy as women, btw..) have to “straighten up” on a regular basis...if we are committed to moving forward into the next - and why not best? - segment of our lives. My mantra is: You can’t grow if you don’t let go. And of course, that goes for both the physical and the mental “mess.” 


And it’s spring: The perfect time to “straighten up.” And speaking of the physical mess, If you haven’t been already, you’re about to be bombarded by everybody and their mother telling you - in every conceivable medium - how to de-clutter your drawers, cupboards, closets, attics, garages, refrigerators, medicine chests, and anything else you can get your hands on. And I’m all for it. Hint: Start with the drawer in the kitchen. You know that drawer..  In the March 10th NYTimes “Sunday Review” section, Graham Hill (founder of describes his having cleared everything “non essential" from his life because, as he said, “The many things I consumed ended up consuming me.”  And if you’ve read, Throw Out Fifty Things, you know I’ve offered more than my two cent’s worth, as well. And here’s the good news: When you get all warmed up clearing out the physical debris, you can use your new found energy to tackle the “mess inside.” Because that’s the mess that’ll sap your energy, cramp your confidence, curb your enthusiasm, wreak havoc with your best and brightest possibilities and definitely keep you from “leaning in.” And we absolutely can’t allow that. Not now. Not ever. So here are "Seven Steps to Straightening Up the Mental Mess.” And not surprisingly, they all revolve around letting go...


1. Let go of the old, negative decisions you’ve made about yourself; all the stuff you’re just "not good at:" not good coping with change, not good organizing your finances, not good managing stress, not good standing up in front of people and speaking (boy, do I hear a lot of that..)  Was that stuff written on your birth certificate? Doubt it. Dump it.


2. Let go of the old fears:  that you’re not smart enough, bold enough, young enough, rich enough, talented enough, thin enough, “famous” enough...Enough! Let go of the fear of failing (the only people who don’t fail are the ones who don’t get in the game) the fear of looking foolish (the only people who don’t look foolish at some point are the ones who don’t show us their passion... and just for the record, passion wins...)


3. Let go of thinking you’d better wait....wait for it to all go back to the way it was (you could wait a lifetime..) Wait for the children to be older (your son’s thirty for Pete’s sake..) Wait for them to “get it” about you (they won’t; not until you show them and tell them) Wait to be invited (just show up...and show up big. Remember “The Wedding Crashers?” Just kidding. Sort of.)


4. Let go of thinking that everyone has to like you. They won’t. But, guess what? If enough people love ya, the ones who don’t, don’t matter! Just ask Donald Trump, Lady Gaga, Martha Stewart, or NYC's own, Mayor Bloomberg...


5. Let go of assuming the worst: "It won’t work." "They’ll never let me.” “They’ve probably already chosen somebody else..." Don’t make “not knowing” into “not getting.”  You’ll deplete your optimism when you need it most. Plus, people who expect the best get more of it than those who don’t. (That’s a fact.)


6. Let go of the old regrets; that stuff that keeps you awake at 2:30 in the morning: the time you blew it, missed the mark, should’ve seen it coming, said the wrong thing (or didn’t say anything) made the wrong decision (or didn’t make one..) It’s done. Over. Press “delete.” Now.


7. Let go of people who remember only the bad times; not the good ones; the people who caution you to play small - so you won’t be “hurt” or “disappointed.” This is your life we’re talking about, not some movie you’re watching. You’re the writer, producer and director. And you play the lead.... Play it for all you’re worth.


Back to Sheryl Sandberg. As you’ve heard, her husband told her when she was offered the spot at Facebook, that no man would accept the first offer; that she should go back and negotiate. She did. Guess that worked out pretty well.. But listen, she makes some really good points in her book. Take what works for you. And as for Professor Higgins (speaking of advice from men) maybe he makes some good points, too. Or not. Take a

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