The 10 Keys To Staying Grounded (and true to yourself)

“Don’t follow leaders, watch your parking meter” Bob Dylan, “Subterranean Homesick Blues”


Let me offer a toast to your career success from a familiar Irish blessing:

May the road rise up to meet you,

May the wind be at your back,

May the sun shine warm upon your face and the rains fall soft upon your fields…

And to assure that you are fully protected…

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“Guided Meditations for Difficult Times” Jack Kornfield: Review

I highly recommend the audio book version of “Guided Meditations for Difficult Times: A Lamp in the Darkness” by Jack Kornfield.

Having read a good deal of his work, Kornfield has emerged as one of my favorite writers and speakers in the Buddhism/mindfulness genre. Based on my experience listening to Guided Meditations, I signed up for a five day JK retreat which I completed two weeks ago at “Kripalu” in Lenox, Ma.

The meditations that make up this short book are designed to help listeners face life’s unavoidable painful experiences – heartbreak, illness, death – using mindfulness and related practices. Like a wise mentor, his guidance and insights connect with the listener, and have a reassuring and soothing impact. Kornfield successfully translates his background and experience as a psychologist, ordained Buddhist monk, psychotherapist, teacher, and leader into highly accessible, user friendly and deeply nourishing written and spoken teachings. I should say that I listened to the book during “good” times. I was on vacation sitting on the porch overlooking a lake in Vermont. But just like “you don’t have to be Jewish to love Levi’s (rye bread)”, you don’t have to be suffering (or a Buddhist) to love Kornfield’s meditations.

Each of the meditations are twenty to twenty five minutes and preceded by interesting and useful comments about the meditation. Each of the guided meditations starts with instructions that anyone can follow. So no experience in mindfulness, Buddhism or meditation is required to enjoy the book. As in his other work, Kornfield’s meditations are enriched with stories, allegories, and teachings from the Buddha, Bible, ancient and contemporary poetry, and his psychotherapy and teaching experiences. The meditations come across as spiritual but secular – no asking you to believe in the supernatural.

Despite the ribbing self-help books get in our rugged individualist culture, the enormous and growing audience for this genre reflects the extent to which people are starving to death in our “all you can eat” world, for meaning, connection, and peace of mind. Books like the ones Jack Kornfield writes are only as good as the connection the reader or listener feels with the writer. There is a genuine equanimity in his voice, pacing and writing style which I find common to people who have had thousands of hours of contemplative meditation practice. This gives him a soothing and charismatic fatherly “presence” that cultivates a deep trust with the listener/reader and creates the effect of feeling “held” and safe.

Jack’s meditations approach life’s most painful and threatening challenges with the quiet strength, wisdom and reassuring voice of a horse whisperer approaching a dangerous stallion.

Empowered Life Strategies

Empowered Life Strategies Logogiving and getting the most out of life as it unfolds, moment by moment, just as it is, just as we are.


Steven Lurie, Ph.D.

Through his coaching, workshops, psychotherapy and teaching, Dr. Lurie has helped provide thousands of individuals with the self-awareness, communication and relationship building tools essential to giving the most to, and getting the most from life, moment-to-moment just as it is. His “Connecting Style Survey” workshops, and books, Handbook for Early Career Success , and Connect for Success: Using Connecting Styles to Make Workplace Relationships Work for You  have already been incorporated into training programs at leading universities, healthcare institutions and organizations including NYU, KPMG, Prudential Financial, JPMorgan Chase, UBS, NYSE-Euronext, Queens Hospital Center, Jacobi Hospital, Albert Einstein School of Medicine,, Five Towns College and Adelphi University.

Dr. Lurie founded the leadership development firm Lurie Executive Development in 1986, which specializes in coaching, team building, and collaborative change management. He recently started Empowered Life Strategies and Publishing to make those personal and interpersonal development workshops proven to be most beneficial, available to anyone and everyone.

Dr. Lurie teaches at NYU and Adelphi Universities and is invited to speak and lead workshops regularly around the country.   He earned a B.A. in psychology from Brandeis University in 1975, and a Ph.D. in psychology from Adelphi University, where he then completed a four-year postdoctoral program in psychotherapy.

Seven Tips to GIVE UP Anxiety

These 7 tips suggested by Barry McDonagh, former panic sufferer, mindfulness educator, and founder of the self-help site called “Panicaway” are worth a look.

“Sometimes the fastest healing with an anxiety problem happens when we learn to stop doing something rather than start doing something.  For example when we learn to stop resisting the anxious thoughts and feelings, we can dramatically reduce the intensity of the anxiety we feel.

Here are 7 things to GIVE UP in order to end anxiety.

  1. Give up your resistance to the anxious bodily sensations you feel.   (Allow them to be present through acceptance)
  2. Give up the thoughts that say ‘I can’t handle this’. (You can–your body can.)
  3. Give up thinking there is something mentally wrong with you. (Anxiety is the result of an over sensitized nervous system)
  4. Give up your need to micro-manage your body. (Your body is amazing -trust it to do its job)
  5. Give up being so hard on yourself.  (You are doing so well for dealing with this -you are truly brave)
  6. Give up seeing anxiety as a curse. (You will grow stronger as a result of this)
  7. Give up thinking your anxiety will last forever.  (It won’t)”

The Power of Pause

“We desire to be happy and at peace, but when our emotions are aroused, somehow the methods we use to achieve this happiness only make us more miserable.” from Taking the Leap: Freeing Ourselves From Old Habits and Fears, Pema Chodron, edited by Sandy Boucher, 2010, Shambala Press

Reacting to a frustrating or provocative situation or person when the fight-flight hormones are still coursing through your brain is like driving when drunk.  Not only do you pose a danger to yourself and others, but the judgment and impulse control required to refrain from engaging the wheel or person, is also impaired.  Even if you are lucky enough to avoid disaster, at the very least, you can be assured that whatever point you wanted to get across will be lost, as your emotional overreaction becomes the center of attention.  It’s a lose-lose.

When you find yourself in in fight-flight and about to act, which for most humans (but especially Energizers and Drivers), is likely to be several times a day — the simple act of pausing can interrupt your reaction before it takes shape.  A three second pause, especially when accompanied by a deep breath is accessible to us at even the highest levels of emotional arousal, and creates enough of a gap to allow us get back to present moment where we can:

  1. Notice what’s happening from different perspectives – especially that of the object of our frustration
  2. Pay attention to the thoughts, emotions and physical feelings happening “now”
  3. Consider other ways of understanding the situation that might be less personally threatening
  4. Become aware of what you really want (besides hurting another person or proving you are right), and  whether your planned reaction is going to get you there.

Pausing can even open us to our hearts and allow our emotional intelligence, natural kindness, and compassion to influence our response.

Try pausing for a few seconds and taking a deep breath right now.  What was that like for you?

If this is something you want to incorporate, try using the pause button at least once today at even the slightest hint of frustration or stress, and see where it takes you.  As a reminder try hanging the word “Pause” on the fridge or wherever else you are likely to see it.

If you want to read more about “the pause”, I have really enjoyed Tara Brach’s writing on the subject. Here is a link to a recent blog,  “The Sacred Pause”.

Mindfulness: What, How, and Why.

I have spent a great deal of time thinking and writing about mindfulness but I still have not found a more effective way of introducing mindfulness than sharing these engaging video introductions.

“Whats this Meditating Thing?” ,  Meditation and Letting Go, and Benefits of Meditation were written and narrated by Tibetan Monk Andy Puddicombe (no longer in robes).  Andy is cofounder of which offers an awesome 365 day online meditation series.

Teaching Mindfulness to Children At Home or in School, is aimed at children, but speaks to people of all ages.  It is short, simple, spot-on and plays out like a situation comedy explanation of mindfulness.

Hope you enjoy them.


10 Tips To Achieving The Ideal Internship Mindset

The student-employee role played by the intern provides a unique opportunity to learn lessons about the workplace and yourself that will serve you throughout your career.  The tips that follow will prepare you with the mindset necessary to the make the most of that opportunity.
  1. Be an anthropologist, not a missionary.
    1. Be a curious, open, respectful, and nonjudgmental invited guest.
    2. Employees have strong opinions about people and things and you may develop strong opinions as well. It is very important not to voice strong opinions (like the missionary), take a side in an issue or make unsolicited suggestions, since you don’t know who may feel insulted or resentful.  Instead, cultivate your curiosity and focus your mental energies on understand all the factors that drive different opinions.
  2. Despite any promises and job or program descriptions, assume nothing and be prepared for anything
  3. Insist on not insisting on anything
  4. Set expectations based on reality – not the other way aroundAppreciate all opportunities and stay positive, positive, positive
  5. Do the best you can – that’s all you can do
  6. Be aware of yourself as an interconnected part of a community
  7. Welcome frustrating experiences
    1. Insist on learning from adversity
    2. Notice your thoughts and feelings in response to the various situations and interactions you experience. Learn what pushes your buttons and gets you to overreact
    3. The most important learning outcome is the ability to experience everything around you without fighting, fleeing or freezing.
  8. Those mundane tasks that seem beneath you are a great opportunity to distinguish yourself.
  9. Give and get the most out of every role and relationship
  10. Keep a journal of your experiences, challenges, and lessons learned.
Cultivating and maintaining these habits take time and discipline.  No human being can adhere to these standards for very long, especially under pressure when your survival instincts will be push you toward defensive action and reaction.  Its best to think of these as aspirational values that can keep you on course.
Whatever time and energy you commit to achieving this mindset wont be wasted since it stays pretty much the same throughout your career!

Coaching “Drivers”


The men and women who occupy many of corporate America’s most influential leadership positions ascend to those roles based on their decisiveness, drive for success and ability to achieve results in challenging, high-risk environments.

The other side of the mental toughness Drivers[1] bring to the organizations they lead is the tendency to avoid acknowledging and engaging with the emotional or human element. When threatened, their strong bias toward action, combined with the lack of mindful awareness of what’s going on internally, their motivation and uncertainty puts them at risk for making emotionally driven decisions that hurt their careers and the organizations they lead.

An Executive Coach with highly developed emotional intelligence can be invaluable to reckless driving drivers if they can engage their interest long enough to introduce them to the strange new world of feelings, needs, and emotions – in other words building up their empathic side.   For several mostly obvious reasons, drivers are not natural candidates for coaching, and when they do wind up working with a coach, it is only after trying and failing and trying and failing repeatedly on their own.

Drivers are often unaware of their impact on others. Being quite self-confident and self-reliant, they rarely ask for feedback about how others experience them. Their aggressive nature and intimidating body language in response to feedback discourages others from offering honest feedback. So it is not unusual when there is a considerable gap between their self-perceptions and the perceptions others have of them.

In fact, while drivers have a long history of secretly or not so secretly feeling contempt coaching and those who take advantage of it, once they connect with a coach, their experience can be quite profound.  Drivers often suffer emotionally – feeling alone, unloved, empty, needy for intimacy, understanding, being taken care of – but like other pain, learn to live with and ignore it.  That’s just how warriors roll.  So when they make a connection to someone they can respect and trust – someone who listens and makes them feel understood and able to talk about their pain, they can keep it going indefinitely.

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“The Inside Story on Teen Girls” – Highly Recommended

I highly recommend The Inside Story on Teen Girls published by the American Psychological Association. This very useful, straightforward and trustworthy parenting resource  helps prepare parents for many of the challenges they may face during this emotional rollercoaster phase of development.  Provides insights and tools that can help keep parents from feeling overwhelmed, guilty, anxious, and unnecessarily at odds with their daughters.

Covers topics related to the article I wrote earlier this year on the role parents can play in helping their teens and twenty somethings as they go off to college and career.

Attention Energizers: Robin Williams Reveals the Secret to Success

For video, click image

Robin Williams’ description of the two behavioral changes most critical to his development as an actor, captures the secret to success for all Energizers.

(View Video, then continue reading below.)

Mr. Williams’ experience illustrates the formula for how one moves from “comfort-zone” to “sweet-spot.”  The more you incorporate the qualities of your opposite style – in his case, Analytical – the more powerfully you will connect with your audience.

As simple as “stick with the script” and “listen” may sound, there is a constant gravitational pull away from those behaviors based, in part, on well-established neural pathways in the brain formed by a lifetime of repetition of the same behavior.

The good news is that we now know from several years of brain research findings, that with enough repetition of new habits, we can change the brain’s wiring!