The Elegant Executive Blog

Destructive Delusions #5

5. Others Cause Misery: “My emotional misery comes from external pressures that I have little ability to change.” It’s known as the blame game and most of us participate in pointing fingers at others when the trouble lies within. Most unhappiness and misery is a direct result of the choices we make day to day, year to year. Accepting that we are responsible for our own happiness is the first step toward full fledged adulthood and genuine contentment. When you think the thought, “I’m miserable because of what he or she is doing,” think again, and honestly look at how your thinking…

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Destructive Delusions #4

4. Catastrophize: “When I get very frustrated, treated unfairly or rejected, I have to view things as awful, terrible, horrible and catastrophic.” Drama queens (and kings!) are expert at turning small incidents into big-time disasters. Do you make mole hills into mountains requiring lots of energy and effort? Do you get others into the mix, convincing them of the catastrophy? Check your thinking and if the words “awful, terrible, horrible and catastrophic” come up often, it’s time to regroup and keep things in perspective.

Destructive Delusions #2

2. Making Mistakes: “I must prove thoroughly competent, adequate, and achieving at all times.” Re-read that sentence, and really let it sink in. Now, think about some of the biggest lessons you’ve learned over the course of your life. In each case, I’ll bet you learned more through your mistakes than your accomplishments. To err is human, right? We have good days and bad days, and many days somewhere in between. Give yourself a break when you make mistakes. Admit when you’re wrong, learn from the experience and move on.

The Age of Entitlement

I am fascinated with the concepts of entitlement and it’s evil end, narcissism. After reading Jean Twenge’s book, “The Narcissism Epidemic – Living in the Age of Entitlement,” I have a better understanding of where a lot of bad behavior at work is coming from. In a nutshell, Twenge and her co-author, Keith Campbell, explain: Historically, entitlement meant having a social position or a claim to ownership granted by some legitimate authority. Having a title (or being entitled) meant having a clear claim to a social rank or piece of property, such as being a lord or duke in British…

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Legal Secretaries Say “No-thanks”

Victoria Pynchon’s recent article in Forbes.com ”Women Lawyers and Their Secretaries: An Emotional Sweatshop?” is worthwhile reading for attorneys and support staff alike. Pynchon sites the 2009 survey in which a whopping 50% of legal secretaries said they preferred to work for male partners (35%) and male associates (15%), rather than female partners and associates (3% said they liked working for female associates, none peferred working for female partners and 47% reported “no opinion”). I started my career as a legal secretary at Skadden in the mid 1980s. It was an extremely demanding and stressful job where mistakes were not tolerated. We secretaries worked very…

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No Need to Panic

Former Mayor of New York, Rudy Giuliani, was given some indispensable advice at a young age by his father who told him that in a crisis situation, “Become the calmest person in the room.” Mr. Giuliani credits his father’s words of wisdom for saving his life during the 9-11 World Trade attacks. Ever notice how panic helps no one? And more to the point, it makes the person falling to pieces just look bad. Self-control is the antidote to panic, and the time to practice is before a serious situation arises. The next time you feel yourself unhinging ever so…

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Destructive Delusions #2

2. Making Mistakes: “I must prove thoroughly competent, adequate, and achieving at all times.” Yeah, right. Every waking minute you must be perfect! Thinking like this is a one-way ticket to crazyland. As humans, we have good days and bad, triumphs and failures – it’s called living! Do your best to prepare, think through and execute the best way you know how. Find a mentor who will be honest and straight forward with you and go to this person when you’ve made a mistake and turn whatever happened into a learning experience. And don’t forget, when you fall short, be kind…

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