The Less Than Default Switch

After hearing similar narratives during different coaching sessions, a pattern became clear.

Different people, same narratives.

Different issues, same descriptions.

Different positions, same struggles.

“I want to write, I would love to write, but I am not good enough compared to him/her.”

“Other people in the office seem to have their act together, but not me.”

“I am not as [insert word here] as her/him.”

“That [job, career, relationship, achievement] is for someone else, not me.”

“I’m sorry…[not always for anything specific, but a response to lots of circumstances or conflicts, even when they are not at fault].”

An image of a switch came to my mind. A switch buried deep within their being that was stuck on the Less Than setting by default.

Neutral Switch_Less than

The Less Than Default Switch.

No matter what actually is occurring in their lives, the switch in this position interprets them as being Less Than others. When they achieve something great, accomplish a goal, or create something amazing, the switch discounts all of it.

Even worse, when thinking about trying something new, striving for a goal, or being creative, the Less Than Default Switch short-circuits the motivation to try.

I mentioned the switch.

Surprise. Revelation. A few tears.

“Just for a moment, imagine that switch. See it in the Less Than position…Now, turn the switch to Neutral.”


“Just think about what you could do, accomplish, try, achieve, create, or pursue now that your switch is in the Neutral position.”


Neutral Switch

Listen, to yourself and those around you. If your Less Than Default Switch is active, go ahead and give that knob a turn. Move it to Neutral. If someone around has the switch on Less Than, help them move their knob as well.

Over time, Neutral can become your new default setting.

No more discounting.

No more comparison.

Just you; allowing your gifts, talents, creativity, and art to flow.


Customer Service Coaching and the Salad


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While eating at a restaurant while traveling, an interesting customer service interaction unfolded that I could not ignore. As the three people at the adjacent table received their food, I noticed one of them make a face and explain to the staff that something was in the salad. Something that should not be in a salad.

The plate was removed, and the other two people shared their food until a replacement meal arrived. You couldn’t help but notice a pretty thorough examination of the second salad. It was declared clean, and the meal continued.

I gave my salad a close look when it arrived as well.

Although the meal continued, you could not help but notice how this interaction somehow tainted what would normally be a pleasant lunch. Whatever topics that would have filled their time together, had been replaced by a salad and service.

The bill arrived. Redness appeared on faces and necks. Conversation intensity increased.

I could only guess that the salad remained on the bill, and no gesture was made to make up for the prior issue. One of them pulled out their credit card and placed it down with the bill.

I got up and walked over.

“Sorry to bother you, but customer service is an interest of mine, talk to you for a minute?”

They agreed, but were still a little stunned/agitated by the whole lunch interaction. I explained that I witnessed and was aware of what had transpired.

“What is really upsetting is not that the salad remained on the bill, it was the indifferent attitude of the staff. We explained what happened, and instead of apologizing, they simply said ‘ok’ and took the salad away.”

I encouraged them to speak up. Talk to the manager or someone to explain what happened. Typically, a business only hears from 4 percent of their dissatisfied customers. That means for every 100 times you drop the ball, only 4 people will tell you.

Never assume that the absence of complaints equates to satisfaction.

That doesn’t mean your customers are not telling someone. Despite not talking to you, those same dissatisfied customers will tell 8 to 10 other people about their interaction, and some will tell up to 20. With social media, now they can tell hundreds or thousands of people.

They spoke up. I watched a manager come over to talk to them, and a new bill arrived. Their tone, and demeanor changed. They smiled, and prepared to leave.

“We told them that we needed to talk about the bill and the lunch experience, now that we had been coached on customer service.”

We laughed and shook hands as they left.

Things will go wrong with your customers. You will make a mistake, or fail especially when things are hectic or busy. How you treat you customers when you make that mistake can makes all the difference.



Keep in mind, there may be others coaching your customers to make you better as well.

Running as a Team

It was an afternoon where the temperature hovered close to freezing when our small group of four decided to run together for the first time. We work together. We talk about running together.

Why not run together?

Running can be pretty solitary.

Running can be you, a pair of shoes, and the road ahead.

Thomas Hobbes described life in a way that a lot of people would describe running: solitary, poor, nasty, brutish, and short.

When you run alone, no one sees you fail.

When you run alone, no one sees your flaws.

When you run alone, no one sees you stop on the hill.

Despite the insecurity, the fears, a larger question develops.

Why run together?

When you run together, you share in each others successes.

When you run together, your flaws (that only you notice anyway) seem smaller as the laughter and encouragement arrives.

When you run together, hills seem smaller when you are side by side.

Our team has grown to six, and will grow again next month. Each member of the running team is different.

We run various paces and distances depending on the day, but everyone is running a little faster and a little longer than when we first started.

Life and running doesn’t always have to be as Hobbes described. Maybe he just needed to be part of a team.

Transactional or Relational?

Transactional is taking orders, processing materials, and enforcing rules or procedures.

Relational is meeting a need, asking and knowing, and providing solutions.

Transactional can be short-sighted.

Relational sees the whole picture.

Transactional says “the rules are rules.”

Relational says “I see where an exception may be in order.”

Transactional says, “Thank you for shopping or placing that order.”

Relational says, “Thank you for placing your trust in us or partnering with us.”

Transactional is easy.

Relational is hard.

Transactional is clean.

Relational is messy.

Rusty Connections


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A friend recently reached out to make sure we were okay. Nothing specific happened, just a little time passed since we last connected.

“Are we okay?”

“Yes. Why, do you think something is wrong?”

“No, just sometimes when time passes our connections get a little rusty.”

Rusty Connections. As time passes things don’t move with the same fluidity. There can be resistance or breakdown. Sometimes, things just stop working.

Our relationships and our connections with others can get rusty. They may have become stiff and lack the flexibility they once had. The passage of time may have caused them to stop working the same way they did years ago.

There is good news. With effort, many of these Rusty Connections can move again. That effort may take the form of a phone call, a text or email, or even a letter (see below). But remember, a rusty hinge doesn’t return to its original state. Time has passed, and it will move again but in a slightly different way. Perhaps with a little more effort.

(I have a good friend who is single-handedly attempting to bring back the written correspondence approach, and I applaud and am participating in this effort. Why not give it a try?)

Habit Residue

Coffee Residue

We all have Habits.

Certain things we do that are a recurring pattern. Some we enjoy and are positive in our lives. Others are not great for us, and we struggle with changing them.

Habits become wired in our brains so we can focus on other more important aspects of our lives. Try to be more aware the next time you brush your teeth, take a shower, or get dressed, watch how this pattern of brushing, washing and dressing unfolds. The odds are you have a Habit that follows a pattern.

However, breaking a prior habit and re-wiring something new takes time and effort. In the first few weeks of trying something new, the old Habit tries to reestablish its dominance.

While helping someone establish a new Habit and replace and old one, they became frustrated when the old Habit returned.

“It seems to be back. I am trying.”

“You have made a lot of progress, maybe that is just the Habit Residue.”

“What are you taking about?”

“You know, what is left behind after something is gone. After I drink my coffee, there is coffee residue in the mug. The coffee is gone, I can still smell it, but the actual coffee is no longer here.”

We laughed and they were able to move forward. Somehow putting the Habit Residue in its place made it seem less powerful, less able to reassert itself back in their life.

What Habits are not working for you? What areas of your life, work, home, or relationships could use some new patterns?

Changing these Habits may not be easy, especially when the Habit Residue pretends to be the real thing. Putting the Habit Residue in its place may be a good place to start.