Staring Mortality in the Face

Some months back, as I was about to leave the house for a 30-minute drive to a church where I was the guest minister, the name of an elderly client appeared on my phone. Not only are these folks clients, but they have been dear friends of mine for over 25 years. “We had to put John in the hospital yesterday and I wanted you to know.” I had recently shared lunch with him, so …

Sibling Conflict, Part II

So, what can we do to bring healing to sibling conflict? First, accountability is a must. As Michelle and I talked more, I learned that her sister was not giving Michelle a regular summary of her mother’s income and expenses.  Secrecy creates mistrust and fuels misunderstanding which ultimately leads to conflict. Most conflict can be managed or avoided when siblings choose to be open with each other.  No secrets! Second, successful sibling relationships check in …

Sibling Conflict

Just before Christmas, a couple came to see me wrestling with an issue facing many adult children. “Michelle’s sister is responsible for her mother’s affairs,” her husband Bob reported. I quickly saw a furrowed brow on the wife and an edge to her husband’s normally smooth voice. The husband continued: “I know she has ‘borrowed’ $50,000 from Michelle’s mom – money her mother will probably never see again – and now we fear she’s slowly …

The Happiness Factor

Forbes, Trip Advisor, the United Nations, and other entities rate countries annually on the “happiness” factor. Costa Rica, Norway, Denmark, Vietnam, and Canada all rate rather high. The United States is somewhere in the mid-20s or lower. This year, ask strangers, friends, and family the question: “Are you happy?” and see what you learn. My guess is that, like asking “How are you doing?”  and hearing “Fine,” people will tell you they are happy, when …

Managing Emotions

Before I answered her call, I recognized the number and knew with pinpoint precision the nature of our conversation. “What are we going to do?” she asked. With remarkable calm, I responded, “What are we going to do about what?” As predicted, the markets were down several hundred points and, laden with emotion, she was convinced I—or we—had to do something. Expected? Of course! Unusual? Not really. No matter the nature of your advisory practice—accounting, …

A Difficult Time of Year

The holiday season is upon us. Thanksgiving is past; Hanukkah and Christmas are here with a speed that defies readiness. With the coming of the seasons’ festivities, we are nourished by good words like family, cheer, love, joy, festivity, lights, decorations, and food. For some, however, these are tough days. Many people struggle through the holiday. For those who suffer from depression, this time of year can be lethal. Depression is an illness that often …

The Power of Admitting a Mistake

Kathie and I are fortunate in many ways. The most obvious is our three adult children and the lives both personal and professional they have crafted for themselves. One of those blessings is the fact I receive some of my very best reading recommendations from them. Such was the case a few weeks ago when Justin placed in my hands Mistakes Were Made (but not by me) by authors Carol Tavris and Elliot Aronson. Published …

What Faces Reveal

When she sat in my office, I could not stop translating her face. The raised eyebrow was saying one thing but the upturned, impish mouth another. What I first sensed was a tough conversation soon turned in to one of the most delightful visits of the day. How do you translate faces? What tools come to mind when deconstructing a frown, a smile, a grimace, even a yawn? Facial recognition software is no longer the …

The Comfort Level Meter

Here’s a test. Scan your file marked “New People Met” and bring to recent memory two or three names, faces, or circumstances when you met someone for the first time. What do you remember about that encounter? What was your first impression? What do you think your first impression was to each of those individuals? Did you glimpse a smile? Was the handshake weak, firm, harsh? What kind of space did you sense the other …

When the Music Stops

The unthinkable has happened yet again. Two weeks ago, on a clear Sunday evening, a joyous crowd of music lovers was assaulted by a madman firing an automatic weapon from a room on the 32nd floor of Las Vegas’ Mandalay Bay hotel. As of this morning, 59 are dead and more than 500 injured. Everyone at that concert and millions more will never experience life going forward quite the way it was when the music …