Category Archives: Show Up Strong

When Using Independent Contractors Goes Too Far | CA AB-5

I’m a huge proponent for Independent Contractors and the “Gig Economy.” Like all good things, there’s a dark side and some who will exploit the concept. 

Some roles are much better, filled with an outside perspective. Some don’t warrant a full-time employee. Other functions may need specialized expertise that doesn’t fit a traditional role and need someone who isn’t part of the “this is how we’ve always done it” push back from the rest of the team. 

Certain people are not built to be full-time employees and do their best work for businesses when they’re free to choose how and where they work and for whom they work. 

The above is where the Gig Economy and Independent Contractors thrive. It creates happier people (society needs a lot more of those) and better-served businesses.

When the above concept is exploited to save on benefits, payroll taxes, and shimmy around employer responsibilities and employee rights, the government has to step in and throw a wrench in the system. 

European countries already have rules against exploiting the Gig Economy, but now California is stepping up to the plate. Companies like Lyft and Uber have been in the crosshairs and helped instigate California’s AB-5

When we need the government to step in, things often go off-kilter. Bills are written without a real on the ground perspective and make things difficult for the very people they’re trying to help. The wording is most often ambiguous and leaves people spending more time figuring out the laws than running their businesses. 

I’m not a fan of over-regulation of businesses, however, when businesses don’t regulate themselves with integrity and fair play, government needs to step in. 

How do we get around more government regulations?

As a business leader yourself, stop patting other business leaders on the back for exploiting people and concepts that work beautifully for millions of people. Peer pressure has a lot to do with a good thing gone bad and the need for burdensome regulations. 

Don’t like more government stepping in to regulate your business? As an independent contractor and business owner, neither do I. The best way to avoid that is not to force their hand.

Act right. Treat people with respect for the value they bring to you and your business. Avoid robbing people of dignity and the ability to support themselves. Engage empathy. Stop trying to impress your peers and shareholders with how much money you made at the expense of society and the people who helped you make that money. 

We’re in business to make money. That’s how we keep the lights on. We’re not in business to exploit people, are we?


Is Your Renaissance Mind Stuck In A Single-Minded World?

Don’t fall for the single-minded B.S. “Jack of all trades, master of none.”  It might be true for most people. However, it doesn’t mean it’s true for all people.

It can be hard to focus on just one thing and do it well when you feel you’re sacrificing or ignoring your other passions and talents in the process.

You’re perfectly capable of hyper-focusing on one thing for hours at a time. You’re also capable of burning out quickly if you feel cemented to that one thing for too long.

Some of us Restless Successfuls, polymaths, and Renaissance minds do our best work when we allow our minds the nourishing and nurturing inspiration from other areas that feed our natural curiosity.

Do one thing and do it well might apply to some people, but not all people. You might be the kind of person who does several things well and with more clarity when you’re free to use all areas where you thrive.

Imagine if Leonardo Da Vinci had been forced to choose one area of interest. If he had said, “I think I’ll just stick to painting” and suppressed his other passions and talents.

What if Richard Branson had said, “I think I’ll just stick to the music industry.”

Some call this having A.D.D., and some consultants would rather pull their bottom lip over their head than to work with people like this (at least that’s what they tell me).

Call me crazy, but I adore working with people like this!  They have always been my favorites to work with and had the most successful outcomes.

They’re life long and passionate learners, not “scatter-brained.”

Understanding how this multifaceted mind works and creating strategies that work with it, not against, makes all the difference. No matter if it’s consulting outcomes, new initiatives, or energizing your team, it’s most beneficial to work with you where you’re most naturally suited.

Some people will get lost if they don’t “stay in their lane.” Some of us get lost if we do.

I’m Not The Boss Of You | Be A Leader Not A Boss

Be a leader not a boss | Show Up Strong | Leadership and employee engagement

The mindset for how to be a leader not a boss is pretty simple, right? I have something that needs to be done. I choose someone to do that “thing” and offer a price for them to do it. If they accept the price I offer, they begin doing the thing(s) I need done.


It’s the same process no matter if it is a freelance graphics designer, consultant, full-time employee, or a contractor building a room edition.


It seems pretty straight forward, until you get human behavior involved.


It is an agreement between two adults.


Do I have the final say on how it’s done? Most likely. Outside of regulations and governing laws, I’m paying for the thing that needs to be don and have to live with the results.  If decisions need to be made that are outside what I outlined in the instructions and parameters for the task, it’s on me to decide.


Will I defer to their expertise and experience for which I chose them? Probably. It’s my job to give them the tools they need, instruct them on the outcome desired, then get out of the way.


I lead. I manage. I give guidance. I don’t own a human. 


I take a strong leadership role by taking responsibility for how well I provide the tools for others to do their job.


When I hire or enter into an agreement with someone, that doesn’t make me lord and master over them. It is an exchange, not ownership.


I can terminate the agreement if I don’t like the job they’re doing.


They can terminate the agreement if I make it difficult, cause or allow the environment to be toxic, and add tasks to the job that were not agreed upon, without adding to their compensation.


If I have an agreement with other people to do other things I need to be done and those people make it difficult for person one to do their job, it’s my responsibility to intervene, as I have the agreement with both.


The boss mindset is antiquated and must be retired.


The word “boss” is derived from the word “master.”  Have you ever known the word “boss” or “master” to evoke feelings of joy and empowerment? Maybe in some situations, but not in any work environment I’ve ever witnessed.


When treating another human being as property or subordinate, it’s demeaning and strips them of their dignity, their worth, their power. That mentality is not conducive to fostering the sought after “engagement” organizations profess to be seeking.


If you want people to enjoy and thrive in their work (your “thing” that needs to be done) give them the tools to do it. Those tools include dignity.


People who can enter into these agreements are adults, making decisions to exchange time and skill for money. When you treat the relationship as such, you get better results for all involved.



I am not your master. I am not the boss of you.


If you feel you need to be someone’s boss and wield power over them, what you really need is to ask yourself why.


What motivates your need to take on a superior role to another person?


Your job in a leadership role is to empower people to do their best. Stripping people of power breads resentment, defiance, lowers mental ability to function at optimal levels, and can even escalate or bring about illness.


Fear motivation will not produce the same results as empowered motivation.


A good leader owns their role. A boss doesn’t.


Will some people slack off and take on an irresponsible childlike behavior? You bet some will. That’s when you take into consideration ending the agreement after you have run through your honest assessment of:


  1. Have they been given clear instruction of what needs to be done, how, and when?
  2. Did  I stick to the agreement of the above or have I or others made adjustments or thrown things into chaos?
  3. Have I created the environment for them to thrive in their role?
  4. Have I given them to tools to do the tasks?
  5. Did I somehow strip them of their dignity and desire to do their best?
  6. Have I allowed other people to interfere with their ability to do the job?
  7. Is it possible my personal judgement or perception of the person has become an obstacle in how I enable them to do their job?


If you have honestly answered “yes” to 1 -4 and “no” to 5 -7, then you find another person to do the “things.” If not, you need to adjust your mindset to your true role as a leader.


The key is being honest about the role you have played. A good leader is someone who can be honest about the role they play in influencing the environment, behaviors, and outcomes.


A boss feels they don’t have to answer to anyone about anything. Bosses get bad results.


My sister recently gave me a pair of socks that read, “You’re Not the Boss of Me” because I decided years ago (okay, decades ago), I am my own master.


I am the boss of me, and I have no ego issues that compel me to ever want to be the boss of you or anyone.

Is There A Jerk Waiting To Stop You On Your Path To Greater Success?

a well dressed man who looks like a jerkDo you ever feel frustrated that you’re not keeping up with or surpassing The Jones’? As a successful person, you know that every second counts and time is money. Anything less than what you expect is costly.


You loathe time wasting and people who don’t meet your expectations. That’s normal when you’ve got your eye on a prize and it feels like people are getting in your way and slowing you down. Why can’t they be as focused and driven as you?


The truth is, The Jones Chasers of the world don’t realize, the jerk getting in their way of happiness, surpassing the Jones’ and hiding in their blind spot, could be themselves.


It’s the in between stages of wealth and success where the jerk can often emerge. When you feel like you’ve made it well above and beyond where you started, but not quite locked in to that position where you feel safe. Better yet, better than.


That fear of losing it all and sliding backward can feel like that last sprint of determinaton and focus to get you past the finish line, while your competition is right on your heels. When you feel like you’re in beast mode. Well, maybe you are and that’s not always a good thing.


As the writer came to the realization in this Fast Company article, Why Not Being a Jerk is Important to Your Happiness and Success, we need to step back from our wild ambition often, to appreciate where we are. We need to appreciate where others are on their journey as well. No need to worry, gratitude will not stop your momentum.


The Uber driver wasn’t trying to destroy your success and drag you down to his income level because he didn’t run the red light. The new employee trying to navigate your wild and unclear ambition isn’t incompetent and trying to destroy your business.  Most likely, it’s the complete opposite.


In my decades of working and playing with the ultra-rich, the homeless, and everything in between, I’ve learned that The Jones’ are an every moving target and there will always be someone who doesn’t care how much success or money you have.


Remember when you were in the position of the person you’re being impatient with, blaming for something out of their control, or just plain being a jerk. Be thankful that they are there, doing the best they can and most likely, whishing you would just say “thank you, I appreciate you doing the best you can.”


It’s easy to make a boat load of money being a jerk. To do it with elegance and grace is what takes strength and skill.


If you want to know if you’re being a jerk, feel free to ask me. I’m not afraid to tell you the truth.


Successful People Don’t Wear Someone Else’s Shoes

business man on beach walking away from his shoes

What’s wrong with success checklists?

How many lists of  ‘how successful people ______’ (fill in the blank) have you read? If you search the internet for “how successful people” in 2015 you would have found 409,000 results and today, in 2019, you will find “About 1,100,000,000 results (0.43 seconds)” . Fill in the blanks with anything from brushing their teeth to where they part their hair and what kind of shoes they wear.

If you think about it, these lists set the rest of the success seeking world up for failure, negative self-talk and low self-esteem. It also sets such high expectations for the ‘successful’ to live up to.

To find successful people that are a mashup of all of these lists  would be as easy to find as the Loch Ness Monster.

If you’re already successful, what do you think when you read these lists? Sure, some of your do’s and don’ts may match, some you may be working on, but do you feel you could put a checkmark next to all  those ‘what successful people do and don’t do‘?

What list you need to subscribe to?

Successful people are human.  We each have our own quirks and flaws. We are not perfect, we are messy in our own way. What we all have in common is this; we became successful because of and in spite of the roles we played in navigating our journey.

Those who continue to stay successful have more times than not, adjusted their behaviors, habits, and roles along the way.

We can both teach and learn from others, take tips, model certain procedures and behaviors, follow a map, however, the map is not the territory or the climate.

We need to realize, we are all a bit different, we all wear different shoes on our path to success. You can imagine being in someone else’s shoes, however,  we all need to navigate through the ups and downs in your own.

The most important checklist is:

  1. Know how to choose the best fit for you
  2. Know which you need to conquer the territory of the day or moment
  3. Know when the time is right to get a different size
  4. Admit if they start to stink and replace them
  5. Never borrow someone else’s shoes, you don’t know where they’ve been


Are You In A Whirlpool Of Negative Events? What Your Brain Needs To Break That Spiral

how to pull out of a downward spiral | Show Up Strong

You’ve heard of being “in a zone,” and it’s usually attributed to doing everything righton a roll, lucky streak…. but did you know your brain can be “in a negative zone“? Most people call it a losing streak, bad luck, lazy, blowing it, depression, pity party, or throwing it all away…. However, what might be happening is a trick the mind plays.

Things in your life and business are going along smoothly; you’re kicking butt; you feel like you can do anything. Suddenly, you’re blindsided, like getting hit across the head with a 2 x 4.

Perhaps you made some decisions that didn’t work out,  maybe you weren’t paying attention or through absolutely no fault of your own, the momentum of being on a roll, abruptly stops.

Like a tsunami, a number of negative emotions slam into you and just keep coming. You become highly stressed, out of control of your world and may even feel helpless, with no safety insight. The more people shove “think positive” down your throat and stabbing you in the heart with “this too shall pass”, the worse you feel.

Those events can feel like someone took your winning lottery ticket and tore it up right in front of your face. This can start a mental trend,  sending your brain into the “Negative Vortex.”

Our brain is most comfortable with patterns and repetition. This makes it easier to function, using less energy and resources. The connections to thoughts, feelings, and chemistry strengthen as they’re used. The more they’re used, the stronger they get. A person’s mental momentum goes in the direction of whatever the current and most recent momentum happens to be.

Our memories of events have extinction levels, so the brain and chemistry remember the most emotionally charged events and recent “win or lose” events. Since our brain hates to lose more than it likes to win; losses, mistakes, bad decisions, bad performance, helpless feelings, etc. stay in the forefront of our memories. The connection to negativity and insecurity gain momentum.

Typically, there’s a domino effect; one stressful situation tips another, then another…. now, your brain has a recent history of feeling emotional, fragile, not in control, insecure, as it might cause another domino to fall. Self-confidence fades and fear sets in.

These scenarios are especially trying and damaging for those without a support system or anyone to throw out a life-preserver. You know the saying, “you find out who your friends are when you’re going through tough times”? It’s true, and that can add even more dominos down. It can be a free-falling death spiral and hard to pull out of.

Here’s how to break that state of the “negative zone.”  List as many of the following as possible until you start to feel that mental state shift.

  • Times you’ve pulled out of a death spiral in the past
  • Strategies you’ve successfully used to turn things around
  • Wins in your life
  • Your strong qualities (strengths)
  • Times you’ve done something adventurous and brave
  • Times someone has looked up to you
  • The resources you have to assist with the situation
  • Times you’ve helped other people succeed or pull out of their free-falling death spiral

That last one can be a triple edged sword, so be mindful of the positive direction we’re going for and be honest with that one.

What this does is assist your brain at breaking the state it’s been in and to start the momentum flowing to your strengths, opportunities, resources, problem-solving abilities, self-esteem, and most of all hope.

The only thing stronger than fear is hope. Allow hope, sparingly! Make sure hope is real and not someone selling you a ‘hope lifesaver’ that turns out to be made of cement.

The above techniques are an accumulation of results from many different studies as well as techniques I’ve developed myself and have proven highly valuable and accurate.


[Does that negative zone happen to everyone? No, it doesn’t. There are certain types of personalities who step up their brains biases to compensate, rationalize, and dramatically exploit the situation to add to their bag of social manipulation tricks. You can see examples of this in The Hidden Roles summary]

Tamara Lee Taylor

I’m Successful, Why Am I Unhappy?

 Original Post-April 19, 2013 

If you’ve expressed being unhappy, depressed, restless, or feeling unsatisfied with your life and/or business and have heard any of the following phrases, how frustrated did you feel?


“What do you have to be unhappy about, look at all you have?”

”You’re nuts, how could you not be happy, you have everything?”

“Do you know how many people wish they had your problems?”

To you and many just like you, this is more normal than you think. You seem to have it all, do you still feel like something’s missing?

You may be wondering why other successful people seem to be so happy and you’re not.

I’ve been there and know plenty of others who have been very wealthy, successful, and perfect; everything looked like a fairy tale but looks can be and often are deceiving.

Depending on your level of unhappiness, restlessness, definition of success and happiness, there may be one or several causes and solutions.

Having help discovering what meaningful and contented success mean to you and devising a strategy to get you there, is the best approach to navigating this territory, as the state of mind, biases, and ingrained belief systems get in the way.

In our society, we’re taught financial success, making the ‘A’ list, having the ideal body type, car, house, significant other and making the right Forbes list… will equal consistent happiness and a life of contentment. While success brings a feeling of accomplishment, it absolutely does not bring permanent happiness, a carefree life of ease and sleeping well at night. If you’re reading this, most likely, you’ve already learned that the hard way.

The more pressure you have from social expectations of who you “should” be and how you “should” feel, the more you feel you need to hide your unhappiness, discontent, and restlessness. You may even start to believe there is something wrong with you. Let me assure you, there is nothing wrong with you for wanting or needing something more. [Being born into money also has its challenges, which I’ll address at another time.] Adjusting to success and wealth has its challenges.

As witnessed in full view, we see celebrities who’ve made it to the top and seem to self-destruct. Most people don’t understand, yet, it makes perfect sense to me and perhaps it does to you too.

Most likely, you were taught success and wealth would make you feel fulfilled, content and happy, then you got there and found out, it’s not all you had imagined. You’ve been sold a lie and that realization can be painful.

That was the goal, the destination we pin our hopes to. If that’s not the cure-all, where do we go from here?

We all have our different needs, desires, pains, end results and intended legacy, it’ll take a little honesty and digging to find what that is. Until then, here are some things to ponder; some things I’ve learned personally and from people I’ve worked with.

I’ve found, it’s almost impossible to teach someone in our society, that has never had an excess of money or been in the top 1% or top .5%, that money does not mean a perfectly happy, content and fulfilling life. It’s hard to explain to someone how in the world success doesn’t mean happiness. I stopped trying.

Is it possible, affluence, financial success and all that comes with it, just magnifies unhappiness? Yes, it is.

When we’re no longer distracted by the stress of survival and the struggles of the average person (paying bills), there’s more time to allow emotional deficits and unmet needs to surface. There’s time to think about self-actualization, deeper meaning, greater impact, what your life means to you and what you really wish you could do with your life.

What you might have to do to truly be who you want to be and do what is meaningful to you can feel frightening. The tug of war between stability and élite status vs. possible risk of losing that can keep people from taking that leap. The tug of war can be brutal. The frustration with the self for not being brave enough can cause extreme depression and anxiety.

Even worse, if you’re successful or affluent, you’re “not allowed” to be unhappy. How many people can you talk to about it? The embarrassment of going to a therapist or even being reported and locked up if you even mention too much unhappiness (depression and extreme depression). Maybe you have, yet the therapist couldn’t possibly understand you either if they have never walked in your highly expensive shoes. Medication and a head nod may be all you get when you’re looking for answers.

Those around you, in your élite circles, may be perfectly happy, they may not understand you either. On the other hand, they too may be deeply unhappy and hiding it, working on it or in some way, medicating it.

You may be highly empathic and altruistic, wanting to use your success for greater social impact, but not sure how to go about doing it. It could be risky if your social and family circles are not at all empathic/empathetic and of the idealist/conscious mindset.

You might feel like you’re standing in a room full of people and if you screamed, nobody would hear you. You are not alone, even though it may feel as though you are.

Here are some tips for dealing with restlessness, unhappiness and unfulfilled needs/wants:

Be mindful where you voice your feelings.

When you’re not feeling fulfilled and happy, talking about it to people who don’t get you is a big mistake!  It only makes you feel worse, right?  Discussing your situation with people barely scraping by, dealing with personal or family health issues (or worse),  about your discontent is an unintended slap in the face to them and more resentment and judgment toward you. That’s not your intention, you’re reaching out to people for support and perhaps, some answers. Unless they’ve walked in your shoes, they’ll never understand. You need to discuss it with someone who isn’t biased and who understands your position.

Understand the concept of the “hedonic treadmill” (hedonic adaptation).

Our contentment, joy, positivity, and happiness have an unconscious setting. We have a nurture/nature set point, no matter how we try to fuel the fire of joy by acquiring more ‘stuff’ and greater levels of success, we adjust to ‘more’ and go back to our set point state.

The new car gives you a dopamine rush for a month or two, the affair might make you feel a rush of feel-good chemicals for a while, the gambling, alcohol, drugs, toys, things….. but you end up going back to that feeling of hunger.

The setpoint is determined by a number of things. Can that set point be changed? Absolutely! As someone who’s been there,  I was able to change mine and that of others. It takes more than a few books and seminars.  In fact, the wrong types of those can make some people worse!

You need to be in the water to learn how to swim. Having someone help you make adjustments in your real life situations, in the world and environment you live in will help you navigate your situation more effectively, safely, calmly and have the most beneficial outcome.

Check for medical (environmental, hormone, chemistry) issues.

Many environmental and medical conditions can wreak havoc on the happiest of people. Having brain chemistry and disruptors tested, as well as checking for adrenal or other issues will be a tremendous help in working through any issues. Knowing your medical environment can make the rest a lot easier to navigate.

If you’ve ruled out medical issues as cause for any discontent and perhaps depression, then it’s time to take an honest look at what it is you really need/want with complete and open discovery of your desired state. Did you get that? Your honest desired state. Happy isn’t a desired state that’s sustainable and not specific to what you need. General life contentment and satisfaction are sustainable, that’s what we’re really after here.

[Let me clarify the word content. Some people may interpret the word to be synonymous with complacent. This is not the case. Content, in this case, is meant as a form of gratitude. Grateful for what one has, grateful for what one has the ability to do, see, be, create…. content with the ebb and flow of life and content with the choices one makes. Content in no way means one stops growing, doing, striving for more, but the “more” is what changes.]

Evaluate your relationships.

Maybe you’re not unhappy, maybe you’re surrounded by a bunch of jerks. Sometimes being in the winners’ circle means being with a bunch of people you don’t like, but it doesn’t have to be that way.

Look at the interactions you have with the people in your life. Have you surrounded yourself with people you thought you ‘should’ be around? Have you outgrown family, partners, and friends? It may be, it’s time for you to have some conversations and make some adjustments.

Evaluate if you’ve been the person collecting the wrong people. There may be a reason for surrounding yourself with people who are not congruent with who you truly are or want to be. If so, discovering the agenda of that hidden role can be a huge game changer.

Dig deep, with honesty and fearlessness.

Is your desired state (content state) to feel truly loved, respected, trusted, safe, at peace, of service to others, to correct an injustice in the world… what is it you really need and want that you don’t have now? What gives you a sense of emotional strength and inner peace at the same time? What do you witness others having in their lives that you wish for your own?

Have a strategic guide, impartial support system, and a sounding board.

To achieve that state it may take some big changes, bold moves or perhaps some minor adjustments. The fear of unknown results keeps people unhappy, uncomfortable, silently miserable and perhaps, using whatever they can to stop feeling anything at all.

Now that you’re in with the élite crowd or have a big overhead and you’ve set a certain expectation of yourself and others have set a certain expectation of you as well, it’s pretty hard to take that leap and risk all that to go for what you really want, without a safety net.

What if you disappoint people? What if you’re disappointed again? Reaching your current social level wasn’t easy, why risk it? It’s worth it, you’re worth it. It’s worth it to know you value your life above all superficial things. It was for me and many others.

Before you implode or spend your life without feeling your real life’s contentment, reach out to people who do get you. If you want confidentiality and someone who will guide you through the unknown territory, I suggest hiring out. You can go it alone, however, I don’t recommend it. I did and wish I’d found someone to guide me, however, I couldn’t find anyone. That’s why I help others navigate through this situation.

Show Up Strong for yourself, as you would for the person you love the most.

If the person you love most in this world were feeling the way you are, how strongly would you stand up for and provide for their needs? Often times, we are kinder to strangers and more giving to others than we are to ourselves. I repeatedly hear or read some version of, “if you could go back in time, what is the one thing you would tell the 20-year-old you?”  I have a different angle.

If you were face to face with the five-year-old you, what would you provide for that child that it needs the most?

Seek to understand your restlessness without the presumption “there’s something wrong with me” and ask what do I need/want/desire that my current lifestyle isn’t giving me?

You do have the means to be successful and happy, content, fulfilled…. anything you want. You may need help understanding how to accomplish that and how to handle the rough patches that come with it.

For The Restless Successful®, it means stepping outside your comfort zone, knowing you have the resources to find what you’re really looking for. What you need is to take a chance on doing something that makes you feel successful/fulfilled/content, not just look the part. We each define our success differently. Start defining your success, then go live it!

Schedule An Appointment Or Consultation

Tamara Lee Taylor
International Advisor To The Restless Successful®  1.949.371.6866

About the Author: 

Tamara is an international leader in human and business performance. Developing high functioning navigational skills in rapidly changing and volatile environments, working with high functioning individuals looking to grow into more meaningful success and leadership roles in their unique situations. Whether leading a growing business of 1,000 or leading their individual lives, she helps them Show Up Strong® in every situation. Their businesses and personal lives gain in the quality of their strengths, growth, and impact.

Does Success Require Being Pretentious?

How often do you find yourself feeling like you need to be polite and spend time interacting with people you really don’t care to be around? Perhaps they make you uncomfortable or maybe they have personality traits you find offensive or toxic.

Given the choice, you would probably never speak to a certain person or group of people again….. but, it’s part of business, family or forced social connections, so you have to.

After all, you wouldn’t want to insult someone by choosing not to have them in your personal or business ecosystems, would you? There could be considerable backlash from people who play certain unfavorable roles if you did choose to eliminate the contact. Am I getting close?

In the business world, it’s a widely held belief that our network is our net worth. What then, does it say about your ‘net worth’  if, deep down inside, you don’t like some or even most of the people in your network?

There came a time when I asked myself that very question. The answer to my own reflection was this; I was behaving no different than the shallow, pretentious and toxic people in my life, that I didn’t want in my life.

If I really didn’t want them in my life, wasn’t I being just as fake and toxic as they were by keeping them around and ‘playing nice’? I was in a position where I felt forced to play nice and tolerate people because that’s what successful people have to do.

It comes with the territory, at least, that’s what I was taught. I must admit,  I never did master holding my tongue when someone was extremely out of line and disrespectful. It took something serious for me to speak up, that’s not being very authentic. Did I ever let people know what I really thought? How I really felt? Who I really was? What I felt was truly important? Rarely, if ever.

That’s when I realized my definition of success does not include:

  1. being painfully uncomfortable with the people in my business/life
  2. spending valuable time with people I find highly toxic and revolting
  3. being pretentious and shallow
  4. suffocating rules dictated by a group, class, institution or gender
  5. faking my smile
  6. selling something I don’t believe in
  7. faking my belief system/values

If I came to be successful through pretension, if I have to be someone I’m not, I’m not really successful! I’m a slave to the pretension of success!

I felt the success was a fraud and so was I.  That’s when I decided to redefine what it means to be successful and the way I would navigate my new path and version of success.

[This pretentious blind spot can be one of the many contributions to being successful and unhappy, instead of successful and satisfied.]

One of the widely held beliefs in the business and personal world is the need to be, what equates to, pretentious. Pretentiousness is veiled in networking, social etiquette and growing a sphere of influence, justifying it with the belief that’s the way to build relationships, influence, and success. Somewhere along the way, we lost sight of the difference in genuine relationships and the real meaning of success.

We all have our own unique meaning of success, however, I’ve never heard anyone define success as “spending time with people I don’t like and trying really hard to impress people”.

If I discover a person I’m connected with in some way, displays toxic behavior, I choose not to allow them into my ecosystem, my circle or sphere of influence. That does make a lot of people with toxic personalities a lot more toxic and angry, it may even cause them to plant little toxic seeds out in the world about me, yet, I no longer engage with trying to clean up the mess they create. I do not engage with toxic people and their behavior. That’s not in my definition of success. My new success is based on authenticity.

I may slip up once in a while and bend to the expectation or fear of not being accepted, but then, I go right back to my new rules of engagement. I realize I have a choice in how I live my life and who I spend my time with.

I’ve been told many times, that kind of success is unobtainable; I need to lower my standards. I choose not to believe that as truth.

As long as I know my achievements, connections, relationships, and smile are authentic and genuine, I am successful. When I can spend my time with people I enjoy, people I trust, people I like, I am successful. When I wake up every day, doing what I love and making a positive impact for the money I earn, I’m successful. If I know my successes and accomplishments didn’t come from sacrificing my authenticity, I’m a success!

So, the answer to the original question; NO, I don’t believe success requires pretension. Pretension to me is failure.

About the Author: 

Tamara is an international leader in human and business performance. Developing high functioning navigational skills in rapidly changing and volatile environments, working with high functioning individuals looking to grow into more meaningful success and leadership roles in their unique situations. Whether leading a growing business of 1,000 or leading their individual lives, she helps them Show Up Strong® in every situation. Their businesses and personal lives gain in the quality of their strengths, growth, and impact.


Tamara is very responsive if you have a problem. She jumped in to help solve a conflict at a critical point in what would be our biggest initiative to date. Getting both sides to adjust our expectations and see the wins from different angles proved successful.

I recommend Tamara strongly. I also suggest that you make sure you’re ready to get what you ask for.   Unlike other professionals, she doesn’t force you into a template or process that takes way too long for busy executives.  She quickly and insightfully pulls what’s important and gets to the point.”

Why Don’t You Have Your Shit Together?

Yesterday, someone said to me they thought a person their age was supposed to have it all figured out and have their shit together by now. Have you ever felt that way?

While I understand the need for us humans to have goals and markers along the path of life to keep us motivated, it’s often demotivating to compare; especially when what we’re using as a comparison is an illusion. 

How often do you find yourself comparing your life to the life other people appear to have? 

Comparing your life to where you “should be” at your age or with your education, experience, success, relationship, etc… Comparing your life to the lives everyone else seems to be living.

Have you ever found yourself thinking if you were only strong, more disciplined, or [fill in the blank] enough to follow the countless lists of “things people with their shit together do,” you too could have it all together?

There’s an endless supply of those lists for every aspect of our lives; you just need to follow the recipe. Right?

Life and recipes don’t work that way.

Not everyone starts with the same ingredients.

Not everyone has access to the same quality ingredients.

Not everyone has the same tools to work with or in the same working order.

Not everyone was given a gourmet kitchen with Julia Childs as a mentor growing up.

Not everyone has had a Wreck-It Ralph come through their kitchen, destroying everything they worked hard to achieve.

Not everyone was taught how to substitute ingredients to make the dish work.

Not everyone chose a recipe that was good for them, not knowing until it made them ill. 

Cut yourself some slack. But don’t slack off. 

Our decisions and behaviors can and often do influence our circumstances.

Take responsibility for the role you play in circumstances that have caused your detours and setbacks. 

 Our circumstances influence and can often dictate where we are in life.

Where your circumstances have landed you in life does not define you, it defines your new starting point.

 What we do with those circumstances determines the life we have. 

Work diligently to improve the roles you play that contribute to your circumstances.

Either let go of who or what contributed to, caused, or completely blindsided you, or use the experience as a tool for building your future. 

The length of recovery time can vary, depending on the ingredients in which one has, the needed assistance one has, and the amount of influence or control one has over the interfering circumstances.  

The cycle of disruption repeats throughout our lives, no matter who we are. Learn how to dance with it.

The best things we can do for ourselves when assessing where we are in life:

 Stay focused on what is meaningful to you, not social expectations. 

 Stop shoulding yourself. Every person is different and so is their position in life. 

 Do the best we can with what we have. You know if you’re being lazy or making excuses. If you are, find out why then fix it.

 Have compassion for ourselves, while staying motivated to continuously improve. It’s easy for some of us to beat ourselves up over every little thing we could have done better but that’s not learning, it’s self-abuse.  

No matter how much it looks like people have their “shit together,” life is cyclical for everyone.  It’s how we navigate it that makes the difference.

Facing A Failure For The First Time

dealing with failure | show up strong

Maybe you’re used to getting a trophy, just for showing up. Not because everyone got one, but because you were used to always winning, always succeeding, always outperforming. You were used to landing on your feet, no matter what challenge was in front of you.

Maybe success came easy, maybe you put forth more effort than others, maybe you were smarter, more educated, knew the right people… Maybe you were lucky (or strategically) happened to be in the right place at the right time. Whatever the reason, winning and succeeding was your “normal”.

Something changed and your normal turned into unfamiliar territory.  I’m not talking about small mishaps, mistakes, and blunders. You’ve most likely experienced those before, but they didn’t really register, as you danced on by to your victory. What I’m talking about is a series of roadblocks, defeats, and failures at every turn.

When you’ve gone from, always figuring out how to succeed, to feeling like you must have left your brain somewhere and can’t seem to find it, you are most likely at a loss for what to do next.

It happens to the best of the best, we just rarely hear about it. How you approach this novel situation can be an enormous learning experience in adaptability or it can become a domino tipping moment. You can keep fighting against this new era, trying to use the same strategies you always have, with the same mindset and hope it was just a fluke and success will magically appear again. I don’t recommend that approach.

What happens when we’re used to succeeding is, we get comfortable in our groove. We can over credit ourselves with just being genius or superior in some way and can get a little cocky in our abilities. People see you as the invincible super-hero and so do you. Just like the unsinkable Titanic.

We can zone in on what we’re doing and tune out what’s happening in the rest of the world; we get tunnel vision. We don’t notice the shifts in society, the economy, and the marketplace or our relationships. We miss the red flags. Worse yet, we are so confident in our ability to get the trophy, we stop looking for the red flags, ways to improve our KSA’s to stay in top form.

We often don’t notice things in our lives that may be hindering our abilities, until it drops on us like a ton of bricks or a blind side by a 2×4.

Learn to make peace with failure, know many great successes have come from failure and let your strategic growth begin. You will come out of this a stronger, wiser and more aware person.

Take a step back from it all and toggle between being inside your head and looking at you and the situation from an outside perspective, objectively. 

  • Look at all the big successes and wins you’ve had, to find some common themes. Think meticulously about what went through your mind before, during, and after those successes and when you hit minor snags (if any). What were your approach and strategy? What’s different now? What are some of the tools you used, that you can bring with you on this journey and what are obsolete?
  • If events or an event, outside your control, has caused your mind and success strategy to go off track, be firm, but gentle with yourself. If this is your first encounter with big failure, it’s okay to feel a little sorry for yourself, but don’t expect anyone else to. You’ve never really had to lick your wounds like this before, give yourself a brief moment now and then to feel that sting and mourn the loss of your superpowers. Keep in mind, those who befriended you through attraction to your success will most likely bail on you when you need some help. Those people, more than likely, resented your success and will revel in your struggle. Watching you crash and burn may be a long time fantasy of theirs, where they now have the higher position. You’ll find out who your real friends are.
  • Think about the mindset you used when approaching a new challenge? When we’re confident and secure in our abilities, we typically approach a challenge with a positive mindset, we’re focused on what we will do right, not what we’ll do wrong. Behaviors follow where we’re focused.If you’re hitting a wall, each hit puts a ding in your confidence, making changes to your focus and causing a less positive approach. Get yourself back into that confident mindset as often and as quickly as possible, no matter how defeated and insecure you may feel.
  • How did you handle speed bumps during your winning streak? Look for the ways in which you navigated around problems. Did you have a small network of people to call upon to help you or did you have an army? Did you take to the books or internet to find solutions and upgrade your skills? Think about how you got yourself out of rough spots before.
  • If the linear successes have been a product of right place-right time, having money to see you through or having the right connections, perhaps you’ve got some training or learning to do. You may need to develop new skills and create some new strategies and/or put in more effort now than you’re used to. Never rule out the reality that you may not really be as good as you think you are or your skills and knowledge have become obsolete or ubiquitous.
  • Occasionally, Superhero’s forget they’re human and need support. It’s easy to feel invincible when you always have been. With a lot of success and “invincibleness” we can get a bit lazy about taking care of ourselves. We can forget that age does take a toll on our capabilities, physically and mentally, if we do not nurture the hell out of our body and brain. Run through a checklist of your diet, your mental and physical exercise routine, your social and home life stress or bliss. Stress, diet, lack of exercise, lack of socialization, lack of novel experiences and age wreak havoc on our cognitive abilities. The hippocampus, the main learning areas of the brain, as well as the executive functioning and production of new neurons are impaired, if not damaged, under those conditions. That makes your ability to creatively maneuver your way around and through problems more difficult. Make sure you’re taking care of yourself, to take care of your situation.
  • Consult an outside source, not close to or attached to your situation. Your ecosystem of colleagues, family, friends, and groups can be apprehensive to offer honest feedback and may be short on unbiased strategies and suggestions. We typically surround ourselves with like-minded and same-knowledge types, this can be a more comforting situation, but it won’t get you a new strategic approach to your problems. It’s best to go outside your ecosystem to discover a novel approach to your dilemma. It can be even more demoralizing to admit to our ecosystem, that you really need help. You may feel as though confiding in those close to you, will forever damage their opinion of you. That’s where an outside source comes in.

To Show Up Strong in this situation takes a willingness to do something different, look at yourself objectively, taking care of yourself, making changes in your approach and seeking guidance or consult with someone who is skilled in the art of crisis navigation.

As tough as this first time struggle may be, it doesn’t have to last. You know how to succeed, you’ve done it many times before, you just might need to modify your approach.