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Accumulative Advantage
In his book Outliers: The Story of Success, Malcolm Gladwell describes the concept. “It is those who are successful, in other words, who are most likely to be given the kinds of special opportunities that lead to further success. It’s the best students who get the best teaching and most attention. It’s the rich who get the biggest tax breaks. And it’s the biggest nine-and ten year olds who get the most coaching and practice. Success is the result of what sociologists like to call “accumulative advantage.”

Is a condition of hardship, difficulty or misfortune which are often stressful and uncomfortable. Many people will not sacrifice the resources they have to pursue having something better or more. They will avoid this state at all costs, even if it is temporary. Once someone has achieved a certain standard of comfort or success, they refuse to go backwards. Mark Cuban, on the reality television show Shark Tank, suggested to a couple of would-be entrepreneurs who had achieved a certain level of success and had admitted they were dining out often eating steak, that they were not ready for that, and that they would have to go back to eating mac and cheese in order to reach a higher level of success. He and Daymond John, indicated that it is difficult to teach adversity, as most people won’t go there. Adversity is often the best teacher. It teaches you skills to succeed and cope when things go awry. Often people who are born into families of wealth, never accomplish much because they are not willing to risk comfort for an opportunity to have or accomplish more. Billionaire investor, Warren Buffet said it is good to give your children just enough (money) so that they will do something, and not so much (money) that they will do nothing. The self made billionaires worked hard to get out of adversity, and were successful through hard work and some luck. Many people in unhappy marriages also avoid adversity. They have the house, dual incomes and shared friends but all of this will go away should they pursue true happiness. They often just have an affair instead of leaving. For many couples, clearly a difficult decision.

Amnesia is a partial or total loss of memory. There are stories on television where people can not account for large blocks of time, not knowing who they are or what they have done, often caused by some trauma that they also do not recall. Amnesia in this context obviously is not such a good thing. An operational definition of amnesia, in a useful context, is the ability to forget some event or series of events that will stop you from achieving success in the future. Imagine if you were to ask for a date to the prom and you were viscously rejected by that person. If you remember the trauma that you experienced you might not have much confidence to ask a second or third person out. Now if you can implement amnesia, and forget about the first rejection and approach the second person with high confidence, it becomes easier to continue on to reach your goal of finding a prom date. Another example is if you are a budding presenter, which I am. As an executive coach, I don’t have to do much presenting, although my career path seems to indicate that I would be well served to exploit the steep learning curve by becoming more polished. I have high anxiety around presenting, although I know from my past that if I can overcome any anxiety, whether it is elevators, flying, or fear of rejection, I become very skilled, competent and confident. In the beginning I added several crash and burn presentations to my repertoire. Being thrown off the horse a few times is certainly a humbling experience. If I can identify, accept and integrate the learning, and forget about the failure or judgement, then I can move forward and become the presenter I want to be. Sara Blakely the founder of Spanx said in an interview that her father asked her what she had done to fail today. This programed her to work through all failure until you can achieve success. Amnesia allows you to forget some of these failures in order to move forward to achieve the goal you chose to accomplish.

Asking for something is really the only way to get it. How is someone to know you want something unless you ask for it? The often painful opposite of asking is rejection. Many people will not risk having something they want because they fear the temporary discomfort of rejection. Executive Coach, Marshall Goldsmith, suggests the the most successful sales people in the world are the ones who are rejected the most.

In our culture men typically ask women out on a date. If one can not get passed the possibility of rejection, they often will never get a date to the prom.

Many years ago, I was at Laguna Seca Raceway, in Monterey, California during the vintage car races. Porsche was the featured marque that year. The Porsche factory in Germany had brought many of their prized racing cars including the Jacky Ickx, Derek Bell Le Mans winning Jules Number 11 936. During the late afternoon on Friday before the event, Porsche was using the car to do some filming with a specialty camera system they had mounted on the car. Jurgen Barth was driving and Manfred Jantke was supervising. The car had come into the pits. There were about 8 of us standing on the pit wall watching over all of the filming activity. I know I wanted to occupy the empty seat in the car for a couple of hot laps, as I am sure did the other 7 of us. One fellow eventually spoke up, and said “Herr Jantke, do you need a rider in the car?” Manfred Jantke, walked over to the man and handed the man a helmet. He then helped him into the empty seat and strapped him into the car. The morel of the story is that if you don’t ask you don’t get, and if you don’t, it is likely that someone else will.



The design and utilization of objects that are modeled on entities found in nature. It gives humans an opportunity to solve problems through nature. Bio means life and mimesis means to imitate. One example is that humans knew from the study of birds that human flight might someday be possible. Leonardo da Vinci’s had made drawings of flying machines and the Wright Brothers, and a few other aviation pioneers, made their first flight by knowing that flight was humanly possible. Another example is that spiders create their webs from silk as strong as the material, Kevlar, used in bulletproof vests. Strong material such as this is useful in suspension bridge cables and parachute lines.

Bright Shiny Objects
Human beings are often attracted to bright shiny objects. They are new, exciting, attractive and often we underestimate how much time and work they are going to require if we are going to benefit from them. Often we see something that quickly gets our attention. This can be something like a new car, an attractive woman or man, or perhaps a new activity. It is possible for us to neglect our current projects and goals to divert our time to work on something else, until we again are distracted by another a bright shiny object. They tend to stay exciting until they habituate over time and no longer have the luster or emotional impact that they once had.

Many wealthy older men buy new cars in hopes of the car bringing them long term happiness and excitement. In time the new car becomes old and no longer has the effect it once did. They then go out and repeat the process of buying another new car a year or two later. This process may continue to repeat as long as their is enough money and their marriage partner supports the cause.

Couples who have been with their partners, long term, find that their relationship is well rooted in the brain system of love called attachment, find that the sexual lust and romance in their marriages is just not what it used to be. If we encounter a bright shiny object in terms of an attractive potential partner, it is common for many faithfully intended spouses to wander and fall down that slippery slope of an affair. If exposed, these bright shiny objects can be the downfall of an otherwise happy, albeit boring, long term relationship.

On a recent segment of 60 Minutes they were interviewing people who are pioneers in the area of human flight in a wingsuit. These daredevils jump off of very high rock structures and are able to fly at high speeds before pulling the rip cord on their parachutes. I am sure many arm chair adventurists were intrigued by the thought of doing this dangerous activity. When they described what steps need to occur to become competent, including hundreds of successful parachute jumps, the learning curve is so steep that it would take years or hard work for the novice to get to their first wingsuit jump.



Cats & Dogs
Is a very effective contextual behavioral model developed by Michael Grinder. It allows you to assess a person in one or two categories. They are operating either from credible behavioral patterns, the cat, or approachable behavioral patterns, the dog. People tend to have a baseline from where they normally operate. If their level of responsibility goes up, say to run a meeting, they typically will become more cat then they are normally. This model is not gender based. An airline pilot, male or female, will tend to operate from a credible position while the flight attendant, male or female, will operate from their approachable position. Cats tend to be the ones who are promoted most often in organizations, as they are more task oriented leaders, than dogs who tend to be more relationship oriented and follow better.

A method for breaking things down into smaller groupings of more manageable portions. When we memorize a series of numbers like a Social Security Number they are in 3 separate blocks of numbers, 567-89-1011. If we memorize a telephone number the area code comes first then followed by the 7 digit phone number, (800) 567-8910. When we eat a box of breakfast cereal, we tend to eat in one bowl at a time vs. consuming the entire box at one sitting.


Four Horsemen (Of the Apocalypse)
In Relationships, John Gottman, Ph.D. created this metaphor depicting the end of times in the New Testament. They describe conquest, war, hunger and death respectively. Gottman uses it to describe the four communication patterns that often tear couples apart and predict the end of a relationship. The four are criticism, contempt, defensiveness and stonewalling. Identifying the four horsemen in your relational conflicts is the first step in moving toward eliminating them and replacing them with positive relationship building strategies.

An outpouring of emotion that can be used therapeutically to overcome phobias. Johan Rosqvist, one of my graduate school professors in Portland, Oregon, a city with many bridges, used to take people with a fear of bridges out in the car and drive over them for hours on end until the phobia eventually calmed down. Flooding of emotions can also occur when a spouse learns that their partner, whom they love and thought they could trust, has been having an affair. The betrayed or hurt partner’s world is shattered when they learn of the deception and lies from the infidelity.


To become familiar, comfortable or used to something. When we buy a new pair of shoes, they often feel different or unusual until we break them in or have worn them enough to feel comfortable. When we first get in a hot tub the water initially seems very hot. In time it becomes comfortable and a little while later no longer feels warm at all. After a bit, we tend to want to turn up the heat. If we get out and move around in the cold air, we return and discover that the water is actually warmer than we thought it was.

Halo Effect
Is a cognitive bias where your impression of someone in one context influences that person’s overall impression. This is easy to do when we meet someone new and judge them favorably before we really have a chance to get to know them on a deeper level. We tend to give someone’s positive attributes more weight than someone’s negative attributes. It is like seeing them with rose colored glasses.



Operational Definition
An operational definition is used to describe or define something, like an object, in terms of a process to determine its existence or quantity. This is a definition that may or may not be scientifically accurate. The key is that everyone involved knows what the operational definition is. So perhaps some creative peers in a workgroup decided to call a refrigerator a toaster. Calling it a toaster is fine, as long as everyone in the group knows that we are talking about the same thing.


Range Of Behavior
To be effective and successful in a variety of contexts, it is useful for people to develop and expand their range of behavior. It gives them more flexibility and choices in terms of being successful when different situations come up. For example, if you are at an event with many other people like a wedding reception, retirement party or funeral, many people have a default behavior of avoiding getting up to make a toast or share a story due to their discomfort of public speaking. Having the ability to get up and confidently speak off the cuff or on the fly is a choice many of us do not have. Another similar example is the ability to be either introverted or shy, extraverted or gregarious by choice is also an option many of us have not developed.

Non Verbal Thought Leader, Michael Grinder has a extremely useful quote, “life is not about perfection, it is about recovery.” This is absolutely sage advice. Often times things do not go precisely as planned. When they don’t, it is great to know what to do, when, and have the ability to turn things around to achieve the right result. Many top NFL quarterbacks like Peyton Manning and Tom Brady have a tremendous track record of winning football games when they are way behind in the forth quarter. Lesser people would buckle under the pressure and would give up. The ability to feel empowered vs helpless is an example of a Range Of Behavior.

A set of skills or behaviors that one can draw from, or that they habitually use. A catalog of plays, dances, or compositions that a performer can perform.


Ten Thousand Hours
The amount of time it takes people become experts and successful at performing a task at a high level. It could be learning a foreign language, playing the piano or flying an airplane. In his book, Outliers: The Story Of Success, Malcolm Gladwell provides two quotes.

“Practice isn’t the thing you do once you’re good. It’s the think you do that makes you good.”

“In fact, researchers have settled on what they believe is the magic number for true expertise: ten thousand hours.”

See Accumulative Advantage or Matthew Effect