THE POWERFUL

We all know the people with grand dreams. They seem to move through life undeterred by any obstacle facing them. Why do you think that is? It is my belief it stems from having a compelling vision of themselves and what they would like to be. They know what direction they want to move in. If the course they are taking seems to not be taking them in that direction, the adjust the course. If they run into a wall and seemed to be stopped, they back up and begin again with a new plan of action. If they get knocked down by others or even by life in general, they take a moment, pick themselves up, dust themselves off and start all over again. Trying hard, or as I would prefer to say, working hard, seems not to bother them. In fact, them seem to really enjoy it.

Compare that with the way the average work-a-day person goes about their life. Waking up dreading to go into work. Maybe even worried about what could go wrong at work or the traffic they will have to face on the way in. At best they are looking forward to a vacation they have coming up. They have no profound vision to drive their life. It seems as if they have settled into the “Work, pay bills and die” routine. Without a strong vision and reason to get up in the morning, life can feel like a prison sentence instead of the great gift filled with possibilities that it is.

I encourage all of my readers to develop a strong vision of the person they want to be. Write it down and hang it on the bathroom mirror or somewhere you can see it every day. Perhaps even find inspiring quotes or pictures to hang up as well. Find an inspiring vision of the person you are working to become and make life your goal.

USE YOUR PAIN

This man is Inky Johnson. I highly recommend you look up his story, but I will give you a brief outline here. Inky was born into challenging situations to say the least. A very poor neighborhood, 16 people living in a two bedroom house. He had to sleep on the floor. Once a week he got to sleep in a bed…with 5 others. He was surrounded by family and friends going in and out of prison. Truly a recipe for disaster.

Inky decided to take a different path. At the age of 7, with some help from a coach, he decided he was going to play professional football. He practiced every day. Often running light pole to light pole with no shoes on. Eventually he received a scholarship to the University of Tennessee. With 8 games to go he was told he was going to be a first round pick. Imagine being told finally you will be able to erase generations of hurt, pain and financial suffering for your family. He immediately called his mother and grandmother to inform them they would no longer have to live in poverty.

Two games later while making a tackle that all changed. Inky felt like he had the wind knocked out of him. He woke up in the hospital where he was told he had to be rushed into surgery or he would die. Waking up from  that the doctor said he had some bad news. Considering he was still alive, Inky was confused. The doctor explained he had sustained nerve damage and would no longer be able to play football again. Imagine being that close to helping your family, having worked all your life, never cheated and it is stolen away in one play.

The reality of what he was left to deal with sank in when the doctor informed him “Son, you will never be able to use your arm again. You will never be able to use your hand again.” Inky’s reply?  “No disrespect sir, but I am going to use this arm and hand everyday. I am going to use it to inspire people. I am going to use it to help people not give up.” Today Inky Johnson is a motivational speaker and has several videos on YouTube.

When I heard that I had to fight back tears. Wow. I pray that I would be able to see things that way. Which is ironic, because that is what I am challenging all of us, myself included, to do here today. We have all had pain in our lives. Most of us not to the magnitude of the story above, some even worse. My question to you is this, what are you going to do with that pain? My answer is this, you went through the pain, put it to use for you. Use what you have went through to inspire and push you. Use it to motivate and give hope to others. DO NOT WASTE YOUR PAIN.

Maybe someone broke your heart? Use it to not only motivate you to make your next relationship your best relationship, but to help those who are also heartbroken. You lost your job? Use that as a tool to motivate you to chase a job you would enjoy. Do so while maybe helping at a meal program helping those who are in an even tougher situation. Turn your pain from a liability into an asset.

LEAVE THE GOOD FOR THE GREAT

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Here is a sign that appeared for my last day bartending. A lot of people asked the reason I left bartending at The Hideout. That was a very good question. I loved most of my customers. The owner and I had a great working relationship. It was a lot of fun. I made decent money. So why leave? Sounds like a great gig. Well, I asked myself “Neil, where do you want to be in 5 years?” the answer was not behind a bar. My desire is to be touching people and changing and making a positive difference in their lives on a grand scale. Bartending has been great for me. I have met a lot of wonderful people and received some amazing advice.

One day I realized in order to fulfill my life’s goals of being a full-time author and motivational speaker I would need to dedicate more time to my craft. I also wanted to grow my following for this site. I would need more time to create content as well as promote. I looked at my life. I work 30+ hours a week at the post office which I wanted to keep for benefits. I DJ 8+ hours a week, which is great time I get to enjoy the love of my life as we run the show together. I also bartend 16+ hours a week. Although I love bartending my nights had become filled with a lot of stress as well. Sure the money was great, but there was the drama of people not getting along, friends always asking for or even expecting things for free which got old really quick. Not to mention although we worked in the same place, time away from the love of my life. Some days the only things we seemed to say to each other were “good morning” and “goodnight”. therefore I made the decision to focus on my future. Sure my present did take a hit. I gave up a lot of my income and something I was really good at. I still hear “we miss you behind the bar” which does make me feel good. Now, I may not be able to afford the nice things I was buying. I must keep a closer eye on my finances, but my life is filled with passion and excitement for the future. My website is not only up to date, but growing in following. Still feel free to share this site with all of your friends though.

What is the point of this post? Simply this, bartending was something I was good at, it was fun and I made good money doing it. What it was not was my passion and my future. As of right now my next book is still being written and money is not rolling in. What is rolling in is a feeling of getting closer to my goals and making money doing what I love. In fact, I have set a goal of retiring from the post office in two years or less. I know the more I write, the better I will become. I try to learn everyday about marketing myself and growing my brand. It is exciting, but scary at the same time. Most importantly, it is my dream. I was a good bartender, but I aim to be a great author and bring joy and positivity to people across the globe. Feel free to help by sharing this website as well as my book A Happy Life for Busy People with anyone you think could benefit from a little more joy in their lives.

Here is the takeaway. Do not be afraid to give up the good to go for the great. If you have a dream, chase it. Better yet catch it! Do what you love. Take risks, have fun and keep your face to the sunshine!

POSITIVE REINFORCEMENT

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You may have heard the saying “you get more bees with honey than with vinegar” the same holds true in a relationship. Although personally I do not want any bees in my relationship. What does all this mean and how can we use it to create the secret to an amazing relationship? Let me start by asking you a question. If there is something you really enjoy that your partner does, how can you get them to do it more often? Here is another question. If there is something your partner does that you do not like, how can you get them to do it less often? The answer is surprisingly the same. Positive reinforcement. Now I will be the first to tell you that one of the single most important traits to a healthy relationship is great communication. However it must be the right kind of communication. Sometimes how you say things is just as important as what you say. If the communication in your relationship consists of a few gestures you give each other in the hallway as you walk by you may want to consider reading this post. Even if your relationship has great communication and you are just looking for a few ways to improve it this will definitely be worth your time.

Let me start by sharing a story with you. I have a female friend who was complaining that her boyfriend never responds to her text messages or when he does it is often hours after she has sent him a msg. “So how does that make you feel?” I asked her. She told me it made her feel unimportant and unloved. When I asked her what she wanted to feel and how that may happen she told me if he would only text her back sooner she would feel more important and cherished by this man. I inquired if she had ever explained that to him. Often our partners may be unaware of something that may be bothering us. This was not the case here. “Oh yes. He knows” she told me and went on to explain the last time he text her back she ripped into him and told him that he better not wait so long to text her back and how awful it made her feel. So what was she showing her boyfriend? She thought she had explained to him that texting her back quickly would make her happy. What she had really done is show him that texting her equaled pain. She made him feel guilty and hurt. So how could she have handled this better? First, she could’ve been more compassionate. Maybe he did want to text her back. Maybe he had a lot going on in his life that day? Maybe he was driving and didn’t want to risk being unsafe. She could’ve explained to him “I know your busy, but if you have the chance it really means a lot if you could text me back as soon as you are able” or if she wanted to avoid the issue altogether she could’ve just expressed how much it meant to her that he did text her back by saying “It is so great to hear from you. Every time I receive a message from you my heart skips a beat and it makes me feel so loved” If we focus on what we enjoy from our partners and let them know what makes us happy quite often we will get more of that. It is also not a stretch that our partners can connect the dots and realize the opposite of that thing will upset us. In this case the young man would realize that if receiving a text made her happy then not receiving one would surely make her unhappy. What we focus on in our relationships as well as in life we get more of. So be sure to keep your focus on the positive by doing some of the things we mentioned earlier in the week as well as what we talked about here today. Praise your spouse when they do something that makes us feel loved. Everyone likes praise and everyone likes to know they made the person they love feel good. Let them know and soon you will find they are working to do it more often. Until tomorrow my friends, live an amazing and passionate life!

GRAPH OF PROGRESS

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As you can see in the graph most prices has both its ups and downs. Just stay focused on your goal and keep moving forward. Whether your goal is to improve your financial situation or your relationship there is very seldom a straight line up. Nor should there be. The beautiful thing about the downs is that is forces us to refocus. If everything is going along smoothly there is little motivation to think about improvement. When things start slipping away then we often are forced to take things seriously and work harder. It is quite often after someone suffers a heart attack or some other health scare that they suddenly adopt a healthy lifestyle they have been avoiding. When someone loses some of their income they often start to review their budget. We grow from our challenges. A set back is only a failure if you give up. Any growth or goal you are working toward is never a straight line from A to B but is quite often a crooked line moving in that direction. If you are able map your goal. Keep an eye on your budget, if you start to spend more than you should or income should decline and the graph go down use that to motivate you to positive action. If you are trying to keep track of how many positive days you have with your spouse and one week you have 5 and the next week you only have 3 use that to examine the difference. Sometimes it can be circumstances you hadn’t expected or even ones beyond your control. Your car breaks down, your spouse is sick and in a bad mood. Still keep your goal firmly in mind and remember where you are heading.

HOW TO GET ANYWHERE…

“A number two pencil and a dream can take you anywhere”

This fabulous quote was given to me by a good friend who saw it on a sign at her work. At face value it seems a little pie in the sky, but is it true? In a word, absolutely. Every great dream begins with these two elements. First we need a dream, goal or whatever you care to call it. Without this step it is hard to get excited In fact without a destination in mind it is hard to get anywhere in life. I relate it to getting in your car on the passenger size, starting the ignition and putting a brick on the gas pedal. If you don’t steer and break you will either end up in someone’s back yard, or in the back of someone’s mini van. Either way effort without direction is wasted effort.

Ok, so you have a dream, now what? Can it really be realized with a simple #2 pencil? The simple answer is yes. Let me relay a personal example to you. When I began work on my book “A Happy Life for Busy People” I had a dream. That was a strong desire to bring what I have learned about living a successful and rewarding life with as many people as I could. What didn’t I have? Any idea what the hell I was doing! This can be the biggest obstacle to people achieving their dream life. It has been mine in the past. You have a great idea, but not the slightest clue as to how to accomplish it. Some see endless challenges and often quick before they really begin. I did this in years past. I would think 12 steps down the line and get so overwhelmed I wouldn’t even start step one. This is where the pencil comes in handy.

When I began work on my first book the same idea constantly came into my mind over and over again. That idea simply stated was “I have no idea how to write a book” So I began to write down everything I could think of. Every question I thought of I wrote down. “How do you get your book printed?” “What website is the best choice to use?” “Who do I know who has written a book?” Then I made lists of pros and cons of subjects. I jotted down ideas and bits of inspiration that came to me. Most of which would later only make sense to me. Considering my wonderful handwriting sometimes even that was debatable. The point being I was literally teaching myself as I went along. I wrote down the information I needed to continue. Then I would write down sources I could get that very information from. Is there a website that has that? Do I have to get a book on the subject? Is there a person I know who could advise me in this field?

I would have to say I would add one item to a dream and a pencil. That item would be a positive and expectant attitude. In reflection I fully expected and knew I was going to write a book. So when challenges arose I would just have to ask myself how can I solve this to move forward? Without this valuable tool you may be inclined to give up. If you totally expect your goal to be reached obstacles just appear as challenges to be solved and not walls stopping you.

Another important thing to realize when chasing your dreams is that chances are someone less talented, connected or gifted has accomplished the very thing you are trying to do. Even if this is not the case, consider how many people have done things others have thought impossible. So if you are considering chasing a dream grab a pencil and a great attitude and begin your journey there!

BUILDING A BONFIRE…

What does building a bonfire have to do with living an amazing life? It serves as a very good metaphor. What does it take to build a good fire? Let’s assume you were never in boys or girls scouts and we will break it down for you. You will need a safe place to do so. Making sure your fire burns only where you want it to. You will need kindling, or small pieces of wood or other flammable material that lights easy but burns quickly. You will also need successfully larger and larger pieces of wood to burn more intense and for longer periods of time. You will need to arrange these in such a way that they burn in the proper order. If you try to light the big log first, chances are your match will burn out far before the log catches fire. This brings us to our last needed element, an ignition source of some nature to start the whole thing burning.

Ok, so we have established what it takes to build a good fire, but what does this have to do with living an amazing life? Here is the answer, your motivation is much like building a fire. You will need to properly keep the fires of passion burning hot and big if you want to be able to push through obstacles toward the amazing life you reaching for. This is true of any goal or project you are working on. You will need kindling, which represents small goals that are easier to obtain as you are on your way to achieving the ultimate goal. The feeling of triumph you feel is like the burning of the kindling that will slowly start the larger logs, also known as bigger goals ablaze. You will need the right amount of this kindling. To little and your passion will fizzle long before you are able to reach your bigger goals. Just as you will need successfully larger more daring and scary goals as you get closer to your prize. You will also need an ignition source. Now many people in life, myself included, have waited for a situation to get so bad that it forces you to take action. Desperation can be a great motivator. So should we sit around waiting for our lives to fall apart so we can give ourselves a big kick in the ass to take the actions needed? Not necessarily. Another great way to motivate your self and ignite your own personal bonfire of passion is to look at what you are missing by not taking action. Grab a pen and paper and start to make a list. What will you lose or are you currently losing by not taking action? How worse off is your life being made by your procrastination? Here is a good time to be brutally honest. Trying to lose weight? How does it make you feel when you go clothes shopping and nothing fits? How does it feel when you look in the mirror? This may seem harsh but emotion is the strongest human motivator. So in addition to this ‘push’ of emotion you can double your chances of success by adding a pull. What I mean here is on another piece of paper, or the other side list how much better your life would be if you did take action. Using the above example, how good would it feel to look in the mirror and like what you see? Write it down, but even better take time to close your eyes and picture this. Really add the element of emotion. How could would it feel to get attention from a person you find attractive? If your goal was financial freedom how good would it feel to not worry about paying the bills or if your job is safe? Write it all down and picture it in your mind. Really add as much emotion as you can.

Now if you have done this all correctly you will have created an unstoppable force that will literally burn through and fear or doubt that stands in your way. Still even after you have created your bonfire of passion for success there is more work to do. Let me ask you if you have a fire going and leave it unattended what happens? Eventually you burn through all the logs you have. So the secret to keeping motivation going is to keep adding logs. Now this doesn’t mean only to keep adding new goals, although that is not a bad idea. Other logs you can add include gathering friends who both motivate you and hold you accountable. Purchasing new books or motivational CDs, taking pictures or your fitness progress or bank statements. As you continue to go towards a goal, you must continue to add logs or your fire will burn out.

WHAT’S SO HARD?

“There are three things extremely hard: steel, a diamond and to know one’s self”

-Ben Franklin

This quote from our first postmaster general has a lot of truth to it. Funny thing is one of the people we know the least is the person we see in the mirror every morning. A lot of your opinions of ourselves are generated by what others share about us. Which, since most of the people we talk to are our friends we seldom get the whole picture. So here is this weekends challenge. Make a list. On one side list everything you think is good about yourself, on the others areas you would like to improve. The goal here is to come up with more of the positive than the negative, but be honest with yourself. When you are done with that list take a look at each item on its own. How did you come to that conclusion? Did someone once tell you that you are a bad dancer? Did someone once tell you that you have a nice voice? Have you finished a few races with good times so you believe yourself to be a good runner? Does going to the gym make you a healthy person?

If you are interested in taking this a step further, contemplate on a few interesting matters. Think of where a lot of your identity comes from. A lot of us it comes from your job. When people ask me who are you? Providing they already know my name I must confess my first reaction may be to tell them my occupation. “I’m a postal worker” or “I’m an author” or even “I’m a bartender” the problem with this thinking is the state of change in today’s economy. I realized this when I was dangerously close to losing my Post Office job…the first time. I thought to myself “I’ve been working here for 13 years, it’s who I am. Now what?” This makes a job loss twice as tough. Not only do you lose your source of income, but you lose your identity. That’s why a lot of people slip into a depression after losing a job. From the outside people may say “What is the big deal? He just lost his job” In reality a lot of people fail to realize that to a lot of us that is also losing a part of our identity. Something many employers fail to recognize as well. So how did I get out of this funk? How did I protect myself in the future and how can you do the same? Great questions! That is what this site is all about. Living an amazing life. So here is something I suggest you try as soon as you can. That day I was basically told I would lose my job I went to a secluded spot in nature I go to do all my thinking. There is something about nature that seems to clear my mind. I began to think what will happen in the future. I also thought what was I like before I started to work for the postal service. I realized there was a whole other Neil I was missing. Now 13 years is a fair amount of time, but I am blessed to have several fans I have known a good deal longer than that. I called a few up and asked them what they first remember about me and basically who they thought I was. After making sure I wasn’t hitting the rum a little too hard they provided some great insight. Still other’s opinions are only part of the equation. Recently I have had the good fortune of spending a good deal of time and conversation with an amazing new person. They give me their opinions of me of course, but one of the greatest things is they stimulate me to think of things including my life and myself. Think of the people you associate with daily. Do they all tell you just what you want to hear? Are they all from the same group such as work? Do they permit you to be different without judgment or ridicule?  The goal is to be with people who bring out the best in ourselves. They not only encourage us, but also are honest and accepting of ourselves. This post was quite a mouthful. But as Ben Franklin said getting to know yourself is one of the hardest things. The rewards however can save you from years of heartache and bring you lots of rewards. It is a journey well worth taking.

WHAT ARE YOU PAYING FOR?

“Sometimes one pays most for the things one gets for nothing”

-Albert Einstein

So we featured a quote from this famous physicist in yesterday’s post, but this one was a little hard to pass up. What does this exactly mean to living a rewarding life? Let us look at some of the most expensive things we spend money on and in essence what we get out of them. One of things a lot of money people spend money on are status symbols. Fancy cars, giant yachts, expensive jewelry, trips to the spa and other such items to pamper and spoil us. Why do we do these things? Well we do them for all the same reason. At first it may seem hard to believe that we will buy a sports car for the same reason we get a massage but it is true. We buy them all just to have a feeling. Whether it is one of accomplishment, importance or peace of mind they are all just feelings. Now I am a big fan of symbols and what they can bring to our lives. So I am not saying that you should not reward yourself or have things that make you feel good. By all means, use those things to motivate yourself. The important part is to understand the feelings that you are chasing with those objects. If owning that fancy car you have always dreamed of will make you feel like you have truly accomplished something in your life that by that car. Notice though that feeling doesn’t strike when you turn the keys for the first time or even when you sign the title. No the feeling usually comes over you on the way to the dealership when you know the car is yours and that you are now the proud owner of a feeling of accomplishment as well as a pretty hot ride. Notice you cannot have the car without first having the feeling. So I say while chasing the dream of the car, the new house, the unicorn whatever it is you are chasing chase that feeling as well. After all it is not the object that is why you have accomplished something. A lottery winner could buy ten of them and all they have accomplished was buying the right ticket. No, practice celebrating the feeling daily when you can. If you celebrate your small accomplishments soon they will lead to even greater ones and before you know it you will be picking me up in your new car to celebrate!

WHAT THE HELL IS WRONG WITH PEOPLE…NOW?

Last blog we discussed what to do if people have upset us in the past and we are still letting it bother us. Today we will examine a great way to reduce the stress and strain of people upsetting us in the present. How to deal with that face to face anger that sometimes we may encounter.

If you work with the public, or deal with the public or even just deal with other people in your daily life, which should just about cover everybody, one of the greatest and most common challenges is…well other people. We all know if everybody in our lives would just play by our rules and understand that we are always right there would be no issue there. Unfortunately the boss does not always understand how difficult it is to get out of a warm bed on a cold day. Your spouse may not always understand how ‘one more drink’ became three. In other words the bad news is at some point in your life people will be mad at you. On a rare occasion they may even have a reason to be. So what than? How can we somehow not get stressed about someone screaming in close proximity to us? How can we use a person who is practicing replacing our name with different profanities as a growing experience? As I try to improve my own life these are the type of questions I find myself asking. Trust me if you wait until that person is in front of you to ask the question you may decide to distress by closing their mouth for them and the only thing growing may be your legal problems. So here is a little exercise you can get used to and practice that I find turns those experiences literally into a game and often leaves both parties feeling better when parting. A big promise, but I think if you stick with me you will see how it all comes together and thus reduce one of the most common stresses from your life.

here is the ‘magic formula’, it may sound to simple, it may sound like it will not work, but trust me after you master it you will be successful nine times out of ten. There are some people who just have severe social issues and cannot be reached. They are not our concern and really should be used as humorous fodder. So what is the idea already? Here is the plan. First, let the people vent for a little while. I don’t know when I am upset being interrupted can only be equated to throwing gasoline on a fire. When you feel you have a grasp of what ever life threatening event has them ready to start the next world war, then interrupt. Now, there is a very specific way to do this. Even if the event is pretty cut and dry, such as your dog does not understand property lines when needing to relive himself, still recap with a simple phrase showing you are interested in their issue. An example is “Just to make sure we are on the same page…” or “To make sure I understand what is upsetting you…” in addition to showing them you care it forces you to listen to what they are saying as you are pondering just how to word your question. The next thing is something that can totally turn this person who may be picturing you in some terrible compromising position into your best friend. While listening to there list of complaints with the state of the world, look for something you can honestly compliment them on. Do they have a nice shirt on? Are they wearing a nice fragrance? this part takes practice and skill as does bringing it to their attention. I caution you not to try flattery which I am not a big fan of anyway, false praise comes across as such and can often generate further anger. It is even better if you can ask them a question about the compliment. The reason you want to do this is because it forces them to think about what you said. A great example of how to do this would be “I understand you are upset fido fertilized your flowers without asking, but I have to ask you what is that amazing fragrance you are wearing? It smells so familiar but I can’t quite place it?” I have even taken it one step further, but I will get to that in a moment. after discussing a legitimate compliment paid in their favor, and again a stress make it real, you would be surprised how the conversation can change.

All of this may sound unbelievable so let me provide a recent example. A lady walked into the post office with a bill for her post office box that was due on January 31st. She had come in on the 28th to discover that the price had went up 2 dollars from the amount shown. No notice was given to her and she already had her check made out. She wasn’t late, the price had just changed. She had a right to be upset. This woman, however, took it one step further and went on for roughly ten minutes on the lack of intelligence of the lady helping her, how terrible the organization was. By the time I was called up there she had worked herself into quite a stressful state for both her and all of those around her. I calmly asked if I could make sure I had this right. “You are upset because you are paying a pill that you were told would be one amount if paid by the 31st and here it is the 28th and we are asking for two dollars more? I don’t blame you for being upset” That simple act of understanding why she was upset started to calm her down. I explained that our goal was to get her Post office box renewed and that regretfully our computers did not allow us to charge her the old price. She suddenly ‘remembered’ she had two dollars in the car. As she walked out (which gave her time to breath as well as the sales associate) I started thinking I needed to find something nice to point about this lady. When she walked back in I noticed she had black pants and a plain black jacket. No luck there. Her hair was cut short and simple. Again not much to work with. She had no discernible wonderful scent. Then I noticed the rims on her glasses were an awesome red color I had never seen. Keep in mind I went through all of this in about 1 minute. If you just stand there staring at someone who may cause the anger level to rise again. So I said “I thank you for understanding about this unfortunate computer error with our pricing and I wish to get you taken care of right away, but as I am doing so I have to ask where you purchased those glasses I have never seen such an amazing color” She thought for a second and told me the name of the store. I knew there was one close to where I live and asked her if that was the location she went to. She told me no it was the one down the street. I again told her I would love to see what color they have for men and could she tell me what street it was on. (I don’t wear glasses by the way). She thought again and gave me cross streets. I thanked her for the information and began to apologize for the misunderstanding she came in for in the first place. Her reply shocked everyone who was there “No I should have paid my bill right when I got it” I countered with “Truly we will look into notifying people if the price changes in the future. I can understand how upsetting that would be” She replied “It’s not that upsetting. I’m sorry you just caught me on a bad day” So there may have been more to this lady’s anger. She left apologizing to me and I think feeling if she did not have a good experience and least did not have a bad one.

Enough practice with this and you almost feel as though you are playing a game. I felt a sense of accomplishment when that lady left. She felt a little less upset. I think it was a win for all parties concerned.