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Author: Andrew Nauenburg

Hooked on a Feeling

Mary is a well known pediatric physician with three young kids. She used to be burdened by gripping guilt – a built both at the office where her colleagues worked 70 hours a week while she was only putting in 50 and at home where she was always distracted and too exhausted to spend any meaningful time with her kids and husband. 

A heavy whisper inside her head plagued her – it constantly pressured her to be a better employee or her career was destined to fail. Medical school, sacrificing sleep, all that debt. Everything. For nothing. 

While another voice screamed that she had to be a better mother.

She wanted nothing more than for at least one of these voices to disappear. Unfortunately, neither did. And they only got louder.

Because she was consumed with these voices and perpetually distracted, she missed new opportunities at work and while at home, she buried her head in her laptop.

Hooked on a feeling

Mary is smart. She’s successful. But she’s stuck – hooked on negative feelings, thoughts, and emotions – controlled by the chaos inside her head. She knew she couldn’t go on like this. 

Fish on the line

She took the first step by recognizing you’ve been hooked. You can’t control everything. But you can control how you process and react to those voices that haunt your head. But by accepting it, you can respond appropriately – by being mindful and breathing through the experience, thoughts, and emotions. 

Show yourself some compassion

Accept the situation then act based on your values. Mary loved her job and healing people. She also loved her family. Those were the two main values in her life. By not compromising her values, she was able to actually use them to maneuver difficult situations. Like finally getting home for dinner and being undistracted. And also, not sacrificing her work. She just made sure she worked when she was at work and was focused on family when they needed her. 

Be confident knowing your struggle isn’t unique to you. Many others are battling the same thing. 

Identify your values. Use them to guide your reaction to those voices. Get unhooked.


Empathy is particularly important today as a component of leadership for (at least) three reasons – increasing use of teams, the rapid rate of globalization, and a vital need to retain talent. But empathy doesn’t mean all that “mushy” “I’m okay, you’re ok” type of stuff. Leaders don’t need to adopt other people’s feelings as your own to please everyone. That’s not possible.

BUT, it does mean carefully considering every employees’ feelings (and a few other factors) in the process of making intelligent decisions. Empathy helps to attract and develop top talent. It’s also vitally necessary in keeping top talent.

Coaching and mentoring plays a key role in the development of empathy. Coaching and mentoring increase job performance and job satisfaction. And decreases turnover.

Empathy matters. But only when taken seriously and used intelligently.

Feedback and Fear

Half of those in leadership don’t ask for feedback because they expect the worst – arguments, impossible demands, termination, etc.

Because they are fearful, people avoid feedback and continue to make assumptions about what employees and bosses think.

Help yourself and help your company by encouraging healthy dialogue around performance and expectations.

Reflections From a Mortician

Don’t let Death Guide You, Life Should Show You the Way

I used to be a mortician. My time inside a funeral home helping families at a period in their life riddled with grief was some of the most rewarding and educational experiences of my life. Not a day goes by that I don’t miss the work – even as I’m enthralled with my current situation – having a freaking blast helping people launch successful businesses and with taking early-stage brands and ramping them up to market.

But that doesn’t mean I let myself off the hook – I’m aware and full of gratitude daily for my time as a funeral director. It provided endless perspective and forced me to find the space to see how many people died with big and heavy regrets.

Oddly enough, those regrets have been the fuel keeping my creative entrepreneurial fire sparked.


It’s such a cliche, the ‘ol idea of people spouting off regrets while lying in their deathbed but those moments in a dying person’s life can and should be used as a teaching tool.

The regrets are typically stuff that they didn’t do, not the stuff they did do.

Many of us walk through life not paying attention to all the opportunity that presents each day.

Let the life you’re living now show you the way. If you want to write that book, write the damn book. If you want to start that business, start the damn business. Do it now when you have plenty of time to take the feedback the world provides and make necessary adjustments on your way to success.

Just don’t wait.

Needs vs Wants

Technology has made so much about our lives easier. But it’s also made things difficult. In particular, it’s hurt our children’s ability to differentiate between needs and wants.