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Started at the bottom (leadership consulting) now I’m here: life coach, personal/spiritual development writer, trauma practitioner in training
Photo by Robert Ruggiero on Unsplash

My Valentine’s Day article about love, intimacy, and trauma (link below) earned pushback from more than one person who found my definitions of the human experience didn’t line up with theirs.

So it goes with our attempts to model reality. The process of trying to distill an infinity of information down to something that can be understood as “language” results in…well, aesthetic choices. I might choose to look at love as an experience of safety, and you might choose to look at it as a set of emotions. …


It’s something even you can fix

Photo by Maira Gallardo on Unsplash

On Valentine’s Day many of us pause for a few seconds to consider the experience of love. Most will pop a chocolate in our mouths, skim the expensive holiday card were were given, and scheme to feel some degree of pleasure by the day’s end. If we have access to it, we might even have sex tonight.

That’s hardly anything worth making a holiday for. This is supposed to be the holiday of love.

Love is, ultimately, the (1) pleasant (2) experience of (3) intimate union with others.

1: It seems tautological to say that love is pleasant, but many…


You can tell by the things they are saying. The major outlets talk about his legacy of business successes and huge parties, and his “tragic downfall at the end”. The personal essayists and bloggers are looting that legacy for inspiring leadership quotes. And WaPo is turning him into a cautionary tale for rich people even before his body has gone cold.

On the surface, it looks like nobody wants to understand why Tony Hsieh is dead. I think everybody privately understands anyway. Most just don’t have the right language for it.

I think Tony Hsieh, as a public figure, spent…


Photo by Jonny Caspari on Unsplash (Why yes, all the letters I write to myself DO start with eye-catching ironic photos. Don’t yours?)

Hey David,

I hear you’re about to quit your corporate 9–5 and start your own business. As I understand it, you’re tired of office politics, lackadaisical middle management, and meaningless initiatives. You want to do something worthwhile with your skills. You want to see things done right, with common sense and perspective. And you want control over your lifestyle while you’re doing it.

Cheers, buddy. I applaud you. This is an important decision in your life, and I’m happy you’re making it.

Listen, I’m going to keep some important things secret from you. If you knew them, you’d never step…


Humor’s discomfort is a pathway to social progress

Is this meme funny to you?

Source: meme — see footnote for original image credits

When it rolled upward into view on my social feed, I snorted. My cheeks bunched into a smile so big it squeezed the corners of my eyes. I felt my face and neck let go of something I didn’t even know they’d been holding, and I bathed in simpleminded joy.

Then a notion appeared: my name is David too, and I’ve been at home indulging in food and sloth since social isolation started. …


A woman sits quietly next to a stone wall with hands folded and eyes downcast
A woman sits quietly next to a stone wall with hands folded and eyes downcast
“zen” by g_u on Flickr.com, CC BY-SA 2.0

The shit is officially hitting the fan. The World Health Organization declared COVID-19 a pandemic, meaning it’s spreading faster than we can control it. Even before the officials started to admit that we’re in for a wild ride, media outlets, marketers, and opportunists started flooding our senses with alarming news, wild predictions of catastrophe, and advice ranging from “buy all the toilet paper you can” to “drink bleach.”

Don’t drink bleach.

This is the perfect example of a VUCA environment: Volatile, Uncertain, Complex, and Ambiguous. Models of the disease’s spread are lagging new data as it pours in. The virus…


Photo by Jan Tinneberg on Unsplash

At 11:59 PM on a Monday night, I lay wide awake in bed, begging my mind to let me sleep. I had to get up early to spend the next full day in an 8-hour interview process for a job I coveted: a senior position on a high-powered team of executive coaches, and every one I’d met was a great person to work with.

I tried to reason with my own mind by saying that I’d been through this kind of thing before, that I was well prepared and already knew a few of the stakeholders in the hiring process…


Not only are we bad at doing many things at once, but it can actually be harmful to try

Credit: Annemarie Gorissen/iStock/Getty Images Plus

I walked into one of my favorite coffee shops recently and immediately noticed how busy it was. Nearly every seat was filled, and there were a few people waiting for their orders near the counter. As I approached the register, a barista was pouring an enormous bag of beans into the grinder. Another was barbacking, shuffling left and right to carry dishes and wipe surfaces. A third employee, dressed differently to show that he was the manager, was fiddling with two pour-over stands.

I waited quietly, watching the flurry of activity. The barista loading the grinder spotted me out of…


Helping others is key to building relationships and community. The same signs of care that build a relationship can be used to tear one down, though. This is just as true in the workplace as in the neighborhood.

  • Doing a simple task for your coworker can be helpful if they’re overloaded, or it can be a nuisance if you’re doing it to control the output.
  • Offering a shoulder to cry on is a huge relief if tears are already coming. Responding to emotions that you assume others feel, even before they tell you or show it, is suffocating.
  • Lightening an…


Powerful questions are commonly used by leaders and coaches to draw attention to key problems and blind spots in someone’s thinking. They’re usually open-ended questions that start with key words like “what,” “how,” and “why”:

“What’s standing in the way?”

“How do you think it should go?”

“So what?”

“Why not?”

As the questions become more open-ended and direct, they get harder to answer because of the discomfort they can cause. Why, the one that gives the most space to answer, can be tricky to ask. Delivering “why” in a manner that shows recipients that they’re safe to answer honestly…

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