Fulfillment vs. Emptiness: A Journey #peopleskills

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Have you heard the one about the man who always saw the glass as “half full”?

One day, this eternal optimist decided that he wanted a glass of crisp, refreshing iced tea. However, his glass was currently half full. Of milk.

Sometimes, when you want your glass to be full – when you want the thing that would really satisfy you – you have to pour out what you’ve already got. Of course, you could drink it, right? And lots of people do that. They drink up what they don’t want.

Some folks have some lemonade in their glass, not milk, so they and add some iced tea. Nothing wrong with an Arnold Palmer…unless you really just want iced tea. The lemonade doesn’t add what you want, in this case. Something is added, but it’s not additive – because it takes away from what you really want.

Are you with me on this “mixed metaphor”?

The reason I share this little story is not to encourage you to try an Arnold Palmer, or to suggest that iced tea is better than milk. But I do believe that there is something that you know you would prefer vs. what you have now…even if the glass is “half full”.

I’m talking about a situation, career or relationship that could be a lot more refreshing.

Sometimes the biggest challenge is letting go of what you have. But that’s the only way to fill up your glass – and your life – with what you really want.

Releasing those obligations is an important part of authenticity – finding your own true voice, and taking action to develop the life you really want.

When it comes to being effective in your career, your performance is determined by “skill” approximately 20% of the time. The other 80%? Attitude.

Your mental approach to the day-to-day requirements of your job, your life and even your relationships determines your effectiveness. How’s your attitude, if you don’t have what you want in your half-full glass?

Think about it:

You know what needs to be done. But, why don’t you do it? You may say, “I don’t have the skills or the training!” But, unless we’re talking about brain surgery (and right now you’re a plumber), you probably have the skills you need to do what’s next. What’s stopping you?

  • You know you should go to the gym
  • You know you should tell him how you really feel
  • You know your current career is not a fit

But, what stops you?


Attitude, to an engineer, means “point of attack” – it’s your approach.  Think of it like the tilt of a wing, on an airplane. Tilt the right way, and you will take off. Wrong attitude? Could mean a crash landing.

It’s a little too easy to say, “Change your attitude and you will change your results!” That kind of motivational mumbo-jumbo might inspire some, but you and I both know that it doesn’t always last.  There is a way to find the attitude – and the actions – that can create the results you want.  It doesn’t involve chanting some new mantra, it involves looking at the obstacles that are holding you back.  The thing that’s “out there”, the thing that you “should do”, is an obligation we need to explore.  Where does that obligation come from? Should you really listen to it?  And, if the answer that keeps showing up is, “YES!” – how do you move forward with grace and ease?

What if your attitude didn’t have to change, for you to create real results?  What if you didn’t have to be someone else, or do something else, to create something entirely new?  Maybe that sounds like some motivational mojo, but it’s not.  You can’t become who you are supposed to be, without understanding where you are.  That’s not a false inspiration; that’s the way the world works.

Every book I’ve ever published always started at the same place: a blank page.

For my clients, we’re working on the right alignment, and understanding how things work – the system that underlies all the wants, shoulds and shouldn’ts that rule our lives.  Together, we are creating the attitude that delivers results. But before we take off, we explore what it means to let go of what doesn’t interest you anymore.

Because half-full can leave you feeling empty, if it’s not exactly what you want.

A version of this post first appeared on LinkedIn

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US National Elevator Pitch Champion. Keynote speaker. Author. Business coach for Fortune 100 companies, entrepreneurs and high-growth organizations. Married with two daughters, based in Houston, Texas USA.
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