Many moons ago, I worked as a pay phone operator. And I learned a valuable lesson about exaggeration.
(What’s a pay phone operator? Let’s just say that real live humans were your Siri.)
Every day, I sat in a cubicle sea and wore a headset to answer calls that came through a desktop computer.
I was not allowed to talk to anyone but the people who called my pay phones, and I was only allowed a pencil and a few sheets of scrap paper.
The computer did nothing but answer calls. No email, no internet, not even a pleasant beach-scene screensaver.
So…yeah, it was super boring.
One day, my manager asked if anyone spoke French. They occasionally got calls from French speaking customers and needed someone who could direct them to a French language help line.
I lifted my hand. I had taken French for several years in school, but I had zero occasion to speak it. Rusty would have been a nice way of describing my fluency at that point.
But no one else was available, so I...
How to find your true value in a world of material success
About 10 years ago, I fell into the dumps. After I aired my grievances and bemoaned my crippled confidence to a friend, she said, “Amy, you were born with all the value you’re ever going to get.” She told me that no job, no relationship, no status, wealth or accolade could make me worth more. She said I was valuable just for being me.
She was a good friend, and something deep inside me recognized the truth in what she said. But no matter how much sense it made, I wasn’t acting as if I believed it. My brain kept telling me things such as: Everyone else your age already has children. If you had just finished college when you were supposed to, you’d have a decent career by now. And those people aren’t just more attractive than you—they’re better than you.
The legendary personal achievement philosopher Jim Rohn said, “Income seldom exceeds your personal development.” As...
Life Coach Martha Beck on trusting yourself, finding what makes you happy and going for it.
In 2004 I was enjoying the highest-paying, most respectable job I had ever worked. Everything from the title on my business card to the location of the building fed my notion of success.
Then a Cadillac Escalade sideswiped me on my way home one evening. After an ambulance ride and an MRI, I was told there was a problem with my spine. Over the course of the next few months, I waited to find out if I needed surgery. And everything changed.
“If you had asked me a week before that accident if I was happy, I would’ve said yes,” I told life coach Martha Beck over the phone. “I had this dream job, a nice car, and everybody thought I was hot stuff. But a week after the accident, I found myself saying, ‘Oh my gosh, I’m scared to death. I don’t belong at that job. I don’t think I like myself anymore. I’m not following my purpose, and I feel like...
Learn how and when to draw the line after someone asks too much of you.
One summer, I was struggling with feelings of resentment toward a family member. Let’s call her Carol. I loved Carol very much, but every time I saw her number on the caller ID, I got a sick, overwhelmed feeling. I started avoiding her calls. I realized, thanks to a candid chat with a friend, that I was steering clear of Carol because she always wanted something from me. And I always said yes. I was so invested in having Carol think well of me, that no matter what she needed or wanted, I figured out a way to make it happen and ended up creating chaos in my life as a result.
A friend suggested I write NO in big letters on a notecard and set it on my coffee table. Then each time Carol called, I was to sit down and stare at that notecard until I got the gumption to just say no.
Boundaries are tricky—we don’t always realize that we’re unhappy or unproductive because of a...
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