Not the Same Old Thanksgiving Post

By Jay Forte, Coach, Author, Educator

I love to read all the reminders to be grateful that come out this time of year. The holidays are really a remarkable time to help us refocus on the value of celebrating the people and events in our lives.

Because the being grateful theme is so pervasive at this time of year, I thought I would do something different: I challenge each of you to improve what you are grateful for.

Let me explain. As you pause at this time of year to notice the things to be grateful for, shift from noticing to taking action by asking yourself this one important question: “What could I do to make this better?” It is one thing to be grateful, it is another thing to make the things you are grateful for better.

In my programs, I share that I come from a large Italian family, and larger families often come with a lot of rules. Rules about homework, chores, how to treat each other, pets, neighbors, sharing… the list seems endless. Though I wasn’t always keen on all the rules, my Dad had one rule that was exceptional. He told us that as we come down the stairs each morning, we must tune in and pay attention to the things around us, then ask ourselves this question, “What could I do to make this better?”

So ask yourself this question in every aspect of your life. For example:

  • You say you are grateful for your relationships. What could you do on a daily basis to make them better, more authentic or more supportive?
  • You say you are grateful for a country with freedoms and liberties. What could you do on daily basis to make our country better?
  • You say you are grateful for the food you have. What could you do to share more of what you have to make another’s life better?
  • You say you are grateful for your health. What could you do to help others have better health and well-being?
  • You say you are grateful for your job and the life it provides. What could you do to make your workplace better, more inclusive and more supportive?

Making things better doesn’t mean they are bad and therefore need to change. It is just a new realization that with some intention, we can shift our gratitude to action.

So, as you sit around the table, look at the people at the table and be grateful for them. Then ask yourself, how can I make my relationships better? How can I be more generous with my resources? How can I be more supportive and helpful in my community, nation and world?

Think how many new things to be grateful for will emerge with this approach.


Consider reading Try This Instead

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What is A Good Day For You?

By Jay Forte, Coach, Author, Educator

Most of our todays look a lot like our yesterdays. Every morning, we launch right into habit mode and are surprised that the days seem to blend one into another. Nothing remarkable. Nothing amazing.

I believe that’s because we haven’t decided how our day will go. That’s right. You have a say in how your day unfolds. Sure, you can’t control every event throughout the day, but with a little intention, you can direct your responses and energy to make the things you want to see or experience actually happen.

It all starts with defining what a good day is for you. Most of us never reflect on this. In fact, too many of us let the world tell us what a good day means. Remember, you decide; what defines a good day for YOU and how can you make more intentional decisions to have a good day?

Here are two examples to think about.

Let’s say you define a good day as one where your family gets along. Already having this mindset helps you tune in to your family differently. You can share this request with others, manage your own emotions and influence how your family interacts. Without the intention, things are the way they always are.

Let’s say a good day for you is when you get personalized feedback from your manager, so you’re inspired to reach out to your manager to share that feedback is important to you. Or, because you’re more tuned in to this, you provide personalized feedback with your teammates, which activates the same response in your manager. Without the intention, things are the way they always are.

A good day for me includes having time to write. Sure, there are things I have to do, but I know I can define a day as remarkable when I make time to write to share thoughts about living our strengths and creating a life we love. Making time to write makes a big difference for me; I feel so much more alive, more grateful and more connected when I write.

Important Questions from a Coach

  1. What is a good day for you?
  2. What would remind you that each day is yours to define as either remarkable or unremarkable?
  3. What stops you from clearly identifying what you want to see, experience or achieve in your day?

It isn’t the number of days that matter, it’s the quality of the days. To create quality days, take the time to reflect on what makes a good day for you. Then, with greater clarity and intention, be determined to make it happen.


Need help getting focused? Consider talking with a coach to help you learn how to say what you want in life and how to go get it.


Consider reading Energy Level: Somewhere around a Zero

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What Mask Are You Wearing Today?

By Jay Forte, Coach, Author, Educator

We all wear a mask. We hide our true selves from others, something that is highly encouraged during Halloween when people dress up to be someone they’re not.

During every other day, the mask we wear is frequently inspired by our committee – the little voice inside your head that tells you someone won’t like you for any number of reasons. And, as is only natural for human beings, we look to protect ourselves from rejection, so we wear a mask to hide and downplay the things that are true about each of us, that we think won’t be accepted or appreciated by others.

One thing I’ve learned in my years on the planet is those who have happy, successful and amazing lives are first and foremost entirely true to who they are. This is because being true creates its own happiness. It frees you to use your full strengths and talents without reservation and, conveniently, this inspires success because these strengths and talents are both your competitive advantage and greatest abilities.

Those who are true to who they are can lead with what they are best at. They do what moves them and what interests them. They feel capable, inspired and energized. Just a taste of this can encourage almost anyone to toss the mask into the trash.

See, the more you wear your mask, the less of yourself you allow to come out. You stay hidden and blocked. You miss out on the life you could have and the one that fits you better.

For many years, I lived my life according to the way those around me thought I should. They told me what to believe, where to work, what to drive, who to love, how to live… Sometimes it came through as directive. Sometimes it was just assumed that you would fall into line the way your siblings and friends did. Go to college – we all do it. Work for a company – we all do it. Get married and have kids – we all do. Go to church – we all do it. That is, until you determine for yourself what is for you. It might be some of these, all of these or none of these. You choose.

Is it safer to wear a mask and pretend to fit in? Sure. But you weren’t born to blend. You were born to stand out, to be who we truly are, live your greatest abilities and make your unique difference. Only you can know what this is; others don’t and can’t until you let them in on it. So if you follow their guidance, especially if you know it to be contrary to who you are and what you feel, you sacrifice your ability to be the greatest version of yourself. You shortchange yourself and you shortchange the world from the thing or things you could do to make a better life for you and a greater world for all of us.

E.E. Cummings said, “It takes courage to grow up and become who you really are.”

So ditch the mask. Let the better, more amazing, truer and wiser you emerge.

Important Questions from a Coach

  1. What mask do you wear and why?
  2. What is the one place or time in your life where you know you can take the mask off?
  3. What will help you develop the courage to live who you really are and not be so worried about what others think and feel about you?
  4. What would it take for you to see past the mask to see your real greatness?

You are you and you are born just right. Stand proud. Discover, develop and live your true self. Find and use your true voice. Support others to do this same work.


Consider reading Embrace Your Face.

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Energy Level: Somewhere around a Zero

By Kristin Allaben, Executive Assistant and Strategic Communications Specialist

You wake up on a rainy morning. You didn’t sleep well. Your neck is sore. You’re still tired. It’s cold, raw and, you guessed it, Monday.

Be honest, what was the first reaction you had to reading that scenario? What’s your energy level?

Most people would eloquently respond with “ugh” or “meh.” Some may even quote Office Space, grumbling to themselves, “Someone’s got a case of the Mondays,” and roll over and hit ‘snooze.’

This is Level 1 energy – a feeling of indifference, being disconnected and, to the extreme, playing the victim.

At The Forte Factor, we focus on strengths, optimism, opportunity and potential. These are driven by understanding that performance energy is either productive or unproductive (not good/bad, right/wrong) and that productive performance energy will more successfully use strengths, drive optimism, inspire opportunity and help achieve potential. So, how are you letting your energy level dictate your day?

In Life’s Little Moments, I talk about making the choice to respond positively to potentially frustrating events. Let’s review one of those situations by looking at the reaction vs. the response aligned to the energy funnel.

Situation: You spill something on your shirt right before a big meeting.
Reaction: Frustrated. Angry. Embarrassed. Annoyed.
Energy: Level 2. You allow yourself to feel angry and become irritated. You are more critical, short-tempered and aggravated by little things.
Outcome: The meeting is awkward and uncomfortable. You check the time frequently and keep looking at the door. When a question is directed at you, you reply with a sarcastic comment. When someone says something you disagree with, you offer a valid, yet aggressive, response. Your point is made and you’re assigned the big project you wanted, but now you’re on your own. No one wants to work with you.

Same situation, with a positive energetic response instead of a negative reaction:

Response: Frustrated, but you choose to laugh it off because sometimes these things happen – it’s not personal. You now focus your energy on how to solve the problem by looking for a jacket or scarf to hide the mark, not wasting your energy on being upset. You choose to be confident and don’t call any attention to your mishap before the meeting. It’s done and in your past.
Energy: Level 5. You accept a human moment happened and you enter the meeting with confidence, knowing that what you say and do in the meeting will matter more than the stain on your shirt.
Outcome: The meeting goes incredibly well. You break the tension in the room by laughing off the human moment and segue into the challenge at hand, discussing a few possible solutions. You’re assigned the big project you wanted and have an entire team of people to help. You start brainstorming immediately.

Do you see the difference?

Being aware of your energy enables you to more efficiently manage your emotions. You can intentionally choose an energetic response that is productive that, in turn, can yield more successful results. You move out of habit reaction into thoughtful response. You have what it takes to learn from this moment to make your next moment better.

So let’s rethink that dreary Monday morning wake-up. How will you choose to start your week?


Consider reading The Energy Funnel Explained.

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Life’s Little Moments

By Kristin Allaben, Executive Assistant and Strategic Communications Specialist

Life is full of little moments to remember, to laugh at, to share, to take a mental picture and hope you never forget. Sure, life can present you with some incredibly frustrating situations, like:

  • You reach for the chocolate jimmies (or “sprinkles,” if you’re not from Massachusetts) and end up putting parsley flakes on your ice cream instead.
  • You spill coffee on your shirt right before a big meeting.
  • The cover on the salt shaker is loose and you end up pouring salt onto your food.
  • You pour milk in your coffee and discover it has gone bad…after you take your first sip.
  • Your 1-year old insists on feeding himself and gets applesauce all over the kitchen.

How many of these moments can you relate to?

These are moments that can get under your skin and, I admit, there are some days when life’s little frustrations and irritations can certainly push me over the edge. I’m human.

But I have found that what I choose to do in the next moment is what makes all the difference. It is my choice. I can let life’s little moments ruin my day, or I can choose to see the moment as a human event. It’s the difference between reacting vs. responding.

When you pour parsley flakes on your ice cream, take a picture and share with family or friends who will get a kick out of it. And if you’re really craving that ice cream, scoop the parsley out and eat the ice cream anyway.

When your 1-year old gets applesauce all over the kitchen, take a mental picture of the grin on his face and grab your phone to share a picture of the “disaster” with family. Remember, this is a learning experience for him and he’s proud of himself for getting *some* of that food in his mouth by himself. He is, in fact, just [a small] human.

Life is full of little irritating and frustrating moments – you choose if they will make or break your day. And now that you see you have the choice, why would you choose to let them break your day?

Important Questions from a Coach

  1. Imagine a “little moment” when your reaction was a negative one. How did it impact your day?
  2. Think about those you came into contact with that day – your colleagues, your kids, your friends. How did your mood/attitude impact their day?
  3. What could you have done differently in the moment that followed to change your behavior?

I frequently think of Pam and Jim’s wedding episode from The Office. In the car, on their way up to their wedding location, Pam tells Jim a relative suggests taking a mental picture during the day to ensure you don’t forget a great little moment.

So, when life’s little moments present you with something incredible, take the mental picture, especially when those little moments require a deeper look to find that incredible component to remember.


Consider reading Catch and Release.

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The Energy Funnel Explained: Level 4

By Jay Forte, Coach, Author, Educator

For those who find themselves in Level 4 energy on the Energy Funnel, they are classified as “The Provider.”

Level 4 energy is characterized by helping, responding, healing, fixing, loving and nurturing. This energy level manifests as being ruled by relationships and working to ensure [positive] attention is on others. People in Level 4 energy are often emotional, focused on others and service-minded.

Notice that Level 4 is anabolic; you focus on others with care and support. Notice the energy starts to become more positive and productive, along with opportunities and feelings.

What Level 4 Looks Like

Let’s say you are a devoted mom. You are at all of your kids’ events, you help with projects, you bring forgotten homework to school and you leave notes in their lunches. You constantly change your schedule to accommodate their needs and interests. You don’t do it because you have to, you do it because you care deeply.

Or, you are a very committed and supportive team member. Your team knows that when they ask for your help you always say yes, regardless of how busy you are. Your team knows you are approachable and available, because helping others out is important to you. It matters that others can rely on you.


  • Thought: Care
  • Feeling: Kindness
  • Action: Support
  • Advantages of Level 4 energy: a focus on self-less service, deep empathy, concern and attention to others
  • Disadvantages of Level 4 energy: disregard self for a focus on others, overly judgmental in your need to assess and fix others

Remember: when you notice you are in Level 4 energy, you can become aware of what is inspiring this level of energy. This awareness, combined with your understanding of the six levels of energy, presents you with the opportunity to choose how you will address the situation.

As you become more aware of your emotions, combined with a deeper understanding of the six levels of energy, you see that your energy level is yours to choose. The result is powerful: you can significantly improve your outlook, outcome and experience.

Important Questions from a Coach

  1. What activates Level 4 energy for you?
  2. How is Level 4 energy productive for you?
  3. How is Level 4 energy unproductive for you?
  4. When it is unproductive, how can you move to a more productive energy level?

Are you known for caring too much? Do you find that you give more to others so that you have little left for yourself? Consider scheduling a complimentary 15-minute coaching session with Jay to determine if coaching can help you include yourself in your level of care to feel happy and engaged in both work and life.


Continue reading about the next energy level: Level 5.

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