Sometimes, Elevation Requires ISOLATION

First of all, a VERY Happy New Year to everyone! I’m so happy to be writing again.

Let’s get down to the pressing question that everyone is asking: “Where have you been and what is going on with Optimism Matters?!”

Well, I took an entire year to continue developing and enjoying my new life in a new town, with a new husband (woo-hoo)! During this time, I came incredibly close to shutting down Optimism Matters altogether. It was on life support and things were not looking good. Not because I didn’t want to do this anymore, but because I felt really stuck as far determining the direction I wanted the company to go, and everything I was doing seemed to be falling flat or deeply unsatisfying.

Then, I finally realized where I went wrong.

I got distracted from my original mission and focused on Optimism Matters as a commodity and not for its purity. What I mean by this is that I originally began this endeavor to help people develop holistically, with a HUGE emphasis on living one’s truth, taking care of one’s physical/emotional/spiritual health, and finding joy and peace. I went into corporations with this mission as well, but began to overemphasize the business development, professional development, and achievement aspects. I allowed the large corporate engagements I won to dictate the direction I had taken the company in at the time, and it started to feel impure, for lack of a better word. I was wrong to do this, but I didn’t know how to make it right. That’s why I considered shutting down OMI altogether.

But something told me to just be still and not make any moves. So I didn’t. For the whole year. This decision was in direct opposition to my nature of being an overachiever (one of my last posts of 2013 even was rooting that action is ALWAYS the answer, but now I know that it’s not) that always has to be making moves. Talk about scared, I was mortified.

That’s why the name of this blog is “Sometimes, Elevation Requires Isolation” (thanks Jason Lester!), because I literally had to isolate my corporate work (and myself) from Optimism Matters and think about why I created it.

I am happy to say that I’ve come out on the other side. I began to ask, “Well, why CAN’T I be a kick ass business systems consultant AND a personal development coach? Where is the rule that I have to pick one or the other? Aren’t organizations and people served when they feel effective at work and fulfilled at home?”

With that, I have re-established the mission of Optimism Matters to help others find joy, peace, and balance, whether they are a CEO or a janitor. And with that I feel free again. I feel full of wonderful topics to write about, because Optimism Matters will no longer cater to corporate subjects only. I have allotted part of OMI to be geared towards that, because that’s a part of who I am as well, and I want to honor that, but it doesn’t rule the roost here anymore. This is a place where business processes AND individual processes are examined, re-calibrated, and maximized.

Happy 2015, everyone. Let’s make it a great one.



I Know Why You’re Stuck

Main points of this blog:

• You waste creative energy on feeling sorry for yourself
• You won’t listen to “the big ME”
• You’re trying to fit an old box that YOU created, but you’ve outgrown
• You’re trying to live your life according to other people’s expectations
• You won’t stand up for yourself

So many people are stuck in a rut and at the end of their wits. We’ve all been there, right? In my experience, I get out of my stuck place when I realize why I’m stuck. (This has worked on people I have coached as well.) So, considering that, here are some reasons as to why you might be stuck.

YOU WASTE YOUR CREATIVE ENERGY ON FEELING SORRY FOR YOURSELF. This takes up SO much energy. It clutters the mind and drains the emotions. It puts you in a weird cycle of dissatisfaction and lethargy. I remember one day I was feeling particularly sorry for myself, laying on my couch and looking at the ceiling, thinking about how unfair I thought my life was. I remember hearing “the big ME” say, “And what exactly are you doing right now? Telling yourself a sad story? How exactly is that helping you? What could you be doing right now instead? You’d be much happier if you were actually taking action as opposed to laying here telling yourself a victim story. Get mad and do something about it!”

As always, “the big ME” was right.

YOU WON’T LISTEN TO “THE BIG ME.” Ignoring this person is the reason many live unfulfilled. Everyone has a “big ME”. It is the complete, delicious, bad-ass version of you. The one who takes no prisoners, knows his or her value and goes for the gold. Who’s your higher self? Mine looks like Kerry Washington but talks like Alec Baldwin’s character in “Glengarry Glen Ross” (don’t judge me). It’s a combination of 2 bad-asses telling me to suck it up and get it together, because that’s the only way I’ll get where I really want to be. I suppose it’s very fitting that my “big ME” is a combination of two big screen actors. Think about it. How many movies have you seen where the person is feeling sorry for herself and someone out of nowhere says, “Oh, you poor thing. Here’s the money you need. Here’s the life you want. You’ve experienced enough angst here on this couch/bed/barstool. You deserve this.”

Hell no.

What do we see in the movies (especially the ones about real life successful people)? They get beat up, everyone around them doubts them, tells them they’re crazy, tells them to give up and go get a real job/just be like everybody else. But you know the funniest thing that all these people have in common? THEY CAN’T GIVE UP. Even when they don’t have any money. Even when they look like fools. Even when they’ve failed a hundred times. They can’t give up because they will die if they do. And that’s what I realized about myself. I couldn’t just give up and settle into some 9 to 5 with no growth potential indefinitely (although there’s nothing wrong with that if it is a means to an end or your personal preference), because I would be so miserable I wouldn’t be myself anymore. My essence would die. Let me tell you, that’s a powerful and freeing realization. So now what do you do when you realize that? What do you do when you know you HAVE TO, HAVE TO, HAVE TO follow your dreams even if it’s not going to make sense to anyone else?

Answer: Get ready for the fallout and hold on to your posterior with both hands. And after that, prepare for the delicious success that is sure to be yours because you persevered and made those sacrifices.

YOU’RE TRYING TO STUFF YOURSELF INTO AN OLD BOX THAT YOU’VE OUTGROWN. So often, we hear that we need to “think outside of the box,” but I don’t think most of us realize that the hardest boxes to get out of are the ones that WE create for ourselves. Sure, we have the boxes of expectation put on us by society, our families, our friends, etc., but the boxes we internalize get us in the most trouble. The funniest thing about those boxes is that they’re almost invisible to us. We know we’re doing something wrong, we just can’t seem to put our finger on it.

This is why we need outside help.

I’ve had my own challenge of being stuck inside of a box that I created, and that I actually enjoyed being in for a long time. And then I hit the wall. I could not get anything done, because I had actually grown to a higher level but wanted to play it safe. I had a sneaking suspicion of this, but really realized it when I went to the Million Dollar Consulting ®College for the first time. My mentor, Dr. Alan Weiss, helped me realize I wasn’t thinking big enough. Now I’ve created even more aggressive goals for myself and they have invigorated me in so many amazing ways.

YOU ARE TRYING TO LIVE ACCORDING TO OTHER PEOPLE’S EXPECTATIONS. This is true of all relationships in life, but particularly in romantic relationships. Some are in committed relationships with people who are encouraging you to do the exact opposite of what you feel so strongly led to do. How do you reconcile that? Well, maybe you can and maybe you can’t, but you must love yourself AND your partner enough to take the risk. Why? Because if you live a half-lived life, it will manifest in your relationship with your spouse/significant other. You will resent him/her, you will stifle a big part of yourself, and then what of your relationship? The person you love so much will not even get all of you. They will get glimpses of you. You will have a mediocre relationship because you are living up to mediocre standards. Do you really want that?

You must be honest with your partner about your needs, for your sake and your partner’s sake. Be patient with them and give them time to catch up, but always be you.

YOU WON’T STAND UP FOR YOURSELF. There is nothing more intoxicating than the feeling of standing up for yourself. It doesn’t have to be dramatic, it just has to be true. You must find the strength to say, “You know what? This is me, and this is all I can be. Take it or leave it.” There should be NO negativity underneath what you say, because you are choosing freedom for yourself and allowing the other person to have freedom as well. They are FREE to not accept you, and you are FREE to walk away.

SO, WHAT TO DO? I would give you a long list of ways to get unstuck, but you’ll just make a long to-do list that makes you feel good but that you probably won’t act on. That is not necessary anyway, because you already know what you need to do, which is take action. Action works miracles. Just taking steps in the direction of where you want to go will boost your confidence tremendously. So take one action today. TODAY. Make a confession, make a phone call, write a business proposal. Do SOMETHING. You will gain momentum if you just get started.

Let’s do it! I’m rooting for all of us.

Nick Whitenburg, The Courage Consultant


“Security is mostly a superstition. It does not exist in nature, nor do the children of men as a whole experience it. Avoiding danger is no safer in the long run than outright exposure. Life is either a daring adventure, or nothing.” ~Helen Keller

INSPIRED AFFIRMATION: I trust my intuition and go after the righteous desires and adventures of my heart! :)

Executive Decisions: How to Take Responsibility for Your Life and Become the Most Excellent Version of Yourself

In our society, many of us are wandering through life, living for the weekend, and being a slave to our excuses. We are overwhelmed, we are lonely, yet we are pretending that we have everything in order, when in truth we have no inner peace and no clear direction. We have become clever in our laziness and sloppy in our actions.

This book is for people who want to stop just being clever and actually possess wisdom. It is especially ideal for reforming B.S. artists (I was one of them!) who want to truly be excellent instead of just pretending that they are. It is for every person who is willing to “pay the cost to be the boss” and wants to go from a half-lived life to a truly abundant life.

The ideas in this book are no-nonsense, encouraging, and actionable. There are also supplemental workbooks (a Youth version and Adult version) available as well as Executive Decisions weekend programs available. Our first Executive Decisions Youth Symposium is already sold out!

Executive Decisions Intro Video

Group discounts are available for both books and programs.
Email for more info.


This book was born out of love and frustration.

One of the wonderful gifts I believe I have been given is my capacity to love people from all walks of life, coupled with a deep desire to see everyone be prosperous and happy. Throughout the years, I have coached many people around personal development issues, and my intention to see them have the life they truly desire is the fuel that keeps me going every day in my work. My frustration comes in when I see people constantly getting in their own way. Don’t get me wrong, I completely understand how and why we do this as human beings, because I certainly used to get into my own way (and still do once in a blue moon). The thing is, we live in misery for years on end just because we won’t take the necessary steps to make our life happen the way we want it to, and often we don’t know what steps to take or how to even get started. This is what this book is about.

When I went to the MBA program at La Salle University in Philadelphia, I fell in love with the language of business. It allowed me to look at things objectively, and to measure situations by the results produced. In my personal transformation, I decided to apply business concepts to my life and take inventory of myself. This sounds very cold, but it is not, because when you think about it, we are all in business: The business of living. WE are the CEOs of our lives, and most of us are running a sloppy business. In fact, it is safe to say that the business is probably running us instead of the other way around.

For many years, I ran a sloppy business. I was self-righteous, flaky, insecure, and controlling, and I was clever enough to get away with it. But when I started to evaluate my life, my results did not match my objectives (desires), because I was not doing things in a righteous manner. I knew that if I wanted different results, I would have to make some serious changes. I realized that I had to pay the cost to be the boss.

A boss is the person who makes an executive decision and moves forward in good faith with that decision. The boss may take others’ opinions into consideration, but at the end of the day, the boss knows that the final decision and responsibility lie with him, so he does not mind if everyone else disagrees with his decision, because he is doing what is in the best interest of his business. He is willing to do this because he knows that this is the only way he will be successful. So the question for you reading this right now is: Are you a truly a boss? Are you ready and willing to become one?

This book is NOT for the faint of heart. This book is NOT for the excuse-maker, this book is NOT for the person who wants to stay in his or her misery, and this book is not for the incorrigible critic. Also, please do NOT read this book if you are offended by strong language, unconventional approaches, or feeling convicted, because all of that is in the contents of this book.

This book is for everybody who is tired of TALKING about being a boss and is ready to actually BE a boss. This book is for anyone who is ready to take responsibility for his or her life, but just doesn’t know where to begin or how to really put good ideas into action. This book is for the people who are ready to get their money right, to finally have healthy, wonderful relationships, to do the work they know they were called to do, to truly be on top of their game, and most importantly, to TRULY love themselves.

If you are broke, if you feel broken, if you are lonely, if you are frustrated, if you are overwhelmed, if you feel that your heart is cold, if you feel you are running out of time, or if you feel out of control of the direction of your life, I encourage you to read this book and use the supplemental workbook. There is sure to be at least ONE idea that changes your whole life.

“Everyone is going to die, but not everyone is going to live.” -Dr. Christiane Northrup

Are you okay with living a half-lived life? Or are you ready to make the executive decisions for your life that will allow you to ACTUALLY live successfully? If you chose the latter, please read on. I hope that you, the reader, are able to find this book useful and most importantly, actionable. I look forward to seeing you on the other side.

Nick Whitenburg, Hamburg, Germany – August 8, 2011


If you are person who constantly strives to be better, you probably notice that at times, you seem to plateau in certain areas of your life. At that point, it’s time to take inventory of yourself. What needs to change? Here are 5 areas to consider:

1. THE COMPANY YOU KEEP. Who are your friends? Are they helping you grow? Are they challenging you to be better? Do they hold you accountable?

2. YOUR VOCATION. How do you feel about your work? Do you feel stimulated? Do you feel that your work serves a higher purpose?

3. YOUR INNER STRENGTH. Where are you spiritually? Do you have or are you developing an invisible means of support?

4. YOUR LOVE LIFE. What of your romantic partnership? Do you currently have one of substance? Do you desire one? Are you working on developing into the equivalent of the person you would like to be in partnership?

5. YOUR TIME. How are you using your time? Are you using it with wisdom or are you squandering it? How might you use your time more effectively?

These are just a few questions to start with to get out of your stuck place. I recommend picking one of these areas and answering the questions honestly and creating one action step for yourself this week that you believe that will get you a little closer to where you truly desire to be in your life.

Have faith and go forward.

-Nick Whitenburg

Processing vs. Procrastinating: Learning How To Step Back and Reset

After a life-altering family tragedy, I decided to take Optimism Matters underground (from blog posting, public events, etc.) for a while, only serve our current clients, reevaluate, and reset what the mission of this organization is now. In other words, as the person responsible for OMI, I needed to process some things to ensure that the work of my company was still standing firm in excellence, humanity, and integrity. The interesting thing about this is that it inspired a conversation between me and my mentor concerning the concept of processing vs. procrastination.

In my estimation, processing is the practice of identifying, appraising, and ultimately acting upon our emotions. This may take 5 minutes, or it may take 5 months, depending on the event(s) that the emotion is based on. Some processing takes years with the help of a qualified, licensed professional. The point of processing is to find a healthy way to deal with life’s events, as well as our relationship with ourselves and others in a healthy manner.

Procrastinating is the practice of putting off what needs to be done now to a later point in time, thus reducing effectiveness and potentially sabotaging your chances of a successful, fulfilled life. Many people procrastinate the processing of life’s events effectively, and stay in a psychological rut for unnecessary periods of time.

When life deals you a blow and leaves you scrambling, you have to take time for yourself, perhaps fall completely off the map, and put your life back together. You have to process in order to be effective again. The funny thing about that is, when you put all the pieces back together, the picture doesn’t look like it did before and/or it’s just not the truth for your life anymore. What do you do then?

Continue Processing vs. Procrastinating here.

Can A Cutthroat Boss Be A Good Boss, Too?

In The Devil Wears Prada, Meryl Streep’s character, über-critical boss-from-hell Miranda Priestly, pulls no punches regarding her reputation as a difficult boss. In fact, she revels in being difficult and attributes the success of the fashion magazine she runs to her cutthroat nature.

But could she have been a cuttthroat boss AND a good boss? The short answer is yes, of course. The longer answer? Yes, and it may be the best thing for your business, too!

That said, let’s really define cutthroat. According to the dictionary, when used as an adjective, it means “Ruthlessly competitive; dog-eat-dog.” By that definition, you can absolutely be a cutthroat good boss. Being ruthless about your customer service, quality of goods and delivery of products to your customer is something every boss should have top-of-mind.

But like Voltaire and Spiderman’s Uncle Ben said, “With great power comes great responsibility.” And with that responsibility, sometimes, you have to make the hard decisions, like whether or not to fire an employee.

New York Times “Thinking Entrepreneur” columnist Jay Goltz, recently spoke to a group of small family business owners and was asked “How do you balance a nurturing environment with being cutthroat?” Read Goltz’s insightful answer here.

BEWARE! Gerunds Are Killing Your Productivity!

Now, before you start looking under your desk and behind your reference books for a nest of pesky gerunds, here’s a reminder about the gerund. During our grammar school years, we learned gerunds are verbs conjugated in the continuous and progressive aspect a.k.a. words that end in “-ing.” Words like “working”, “preparing”, “brainstorming” and the like.

The problem with gerunds is that they don’t contribute much to your day in terms of productivity and progress. They’re time suck words and anything involving a time suck is deadly to an entrepreneur. According to an article from Inc., gerunds “undermine accountability, and where there’s a lack of accountability there is usually a corresponding lack of productivity.”

The article provides an excellent before and after example from a military general of how gerunds sap productivity: Read more here.

Wait… Don’t Send Another Email Until You See This!

Whether it’s spam, an overly CC’d email from a coworker or four emails from mailing lists you’ve been meaning to unsubscribe to, our inboxes are filled with WAY too much email. Unless you’re one of those rare folks who methodically keeps a tidy inbox, you suffer from email overload, and unfortunately, are probably contributing to the email overload of someone else.

This infographic [click the image to view the entire infographic] from guides the reader through a series of “choose your adventure”-like questions to help you decide whether or not to send that latest work email. With stats like $650 billion lost each year due to unnecessary emails, perhaps following these tips will make you think about email more purposefully vs. just sending emails out of habit.

Our favorite suggestion from the infographic: Instead of sending an email, get up and go talk to the person you were about to email. Not only does it get the blood flowing back to your legs, but you get some person-to-person interaction with a colleague. So, the takeaway? Take a moment to contemplate your emails before you send; mindful emailing makes for a more productive workforce!

Is Your Next Mistake A Brilliant Mistake?

History is full of brilliant mistakes. While “brilliant mistake” might sound like an oxymoron, mistakes in business are essential to growth and business innovation.

The goal is to find true meaning and lessons in your failures. In January, the Wharton School and Inc. magazine held a “Brilliant Mistake” contest where they asked readers to submit their most brilliant mistakes.

Wharton professor Paul Schoemaker, whose latest book, Brilliant Mistakes, challenges the negative stigma often attached to mistakes and failure. “The benefits of a mistake are greater than the costs. Failure is simply a departure from expectations,” he says. “Basically, it’s the world telling you that you didn’t see things in best way to begin with.”

Check out the three winning stories from the contest on deliberate mistakes, failed experiments and unprepared epiphanies here.