Monthly Archives: January 2009

Swimming Idioms Part 1

(from with some modifications)

If you are ‘out of your depth’, you don’t have the necessary knowledge, experience or skill to deal with a particular situation or subject. In North America, a common replacement is ‘out of your league’, as in major league baseball.
• When she started talking about quantum physics, I felt completely out of my depth/league.
• I’m an engineer. I feel out of my depth when we discuss accounting problems.
• That woman is so beautiful. She is definitely out of my league!

If you are on ‘the crest of a wave’, you are being extremely successful or popular. If something is popular, you can try to ‘ride (on) the wave’.
• That singer is on the crest of the wave in the pop charts at the moment. You can hear his music everywhere.
• He became successful riding on the wave of using British actors as villains in Hollywood movies.

If you don’t get any training before you start a job or activity, you are ‘thrown in at the deep end’.
• Everyone was off sick so I was thrown in at the deep end.
• The best way to learn the job is to be thrown in at the deep end.

If you are struggling to spend less than you earn, you are trying to ‘keep your head above water’.
• Since they increased my rent, I’ve been struggling to keep my head above water.
• With the new sponsorship, the team should be able to keep its head above water.

If a company has to stop business because of losses, it ‘goes under’.
• The company couldn’t afford to pay its suppliers and it went under.
• In this economic climate, a lot of businesses will go under.

If you are in a very difficult situation, you are ‘in deep water’.
• If the bank doesn’t give us this loan, we could be in deep water.
• He was caught stealing from his company and now he’s in deep water.
• Note: this has been commonly replaced with the more street-slang phrase ‘in deep sh_t’. This of course is a curse-word.

Swimming Idioms Part 2

If you ‘make a splash’, you get a lot of public attention.
• We need to make a splash by holding a cocktail party for journalists.
• She made quite a splash when she wore such a small dress to the film premiere.

If a noise is ‘drowned out’, you cannot hear it because of other noises.
• The sounds of the telephone were drowned out by the noise from upstairs.
• His speech was drowned out by the chanting from the demonstrators.

If you ‘test the water’, you try to find out what you or people think about an idea or a situation before you take action.
• Before you decide to sell your house in England and move to Spain, why not go there for a trial three months to test the water?
• This is a big project. We should test the water before making such a large investment.

If a situation is ‘sink or swim’, it either fails or succeeds.
• Either this works or we are all out of a job. It’s sink or swim.
• You’ll get no training here. It’s sink or swim.

If you ‘dive into’ something, you do it without really thinking about what you are doing. Also ‘dive into it head-first’. This highlights the lack of preparation and thought.
• He dove into the project with a lot of enthusiasm but not much thought.
• Let’s take our time. There’s no point in diving into this without thinking.

If you are ‘treading water’, you are staying in the same place without making any progress.
• I’m just treading water, waiting for a job with a better salary.
• People lose motivation if they think they are just treading water in their careers.

Can you think of other idioms to do with swimming to add to this list?

Saying the Oath of Office Again

Dear Mr. President (if he really were listening…),

Don’t worry about having to take the oath again. Even though both of you were understandably nervous during the inauguration, it was not your fault. If the other guy would have simply spoken 3-4 words only at a time, and waited for you to repeat them, then went on to the next 3-4 words (instead of saying sentences of 5-10 words at a time) it would have gone a lot smoother! Think of wedding vows – same rule applies, no matter how much you practice the vows ahead of time. Being nervous is natural and understandable, and that is why the lead-speaker needs to slow down, speak clearly and absolutely ‘chunk’ up the sentences to manageable small parts.

Common sense I know, yet…President Obama had to take the oath twice.  🙂

Obama’s Speech and the Use of Threes

Like many of you, I thoroughly enjoyed watching Barack Obama give yet another powerful and persuasive speech today at his inauguration for presidency. He motivates, inspires and gives hope by using creative speech, story-telling devices and references to great people of the past. He also creates a vision in our heads of what a better future might actually look like and feel like. Truly uplifting and inspiring.

For those of you that missed it or want to hear it again, it is a mere Google search away. Here is one link out of many that you can follow to read and see his speech again.

He is a masterful speaker and I know we can learn from his style. Pay attention to his device of the use of three. He uses three adjectives, verbs or nouns often, as I did above, to speak more poetically and retain the interest of the audience. You too can do this. Sometimes use 2 descriptors or key words, mostly use 3, and you will notice that your public speaking is improved quickly, easily and with more added persuasion.

German computer geeks learn to flirt

(In point of fact a lot of my clients come from the world of I.T., finance or engineering. This article is interesting as it indirectly demonstrates how important social communication skills can be lost when a person focuses too much on the ‘hard skills’ or scholastic endeavors. As a Communication Coach I help people find balance in their life and I enjoy doing it.)

BERLIN (Reuters) – Even the most quirky of computer nerds can learn to flirt with finesse thanks to a new “flirting course” being offered to budding IT engineers at Potsdam University south of Berlin.

The 440 students enrolled in the master’s degree course will learn how to write flirtatious text messages and emails, impress people at parties and cope with rejection.

Philip von Senftleben, an author and radio presenter who will teach the course, summed up his job as teaching how to “get someone else’s heart beating fast while yours stays calm.”

The course, which starts next Monday, is part of the social skills section of the IT course and is designed to ease entry into the world of work. Students also learn body language, public-speaking, stress management and presentation skills.

“We want to prepare our students with the social skills needed to succeed both in their private life and their work life,” said Hans-Joachim Allgaier, a spokesman for the institute at Potsdam University where the course is being offered.

(Writing by Anna Brooke; Editing by Nick Vinocur)

What’s wrong with these sentences?

Bushisms: U.S. leader sets standard for mangled phrases during presidency
By The Associated Press

President George W. Bush will leave behind a legacy of Bushisms, the label stamped on the U.S. leaders original speaking style. Some of the president’s more notable malapropisms and mangled statements:

-“I know the human being and fish can coexist peacefully.” – September 2000, explaining his energy policies at an event in Michigan.

-“Rarely is the question asked, is our children learning?” – January 2000, during a campaign event in South Carolina.

-“They misunderestimated the compassion of our country. I think they misunderestimated the will and determination of the commander-in-chief, too.” – Sept. 26, 2001, in Langley, Va. Bush was referring to the terrorists who carried out the Sept. 11 attacks.

-“There’s no doubt in my mind, not one doubt in my mind, that we will fail.” – Oct. 4, 2001, in Washington. Bush was remarking on a back-to-work plan after the terrorist attacks.

– “It would be a mistake for the United States Senate to allow any kind of human cloning to come out of that chamber.” – April 10, 2002, at the White House, as Bush urged Senate passage of a broad ban on cloning.

– “I want to thank the dozens of welfare-to-work stories, the actual examples of people who made the firm and solemn commitment to work hard to embetter themselves.” – April 18, 2002, at the White House.

-“There’s an old saying in Tennessee – I know it’s in Texas, probably in Tennessee – that says, fool me once, shame on – shame on you. Fool me – you can’t get fooled again.” – Sept. 17, 2002, in Nashville, Tenn.

(NOTE: The proper saying is: “Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me!”)

-“Our enemies are innovative and resourceful, and so are we. They never stop thinking about new ways to harm our country and our people, and neither do we.” – Aug. 5, 2004, at the signing ceremony for a defence spending bill.

-“Too many good docs are getting out of business. Too many OB/GYNs aren’t able to practice their love with women all across this country.” – Sept. 6, 2004, at a rally in Poplar Bluff, Mo.

– “Our most abundant energy source is coal. We have enough coal to last for 250 years, yet coal also prevents an environmental challenge.” – April 20, 2005, in Washington.

– “We look forward to hearing your vision, so we can more better do our job.” – Sept. 20, 2005, in Gulfport, Miss.

-“I can’t wait to join you in the joy of welcoming neighbours back into neighbourhoods, and small businesses up and running, and cutting those ribbons that somebody is creating new jobs.” – Sept. 5, 2005, when Bush met with residents of Poplarville, Miss., in the wake of hurricane Katrina.

-“It was not always a given that the United States and America would have a close relationship. After all, 60 years we were at war 60 years ago we were at war.” – June 29, 2006, at the White House, where Bush met with Japanese Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi.

-“Make no mistake about it, I understand how tough it is, sir. I talk to families who die.” – Dec. 7, 2006, in a joint appearance with British Prime Minister Tony Blair.

– “These are big achievements for this country, and the people of Bulgaria ought to be proud of the achievements that they have achieved.” – June 11, 2007, in Sofia, Bulgaria.

– “Mr. Prime Minister, thank you for your introduction. Thank you for being such a fine host for the OPEC summit.” – September 2007, in Sydney, Australia, where Bush was attending an APEC summit.

-“Thank you, Your Holiness. Awesome speech.” April 16, 2008, at a ceremony welcoming Pope Benedict to the White House.

-“The fact that they purchased the machine meant somebody had to make the machine. And when somebody makes a machine, it means there’s jobs at the machine-making place.” – May 27, 2008, in Mesa, Ariz.

-“And they have no disregard for human life.” – July 15, 2008, at the White House. Bush was referring to enemy fighters in Afghanistan.

– “I remember meeting a mother of a child who was abducted by the North Koreans right here in the Oval Office.” – June 26, 2008, during a Rose Garden news briefing.

-“Throughout our history, the words of the Declaration have inspired immigrants from around the world to set sail to our shores. These immigrants have helped transform 13 small colonies into a great and growing nation of more than 300 people.” – July 4, 2008 in Virginia.

– “This thaw – took a while to thaw, it’s going to take a while to unthaw.” Oct. 20, 2008, in Alexandria, La., as he discussed the economy and frozen credit markets.


G.R.O.W. Yourself in 2009

Hello everyone and happy 2009!

As some of you might know I was recently on television again this year to briefly talk about New Years resolutions and how to create a plan to stick to them. Now personally, as most of you would know from last year’s interview that I uploaded to my homepage, I do not actually set New Years resolutions. I believe in continuous goal-setting as opposed to creating a ‘wish-list’ on December 31st. However this year I was happy to discuss the coaching model that I use for goal identification and planning for my clients. It is called the G.R.O.W. model.

This is not just mine. Many coaches use it, or some variant of it. Here is what I use this acronym for and what I explained on CBC Newsworld national TV a couple days ago. I hope you enjoy it and find it useful for self-coaching and also for helping others around you take the next steps on the path to more success.

G – Goals. What are your new goals and how do they mesh with your current goals already in place? This is where you establish your vision of where you want to be in life. Are those goals SMART (specific, measurable, attainable, realistic and time-based) or as I mentioned in last year’s interview, are they BEST (believable, enthusiastic, specific and time-limited)?

R – Reality. What is your current reality? What is your environment like at work and at home? Where are you now, at the starting point, and why do you want or need to achieve these identified goals?

O – Opportunities. Some people use this letter for ‘obstacles’, but I prefer the more positive word ‘opportunities’. What have you tried before that helped or hurt your goal achievement? What opportunities can you take advantage of now, around you, to achieve your goals? Are there courses, books, workshops, seminars, coaches or mentors? Will work subsidize professional development training for you? If you do not ask you will not know what their policy or budget is.

W – Willingness. Again some other coaches use this letter to refer to the ‘wrap-up’ stage, which is fine, but I prefer to be a little more specific and call it ‘willingness’. This is the very important stage of figuring out your current motivation for each of your goals. Write them down, from all different areas (financial, health, professional, communicative, etc.) and then assign a number to each one, based on your motivation to achieve it, on a scale of 1-10. Anything less than a 7 will be difficult to achieve at this point. Use your momentum and focus on the top 2 or 3 goals that have an 8 or above answer. With your new priority list organize an action plan and get to work!

A little more advice was given during my interview that I cannot fit into this article so when CBC sends me the DVD (they promised!) I will upload it to give those of you interested a chance to see it.

By the way, a common question I get is “are you nervous when you are being interviewed live on television?” The answer is simply “yes, I am.” I just centre myself and stick to what I know best, and above all, I breathe! It seems to work out okay.

All the best to all of us for 2009!

P.S. – There is a giveaway Ebooklet called “How to Achieve Goals” that you can check out here to get advice and understanding on goals: .

Thank you!

I’m on TV again – Happy New Year!


For those interested in seeing me on CBC TV again to discuss the coaching model for goal setting and achievement, please stay tuned to CBC NewsWorld (Channel 26 in Toronto anyway) at 10:15am Jan 1st morning. their topic is New Years resolutions. I am changing it a bit…

Happy New Year to all of you and truly all the very best in 2009. Don’t let the media scare you about the economic situation. It is what it is.