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ANTHONY JENKINS/The Globe and Mail

Be rubber, not glue

Early on in my career I was leading a professional workshop at [professional services firm] Deloitte & Touche, which meant mostly men. Because I'm tall and blond, somebody called me Vanna White. I got really upset: I wasn't smart, I wasn't respected, I wasn't going to cut it. I remember I told my mom about what had happened and she told me to let it go. It was a lesson in separating what actually happens with the meaning we assign to what happens. It was just a dumb comment.

You can't do everything

I don't use a to-do list, I keep a priority list, which forces me to make choices about what really matters. As a mother and a professional, I have to accept that I'm not going to be able to do everything and that's okay. For example, I try to look at the things I want to do for my children and determine what are the things I need to do versus the things they can probably do for themselves. Part of it is about giving up total control, which can be tough. My motto is don't tolerate, accept – which basically means that my 10-year-old isn't going to do a task to the level that I would do it, but it's done.

Be the change

We tend to – especially women – vent over lattes and wine. Lots of complaints about husbands and kids, bosses, whatever. The complaints are always about other people and we get stuck in them. Making your issues about you and not other people is really the key to taking ownership of your life. You're the only one that you can control or change. I work with one client, for example, who came to me because he didn't like his sales job, he wasn't a great sales guy, he wasn't happy or successful. We shifted his mindset so that he started to look at the things he could do to make the situation different, rather than constantly bucking up against the external issues. Six months later he was the top sales guy and loved his job. The job didn't change. He did.

Wear your heart on your wall

In my house we literally have our family values posted on the wall: the words "health," "excellence," "respect," "love," "adventure" and "fun." My husband and I came up with the list of the things that really matter to us and then when our kids were old enough we asked for their input. They agreed with all of the values we had chosen and they added "fun." We have the words posted right by the stairs so that you really can't not look at them every time you walk by. Having a regular reminder of what really simplifies things.

The past is not a crystal ball

I don't subscribe to the notion that the past predicts the future. I think it's a very hindering perspective. People will say, "If it happened once it will happen again" or "If you couldn't do it the first time, you won't be able to do it now." You become a victim of the past and this applies to relationships, marriage. The past doesn't create the future. The future is empty and full of possibility.

This interview has been condensed and edited by Courtney Shea