Emotional Awareness and Resilience Coach, Author, and Speaker

Lou’s Bio

As an Emotional Awareness coach, Author, and Speaker, Lou’s mission is to help men, women, and children understand and gain ownership over their emotions, so they can live the life they choose.

Through his personal experience of having successfully completed a multitude of endurance athletic events over the past decade, including the Boston Marathon, several Ironman events, and ultramarathons, as well through his study of eastern medicine and philosophy Lou has developed an important set of mental and emotional tools that have the ability to benefit anyone looking to bring their best selves to every situation.

Beyond his own practice, Lou has discovered how to translate his knowledge into tools for patients in his acupuncture practice, the youth he coaches, parents, business owners, and other athletes. Through his talks and workshops, Lou helps youth, parents, business owners, athletes and leaders gain ownership of their choices by knowing how to use their emotions in a way that serves their individual goals, whether for sports or for life.

Thank God for our Mistakes

Have you ever had one of those conversations with someone and for the life of you, you can’t remember their name? They clearly know yours, but the time has long passed where you can gracefully ask for theirs! This was the uncomfortable situation I found myself in today.

I received a call from a man who I knew. His daughter ran for me on my cross-country team and we had made a good connection through that. In fact, it was because of that connection that he was gracious enough to be calling to give me a lead on a contact who was interested in learning more about my START Right program. It was a really good conversation… and by the end… I was still drawing a blank on his name.

At the beginning of the conversation, I didn’t give it much thought. Figured I would remember as we talked. After all, I knew who he was. I could picture his face. I knew his daughter’s name. It would come to me, I said to myself. Of course, I did. What I should’ve done was stopped and asked him for his name. But my embarrassment over the fact that he was calling me, going out of his way to connect me with someone — I thought the least I owed him (right… for him, not me, of course 😉) was pretending that I knew his name.

Unfortunately, I let the phone call reach its end without asking him for his name. And for what? All in a quest to avoid showing my humanity. That in my human-ness I forgotten his name. Somehow deluding myself that if he thought so well of me, I had to appear perfect lest he withdraw his regard.

Perfection or perfectionism is not attainable, and we honestly should be thankful because it is corrosive to forward progress. It assumes a limit to one’s ability to surpass a certain level of excellence. It inhibits trying. Perfectionism doesn’t allow for there to be change — change in another person’s possible reality, or in the circumstances surrounding a situation.

What is attainable is perfect effort. Within perfect effort lies possibilities. Possibility of success, but more importantly, the possibility of setbacks. It is our setbacks that are the birthplace of ingenuity, learning (possibly someone’s name?), resilience, improvement, and the elevation of oneself physically and mentally. No one has ever gotten better through winning. No one has ever gone back to the drawing board and found ways to improve themselves because of their winning streak. Vital information that was sought out because of uncomfortable emotions surrounding our humanity like embarrassment, shame, sadness, or self-doubt would be completely and utterly set aside, or worse, never found if all we ever did was win.

So, proverbial hat in hand, after stepping back to reflect on my fears, shame, embarrassment and work through a big dose of genuine discomfort, I hit redial on my phone to acknowledge my humanity and ask my generous benefactor his name! Next time I’ll own my mistake a bit sooner — humble pie is definitely easier to swallow when it’s only a forkful.

I’m sure I’m not alone. What’s something you’ve improved on for yourself? I’d love to hear about your progress. Please share in the comments below.

Forgive Yourself and Find Your Center

I was feeling like a rock star! I had provided two workshops in the past week, to rave reviews from those who had attended. I’d had several other schools reach out to begin talks with me about setting up workshops with them. I was in contract negotiations to present at a university. My confidence was riding high!

So, to capitalize on that success, I headed over to the coffee shop to get some work done. I stepped up to order my coffee. But, before I could get a word out, the attendant said in a snarky tone, “I appreciate you want a coffee, but there are other people waiting.” I looked behind me and saw the line I unknowingly stepped in front of.

I felt embarrassment flood my body, blood heating my face. I felt this guy smirking at me. At least my outrage told me that’s what the coffee attendant was doing. My shame decided to make no eye contact as we walked to the back of the line. My irritation tightened my fists, and my throat (that might have been my embarrassment).

As the line moved forward my anger seethed with all of the things it was going to say when I got up there after that public embarrassment. Another person was served. “Who the hell does he think he is?!” The list of emotional discharge grew (without my knowledge… I wasn’t identifying anything). I was now one person away from letting this guy have it. My frontal lobe was ‘out to lunch’ and my emotions were having a field day, going back and forth between ripping this guy a new one, and being ‘monkishly’ quiet (repression) denying him the satisfaction of seeing that he ‘got to me!’ As the person in front of me got their coffee and was about to leave, Lucifer, the coffee attendant was relieved by another person.

“Can I help you?” With what, I thought. Right. I was getting a coffee.

I had just spent the past five minutes overrun by my emotions – caught up in the whirlwind of embarrassment, humiliation, and anger. Five minutes where I had completely forgotten about all of my earlier ‘wins’ with my workshop. Forgotten even that all I really wanted was to grab a coffee and settle in to get some work done. My frontal lobe had been completely highjacked by my knee-jerk emotional reaction to a perceived public humiliation and personal attack by a clerk with less-than-stellar customer service skills!

If I am completely honest, it took me a good while to re-center myself after this incident because, on top of my initial reaction, I then proceeded to stew about how I had allowed myself to get emotionally blind-sided like that. I mean, here I am blogging and coaching others about building mental emotional tools, and I can get worked up by a small mistake and poor response from a clerk… Talk about a field day for self-doubt gremlins!

It took more than a few moments before my frontal lobe was able to ‘hear’ the emotional beating I was giving myself.  I had to acknowledge that I had gotten caught — overrun by embarrassment and anger that was completely out of proportion with the actual thing that happened.  I re-engaged my brain and was able to apply my well-earned mental emotional tools and re-center myself.  Then I got back to being productive.

As I sipped my coffee, I thought back over the incident with the clerk. Emotional resilience isn’t about never getting caught in the energy of another, or in a circumstance that is unpleasant and coming off the rails and blowing up, feeling overwhelmed, or humiliated to the point you where you just want to run in another direction. It’s about allowing for those feelings fully, forgiving yourself for the times when you might get ‘caught,’ and re-center yourself back into your own sacred space. Yourself.

No one, and no thing holds the key to your actions but you. It’s not about holding your breath, acting like everything is fine (repressing), and then going on a drinking binge, fighting with loved ones, or venting your emotions all over. I’ll cut to the chase. Will this happen from time to time? Sure. Will you slip up, allow for another’s energy to pull you off of your center, blow up, point that judgmental finger at that so and so, and then feel the incriminating shame that you are not an emotional Jedi? Yes… and welcome to the club. None of us are.

I’m sure Martin Luther King Jr. may have felt a bit of anger every once in a while at the cops whose dogs were attacking innocent marchers in Selma.  The Dali Lama’s compassion and forgiveness may wane and turn to contempt every so often for China. We are all in good company, because we are all human.

Letting go of self-judgement and shame is step one. Remembering that you can take responsibility for your thoughts, your actions, and your emotions. If you get tripped up, you can acknowledge why you felt or reacted the way you did. Then you can forgive yourself and use your tools to get back to your own center – your authentic self. You don’t need to allow whatever it was outside of yourself that ‘caught’ you to have one more moment’s sway over how your emotions. Forgive yourself, re-center, and then act in your own best interest. It’s the best Jedi trick I know.

Fuel Your Bravery

It takes a lot for a kid to say something that really surprises me, leaving me, however briefly, at a loss for words. Well, I recently experienced just such a humbling moment. I was in the middle of giving a workshop to a group of high school students. I was on a roll, really in the groove, when I asked, “What would you do if you had no emotions?” This is a question I often ask in my workshops. I use it to drive home the point of how much our emotions control our actions (if you’ve been reading my blogs, you are familiar with my perspective on this). So, I asked the question:

“What would you do if you have no emotions?”

Without hesitation, this girl looked at me and said, “Nothing. If I had no emotion, I’d have no motivation.”

Crap! I didn’t see that coming. The workshop had been going along so well, and the students had been responding in expected ways, and were really engaged and connecting with what I was teaching. I wasn’t prepared for that level of insight from a 15-year-old! I have adults I present to who have never made that connection.

She was right: if we had no emotion, we would have nothing driving us to go after the things that we want. We need our emotions to motivate and give us information to help us make our decisions. What I really had meant by asking that question was, “What would you do if you did not have any uncomfortable emotions?” It’s the uncomfortable emotions that sometimes keep us from trying things that might challenge us. Whether it be a new job, new relationship, or just stretching ourselves in a way that is unfamiliar.

We have somehow developed beliefs that if we feel emotional discomfort then we dare not do that thing that is causing the discomfort. Yet, the only time we ever make progress, feel confident and feel capable from any endeavor it is when that endeavor challenged us and caused discomfort. I must say, this comment caused me to pause, and even doubt myself for a moment. But it was my ability to work through those emotions, and proceed to clarify my point, that both I and those students were able to gain new knowledge and insight.

I’ve been having a lot of success with presenting my START Right workshops this year. This was a goal I had been working diligently on last year. And I am getting a lot of feedback from people about them. In spite of this success, I still feel great deal of uncomfortable emotions, self-doubt and fear as I stretch and grow in this area of my business. But what I am grateful for, is the knowledge that uncomfortable feelings are the price we must pay for stretching outside of our comfort zone so that we can do the things we want to do, that are meaningful to us.

Your emotions provide an important source of fuel to motivate you beyond the status quo. You don’t need to dare greatly, you just need to be brave long enough to see the other side of what is possible.

What have you done to step beyond your comfort zone this year?  I’d love to hear about it.

What people are saying

  • “I was having real difficulty, not just creating a relationship with my son and daughter,
    but being able to
    parent him without getting caught in my anger all the time.
    After being in Lou’s workshop, I definitely feel more in control
    of my emotions and actions at work, with my kids, everywhere.“

    – Educator and mother of two

  • “Lou is able to take things that most of us feel and have difficulty expressing and give words to them. He makes what we’re feeling accessible to us through humor and great story telling.”

    – Social Worker, mother of three

  • “Lou is one of those special peopl who gets kids AND adults.  You see it in his coaching cross-country as well as his books and workshops.  His compassionate treatment of children and adults alike as we learn to help each other grow in emotional awareness and skills is so needed today, so centering and enlivening.  Thank you Lou for all you are and what you do with it!”

    Sally Kendall, MT and Intructor