written by Mick Ukleja


To Validate = (1) to confirm the truth; (2) to register formally; (3) to make legal; (4) to make somebody feel valued.

Validation is a part of life. It starts in the home with our caregivers. It continues as we go to school. We are validated to various degrees with test scores and feedback from our instructors. Outside the classroom there is consistent validation on where we stand on the bell curve. The validators don’t place us there. We take their feedback and place ourselves on the axis—often unconsciously.

The validation principle doesn’t stop after our schooling is done. In fact it’s a staple. It continues as we live our busy lives.

Rather than fight the validation process, make sure you join it! How? Go beyond the external validations and validate yourself. Some refer to it as accepting yourself. That’s a good start. But how about validating yourself? This is where you say, “I feel good about myself. I feel good about what I’m doing. I am adding value.”

Comparing yourself is a trap unless you use it to validate differences and diversity. Diversity is great if you validate yourself. It then becomes a form of enrichment rather than entanglement and entrapment. What you think and say about yourself is more important than someone else’s attitude about you. Why? Because you live with yourself.

So listen to yourself, because nothing happens to you without you making some internal comment about it. Make sure it’s validating. You will have important conversations throughout your day, but the most important ones are with yourself.

It’s all about value. If you are willing to stretch, grow, and become more, you are valuable to the core. Imperfection does not invalidate your value. As one man put it, “No one drowns by falling in the water. They drown by staying there.” It’s all about the process of building and re-evaluating YOU. It starts everyday where you are, working on the value of you. Each day you make a new validating declaration.

Nothing will make your value go up the way you can. Any attempt to gain it from others is fruitless. It starts with you. We use the term “appreciation” in the financial world in a correct way. It refers to increasing value. As you appreciate yourself, you are validating yourself—adding value to yourself. You are appreciating.

Validation is acceptance, authentication, and endorsement. You do it first, and others will follow. The order is important. This is why validation breeds confidence. The reverse order is not nearly as effective, and often never materializes.

Embrace your uniqueness. Learn to forgive yourself. Keep your personal accounts short. Treat each day as a new day—a fresh start to be what you were meant to be. The side effect is that you will begin to validate others. It’s hard to do for others what you cannot—will not– do for yourself.

CAUTION! There will always be people who will doubt what you do and how you are doing it. There are different ways of doing things, and your way is one of them. Validation = Competence + Confidence. Own your way. If there’s a better way, you’ll do that next time. There is no failure—only feedback and an opportunity to grow.

The road to success is paved with failure. 

Focusing on everything that is wrong is toxic. Strength comes from focusing on what is right and moving forward. When NASA sends up satellites toward another planet, they calculate that it’s off course about 98% of the time. Yet it arrives at its destination. How? They take the feedback, focus on the 2% that it’s doing right, and then move in that direction with all the adjustments. Start capitalizing and validating what’s right and see how far that takes you.

It is estimated that we have 50,000 thoughts per day. Each thought produces a chemical reaction in our brains that in turn triggers feelings and emotions throughout our body. There is a strong relationship between what you think and how you feel. Thinking is kind of like breathing. You are always doing both and so you tend to forget you are doing it. It’s easy to be unaware of how much your thoughts dictate how you feel every moment of everyday.

This is where practicing validation becomes highly valuable. By learning to make sure your self-talk is of a validating nature you will focus on the right things and more effectively manage your emotions.

Just like the satellite, it’s a process more than a destination. Let’s keep it going in the right direction.

As you believe in yourself and validate yourself, you will be successful in life.

(Mick Ukleja is the co-author of the book Who Are You? What Do You Want?: Four Questions That Will Change Your Life)


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written by Mark Nation

3 Tips To Reignite Your Passion At Work

If you find yourself getting bored at work or increasingly uninterested in what you are doing, it’s time to turn things around—now! Otherwise, in no time flat, you will find yourself headed down the dark rabbit hole of despair. Take a serious look at why you are in your current role (and with your current team or company). Even if the job fit or choice of employer was initially quite good, it may be time to switch things up.

Perhaps you’ve made great progress in your career, driven consistently to achieve higher levels of seniority. Or, you may have experienced disappointment in your quest for the “right” career trajectory. Either way, it’s likely you were excited about your job at some point, when you felt strong and sustained desire that propelled you forward. After an extended length of time, though, it is completely natural for passion to wane. However, you must remember there is always someone behind you wanting to make an impact. If you stutter too long, you may be passed by.

Don’t let yourself feel too discouraged! At this point, you may simply need to admit things have become stale, you have slipped into a state of boredom, or you have become increasingly afraid to take chances. Once you analyze how you arrived at this stage, you may find your current role is completely salvageable, and you simply need to reignite the fire that once burned inside you so brightly.

3 Ways to Reignite Your Passion

  • Take time for yourself. This is an area overlooked constantly by many of the executives with whom I work. It is rejuvenating when you take time to do those non-work activities you enjoy. We all need healthy doses of “me-time.” If you have ignored yourself for too long, the net effect will be a decline in work energy. Step up your work game by stepping out of the office for something fun.
  • Try something new. Anything. You don’t need to jump out of a plane or swim with sharks, but go to that painting or guitar class, try fishing, or learn to dance. Our ability to learn and grow is one of the hallmark blessings of being human! This could be your ideal time to learn a couple of new skills. As simple or short-term as it may be, this new activity will often spark creativity in other areas of your life.
  • Up level Your Circle. Take every opportunity to learn your craft from the masters. Be sensitive to those people from whom you derive your understanding of life, learning, meaning, and inspiration. Choose your influences very carefully. What informs you, forms you, and your primary work outputs and creations will ultimately be a result of what, and who, is forming you.
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written by Mick Ukleja

8 Ways to Build a Bridge From Setbacks to Setups

Our history is filled with stories of people who turn major setbacks, addictions, and bad decisions into a purposeful future. When Chuck Colson went to prison for his major part in Watergate, his fall from grace gave rise to a nonprofit that has become a redemptive turn around for multitudes of imprisoned inmates. He is not alone. Many others have turned their “scandal” into organizations that help the disadvantaged. In fact, second acts are part of what our culture is all about.

Setbacks happen to all of us in varying degrees.  There is no perfect day unless you are on drugs! But the issue is not setbacks, detours, obstacles, or problems. It’s what we do with them.

To despair of even life itself when we encounter a major setback is common. The Golden Gate Bridge has been the scene of many a person who experiences a major setback of some sort.  This beautiful structure is orange to reflect light, especially during the dark days of fog. The majestic San Fransisco Bay was missed for centuries because the opening was too small. This magnificent structure bridges that small opening. The bridge, suspended by cables, hangs as an engineering feet that would cost over one billion dollars today.

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