“I’m not on drugs,” Denise said; her green eyes piercing mine.

I uncomfortably nodded my agreement. I was Denise’s executive job coach.  She was an IT professional, a single mother of two children, and highly intelligent and success-driven.  Denise was always in control of her emotions, so I found her comment rather odd.

Denise called to schedule a session the same day, but wouldn’t explain the urgency.  She was making good progress pursuing a new job after her former employer merged with a national firm and she was downsized after 12 years.  But last week, Denise experienced a painful setback when she lost out on a job she really wanted to the other finalist.  I assumed her urgency had to do with this.

Denise arrived and got right into it.  “My mother and I have always been close; she’s always been my best friend.  No matter what I faced in life, mom was always there for me.  She had the right answers at the right time for any situation.  Last Wednesday, I was alone at Chelsea’s Restaurant having breakfast and worrying about my future.  Suddenly, I saw my mother enter the restaurant and walk over to join me.”

“Did your mother know about last week’s setback?” I asked.

As if in a trance, Denise ignored my question and continued her narrative.  “When I saw my mom, I could hardly breathe. I barely whispered, “Mom, how can this…”  Then, silence.  Denise, frozen in the moment, was speechless.

She always interrupted

A few seconds passed; then she continued.  “My mother, as always, interrupted me.  She told me to remember when I played soccer as a kid.  Just days before the championship game I hurt my ankle.  I was devastated.  But I came home and was determined to play in the championship game.  And not only did I play; I scored the winning goal.”

I had no idea where this conversation was going.  So I just smiled and let Denise continue her monologue.

“After that game, x-rays confirmed I broke my ankle,” She said.  “I won the game playing with a broken ankle.  Then my mom changed subjects.  She reminded me of the many adversities I overcame in life, including my recent divorce.  She said life is like a symphony; it has both high, happy notes and low, sad notes.  She told me I had to embrace both because it took both to make a symphony. She explained that life is made up of both high and low moments; success and disappointments, and that I had to embrace them all.  You see, my mother had a gift of explaining life that always helped me through the tough times.”

I interrupted.  “I assume your mother had words of encouragement to help you overcome last week’s disappointment?” “

“Yes, and quite unexpectedly,” Denise replied.  “I was in a fog.  How could she be here and have the right words to comfort and encourage me?  But in her affectionate and comforting way, she assured me that everything will be fine.  She reminded me that there isn’t anything I can’t do or overcome.  She challenged me to muster the same strength, self-confidence, and resolve to secure a new job; just as I have done all my life when faced with major disappointments. She reminded me that I am what I think, and that positive thoughts always attract positive results.”

Now I have to admit, I was beginning to feel more like a therapist than a coach.  The Mars in me wanted to take control over the conversation.  But the Venus in her prevailed.

“Mom reached across the table and took my hand.  When our hands touched, I immediately felt empowered; in control.  Mom smiled at me and said something she said hundreds of times before; that there’s nothing I can’t accomplish if I set your mind to it.  This all felt like a dream, but when I looked deep into my mother’s eyes, I felt the confidence she had in me.  At that very moment, I knew I would land a job… not in a matter of weeks or months; but in a matter of days!

“When breakfast was over, mom smiled.  She told me not to let a day go by without planting good seeds.  She assured me that if I plant well, I’d reap great rewards.  And then she rose from the table, blew me a kiss, and left.”  Denise fell silent again.

So did she?

I wanted to break the ice of this conversation that was thick enough to ice skate on.  So I jokingly asked, “Well, did mom pick up the tab?”

Denise smiled.  “She did more than that.  When the check came, the only thing on the check was the words…YOU ARE WORTHY. She reached in her pocketbook and handed me the old check.  I read,  YOU ARE WORTHY.

“At that moment, I knew what I had to do.” Denise said.  “I called Janet Clayton, a senior IT contact I know at Whirlwind Media and asked to meet with her.  We met last Thursday. I prepared a comprehensive proposal to become the company’s Social Media Strategist and outlined all the benefits Whirlwind Media would derive by hiring me.  Janet was so impressed; she introduced me to the company president, Charles Henderson, and the very next day, last Friday, I was offered a job.  Can you believe it?  I start next week!”

I was stunned to say the least.  Denise graciously thanked me for working with her, and as she got up to leave my office, I saw tears in her eyes; tears of joy I assumed.  I then asked her, “So what did your mother have to say when you told her the good news?”

Denise lowered her head, picked up her pocketbook, and wiped the tears from her eyes.  As she turned to leave she said, “My mother passed away three years ago.”


Jay Block is an industry pioneer and the nation’s leading motivational career coach.  Jay is a best-selling author of 15 books, including his latest blockbuster: 101 Best Ways To Land a Job in Troubled Times (McGraw-Hill).  He has a 20-year record of success for creating and recreating the career management industry. His website is: www.jayblock.com