“Every man has his secret sorrows which the world knows not; and often times we call a man cold when he is only sad.” 

-Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

Before Sam Rockwell won an Oscar for his unforgettable performance as Officer Jason Dixon in Three Billboards Outside of Ebbing Missouri, his favorite performance of mine was as the lovable loser, Owen, in 2013’s The Way, Way Back.

Owen had resigned himself to a pretty pathetic life as a slacker manager of a tired small town waterpark on the upper East Coast. Over the course of a pivotal summer, he encounters the lonely and discouraged 14-year old Duncan. He offers to give Duncan a lift and tells him he can stow his bike in the back seat of his very tired convertible.  

He says…

Hey man, be careful with my car, it’s just the right amount of crappy.

Apparently, so is his life. A dead-end unfulfilling job, a dysfunctional relationship with a long-time girlfriend, and seemingly no point to his life. Owen’s life is not changing because he has resigned himself to the current situation.

  • He appears not to like it, but not enough to be motivated to change...
  • because he isn’t trying to do anything about it....
  • and he certainly isn’t open to the encouragement of his girlfriend and others to change it.

Just the right amount of crappy.

I have a broad slate of clients that fill my calendar every week. These are extraordinary leaders that are aware of their challenges, motivated to make real and substantive changes, and are coachable. To watch leaders and organizations change, get momentum in a better and right direction, and see them experience real measurable progress are the most invigorating things I can imagine.

But I am also meeting frequently with folks that aren’t currently clients. They are filling my calendar each week as well. Friends of well-meaning friends, folks who have stumbled onto our website or our Linked-in or blog postings, and all other manner of connections.  

They are from different industries, company sizes, and situations, but they carry a very common set of characteristics. They are…







They are clearly in pain. They are at least a little motivated or we wouldn’t be sitting down to coffee or a meal. But most, in my humble opinion, are not in enough pain to be motivated enough to be open to really changing things…to receiving some coaching, redirection, and accountability.

And you know that old saying about the definition of insanity; doing things the same way over and over again and expecting a different result. That sentiment is alive and well. Apparently their life, their business, their leadership is…

Just the right amount of crappy.

I encourage those folks. I try to dust off their britches and get ‘em back on their feet. I try to discern what I can best offer and tool them up a bit. And then I bless and release them. You can’t make some translate their frustration and pain into action. You can’t make them be open to coaching and letting someone come alongside them.

I then sit back and see what happens next. In my heart, I am contending for them. Praying that their lives will get to such a wrong amount of crappy that they’ll reach back out, motivated and open to some redirection, some coaching, some change. That they’ll engage and start a journey.  For them, for their leadership team, for their company.


  • How is it going?
  • is it really going?
  • Have you just gotten comfortable with the "right amount of crappy"?
  • Or are you finally at the place where you are ready to do something about it?