The Stage Four Project-Segment Twelve – Are You Better?

A Project Manager’s Game Plan for Dealing with Incurable Cancer

Segment Twelve– Life’s Little Facebook Competitions

I was on Facebook yesterday and a former neighbor had shared a list of all of the states that she had visited.  It reminded me of another post I had seen recently asking which foods they had eaten.  And there was yet another asking for the number of grade school friends with whom you still communicated. 

Who cares?

I do.

I want one that asks you to list how many meds you’re currently taking and how many physicians and clinicians are tending to your personal needs.  I think I’d win that one in a heartbeat.

But notice the attitude.  It’s about winning.  Be it LinkedIn, Facebook, Instagram or other social site, it’s about followers and accomplishment.  Why?  There’s a physical reason for it.  Dopamine.  Dopamine, for those who don’t know, are God’s little happy pills.  They actually generate a physical and mental rush as they are released.  And anything that releases them becomes marginally addictive.  Like Facebook “likes”.  That’s right.  You get new connections or appreciation of your latest post, and you get a mild dopamine rush. 

As a professional trainer, I used to get and review the post-class surveys on an almost-weekly basis. 

10!  (Rush)

10! (Rush)


EIGHT?  They gave me an eight?  What did I do wrong?  Where’s my rush?

What the reviewer giveth, the reviewer taketh away.

We all want to be “10’s”.  We see ourselves in a positive light.  But in today’s society, that light can be dimmed if we listen to the voices of those who don’t share our perspective. 

Lesson Learned: Any time you feel like you’ve just done something worthy of applause and accolades, you don’t have to put it up on social media.  You DO need to document it.  Write it up as a gratitude and save it in a gratitude jar (my wife’s particular approach).  Save it in an “Accomplishment” subfolder.  Take a picture that reflects the accomplishment.  But be sure not to let it slide. 

On LinkedIn, any article posted gets tagged with the number of views and “impressions”.  The first article in this ongoing series has over 4,000 impressions as of this writing, and 323 people have actually read it.  We get “likes”.  We get emoji emotive responses.  Thank heavens no one has devised the “wow-I-really-loathe-this-perspective” emoticon.  I really don’t know if I could handle it.  We all tend to shrink just a little from in-person praise.  But online?  It’s downright addictive.  If someone walked up to you and said “You know, you’re one of the most amazing people I know!” You likely would have an “aw-shucks” response suggesting that you may not be wholly worthy of that level of praise.  Online, it’s a completely different story.  If you post about your latest trip to walk the C&O canal and someone tells you that it’s an impressive accomplishment in the comments?  There’s a moment of personal pride. Did you do something praiseworthy?  In their eyes, yes!  And because we can digest the moment in the privacy of our own office, we don’t mind the mild dopamine rush that goes with the moment.  We don’t have to hide from it.  It’s a plus. 

Lesson Learned: If someone praises you live or online, a simple “thank you” goes a long, long way.  Acknowledge that they are wholly within their rights to say nice things.  Acknowledge that the nice things they say about you are received, and received well.   Saying “thanks” doesn’t mean you’re not humble.  It means you’re appreciative.

Winning counts…but it’s not a contest. I have a couple of friends who count “winning” as having more connections, friends, or likes than any reasonable human being.  This is why the last aspect of this particular discussion is defining winning.  One friend of mine has an inspiring 42,000 followers on LinkedIn.  Wow.  He wins.  You post a picture of your dog?  You build followers.  But are you winning?

Winning is what we define it to be.  Last week, I won.  I found a college co-worker I hadn’t connected with in 45 years.  She was an amazing woman in 1978.  She’s an amazing woman in 2023.  We’re supposed to be on a joint call next week, along with a half-dozen of our other co-workers from 1978.  And without the wonders of LinkedIn and Facebook, it never would have happened.  We win.

I enjoy the little Facebook “games” where someone posts the list of states they’ve been to (I’m only short seven in my effort to “win”).  I love it when people post “foods you’d never eat” or “farthest you’ve ever traveled” (I win that one with a trip with my son 23 years ago to Australia/New Zealand). I win only because I marvel at how life has treated me.  I win because I learned that one of the most beautiful places on the planet is actually in Nebraska (Platte River State Park), and I win because I have never been forced to eat liver in my adult life (once as a kid was enough).  Those inane games serve a powerful purpose—to remind us that we define what winning is, and whether or not we’ve won.

Lesson Learned: Winning is about what makes us special, not about participation.  My 40 years of marriage is not worthy of a participation trophy.  Instead, the 40 years of victory for me is having a wife who I would marry again in a heartbeat.  It’s about having a deep, genuine and abiding relationship that stands up to the years.  If you’re going to win, you better know what outcome constitutes winning.

The beauty of instant connections with friends around the globe is that you have the opportunity to build those relationships and leverage them over time.  No matter how challenging life may become, you have a chance get a little dopamine and remind yourself that you’re surrounded by people who are willing to say, out loud, that they consider you a friend.

Next up?  Maybe you’re NOT getting where you thought you should go!  What do you do when you’re faced with truly negative outcomes?

If you want to review the previous elements of this e-book or blog, they’re all posted at If you have insights you’d like to share or comments or conversations, my e-mail is the best way to reach me at  I’ll always get back to you within 24 hours.  Always.  And if you think I missed the mark?  Check your spam folder.  Thanks for joining me on this journey.