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The readership of the Gremlin series has grown exponentially. This article is an expansion of the series with “the other side” or opposite of self-defeating behavior. GUARDIANS are self-esteem building character traits and behaviors. This is the first release of the guardian’s side of the articles. Guardians are symbolized by various styles of angel wings. Remember, feed your guardians and starve your gremlins!

Staying on the right path in life is not always easy, especially with your own personal gremlins. You can tame your gremlins by strengthening your guardians. Guardians in this sense are your inner strengths or positive character. You might envision them as the opposite of gremlins or self-defeating behaviors. Guardians for our purposes are self-esteem building behaviors and cultivating them displaces or neutralizes gremlins. You may have heard of the old adage, “Starve a fever, feed a cold.” Perhaps we could change it to “Starve a gremlin, feed a Guardian.” Guardians reveal themselves in various forms and as you may limit and minimize gremlins, you may unleash and maximize your guardians.


Consider the guardian Integrity which informs your personal character. Integrity has been defined as “doing the right thing even and especially when you are alone.” A person cannot have a little integrity as it is all or none. If one cannot be trusted then Integrity is not present in one’s life and character. Obviously, one may cultivate honesty and trust that will support the presence of Integrity. One challenging fact about Integrity is that if others perceive it has been lost, then it is difficult to regain. Integrity is received in one of four ways:

  1. One is granted Integrity on the basis of title, position, or status.
  2. One is loaned Integrity on the basis of references from friends who are perceived to have Integrity.
  3. One has earned a high level of Integrity over time one decision at a time.
  4. One is earning Integrity little by little after a failure due to a lack of Integrity.

John is a high school student and is having ongoing conflict with his mother. John has been a compliant and reasonably obedient son most of the time until recently. He got in trouble with some friends when he cut class one day. They had been drinking beer in a house that was under construction when the police happened to show up. Of course John was charged with several crimes and the one incident caused his mother to lose trust in him. In her eyes he had lost integrity. He had done everything he was supposed to do for the last three months but she still would not allow him to do things with his friends. He wondered how long it would take for him to earn his Integrity back.

Another challenge regarding Integrity is that it is seen and evaluated through the opinions of others. While it is true that “Integrity is doing the right thing even when you are alone,” when there is a failure of one’s Integrity, there may be severe consequences. Private failure may become public knowledge resulting in a loss of reputation leading to failure…a loss of Integrity.

Young people gradually earn trust as they demonstrate their honesty and consistency regarding their word. After a time of proving themselves, they may realize the presence of Integrity. However, after graduating from high school the student may find that entering college or a job, they find they have to almost start over earning trust that eventually adds up to Integrity. The point is that we go through stages of life and career in which Integrity must be earned and re-earned based on the perceptions of peers and superiors as well.

Gremlins as self-defeating behaviors are constantly eating away it the foundation of one’s integrity. One must tame the gremlins and empower the guardians. Integrity is one of the chief guardians and STAY ON THE RIGHT PATH.


Do you possess Integrity in your life? What will you do to cultivate a  life of Integrity? How have you noticed that you lived through waxing and waning integrity through passages of life, education and work?


Dr. Tom Cocklereece is CEO of RENOVA Coaching and Consulting, LLC
He is a pastor, author, professional coach, leadership specialist, and is

a member Coach/Teacher/Speaker for the John Maxwell Team

Email | LinkedIn | Twitter | Web | Blog | Book | Coaching| Leadership



In the movie Far and Away, Tom Cruise playing the part of a young Irishman named Joseph Donnelly, travels to the United States with Shannon Christie played by Nichole Kidman. Their intent is to get a new start and find land in their new country. In one scene Joseph has bragged about how quickly he has finished cleaning his laundry while Shannon clearly does not know how to clean her clothes. Joseph proceeds to show her how by taking a garment, placing it on a washboard, and plunging it into the soapy water and scrubbing it on the washboard. As he demonstrates the technique he tells Shannon, “You plunge and scrub, plunge and scrub, and if it still is not clean then…you plunge and scrub and plunge and scrub.” Later in the movie Shannon demonstrates the technique to her mother who is not used to doing her own laundry.

As a professional life coach I have recently had the opportunity to work with some young adults who, like Shannon Christie in the movie Far and Away either do not know the virtues of personal hygiene or are too lazy to apply the principles. It is particularly troubling as some of these young adults were certainly taught the rudimentary methods of bathing, brushing their teeth, and washing their clothes by their parents but the sitcom Friends left a greater impression. It is true that we live in a time when narcissism rules but if you expect to get a job and keep it or have a meaningful relationship with someone, then perhaps you need to get back to the basics.

As a teacher I have been known to begin my classes with a quiz of five well chosen questions, so which of the answers below as related to clothing is the correct answer?

  1. Throw the garment against the wall and if and when it falls to the floor it is okay to wear.
  2. Clothes, including underwear, can be worn at least ten times before washing them.
  3. As long as I take a shower, clothes off the floor are a reasonable choice.
  4. I can skip the shower as long as I use body spray and deodorant.
  5. I shower or bathe once a day and wear clean clothes that have not been worn more than twice between washings.

GROSS! I hope you know the right answer because if I have to tell you then you have a problem. It is indeed odd that this issue must be addressed but with such dysfunction in families and society, it is needed. If you have interviewed high school AND college graduates for employment lately then you might agree. I went to traffic court a couple of years ago, and I was amazed at what people wore to court. In fact the judge told one woman to come back to court the next week because she was scantily dressed in something that was entirely too small. He refused to hear her case until she was dressed more modestly.

I interviewed one young man on several occasions and it was likely that he had bathed but body odor was evident on his clothes. Another young man almost gassed me with his bad breath. It would seem that these are common sense issues but not anymore. If you follow the following guidelines then if you don’t get the job or keep it, your loss will not be due to a lack of personal hygiene.


  1. Shower or bathe daily…with soap. Maybe you are trying to be like the Europeans or a water conservationist but the question is, “Do you want the job and/or relationship or not?” When washing yourself give attention to underarms, feet, and private parts. (I didn’t think I would ever need to write that so plainly, but times have changed.)
  2. Use deodorant, body spray, and cologne conservatively. Not too much and not as a substitute for a shower or bath. I guarantee that others can smell body odor through Channel #9 and you don’t need to add your own personal spice to Old Spice.
  3. Guys, trim your nails and clean the gunk out from under them. A female interviewer will notice.
  4. Do something with that hair. Don’t go to an interview or to work with bed hair or unwashed flakey hair. Also, be careful about giving yourself a quick trim. One young man I knew decided to give himself a haircut and looked like he was on chemotherapy.
  5. Guys, depending on the job or potential job, shave or groom your beard and mustache. Also, nose hair is not the in thing for most job interviewers and supers.
  6. Brush your teeth and use mouthwash. If you eat garlic, or ramps for my Appalachian readers, some parsley oil such as Breath-Assure will neutralize the odiferous herbs. A couple Tic-Tacs can also help but you probably don’t want the rhythmical rattle of a Tic-Tac package in your pocket. I like to just take a few with me every day just for good measure.
  7. God gave humans two eyebrows but nature sometimes gives some people just one. You might want to make sure you have two but be careful not to eliminate one or both.
  8. Wear underwear! Many years ago when I joined the U.S. Navy and had a “group physical” I was amazed at the number of guys that did not wear underwear. It’s not clean and the practice does nothing to keep your clothes clean if you know what I mean.
  9. Perhaps you like your tattoo but it may not win points with an interview as a new business executive or manager in training. Cover it up. Better yet…don’t get one! I know that mine is an ultra conservative position on this one but do you want the job or not?
  10. Wear clean clothes. If they have been worn once already, do the smell-test. The problem is that individuals cannot always sense their own odors…but everybody else can. You may use some discretion as related to clothing in some cases. If you are going to work around the house, then that pair of jeans that you have worn twice might be okay. However, err on the clean side. Remember to dress appropriately to the job or occasion. It is usually better to over dress slightly than to under dress.
  11. Wear clean socks. Some people wear socks once and put them back in the drawer to wear again. Not cool.
  12. Because bacteria particularly like to colonize shoes, it’s a good idea to spray them occasionally with a product for the purpose that kills the organisms and neutralizes foot odor. It also might be a good idea to clean and polish your shoes if appropriate.

The list could go on but these are the very basics. Add more in the comments section.

Perhaps you are saying, “Why do I have to do all those things to get a job?” While you may not agree, your perspective employer is looking for an employee who will project the image THEY want. While hiring you is about you, it’s also about them. They are looking to see (and smell) if you are a good fit. Will you project their desired image and will customers and coworkers want to be around you? The BIG question is, DO YOU WANT THE JOB OR NOT?

Life is limiting enough without limiting one’s choices because of poor hygiene.



Is there a young adult that you know who might benefit by reading this article? Do you have some “tasteful” suggestions to add for males and females regarding hygiene? Do you have an interesting or funny story about hygiene as related to interviewing or hiring? Please post “tasteful” comments that will add to the discussion.


Dr. Tom Cocklereece is CEO of RENOVA Coaching and Consulting, LLC
He is a pastor, author, professional coach, leadership specialist, and is

a member Coach/Teacher/Speaker for the John Maxwell Team

Email | LinkedIn | Twitter | Web | Blog | Book | Coaching| Leadership


In the last twenty years a new profession of coaching burst upon the scene. From the local workout gym to the main street workplace; from the boardwalk to the boardroom, professional coaching has made inroads in many facets of life.

In 1999 Frederic M. Hudson said this in The Handbook of Coaching:

“Adult coaching is a new career area. Whether it will become a stand-alone profession has yet to be decided.”

Profile of a Coach

According to the International Coaching Federation, the average coach is between 46 to 55-years old, has coached for 5-10 years, and 53 percent of them have earned an advanced degree, either a masters or doctorate.

While professional and executive coaches tend to carve out a niche for themselves, most of them tout the benefits of coaching to individuals as well as to businesses.

Benefits of Coaching

An example of the benefits of coaching from Donna Karlin’s 2010 A Better Perspective:

Main benefits of coaching to recipient:

Generates improvements in individuals’ performance/targets/goals: 84%

Increased openness to personal learning and development: 60%

Helps identify solutions to specific work-related issue: 58%

Greater ownership and responsibility: 52%

Developing self-awareness: 42%

Improves specific skills or behavior: 38%

Greater clarity in roles and objectives: 37%

Corrects behavior/performance difficulties: 33%

Main benefits of coaching to the organization

Allows fuller use of individual’s talents/potential: 79%

Demonstrates commitment to individuals and their development: 69%

Higher organizational performance/productivity: 69%

Increased creativity/learning/knowledge: 63%

Intrinsically motivates people: 57%

Facilitates the adoption of a new culture/Management style: 39%

Improves relationships between people/departments: 35%

Bonus Edition

I would add four more benefits of coaching for the organization to Donna Karlin’s list:

  1. Reduces workplace conflict
  2. Improves employee retention
  3. Lowers costs and increases profits
  4. Increases the company’s professional standing

The Promise of Coaching

While the use of coaching is increasing among businesses in an effort to addressworkplace stress, many leaders remain in the dark, seemingly content with a bygone command and control structure that fails to motivate workers today.

The top three causes of workplace stress are healthcare costsworkplace safety, and absenteeism.

Increasingly, companies are providing life-coaching for employees in an effort to retain them and lower costs. (Business News Daily)


The promise of coaching is enormous but many business leadersmanagers, andbosses remain skeptical or unconvinced of the benefits of coaching in theirworkplace. Based on these benefits, what business leader would not employ professional and executive coaches?

Here are some possible reasons:

  • Leaders fear of loss of control
  • Leaders are educated and experienced in a command and control system
  • Leaders fear of personal accountability
  • Leaders are unaware of the discipline of coaching and its benefits

Before the profession of coaching can live up to its promises and benefits, many more business leaders, CEO’s, and managers must be educated. Some leaders view the coaching profession favorably after they personally benefit from being coached.


Here are two examples of employee outcomes:

Opting for Coaching

Joe has worked for a medical office for seven years. He is seen by leaders in the large private medical practice as a fair employee. He does good work when he is at work, but Joe has a lot of absences. Over time some of his fellow employees discovered the Joe was stressed by excessive debt of his own making. He had finally reached a point where he suffered from stress induced depression which began to show in the quality of his work. The leadership discussed what might be done and someone suggested hiring a life coach to help reframe Joe’s priorities and help him get back on track. Additionally it was suggested that the company help him get clinical help for his depression. While some managers balked at the suggestions saying that the company had never done this before, the CEO decided to take a chance on Joe. Turn the clock forward a year and Joe is now considered to be one of the best employees. His positive attitude is contagious, his productivity is markedly higher, and the company saved thousands of dollars despite the costs of hiring a coach for him and helping in his depression treatment. Now, that company has retained the services of a life-coach who has helped several other employees avoid termination, increase their productivity, and saved the company money.

Opting against Coaching

Cindy has worked for a small wellness and fitness company for five years, but recently the company manager and CEO discussed terminating her. She had performed her duties well for several years and seemed to be in line for a promotion to manage another store. Recently Cindy began arriving late and leaving early and the quality of her work decreased. Upon confronting her in the office, she revealed that she was going through a divorce, her baby had been sick, and she had experienced difficulty getting appropriate child care. While Cindy begged for another chance to get her life in order, she was terminated. Consequently, the company spent the equivalent of 150% of Cindy’s salary to terminate her and then hire and train her replacement. (The Real Cost of Retraining Employees)

Coaching is Compassionate

Do an internet search of “how to terminate an employee” and you will get over 15 million results.

Now do a search of “providing coaching instead of termination” or “coaching instead of termination” and you will get from 2 to 5 million results with only a few of them relating to the real subject of your search terms. Is this an indicator of the “lost promise of coaching?”

The sad fact is that unrealized potential is no potential at all, but developed potential realizes reward for all involved.

Coaching is not only cost effective but it is also a compassionate way to respond to the ups and downs experienced by everyone. It is an investment in the most important aspect of business—human capital.

  1. What are some additional benefits of coaching to the individual being coached? 
  2. What are some additional benefits of coaching to the company?
This article was originally written by Dr. Tom Cocklereece and posted on Linked2Leadership blogazine.

Dr. Tom Cocklereece is CEO of RENOVA Coaching and Consulting, LLC
He is an author, pastor, coach, and leadership specialist
Email LinkedIn Twitter Web Blog Book


A friend of mine is a successful businessman and entrepreneur who also serves as a board member of a non-profit community organization. On the board, Rob (not his real name) often offers insightful comments and good advice that matches his good business sense. Yet when asked to serve as a board officer, Rob quotes the notorious General William Tecumseh Sherman when asked if he would seek presidential office,

“If nominated I will not run; if elected I will not serve.”

To Serve or Not To Serve

Many would-be leaders have the same attitude as Sherman.

  • It is extreme irony that Rob will not serve at a higher level as a leader since he is already leading in a number of roles.
  • Rob will not seek a higher level of leadership because he is fearful of failure.
  • He has not found the leader within…he has not discovered the quintessential leader that he could be.

Can you relate to Rob? I know I can. Even the best of leaders falter at times…me included. On a weekend vacation I was recently doing a detailed reading of John Maxwell’s leadership book Everyone Communicates, Few Connect in which he lists “Four Unpardonable Sins of a Communicator”: being unprepared, uncommitted, uninteresting, or uncomfortable.

Maxwell’s words hit me head on as I recounted my lack of leadership in one of my roles.

The greatest mistake of leadership is not a failure to succeed but a failure to lead.

In fact, the greatest failures of leadership are not a lack of experience, a lack of training, a lack of education, or lack of resources but usually a failure of one to engage.

Avoiding Leadership Failure

Four ways to avoid a failure to lead are:

  1. Engage as a leader.
  2. Engage at the right time.
  3. Engage with enough energy to see the project through.
  4. Engage other leaders around you to help and eventually take over the project.


The only way to lead is to lead! It sounds ridiculous, but it is true. Many people who are in THE prime place to lead never engage. Perhaps you understand the issues better than anyone else, you have the authority to lead, and people are looking at you and anticipating action, but you are waiting.

Perhaps you are waiting for someone else to step up to the plate. Maybe you are hoping the problem will just go away.

Other excuses may include:

  • I don’t have the experience.
  • I don’t have the time.
  • I don’t have the education.
  • I don’t think others respect me.
  • I don’t want to keep someone else from their opportunity to lead.
  • I’m not leadership material.

Based on the listed excuses, you will never be ready to lead. Moses used virtually every one of these excuses in Exodus 3 and 4 when talking with the Creator and God did not let him off the hook but kept handing the job to him. Moses had to engage. It was during the process and time of leadership that Moses became Moses instead of a nameless adopted son of a pharaoh in Egypt.

Only through the action of leading will the leader in you emerge.


In baseball, the difference between swinging the bat too early, too late, and on time can be either a foul ball or a home run. It’s that way with leadership too.

As a leader you must engage at the right time.

Crisis situations require instant leadership. Other situations may allow decision and strategy time, but a large part of successful leadership is timing. Great leaders have an intuitive understanding of timing which creates the highest possible involvement of others who are empowered to assist…also called buy-in.

By engaging at the right time, they increase the number of others working on the same problem. If you are waiting for the problem to resolve itself or go away…it will probably only get worse.


Introverted leaders (S & C on the DISC profile) are often tempted to disengage too early before the full success is achieved. The reason for this is that their reserve for directing energy toward others is less.

On the other hand, extroverted leaders (D & I on the DISC profile) have a tendency to either delegate the leadership role too early or declare victory prematurely. Great leaders see the big picture of the project so they pace their energy or know how to replenish it along the way in order to complete the task. I believe the greatest leaders lead out of energy overflow instead of reserves.

The overflow principle is a Psalm 23 concept by which one does not manufacture her own energy but is continuously using overflow from God’s inexhaustible energy resources. Overflow may be defined as finding one’s fulfillment, satisfaction, worth, and esteem in Christ which results in greater energy overflow.

Show me an exhausted leader and I will show you a leader who is leading out of his own exhaustible reserves that will eventually run dry.

The greatest leaders learn to tap in to the Psalm 23 overflow to the point of directing and investing energy overflow into others on purpose to add value to them. Read Psalm 23 again while considering the Overflow Principle:

The LORD is my shepherd; I shall not want. He makes me to lie down in green pastures; He leads me beside the still waters. He restores my soul; He leads me in the paths of righteousness For His name’s sake. Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil; For You are with me; Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me. You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies; You anoint my head with oil;My cup runs over. Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me All the days of my life; And I will dwell in the house of the LORD Forever.

Psalms 23:1-6 (NKJV) (emphasis mine)

Note verses 3 and 5 where the Lord “restores my soul” and “my cup runs over.” These illustrate the Overflow Principle of Leadership.


Engage other leaders around you to help and eventually take over the project. A great leader intuitively scans for people in the organization who possess the abilities and willingness to assist and eventually take over a project. “Willingness” is often the only quality that separates a new leader from everyone else.

Mentoring and coaching are often the only disciplines that separate average leaders from great leaders. Great leaders mentor and coach emerging leaders. In fact this may be a distinguishing difference between managers and leaders. The difference between leaders and managers is coaching & mentoring emerging leaders.

Leaders add value to new leaders while managers often feel threatened.

Engage Now!

Don’t miss your opportunity to be the leader you were meant to be. Find the leader within! Here is a quote from Kate Chopin’s book The Awakening:

“She was becoming herself and daily casting aside that fictitious self which we assume like a garment with which to appear before the world.”

It is time for you to cast aside that fictitious apparition of yourself as one who fears to lead and allow the leader within you to emerge. Do it now!


  1. What are your attitudes toward other leaders? If you distrust other leaders then you will not want to become a leader until you learn to trust.
  2. What excuses are keeping you from engaging as a leader? There are few legitimate “reasons.”
  3. How are you using the “Overflow Principle of Leadership” or not?
  4. List the leadership qualities you and others see in you that have potential.

(This article by Dr. Tom Cocklereece was originally published on Linked2Leadership May 17, 2011.)

Dr. Tom Cocklereece is CEO of RENOVA Coaching and Consulting, LLC
Author “Simple Discipleship,” contributing writer L2L Blogazine
He is a pastor, an author, professional coach, and leadership specialist
Email | LinkedIn | Twitter | Web | Blog | Book | Coaching Site

EQUIPPED TO LIVE: Introduction

Equipped to Live

Much of my work revolves around coaching leaders to excellence in their work and ministries for the church. However, I also coach people toward wellness, and yes, I am a pastor. I have done much life-coaching over the years and find that many people are not equipped to live. Don’t get me wrong, many people function reasonably well in their day to day lives—working, going to higher education classes, parenting, interacting with family and friends, and spending time with social networking. After all of that activity however, many feel empty and ill-equipped to live. Even many Christians fall short of the ideal set before us by Christ when he offered a utopian goal:

I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly. John 10:10

Are you equipped to live from that point of view? Even if you are a Christian, you may discover that you are not equipped to live.


In this series we will explore the vast emptiness many feel today that confounds us—feeling alone in a crowded world, reactionary living amid constant change, why many of our relationships increase the chaos, and how in our desire to find solitude we often find only isolation. Nuclear cohesive families once prepared people with many of the personal life skills needed to thrive, but now many seem content only to survive. One goal of coaching from my perspective is to help you to do much more than survive. I want you to become discontented with just surviving and coping, but instead I want you to thrive and succeed.


The goal of this series then is to motivate you to not only reach higher but to know what to do once you get there. I confess that I do not have all of the answers, so we will learn together as we progress. That also is consistent with my philosophy of coaching. While I employ effective coaching models, I view coaching as a co-active partnership. OK, I realize that until you officially hire me as your coach, ours is not really a co-active relationship, but for this series to be effective it is needful that I communicate as if we do have a co-active coaching relationship. Here are some possible subjects for upcoming articles:

  • Finding the leader within
  • Unleashing your passion
  • Facing yourself in the mirror
  • Surrounding yourself with people
  • Using a better decision-making process
  • Defining who will go along
  • Investing for ROI…and legacy
  • Dealing with the “A” word
  • Measuring how you are doing
  • Diagnosing your three realms of wellness
  • Refusing failure

Coaching is like life…they are a process that is best done with a partner. I have not already written the articles proposed above, so I invite you to join with me. Offer comments and interactions. As much as possible, I will respond to the comments.

Last year one of my favorite authors and leaders wrote a book in which he truly engaged his audience in a way I hope to herein. As John Maxwell wrote the book Everyone Communicates, Few Connect, he posted each chapter as he wrote them and invited readers to comment. He used those comments as he eventually wrote the book and gave credit to those who had commented and shaped his thinking for the final product. I was one of those whose name is listed in the back of John Maxwell’s book as a contributor. He not only communicated but he also connected. That is what I hope to achieve in the upcoming articles as you are equipped to live!

Please invite others to join our conversation on the RENOVA Coaching blog.


  1. Do you feel you are truly equipped to really LIVE? Why or why not?
  2. Are you living the “abundant” life?
  3. When friends inquire about finding “life-balance,” what do your recommend?
  4. Have you found yourself repeating the same king of life mistakes as related to relationships, finances, and …(you fill in the blank)
  5. What title would you add to the list of proposed articles for this series?

Dr. Tom Cocklereece is the author of Simple Discipleship: How to Make Disciples in the 21st Century which was published and released by Church Smart Resources in November 2009. It is not a self-published book. To learn more about Simple Discipleship and to order the book, follow the link below:


Dr. Tom Cocklereece is CEO of RENOVA Coaching and Consulting, LLC

Author “Simple Discipleship,” contributing writer L2L Blogazine
He is a pastor, an author, professional coach, and leadership specialist

Email | LinkedIn | Twitter | Web | Blog | Book | Coaching Site


One way you can get out of your way is to name your gremlin. A gremlin in this sense is a self-defeating behavior that reappears in life, work, and relationships that prevents you from achieving a new level of success. Like in the movie by the same name, gremlins usually are latent and easy to live with until they are activated by external or internal factors, either past, present, or perceived future. Naming them can help you to be aware of your self-defeating behavior so you may make intentional decisions that are edifying and rewarding to all involved. The introductory article to this series is at .

One of the under celebrated characters of the famous Peanuts cartoon is Pigpen, and for good reason. Whenever you see him there is always a dust cloud around him. It is likely that you know someone with a pigpen gremlin and it can be difficult to work with them. People with the pigpen gremlin possess two primary problems:

  1. They can be productive but even then they stir up everything in the work place leaving the mess for others to clean up.
  2. The big challenge for pigpen gremlins is that as messy as they are with materials, they stir up more dust in relationships.

The good thing is that leaders with the pigpen gremlin are intensely focused on the goal and they assume others are as well. The problem is that they hurt feelings of others along the way. If you work with someone like that and have not received a “dusting”—just wait a while.

If you suspect you possess a pigpen gremlin, what might you do to improve not only your behavior but your reputation and relationships as well? Here are several steps:

  • Cultivate self awareness.
  • Practice relational road crossing. Remember when you were taught how to cross the road as a child? The instructions probably included three words—look, listen, and feel. Applied to relationships it means to figuratively stand back and look, listen, and feel during interaction with others.
  • Be quick to apologize and fix hurt feelings.
  • Since you have a tendency to unknowingly offend people, invest in relationships on a regular basis to minimize relational bankruptcy situations.
  • Discipline yourself to do some cleaning up. Put material things where they belong a little every day.
  • Don’t use Pigpen as an excuse for bad behavior.

An executive coach can be a valuable asset to help you minimize damage to relationships and is well worth the investment.

RENOVA regards,

Do you know someone with the pigpen gremlin? What will you do to improve the relationship and even help them? Did you discover that you possess the pigpen gremlin?” What is your action plan to keep Pigpen in check?

Read the Complete Series

Introduction to Gremlins

Name Your Gremlin: Blamer

Name Your Gremlin: Denial

Name Your Gremlin: Scaredy Gremlin

Name Your Gremlin: Jekyll and Hyde

Name Your Gremlin: Pigpen Gremlin


Dr. Tom Cocklereeceis CEO of RENOVA Coaching and Consulting, LLC

Author “Simple Discipleship,” contributing writer L2L Blogazine
He is a pastor, an author, professional coach, and leadership specialist

Email| LinkedIn| Twitter| Web| Blog| Book

NAME YOUR GREMLIN: Scaredy Gremlin

One way you can get out of your way is to name your gremlin. A gremlin in this sense is a self-defeating behavior that reappears in life, work, and relationships that prevents you from achieving a new level of success. Like in the movie by the same name, gremlins usually are latent and easy to live with until they are activated by external or internal factors, either past, present, or perceived future. Naming them can help you to be aware of your self-defeating behavior so you may make intentional decisions that are edifying and rewarding to all involved. The introductory article to this series is at .

Another devastating gremlin that prevents people from reaching their full potential is Scaredy. Have you ever met someone who has a reputation for quitting or they seldom finish a commitment. Most of the time, they never even get started because they contemplate the fear of failure so much that they fall into the habit of avoiding commitment. A sign of Scaredy Gremlin is persistent procrastination which is no more than claiming a value without acting on it. The individual has said yes but their actions say no. This dichotomy is reflected in the intense conflict the individual feels leading up to making the commitment. One might see this gremlin as the “Runaway Bride syndrome.” He feeds on fear and anxiety and the higher level of these makes him happy.

The remedy for Scaredy Gremlin is to make commitments…and keep them—doing the opposite of that which one’s emotions would lead in this case. As with people who do not suffer from the inability to commit, it is not a blind commitment to anything and everything. Instead, the individual should follow the following course:

  1. Admit that you struggle with commitment or the lack thereof.
  2. Partner with a trusted accountability partner who will walk with you through your journey to overcome this gremlin.
  3. Make some intentional small commitments one at a time. These might relate to things to which the individual has a strong feeling. Maybe it would be doing one-day volunteer work for a not for profit organization. Another possibility is to join a small hobby or study group knowing that an eventual speaking presentation may be expected. These experiences should be increasingly difficult and be of mutual benefit.
  4. Rely on the accountability partner whenScaredy Gremlin begins to present himself. Be prepared for the internal suggestions:
    • You don’t feel well.
    • You aren’t really helping anybody.
    • You’re never going to overcome this problem.
    • You can’t finish anything.

…and so on. The accountability partner should offer encouragement and dialogue to counter such expected internal conflict

Finish strong! Celebrate when you complete the commitment. Remember that there are some commitments that have no end, but should be celebrated on anniversaries and at major achievements.

Remember that the best weapon against the various gremlins is to name them and counter them usually with the opposite action to which they push.

GREMLINS- (Underlying Automatic Commitments)

More to follow in the series.

RENOVA regards,

Dr. Tom Cocklereece


One way you can get out of your way is to name your gremlin. A gremlin in this sense is a self-defeating behavior that reappears in life, work, and relationships that prevents you from achieving a new level of success. Like in the movie by the same name, gremlins usually are latent and easy to live with until they are activated by external or internal factors, either past, present, or perceived future. Naming them can help you to be aware of your self-defeating behavior so you may make intentional decisions that are edifying and rewarding to all involved. The introductory article to this series is at .

Denial is a common gremlin and usually works best in cooperation with other gremlins. You have probably heard someone jokingly say, “Denial is more than a river in Egypt.” Jokes given in that way often have a seed of truth, as they were probably pointing out your denial about an issue.

We humans have an amazing adeptness when it comes to denial. Some denial is rather harmless and comical. For instance, I know a man in his 70s and his hair gets bluer each time I see him. The explanation is that his hair is naturally white at his age so he tries to color it a distinguished gray. However, because he has severe corneal cataracts in both eyes, what looks gray to him turns out to be a smurfy blue. For years he has denied that his vision was deteriorating.

Denial is more often harmful illustrated in the following bullets:

  • The woman having an affair but thinks nobody else could possibly know.
  • A man has a family history of prostate cancer; has had chronic deep back or groin pain, but refuses to go to the doctor for a simple test.
  • The diabetic who eats three donuts and simply compensates with a little more insulin—on a regular basis.
  • The person sitting down to a double rack of ribs a month after having coronary heart surgery.
  • The woman who returns to her abusive husband only to get beat up again—for the third time.
  • The organization that refuses to change even though their community and target customer has.

The list could go on, and please feel free to add to it with your own comments.

Denial is a refusal to accept or comprehend the external reality because it is too threatening whether the reality is self-inflicted or external. It takes the forms of lying to oneself and others, ignoring, passivity, passive aggression, and even continued inappropriate behavior. (Doing the same thing over while expecting different results)

The remedy for the denial gremlin is 1) naming it, 2) brutal truth, and 3) radical accountability. The initial problem is the denial of denial, as getting the individual to the point of acceptance is indeed difficult. When there is a window of opportunity to help a person in denial—jump through it! By neutralizing the denial gremlin you will likely also eliminate some other paralyzing gremlin.

Links to the Gremlin series:

  1. Introduction
  2. Blamer
  3. Denial
  4. Scaredy 
  5. Jekyll and Hyde
  6. Pigpen

RENOVA regards,

Dr. Tom Cocklereece


One way you can get out of your way is to name your gremlin. A gremlin in this sense is a self-defeating behavior that reappears in life, work, and relationships that prevents you from achieving a new level of success. Like in the movie by the same name, gremlins usually are latent and easy to live with until they are activated by external or internal factors, either past, present, or perceived future. Naming them can help you to be aware of your self-defeating behavior so you may make intentional decisions that are edifying and rewarding to all involved. The introductory article to this series is at .

It is likely that you have known someone who has the gremlin named “Blamer,” that is, they seem to always blame somebody or something for their failure. They rarely accept responsibility for anything and even when they do, their statement usually includes some measure of blaming. If Blamer is your gremlin, you need to know two things: 1) you are sabotaging your success and relationships, and 2) your future opportunities will gradually diminish. If this is what you want out of life then keep Blamer as your pet and feed him well with criticism of others at every opportunity. On the other hand, if you desire to improve your relationships and increase future opportunities, always be aware of your latent blaming potential and critical spirit. Then,…stop,…accept responsibility,…and do your best with no excuses (another gremlin). You will enjoy improved relationships and more opportunities. However, you may need to get to the heart of the matter.

Blaming is often disguised as unhealthy guilt that has never been resolved. Remember that when you point to others there are three fingers pointing back to you—four if your thumb is double-jointed. Ask yourself several questions:

  1. Has there been a cataclysmic event in my life that provides me with an unending well of anger and resentment?
  2. Have others ever told you that you are always critical or blaming?
  3. Do you see accepting responsibility and admitting your failings a weakness?
  4. Do you repeatedly share blame stories with family and friends? You may find that it’s like a fish story in which the fault blamed on others get bigger with each telling.

I like what Rick Warren teaches in his well know book The Purpose-Driven Life: “Don’t get bitter but choose to get better.”  Forgiveness of others and self is the remedy.

Links to the Gremlin series:

  1. Introduction
  2. Blamer
  3. Denial
  4. Scaredy 
  5. Jekyll and Hyde
  6. Pigpen

RENOVA regards,

Dr. Tom Cocklereece

Hire me as your coach. I useGoToMeetingfor online distance sessions. Coaching sessions and our relationship is confidential but your success will be visible to all. Contact me for a complementary session at .


Have you ever found yourself experiencing a challenge or failure that had a déjà vu feeling as if you have been here before? Then there is the realization that yes, you have repeated some of the same self-defeating behaviors that achieved a similar unpleasant result before. Call it DNA, mental loops, or whatever you want but you have the life, marriage, relationships, marriage, etc., that you have built for yourself one decision at a time. We tend to hope and pray for a new start only to find that after receiving it, we wind up in the same situation—wishing we had a “do over.” Of course you have heard the definition of insanity—doing the same things over and over while expecting different results.

Whether you get a mulligan or not, what will you do to change the next chapter of your life’s story? You cannot change your DNA but there are three things you can be aware of as you dig yourself out of that hole or start over again:

  1. Spiritual Transformation
  2. Change your values
  3. Tame your gremlins

Three ways you may “get out of your way” are 1) spiritual transformation, change your values, and 2) tame your gremlins.


The one act that can bring the desired change is receiving Jesus Christ as Lord. For those who have never made a heart-felt decision to accept Christ, they cannot comprehend how this step would change their life for good. One the other hand, those who receive Christ often wonder why they did not make the decision long before they did. Indeed there is a mystery to the transformational change that takes place as the new Christian’s values are changed as a result of accepting Christ. Romans 10:9-10 is one of the best Bible passages that illustrates what is required for spiritual transformation:

9 That if you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved. 10 For with the heart one believes unto righteousness, and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation. Romans 10:9-10 (NKJV)


Changing your values is easier said than done but it can be done! Why are values so important and how do they affect your life? Values form the template or filter through which most of your decisions are made. There are essentially two kinds of life-shaping values—intrinsic and extrinsic. Intrinsic values are heart values that seem to come naturally to you. They were formed unknowingly and often unintentionally through experiences, relationships with family, associations with friends, and DNA. One’s DNA rarely works alone to shape one’s behavior but rather it works in tandem with one of the other factors. When one decides to change their values, they find that it is difficult to do. Intrinsic values are the basis of what are called Underlying Automatic Commitments (UACs) meaning that many decisions are made with little thought. Think of UACs as a traffic signal with the common red, yellow, and green lights, but with UACs all three lights are green. Here is a way to understand UACs:

  • Underlying—decisions are made below one’s awareness and require little thought
  • Automatic—decisions are made automatically with little intentionality
  • Commitment—since decisions are underlying and automatic, an obligation has essentially been made once two of the three “switches” have activated

As you may see, great intentionality must be exercised in order to make a decision other than that which the UAC has already mandated. This is not to say that one cannot arrest the UAC process in order to change the outcome. In fact, that is exactly what must take place but it is incredibly difficult to do. There is one exception, however—an epiphany experience with God through which HE changes the person’s “operating system.” In such cases, the template and filter through which decisions are made is transformed.

Perhaps there are extrinsic or aspirational values one may adopt in order to “fix” one’s decision-making process. This at least may change the Underlying Automatic Commitmentto an Underlying Automatic Contingency—meaning that there is an intentional pause for thought BEFORE a final decision is made.  Remember that it takes only 21 days to develop a bad habit but it takes 66 days to develop a good one, which speaks to the reason why positive change is so difficult.


You may remember the 1984 movie Gremlins about a cute little pet given to a boy as a Christmas gift. There were three rules about keeping a gremlin: never expose it to bright lights, don’t get it wet, and never feed it after midnight. Of course all three rules were broken in the movie and the cute gremlin became many little monsters. The connection is that even with good values and a contingency process for decision-making, you may find that you often make impulsive decisions that are almost always poor choices. Rick Carson suggests that we often listen to our inner voices that are “gremlins” created out of one’s experience and desires that become our own worst enemy. (Taming Your Gremlin, 11)

Indeed, there are some good spiritual lessons here for the one who is interested in transformation, but even Christians sometimes struggle with destructive “inner voices.” I’m reminded of a tweet by Rick Warren that said, “Before you sin Satan says “It’s no big deal!” Afterwards he says “This is so big; you can never be forgiven” Both lies.” Gremlins tear down self esteem of the person who needs it; builds up the ego of the arrogant person; influences people to make the wrong decision with “eyes wide open;” and laugh at people after the damage has been done.

Unlike the fictional movie, these gremlins are real and people struggle with them often. Apply the opposite of the first of the three rules in the movie: expose gremlins to the light. Gremlins are tamed by identifying and naming them. When you are aware of your self-defeating behavior, you can make better decisions that will change the story of your life. This article begins a series that will help readers overcome self-defeating behavior.

Links to the Gremlin series:

  1. Introduction
  2. Blamer
  3. Denial
  4. Scaredy 
  5. Jekyll and Hyde
  6. Pigpen

RENOVA regards,

Dr. Tom Cocklereece

Hire me as your coach. I useGoToMeetingfor online distance sessions. Coaching sessions and our relationship is confidential but your success will be visible to all. Contact me for a complementary session at .

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