Thoughts on better parenting, teaching, management, and leadership

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Post image for COMMENTARY 895.1: R-E-S-P-E-C-T

R – E – S – P – E – C – T. Aretha Franklin reminded us how it’s spelled, but a lot of us need coaching on how to show it. In both personal and political relationships the failure to treat each other with respect is generating incivility, contempt and violence.

There’s an important distinction between respecting a person in the sense that we admire and hold that person in especially high esteem and treating others with respect. While respecting others is desirable, respectfulness is morally mandatory. Thus, people of character treat everyone with respect, even those who are not personally respectworthy.

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COMMENTARY 894.5: A Test of Integrity: Does Personal Necessity Trump Moral Principles?

August 28, 2014 Commentaries

Years ago, my wife Anne was talking to a woman I’ll call Lila about another lady I’ll call Gwen. Gwen had just been laid off and since she had only worked for the company for a short time, she wasn’t eligible to continue the company’s medical insurance. That’s important because she was eight weeks pregnant, […]

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COMMENTARY 894.4: Excellence Is Achievable

August 27, 2014 Commentaries

As I watched nearly five dozen eager graduates of the Los Angeles Police Academy throw their hats in the air celebrating their achievement, I knew they were the survivors of a rigorous training, and that their journey wasn’t over. Ahead of them would be a full year of supervised field training, and it’s unlikely all […]

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COMMENTARY 894.3: The Application of Religion to Business

August 26, 2014 Commentaries

Most Americans say they’re religious and their beliefs are important to their lives, yet I’m astonished at how many seem to ignore their religion’s moral expectations and prescriptions. Religion isn’t about only worship and ritual; it teaches believers how to live. Thus, the holy books of every major religion are filled with precepts and principles about […]

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COMMENTARY 894.2: A Perfect Game

August 25, 2014 Commentaries

In Echoes of the Maggid, Rabbi Paysach Krohn tells a story of a young boy with severe learning disabilities named Shaya who was walking past a park with his father when he saw a group of boys playing baseball. He asked his dad if he thought they’d let him play. Although Shaya couldn’t even hold […]

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COMMENTARY 894.1: Granddaddy’s Gift

August 22, 2014 Commentaries

Years ago, a Southern woman was in one of my workshops. When asked to tell a story that impacted her character, she described an incident when she was 5. She was at her grandfather’s house all dressed up in a white dress with a crinoline and new gloves, proud as she could be. Her granddaddy […]

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COMMENTARY 893.5: Moving From Success to Significance

August 21, 2014 Commentaries

I frequently address people who are highly successful. They’re at the top of their field and often have all the comforts that wealth can afford. Most seem to enjoy their success. So, in a way, it surprises me how deeply many of them respond when I talk about the difference between success and significance. Invariably, […]

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Thumbnail image for COMMENTARY 893.4: The Ultimate Solution to Bullying in Schools: A Student-Led Culture of Kindness

COMMENTARY 893.4: The Ultimate Solution to Bullying in Schools: A Student-Led Culture of Kindness

August 20, 2014 Bullying

Olivia Gardner was a sixth grader in Northern California when her life began to unravel. It started when she suffered an epileptic seizure in front of her classmates. Immediately, the name-calling began. The hallway insults and ridicule — “freak,” “retard,” “weirdo” — escalated into cyber-bullying when a few particularly nasty students set up an “Olivia […]

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COMMENTARY 893.3: The Garden

August 19, 2014 Commentaries

A listener once sent me a poem with an unknown source called “The Garden.” I liked the idea so I rewrote it. Here’s my version of a lifetime garden to nourish your life: First, plant six rows of squash: 1. Squash dishonesty in all its forms. 2. Squash prejudice. 3. Squash fear.

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COMMENTARY 893.2: Tyranny of the Minority

August 18, 2014 Education

According to a survey of parents, 93 percent want schools to teach basic values like honesty and respect. The problem is, schools are left to contend with the 7 percent who disagree. In any enterprise that seeks to avoid conflict and find consensus, that small minority may often dictate policy. Too often, aggressive objectors bully […]

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Thumbnail image for COMMENTARY 893.1: A Parable About Leadership

COMMENTARY 893.1: A Parable About Leadership

August 15, 2014 Commentaries

Listening to politicians’ nasty rhetoric, one might think that leadership has to be aggressive and confrontational, but consider this parable about leadership. A student assigned to write an essay about an effective leader wrote this story: “I’ve been taking a bus to school for years. Most passengers keep to themselves and no one ever talks […]

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Thumbnail image for COMMENTARY 892.5: Worth More Than a Million Dollars

COMMENTARY 892.5: Worth More Than a Million Dollars

August 14, 2014 Caring, Compassion

If you had the choice of winning $1 million in the lottery or saving a stranger’s life, which would you choose? I suspect many of you think you should say, “saving a life,” but what you are really thinking is how much better your life would be if you were rich. If the test was […]

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Thumbnail image for COMMENTARY 892.4: Lying Is Like Drunk Driving

COMMENTARY 892.4: Lying Is Like Drunk Driving

August 13, 2014 Commentaries

Sometimes lying makes our lives easier. If you want the day off, just call in sick. If your boss asks if you’ve finished a report, say you left it at home. And if an irate customer calls, just make up a good cover story. Technically these are lies, but since no one’s hurt, what’s the […]

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BUT IT LOOKED LIKE HE WAS HAVING SO MUCH FUN. Don’t be sad that the world lost such a great talent, be sad that this incredibly gifted man, who so easily won the admiration and affection of so many, was so terribly unhappy.

August 12, 2014 Quick Thoughts

ROBBIN WILLIAMS. Whatever it takes to have a true sense of inner peace is obviously illusive. If it were talent, fame, money or the adoration of the masses, Robbin Williams would have been happy. Lincoln said, “folks are generally about as happy as they are willing to be.”  Why is it so hard to be willing to […]

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COMMENTARY 892.3: Planned Abandonment

August 12, 2014 Relationships

Management guru Peter Drucker advocated a practice he called planned abandonment. He stressed how important it is that managers develop the wisdom and courage to regularly review what their organization is doing and determine whether it’s worth doing. He urged executives to note and resist the systemic and emotional forces that make it difficult to […]

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COMMENTARY 892.2: Good Ethics Make Better Relationships

August 11, 2014 Relationships

While I believe that good things tend to happen to people who consistently choose the high road, the correlation between ethics and success is a loose one at best. Thus, it’s pretty hard to sincerely promote ethics by appeals to self-interest. What’s more, when self-interest is the controlling justification for moral behavior, moral reasoning is […]

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COMMENTARY 892.1: Will, Fern, and the Power of Encouragement

August 8, 2014 Attitude

Two frogs named Will and Fern fell into a deep pit together. At first, they thought it would be easy to jump out. But after lots of failed attempts they cried for help and a crowd of animals gathered around the pit. Everyone agreed it was hopeless so they urged Will and Fern to accept […]

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COMMENTARY 891.5: Grocery Store Ethics

August 7, 2014 The Nature of Character

You can tell a lot about people’s character by how they act at the grocery store. I remember being in a crowded store when there was a shortage of shopping carts. A prosperous-looking fellow was pushing a cart when another man stopped him. “Excuse me,” the second man said, “but this is my cart.” The […]

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COMMENTARY 891.4: Acting on Principle and Good Intentions

August 6, 2014 Attitude

I once heard a story about an emergency medical technician I’ll call Jake who was summoned to help an unconscious woman. When he arrived, she had no pulse. From her color and dilated eyes, he could tell she’d suffered serious brain damage. Still, he did his job exceptionally well, trying over and over to restart […]

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COMMENTARY 891.3: What Is the Most Difficult CEO Job in the Nation? I Nominate School Principal.

August 5, 2014 Character

Schools all over the nation are struggling to modify their strategies to meet the Common Core demands regarding critical thinking and problem solving. They must also find ways to teach 21st Century workplace skills, enhance students’ social and emotional development, and, of course, build their character so they become responsible and productive citizens. Oh, they must also […]

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COMMENTARY 891.2: “He Made You”

August 4, 2014 Choices

As Lily Tomlin said, “No matter how cynical I get, I can’t keep up.” Our economy has been shattered by widespread corporate fraud; kids lie, steal, and cheat at unprecedented rates; and their parents beat up each other or referees at youth sports events or supply alcohol to fuel organized hazing. Our confidence in the […]

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You Can’t Lose by Relentlessly Pursuing Excellence

August 1, 2014 Character

As I embark on a pilgrimage with my 65-year-old little brother to see the Baseball Hall of Fame, I am also frantically trying to complete a book on “The Exemplary Policing Organization.” As my two worlds collided, I got to thinking about what it means to be exemplary, to be one of the best ever at something […]

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COMMENTARY 891.1: Accountability in the Workplace

August 1, 2014 Leadership

Lately I’ve been spending a lot of time consulting with large companies concerned with strengthening their ethical culture. Although I’m sure the leaders I work with care about ethics and virtue for their own sake, I know the driving force to seek outside assistance is self-interest. The risk of reputation-damaging and resource-draining charges resulting from […]

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COMMENTARY 890.5: The Dangers of Absolutism

July 31, 2014 The Nature of Character

The world of ethics spreads from the borders of the absolutists, who think every moral question has a clear and single answer, to the coast of the relativists, who believe ethics is a matter of personal opinion or regional custom. In distinguishing right from wrong, absolutists don’t see much of a difference between mathematical calculation […]

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COMMENTARY 890.4: Justin’s Introduction to Candor

July 30, 2014 Honesty

When my son Justin was in high school, I went to an open house to meet his teachers. I was taken aback when one teacher casually mentioned that she had disciplined my son for cheating on a homework assignment. I asked my son why he hadn’t told me about this incident. “You didn’t ask,” he […]

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It’s easy to find people who understand costs. The challenge is to find people who understand values.

July 29, 2014 Quotes, Observations
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COMMENTARY 890.3: Eighteen Random Rules of Life

July 29, 2014 The Good Life

I love maxims, those concise capsules of worldly wisdom. I collect them and write them and, of course, love to share them. Here are 18 random rules of life worth posting on your mirror or, better yet, using as dinner-time discussion starters. Find the lesson in every failure and you’ll never fail. The likelihood that […]

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Four Exceptional Insights I Wish I Understood Long Ago

July 28, 2014 Commentaries

1) The art of acceptance is the art of making someone who has just done you a small favor wish that he might have done you a greater one. Russell Lynes. 2) People won’t remember everything you say or do but they always remember how you made them feel.- Maya Angelou 3) Feeling grateful and […]

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COMMENTARY 890.2: Parents Are Teachers First

July 28, 2014 Parenting, Family

When John Wooden, the legendary basketball coach, referred to the last game he “ever taught,” he was asked about this phrasing. He said simply that a coach is first and foremost a teacher who should not only improve his players’ athletic skills, but also help them become better people. And he was a superb teacher […]

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COMMENTARY 890.1: Trust Is More Important Than Truth

July 25, 2014 Parenting, Family

A study titled “Parenting by Lying” reveals that most parents lie to their children, even though they tell their kids lying is wrong. The parents surveyed said they didn’t feel guilty because their lies were intended to accomplish legitimate parental goals such as getting a child to stop crying or protecting a child from feeling […]

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