Thoughts on better parenting, teaching, management, and leadership

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Post image for COMMENTARY 924.5: Things Are Just Things

Years ago, a listener told me her mom died leaving only a general will and a house full of personal items with sentimental and, in some cases, significant financial value. My listener said tensions were building among her and her two sisters as they approached the problem of allocating their mom’s stuff.

Each sister had different and conflicting expectations. The eldest believed her mom wanted her to have first choice of items. The middle sister was the major caregiver, and their mom had said, “I want you to have anything you want.” The youngest daughter said mom promised certain important items to her to give to the grandchildren.

None of the sisters was greedy, and [click to continue…]

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Thumbnail image for COMMENTARY 924.4: Coaching for Character

COMMENTARY 924.4: Coaching for Character

March 25, 2015 Commentaries

I’ve spent lots of time with some of the world’s most successful coaches. I discovered that many of them think about character a lot, especially traits that are important to winning – like self-discipline, perseverance, resiliency, and courage. They pay less attention to virtues like honesty, integrity, responsibility, compassion, respect, and fairness — aspects of […]

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Thumbnail image for COMMENTARY 924.3: Kids Like to Win; Adults Need to Win

COMMENTARY 924.3: Kids Like to Win; Adults Need to Win

March 24, 2015 Commentaries

Whether you’re a sports fan or not, you have to acknowledge the powerful cultural influence that sports have on our culture. The values of millions of participants and spectators are shaped by the values conveyed in sports, including our views of what is permissible and proper in the competitive pursuit of personal goals. Professional sports […]

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Thumbnail image for COMMENTARY 924.2: Tell Someone They’re Valued

COMMENTARY 924.2: Tell Someone They’re Valued

March 23, 2015 Caring, Compassion

The students at Sandy’s high school were badly shaken by the news that a classmate had killed himself. The suicide note said, “It’s hard to live when nobody cares if you die.” Glen, a teacher, realized this was a teachable moment about the importance of making people feel valued. He asked the class to imagine […]

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Thumbnail image for COMMENTARY 924.1: Fleas and Revolutionaries

COMMENTARY 924.1: Fleas and Revolutionaries

March 20, 2015 Attitude

Positivity is a powerful change agent. For one thing, people who go through life with the positive perspective that the glass is half full are much happier and more productive than those who see it as half empty. It has nothing to do with how much water is really in the glass. What matters is […]

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Thumbnail image for COMMENTARY 923.5: The True Meaning of Our Lives

COMMENTARY 923.5: The True Meaning of Our Lives

March 19, 2015 Commentaries

I saw a cartoon showing an old king checking in at the gates of heaven. He introduced himself as “Edward The Good.” The gatekeeper with a large book in front of him said, “Well, Eddie, we’ll be the judge of that.” The point is that, in the end, generous self-appraisals won’t matter. Our epitaphs will […]

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Thumbnail image for COMMENTARY 923.4: How Honest Are You?

COMMENTARY 923.4: How Honest Are You?

March 18, 2015 Choices

Yesterday I marveled at the honesty of Patrick and Catherine for going to great lengths to return my wallet. Perhaps you would have done the same thing, but being scrupulously honest in all things is more difficult than it seems and more rare than it should be. Here’s a little quiz to test your honesty. […]

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Thumbnail image for COMMENTARY 923.3: The Saga of the Lost Wallet

COMMENTARY 923.3: The Saga of the Lost Wallet

March 17, 2015 Commentaries

I suspect it’s an indication of low expectations that I was so delightfully surprised when I found a note on my door Saturday afternoon from a person who said they found my wallet a few hours earlier. Apparently, after pulling out my credit card to get gas, I put my wallet on the top of […]

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Thumbnail image for COMMENTARY 923.2: Motive, Tact, Tone, Timing

COMMENTARY 923.2: Motive, Tact, Tone, Timing

March 16, 2015 Caring, Compassion

Trustworthiness is essential to good relationships, and honesty is essential to trustworthiness. Being honest isn’t simply telling the truth, though. It’s also being sincere and forthright. Thus, it’s just as dishonest to deceive someone by half-truths or silence as it is to lie. But what if honesty requires us to volunteer information that could be […]

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Thumbnail image for COMMENTARY 923.1: Good Karma

COMMENTARY 923.1: Good Karma

March 13, 2015 Commentaries

I get lots of emails containing words of wisdom. I appreciate every one of them, but one time I got a real keeper. Here are 17 incredibly powerful observations attributed to the Dalai Lama worth posting on your bathroom mirror. Learn them and live them. They will improve your life. 1. Follow the three Rs: […]

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Thumbnail image for COMMENTARY 922.5: What Is Character?

COMMENTARY 922.5: What Is Character?

March 12, 2015 Commentaries

Here’s a riddle: You can hardly ever find it anymore — especially in politics or business. Lots of schools don’t teach it anymore. We want more of it in our children and in all the adults who interact with them. We want it from our bosses and the people who fix our cars. And most […]

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Thumbnail image for COMMENTARY 922.4: A Parent’s Love for the Family Treasure

COMMENTARY 922.4: A Parent’s Love for the Family Treasure

March 11, 2015 Caring, Compassion

There are all kinds of love. The passionate romantic love immortalized and often fantasized by poets and novelists; Platonic love among friends, the love of humanity preached by missionaries and ministers, the love of country, and even the love of our work. I’ve been fortunate to have experienced all of these forms but none has impressed me […]

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Thumbnail image for COMMENTARY 922.3: Birds on a Wire: Actions are More Important Than Intentions

COMMENTARY 922.3: Birds on a Wire: Actions are More Important Than Intentions

March 10, 2015 Commentaries

Five birds are sitting on a telephone wire. Two of them decide to fly south. How many are left? Three, you say? No, it’s five. You see, deciding to fly south is not the same as doing it. If a bird really wants to go somewhere, it’s got to point itself in the right direction, […]

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Thumbnail image for COMMENTARY 922.2: Unkind Words Are Weapons

COMMENTARY 922.2: Unkind Words Are Weapons

March 9, 2015 Caring, Compassion

With four teenage daughters, I frequently find myself correcting, disciplining, or simply protesting unnecessary and unkind comments certain to anger or wound a sister and evoke counterattacks that fill the air with nastiness. Hoping to get them to think before they speak in the future, I often ask, “What did you expect to accomplish by […]

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Thumbnail image for COMMENTARY 922.1: Are Cynics Right? Is Lying Really Necessary?

COMMENTARY 922.1: Are Cynics Right? Is Lying Really Necessary?

March 6, 2015 Commentaries

What do you think? In today’s society, does a person have to lie or cheat at least occasionally to succeed? The question isn’t whether occasional liars and cheats sometimes get away with dishonesty; we all have to agree with this. The question is whether you believe people can succeed if they are not willing to […]

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Thumbnail image for COMMENTARY 921.5: Courtesy Is Kindness in Action

COMMENTARY 921.5: Courtesy Is Kindness in Action

March 5, 2015 Caring, Compassion

As a society we have become almost obsessed with identifying and asserting our rights – to think, say, and do what we want. That’s not surprising, given the history of our country and the prominent role the Constitution and Bill of Rights have played in shaping our culture. We have a right to be unkind, […]

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Thumbnail image for COMMENTARY 921.4: Responsibilities of Management

COMMENTARY 921.4: Responsibilities of Management

March 4, 2015 Commentaries

Modern managers often utter clichés about wanting employees to “think outside the box,” take risks, and be creative. And while I’m sure companies do appreciate break-through innovative ideas that increase profits, productivity, or quality, the fact is that most organizations are inhospitable to those who challenge old ways of doing things, even practices that are […]

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Thumbnail image for COMMENTARY 921.3: The Pressure to Win in Sports and Business

COMMENTARY 921.3: The Pressure to Win in Sports and Business

March 3, 2015 Commentaries

A former successful college coach and athletic director once wrote me a note about the state of college sports. The pressure to win in high-profile schools is so great, he said, that it’s almost impossible to resist rationalizing. When competitors cheat or engage in other unethical conduct, the tendency is to redefine the ground rules […]

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Thumbnail image for COMMENTARY 921.2: Dying From the Cold Within

COMMENTARY 921.2: Dying From the Cold Within

March 2, 2015 Commentaries

One of the great challenges to our humanity is acknowledging and overcoming our natural tendency to think less of and discriminate against people who are different from us racially, ethnically, religiously, or ideologically. Despite persistent rhetoric about prizing diversity, political debates often reflect disdain and contempt for those we disagree with, and prejudices of all […]

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Thumbnail image for COMMENTARY 921.1: Testing Your Integrity

COMMENTARY 921.1: Testing Your Integrity

February 27, 2015 Commentaries

In the past year, did you keep the money if a cashier gave you too much change? Did you lie to your boss, a customer, or a significant other? Did you use the Internet for personal reasons at work? Did you distort or conceal facts on a resumé or in a job interview? Did you […]

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Thumbnail image for COMMENTARY 920.5: Don’t Let the Bad Guys Win

COMMENTARY 920.5: Don’t Let the Bad Guys Win

February 26, 2015 Commentaries

During a seminar on ethics in the workplace, participants spoke about a wide array of unethical conduct they’d recently witnessed. They talked about high-level employees who lied on internal reports or blatantly took credit for the work of others and the intimidation or abuse of subordinates. These were clear-cut violations of organizational policy. Yet, in […]

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Thumbnail image for COMMENTARY 920.4: The Pressure to Cheat

COMMENTARY 920.4: The Pressure to Cheat

February 25, 2015 Commentaries

What’s causing the growing hole in our moral ozone? Why are cheating and lying so common in schools, on the sports field, and in business and politics? Apparently it’s a thing called pressure. Kids are under pressure to get into college, athletes and coaches are under pressure to win, and, according to a survey by […]

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Thumbnail image for COMMENTARY 920.3: Gifts From the Heart Are Gifts of the Heart

COMMENTARY 920.3: Gifts From the Heart Are Gifts of the Heart

February 24, 2015 Attitude

According to legend, a young man roaming the desert came across a spring of delicious crystal-clear water. The water was so sweet he filled his leather canteen so he could bring some back to a tribal elder who had been his teacher. After a four-day journey, he presented the water to the old man, who […]

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Thumbnail image for COMMENTARY 920.2: Digging and Filling Holes

COMMENTARY 920.2: Digging and Filling Holes

February 23, 2015 Character

Charlie, a road crew supervisor for highway landscapers, came upon a pair of workers from one of his crews seemingly hard at work. He watched one fellow dig a hole while his partner waited a few minutes and then filled the hole. After a few repetitions Charlie demanded an explanation. The hole-filler was offended: “We’ve […]

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Thumbnail image for COMMENTARY 920.1: The Power of Words

COMMENTARY 920.1: The Power of Words

February 20, 2015 Bullying

“Sticks and stones may break my bones, but names will never hurt me.” Really? Insults, teasing, gossip, and verbal abuse can inflict deeper and more enduring pain than guns and knives. Ask anyone who as a kid was fat, skinny, short, tall, flat-chested, big-busted, acne-faced, uncoordinated, slow-witted, or exceptionally smart. In schoolrooms and playgrounds across […]

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Thumbnail image for COMMENTARY 919.5: The Self-Portrait Called Character

COMMENTARY 919.5: The Self-Portrait Called Character

February 19, 2015 Commentaries

While I was on a radio call-in show talking about cheating, a listener I’ll call Stan mocked my concern. He cheated to get into college, he said. He cheated in college to get a job. And now he occasionally cheats on his job to get ahead. In fact, he concluded, cheating is such an important […]

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Thumbnail image for COMMENTARY 919.4: I’m Only a One-Star

COMMENTARY 919.4: I’m Only a One-Star

February 18, 2015 Choices

Years ago I was talking to a group of Army generals about the way politicians often treat the defense budget as an all-purpose public works fund to help bring money into their districts. One general admitted, “Yes, if the chairman of the Appropriations Committee comes from a place that makes trucks, we’re probably going to […]

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Thumbnail image for COMMENTARY 919.3: Two Sets of Proud Parents

COMMENTARY 919.3: Two Sets of Proud Parents

February 17, 2015 Caring, Compassion

I received an email with a story worth sharing. Only the names have been changed to preserve privacy. Doug is the proud and loving father of Emma, a high school junior who takes a leadership class responsible for putting on dances and other student events. All student body officers must take the class, but a […]

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Thumbnail image for COMMENTARY 919.2: The Presidents Day Un-Celebration — Honoring Not Just the Great, But All U.S. Presidents

COMMENTARY 919.2: The Presidents Day Un-Celebration — Honoring Not Just the Great, But All U.S. Presidents

February 16, 2015 Commentaries

If you’re not going to school or work today, it’s because it’s a national holiday. The country used to celebrate the birthdays of George Washington and Abraham Lincoln separately, but in 1971 Richard Nixon and Congress, in order to create a perpetual three-day weekend, merged the two holidays into a brand new one called Presidents […]

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1 12 Truths About Lying

12 TRUTHS ABOUT LYING

February 13, 2015 Commentaries

1. Honesty may not always pay, but lying always costs. 2. Trust is a tower, built stone by stone, lies take stones from the bottom. 3. There is no security in secrecy; every undiscovered lie is a live landmine. 4. Lies breed a bodyguard of new lies to protect themselves. 5. Lies look very different […]

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