Thoughts on better parenting, teaching, management, and leadership

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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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COMMENTARY 889.5: The Parable of Brother Leo

July 24, 2014 Leadership

An old legend tells of a monastery in France well-known throughout Europe because of the extraordinary leadership of a man known only as Brother Leo. Several monks began a pilgrimage to visit Brother Leo to learn from him. Almost immediately the monks began to bicker over who should do various chores. On the third day […]

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The Best Is Yet to Come … But Only if You Believe It

July 23, 2014 Quick Thoughts

If you are having a bad day . . . or week . . . or month . . . have a serious talk with yourself and decide what it will take to move on. Preoccupation with your problems, no matter how serious, compounds them and imprisons you in a dark dungeon. There is no […]

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COMMENTARY 889.4: The Best Dad

July 23, 2014 Parenting, Family

Years ago I heard a story of a dad named Paul who gave his young son a small chalkboard to practice writing on. One evening his son called out from the bedroom, “Dad, how do you spell best?” Paul answered him. Moments later, the boy hollered, “How do you spell kid?” Finally he asked, “How […]

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COMMENTARY 889.3: The Blue Stone and the White Lie

July 22, 2014 Honesty

This story is about a truth-versus-caring ethical dilemma I once had. I think I did the right thing but I keep wondering if there was a better way. I was putting my two-year-old to bed when Abrielle, who was four, came screaming down the hall in a panic. Samara, the five-and-a-half-year-old, was right behind her […]

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COMMENTARY 889.2: Advice About Teens

July 21, 2014 Parenting, Family

Here are three suggestions for the parents of young teens, all learned through my own mistakes: First, remember, with emerging demands for independence, worries about peer acceptance, pressures of school and extra-curricular activities and a continuous search for self-identity, adolescents are on a physical and emotional roller coaster. Like every generation before them (including yours), […]

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COMMENTARY 889.1: Box Full of Love

July 18, 2014 Caring, Compassion

Todd was a sadly quiet eleven-year-old struggling to adjust to the death of his mother. His father left long ago and he was living with an aunt who made it known that she resented the responsibility. On several occasions, Sheryl, the boy’s teacher, heard the aunt tell Todd, “If it weren’t for my generosity you […]

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COMMENTARY 888.5: Do I Have to Tell Everything?

July 17, 2014 Choices

Can a job applicant properly withhold information about a criminal record or being fired in a previous job? Can a woman who has just started dating properly say nothing about a previous marriage or abortion? These are problems of candor: When does an ethical person have a duty to reveal negative information about his past? […]

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Thumbnail image for COMMENTARY 888.4: Mental Sunshine and Flowers

COMMENTARY 888.4: Mental Sunshine and Flowers

July 16, 2014 Caring, Compassion

Dave had to undergo painful throat surgery. Since he’s not a young man and makes his living as a professional speaker, the experience was frightening and traumatic. He told me his surgeon was skilled and the hospital workers were competent, but the cold indifference of the parade of nurses and doctors who came in and […]

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Thumbnail image for COMMENTARY 888.3: Using All Your Strength

COMMENTARY 888.3: Using All Your Strength

July 15, 2014 Choices

A young boy was walking with his father along a country road. When they came across a very large tree branch the boy asked, “Do you think I could move that branch?” His father answered, “If you use all your strength, I’m sure you can.” So the boy tried mightily to lift, pull and push […]

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Thumbnail image for COMMENTARY 888.2: The Struggle Between Wants and Shoulds

COMMENTARY 888.2: The Struggle Between Wants and Shoulds

July 14, 2014 Commentaries

As a full-time ethicist – can you believe there is such a thing? – I spend most of my time talking about right and wrong with parents and politicians, kids and corporate managers, journalists and generals. One thing I’ve learned is that ethics – being a good person and doing the right thing – is […]

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Thumbnail image for COMMENTARY 888.1: The Ethics of Gay Rights and Same-Sex Marriage

COMMENTARY 888.1: The Ethics of Gay Rights and Same-Sex Marriage

July 11, 2014 Caring, Compassion

(This is one of those commentaries that evokes passionate response and, sadly, a few people will disagree so strongly that they decide to cut me out of their lives by cancelling their newsletter subscription or putting me on the “block sender” list. I realize the issue of same-sex marriage is only one aspect of the […]

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Thumbnail image for COMMENTARY 887.5: The Greyhound Principle

COMMENTARY 887.5: The Greyhound Principle

July 10, 2014 Commentaries

Racing dogs are trained to chase a mechanical rabbit that always goes a little faster than the fleetest dog. This causes them to run faster than they otherwise would. Companies that annually set overly ambitious performance objectives for their employees employ this greyhound principle. To a point, it works. Most people achieve more when expectations […]

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Thumbnail image for COMMENTARY 887.4: Enough Is Enough

COMMENTARY 887.4: Enough Is Enough

July 9, 2014 Choices

What does it take to make you happy? How much do you have to have to be grateful? To the barefoot man, happiness is a pair of old shoes. To the man with old shoes, it’s a pair of new shoes. To the man with new shoes, it’s more stylish shoes. And, of course, the […]

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Thumbnail image for COMMENTARY 887.3: Learning From Pigeons

COMMENTARY 887.3: Learning From Pigeons

July 8, 2014 Choices

During an experiment, pigeons were put in cages with one green and one red button.  In one cage, if the birds pecked the green button they would get food every time.  In the other, the green button yielded food erratically and the pigeons had to persist to get enough food.  In both cases, pecking the […]

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Thumbnail image for COMMENTARY 887.2: Being Decisive

COMMENTARY 887.2: Being Decisive

July 7, 2014 Commentaries

Frank is a new supervisor who wants to do well. Maria consistently comes in late. When he confronts her, she makes a joke out of it. Hoping to win friendship and loyalty, Frank is painfully patient with her, but Pat, a conscientious employee, urges him to do more. Soon others begin to come in late, […]

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Thumbnail image for COMMENTARY 887.1: Democracy and Respectful Discourse

COMMENTARY 887.1: Democracy and Respectful Discourse

July 4, 2014 Commentaries

On this Fourth of July, I hope you will take time to experience pride in and appreciation for the great qualities of our country. One quality of our democracy is that every citizen is a public official. Thus, the passionate advocacy of political convictions is not only a right, it’s a patriotic obligation. What worries me, however, […]

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Memo From Michael: How do you do the right thing when you’re not sure what the right thing is? (Even ethicists face dilemmas).

July 3, 2014 Memo From Michael

[Revised July 4, 2014] (What follows are lengthy musings of an ethicist struggling to live his values in the real world.) Have you ever found yourself in a place (I don’t mean a physical location) you really don’t want to be in and  wondered how you got there and how you can get out of […]

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Thumbnail image for COMMENTARY 886.5: Happiness and Purpose

COMMENTARY 886.5: Happiness and Purpose

July 3, 2014 Choices

As you celebrate the Fourth of July, please take time to discuss with your family the historical and spiritual significance of the Declaration of Independence and the 56 men who risked their lives issuing one of the great documents in human history. At the core of the Declaration is the profound assertion that each of […]

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Thumbnail image for COMMENTARY 886.4: The Road to Significance

COMMENTARY 886.4: The Road to Significance

July 2, 2014 Commentaries

The most traditional way to measure the quality of one’s life is to evaluate success by listing accolades, achievements, and acquisitions. After all, in its simplest terms, success is getting what we want and most people want wealth and status. Yet, as much pleasure as these attributes can bring, the rich, powerful, and famous usually […]

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Thumbnail image for COMMENTARY 886.3: Is Happiness Around the Corner?

COMMENTARY 886.3: Is Happiness Around the Corner?

July 1, 2014 Commentaries

For lots of people, happiness is just around the corner. They just need to get their degree, a particular job, a promotion, or a raise. Maybe they’re waiting to get married or have a child. Perhaps they will be happy when they retire. Alfred D’ Souza said, “For a long time it seemed to me […]

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Thumbnail image for COMMENTARY 886.2: The Paradoxical Commandments

COMMENTARY 886.2: The Paradoxical Commandments

June 30, 2014 Commentaries

In 1968, when Kent M. Keith was a 19-year-old sophomore at Harvard, he wrote the Paradoxical Commandments as part of a booklet for student leaders. He describes the Commandments as guidelines for finding personal meaning in the face of adversity: 1. People are illogical, unreasonable, and self-centered. Love them anyway. 2. If you do good, […]

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Archer - Edmund Burke quote

QUOTE & OBSERVATION: All that is necessary for evil to triumph is for good people to do nothing. — Edmund Burke

June 28, 2014 Quotes, Observations

Irish and English statesman Edmund Burke said, “All that is necessary for evil to triumph is for good people to do nothing.” This is true of major evils like the unabated rise of Nazism in the 30s and 40s and the toleration of, or indifference to, the outrageous ideas and actions of the KKK in the […]

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Thumbnail image for COMMENTARY 886.1: The Truth About Trust

COMMENTARY 886.1: The Truth About Trust

June 27, 2014 Choices

Everyone seems to understand the importance of trust. No one seems to doubt the vital role that  it plays in personal relationships, business and politics. We want to trust the people in our lives and we want them to trust us. Trust is so hard to earn and so easy to lose. So why do […]

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Thumbnail image for Memo From Michael: Good Wolf Versus Evil Wolf

Memo From Michael: Good Wolf Versus Evil Wolf

June 26, 2014 Memo From Michael

I haven’t written a personal note for quite a while. Earlier this week I revealed that I have been preoccupied for more than six months with a lawsuit my family and I reluctantly filed against the Archer School for Girls, its head of school Elizabeth English and its Board of Trustees (see JosephsonVsArcher.com to read […]

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Thumbnail image for COMMENTARY 885.5: What Your Checkbook and Calendar Say About Your Values

COMMENTARY 885.5: What Your Checkbook and Calendar Say About Your Values

June 26, 2014 Commentaries

If I wanted to check your credit worthiness, I’d look at your balance sheet — what you have and what you owe — and I’d want to know about your history of paying your debts. If I wanted to know your values, I’d look at your calendar and checkbook. How come? Well, the term “values” refers to core […]

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