Thoughts on better parenting, teaching, management, and leadership

What Will Matter - poem by Michael Josephson
This blog gets its name from Michael's inspirational poem.
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The greatest value of personal photos is the way they document the small precious moments of daily living. Looking at old photos will bring back memories, even feelings, that remind us of past pleasures.

It’s a pity so little time is spent in our own personal museums.

It’s much harder now that select photo albums have been replaced by files of thousands of digital images, often unsorted, and too much to go thru.

Three suggestions:

1) pick out a few (no more than 5 really favorite photos of each major event or trip and put into a special file of highlights,

2) start a tradition of a private or family photo review as part of every special occasion – birthdays, anniversaries, holidays, and

3) print out your favorites by year and adorn your walls with precious memories so you don’t have to find them — they will find you.


1 Life is short - smile

Life is short. Smile as often as you can – then keep smiling.

August 29, 2015 Attitude

“Every time you smile at someone, it is an action of love, a gift to that person, a beautiful thing.” Mother Teresa. CHARACTER COUNTS! ( focuses on creating a positive school climate where children are both physically and emotionally safe, where they feel they are accepted and valued and where they feel they belong. One […]

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COMMENTARY 945.5: A Test of Integrity: Does Personal Necessity Trump Moral Principles?

August 27, 2015 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 945.4: Excellence Is Achievable

August 27, 2015 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 945.3: The Application of Religion to Business

August 26, 2015 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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01Howard Schultz

Empathy as a Customer Service Strategy

August 25, 2015 Quotes, Observations

Is there opportunity in times of emotional turmoil? Starbuck’s CEO Howard Schultz things so. Or maybe he really wants to use his company and its 190,000 employees as a source of a kinder gentler society. What do you think? “Today’s financial market volatility, combined with great political uncertainty both at home and abroad, will undoubtedly […]

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COMMENTARY 945.2: A Perfect Game

August 25, 2015 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 945.1: Granddaddy’s Gift

August 25, 2015 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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01 David & Goliath

OUTBREAK OF RESPONSIBLE CITIZENSHIP. “All that is necessary to defeat evil is for good people to do something.”

August 25, 2015 Character

Long ago Edmund Burke observed that “All that is necessary for evil to triumph is for good people to do nothing.” Passive acceptance of evil is a serious social disease but there is an antidote called “doing something” and a glimmer of hope that this anti-toxin is spreading, leading to a new aphorism: “All that […]

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01 3 Americans

3 Young Americans Prove That Character Counts Everywhere, All the Time. They are not just heroes, they are ambassadors of America and the power of character.

August 24, 2015 Commentaries

The solid instincts and courage of the three Americans who disarmed the gunman on the train from Amsterdam to Paris a few days ago is worthy of admiration and appreciation but the way they handled the interviews, their true humility, honesty, generosity and candor was a truly magnificent ac act of diplomacy. They showed what […]

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Thumbnail image for COMMENTARY 944.5: Lying Is Like Drunk Driving

COMMENTARY 944.5: Lying Is Like Drunk Driving

August 13, 2015 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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COMMENTARY 944.4: Planned Abandonment

August 12, 2015 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 944.3: Good Ethics Make Better Relationships

August 11, 2015 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 944.2: Will, Fern, and the Power of Encouragement

August 10, 2015 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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Perseverance - flower out of dry soil


August 8, 2015 Commentaries

Just as a beautiful flower can emerge out dry and desolate soil, joy and fulfillment can emerge out of the rubble of disappointment, grief and even tragedy.  Stay positive and persevere believing the best is yet to come! I know this is easier said than done. It takes great strength

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Everyday Ethics: What You Do in the Grocery Store (944.1)

August 7, 2015 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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Perseverance - yellow flower sunlight

Can Prolonging Life Be a Mistake? Who Are You to Judge? (943.5)

August 6, 2015 Attitude

Revised 8/8/15 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 […]

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01 success 1

What is Success?

August 5, 2015 Commentaries

Few questions have been asked more often by more people. The concept of success and the concept often thought to be its opposite, failure are central to the human quest for meaning and for happiness. Most of us very much want to be successful in our professions, successful in our various family roles and, of […]

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01 taylor swift

Heartbreaking Break-Ups. No Matter How Bad it Feels Your Heart Really Isn’t Broken.Don’t worry. You may think you’ll never get over it. But you also thought it would last forever.” Taylor Swift Pain is inevitable. Suffering is optional. Grieve, get over it, move on.

August 5, 2015 Commentaries

“Don’t worry. You may think you’ll never get over it. But you also thought it would last forever.” Taylor Swift Our hearts are much more durable than we can imagine. Still the pain can be terrible and make us believe that we will never love again or even feel again. Unless you insist on

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right to do

There is a big difference between what you have a right to do and what is right to do. “- Justice Potter Stewart.

August 5, 2015 Commentaries

How often do we hear someone defend against an action of wrongdoing by the claim that what they did was within the law? This defense may work n court but not at the gates of heaven. One has a right to do what is legal, that does not mean it is right to do it. […]

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School Principal: The Most Difficult CEO Job in the Nation (943.4)

August 5, 2015 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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Responsibility - he made you

God’s Plan to Heal the World: “He Made You” (943.3)

August 4, 2015 Choices

Revised 8/8/15 It’s almost impossible to find a responsible adult who is happy with the moral state of the world. And it’s even harder if you are attentive to the daily news. In addition to the reports of natural disasters and spreading disease, reports of the shortcomings of prominent people whose behavior attracts  the media […]

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Growth - don't have to be sick

CHARACTER: When it concerns character: you don’t have to be sick to get better.

August 3, 2015 Commentaries

Everyone is ethical in their own eyes. Beware of self delusion when assessing your own character or the ethics of your organization. It’s a dangerous form of hubris to be certain that “I would never do that”  or “It can’t happen here.” It’s easier to make a good organization better than a bad organization good.  Michael Josephson

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01 perfect

CHARACTER: When it comes to character, why can’t everyone be more like me?

August 3, 2015 Commentaries

Everyone I talk to agrees: this country (company, agency or school) needs more people with good old-fashioned character. You know, the kind of people who place ethics above expediency and integrity over personal advantage, people you can count on to do the right thing even if it may cost them more than they want to […]

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01 pyramid 1

“People of character do the right thing even if no one else does, not because they think it will change the world, but because they refuse to be changed by the world.”

August 3, 2015 Commentaries

“People of character do the right thing even if no one else does, not because they think it will change the world, but because they refuse to be changed by the world.” -Michael Josephson People who value their character above their comfort do not lead an easier life; they lead a better life. They pay […]

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Accountability in the Workplace (943.2)

August 3, 2015 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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The passing of Ron Kinnamon – a great man and great friend

August 1, 2015 Commentaries

Personal Note: I just learned that a very dear friend, Ron Kinnamon, one of the original board members of the Josephson Institute and a founding father of CHARACTER COUNTS! passed away on July 30. Ron was not only a tremendous personal friend and friend of the Institute he was also one of the finest men […]

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Success & Failure Made Simple


July 31, 2015 Commentaries

SUCCESS AND FAILURE MADE SIMPLE     What is Success?  Few questions have been asked more often by more people. The concept of success and the concept often thought to be its opposite, failure are central to the human quest for meaning and for happiness. Most of us very much want to be successful in […]

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COMMENTARY 943.1: Justin’s Introduction to Candor

July 31, 2015 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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Success - cover for best ever quotes

SUCCESS & FAILURE: Greatest Quotations Ever on Success and Failure compiled by Michael Josephson

July 30, 2015 Commentaries

The Nature of Success — The only real failure in life is not to be true to the best one knows. – Buddha — There is no objective criteria for either success or failure. People who achieve their goals are successful, those who don’t are not.- Michael Josephson — Our greatest fear should not be of failure […]

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