Shameless Ignorance and Shameful Prejudice 720.3

A while ago, I spoke about my frustration trying to keep up with the uprisings in the Middle East and Northern Africa, the nuclear meltdown in Japan, the status of our troops in Afghanistan and Iraq, and the federal and state budget cuts. Now I have to add the tornado in St. Louis, wildfires in Texas, and Kobe Bryant’s ankle …

Do Nice Guys Really Finish Last? 719.1

“Nice guys finish last.” This maxim originated with a fiercely competitive baseball manager named Leo Durocher who shamelessly advocated ruthlessness, cheating, and dirty play. It is also used to explain why sweet, thoughtful men lose out to self-centered jerks in the world of dating. Lots of people believe the philosophy applies in business as well. The rationale: Nice is the …

If You’re in a Hole, Stop Digging 716.2

Most of us have lied to get out of trouble. From childhood denials (“it wasn’t me”) to adult fabrications (“the check is in the mail”), what seem like harmless falsehoods easily fall from our tongues. And then we make up more excuses or tell more lies to protect the first one. Soon the “cover-up” is more serious and credibility-damaging than …

Failing Forward: Turning Stumbling Blocks into Stepping Stones 715.1

The best way to teach our children to succeed is to teach them to fail. After all, if getting everything you want on the first try is success, and everything else is failure, we all fail much more often than we succeed. People who learn how to grow from unsuccessful efforts succeed more often and at higher levels because they …

Maybe Pro Athletes Really Aren’t Jerks 714.5

I never heard of Kim Hughes until I was sent a link to a story written in newspaper from Racine, Wisconsin. What I learned was that Hughes, a 6-foot-11 giant of a man, was half of a set of identical twins who played basketball for the University of Wisconsin. He was also an assistant coach for the Los Angeles Clippers …

Posttraumatic Growth 714.2

I’ve been fascinated, awestruck, and intimidated by disturbingly vivid real-time images of the destructive force of shifting earth and massive waves of water. Technology has given us an unprecedented ability to experience every nuance of Mother Nature’s show of power. The visuals have an unreal science fiction quality that can cause us to distance ourselves from the tidal waves of …

Lottery Winners and Paraplegics 713.3

The field of Positive Psychology pioneered by professor Martin Seligman is just over ten years old. Prior to his declaration that psychologists should study what works in life, including the factors that produce happiness and success, almost all research focused on mental illness and dysfunctional personalities. Positive Psychology unleashed waves of useful scientific wisdom, including the conclusion that happier people …

The Paradoxical Commandments 712.4

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, people will accuse you of …

Firefighters, Cops, and Soldiers 712.3

A few days ago, a massive crowd gathered in downtown Los Angeles to pay tribute to firefighter Glenn Allen, who died in action. It was an impressive and solemn ceremony well covered by the local media and attended by thousands of fellow firefighters and the city’s leading politicians. The testimonials on behalf of the 61-year-old firefighter were eloquent and sincere …

The Illusion of Success 711.5

A common management strategy to spur achievement is to set aggressive performance objectives that, like the mechanical rabbits that pace racing greyhounds, push employees to maximum effort. Using “stretch goals” can be successful, but unreasonably high performance goals often spawn dishonesty and irresponsibility. Believing that “it’s a matter of survival,” a disturbing number of employees conclude that distortion, deception, and …

Presidents’ Day 711.2

As Arabs in many countries are risking their lives in their struggle for democracy, many Americans take for granted our heritage and the freedoms others strive for. Take Presidents’ Day as an example. We used to celebrate the birthdays of two of the greatest leaders in U.S. history, true American icons George Washington (February 22) and Abraham Lincoln (February 12). …

Confessions of a Lincoln Groupie 710.1

I am an Abraham Lincoln groupie. He is my biggest hero. I have a huge collection of books and Lincoln memorabilia, and my daughter Abrielle was named after him, as was one of our family dogs. And by blind chance, my son Justin was born on his birthday. I often visit the Lincoln Memorial and stand in awe of his …