COMMENTARY: The Road to Significance

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 discover that true happiness will …

COMMENTARY 982.2: The Yuppie Lifestyle and Satisfaction

T.S. Eliot said, “Half of the harm that is done in this world is due to people who want to feel important. They do not mean to do harm … they are absorbed in the endless struggle to think well of themselves.” How do we feel important? Often, it’s by trying to obtain an image of success created by a …

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COMMENTARY 978.5: Understanding Change: The Elephant and the Rider

It took me a long time to realize the limitations of logic. For much of my life, including a 20-year stint as a law professor, I relied on discourse and reasoning to understand and resolve problems. I believed that I should suppress feelings that could result in irrational behavior, and I had little patience for those who seemed to govern …

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COMMENTARY 977.1: Fleas and Revolutionaries

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 how we think about how …

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COMMENTARY 958.4: Live Backwards

Ben just came to town as a new rabbi. Unfortunately, his first official duty was to conduct a funeral service for Albert, a man who died in his eighties with no relatives. Since Ben didn’t know the deceased personally, he paused from his sermon to ask if anyone in the congregation would say something good about Albert. There was no …

COMMENTARY 957.5: Taking Charge of the Balloon

A man in a hot air balloon, realizing he was lost, lowered it to shout to a fellow on the ground, “The wind’s blown me off course. Can you tell me where I am?” The man replied, “Sure. You’re hovering about 60 feet over this wheat field.” “You must be an engineer,” the balloonist yelled. “I am. How did you …

COMMENTARY 956.5: Every Good Decision Starts With a Stop

Most of us are regularly confronted with choices that can have serious and lasting impact on our lives. What’s more, most really bad decisions — the ones that mess up our lives — are made impulsively or without sufficient reflection. Thus, the wisdom of the oldest advice in the world: “Think ahead.” The maxim telling us to count to three …

COMMENTARY 955.5: It’s Not Easy

Let’s be honest. Ethics is not for wimps. It’s not easy being a good person. It’s not easy to be honest when it might be costly, to play fair when others cheat, or to keep inconvenient promises. It’s not easy to stand up for our beliefs and still respect differing viewpoints. It’s not easy to control powerful impulses, to be …

COMMENTARY 955.1: Nice Guys Finish First: Good Ethics Is Good Business

“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 same …

COMMENTARY 952.3: A Lifetime of Setting and Changing Goals

I believe in setting goals. I also believe in changing goals. As a fourth grader, I was a guest on the TV show Kids Say the Darndest Things and I said, “I want to be a lawyer because my mother says I talk so much I might as well get paid for it.” I entered law school in the idealistic 1960s, …

COMMENTARY 948.2: Competition in the Arts

Competition often brings out the best performance but it doesn’t always bring out the best in people. Even in the arts, actors, singers, dancers, and musicians must survive and thrive in a competitive community as rude and rough as any. Ambitious parents often introduce toxic gamesmanship and back-biting attitudes very early as their children are judged and ranked by the …

Success & Failure Made Simple

SUCCESS AND FAILURE MADE SIMPLE by Michael Josephson

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 our professions, successful in our …

COMMENTARY 940.3: Using All Your Strength

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 the branch but he couldn’t …

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THERE IS NO SUCCESS WITHOUT ACTION

If you don’t go after what you want, you’ll never have it. If you don’t ask the answer is always no. If you don’t step forward, you’re always in the same place. – Nora Roberts THERE IS NO SUCCESS WITHOUT ACTION.  

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The road you take matters.

Where you go in life and whether you enjoy the trip will be determined by your choices, not your circumstances. In your work life and your personal life you will face choices not merely on what to do but on how you will react or respond to things other did. Life’s turning points are not marked and they are not …

COMMENTARY 893.5: Moving From Success to Significance

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, I see knowing nods when …

COMMENTARY 886.2: The Paradoxical Commandments

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 …

VIDEO: Teen knows what he wants to be when he grows up. He wants to be happy.

Everyone knows that young people need role models. But what is amazing and uplifting is how many incredible kid role models there are. This video is a must-see, especially for educators — not only because the topic of this 13-year-old boy’s message is about education, but because of his message about happiness. What a great reminder to never underestimate young …

COMMENTARY 797.5: The Road to Significance

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 discover that true happiness will …

COMMENTARY 794.3: The Yuppie Lifestyle and Satisfaction

T.S. Eliot said, “Half of the harm that is done in this world is due to people who want to feel important. They do not mean to do harm…they are absorbed in the endless struggle to think well of themselves.” How do we feel important? Often, it’s by trying to obtain an image of success created by a culture that …

COMMENTARY 791.3: Wisdom in 20 Words or Fewer: Part One

Since my children were small, I launched their day with the invocation to “be good, have fun and learn.” I hope they remember that mantra, but now that my daughter Samara is beginning her independent life as a college freshman 3,000 miles away, I think a more detailed set of maxims is needed. So, I’ve begun to assemble a collection …

SOMETHING TO THINK ABOUT FOR TEENS #11: A Life-Changing Decision

Mallory Holtman, the first baseman for her college softball team, had no idea she was about to make a choice that would change her life. During a game that could determine the conference championship, Sara Tucholsky, a player for the other team, hit the ball over the center field fence. Sara was only 5’2”, had had only three hits all …