The Bodyguard of Lies 726.3

“Follow me around. I’m serious. If anybody wants to put a tail on me, go ahead.” This bold challenge by presidential candidate Gary Hart in 1987, bulwarking his denial that he was having an extramarital affair, started a new era in media ethics. Henceforth, sexual conduct and cover-up lies by politicians became fair game for the mainstream media because it …

The Commencement Curse 726.1

Millions of teenagers across the land are about to leave the womb of high school for a world full of new freedoms and responsibilities. Although many have been waiting for this event for a long time, eager to get on with their lives as liberated adults, the thought of leaving behind friends and familiar places can be scary. The transition …

The T.E.A.M. Approach to Teaching Character 724.4

I want my kids to be smart and successful, but I also want them to be good. I want them to be the kind of people other parents would like to see their kids marry. I also want them to make sound, values-based decisions that will help them be safe and happy. So, like most parents, I spend lots time …

Five Birds and Good Intentions 724.2

Five birds are sitting on a telephone wire. Two decide to fly south. How many are left? Most people would say three. Actually, all five are left. You see, deciding to fly isn’t the same as doing it. If a bird really wants to go somewhere, it’s got to point itself in the right direction, jump off the wire, flap …

Living and Reading 722.4

One of the most insightful and useful books I’ve ever read is a small volume by Harold Kushner called Living a Life That Matters. Today, I want to suggest ways of getting the most out of books, at least nonfiction books, which is about all I read. Reading shouldn’t be a passive experience. If you allow yourself to be absorbed …

Questions Ahead 721.5

It’s not surprising that news of Osama bin Laden’s death would branch into scores of storylines that will fragment our attention and give plenty of opportunity for criticism. The current target is the President’s decision to not release photos of bin Laden’s body, which some claim are needed to prove he’s really dead. It’s déjà vu all over again, a …

Reveling in the Death of a Villain 721.4

Yesterday I admitted I was glad and grateful to learn of Osama bin Laden’s death, an emotional reaction I’ve had some difficulty connecting to my principles as I became increasingly uncomfortable with the idea of reveling in the death of another human being, even though he was a villain. My niece Eliana helped me realize the complexity of the situation …

The History of Positive Thinking 720.5

I am a strong believer in the power of positive thinking, which is the title of a best-selling book published in 1952 by Dr. Norman Vincent Peale, a controversial preacher and pastor who popularized the idea that if you can change your attitude, you can change your life. He urged people to consciously train themselves to be optimistic and enthusiastic, …

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 …

Another Parenting Passage 717.3

Have you seen the Subaru commercial where a father is giving a safety talk to his six-year-old sitting in the driver’s seat?* In that exasperated tone I’ve heard a thousand times, the little girl says, “Daddy, it’s okay.” Then, as dad hands his daughter the key with a final warning to drive carefully, she is replaced by a 16-year-old. I’m …

The Experimental Operation 717.2

Tess, an earnest 8-year-old, was worried. Her little brother was very sick and she overheard her mom crying on the phone: “They say his only chance is an experimental operation, but it isn’t covered by insurance and there’s no way we can pay for it.” Tess went to a jar containing all the money she had saved. Although she wasn’t …

The Rider and the Elephant 716.3

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 …

Seven Truths for Bosses 715.2

Here are seven truths I’ve discovered in my struggles to be an effective boss: It’s not what you say that matters; it’s what people hear. Just because you said it doesn’t mean they heard it. Just because you wrote it doesn’t mean they read it. Be sure your message is received and understood. There are lots of things you don’t …

Is Happiness Around the Corner? 713.2

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 that life was about to …

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 …

Experience What’s Left with Passionate Intensity 710.4

Recently, I attended my 50th high school reunion. I had mixed emotions trying to catch up with folks who looked like their own grandparents. I recognized more names than faces, but after a few words I remembered events and interactions when we were all teenagers exploding with hopes and potential. Once I got past my own sense of disbelief, I …