Thoughts on better parenting, teaching, management, and leadership

What Will Matter - poem by Michael Josephson
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Thumbnail image for COMMENTARY 870.1: The True Meaning of Our Lives

COMMENTARY 870.1: The True Meaning of Our Lives

March 7, 2014 Commentaries

I saw a cartoon showing an old king checking in at the gates of heaven. He introduced himself as “Edward The Good.” The gatekeeper with a large book in front of him said, “Well, Eddie, we’ll be the judge of that.” The point is that, in the end, generous self-appraisals won’t matter. Our epitaphs will […]

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Thumbnail image for COMMENTARY 869.5: How Honest Are You?

COMMENTARY 869.5: How Honest Are You?

March 6, 2014 Choices

Yesterday I marveled at the honesty of Patrick and Catherine for going to great lengths to return my wallet. Perhaps you would have done the same thing, but being scrupulously honest in all things is more difficult than it seems and more rare than it should be. Here’s a little quiz to test your honesty. […]

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Thumbnail image for COMMENTARY 869.4: The Saga of the Lost Wallet

COMMENTARY 869.4: The Saga of the Lost Wallet

March 5, 2014 Commentaries

I suspect it’s an indication of low expectations that I was so delightfully surprised when I found a note on my door Saturday afternoon from a person who said they found my wallet a few hours earlier. Apparently, after pulling out my credit card to get gas, I put my wallet on the top of […]

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Thumbnail image for COMMENTARY 869.3: Motive, Tact, Tone, Timing

COMMENTARY 869.3: Motive, Tact, Tone, Timing

March 4, 2014 Caring, Compassion

Trustworthiness is essential to good relationships, and honesty is essential to trustworthiness. Being honest isn’t simply telling the truth, though. It’s also being sincere and forthright. Thus, it’s just as dishonest to deceive someone by half-truths or silence as it is to lie. But what if honesty requires us to volunteer information that could be […]

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Thumbnail image for COMMENTARY 869.2: Good Karma

COMMENTARY 869.2: Good Karma

March 3, 2014 Commentaries

I get lots of emails containing words of wisdom. I appreciate every one of them, but one time I got a real keeper. Here are 17 incredibly powerful observations attributed to the Dalai Lama worth posting on your bathroom mirror. Learn them and live them. They will improve your life. 1. Follow the three Rs: […]

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Thumbnail image for COMMENTARY 869.1: What Is Character?

COMMENTARY 869.1: What Is Character?

February 28, 2014 Commentaries

Here’s a riddle: You can hardly ever find it anymore — especially in politics or business. Lots of schools don’t teach it anymore. We want more of it in our children and in all the adults who interact with them. We want it from our bosses and the people who fix our cars. And most […]

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Thumbnail image for COMMENTARY 868.5: Confessions of a Lincoln Groupie

COMMENTARY 868.5: Confessions of a Lincoln Groupie

February 27, 2014 Commentaries

I am an Abraham Lincoln groupie. He is my biggest hero. I have a huge collection of books and Lincoln memorabilia, 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 […]

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Thumbnail image for COMMENTARY 868.4: A Parent’s Love for the Family Treasure

COMMENTARY 868.4: A Parent’s Love for the Family Treasure

February 26, 2014 Caring, Compassion

There are all kinds of love. The passionate romantic love immortalized and often fantasized by poets and novelists; Platonic love among friends, the love of humanity preached by missionaries and ministers, the love of country, and even the love of our work. I’ve been fortunate to have experienced all of these forms but none has impressed me […]

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Thumbnail image for COMMENTARY 868.3: Birds on a Wire: Actions are More Important Than Intentions

COMMENTARY 868.3: Birds on a Wire: Actions are More Important Than Intentions

February 25, 2014 Commentaries

Five birds are sitting on a telephone wire. Two of them decide to fly south. How many are left? Three, you say? No, it’s five. You see, deciding to fly south is not the same as doing it. If a bird really wants to go somewhere, it’s got to point itself in the right direction, […]

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Thumbnail image for COMMENTARY 868.2: Unkind Words Are Weapons

COMMENTARY 868.2: Unkind Words Are Weapons

February 24, 2014 Caring, Compassion

With four teenage daughters, I frequently find myself correcting, disciplining, or simply protesting unnecessary and unkind comments certain to anger or wound a sister and evoke counterattacks that fill the air with nastiness. Hoping to get them to think before they speak in the future, I often ask, “What did you expect to accomplish by […]

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Thumbnail image for COMMENTARY 868.1: Are Cynics Right? Is Lying Really Necessary?

COMMENTARY 868.1: Are Cynics Right? Is Lying Really Necessary?

February 21, 2014 Commentaries

What do you think? In today’s society, does a person have to lie or cheat at least occasionally to succeed? The question isn’t whether occasional liars and cheats sometimes get away with dishonesty; we all have to agree with this. The question is whether you believe people can succeed if they are not willing to […]

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Thumbnail image for COMMENTARY 867.5: Courtesy Is Kindness in Action

COMMENTARY 867.5: Courtesy Is Kindness in Action

February 20, 2014 Caring, Compassion

As a society we have become almost obsessed with identifying and asserting our rights – to think, say, and do what we want. That’s not surprising, given the history of our country and the prominent role the Constitution and Bill of Rights have played in shaping our culture. We have a right to be unkind, […]

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Thumbnail image for COMMENTARY 867.4: Responsibilities of Management

COMMENTARY 867.4: Responsibilities of Management

February 19, 2014 Commentaries

Modern managers often utter clichés about wanting employees to “think outside the box,” take risks, and be creative. And while I’m sure companies do appreciate break-through innovative ideas that increase profits, productivity, or quality, the fact is that most organizations are inhospitable to those who challenge old ways of doing things, even practices that are […]

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Thumbnail image for COMMENTARY 867.3: The Pressure to Win in Sports and Business

COMMENTARY 867.3: The Pressure to Win in Sports and Business

February 18, 2014 Commentaries

A former successful college coach and athletic director once wrote me a note about the state of college sports. The pressure to win in high-profile schools is so great, he said, that it’s almost impossible to resist rationalizing. When competitors cheat or engage in other unethical conduct, the tendency is to redefine the ground rules […]

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Thumbnail image for COMMENTARY 867.2: The Presidents Day Un-Celebration — Honoring Not Just the Great, But All U.S. Presidents

COMMENTARY 867.2: The Presidents Day Un-Celebration — Honoring Not Just the Great, But All U.S. Presidents

February 17, 2014 Commentaries

If you’re not going to school or work today, it’s because it’s a national holiday. The country used to celebrate the birthdays of George Washington and Abraham Lincoln separately, but in 1971 Richard Nixon and Congress, in order to create a perpetual three-day weekend, merged the two holidays into a brand new one called Presidents […]

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Thumbnail image for COMMENTARY 867.1: Dying From the Cold Within

COMMENTARY 867.1: Dying From the Cold Within

February 14, 2014 Commentaries

One of the great challenges to our humanity is acknowledging and overcoming our natural tendency to think less of and discriminate against people who are different from us racially, ethnically, religiously, or ideologically. Despite persistent rhetoric about prizing diversity, political debates often reflect disdain and contempt for those we disagree with, and prejudices of all […]

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Thumbnail image for COMMENTARY 866.5: Testing Your Integrity

COMMENTARY 866.5: Testing Your Integrity

February 13, 2014 Commentaries

In the past year, did you keep the money if a cashier gave you too much change? Did you lie to your boss, a customer, or a significant other? Did you use the Internet for personal reasons at work? Did you distort or conceal facts on a resumé or in a job interview? Did you […]

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Thumbnail image for COMMENTARY 866.4: Don’t Let the Bad Guys Win

COMMENTARY 866.4: Don’t Let the Bad Guys Win

February 12, 2014 Commentaries

During a seminar on ethics in the workplace, participants spoke about a wide array of unethical conduct they’d recently witnessed. They talked about high-level employees who lied on internal reports or blatantly took credit for the work of others and the intimidation or abuse of subordinates. These were clear-cut violations of organizational policy. Yet, in […]

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Thumbnail image for COMMENTARY 866.3: The Pressure to Cheat

COMMENTARY 866.3: The Pressure to Cheat

February 11, 2014 Commentaries

What’s causing the growing hole in our moral ozone? Why are cheating and lying so common in schools, on the sports field, and in business and politics? Apparently it’s a thing called pressure. Kids are under pressure to get into college, athletes and coaches are under pressure to win, and, according to a survey by […]

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Thumbnail image for COMMENTARY 866.2: Gifts From the Heart Are Gifts of the Heart

COMMENTARY 866.2: Gifts From the Heart Are Gifts of the Heart

February 10, 2014 Attitude

According to legend, a young man roaming the desert came across a spring of delicious crystal-clear water. The water was so sweet he filled his leather canteen so he could bring some back to a tribal elder who had been his teacher. After a four-day journey, he presented the water to the old man, who […]

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Thumbnail image for COMMENTARY 866.1: Digging and Filling Holes

COMMENTARY 866.1: Digging and Filling Holes

February 7, 2014 Character

Charlie, a road crew supervisor for highway landscapers, came upon a pair of workers from one of his crews seemingly hard at work. He watched one fellow dig a hole while his partner waited a few minutes and then filled the hole. After a few repetitions Charlie demanded an explanation. The hole-filler was offended: “We’ve […]

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Thumbnail image for COMMENTARY 865.5: The Power of Words

COMMENTARY 865.5: The Power of Words

February 6, 2014 Bullying

“Sticks and stones may break my bones, but names will never hurt me.” Really? Insults, teasing, gossip, and verbal abuse can inflict deeper and more enduring pain than guns and knives. Ask anyone who as a kid was fat, skinny, short, tall, flat-chested, big-busted, acne-faced, uncoordinated, slow-witted, or exceptionally smart. In schoolrooms and playgrounds across […]

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Thumbnail image for COMMENTARY 865.4: I’m Only a One-Star

COMMENTARY 865.4: I’m Only a One-Star

February 5, 2014 Choices

Years ago I was talking to a group of Army generals about the way politicians often treat the defense budget as an all-purpose public works fund to help bring money into their districts. One general admitted, “Yes, if the chairman of the Appropriations Committee comes from a place that makes trucks, we’re probably going to […]

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Thumbnail image for COMMENTARY 865.3: Two Sets of Proud Parents

COMMENTARY 865.3: Two Sets of Proud Parents

February 4, 2014 Caring, Compassion

I received an email with a story worth sharing. Only the names have been changed to preserve privacy. Doug is the proud and loving father of Emma, a high school junior who takes a leadership class responsible for putting on dances and other student events. All student body officers must take the class, but a […]

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Thumbnail image for COMMENTARY 865.2: The Self-Portrait Called Character

COMMENTARY 865.2: The Self-Portrait Called Character

February 3, 2014 Commentaries

While I was on a radio call-in show talking about cheating, a listener I’ll call Stan mocked my concern. He cheated to get into college, he said. He cheated in college to get a job. And now he occasionally cheats on his job to get ahead. In fact, he concluded, cheating is such an important […]

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Thumbnail image for COMMENTARY 865.1: I Just Talk to People

COMMENTARY 865.1: I Just Talk to People

January 31, 2014 Attitude

Marta was a hard-working single mother. When her minister sermonized about “living a life that matters,” she worried that working to raise her kids and going to church wasn’t enough. So, on the bus to work she made a list of other jobs she could do and volunteer work she could try. Sylvia, an elderly […]

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Thumbnail image for COMMENTARY 864.5: How Much Do You Want It to Be?

COMMENTARY 864.5: How Much Do You Want It to Be?

January 30, 2014 Commentaries

The founder of a company needed to choose his successor. He studied resumes and talked to references, but he decided to ask only one question during the final interview: “How much is 2 + 2?” Ann, the first candidate, worried that there was a trick but she answered straightforwardly. “There’s only one correct answer: it’s […]

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Thumbnail image for COMMENTARY 864.4: Finding the Healthy Balance

COMMENTARY 864.4: Finding the Healthy Balance

January 29, 2014 Commentaries

It’s both a strength and weakness of human nature that we’re never satisfied for long. Whatever we have, wherever we are, most of us want more and better. When focused on money or power, our insatiability can turn into happiness-crushing greed, avarice, and obsessive ambition. But in many other areas of our life, our desire […]

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Thumbnail image for COMMENTARY 864.3: The Journey Through Adolescence

COMMENTARY 864.3: The Journey Through Adolescence

January 28, 2014 Commentaries

One of the toughest jobs in the world is being a teenager. Everything is in transition. Everything is intense — even apathy. Kids on the brink of adulthood have to cope with inconsistencies and conflicts. The desire to be special and different clashes with the need to belong and fit in. The desire for independence […]

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Thumbnail image for COMMENTARY 864.2: Happiness Is a Choice

COMMENTARY 864.2: Happiness Is a Choice

January 27, 2014 Choices

In a Peanuts cartoon, Lucy asks Charlie Brown, “Why do you think we were put on earth?” Charlie answers, “To make others happy.” Lucy replies, “I don’t think I’m making anyone happy,” and then adds, “but nobody’s making me very happy either. Somebody’s not doing his job!” People like Lucy are so sure happiness is […]

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