Empathy on Empty

“He’s a drunk; I’m calling the police!” I couldn’t believe the callous response. “This man is hurt,” I cried.  He doesn’t need the police - he needs help!” I roused the man and got him to his feet. “Come on Mister, let me take you home.” I took his arm and we started walking. In the middle of the third block he veered off the sidewalk and into the street where he stopped. Then to my shock, while I was holding him up, he unzipped his fly and began urinating in the middle of the road. I was mortified.

The Magic of Commitment is No Mystery

The room became very quiet. No one wanted this job. I said, “I’ll do it.” A collective sigh issued from the group. A few days later I was lamenting, “What the heck was I thinking?”

Take the Plunge

“I hate you! I’m going to kill you tonight after you fall asleep.” screamed nine year old Jerry to his foster mother. It was hard to believe such hateful words could come from this adorable child with big blue eyes and an impish face. Dee loves Jerry and wants to adopt him, but these angry outbursts frighten her.

What’s the Worst that can Happen?

“Who wants to give their oral report first?” Asked my sixth grade teacher. The dreaded day had finally arrived when each of us would have to stand in front of the room and speak to the class. Not a single hand went up. In fact, there was no movement in the room at all. There wasn’t a desk creaking under the shifting weight of a single body, no paper rustling, no pencils scratching, not even a cough. Nothing. The room had never been quieter. 

Be True to Yourself

“The girls always talk to the football players,” advised Tony. It was all I needed to know. So, never having played the game before, I joined the l team... instantly regretted it.

Life Lessons From My Cat

Roxy came up to my chair and meowed for attention. I picked her up, held her and started rubbing her soft fur. I knew from past experience that she didn’t like that, and she immediately began to squirm and try to jump out of my arms. Nevertheless - in the spirit of Albert Einstein’s observation that insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results - I hoped that she would start liking it.

Keep Your Power

I had to fight several more boys that year before the name-calling stopped. It was not the solution I wanted, but it worked. It took me years to learn that the problem was mine; that I was giving away my power every time I reacted to taunting and teasing. And, it’s a problem that doesn’t go away with childhood.

What’s Keeping You Awake?

Over the years, I’ve ruminated over all sorts of things. Big issues I have little or no control over like politics, the environment, terrorism, and the economy. Personal issues that I need to affect such as my business, my family, and my relationships. I have even worried over my volunteer work. Churning the same thoughts over and over again.

Chill Out

“What’s the point?” mumbled the right fielder, “We’re just going to lose again.” After an eight game losing streak, their chance at the baseball championship was gone. As their frustrated coach, I thought, “What can you do when there is no hope of winning?”

Instead of Serving It Cold... Don’t Serve It at All

I was enraged when she told me the story. As a hormone-filled sixteen year old, I wanted to retaliate on her behalf. I told her I would get two hundred pounds of salt; then under the cover of night, use it to write a message on his lawn. Within a few days, alphabet-shaped sections of his grass would die. Revenge would be sweet as his neighbors read in brown letters the profane words that described the true nature of his character.

Change Please

Motivation is all about motion or movement. In other words, if you are comfortable, if you are happy and content, then you DO NOT move. You do not change. Why would you? On the other hand, if you are uncomfortable, if you’re unhappy, then you want to change. You want to move back toward your comfort zone. There are millions of motivators in the world and all of us at any one time is being motivated by a dozen or more.

Good Habit - Questionable Motive

Mom wanted to fit in, join the discussions, be an authority in her own right. In short, she wanted to feel important in her new family, and she realized that she needed more knowledge. Determined to find a way to reduce her education deficit, she threw herself into reading.

Seductive & Intoxicating - Success Breeds Success!

I accepted his instructions affably, but with little faith, then popped open a bottle of beer and started to get into the rhythm of relaxation. Cast, tug, reel. Swig. Cast, tug, reel. Swig. Cast, tug, reel... Whoa! Something hit my line. Hard. Really hard! I’d never felt anything like that before...

You’ll Know When You’ve Arrived

During the 1996 Summer Olympics, I saw a young athlete with his brand new silver medal around his neck and a massive smile on his face. He was so thrilled with his achievement that he was mixing and mingling with everyone he met on the sidewalk. He was relishing the highest point of his life to date.

On My Honor

I feel as if fraud is the new coin of the realm. That it has become an accepted part of our culture. I hear so many conflicting claims from government officials - whether it is about global warming or the cause of terrorism or how to repair the economy - that sometimes I don’t really know what to believe. It reminds me of a bit of graffiti I saw years ago: “Believe nothing of which you hear and only half of what you see.”

Attaboy!

It was a lively organization with scores of activist members who were busy gentrifying an inner city neighborhood. One of my responsibilities was to deliver a monthly speech and conduct a formal meeting with a loud and raucous crowd. I always spoke from behind the lectern with my hands firmly attached to the sides in a white knuckle grip.

Compelled by an Idea

Inspired by several mugs of beer and the funny graffiti we found on the restroom wall, we decided to collect graffiti until we had enough for a book.

Sometimes You Have to Rip the Cover Off

Bubba was the quintessential redneck. Within minutes of getting on the boat, he stuffed a wad of chewing tobacco the size of a baseball in his cheek, then chugged several beers. In less than an hour we were dealing with an irritable drunk. He belched loudly, spit constantly, complained incessantly, and couldn’t string two words together without inserting a profanity.

The Reward is in the Eye of the Beholder

In the early 1970s I was a young teenager who was completely caught up in the Zeitgeist. I admired the long-haired rebels and radicals who were engaged in protesting the establishment and developing the counter-culture. I didn’t really know what any of that meant, but to me it was all about empowering youth and declaring our independence from the adults. My parents in particular.

Looking for Motive: Follow The Money Trail

Recently I participated in a Murder Mystery weekend at a bed and breakfast lodge. Every guest was a given a role to play. There were eight suspects; each of whom had one or more of the following: Means, Opportunity and Motive. Having the Means and Opportunity was very important, but having the right Motivation was the key to solving the puzzle. We interviewed the suspects, collected clues, then presented who we thought was the killer and why. It was great fun, but I failed to figure out who done it.

The Examined Life

Paul and I were sixteen years old and had taken high school Spanish for a year. We called each other every night on the phone and spoke to each other in our new language. More than anything we wanted to test our skill with a real Spanish speaking person, but we did not know any. Then we got the idea to have dinner at a Mexican restaurant. For two boys who had never dined out without their parents, this was a big adventure. We were so motivated that when we made reservations, we asked to be seated with a waiter who could not speak English.

How Cool are You?

My sons recently started talking about being cool, and I recalled my own teenage years and the need to be cool. That driving desire dictated the clothes I wore, the music I listened to, and what subjects I became conversant in. And, yet despite all my motivation and effort, it remained elusive.

Leadership vs. Power

George Washington died in 1799, the year that Napoleon Bonaparte became the ruler of France. In contrast to Washington, Napoleon could not acquire enough power. His legendary lust for command drove him to take over much of Europe.

Thrown into the Driver’s Seat

On June 29, 1863, a 23 year old First Lieutenant received an unexpected promotion. The freckle faced, strawberry blonde, who graduated at the bottom of his class at West Point, was elevated directly to the rank of Brigadier General in the Union Army. He completely skipped over the traditional ranks in between of Captain, Major, and Colonel. As you can imagine such a promotion was met with skepticism, dismay, and envy by his former peers and superiors. Especially at a time when the South was winning against the North during the American Civil War.

More Powerful than You Know

Writing is not a job; it’s a hobby!” thundered my father when I told him my plans for college. “You need to get a profession: medicine, law, engineering or accounting.” I cheerlessly acquiesced and enrolled in a Pre-Med program, but at the end of my first year, after struggling through Chemistry, I changed my major to Philosophy.

Pack Mentality

When my son was two years old, we got a Samoyed puppy, and for the next 18 months they were the best of friends. Then the dog changed. Suddenly she started growling at my son and biting him. At first I thought that maybe he was pulling her tail or something else that was irritating her, but that wasn’t it.

Copy Cats Climb the Ladder of Success Faster

One of my favorite forms of exercise and recreation is mountain biking. I get out once a week and hit the trails. Some of the trails have obstacle course-like obstructions called technical features; they are basically log and rock piles you ride over for an additional skill challenge. One trail has several advanced features including an intimidating seesaw.

A Recipe for Success Needs this Secret

Second base was stolen 13 times by the winning team. The catcher for the losing team, Branch Rickey, was unable to pick off even a single runner. That record stands to this day. It also spelled the end of Rickey’s career as a baseball player after just two short seasons. Six years later, he returned as a manager – and what a manager he turned out to be!

The Secret for People Who Don’t Believe in VooDoo

The latest fad in motivation is the Law of Attraction or more popularly The Secret after the motion picture and book by Rhonda Byrne. The Secret claims that the more intent you are in your wish for health, wealth, and friends, the faster the universe will act upon it. Is it real, or is it VooDoo science?

Bleed It Out

James Vicary, pulled a hoax on the American people as a way to promote his advertising agency.  He reported that he flashed the words “Drink Coca-Cola” and “Eat popcorn” on the screen for a millisecond during a movie in a theater, and caused large numbers of people to visit the concession stand. He called the effect Subliminal Advertising.  Subliminal means that the effect functions below the threshold of consciousness. Years later, when others failed to duplicate his results, he admitted that he made the whole thing up.

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