Posts Tagged ‘values’
About ten years ago, The California Prune Board spent $10 million on a make-over for their product. In an attempt to make prunes more attractive to consumers, they not only renamed their product, but also redesigned their packaging to show fresh plums, instead of the dried up fruit inside.
Call them “Sun-Dried Plums”, call them “prunes” or call them “pipe cleaners”. They’re still a food most folks associate with constipation.
It’s just semantics–the way we use language. Though there is an overabundance of words to accurately describe everything around us, our culture often resorts to using euphemisms, or deliberately misleading language. Like intellectual battering rams, code words and catch phrases are often intended to manipulate public opinion.
Just as magicians use tactics to redirect our attention, this kind of linguistic legerdemain, is often nothing more than a trick to make us change our perceptions. As our attention is diverted, we lose sight of what’s important, because we are focused on what isn’t. Read the rest of this entry »
A new school year is beginning. It is a time filled with excitement, anticipation, fear or dread. While students may be anxious on the first day of a new term, parents can be full of anxieties as they send their children to confront unknowns, whether it be preschool, the new chemistry teacher or their first year of college.
From the time one becomes a parent, there is a desire to do everything right. From the day the first child arrives, parents are absorbed in the quest for the right pediatrician, the right food, the right diaper, the right schools, the right teachers, the right courses, the list goes on and on. Parents are committed not only to not making mistakes, but also to preventing their children from making any. It’s a noble goal, but it isn’t possible.
Before I became a parent, I asked advice of someone I knew who seemed to have been an exemplary parent. She had educated them and given them every opportunity. She had encouraged to study music, play sports and learn languages, yet she stated on regret. By focusing all her attention on how to make them the best they could be, she had forgotten to educate them in their own humanity. She had neglected to instill her values in them.
The term “values” means different things to different persons–mostly predicated on our religious or philosophical beliefs–but as I see it, somewhere between The Seven Deadly Sins and the Seven Godly Virtues are the often under-emphasized Seven Necessary Qualities. Cultivate these, if you want to give your child the best chance to succeed.
1. Integrity – The quality of being who you’re supposed to be. It is having and honoring your convictions. It is being honest, keeping promises and doing what you say you will do.
2. Perseverance - This is the quality that causes us to survive, when we’d rather give up. It is being able to accept adversity without giving up. It is the ability to see a job to its finish. It is continuing when you’ve become exhausted. It is believing, when you’ve lost faith.
3. Optimism Defeatist thoughts sabotage our dreams, desires and our ability to succeed. At times when nobody believes in you, you must be able to believe in yourself. It is impossible to believe in yourself or others without optimism.
4. Thoughtfulness – Not the kind that causes some to always remember to send a get-well card, but the employment of critical thinking to see both sides of people and situations. It is the consideration of the viewpoints of others, as well as the ability to separate truth from fiction.
5. Leadership – The ability to partner with and lead others, without losing their respect. It is recognizing the contribution and value of others. It is helping other people find their strengths, while while navigating their weaknesses.
6. Humility - It is knowing you are human and acknowledging your shortcomings and those of others. It is the art of balancing your failings, with your sense of self. It is learning the practice of not taking one’s self too seriously. It is coming to terms with being wrong.
7. Likeability – If you can practice the things on the list above with kindness & good humor; likeability is a quality you will acquire without additional study.
Each of us comes to the world with qualities that make us who we are–the recognition of this is vital to being a good parent. We may be able to change behaviors, but we cannot change ourselves or our children into what they are not. There are students who will never be athletes, and athletes who will never be students. There are children who are at the center of everything. and others who prefer to disappear into the background. The very best thing we can do as parents is teach our children to succeed because of OR despite their personalities.
Trying to do everything right is a good but unachievable goal (and it doesn’t guarantee a good outcome). Trying to do everything right guarantees you will make mistakes. If you want your children to be their very best, teach them how to be wrong.
In teaching them to take responsibility for their failings, they will learn responsibility and integrity. When you teach them mistakes are inevitable and they will learn humility, as well as understanding of others. Teach them how to make amends for their mistakes and they will learn both empathy, justice and leadership. Teach them how to move past their own mistakes, and they will learn how to move from discouragement to success. Teach them to learn from mistakes, and they will have an ongoing education with no shortage of teachers.
Healthcare reform is a contentious issue. On the one hand, nobody wants anyone else to go without necessary medical care, on the other hand, not everyone is enthusiastic about being saddled with the cost of everyone else’s medical bills.
We can argue whether the The Beatles or The Stones were the greater rock band. We can disagree on whether or not Matthew McConaughey is hotter than Colin Farrell, or which actor was the best James Bond. We can argue which country makes the best autos, or who was the NFL’s greatest quarterback. We can disagree on any number of things and still remain friends–except those things which touch peoples values–like religion and politics.
I don’t believe in proselytizing, not my values, not my religion, not my politics. There isn’t any future in it. There are many who love to argue their beliefs in attempt to enlighten others, and/or prove they are right. I find arguing to be a distasteful waste of time. If people ask, I am willing to discuss, debate and defend my views, but I don’t like the disruptive quality arguments have on relationships. Which is why as we prepare to go to the polls again, in what seems to be an election of some significance, I wanted to give readers something to consider.
There are all kinds of people in this fine country. There are good people, bad people, hardworking people, shiftless people, remarkable people, dull people, crazy people, intelligent people, misguided people—some are better company than others, but people are people. Everyone of us knows people we’d rather not know, but in general most of those we interact with, are decent folks, worthy of respect.
What makes us different is that each individual is exactly that–an individual, shaped by their raising and experience. But even among individuals, there is a set of common traits. Everyone wants to have a comfortable standard of living–to live without fear of financial woes, to be able to pay for the things we need and still have some left over for things we want. We want to have autonomy in figuring out what is best for us. We want to be able to take care of our families and help our friends. That’s you. That’s me. The people who favor “socialized” medicine, are generally not card-carrying members of Lenin fan club, plotting the next Marxist revolution, anymore than those on the other side are Dickensian villains who would have everyone turned out on the streets or sent to workhouses.
They’re people, people whose beliefs are felt sincerely. Reasonable people hold reasonable views. They may be right or wrong, but one of the greatest things about this country, is that we are given the ability and the freedom to think for ourselves, as I believe our creator and the founding fathers intended.
We are different, we don’t all see the world through the same lens, but we believe what we believe for reasons which make sense to us. Our ideas on taxes, education, healthcare, social programs and human rights are crafted by what we believe to be true. Truth is universal, personal truths are not. Just as good ideas are sometimes shot down in corporate boardrooms, on any issue, there is someone who sees it differently. Those disagreements can cause unpleasant ripples and irreparable rifts between people. No matter what views people have, they are still worthy of respect. We all have issues on which we disagree, but in the end, people are just people. Like you, like me.
(Dedicated to my friend Meredith)