5 years, 1 month, and 21 days. Don’t take ownership of others’ failures, insecurities, and ignorance.




My dearest Shosh and Jaialai:

You will find that most people have a nasty habit of blaming others for their mistakes.  Let them.  Don’t worry about them.  What they do is their business, but don’t ever allow them to make it yours.  In other words, do not EVER take ownership of other people’s problem.

Studies have shown the contagious and detrimental effects of this blame game.

The lessons here are two-fold.  First, don’t engage in the blame game.  You only fail if you do not learn from your mistake.  As Thomas Edison once said, “I have not failed 700 times. I have not failed once. I have succeeded in proving that those 700 ways will not work. When I have eliminated the ways that will not work, I will find the way that will work.”  If he had blamed others for these unsuccessful attempts, would he have learned anything from them?  Likely not.

Second, don’t accept responsibility for others’ mistakes.  Be clear but firm.  Unless it’s important, don’t waste too much time and effort trying to educate the other.  Their character flaw is theirs to own, not yours to worry about.  However, if it’s important, then gather corroborative testimonial and textual evidence to clear your name.  (This is one of the reasons why I make it a habit to say very few things that I could not be corroborated with documentary or testimonial evidence.)

All my love, always,


P.S., I leave you with two additional items.  First, a reminder.  Be kind.  Everyone makes mistakes.  It doesn’t mean they are bad people.


Second, an article.  Read about how to stop playing the blame game if you ever get caught up in it.

Stop Playing the Blame Game

How Your Blame Claims May Be Impeding Happiness
Posted Jul 29, 2012

One of the most destructive human pastimes is playing the blame game. It has been responsible for mass casualties of war, regrettable acts of road rage, and on a broad interpersonal level (social, familial and work-related), a considerable amount of human frustration and unhappiness. The blame game consists of blaming another person for an event or state of affairs thought to be undesirable, and persisting in it instead of proactively making changes that ameliorate the situation. The drive shaft of this game is a series of four irrational beliefs:

  1. If something has gone wrong (or is not the way it should be), then someone other than myself must be identified and blamed for causing the situation.
  2. This person/s’ malfeasance diminishes the respect he/she deserves as a person.
  3. So, it is permissible (and only fitting) to treat this person/s in ways he/she deserves to be treated such as ignoring, name-calling, and in extreme cases, physical assault.
  4. I must not accept any significant degree of responsibility for the situation inasmuch as to do so would be to admit that I am myself also diminished as a person, and therefore deserving of the same disapprobation and negative treatment.

We see these four beliefs play out quite routinely in the mainstream of life. Someone is late to the family, holiday dinner and is treated by the host as a persona non grata for the remainder of the night—given the cold shoulder, given dirty looks, or even reprimanded before the other guests. A motorist goes down the wrong way in a parking lot and receives the middle finger from another motorist. A student fails an exam and subsequently becomes belligerent toward the teacher and makes nasty comments to other students about the teacher. A teacher consistently gets poor student evaluations and blames the students for being incompetent and too stupid to evaluate him. A man beats up his wife and blames the victim for not “understanding” him. A woman cheats on her husband and blames him for working too much. A manager does not get the promotion she wanted and blames her boss for being a “male chauvinist pig.”

Clearly, there are cases in which a person is blameworthy for a malfeasance and acknowledging blame does not involve playing the blame game. In such cases there is a constructive way of settling a dispute as in assigning legal responsibility in a civil matter. Such assignment of blame is conducted according to objective standards and does not involve disrespectful treatment of others as does playing the blame game. Outside a legal context, the assignment of blame may be done for purposes of ameliorating a situation. Thus, when two significant others have an argument or dispute, admission of blame, typically on the part of both partners, can help toward making constructive amends for the future. Indeed, in counseling the willingness to accept responsibility for one’s life can be an important prerequisite toward making constructive change.

However, there is a fundamental difference between such rational blame and the irrational kind involved in the blame game. The latter involves a systematic playing out of the four blame game claims described above. Let’s take a look at each in its turn.

The Irrationality of the Four Blame Game Claims

Someone Else Must Always Be to Blame

Clearly, the first of these beliefs is false because in many cases a negative situation is not really the fault of anyone, or anyone in particular. For example, traffic accidents can be “true accidents”; people sometimes don’t get along or like each other because of personality conflicts; sometimes people come in contact with a virus and catch it to no fault of anyone. People can suffer heart attacks or get cancer without it being someone else’s false.

Indeed, when people play the blame game, they often engage in further irrational thinking in order to justify blaming others. For example, a client once exclaimed, “It’s my wife’s fault I caught that nasty bug because the night before I got sick, she made me stay up to the wee hours watching that dumb video she rented.” But how could someone possibly ever prove that he wouldn’t have gotten sick had he gotten more sleep? Post hoc ergo propter hoc: Just because one event followed the other doesn’t mean the first caused the second. The fallacy is classic but it’s a lot easier to cast blame than to be scientific. The blame game is a breeding ground for unscientific, unsupportable blame claims!

Losing Respect for the Blameworthy

The second belief of the blame game is also irrational because it confuses the deed with the doer. Here it is not simply “what you did was wrong.” Rather, it is that you as a person have fallen from good graces. You are less of a person for your failing and hence less worthy of respect; it is personal; you are stigmatized for it; looked down upon; you are less than you were before you faltered. If you are blameworthy then you are less worthy of respect. It’s a cardinal rule of playing the game.

But, as we know, games are not always realistic. Even if someone does something wrong, this doesn’t mean that the person himself is bad or deserves less respect as a person. If this were the case, then we would all shed our respectability because we all exercise indiscretion and make some poor choices in the course of life. So we really oughtn’t to damn the doer just because we are inclined to damn the deed. What’s true of the part is not necessarily true of the whole. It’s a simple rule of reality—and life.

Treating them with Disrespect

The use of the silent treatment, personal attacks, and the use of force are all classic ways to alienate people and to shut down the avenue for meaningful interpersonal communication whereby disagreements can be rationally addressed. The blame game, however, does not aim at constructive resolution of disagreements; instead it aims at some vague, unrealistic, and negativistic goal of making sure that people get what they deserve. This game plan get us nowhere in building fulfilling interpersonal relationships. Instead it tends to perpetuate malcontent among all concerned.

No Flies on Me

Much of this malcontent has to do with the refusal to take personal responsibility. People make mistakes and engage in regrettable actions. But by failing to take personal responsibility the road to constructive change is blocked. This refusal is piloted by the belief that somehow it is not okay to make mistakes. Better to blame others than to admit culpability. For, making mistakes means being flawed and being flawed means being unworthy of respect.

But what is really flawed is this unrealistic demand for perfection. While people are not perfect they can learn from their mistakes—but only if they admit them and change their behavior in the future. Unfortunately, the blame game looks outside oneself to cast blame. It is never me in any significant way; it is rather the other guy who is to blame. Blame me? Hell no! No flies on me!

How to Stop Playing the Blame Game

Do you look for someone else to blame when things appear to have gone wrong? Do you tend to look down on the person you have marked out as the culprit? Do you treat (speak or act toward) this person/s in a disrespectful manner and think yourself justified? How often? Are you a blame gamer? If so, then what should you do differently for happiness sake?

Give up you blame claim that someone always has to be blamed and made to pay. Everyday life isn’t a court of law and you aren’t the judge and jury. Accept yourself and others unconditionally. This doesn’t mean you can’t negatively rate your own actions or those of others; but it does mean that you shouldn’t berate yourself or others. People aren’t “assholes” or “shits” even when they do shitty things.

Recast responsibility as a way to learn from your mistakes as well as those of others. Accept your fallibility as a route toward self-improvement. Try to make things better, but rest content that you live in an imperfect world. Embrace this imperfect universe and the fallible beings in it, yourself and others —and stop blaming people for it.



5 years, 1 month, and 13 days. Given the current tone of discourse, I remind you again to SEEK FIRST TO UNDERSTAND.



Make Me a Channel of Your Peace

Peace Prayer of St. Francis
CCLI Song Number 649264


Auto Scripture:
2 Samuel 14:25; 1 Corinthians 14:9; 2 Peter 3:16; 2 Corinthians 12:15; Psalm 108:1; 1 Corinthians 9:22; 2 John 1:8; 1 Chronicles 2:9;
Make me a channel of your peace.
Where there is hatred let me bring your love.
Where there is injury, your pardon, Lord
And where there’s doubt, true faith in you.Make me a channel of your peace
Where there’s despair in life, let me bring hope
Where there is darkness, only light
And where there’s sadness, ever joy.

Oh, Master grant that I may never seek
So much to be consoled as to console
To be understood as to understand
To be loved as to love with all my soul.

Make me a channel of your peace
It is in pardoning that we are pardoned
In giving to all men that we receive
And in dying that we’re born to eternal life.

Oh, Master grant that I may never seek
So much to be consoled as to console
To be understood as to understand
To be loved as to love with all my soul.

Make me a channel of your peace
It is in pardoning that we are pardoned
In giving to all men that we receive
And in dying that we’re born to eternal life.

My dearest Shosh and Jaialai:

The Prayer of Saint Francis has always been one of my favorite hymns growing up.  It’s a simple, yet powerful, prescription from one of the humblest of our saints for how to live well.  The lesson, albeit deeply challenging to put into practice, is eminently simple: put the needs of others first.

Imagine a world where each of us tried to put others before ourselves.  Think of  all the rancor and distrust we’d give up!  Divorce rates, for example, would be greatly reduced.  How could marriages fail if each member puts the needs of the other before his/her own?  (The key here is reciprocity.  If one member puts the needs of the other first, but the second does not reciprocate, then the relationship will be challenged to succeed.)  If you took care of your friends and family and they you, then how could those relationships fail?

As I’ve always said, we are bottomless pits and our thirst for self-fulfillment never ends.  Recall the story of the simple fisherman and the magic fish?  Having caught and released the magical fish that could speak, at the behest of his ungrateful wife, the man asked for a cottage to replace their shack, a castle to replace the cottage, a kingdom in lieu of the castle, an emperorship, the papacy, and ultimately dominion over the sun and the moon.  Because she was never content with each acquisition, she ultimately ended up with nothing.  http://storyberries.com/the-fisherman-and-his-wife/.

We are wired to be dissatisfied: our brain adjusts to whatever is new and resets that threshold as the new normal.  This is true of drugs and of all  things in life.  Thus, if we give in to our baser instincts, we will forever be unhappy because no amount of money is enough, no number of cars will keep us satisfied, etc.  A guy we know who is a philanderer, for example, is learning this lesson the hard way.  He cheated on his beautiful wife with one woman.  Over time, he found that being with one woman is not longer enough and he needed two.  Two turned into several.  Where will this end?  In this day and age of AIDS, STDs, etc., what risks is he exposing himself and his poor wife to?  When is enough enough?  Never.

The importance of self-control and self-discipline can never be overstated.  The best meals, for example, are not the ones where you are overstuffed, feel like puking, and have to undo your belt ad unbutton your trouser.  No, the best meals are those that are just shy of being satiated and leave you wanting.  So, put down that fork and appreciate the wonderful experience you have enjoyed.  Overindulgence will ultimately result in your losing appetite for that favorite dish of yours.

I  bring this up today because I am deeply sadden by discourse following the school massacre in Florida.  Children and their families suffered and continue to suffer, but the lack of humanity has caused many to rush to label these kids and marginalize them without listening to their pleas and hearing their pains.  Why?  Where is our humanity?

Listen and try to understand the person speaking to you.  Don’t worry about what you’ll say after the person is done speaking; if you truly listened, the questions will present themselves and you will have endless matters to discuss.  If you do these things, you will find that life will be better.  People will often respond in kind, and you will attract the right sort of people to your circle.  I promise neither utopia nor the absence of the crass and the vulgar, but their effects will be limited.

All my love, always,




5 years, 1 month, and 10 days. Always be the well-mannered gentlemen I raised you to be.




My dearest Shosh and Jaialai:

Always be polite — it warms the hearts of those who matter, and rankles the uncouth who expect you to descend to their level.  More importantly, what you say and do reflect on you, and I want the well-bred and the people of quality to count you among their number.  The alternative is highly undesirable, even if their number grows by leaps and bounds everyday.

It seems politeness and manners have fallen out of fashion.  How unfortunate!!!  Life is hard enough as it is without additional friction, vitriol, and rancor added to the mix simply because people cannot conform themselves to the rules of social behavior.

These people lack discipline.  One of your aunts, for example, is known for telling people off — including her bosses, siblings, or whoever — whenever she felt like it.  As you can imagine, she is the least successful among us, has been in one abusive relationship after another, and has condemned her daughter to a life of misery.  She ruined her life and the lives of those she professed to love because she simply lacked the discipline to conform herself to the rules of social behaviors.

If she’d live by herself in the wild, then she would be free to do as she pleased.  No one would care because no one would be around.  However, as soon as a community exist (and that may be a community of two), then understandings must be reached to foster better cooperation between members of the community for the good of the community as a whole.

Garrett Hardin states this best as the Tragedy of the CommonsSee, e.g., https://psychcentral.com/blog/the-tragedy-of-the-commons/; and, https://pages.mtu.edu/~asmayer/rural_sustain/governance/Hardin%201968.pdf.)  If the community has a pond from which members were free to fish and feed themselves, for example, and each member took as much as he pleased and wasted what he caught without regards to other members of the community, then, in time, there would be no more fish for anyone to enjoy.  Everyone would suffer. However, if everyone exercised discipline and conformed their behaviors to the rules of the community, then all members of the society could enjoy the fruits of the pond for a long time — assuming they used good aquaculture management and care techniques.

To put it another way, communal life is like the waltz or other fine-tuned dance.  If everyone follows the rhythm of the music and the steps of the dance, then beauty ensues.  Everyone could enjoy him or herself.  If, however, some members of the party decide to dance off-beat and to whatever steps they fancy, then chaos ensues.  Dancers around them would not know what to expect and would be unable to avoid colliding into them.  These dancers would move away, stop dancing altogether, or leave that party to find their own venue where they could dance in peace.  Joy is thereby reduced the many because of the few.  Thus, the uncouth enjoy themselves at great expense to others and exact a high price on society as a whole.  The community is fractured.

Don’t contribute to the decline of the community.  It doesn’t matter if others do.  That’s on them.  You behave well because you are well-bred and well-mannered.  If you don’t, that would be on you.

I recently heard about a couple who refused clothing ensembles carefully selected and assembled by the grandmother of the couple’s new born, who hand-carried the ensembles to give to her new grandchild.  The couple broke her heart by saying their child only wore “organic cotton grown and processed in the U.S.”  The couple claims to be highborn, but their actions belie their words.

When given a gift, the ONLY permissible response is “Thank you”  — this is especially true when you are accepting the gift on behalf of another.  To respond in any other way is simply rude and unbecoming.

Now, if the gift should be inappropriate (because it is given with expectations of returns which you find intolerable or unacceptable, because it is given to make the giver look good and you look bad, etc.), then you may say, “Thank you, but I cannot accept this gift.”  To do otherwise would be to allow them to bring you to their levels.  They cannot ascend to your level; thus, they aspire to bring you down to theirs.  Don’t let them.

Manners matter, my sons.  Behave well.  You will find yourselves in better company by behaving well than by behaving badly.  “Bad boys” may be popular in high school and later in life to the ill-bred, but they rarely ascend the ladders of success and time/history will rarely treat them kindly.

All my love, always,


5 years and 30 days… an eternity. No matter how successful, be true to yourself.



My dearest Shosh and Jaialai:

I’m a fan of good literature and of Kurt Vonnegut.  Maybe one day, you will get to know him and his colleagues, and befriend him and his friends as well.

One of my favorite essays by Kurt Vonnegut is entitled, “How to Write With Style.”  It is a refreshing, light-hearted, and insightful analysis by one of the masters.  His advice is simple, understandable, relatable, and straightforward.

But, what I really like about his essay is that, maybe with the exception of Advice #8, his nuggets of wisdom apply to life in general, not just to writing. By this, I mean the following:

  1. “Find a subject you care about” — this is true about writing, but about life as well.  Find and pursue your passion.  Without passion, life is flat and stale.
  2. “Do not ramble, though” — pursue your passion, but over-indulge.  Too much of a good thing renders it undesirable.  Practice self-discipline.
  3. “Keep it simple” — keep your life and your passions simple.  Learn to appreciate the small miracles of life — smile on your loved one’s face, a great smelling rose, a sunrise, for example — instead of focusing only on the grand moments, such as our vacations in Kauai, Okinawa, etc.
  4. “Have the guts to cut” — if something or someone is not working for you, e.g., they are bringing you more negativity than joy or beauty, then let them go.  Be okay with it.  Thank them for being a part of your life, but don’t carry their burden.  Some people never have a chance to grow because others around them enable them to be their worse selves.
  5. “Sound like yourself” — be you.  Who else can you be but you? Don’t pretend to be someone you’re not.  Posers are a dime a dozen.  They are everywhere.  People see through them.  Don’t be like them.
  6. “Say what you mean to say” — this is my favorite.  Call a horse a horse.  Say what you mean, and mean what you say.  Be honest with yourself and with others.  Life and time (the currency of life) are too precious to waste on falsehood.  Just be honest.  If someone is not going to like you, then they won’t like you.  So what?  What do you buy with falsehood other than a little time?  When the real you is revealed, if they would have liked you in the first place, they would continue to like you; if they wouldn’t have liked you in the first place, they wouldn’t after the reveal.  So, what have you gained?  Nothing, but a little time, operating under false pretense.  Why waste that time?  Who cares if they like you or not?  You are still you no matter their opinions.  Not one molecule of your being had changed, not one moment of your history had been rewritten.  Move on.  Also, be true to your words.  A gentleman is only as good as his word.  Keep your word.  I raised you boys to be gentlemen.  Remember that.  You can always be gentlemen regardless of your career choices.
  7. “Pity the readers” — here, I would modify that to say pity your audience, whoever he or she may be.  You never know what crosses the person you encounter bears.  Go easy on him/her.  Give him/her a break.  Grace him/her with a smile and with your full attention.  You’ll be surprise at how many friends will find their way to you if only you’d listen and give them the gift of being present.
  8. Read The Elements of Style, by Strunk and White.  It will help improve your life by helping improve your writing.  Successful people tend to be good communicators.  Learn to write well and write clearly.  Those skills will serve you well.  I was introduced to it at Duke and am forever grateful for that introduction.

Now, without further ado, I give you Mr. Kurt Vonnegut:

Newspaper reporters and technical writers are trained to reveal almost nothing about themselves in their writing. This makes them freaks in the world of writers, since almost all of the other ink-stained wretches in that world reveal a lot about themselves to readers. We call these revelations, accidental and intentional, elements of style.

These revelations tell us as readers what sort of person it is with whom we are spending time. Does the writer sound ignorant or informed, stupid or bright, crooked or honest, humorless or playful–? And on and on.

Why should you examine your writing style with the idea of improving it? Do so as a mark of respect for your readers, whatever you’re writing. If you scribble your thoughts any which way, your reader will surely feel that you care nothing about them. They will mark you down as an ego maniac or a chowderhead — or, worse, they will stop reading you.

The most damning revelation you can make about yourself is that you do not know what is interesting and what is not. Don’t you yourself like or dislike writers mainly for what they choose to show or make you think about? Did you ever admire an empty-headed writer for his or her mastery of the language? No.

So your own winning style must begin with ideas in your head.

Vonnegut goes on to outline eight rules for great writing

  1. Find a Subject You Care About

Find a subject you care about and which you in your heart feel others should care about. It is this genuine caring, and not your games with language, which will be the most compelling and seductive element in your style.

I am not urging you to write a novel, by the way — although I would not be sorry if you wrote one, provided you genuinely cared about something. A petition to the mayor about a pothole in front of your house or a love letter to the girl next door will do.

2. Do Not Ramble, Though

I won’t ramble on about that.

3. Keep It Simple

As for your use of language: Remember that two great masters of language, William Shakespeare and James Joyce, wrote sentences which were almost childlike when their subjects were most profound. ‘To be or not to be?’ asks Shakespeare’s Hamlet. The longest word is three letters long. Joyce, when he was frisky, could put together a sentence as intricate and as glittering as a necklace for Cleopatra, but my favorite sentence in his short story ‘Eveline’ is just this one: ‘She was tired.’ At that point in the story, no other words could break the heart of a reader as those three words do.

Simplicity of language is not only reputable, but perhaps even sacred. The Bible opens with a sentence well within the writing skills of a lively fourteen-year-old: ‘In the beginning God created the heaven and earth.’

4. Have the Guts to Cut

It may be that you, too, are capable of making necklaces for Cleopatra, so to speak. But your eloquence should be the servant of the ideas in your head. Your rule might be this: If a sentence, no matter how excellent, does not illuminate your subject in some new and useful way, scratch it out.

5. Sound like Yourself

The writing style which is most natural for you is bound to echo the speech you heard when a child. English was the novelist Joseph Conrad’s third language, and much that seems piquant in his use of English was no doubt colored by his first language, which was Polish. And lucky indeed is the writer who has grown up in Ireland, for the English spoken there is so amusing and musical. I myself grew up in Indianapolis, where common speech sounds like a band saw cutting galvanized tin, and employs a vocabulary as unornamental as a monkey wrench.


I myself find that I trust my own writing most, and others seem to trust it most, too, when I sound most like a person from Indianapolis, which is what I am. What alternatives do I have? The one most vehemently recommended by teachers has no doubt been pressed on you, as well: to write like cultivated Englishmen of a century or more ago.

6. Say What You Mean to Say

I used to be exasperated by such teachers, but am no more. I understand now that all those antique essays and stories with which I was to compare my own work were not magnificent for their datedness or foreignness, but for saying precisely what their authors meant them to say. My teachers wished me to write accurately, always selecting the most effective words, and relating the words to one another unambiguously, rigidly, like parts of a machine. The teachers did not want to turn me into an Englishman after all. They hoped that I would become understandable — and therefore understood. And there went my dream of doing with words what Pablo Picasso did with paint or what any number of jazz idols did with music. If I broke all the rules of punctuation, had words mean whatever I wanted them to mean, and strung them together higgledly-piggledy, I would simply not be understood. So you, too, had better avoid Picasso-style or jazz-style writing if you have something worth saying and wish to be understood.

Readers want our pages to look very much like pages they have seen before. Why? This is because they themselves have a tough job to do, and they need all the help they can get from us.

7. Pity the Readers

Readers have to identify thousands of little marks on paper, and make sense of them immediately. They have to read, an art so difficult that most people don’t really master it even after having studied it all through grade school and high school — twelve long years.

So this discussion must finally acknowledge that our stylistic options as writers are neither numerous nor glamorous, since our readers are bound to be such imperfect artists. Our audience requires us to be sympathetic and patient teachers, ever willing to simplify and clarify, whereas we would rather soar high above the crowd, singing like nightingales.

That is the bad news. The good news is that we Americans are governed under a unique constitution, which allows us to write whatever we please without fear of punishment. So the most meaningful aspect of our styles, which is what we choose to write about, is utterly unlimited.

8. For Really Detailed Advice

For a discussion of literary style in a narrower sense, a more technical sense, I commend to your attention The Elements of Style, by Strunk, Jr., and E. B. White. E. B. White is, of course, one of the most admirable literary stylists this country has so far produced.

You should realize, too, that no one would care how well or badly Mr. White expressed himself if he did not have perfectly enchanting things to say.

All my love, always,




5 years and 22 days. Keys to success: (1) be likeable, i.e., have good manners, listen to others, be present, etc.







Good Manners Make Everyone Comfortable

By Margaret Webb-Pressler
Friday, February 11, 2011; 1:19 PM

Take your elbows off the table.
Don’t talk with your mouth full.
Look people in the eye when you speak to them.
Write your thank-you notes.

You’ve probably heard all or most of those orders from your parents. And even though you do them, you might have wondered why grown-ups make such a fuss about good manners.

“I think manners are important, but I wouldn’t like to be one of those high-society English people with their pinkie stuck out,” said Isabel Uriagereka Herburger, 11, of Washington. “For myself at home, I could care less about manners, but at other people’s homes I’m more careful.”

Manners are about more than using the right fork or not slurping when you drink. Those rules of etiquette might be expected in certain situations, but not doing those things isn’t going to hurt anyone’s feelings. Good manners are a way to show others that you care about them. Manners also make it easier for everyone to feel comfortable in social situations.

Think of manners as traffic lights for life, said Pier Forni, a professor at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore who has written books about manners. On the road, traffic lights turn a world full of cars moving in different directions into an orderly system that allows everyone to get where they are going.

“The rules of good manners are the traffic lights of human interaction,” Forni said. “They make it so that we don’t crash into one another in everyday behavior.”

Even cavemen used manners!

Manners have developed over tens of thousands of years as a key element of human society, and they might even have helped the species survive.

Early humans lived in groups in order to hunt, share food and keep one another warm. But to live so close together, Forni said, humans had to learn to think about others, not just themselves. Think of it this way: If every person in the group looked out for only himself, the group would fall apart.

Our distant ancestors developed behaviors to show others respect, fairness and kindness. Those have evolved into today’s manners. “You cannot have any kind of community if there are not some rules,” Forni said.

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2011/02/11/AR2011021103541.html (emphasis added)

My dearest Shosh and Jaialai:

I miss you.  I simply miss you, my sons.  I want the best for you and I want you to find happiness and achieve success in life.

With that, let’s continue our discussion about what it takes to be successful.  Note that the first picture of success is devoid of ANY mention of collaboration, teamwork, and working with others around you.  That is wrong.

Unless you are amazingly and overwhelming brilliant — like Steve Job — you need to be able to get along with others and to work well with others in order to be successful.  In my two decades working with human resource professionals, I found that whether someone will fit in with the organization is a critical factor in their decision making process.

Think about it: if you hire someone who doesn’t fit in with the organization, that person will eventually cause conflicts and tension, thereby destroying group cohesion, morale, motivation, etc.  As the saying goes, “One bad apple can ruin the barrel.”  (Steve Job — and others like him — is the exception to this rule because his was so overwhelmingly brilliant that organizations needed him and had to make exceptions for him.  But, recall, even he was kicked out of Apple, the company he founded, and had to work his way back in.)

This is where yesterday’s discussion about listening and being present comes in.  When I was taking graduate classes in counseling psychology, they said if we practiced the listening skills taught in that class, we will find that people will love talking to us.  That proved true.  I once met a gal from Georgetown Law School, and we spent 10 minutes talking before she had to run off for class.  I revealed little about myself during the conversation, and spent most of the time listening to her and reflecting back what she said.  At the close of that conversation, she insisted that we meet again and said that was one of the best conversations she’s had.

We connect with others when we give them the gift of our time and our attention.  Relationships are built on that.

On the flip side, think of all the occasions when we don’t listen to others or they us.  How did you feel about those interactions?  Were you frustrated?

I don’t have to look afar for examples.  My siblings, your aunts and uncles, may be well-educated and accomplished, but, if memory serves me correctly, they sucked at listening to others in the family.  They always thought they knew more, and was always more interested talking and showing off their “knowledge” than listening and gathering knowledge to build their up repertoire.  (They have doctorates and master’s degrees, but we each have our own expertise, and, having an M.D. or a Ph.D. in one field does not make you an expert in ALL things in life.  Your uncle, the M.D., thought he knew enough to hire a divorce lawyer without consulting me, a lawyer, and ended up hiring a guy who wrote a book on computer law to be his divorce lawyer.   As you can imagine, that ended badly and left a bad distaste for all lawyers.  But, the fault lies with him for not bothering to listen to others with more expertise in that field.)

While listening is necessary, it is not a sufficient condition for success.  For example, no matter how well someone is listening to you, would you want to continue spending time with that person if he burped and farted as he talked to you? if he continually picked at his teeth and his feet during the conversation? if he engaged in otherwise rude and ill-bred manners?  No!

Manners put others at ease and enable them to enjoy themselves.  In order to be successful, you must be able to get along with others and collaborate with them; to do that, you must first put them at ease and enable them to want to work with you (because they found the experience enjoyable, in addition to being necessary — we’ll get to the latter part later).

Many people fail because they think being smart, having good grades, being at the top of their class, etc., is enough to get them invited to colleges, to join companies, etc.  They are wrong.  Those may be necessary conditions, but they are rarely sufficient conditions.  Given a choice, people choose to follow  and work with people they like, not those they find distasteful.

So, remember, be kinder than necessary, have good manners, and listen.

All my love, always,



10 Traits of Likeable People

This is a an every day occurrence, if you’re a likeable person. If this seems like something that could never possibly happen to you then I’d like to remind you that social skills, like any skills, are completely learn-able; and with a little practice you too could be the talk of the office, and be going home with a thriving social life.

Here are several traits that likeable people share. If you cultivate them, you’ll join the ranks of those who spend their weekends with friends, their evenings at dinner parties, and their days surrounded by coworkers that love and respect them.

1. They Aren’t Insecure

Likeable people don’t come from a place of insecurity. They go into every interaction thinking “I bet me and this other person would get along great, I should really get to know them better.” And then the likeable person moves on from there. Start from a positive place and others will notice. If you’re not there yet, faking your confidence will help put your insecurities at ease.

2. They’re Genuine

Likeable people never try to be something they aren’t. If you don’t know something, admit it. If you don’t agree with a statement someone else has made, don’t grin and bare it. Instead, honestly admit that you don’t see it the same way as the other person. Don’t put them down. Simply try to see where they’re coming from, and strive to understand their point of view.

3. They Don’t Judge

When you are judgmental, people can sense it. Even if you smile and hide your negative feelings, the people around you can sense that you have just formed a poor opinion of them. Rather than seeing others as good or bad, try to understand that everyone is entitled to their own opinions, choices, and mistakes. Likeable people make this their philosophy and, as long as no one is getting hurt, they never pass judgment on the value or morality of another person.

4. They’re Positive

Negativity abounds in our world. We have negativity in the news, on our homepages, and it appears on the Facebook and twitter feeds of our friends. Even a lot of the novels I read end up with negative endings! Be a positive voice in a world where everyone sounds a little like Eeyore. Being positive will make you a pleasure to talk to and more people will want to talk to you.

5. They Don’t Compete

Conversations aren’t competitions. Likeable people never story-top or one-up in a conversation. Instead, they view conversations as an opportunity to connect and create deep relationships with others. If you want to be more likeable, enter every conversation with the goal to make the other person feel liked and respected. This will change the tone of the interactions you have, and make everyone involved more likely to enjoy it.

6. They Provide Value

When you’re in a conversation with someone and they complain that they don’t know what to get their mom for Christmas, do you lament how awful that must be before going into a story of your own? Or do you recognize that they have a problem they may need help solving? People everywhere have problems they wouldn’t mind help solving. But as people, we tend to be self-involved and not notice. If you take notice and help people solve their problems, you’ll create friends for life.

7. They Don’t Settle for Small Talk

Small talk doesn’t develop long lasting friendships, and small talk won’t make you likeable person. Likeable people avoid small talk by transforming it into deep conversation. They do this by being genuinely interested in others, asking honest questions to help further their understanding, and relating to what they’re told, briefly, before gathering more from the person they’re talking to. Don’t settle for small talk–do everything in your power to move the conversation forward to more personal subjects.

8. They Touch People

Patting shoulders, shaking hands, and (in some cases) hugging other people makes people more comfortable around you. Touching eliminates the physical barrier of distance, and so it eliminates the emotional barrier that the distance represents. Touch is an art, and the first few times that you attempt it it may seem awkward, but practice makes perfect and the art of touch is important if you want to become more likeable.

9. They Don’t Shy Away

Likeable people have tons of friends! This isn’t magic–it’s because they intentionally befriend tons of people. They meet people; they get those peoples’ contact information; they befriend those people and spend time with them; and then they go meet more people, never losing touch with anyone they’ve gotten to know. You can’t be more likeable and not meet new people. You have to get out of your comfort zone and build lots of relationships if you want to become more likeable.

10. They Genuinely Like People

I know what you’re thinking: But people suck! It’s true, everyone has moments when they act rudely and everyone can be annoying from time to time. But deep down, most people are really nice. They care about others, and unless they’re having a bad day, they’re easy to get along with. Likeable people know this, and so they like people. They want to get to know other people, and they enter every interaction expecting a positive experience. If you only remember one tip from this article, it should be to develop the attitude of liking people. If you do that you’ll become more likeable in no time.

Likeable people were all less likeable at one point in time. They simply decided to work at becoming more engaged, more respectful, and more likeable. Now they seem to work magic and develop friendships wherever they go. You can seem like that too! You simply have to develop the habits I’ve outlined above and you’ll have the social life, the career, and the life that being more likeable brings you.

What about you? When was the last time you interacted with a truly likeable person? What did they say or do that made you instantly take interest in them? Let us know in the comments.



The Top 10 Skills You Need to Be Successful

These abilities are key for your career in any company or industry.

By Rebecca Healy, Contributor |Dec. 10, 2014, at 11:03 a.m.

A professional woman asking a question.

To be successful, you must ask for what you want. Speak up if you’d like a promotion, a bigger sales deal or more responsibility. (iStockphoto)

Success comes from the mastery of a core set of skills that can be applied to any position, field or company. When you practice and strengthen these skills in your work, you’ll rise to the top. Read on to discover the crucial talents you need to launch your career:

1. Sales skills. Sales is the basis of all business success. You are always selling, even if your role does not include sales in the job description. You sell during marketing activities, team meetings, customer service, product management, conferences, business development, engineering, user experience and more. A solid foundation in how to sell can give you a wide advantage over your colleagues and competitors.

No sales experience? No worries! If you’ve worked in retail or fundraising, or convinced a neighbor to let you babysit, you already have the sales foundation you need. For a great primer on how to use sales to your advantage, check out “To Sell is Human,” by bestselling author Daniel H. Pink.

2. Transferable skills. Transferable skills give you the ability to see your past experience in a new light. That experience can be as varied as volunteer work, to a full-time job, to your weekend hobby to a waitressing gig. During each experience, you acquired skills that can be applied to your career success.

For example, as a waitress, you likely learned critical people skills, such as crisis communication, customer service and teamwork. That interpersonal expertise can be applied to your next job in public relations, and indeed, should be highlighted in your cover letter and résumé when applying for the job.

3. The ability to ask. The ability to ask is the easiest, most underutilized skill to catapult your career. The old adage is true: “If you don’t ask, you don’t receive.” Many careerists don’t ask to pitch their idea, for a raise or promotion, a bigger sales deal or to take on more responsibility. When this happens – or doesn’t happen, rather – you’re far less likely to find challenge, meaning and reward in your work.

If the thought of asking makes you break out in hives, try practicing in non-work related contexts. At the farmer’s market, you could ask a vendor for a lower price on the asparagus; at home, you could ask your partner to attend dance lessons; on the street, you could ask a stranger, “how are you?” The more you put yourself in uncomfortable situations, the more likely you’ll decide they’re not that uncomfortable after all.

4. The ability to code. You don’t need to know how to build the next Facebook, but a basic understanding of how the Web works and how software and apps are built can be a game-changing advantage. An increasing number of positions require technical knowledge, but even if your job never requires you to be technical, you should know what’s happening under the hood. The knowledge will help you interface with development and engineering teams, as well as hold more realistic expectations.

Try doing small side projects to familiarize yourself with programming concepts, like building a blog. Or choose one of the many free online classes out there, like Codecademy.

5. Communication skills. Both written and oral communication skills are basic, but that doesn’t mean they’re not difficult to master! Think about ways to challenge yourself and tweak how you write an email or behave in a meeting.

For example, don’t hit “send” immediately after composing a note. Instead, give yourself a beat or two, then reread the email, make edits and then hit “send.” Or during your next team meeting, resist talking about your idea or opinion right off the bat. Instead, count to five, and if you still feel like you have something relevant to contribute, speak up. On the flip side, if you’re shy, challenge yourself to say what you’re thinking, instead of remaining silent.

 6. Interpersonal skills. The ability to be a team player is so fundamental to your work that there are few better things to focus on. Interpersonal skills are just a fancy way of saying how you get along, relate and communicate with others. Employers hire people with domain expertise, of course, but mostly they hire people they like and can get along with.

Think about how to become more likable. You might try mimicking the body language of the people you’re talking with, repeating their ideas and opinions back to them and really listening. But keep in mind that all the tips and tricks in the world won’t help if you don’t have genuine interest in and empathy for your fellow team member.

7. Project management skills. Can you see the big picture and break it down into small, manageable and action-oriented steps? Then you have undeniable value. Many employees consider themselves “idea people” but don’t have the ability to execute on those ideas. If you have the ability to prioritize and get things done, you’ll be able to lead a team in no time.

If you find project management difficult, try taking a project that’s already complete and work backward. What are the tasks and assignments it took to complete that goal? Write them down in detail to get a better picture of a the project road map.

8. The ability to be a self-starter. Do you have an entrepreneurial drive? Apply it to the workplace. Employers increasingly value folks who can take initiative and own a project from start to finish. As a creative self-starter, you should take calculated risks, brainstorm new ideas and execute with precision.

If you’re not sure of what problems you should help solve, start by looking for the roadblocks your co-workers repeatedly run into or issues your customers continually face. Still stuck? Simply ask your boss for a side project to work on when your normal responsibilities are complete.

9. The ability to be curious. To really stand out in a company, you should always be looking to improve, both individually and company-wide. Hone your inquisitive thinking skills by asking questions like “why?” and “how?” to your employers, your customers and yourself. Everyone will appreciate your interest and thirst for knowledge.

While it may be difficult to open up initially and admit you don’t know it all, curiosity helps strengthen self-confidence. As a result, you will learn new ideas and job skills that will stay with you throughout your career.

10. The ability to drive results. Through it all, you should know what your goals are and how you are going to achieve them. This skill requires you to synthesize many of your other skills and layer on an intense passion and focus. Results-driven individuals are metrics-oriented and can quantify outcomes to motivate themselves and their teams, all while contributing to the bottom line.

Write out your personal and career goals to keep your eye on the prize, and try forming a partnership with a friend to hold you accountable, help you stay driven and keep you on track.

As you cultivate and master these core 10 skills, you’ll create the career you want – for now and for the future.

Rebecca Healy is the founder of Kontrary, a different take on money and happiness that helps you take control of your work and life. She lives in Washington, DC.



The predominant stereotype we have of leaders, particularly business leaders, is that they are male (usually white), tall, assertive—even aggressive—and driven to produce bottom-line, short-term results. This stereotype still persists, one that is eagerly perpetuated by the media and movies, despite the decades of research on leadership and the promotion of transformational, servant-style and values-based leadership. The focus on leaders who have advanced emotional intelligence and social skills rarely gets the attention of management gurus or researchers.

For example, Joey Cheng and his colleagues at The University of British Columbia published a study in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology which found when groups were given the task of choosing a leader, they identified people who had the appearance of both skills and competency as well as the ability to impose their ideas on others in a dominating manner. They concluded that their findings show why more aggressive leaders continue to populate both business and politics. It appears from this study that the stereotype of a leader as an aggressive, dominant male is still widely embraced by people as desirable as opposed to what might be identified as more female characteristics of compassion, warmth and interpersonal skills.

We have come so far in stereotyping leadership characteristics, including imbedding them into recruitment practices, that leadership style is now becoming increasingly extreme, as witnessed by the increase of psychopaths in the boardroom., or the kind of amoral behavior portrayed in the true-to-life movie, The Wolf of Wall Street.

Yet there is a contrasting view, one being talked about more and more, that advances the notion that social skills are critical for leadership success.

Tiziana Cascario and Miguel Suusa Lobo, in an article in Harvard Business School’s Working Knowledge entitled “Fool vs. Jerk: Whom Would You Hire?”, argue when given a choice of whom to work with, people will pick one person over another, according to 2 criteria; one is competence on the job and the other is likeability. The authors conducted their study of organizations of varying size and industries in North America and Europe. Their research showed that no matter what kind of organization they studied, everyone wanted to work with the “loveable star” and nobody wanted to work with an incompetent jerk. The researchers also concluded that personal feelings played a much more important role than is commonly acknowledged. They also found that if a person was strongly disliked, it was irrelevant how competent he or she was, they would prefer not to work with that person.

Roger Covin, writing in the Huffington Post, contends that most people are not aware of the traits or qualities that are appealing to others. He argues, based on his research, the most likeable qualities are sincerity, honesty, and the capacity for understanding, loyalty and trustworthiness. Intelligence and a sense of humor is also important, whereas being popular is much further down on the list. He cites other research, which identifies warmth, kindness, openness, expressiveness, as important determinants of likeability.

Rohit Bhargava, author of Likeonomics: The Unexpected Truth behind Earning Trust, Influencing Behavior and Inspiring Action, says there is a real “ROI to likeability.” He makes a distinction between “nice” people and “likeable people,” referring to the latter’s capacity for honesty, whereas the former may avoid being candid for fear of not being liked or hurting others’ feelings. He also identifies unselfishness as a key likeability characteristic.

Jeff Hayden, writing in Inc.com, described how likeable leaders don’t try to impress people with the typical power poses—standing tall and square, taking big strides, firm handshakes, a deeper voice. He argues that this kind of posturing may be designed to impress people but it is very self-focused. In contrast, using the example of a meeting between Bill Clinton and Nelson Mandela, their body language was more relaxed including movement forward with a slight bow and a smile.  Hayden describes other characteristics of likeability—the use of light physical touch; focusing the conversation on the other person; humility; disclosure of vulnerable parts of self including mistakes; and making no requests of the other person but offering to help the other person instead.

The individuals cited above identify themes reflected in a two books, one by Dave Kerpen, author of Likeable Leadership, and the other by Tim Sanders, entitled The Likeabilty Factor: How to Boost Your L-Factor and Achieve Your Life’s Dreams.

Matthew Lieberman, writing in the Harvard Business Review blogs asks the question, “Should Leaders Focus on Results Or On People?” He cites the work of Jack Zenger who examined characteristics of great leaders. Two of those characteristics were a results focus and social skills. He found that if the leader was seen as very strong on results focus, the chance of that leader being seen as a great leader was only 14%, whereas if a leader was strong on social skills—such as empathy—the leader was seen as a great leader only 12% of the time. However, if the leader was seen as being strong equally on both results and social skills, the likelihood of being seen as a great leader rose to 72%. Lieberman contends “strong social skills can leverage the analytical abilities far more efficiently.” Yet studies show that few leaders are perceived as having both strengths.

In his book, Social: Why Our Brains Are Wired To Connect, Lieberman argues our brains have made it difficult to be both socially and analytically focused at the same  time.   He says evolution built our brains with different networks for handling these two ways of thinking.  In the frontal lobe, regions on the outer surface, closer to the skull, are responsible for analytical thinking and are highly related to IQ.  In contrast, regions in the middle of the brain, where the two hemispheres touch, support social thinking. These regions allow us to piece together a person’s thoughts, feelings, and goals based on what we see from their actions, words, and context. Lieberman describes how “these two networks function like a neural seesaw. In countless neuroimaging studies, the more one of these networks was active, the more the other one became quieter.  Although there are some exceptions, in general, engaging in one of the kinds of thinking makes it harder to engage in the other kind.  It’s safe to say that in business, analytical thinking has historically been the coin of the realm—making it harder to recognize the social issues that significantly affect productivity and profits.  Moreover, employees are much more likely to be promoted to leadership positions because of their technical prowess.  We are thus promoting people who may lack the social skills to make the most of their teams and not giving them the training they need to thrive once promoted.”

Conventional wisdom has told us that “nice guys finish last,” as might nice organizations. Dachel Keltner, a University of California psychologist and author of Born to be Good: The Science of a Meaningful Life, and a number of his fellow colleagues are building the case that humans are the successful dominant species because of our compassionate, kind, altruistic and nurturing traits. One of these studies has shown that many people are genetically predisposed to be empathetic. New research by Jon Bohlmann and Rob Handfield of North Carolina State University, Tianjao Qiu of California State university, William Qualls and Deborah Rupp of the University Illinois published in The Journal of Product InnovationManagement, shows that project managers got much better performance from their team when they treated team members with honesty, kindness and respect. Bohlmann explains “if you think you’re being treated well, you are going to work well with others on your team.”

Our excessive focus on bottom-line results at any cost, driven by aggressive men who see social skills as a means to an end, has been a contributing factor to many of our current economic and social problems. Expanding our concept of leadership to require that leaders possess greater social skills and practice them in organizations that embrace trust, honesty, compassion, generosity, empathy, kindness and genuine concern for the welfare of others would be welcome change.







5 years and 18 days. Be confident in who you are and the value you bring to the world, but don’t be arrogant.











My dearest Shosh and Jaialai:

Always be yourselves and always believe in the value you bring to the world, but never be arrogant about it.  Why?  As a social matter, it is unseemly; as a practical matter, there is always someone better or more gifted than you.

For example, hubris is what caused BUFU to claim that he is always the smartest guy in the room — until he moved to New York City and got his shorts eaten by the really smart guys.  BUFU didn’t last more than few months in NYC, and had to run back home to his small city with his tail tucked between his legs.  Don’t be like that.

Don’t rest on your laurels either.  You are only as good as your last project.

For example, my sister, who graduated from high school when she was 14 years old, has earned her doctorate but has not much to show for her intelligence.  Why?  She rests on her laurels.  Yes, you can tell people how smart you are, how young you were when you graduated from high school (many many years ago), how you have a doctorate, etc., but at the end of the day, people only care about what you can do NOW.  Can they partner with you to achieve greatness?  to make money?  to build something worthy?  to leave a legacy for future generations?

Don’t worry so much about what others think of you.  Focus on improving yourself daily, on gaining knowledge about the world around you, and on making the world a better place for yourself and others, and people will see value in your work.  Your value is intrinsic and not dependent on what people think of you.  You don’t gain a penny in your bank account, or an ounce of health, or an extra second of time just because someone thinks better of you.

Your reputation only helps pave the way for you to accomplish your goals, to find people to collaborate with, etc., but it does not define you.  You define you.  No one else does.  Never let others define you.

Be good, my sons.  Be the best you can be, but be yourselves.  You are good kids.  I know.  I’ve watched your intrinsic goodness reveal itself as you grew up.  Shosh, you used to cry when friends get hurt, and offer candies and nice things for them.  Jailai, you used to save all your treats from school each day to share with Shosh, Little V, etc., and you used to befriend kids who had no friends.  You brought them into your circle of popular kids.  Don’t change!

I love you so much and miss you much!

All my love, always,


5 years and 13 days. My #1 rule in life is simple: help others if you can, but don’t make their situations worse if you can’t help. That’s just cruel!


My dear Shosh and Jaialai:

There are few truly evil people in this world — Hitler, Charles Manson, Ted Bundy, Jeffrey Dahlmer, etc.  For the most part, people try to do the right thing, but, too often, their egos and failings get in the way and they lost sight of the purpose of their engagement.  For example, people often want to help, but the helpers often do so without bothering to ask the people they want to help (the helpees) what the helpees need or want.  The helpers assume they know better — sometimes simply by virtue of the fact that the helpers are in a position to help whereas the helpees are in the position of requiring help.  Thus, those helpers do whatever THEY think the helpees need, regardless of whether the “help” provided really meets the needs of the helpees.

Is this right?  No, it isn’t.  In addition to being ineffective at achieving the goal of helping those who need help, it also smacks of rudeness and arrogance.  It smacks of ill-bred behavior.  Worse yet, other helpers may see that the needy person already has “help” and apply their energies elsewhere, leaving the needy person’s needs unaddressed.

This happens more often than you think.  People “help” others not because they care about the helpees as individuals, but because helping others is good for their resume, is required by their religion, makes them feel good about themselves, etc.  In other words, they help others, but the focus of the efforts is really to benefit the helpers, not the helpees.

Be better, my sons.  No matter what you are doing, always place your focus on your audience, your target population, or the person you are talking to or helping.  What do they want or need?  Ask.  It’s so simple.  Yet, so many fail to do this simple task of treating people as persons and asking what the person needs. (Now, that’s not to say, you’d give in if the poor sod said he needs a stiff drink!)

Years ago, I staffed the Low Income Task Force (LITF) for one of the county government for one of the richest counties in the U.S.  Members of the LITF consisted of the directors for the various departments within the government.  We were tasked with finding out what the poor people in our jurisdiction needed, and how we could help them meet those needs.  Their needs were many.  To help guide our analysis, we created a matrix of specific needs, existing programs designed to meet that need, and the level of success such program is having at ameliorating that need.  The needs include, among other things, food, shelter, employment, education, healthcare, childcare, and transportation.

While we were discussing the needs, I shall never forget that the Director of Parks and Recreation opined that transportation is not a problem for the poor because “all poor people have cars.”  As evidence to support his claim, he pointed to all the cars parked on the front yards and streets in the poor neighborhood he’d visited as part of his job.

Now, he’s not wrong that many poor people own cars.  But, is he right that they don’t have a transportation problem?  No!  Many of those cars were parked in the front lawn precisely because they were jalopies!  They don’t run they are broken, they are unreliable, etc.  Yes, for $200-$500, you could buy a used car.  But, how reliable is it?  Will it get you to work on time everyday or will it leave you stranded more often than not?  If we want to help the poor, should we leave them to that fate, or should we try to provide access to more reliable transportation to ensure that they could get to work on time everyday, so that they could hold a job, pay their bills, keep their homes, feed their children, etc.?

(My first car, for example, was purchased for $300 while I was in college.  Eventually, it burst into flames — on the day I had my wisdom teeth removed, no less.  Wonderful, right?!!  You should have seen it: people around us ran over with their fire extinguisher to put out the flames, then the firemen showed up and doused my entire care with water.  Then, they tried to ask your uncle (who drove me to and from the dentist) and I what happened: he pointed to me as the car owner, and I tried to answer with a mouthful of bloody gauze from the removed wisdom teeth.  Good times, right?  My second car — which was given to me by a friend and for which I paid $200 to avoid a social debt — fared no better.  One of your other uncles was driving the car over a mountain pass when it gasped its last breath, exhaled a plume of white smoke, and died.  He was stranded on some mountain top in the middle of nowhere.  Great, right?!!)

Now regarding the LIFT, thankfully, one of the other directors disabused this director of his misconceptions.  We then went on to discuss options such as free tokens for public transportation, providing more low-income housing that have easy access to public transportation, etc.

This is an example of the helper making ignorant assumptions about the needs of the helpees without bothering to take the time to verify for himself the accuracy of his assumptions.  Do better.

Help others when you can, my sons.  Life is more beautiful when shared.

But, if you cannot help, don’t make it worse for them by blindly and arrogantly imposing your will on them.  You will do more harm in the process.   As mentioned above, even if the helpees ignored your ineffective “help”, other helpers may see that this target population already is getting help from someone, and they may move on to other target populations, thereby denying this group of the help they truly needed.  Be better.

All my love, always,