5 years, 3 months, and 8 days. Make a good first impression: be well-informed.

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A Harvard study revealed that it typically takes eight subsequent positive encounters to change another person’s negative opinion of you.

https://www.forbes.com/sites/work-in-progress/2015/02/10/the-do-over-how-to-correct-a-bad-first-impression/#3dece3f055f6

 

 

Recognize that changing someone’s perception will take time. As stated earlier, no matter who you are, you will inevitably make a less than positive impression on someone. While some have suggested that it can take months or even years to erase a bad first impression, a Harvard study suggests that it will take eight subsequent positive encounters to change that person’s negative opinion of you. In this context be persistent and patient.

https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/20140424005629-3411076-how-to-overcome-making-a-bad-first-impression

 

My dearest Shosh and Jaialai:

People are often full of shit.  Many will bluster or drone on and on about that which they know little.  They may cite one study or one source to validate their point.  Be not like them.

Be well-informed.  Read voraciously.  Read from diverse sources from different continents to combat biases and to gain greater perspective.  Think deeply and critically about what you read, see, and hear.  Never swallow wholesale what someone pitches; everyone has his/her biases.  Figure why they’re saying what they’re saying (e.g., are they paid to say it?), what they are omitting, what their assumptions are, etc.

One of my favorite dialogues are from the movie, The Negotiator, with Samuel Jackson and Kevin Spacey:

Now you're a history buff?
                 
I generally read histories and biographies.       

Don't believe everything you read.              

I didn't say I read just one book.                

I try to read all books on a subject.  You know, try to get all the facts...                

...and then decide for myself what really happened.

http://www.script-o-rama.com/movie_scripts/n/negotiator-script-transcript-kevin-spacey.html (emphasis added)

Too many people are careless with their reputation.  They say or repeat nonsense and expect there to be few consequences for spouting crap.  They are wrong.  People of caliber notice.  They, then, give wide berth to the uninformed for, except as sheep and mindless consumers, not much good come of being uninformed.

Remember, everything we say and do reflect well or poorly on us, as individuals.  Everything about us communicates something about ourselves.  Thus, strive to make a great impression.  Speak well.  Be thoughtful.  Be well-mannered.  Exude confidence.

Bad first impressions are extremely difficult to correct: people rarely give you eight chances to counteract that one bad first impression.  Their impression of you will color their view of all you do.  If they think you are smart, they will pass off a mistake as a one-off event and not let that affect their judgment of you.  Conversely, if they think you are an idiot, they will think something you did well is but a fluke and you remain an idiot.

Life is hard enough as it is.  Why would you choose to make it harder on yourselves by giving bad first impressions?  Don’t do it.

Be well-read, thoughtful, well-mannered, and kind.  Make a great first impression.

All my love, always,

Dad

P.S., all is not lost if you made a bad first impression.  It just means you have a lot of hard work ahead of you to correct it.

The Do-Over: How To Correct A Bad First Impression

 Last year I wrote about the nature of first impressions. We’re continually told of the importance of making positive first impressions, especially given how quickly we determine them. Some research suggests that first impressions can be so powerful that they’re weighed more heavily than fact. We know that making a good first impression is critical to success in both our jobs and personal lives, but the fact is that sometimes we flub them. Whether because of pressure, nervousness, a wrong approach, or distraction, we don’t always show up the way we intended.

The question then becomes, how do we correct a bad first impression?

Here’s the good news: impressions evolve over time. You may not get a second chance to make a first impression, but you can create an opportunity to correct one. Here are five ways to do so:

Realize that an initial impression is just that – a beginning.

We’ve all changed our opinion about someone the longer we’ve known them. Consider a colleague that you initially thought was standoffish, but after sharing a project realized was someone who just took a while to warm up.

If we look at first impressions as make-or-break opportunities, then it’s easy to make excuses for not trying to correct them. Instead, consider that impressions continuously evolve with multiple touch points. If you want someone to get to know the real you, then put yourself in front of them. Ask the person to lunch or volunteer to help them. By witnessing your skills and personality over a longer period of time, their perception of you can grow.

 Remember that repeated, small interactions build trust fastest.

A Harvard study revealed that it typically takes eight subsequent positive encounters to change another person’s negative opinion of you. So be persistent and play the long game.

Further, small, predictable interactions increase trust greater than a one-time splashy event. Take the pressure off yourself to knock someone’s socks off, and instead focus on demonstrating your value over an extended period of time. Strive to be consistent, follow up, and follow through.

Ask for a chance to correct.

Being straightforward can help minimize misunderstandings and reframe the discussion. Consider simply saying, “I feel like we got off on the wrong foot. Can I take you to lunch?”

Honesty can be a game changer in any relationship and goes a long way toward changing someone’s perspective. If you feel that there’s a failure to connect interpersonally, provide your view of the situation and then vet it with the other person. Admit what caused your behavior that may have led to a wrong impression. If you have a family issue that caused you to be disengaged during a meeting, then say so. If the other party is as open minded as most people hope to be (more on this next), then they should give you the benefit of the doubt.

Remind the other person how open-minded he or she is.

Many people have what psychologists call an egalitarian goal, which means that they work hard to be open minded and fair in their interactions with others. Research shows that when you remind someone of their fairness, they will more conscientiously work to live up to that assessment.

Practically speaking, this means that after a less than stellar first interaction, you can send a follow up email and compliment the other person on their open mindedness or fairness in evaluating people. Or recognize how their perspicacity must be a real asset in their job. Reminding the other person of their egalitarian goal will help them remember to be more open minded in their perceptions of you.

Ask them for advice – on anything.

According to Wharton School professor Adam Grant, asking for advice is a smart way to be influential. Grant discusses one study in which researchers asked people to negotiate the possible sale of commercial property. When the sellers asked the buyers for advice on how to meet their goals, 42% were able to come to an agreement that made both sides happy.

“Asking for advice encouraged greater cooperation and information sharing, turning a potentially contentious negotiation into a win-win deal. Studies demonstrate that across the manufacturing, financial services, insurance and pharmaceuticals industries, seeking advice is among the most effective ways to influence peers, superiors, and subordinates,” Grant writes.

If you feel that you didn’t make a positive impression, follow up and ask the other person for advice on some aspect of work. This also allows you to get in front of the person again and make a new impression. Psychologist Robert Cialdini says that by asking for advice, you suddenly “have the basis of an interaction.” Advice can always be returned, as can a thank you.

Comment here or @kristihedges.

Kristi Hedges is a leadership coach, speaker and author of The Power of Presence: Unlock Your Potential to Influence and Engage Others. She blogs at kristihedges.com.

https://www.forbes.com/sites/work-in-progress/2015/02/10/the-do-over-how-to-correct-a-bad-first-impression/3/#7bbbb0f874de

 

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5 years, 3 months, and 6 days. Be kind to your audience.

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Pity the readers.

https://kmh-lanl.hansonhub.com/pc-24-66-vonnegut.pdf (emphasis added)

http://kmh-lanl.hansonhub.com/pc-24-66-vonnegut.pdf

My dearest and most precious Shosh and Jaialai:

Kurt Vonnegut said it best and most succinctly:  “Pity the readers.”  Be kind to your audience.  They occupy not your life and live not in your head; thus, they have the difficult task of trying to follow your thoughts — be it in written or oral form.  Help them.

First, know your audience.  Who are they?  What do they want out of the interaction with you?  What are their interests?  What are their levels of education?  What is their frames of reference?  For example, if you were talking to high school graduates who are sports fanatics, and you peppered your conversation with quotes from a philosophy book, do you think your audience would be hooked by your presentation or bored?  Know your audience.  Speak their “language” — be it words, anecdotes, imagery, etc.

Second, as the speaker or writer, IT IS YOUR JOB to communicate your thoughts clearly to your audience.  Don’t shirk your duties.  Worse, don’t blame your audience for your failure to do your job.

For example, your job as the writer is to help your readers understand what you are saying by clearly giving them roadmaps and textual clues for them to follow along.  Thus, use signals – such as commas, and words like “but” – to tell readers what to expect and to better help them understand your points.

Shosh, when you were a toddler, you visited me at the office and scared my staff.  Ms. T asked why you liked construction equipment or something that simple.  You responded with, “Well, I like them for three reasons.  First, …”  Your detailed analysis as well as clear and organized thinking freaked them out.  Mr. D said he’d rather have kids who are not as smart since they would be easier to teach.

In life, you will find that if you care about your audience, they will care about you in return.  Do the hard lifting and complicated analyses for your audience and explain complex ideas in simple terms for your audience, and they will knock down your door to get to you and your services.  I promise.

Be well, my sons.  Live well.  Be happy.

All my love, always,

Dad

 

 

5 years, 2 months, and 4 days. Arrogance prohibits you from being the best you can be, so don’t be arrogant.

https://i.pinimg.com/736x/47/69/4e/47694e4319ae46dbc7d552528137541f.jpgMy dearest Shosh and Jaialai:

Because of the ubiquity of the problems of, relating to, and caused by arrogance, allow me to expand upon it a bit more before we move on.  Before we get into the nitty-gritty of that conversation, I’d like to share with you one of my favorite quotes from one of my favorite shows, “The Newsroom”.  https://www.imdb.com/title/tt1870479/.

In one episode, MacKenzie, who is the executive producer in that newsroom, said of Will, the star anchor of the newsroom:

You know what I like about Will? He’s not absolutely sure about anything. He struggles with things. He’s never certain he’s right and sometimes he’s not. But he tries hard to be. He struggles with things.

https://www.quotes.net/show-quote/60552 (emphasis added)

I love those lines because they put into practice another teaching to which I aspire to live by:

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Stated differently,

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Perfect knowledge rarely, if ever, exists.  Life and circumstances will always dictate how much time and resources you can devote to any given decision.  Thus, all you can do is make the best decision you could under the circumstances — given the time and resource constraints.

Absolute knowledge is an illusion most often grasped by self-delusional fools.  Thus, I love that Will struggles with decisions.  Getting it right is hard!  Making the right decision is a struggle if you really cared about the outcome of that decision.  It is a challenge to identify all the appropriate and relevant stakeholders, the appropriate and relevant data points on which your decision should rest, and the appropriate analytical strategies and processes that should be brought to bear in making your decision. Only fools claim otherwise or think otherwise.

As an aside, this reminds me of a great advice that originated from Dartmouth College on how to organize and structure your paper when writing: once you’ve finished brainstorming and data-gathering,

Keep working [your outline] until … [it] fits your idea like a glove.  When you think you have an outline that works, challenge it. I’ve found when I write that the first outline never holds up to a good interrogation. When you start asking questions of your outline, you will begin to see where the plan holds, and where it falls apart. Here are some questions that you might ask:

  • Does my thesis control the direction of my outline?
  • Are all of my main points relevant to my thesis?
  • Can any of these points be moved around without changing something important about my thesis?
  • Does the outline seem logical?
  • Does my argument progress, or does it stall?
  • If my argument seems to take a turn, mid-stream, does my thesis anticipate that turn?
  • Do I have sufficient support for each of my points?
  • Have I made room in my outline for other points of view about my topic?
  • Does this outline reflect a thorough, thoughtful argument? Have I covered the ground?
 https://rosenenglish.weebly.com/uploads/1/4/1/4/14147635/how_to_structure_and_organize_your_paper.pdf (emphasis in the original)

Planning your decision-making strategies is not that different from outlining your paper.  Both require you to ensure you have the most relevant and appropriate data points, that the process and logic of getting from where you start to where you hope to end are sound, and that your arguments are coherent and cohesive.  If you replaced the words “goal” for “thesis” and “decision-making process” for “outline”, then you may find useful the above-listed questions in your decision-making process.

With that background, we now turn to our original point: the arrogant thinks he know all, and this delusion inhibits his motivation to reexamine his data or analyses.  Thus, he fails.  Thus, he can never be the best he could be.  As my mother always said, “Even a dog can catch a fly every once in a while when he yawns.”  Luck may intervene and produce a good outcome from a bad decision-making process, but Lady Luck is fickle.  It is best to not leave in her hands the outcome you hope to achieve.

Think critically and plan your decision-making process carefully.  Don’t let pride, arrogance, etc., interfere with critical, clear, and appropriately expansive thinking.  If you do this, success will find you.

Critical thinking is necessary to problem solving, and the world always needs problem-solvers.  What does it take to solve problems?  You must

  1. identify with clarity and precision what is the problem you’re tying to solve — in graduate school at Duke University, we spent a significant amount of time on this step for each project;
  2. know intimately the stakeholders involved and what their objectives, interests, needs, and fears are — without the support of stakeholders, your strategy will likely fail (even if it were the best and most appropriate strategy) because the key players will not help you and may even work against you;
  3. find a pathway that achieves your goal and gets the relevant and critical stakeholders on board — you can’t please everyone, but you must gain the support of the most critical players;
  4. execute according to your plan — too many fail this step; and
  5. continue to revisit and update your data and strategies as necessary during the execution stage to ensure you remain on track to achieving your goal and are using the latest and most relevant information available — don’t forget: it’s a reiterative process.

(If you think about it, the above problem-solving/decision-making process is not unlike the writing process where you must identify the purpose of and audience for your writing, brainstorm for ideas, outline your arguments, write, and rewrite.  Thus, the above-reference to the Dartmouth method of outlining is not wholly inappropriate.)

Anyway, I digressed.  My sons, always think critically.  Don’t allow pride or arrogance to interfere with your critical thinking process.

Too often, people fail because they think they know it all (i.e., they are arrogant) and fail to understand their audience, markets, or stakeholders.  As a result, they fail to gather all the necessary and relevant data point in order to devise the best strategy for outcomes which would meet the needs of their audience, markets, or stakeholders.

Be not like them.

All my love, always,

Dad

 

5 years and 25 days. Keys to success: (3) work hard and persevere — believe in yourself and the value you bring to others: don’t give up!

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My dearest Shosh and Jaialai:

Success is hard!  If it weren’t, everyone would have been successful.  No, success takes hard work and perseverance.  Most people fall short because they lack the self-discipline to push on when the road gets difficult.

Successful people push on when others give up.  The former creates winners; the latter creates losers.  Choose which type of people you want to be associated with, and stick to your goal.

#5 – J.K. Rowling

J.K. Rowling

Photo Credit: Telegraph.co.uk

Rowling is one of the most inspirational success stories of our time. Many people simply know her as the woman who created Harry Potter. But, what most people don’t know is what she went through prior to reaching stardom. Rowling’s life was not peaches and cream. She struggled tremendously.

In 1990, Rowling first had the idea for Harry Potter. She stated that the idea came “fully formed” into her mind one day while she was on a train from Manchester to London. She began writing furiously. However, later that year, her mother died after 10 years of complications from Multiple Sclerosis.

In 1992 she moved to Portugal to teach English where she met a man, married, and had a daughter. In 1993, her marriage ended in divorce and she moved to Edinburgh, Scotland to be closer to her sister. At that time, she had three chapters of Harry Potter in her suitcase.

Rowling saw herself as a failure at this time. She was jobless, divorced, penniless, and with a dependent child. She suffered through bouts of depression, eventually signing up for government-assisted welfare. It was a difficult time in her life, but she pushed through the failures.

In 1995 all 12 major publishers rejected the Harry Potter script. But, it was a year later when a small publishing house, Bloomsbury, accepted it and extended a very small £1500 advance.  In 1997, the book was published with only 1000 copies, 500 of which were distributed to libraries.

In 1997 and 1998, the book won awards from Nestle Smarties Book Prize and the British Book Award for Children’s Book of the Year. After that, it was one wild ride for Rowling. Today, Rowling has sold more than 400 million copies of her books, and is considered to be the most successful woman author in the United Kingdom.

 

#6 – Stephen King

Stephen King

Photo Credit: Bangor Daily News

Stephen King is famous for many critically-acclaimed novels, most of which have been made into movies. However, Stephen King’s first novel, Carrie, was rejected 30 times before it was published.

Not only that, but King actually threw the manuscript into the garbage, only later to be retrieved by his wife who wildly believed in his dream of becoming a published author.

Yet, King’s earlier years were also nothing to rave about. As a child, his family barely made ends meet, and in his later years as an English teacher, he supplemented his income by selling short stories to magazines.

Today, King has over 50 novels and has sold over 350 million copies of his work. Can you imagine what King’s life would be like had he given up? It’s difficult to imagine that such a successful author was once rejected so many times.

In his earlier years, King talks about submitting short stories to magazines beginning at the age of 16, and hanging the rejection slips on a nail until the slips were so heavy he had to change the nail to a spike.

 

#7 – Bill Gates

Bill Gates

Photo Credit: Wikipedia

Before Microsoft was born, Bill Gates suffered failure in business. Known today to be one of the wealthiest men in the world, Bill Gates’s upper middle-class family is a stark contrast from some of the other successful failures out there that didn’t have well-off parents.

However, Bill Gates didn’t rely on his family. His business acumen was second to none. But his first business was indeed a failure. Traf-O-Data was a partnership between Gates, Paul Gilbert, and Paul Allen. The goal of the business was to create reports for roadway engineers from raw traffic data.

The company did achieve a little bit of success by processing the raw traffic data to generate some income. But the machine that they had built to process the data flopped when they tried to present it to a Seattle County traffic employee. Yet, this business helped to set Gates and his partner Paul Allen up for major success with Microsoft.

Although Gates failed at his first business, it didn’t discourage him from trying again. He didn’t want to give up because the sheer notion of business intrigued him. He was cleverly able to put together a company that revolutionized the personal computing marketplace. And we all know just how successful that was for him.

https://www.wanderlustworker.com/12-famous-people-who-failed-before-succeeding/

So, the lesson is don’t give up.  If you’ve done the hard work of critically analyzing your goals, strategies, and tactics, and if you believe in your idea, then push on … even when it’s difficult and when you don’t feel like it.  Don’t give up!  Rethink your strategies and tactics.  Learn from your mistakes, and redouble your efforts.

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If, however, you discover during your efforts that there is a fatal flaw in your analysis, then stop and critically reexamine your project.  Can the flaw be mitigated, or is it truly fatal?  If it’s the latter, let it go, and move on.  Don’t throw good money after bad.

The point is to know when to stop.  Persevere even against overwhelming odds if you have critically thought through your project and find it of great value, but drop it if you discovered fatal flaws that are unforeseeable or simply unforeseen, and unmitigatable.

So, to recap, to be successful in life, you must (1) be present and truly listen to others; (2) be of value, e.g., think critically to solve problems; and, (3) work hard and persevere despite set-backs and failures.  Be well, my sons.  Be successful.  Life is more rewarding and interesting when you are a success.

Success doesn’t necessarily promise you happiness, but happiness is more likely to visit when you are successful than when you are unsuccessful and filled with misery.

All my love, always,

Dad

 

 

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

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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,

Dad

5 years and 10 days. Life is sales. Be good at it by focusing on the needs of others, instead of on what you are selling — your talents, your candidacy, your idea, etc.

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My dearest Shosh and Jaialai:

It has been said that all of life is sales.  I cannot disagree.  Whether you realize it or not, you engage in sales tactics everyday.  You persuade a friend to go to see this movie instead of that, or do this activity instead of that.  That’s sales.  You try out for the school team or newspaper.  That’s sales.  You write an essay for college admission.  That’s sales.  You try to persuade a girl to go to the prom with you.   That’s sales.

In light of the above, in my opinion, the last image above is the most powerful.  People give up too easily.  They tried and failed, and they never try again.  That’s the Homer Simpson approach to life.

https://shoshandjaialai.files.wordpress.com/2018/01/07c33-homer_simpson_quotes.jpeg?w=656

Don’t be like them.  Perseverance is critical to success.  Learn from your mistake and try again.  Success comes to those to forge on, not those who give up.

More importantly, often, people fail because they focus on themselves or their products, but not on the needs of their customers.  They forget — it’s not about them; it’s about the customer.

If you meet or exceed the expectations of the person you are pitching to, you will succeed.  Learn to focus on the needs of others and how you can help others, and you will be surprise at how people will be drawn to you.

This reminds me of additional quotes by Zig Ziglar.  Read on.

Zig Ziglar: 10 Quotes That Can Change Your Life

Zig Ziglar died today at age 86. A World War II veteran, Zig Ziglar became the top sales person in several organizations before striking out on his own as a motivational speaker and trainer. With a Southern charm and lessons grounded in Christianity, Ziglar wrote over two dozen books and amassed a following of millions who were encouraged by his lessons for success.

Below are 10 quotes from Zig Ziglar that have the power to completely change the direction of one’s life.

10) “Remember that failure is an event, not a person.”

9) “You will get all you want in life, if you help enough other people get what they want.”

8 ) “People often say motivation doesn’t last. Neither does bathing—that’s why we recommend it daily.”

 7) “There has never been a statue erected to honor a critic.”

6) “People don’t buy for logical reasons. They buy for emotional reasons.”

 5) “Expect the best. Prepare for the worst. Capitalize on what comes.”

4) “If you go looking for a friend, you’re going to find they’re scarce. If you go out to be a friend, you’ll find them everywhere.”

3) “A goal properly set is halfway reached.”

2) “Your attitude, not your aptitude, will determine your altitude.”

1) “If you can dream it, you can achieve it.”

https://www.forbes.com/sites/kevinkruse/2012/11/28/zig-ziglar-10-quotes-that-can-change-your-life/#1f35930426a0

Have a good attitude, be a good friend, work hard, and enjoy a good life, my sons.

All my love, always,

Dad

P.S., please do not mistaken this post as an encouragement to become a salesman.  It is an honest profession and there is nothing wrong with it, but I would rather you pursue a career in which you can create something for the betterment of the world — be it an idea, an improved product, a new product, or simply something that brings light into someone’s life.  You are capable of so much more than selling the wares of others.  I, for example, sell ideas and solutions to people’s legal and healthcare problems.  That said, if sales is your vocation or avocation, then I fully support you.

 

5 long and excruciating years. Don’t let others control the narrative, especially your narrative.

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Are Lying Children Naturally Smarter?

A new study suggests that how well you lie as a child is a strong indicator of how successful you’ll be as an adult.

Research conducted by the Institute of Child Study at the University of Toronto indicates the skills needed to tell a convincing lie, such as quick thinking and the ability to use information to your own advantage, demonstrate a highly functioning brain.  And the younger children demonstrate these skills, the better developed their brains are.

Are Lying Children Naturally Smarter?

 

 

Is Your Child Lying to You? That’s Good

Lying is not only normal; it’s also a sign of intelligence.

Kids discover lying as early as age 2, studies have found. In one experiment, children were asked not to peek at a toy hidden behind them while the researcher withdrew from the room under false pretenses. Minutes later, the researcher returned and asked the child if he or she peeked.

This experiment, designed by the developmental psychologist Michael Lewis in the mid-1980s and performed in one form or another on hundreds of kids, has yielded two consistent findings. The first is that a vast majority of children will peek at the toy within seconds of being left alone. The other is that a significant number of them lie about it. At least a third of 2-year-olds, half of 3-year-olds and 80 percent or more of children 4 and older will deny their transgression, regardless of their gender, race or family’s religion….

Why do some children start lying at an earlier age than others? What separates them from their more honest peers? The short answer is that they are smarter.

Professor Lewis has found that toddlers who lie about peeking at the toy have higher verbal I.Q.s than those who don’t, by as much as 10 points. (Children who don’t peek at the toy in the first place are actually the smartest of all, but they are a rarity.)

https://www.nytimes.com/2018/01/05/opinion/sunday/children-lying-intelligence.html

My dearest and most precious Shosh and Jaialai:

I hope 2018 finds you well and joyful.  Choose to be happy, my sons.  Life is suffering (per Buddha), but we don’t have to let the suffering control either us or our lives.  We are the authors of our own fate.

In that vein, recent news stories suggest that kids who lie are smarter than average.  Lying requires higher brain function for a number of reasons:

[K]ids with better cognitive abilities who lie more. That’s because to lie you also have to keep the truth in mind, which involves multiple brain processes, such as integrating several sources of information and manipulating that information … The ability to lie—and lie successfully—is thought to be related to development of brain regions that allow so-called ‘executive functioning,’ or higher order thinking and reasoning abilities. Kids who perform better on tests that involve executive functioning also lie more.

https://www.theatlantic.com/technology/archive/2010/05/are-kids-who-lie-smarter/340897/

As interesting as that may be, note that neither Time nor The Atlantic mentioned what The New York Times noted in a parenthetical statement — children who exercise self-control and obviated the need to lie in the first place are the smartest children of the bunch!  So, no, the narrative is not that children who lie are smart, but that children who exercise self-control are the smartest.

Other psychological studies have borne this out.  For example, the famous “Marshmallow Experiment” by psychologist Walter Mischel of Stanford University and his colleagues.  They tempted 4 year-olds with treats, telling them they could eat the one cookie or marshmallow in front of them immediately or wait a little and get two cookies or marshmallows.

“Sometimes experimenters had not even finished talking about the experiment when the kids already ate the marshmallow or cookie,” said cognitive neuroscientist B.J. Casey at Weill Cornell Medical College, who has taken part in follow-up studies on this work. “Other 4-year-olds were able to wait by sitting on their hands and turning away, or creating imaginary friends to distract them.”

Since Mischel’s daughters attended nursery school with many of these children in the study, he began noticing that whether or not the kids delayed gratification appeared linked with many other factors in their lives. Kids who succumbed quickly to temptation often had lower SAT scores, a higher body-mass index and a slightly increased risk of substance abuse later on.

Casey refers to those who quickly gave in as low-delayers and those who can delay gratification high-delayers.

https://www.livescience.com/15821-cookie-test-control.html.

So, the story isn’t really about encouraging your kids to lie or being proud of the fact that their lying is a sign of intelligence.  If you want kids to be among the smartest, teach them self-control.

In fact, even the focus on intelligence may not necessarily be the best approach or benchmark for child-rearing.

The Secret to Raising Smart Kids

HINT: Don’t tell your kids that they are. More than three decades of research shows that a focus on “process”—not on intelligence or ability—is key to success in school and in life

A brilliant student, Jonathan sailed through grade school. He completed his assignments easily and routinely earned As. Jonathan puzzled over why some of his classmates struggled, and his parents told him he had a special gift. In the seventh grade, however, Jonathan suddenly lost interest in school, refusing to do homework or study for tests. As a consequence, his grades plummeted. His parents tried to boost their son’s confidence by assuring him that he was very smart. But their attempts failed to motivate Jonathan (who is a composite drawn from several children). Schoolwork, their son maintained, was boring and pointless.

Our society worships talent, and many people assume that possessing superior intelligence or ability—along with confidence in that ability—is a recipe for success. In fact, however, more than 35 years of scientific investigation suggests that an overemphasis on intellect or talent leaves people vulnerable to failure, fearful of challenges and unwilling to remedy their shortcomings.

The result plays out in children like Jonathan, who coast through the early grades under the dangerous notion that no-effort academic achievement defines them as smart or gifted. Such children hold an implicit belief that intelligence is innate and fixed, making striving to learn seem far less important than being (or looking) smart. This belief also makes them see challenges, mistakes and even the need to exert effort as threats to their ego rather than as opportunities to improve. And it causes them to lose confidence and motivation when the work is no longer easy for them.

Praising children’s innate abilities, as Jonathan’s parents did, reinforces this mind-set, which can also prevent young athletes or people in the workforce and even marriages from living up to their potential. On the other hand, our studies show that teaching people to have a “growth mind-set,” which encourages a focus on “process” (consisting of personal effort and effective strategies) rather than on intelligence or talent, helps make them into high achievers in school and in life.

https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/the-secret-to-raising-smart-kids1/

Thus, as I’ve said before, try your best and try to improve a little each day.  Don’t worry so much about the immediate outcome.  Life is the long play.  Work to succeed in life by striving to better yourself day by day.

Exercise self-control.  Our instant gratification culture is toxic.  Don’t give in to it.

Shosh, as a young child, your mother taught you it was okay to scream until you get what you wanted immediately.  For example, as a two-year-old, while in the car, you’d shout out “Two!” and your mom would immediately change the CD to track 2.  Grandmother used to tell me that when you guys drove by an excavator, you’d scream and cried until your mother had to turn back and let you look more closely at it.  That was bad parenting.  She abdicated her parental duties by letting you call the shots.  That was lazy of her because it was the path of least resistance for her.  She was doing you no favor.  Why?  By telling you that you can get whatever you want whenever you wanted it, she is preparing you for failure.  In life, you cannot do whatever you want whenever you want to.  For example, despite our Freedom of Speech, you could get arrested if you shouted “Fire!” in a crowded movie theater when there was no fire.  I hope you have gained better self-control and are better suited for success in life.

It’s not just about having self-control over your words, but also your every action.  It’s effortful, but success is effortful.  If it were easy, everyone would be successful.  Look at your mom’s side of the family and my side of the family.  Where are they in life and what have they achieved?  It is no mistake that more of our side have doctorates and advanced degrees and are in management at major organizations.

Be successful, my sons.  Try your best.  Try to be better each day.

All my love, always,

Dad