4 years, 3 months, and 16 days. Be nice.

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In one study, Dr. Prinstein examined the two types of popularity in 235 adolescents, scoring the least liked, the most liked and the highest in status based on student surveys. “We found that the least well-liked teens had become more aggressive over time toward their classmates. But so had those who were high in status. It was a nice demonstration that while likability can lead to healthy adjustment, high status has just the opposite effect on us.”

Dr. Prinstein has also found that the qualities that made the neighbors want you on a play date — sharing, kindness, openness — carry over to later years and make you better able to relate and connect with others.

In analyzing his and other research, Dr. Prinstein came to another conclusion: Not only does likability correlate to positive life outcomes, but it is also responsible, he said, for those outcomes, too. “Being liked creates opportunities for learning and for new kinds of life experiences that help somebody gain an advantage,” he told me.

https://www.nytimes.com/2017/04/07/education/edlife/be-nice-you-wont-finish-last.html?_r=0

My Dearest Shosh and Jaialai:

Be nice, my sons.  It costs you little, but the impact on others may be great.  Everyone has his or her own cross to bear.  Why worsen the burden when it could be lightened with kind words?

Our forebears say, “Twirl your tongues seven times before you speak.”  That is sound advice.

Don’t worry about being the most popular.  Studies show kids who peaked in popularity in primary and secondary schools tend to be stuck at those stages and do worse later in life.  Be nice.  Learn to work with others.

Help others.  You’ll find that it will make you happier.  This is why I have often volunteered when I have time.  My one regret is that I didn’t involve you in my volunteerism while I had the opportunity.

All my love, always,

Dad

 

 

 

 

4 years and 3 months. Challenge yourselves and grow.

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My dearest Shosh and Jaialai:

I hope you are well today.  Recently, a neighborhood kid encountered some personal challenges, and his parents responded by clearing his plates of all challenging matters and telling him it is not necessary for him to challenge himself regarding anything.  That struck me as a less than ideal strategy.

Today, another neighborhood kid shared with me his excitement at achieving something I’d shown him how to do earlier.  This struck me as being the natural order of things.  See, e.g., https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/nurturing-resilience/201202/summer-camps-make-kids-resilient.

Kids need challenges in order to learn and grow.  Denying them challenges is to deny them opportunities to grow.

Life is but a series of challenges.  If you love your children, prepare them for life.  Don’t hobble them by removing the challenges and making their lives easy.

“Per aspera ad astra, Papa,’ I whispered. Through hardship to the stars.”
― Ruta Sepetys

“If you aren’t in over your head, how do you know how tall you are?”
― T.S. Eliot

“Difficulties strengthen the mind, as labor does the body.”
― Seneca

“Don’t handicap your children by making their lives easy.”
― Robert A. Heinlein

“Life is either a daring adventure or nothing at all.”
― Helen Keller

“The brick walls are there for a reason. The brick walls are not there to keep us out. The brick walls are there to give us a chance to show how badly we want something. Because the brick walls are there to stop the people who don’t want it badly enough. They’re there to stop the other people.”
― Randy Pausch

“When we least expect it, life sets us a challenge to test our courage and willingness to change; at such a moment, there is no point in pretending that nothing has happened or in saying that we are not yet ready. The challenge will not wait. Life does not look back. A week is more than enough time for us to decide whether or not to accept our destiny.”
― Paulo Coelho

“If we are not allowed to deal with small problems, we will be destroyed by slightly larger ones. When we come to understand this, we live our lives not avoiding problems, but welcoming them as challenges that will strengthen us so that we can be victorious in the future.”
― Jim Stovall

Embrace challenge, my sons.  Be persistent.  Live fully.

All my love, always,

Dad

 

4 years, 2 months, and 29 days. Beware of small minded people: they will drag you down.

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My dearest Shosh and Jaialai:

People are constrained by their prisms of their realities.  In other words, they are limited by who they are.

They see the world as a reflection of themselves.  Thieves think everyone else is a thief and out to steal from them.  Cowards think everyone else will run in the face of danger, just like they do.  Fools think everyone else is a sucker.

Beware the little people — the small-minded, the petty.  They rarely lift their sights above the smallness of their stations, and, by fixating on the small and petty, they will drag you down to their level.  They are so fearful of losing what little they have, that they end up channeling all of their energies on fighting to protect and maintain those limitations instead of improving their lot.  But, worse, they resist acceptance of their limitations and bully or berate those they perceive as less fortunate or less powerful than they in order to prove they are better than their station allows.  They are the epitome of the adage “kiss up and shit down.”

It is for this reason that I urge you to take the time to find and befriend those who inspire you to be better.  Look for those who train their eyes beyond the horizons, those who see possibilities instead of limitations, those who are prone to act instead of whine, those who accept ambiguity and change as natural parts of life.

These also happen to be traits of entrepreneurs, see, e.g., https://www.forbes.com/sites/quora/2013/11/05/how-do-entrepreneurs-think/#3e52f7473905; https://www.entrepreneur.com/article/285625; and, https://www.inc.com/peter-economy/6-things-successful-entrepreneurs-always-believe.html.

That’s why I want you to think

1. Anything is possible.

If you believe you’ll never be capable of creating a multi-million-dollar enterprise, you’re never going to take the effort to create one. If you think your business can’t compete with the major players, you’ll lose enthusiasm and eventually fold under the pressure.

Believing that some things are flat-out impossible becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy; instead, successful business owners have a mindset that anything is possible with the investment of enough knowledge, effort and determination. Having the confidence to move forward is half the battle, and as long as that action doesn’t turn into foolhardy arrogance (more on that later), it will empower you to work harder and set higher goals.

2. Hard work pays off — even if it takes years to see it.

Successful business owners also believe that, fundamentally, hard work pays off. They aren’t afraid to invest hours, weeks, months or even years of hard work into their businesses, because they have faith that the outcome will be valuable.

The key difference here with successful entrepreneurs is that they’re able to envision and embrace long-term payoffs. This ability is known as delayed gratification, which theoretical physicist Michio Kaku once referred to as the “hallmark of human intelligence.”

Related: The Incredible Power of Believing in Yourself

3. It doesn’t have to be perfect.

Even experts make mistakes — all the time. If you’re a perfectionist, you’ll suffer in a number of different ways: You’ll set goals that are unreasonably high, you’ll feel defeated and discouraged when you don’t reach them or make mistakes and you won’t be willing to move forward despite a flaw or two.

If you wait until everything is perfect before you launch a product or move forward with a decision, you’ll never cross that threshold, which is why it’s important to start only with a minimum viable product and make gradual improvements from there. Embrace your mistakes, learn from them and don’t let them stop you from taking the next step forward.

4. You can’t do everything alone.

Even if you’ve managed to build something amazing for yourself, through your efforts alone, it’s still because of the people in your life who have taught you and supported you that you got as far as you did. Even in matters like building a social following from scratch, you’re relying on outsiders to help support your own initiative, and in that respect, you’re always going to be relying on other people.

The trick is to do as much as you can by yourself, then surround yourself by the most talented, capable, respectable people you can find to help you take care of the rest.

5. Risks are necessary.

It’s true that not all risks are equal, and not all risks are worth taking, but if you separate people into risk-takers and non-risk-takers, eventually, statistically, it will be people from the risk-taking pool who end up being the furthest ahead. Successful entrepreneurs may not have a mindset that urges them to take every risk they find, but they aren’t afraid to take calculated risks, and that gives them more potential for bigger, more successful initiatives.

6. Perspective and experience matter.

Successful entrepreneurs know that they aren’t the smartest, most experienced or most rational people in the world. They recognize that other business owners have more experience, have different perspectives and may have valuable ideas or insights that they themselves haven’t considered.

Successful entrepreneurs demonstrate humility, and aren’t embarrassed to ask for help or too proud to ask for others’ opinions. They’re willing and eager to gather information from many sources before moving forward with anything.

7. There’s always more to learn.

Humility extends to this belief, as well. No matter how long you went to school, how many courses you’ve taken or how many years you’ve spent on the job, there’s always something new to learn about your industry and about the world. Maintaining the desire and initiative to pursue your own education indefinitely keeps you sharp throughout your entrepreneurial journey, and keeps you a step ahead of your competitors.

https://www.entrepreneur.com/article/285625.

Lift your sights beyond the horizon.  See yourself succeed.  Ignore the cowardly warnings of the nay-sayers, the intrepid, and the small-minded.  Focus on what must be done to make your visions become reality.  Know that every failure brings you one step closer to success, and know that no matter what happens, you are always loved and valued.

Be you.  Be the best you.

All my love, always,

Dad

3 years, 10 months, and 21 days. Kent M. Keith’s Paradoxical Commandments

My dearest Shosh and Jaialai:

Today, I am sharing wise words from Dr. Keith about how to give your life meaning.  Life is about finding what works for you, being your personal best, and making the world a better place.  Don’t worry about others. The small-minded detractors and nay-sayers will always be there.  Ignore them.  The people who matter, the high-minded humanists, will notice, even if they say nothing.  But, that too doesn’t matter.  Live well, and you’ll know you did right: that should be enough.

Beauty comes from within.  Feed your soul with goodness.

Without further ado, I give you Dr. Keith:

The Paradoxical Commandments

People are illogical, unreasonable, and self-centered.
Love them anyway.
If you do good, people will accuse you of selfish ulterior motives.
Do good anyway.

If you are successful, you will win false friends and true enemies.
Succeed anyway.

The good you do today will be forgotten tomorrow.
Do good anyway.

Honesty and frankness make you vulnerable.
Be honest and frank anyway.

The biggest men and women with the biggest ideas can be shot down by the smallest men and women with the smallest minds.
Think big anyway.

People favor underdogs but follow only top dogs.
Fight for a few underdogs anyway.

What you spend years building may be destroyed overnight.
Build anyway.

People really need help but may attack you if you do help them.
Help people anyway.

Give the world the best you have and you’ll get kicked in the teeth.
Give the world the best you have anyway.

© Copyright Kent M. Keith 1968, renewed 2001

 

Over the past forty-five years, Dr. Keith has published articles for newspapers, magazines, and professional journals; poetry; conference papers; and ten books.

Dr. Keith’s first book was a student leadership manual, The Silent Revolution: Dynamic Leadership in the Student Council, published by Harvard Student Agencies in 1968, when he was 19, a sophomore at Harvard. This is the book for which he wrote the Paradoxical Commandments. A revised edition was published by the National Association of Secondary School Principals (NASSP) in 1972. Approximately 30,000 copies of the two editions of the booklet were sold or distributed throughout the United States between 1968 and the mid-seventies.

In 1969, Dr. Keith wrote another student leadership booklet, The Silent Majority: The Problem of Apathy and the Student Council, which was used in workshops and then published by NASSP in 1972. This book urged students to reach out to their fellow students and link up with their interests and needs, so that the student council can fulfill its noblest purpose: people helping people. New editions of The Silent Revolution and The Silent Majority were published by Terrace Press in 2003 and 2004.

In 1997, Dr. Keith learned that Mother Teresa had put a copy of the Paradoxical Commandments up on the wall of her children’s home in Calcutta. This inspired him to write his national bestselling book, Anyway: The Paradoxical Commandments, which was published in 2002. The book is an introduction to the Paradoxical Commandments, including some of the events in Dr. Keith’s early life that shaped the creation of the commandments in the sixties. The book has been translated and published in 17 different languages. His narration of Anyway: The Paradoxical Commandments won a national “Audie” award from the Audio Publishers Association as the best audiobook of 2003 in the personal development/motivational category.

Dr. Keith continued to explore the Paradoxical Commandments in three subsequent books. Do It Anyway: The Handbook for Finding Personal Meaning and Deep Happiness in a Crazy World was published in 2003, Jesus Did It Anyway: The Paradoxical Commandments for Christians was published in 2005, and Have Faith Anyway: The Vision of Habakkuk for Our Times was published in 2008.

In 2003, Dr. Keith created “The Universal Moral Code” while writing about morality and ethics. The code is featured in his book Morality and Morale: A Business Tale, published in 2012. Dr. Keith believes that living a moral life is energizing and meaningful, as well as being the key to long-term personal and organizational success.

For the past twenty-five years, Dr. Keith has been a passionate advocate for servant leadership. His publications on the topic include The Case for Servant Leadership (2008/revised in 2012); Servant Leadership in the Boardroom: Fulfilling the Public Trust (2011); Questions and Answers about Servant Leadership (2012); The Ethical Advantage of Servant Leadership: Guiding Principles for Organizational Success (2013); and The Christian Leader at Work: Serving by Leading (2015).

3 years, 10 months, and 12 days. Character matters … always.

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My dearest Shosh and Jaialai:

It has been a difficult few weeks.  The direction to which our country is headed is less than ideal.  The events leading to the recent election and those that follow are symptomatic of the division and divisiveness of the U.S. today.

The most unfortunate casualty of all this has been character.  Good moral character has been lost amidst the noise and nastiness that is American politics.  Public service is worst off today for the absence of good people like Tom J. Campbell, who served in the U.S. Congress for several terms before returning to private life as Professor of Law at Stanford University, Dean of Hass School of Business at U.C. Berkeley, and Dean of the Chapman University School of Law.  http://www.chapman.edu/our-faculty/thomas-j-campbell.

Character matters, my sons.  It always matters to people who matter.

In the short-run, people may be distracted by physical beauty, flashy attire, grandiose visions, and other superficial items; however, in the medium- and long-run, core values and character return to the forefront.  Fools who rush in will pay the price later.

Strive to be of strong moral character always.

Love,

Dad

3 years, 9 months, and 22 days. Just because you can, doesn’t mean you should. Be wise beyond your years.

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From the errors of others, a wise man corrects his own. - Publilius Syrus

 

The art of being wise is the art of knowing what to overlook.

~ William James

My dearest Shosh and Jaialai:

These days, with the election mere days away, the media is full of noise.  Everyone is shouting and trying to drown out the others.  Their clever retorts often reveal their lack of wisdom.

Donald J. Trump proudly acknowledges he did not pay a dime in federal income taxes for years on end. He insists he merely exploited tax loopholes legally available to any billionaire — loopholes he says Hillary Clinton failed to close during her years in the United States Senate. “Why didn’t she ever try to change those laws so I couldn’t use them?” Mr. Trump asked during a campaign rally last month.

http://www.nytimes.com/2016/11/01/us/politics/donald-trump-tax.html?hp&action=click&pgtype=Homepage&clickSource=story-heading&module=first-column-region®ion=top-news&WT.nav=top-news

 

Turner was convicted in March of three felony counts: assault with the intent to commit rape of an unconscious person, sexual penetration of an unconscious person and sexual penetration of an intoxicated person.

http://www.latimes.com/local/lanow/la-me-ln-stanford-rape-case-documents-release-20160610-snap-htmlstory.html

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Just because you can, doesn’t mean you should.  Even toddlers and young children know this.  Yet, these days, we hear too many adults, who should know better, excuse their poor behaviors by blaming others.

Don’t.  Remember, what you say or do reflects on you!  Further, a “wise man know what not to say.”  Confucius.

Be wise.  Do what’s right, regardless of the circumstances.  This includes censuring yourself if what you want to say or do is not helpful, kind, and truthful.  As Father Dave used to say, do or say something only if what you will say or do is helpful, kind, and truthful.  He is a wise man.

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All my love, always,

Dad

3 years, 9 months, and 5 days. Rise above the decay.

Can any sensitive person find peace of mind nowadays?” said Anna Pavlovna.

War and Peace (1869)

My dearest Shosh and Jaialai:

I’ve previously shared the adage “If you’re near ink, you will be stained; if you are near the light, you will be illuminated” and instructed you to be selective of your companions..  Sometimes, due to circumstances, that may not be possible.

This leads me that adage’s corollary: “You can live in mud, but not carry the its stench.”  You may be mire in decay, but let it not taint you.

Take Oprah Winfred for instances.  She was born into poverty and difficult circumstances.  But, through hard work and perseverance, she rose above that and made something good of herself.  Despite her wealth and success, she lives free of scandals that plague.  The same cannot be said of the many rich and boorish who dominate the ether today.

It is disheartening to see lewdness and vulgarity grace the airwaves and the front pages of most major newspapers today.  Such smut was once relegated to yellow journalism.  Unfortunately, yellow journalism has now gone mainstream.  That does not bode well for our society.

Regardless, rise above the decay.  Just because Kim Kardashian, for example, found fame by the release of her sex tape does not mean she is worthy of emulation or attention.  Attend to better.  Just because your mother frequently takes you to your cousins on her side — at least one of whom is a felon, and a number of others fail to make much of their lives — doesn’t mean you must follow their footsteps and be tainted by their values.  Be better.

All my love, always,

Dad