30 Tips for Better Personal Relationships

1. Be Accepting

This means you are okay with me as is, with no interest in trying to change me.

2. Be Affectionate

This means you find opportunities to be warm and close with me.

3. Be Ambitious

This means you are always on the outlook for chances to improve our lives.

4. Be Assertive

This means you speak up about what you want and need.

5. Be Attractive

This means you work to be someone I want to be with and do things with.

6. Be Considerate

This means you care about my feelings, interests and needs.

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Helping Is My Highest Priority

Have you ever had an experience that just defied any attempt to reduce it to a few words? Well the incident that goes with the play button comes pretty close. It’s one of those frustrating encounters we have all had in one version or another. There is nothing for it but for you to have a listen and see if there isn’t something there that you have personally suffered through. I’ve been there to and didn’t like it much either.

Failure May Not Be Necessary

Most people are more comfortable with old problems than with new solutions. – Author unknown

All the mischiefs in the world may be put down to the general, indiscriminate veneration of old laws, old customs, and old religion. – Georg Christoph Lichtenberg

Stubbornness does have its helpful features. You always know what you are going to be thinking tomorrow. – Glen Beaman

The relationship between trial and suffering is a common theme in the success and motivation literature, although “failure” usually replaces “trial and suffering” in the equation. For example, Benjamin Disraeli said, “All my successes have been built on my failures.” The famous Anon. said, “Failure is a better teacher than success, but she seldom finds an apple on her desk;” and Scott Adams, creator of Dilbert, said, “Most success springs from an obstacle or failure.” Maury Povich joined in too when he said, “There’s got to be a glitch along the way, or else you lose touch with reality.” Robert Louis Stevenson took the concept to the extreme, “Our business in life is not to succeed, but to continue to fail in good spirits;” and Winston Churchill echoed the theme, “Success consists of going from failure to failure without loss of enthusiasm.”

Now isn’t that just dandy. It’s enough to make one get out there and fail just to get firmly on the path to success; and the bigger the failure, the better. “Every failure brings with it the seed of an equivalent success,” according to Napoleon Hill. Perhaps a good measure of trial and suffering would also be a terrific addition to one’s optimal success strategy.

Interestingly, simply failing is, by itself, not sufficient. One must develop the right attitude toward failure. Reggie Jackson suggested, “I feel the most important requirement in success is learning to overcome failure. You must learn to tolerate it, but never accept it.” Dexter Yager said, “A winner is one who accepts his failures and mistakes, picks up the pieces, and continues striving to reach his goals.” It’s a get back on the horse kind of thing. Denis Waitley puts it this way, “Forget about the consequences of failure. Failure is only a temporary change in direction to set you straight for your next success.”

At least Norman Vincent Peale didn’t buy into the negative approach to success, “We’ve all heard that we have to learn from our mistakes, but I think it is more important to learn from our successes. If you learn only from your mistakes, you are inclined to learn only errors.” The conclusion here is simple. Fail if you absolutely can’t avoid it. If you fail, don’t quit. You can’t succeed if you don’t try. Having said that, success is always more fun than failing and there is never any shame in having fun. The key is to do the right things right, the first time, on time, every time. With that as your personal standard, you won’t always have fun but the odds will definitely favor your proactive approach to success.

Now you know so there you go.


Since this is the next post for me but the first post for you, you have joined a little way along the posting journey. You don’t yet know and are unlikely to care much I am in a quest for my missing muse. Actually, it may not be the first post for you, depending when you are visiting. I am only pointing this out because I have not yet come up with anything especially interesting to write about and the prospects are not looking good.

The last post which will be your next is pretty good; so if you want to skip to it I will not be upset or anything. Even so, this might get more interesting.

Trying to write without the support of my muse is tough. I miss her a lot and hope she returns soon. My grandson pointed out Charles Osborne had hiccups for six years. I only mention this to remind us both writing this post could get far worse. I could be trying to keyboard while hiccupping. Do you have that picture? Yep, it could be much worse.

W.C. Fields once said, “Horse sense is the thing a horse has which keeps it from betting on people.” That may seem like a complete non–sequitur but for this. I have made a little bet on me to complete this post and you are taking a small flyer yourself by reading it. If fields was right…. Let’s not go there. Spend too much time with that thought and it’s not much of a leap to focusing on which end of the horse and our relationship to it. With that, it seems I best put that old horse in the barn and call this a post.

If you want a stable partner with no risk of remorse, get a horse.

Your faithful equine friend will never ask you to divorce, get a horse.

If your hiccups won’t stop and your muse has taken flight, get a horse.

You can bunk with your stable partner and never have to write, get a horse.

Nerves And Butterflies

Nerves And Butterflies

“Nerves and butterflies are fine – they’re a physical sign that you’re mentally ready and eager. You have to get the butterflies to fly in formation, that’s the trick.” –– Steve Bull

Just imagine it. There you are, mentally ready and eager; but those pesky butterflies refuse to fly in formation. The next thing you know, you are pacing the floor, ringing your hands, and quoting Charles Dickens, “Oh the nerves, the nerves; the mysteries of this machine called man! Oh the little that unhinges it, poor creatures that we are!”

Is that the pits or what, your becoming unhinged over a few uncooperative butterflies? Indeed it is! It’s every bit as bad as Arthur Somers suggested, “Anxiety is a thin stream of fear trickling through the mind. If encouraged, it cuts a channel into which all other thoughts are drained;” and that channel just keeps getting deeper.

Fortunately, there are only three basic butterflies, only three that actually matter. Getting them to fly in formation isn’t that big of a deal. You only need to identify them and then figure out where each goes in the formation.

The secret principle for getting butterflies to fly in formation is called the To It Principle. It includes three sub–principles which, coincidentally, happen to match exactly with the number of butterflies you are trying to get to fly in formation. Now how cool is that, one sub–principle per butterfly?

The first sub–principle is the Up To It Principle. Assign that one to your lead butterfly. You are either up to it or you aren’t. Sure, worrying about whether you are up to it is the basis of your anxiety, what is getting you unhinged. Even so, the only way to determine whether you are up to it is to take a deep breath and get started. Worrying and putting off getting started just cuts that channel Somers pointed out even deeper.

That’s why you need the second sub–principle for getting butterflies to fly in formation. It’s the Around To It Principle. You keep telling yourself that you will get started one of these days, when you get around to it. Well, assign the sub–principle to the second butterfly and put that reluctant flyer in the formation, just behind the left wing of your lead butterfly. You either get around to it today or you likely never get around to it at all.

Okay, you are up to it and have finally gotten around to it. You are ready for the third sub–principle. It’s the Down To It Principle. This one is definitely not rocket science. Since you are up to it and have finally gotten around to it, it’s time to get down to it, do what you need to do. Assign that job to the third butterfly and slip it just behind the right wing of your lead butterfly.

There you go, your butterflies in a tight formation. As it turns out, there isn’t any trick to it; and, if you’ll excuse the pun, that’s no Bull.

You are nearly ready to go; you have those pesky butterflies in tight formation, leading you to your glorious future. There are just a couple more things you need to know as you pursue your success.

“Let the world know you as you are, not as you think you should be, because sooner or later, if you are posing, you will forget the pose, and then where are you?” –– Fanny Brice

You have a job only you can do. The job you have is being you. At the end of each day you must take a test. Did you give being you your very best?

e. e. Cummings had some words that will take you pretty far. “It takes courage to grow up and become who you really are.” The challenge is never giving your courage a rest. That’s how you give being you your best.

Raymond Hull also had something important to say. “He who trims himself to suit everyone will soon whittle himself away.” What that means you’ve already guessed. You have to be just you to give being you your best.

You can’t be who other people want you to be. You can’t be a spider or a bird in a tree. The spider has its web and the bird has its nest; but you have something special when you give being you your best.

Judy Garland didn’t find her advice on a shelf. “Always be a first–rate version of yourself;” and Johann von Goethe’s message wasn’t a surprise, “If God had wanted me otherwise, He would have created me otherwise.”

Confucius was a philosopher who knew how to depart, “Wherever you go, go with all your heart.”
Go north or south or go east or west. Wherever you go, give being you your best. – with your personal butterflies tightly aligned and leading your way.

. . . . .

Just imagine it. There you are, mentally ready and eager; but nerves and those pesky butterflies are holding you back. The next thing you know, you are pacing the floor and ringing your hands. Is that the pits or what, your becoming unhinged over a few uncooperative butterflies? Indeed it is! This article helps you get control of those butterflies and give your success your best.

. . . . .

You can find additional articles and contact information for Gary Crow at http://www.LeadershipVillage.com
And at http://www.StuffWorthKnowing.com

Without Vanity, Who Would I Be?

A “Normal” person is the sort of person that might be designed by a committee. You know, “Each person puts in a pretty color and it comes out gray. – Alan Sherman

Labels are for filing. Labels are for clothing. Labels are not for people. – Martina Navratilova

Most people have become convinced that vanity is a bad quality to have. In fact, it may actually be a cardinal vice which makes it more than bad; it’s terrible. If one explores this negative pronouncement in more depth though, it ain’t necessarily so. For example, Lord Chesterfield said, “To this principle of vanity, which philosophers call a mean one, and which I do not, I owe a great part of the figure which I have made in life.” There you go. Chesterfield thought vanity was one of the keys to his success.

It may be that vanity is little more than one of those things that is just going around. If so, even you may have a little yourself. As Blaise Pascal suggested, “Vanity is so secure in the heart of man that everyone wants to be admired: even I who write this, and you who read this.” No less an icon than Mark Twain said, “There are no grades of vanity, there are only grades of ability in concealing it;” and there is no end to how clever people can be when concealing it. To illustrate, Louis Kronenberger suggested this strategy, “Nothing so soothes our vanity as a display of greater vanity in others; it makes us vain, in fact, of our modesty;” so if you are uncomfortable with vanity, substitute modesty about being not so vane as some people you know. Just be sure to cleverly conceal it.

François de la Rochefoucauld is another one of the folks who got it, “What makes the vanity of others insupportable is that it wounds our own.” Benjamin Franklin got it too, “Most people dislike vanity in others, whatever share they have of it themselves; but I give it fair quarter, wherever I meet with it, being persuaded that it is often productive of good to the possessor, and to others who are within his sphere of action: and therefore, in many cases, it would not be altogether absurd if a man were to thank God for his vanity among the other comforts of life.” Antonio Porchia also understood, although he did slip in “ridiculous,” probably as a minor concession to the vanity police, “Without this ridiculous vanity that takes the form of self-display, and is part of everything and everyone, we would see nothing, and nothing would exist.”

Fortunately, there is a much better approach. You can simply re-conceptualize. What folks refer to in you as vanity isn’t vanity at all. Rather, it’s merely a reflection of your positive self-perception. It’s what the psychologists call a good self-image. If someone accuses you of vanity, just smile and say:

I’m not a giant or a meek little lamb. I am me, that’s who I am. I’m taller than a cat and shorter than a tree. I’m the very best me you’ll ever see.

I like to laugh, I like to smile. I like to daydream once in a while. I’m extra special but I’m still just me. I’m the very best me I know how to be.

I always try to do my best. I’m good at a lot of things and getting better at the rest. Here’s the truth for everyone to see. It’s totally terrific being me.

I could tell you more stuff about who I am. I like spaghetti and strawberry jam. Here at last is the most spectacular part. I’m extra special because I’m so smart.

Now you know so there you go.

Never a Good Excuse for Bad Manners

“It may be years before anyone knows if what you are doing is right. But if what you are doing is nice, it will be immediately evident.” — P.J. O’Rourke

The idea seems to be that good manners can and often do cover up the proverbial multitude of sins. As Arthur Schopenhauer put it, “Politeness is to human nature what warmth is to wax.” It may quickly distort or otherwise transform reality. What seems sincere may merely be the latest example of Abel Stevens’ observation, “Politeness is the art of choosing among one’s real thoughts.” The point is that in an effort to “be nice,” candor can easily take a backseat to what Emily Post described as “a sensitive awareness of the feelings of others.” The desire not to upset or offend takes priority over the responsibility to be honest and straightforward.

Of course, W. Somerset Maugham did say, “I don’t think you want too much sincerity in society. It would be like an iron girder in a house of cards.” And Lord Halifax said, “A man that should call everything by its right name would hardly pass the streets without being knocked down as a common enemy.” The conclusion follows that there is an appropriate, middle ground between total honesty and bad manners. One should find that balance between excessive rudeness and being unnecessarily impolite on the one hand and knavery or excessive dishonesty on the other.

Are you tempted to agree with this argument? If so, you are probably aligning with the polite majority of people who behave as if the choice is between candor and insensitive rudeness. When it comes time to choose, they generally lean toward avoiding being seen as rude or as having bad manners. The result is that they are often dishonest, at least somewhat. Personal integrity is partially sacrificed to the god of good manners. When you are thus tempted, Cesare Pavese’s observation is worth considering, “Perfect behavior is born of complete indifference.”

Perhaps the real issue isn’t your honesty, your integrity, or your manners. Rather, it is your discomfort with how you fear others will react to you if you actually say what you think, accurately express your feelings, and practice the candor you profess to value so highly. Often the issue is dealing with the bad manners of other people. As Gabirol put it, “The test of good manners is to be patient with bad ones.” the famous Anon. expressed the idea this way, “Treat everyone with politeness, even those who are rude to you – not because they are nice, but because you are;” and F. Scott Fitzgerald said, “It’s not a slam at you when people are rude – it’s a slam at the people they’ve met before.” The best conclusion is that there is never a good excuse for bad manners and that “situational integrity” isn’t integrity at all. Calmly and respectfully stand up, speak up, shut up, and sit down and then politely listen, making it immediately evident that you indeed are nice.

Now you know so there you go.

Winning Ways

I suppose everyone is open to winning ways, especially if the alternative is losing ways. For good or bad, that’s not how it works. The actual alternative to winning ways is committing to the status quo. For most of us, it takes a serious effort to lose. Just showing up and going along are normally enough to assure that you don’t lose. You won’t win the success game, but the status quo is at least familiar.

If you choose winning ways, the success gurus have a few tips that you will need to take to heart, if success is in the picture for you. I’m tempted to do some name dropping here but will let the gurus speak for themselves. You already know their names. The first step to committing to winning ways is to press play and hop on the path to your success.

Leadership And Chaos

Leadership and Chaos

“Treat people as if they were what they ought to be, and you will help them to become what they are capable of being.” –– Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

There are many theories that attempt to account for leadership excellence. The opening quote is, perhaps, the most widely accepted foundation of leadership excellence. If one expands beyond excellence to leadership more generally, a close examination of the various theoretical constructs discloses that they are consistently developed either from the perspective of the leader or from that of those who follow.

If developed from the perspective of the leader, the theory emphasizes the traits and characteristics, strengths and weaknesses of the leader. Leadership excellence is primarily a product of leaders who exhibit more of the desired traits and characteristics and avoid the less desirable traits and characteristics.

If developed from the perspective of those who follow, the theory emphasizes leadership strategies and techniques that encourage and maximize the strengths and individual talents of those who follow. Leadership excellence is primarily a product of leaders who are able to fully actualize the excellence potentials and capacities of those who follow.

Careful attention to these apparently opposing perspectives quickly reveals that they are not separate perspectives. Rather, the second is merely an extension of the first. Excellence leaders are leaders who exhibit traits and characteristics that motivate those who follow to fully participate in and contribute to the shared enterprise.

Leadership behavior then combines with associated thought processes that support and focus the desired perspective. For leaders who believe that leadership excellence primarily depends on personal traits and characteristics, strengths and weaknesses, thinking focuses on how to personally and more specifically manifest those traits and characteristics thought to be associated with leadership excellence.

How do leaders behave in various situations? How do they interact with those who follow? How do they approach and handle problems and challenges? What traits and actions differentiate leaders from non–leaders?

A commitment to leadership excellence is, then, a commitment to thinking about and answering these and similar questions. Excellence leaders ask, successfully answer, and in turn, implement the resulting directives implicit in the answers.

For leaders who believe that leadership excellence primarily depends on strategies and techniques that encourage and maximize the strengths and individual talents of those who follow, thinking focuses on how to encourage those who follow to personally and more specifically manifest the behavior thought to be most clearly associated with the success of the enterprise.

How does a leader motivate those who follow to accept and actively pursue the articulated mission of the enterprise? What needs to happen in order to assure that those who follow commit their full energy and capacity to the success of the enterprise? What techniques and strategies are necessary to maximize the contribution of each follower in relation to his (or her) individual skills and talents? What environmental and situational factors need to be manipulated to minimize avoidable loss of energy, skill, and follower focus and to maximize the actualization of the productive potential of those who follow?

Again, a commitment to leadership excellence is a commitment to thinking about and answering these and similar questions. Excellence leaders ask, successfully answer, and in turn, implement the resulting directives implicit in the answers.

On the one hand, the answers and associated directives are in terms of definable traits and characteristics of the leader. On the other hand, the answers and directives are in terms of factors and conditions related to the performance of the followers and associated strategies and techniques needed to optimize those factors and conditions.

Increasing leadership excellence is, thus, thought to depend either on improving the performance of the leader or on increasing the participation and commitment of the followers. Although both approaches are separately productive, leadership theory has moved to combine the approaches. Current theory posits that leadership excellence is best achieved when the leader concentrates on maximizing personal leadership traits and characteristics while concurrently implementing strategies and techniques to increase the participation and commitment of followers.

Considering this dichotomous understanding of leadership excellence as it applies to decision–making is instructive. How are decisions made and who makes them? At one extreme, decision–making is autocratic. The leader has absolute authority and makes all decisions. He (or she) may ask others for advice, information, and suggestions, giving the impression of participation. Nonetheless, the leader decides. The quality of decisions thus depends exclusively on the judgment of the leader.

The opposite extreme is not consensus or some other type of group decision–making, as one might at first think. Rather, the opposite extreme is chaos. All participants in the enterprise act on their individual judgment and initiative. Even if each participant makes all decisions from the perspective of the perceived best interest of the enterprise, and they likely will not, the resulting chaos is, at a minimum, counterproductive.

If one looks at decision–making with autocracy at one extreme and chaos at the other, leadership excellence falls within a fairly narrow range between the extremes. If the leader moves too far toward autocracy, psychological theory suggests that the followers will become alienated and functionally constricted. Their performance will be less productive than it might otherwise be. Alternatively, if the leader moves too far toward chaos, sociological theory suggests that the enterprise will become fragmented and increasingly dysfunctional.

Defining the excellence limits within the decision–making range is certainly open to debate and disagreement. Even so, the reality of the range is obvious and the importance of leaders thoughtfully functioning within the range is clear. Excellence leaders do not move outside the range toward either extreme.

One could debate the relative benefits of intentionally shifting leadership behavior toward one end of the excellence range or the other. For example, is it better for the leader to be more autocratic or less autocratic? Is it better for the leader to defer more to the judgment of the followers or for him (or her) to defer less to the followers? Should the leader delegate more decision–making responsibility to the followers or less?

The debatable aspects here not withstanding, excellence leaders maintain their leadership behavior within a relatively narrow range of actions and approaches. Exactly where they function within the acceptable range likely depends on the individual leader’s personality, individual strengths and skills, personal preferences, specific circumstances and conditions, and on a mix of other factors. The reality is that the effectiveness of the leader is unrelated to where his (or her) functioning falls on the excellence range so long as the leader does not move outside that narrow range.

Just as there is a fairly narrow excellence range with respect to decision–making, there are acceptable excellence ranges for other aspects of leadership functioning.

For example, strategic planning for the enterprise needs to proceed within fairly narrow limits. At one extreme, planning can be so conservative that there is no real change or growth over time. Alternatively, planning can be so unconstrained that change becomes non–sustainable and chaotic. The success of the enterprise depends on the capacity of the leader to pursue strategic planning within those excellence limits, although that success likely does not depend on the leader’s position within the excellence range.

Competent leaders understand and function within the multiple excellence ranges related to the success of the enterprise. Their competence level is not related to where they function on any specific excellence range. Rather, it is derived from their demonstrated ability to continuously maintain their behavior and functioning within acceptable limits on all of the relevant excellence ranges concurrently.

If leaders are judged in terms of current theoretical constructs, most people in positions of leadership are very successful. The reality is that, for the most part, leaders do stay within the excellence ranges associated with the enterprises they lead. Their styles and approaches vary significantly but nonetheless only vary within fairly narrow ranges. The apparent variety is mostly a product of the multiple excellence ranges, individual variations within and among the ranges, and the personalities and individuality of the leaders.