Jul 312012
 

I would like to have one more go at the effects of the core philosophies of the elites among us. I have described those working from an early “Puritan Ethic” of community betterment and their opposite, those working from an early “Plantation Ethic” of being above the law with the freedom to control and exploit others and their property at will. How is this playing out in 2012?

The Republican Party seems to have been seized by elites with the Plantation Ethic during the past few decades. They love their money and privilege and will do anything to protect their private advantages. They have been preaching a host of destructive circular arguments. Here are a few examples:

They describe government as being out of control and being the root of all evil. They say that government needs to be slashed, reduced, and killed. No joke. Grover Norquist, the lobbyist and conservative “No Taxes” activist said, “… I just want to shrink it down to the size where we can drown it in the bathtub.” Then they work to systematically cripple government so that it has trouble doing the good things that government is supposed to do. Finally, they point at this damaged government and say, “See, government really is worthless.”

They describe our government’s financial, pollution, and safety regulations as being out of control and the root of all evil. They say that government regulations are preventing businesses from making a profit and so there are fewer jobs. They have been working to systematically cripple important regulations so that financial, pollution, and safety issues pop up more often. Then they point at these preventable problems and say, “See, government really is worthless.”

They describe our public schools as being ineffective and the root of all evil. They work to underfund schools and lay-off teachers while burdening them with mountains of paperwork. With teaching becoming a thankless struggle against parental and community apathy, overwork, and buying your own books and supplies, good teachers give up. Then the elites point to these problems and say, “See, public education really is worthless.”

What is their alternative? Well, of course: contracts for private companies to provide services that were previously provided by public employees. Now, do you think that a corporation with these private contracts will actually work in the best interests of their employees and of those they “serve?” Or, will they work to maximize profits? Color me real skeptical. I absolutely believe that there are some things that public agencies and public servants are better able to do, and one of those things is caring for neighbors. The “public sector” isn’t just some big anonymous bureaucracy; it’s your neighbors and mine. When was the last time that a big multinational corporation brought you a casserole or tutored your child for free after class?

And, have you forgotten that “the love of money” is named as the root of all evil? While our economy is still struggling to recover from the last big private adventure in financial risk-taking, corporate profits are at a record high and employee wages, as a proportion of our economy, are at an all-time low. Yeah, tell me that the “job creators” need more tax cuts so that they can create more jobs. We’re fools to keep on thinking that the moisture we feel is the start of trickle down from the corporations who love us. I don’t think its trickle down; I can tell when I’m being pissed on.

© 2012, David Satterlee

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Jul 312012
 

You have seen me struggling to make sense of the differences between conservatives and liberals, the balance between personal liberties and public responsibilities, and persistent class differences in America. Today, I read an article that suggested a difference between American elites that fills in a gap in my thinking. Naturally, I’m excited and want to share.

Despite our belief that all men are created equal, we have always understood that some of us have advantages of education, wealth, connections, and influence that are not shared equally. And, as a competitive capitalistic society, we mostly accept these class differences in the hope that someday we, or our children, might get rich and powerful too. We expect to always have our elites.

 

The thing that got my attention was the idea that, in America, there are two major background philosophies among our elites. Some derive their life-views from Puritan thought while some get their thinking from Plantation attitudes. This makes a difference in how a person of privilege thinks about what they do with their wealth, what responsibilities they feel for others, and how they define liberty and freedom.
The Puritan ethic emphasizes community and the conviction that those having wealth and power also have the responsibility to use some of it to improve their societies. Historically, they typically responded to an inner call to community service and doing good for others. They have endowed universities and public libraries. They have endorsed government policies that improve the lot of the common man. The Roosevelts and Kennedys have fit this mold. People like Bill Gates and Warren Buffet are determined to use their fortunes for good.

Holders of the Plantation ethic are very much different. Sara Robinson’s article describes its origins in the West Indian slave states and its “…utter lack of civic interest, its hostility to the very ideas of democracy and human rights, its love of hierarchy, its fear of technology and progress, its reliance on brutality and violence to maintain “order,” and its outright celebration of inequality as an order divinely ordained by God.”

David Hackett Fischer further describes Plantation Elites that, “…always feared and opposed universal literacy, public schools and libraries, and a free press… they… sank their money into ostentatious homes and clothing and pursuit of pleasure – including lavish parties, games of fortune, predatory sexual conquests, and blood sports involving ritualized animal abuse spectacles.” They held themselves to be unaccountable and above the law.

In the Puritan Ethic, both liberty and authority reside with the community. Individuals are expected to balance their personal desires against the greater good and occasionally make sacrifices in behalf of others. This kind of support maximizes each citizen’s liberty, dignity, and potential. In the Plantation Ethic, one’s sense of liberty depended on their God-given place in society, and gave them the freedom to “take liberties” with the lives, rights, and property of other people. This results in their feeling the right to dominate, exploit, and abuse others and their property with impunity. This defines them, in their own eyes, as “free men.”

What sort of elites do you want writing your laws and running your government?

© 2012, David Satterlee

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May 312012
 

Most of us have heard the phrase “sustainable development” and perhaps a little about United Nations and other initiatives related to sustainable development such as Agenda 21 and the Earth Charter.  Some of our communities are exploring these principals in the hopes of heading off, or at least moderating, future catastrophes.

The concept of organized sustainable development is described by critics as a massive international conspiracy to deprive you of individual and commercial rights. Yep, that’s pretty much how it is. This threat is so outrageous that I thought I would take this opportunity to speak out [with tongue firmly in cheek] in defense of UN-organized and UN-sustainable development.

[Our] people are guaranteed freedom and liberty.  These should not be trampled on, limited, or regulated regardless of consequences to others. We should be allowed to do whatever we want.

All natural resources are given by God to man to own, subdue, and have dominion over (Genesis 1:28).  Further man was given the physical and mental powers to accomplish this. This same scripture instructed him to be fruitful, multiply, and fill the earth – with no mention of limits.

Automobiles, the open road, and cheap gasoline are as quintessentially American as baseball and apple pie. A gas guzzling vehicle is not only larger and safer for its occupants but a public symbol of status and achievement. Free public roads are the right of every citizen. We should all have unlimited choice to live, work, play, shop, commute, and just drive around at will.

Trees are for lumber; just ask the long-missing inhabitants of Easter Island. They left behind mysterious rock statues, but no growing wood. Trees are also for burning; and when trees become scarce, one can always make more children to go out and forage for sticks.

Insecticides and pesticides are good for crops and lawns – to say nothing of bees, frogs, birds, fish, and shallow wells. But, who needs all that buzzing and chirping anyway? And do we really need water? I never drink water anyway ‘cause there’s plenty of beer.

We have lots of coal and it’s cheap, so we should be allowed to use as much of it as we want to generate as much electricity as we want. Never mind acid rain, millions of children with respiratory problems, or atmospheric heat retention from rising carbon dioxide levels.

Besides, I’m okay now and I don’t give a rip about my grandchildren or anybody else either. Speaking of which, I also don’t care about neutering pets, soil erosion, toxic waste, or even famine. Other people have those problems, not me… so far.

©2012, David Satterlee

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May 042012
 

In these contemporary days of protest (Occupy et. al.) it is timely to remember the four students killed and twelve wounded. Your hippie grandparents were not all about free sex and drugs. They stood for freedom, justice, and responsibility. Today, don’t forget to invite them to your nonviolent events… and talk with them about values, virtues, civic involvement, and the common good.

Thanks to Crosby, Stills, Nash, and Young for “Ohio.”

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Feb 042012
 

It occurred to me a while back that the conservative ideal of “individual freedom,” taken to its logical end, promotes anarchy. If everybody does only what appeals to them as being in the best interests of themselves, their family, or their tribe, it prevents them from fully engaging in the interests of broader civic and societal responsibility. If you are primarily looking out for yourself, you aren’t being a good citizen.

Of course, it also occurred to me that the liberal ideal of “common good,” taken to its logical end, promotes totalitarianism communism… or maybe the kind of selfless love of neighbor that Jesus endorsed. None of these extremes seem practical for America at this point in history.

Isn’t there some balance, some moderate center ground where we can meet and agree to compromise if not find consensus? If you consider American political history during the last few decades, an interesting dynamic appears. It used to be that both the Democratic and Republican parties had their liberal and conservative wings. However, increasingly, the Republican party has been swinging more and more to the radical right and adopting rigidly-held extreme positions and an unwillingness to compromise. At the same time, the Democratic party has been edging more and more toward a moderate center and adopting positions that already have compromise built in.

But, I digress. It seems that the Republican party is structured for divisiveness and conflict rather than constructive citizenship. They are a loose coalition of conservative interest groups, each tightly focused on their own subset of specific issues. They lack unity on almost every philosophy except “leave me alone.” Commentators have described these factions, giving them names such as: traditionalists, conservatives, neoconservatives, paleoconservatives, fiscal conservatives, social conservatives, moderates, and libertarians.

For example, there is the religious right that doesn’t want to have anyone disagree with their [conservative Christian] religious convictions while insisting that they press their values on others. There is the individual-liberties right that just doesn’t want to be told what to do about anything, such as register their guns or wear a motorcycle helmet. There is a blue-collar economic right that doesn’t want to have taxes collected that benefit anybody but themselves. There is the elite financial right that doesn’t want anyone to interfere with their pursuit of short-term profits. Each of these positions seems to make sense if repeated often enough and without a discussion of broader context and consequences.

This conservative disposition tends toward “Leave me alone, I’ll take care of myself and you take care of yourself,” or simply “fuck you.” (Witness the audience’s unsympathetic reactions during the GOP debates to the hard consequences on disadvantaged citizens of some candidates’ policies.) The moderate liberal center, however, tends toward “we’re all in this together.” Oddly, while this conservative position pointedly rejects the interests of others, the liberal position embraces and empathizes with the interests of others including, ironically, conservatives.

Why would the kind of conservatives described above want to get involved with any civic sacrifice that didn’t promote the interests of themselves or someone who is part of the limited group that they consider to be “us.” The difference is that liberals have a broader perception of “us.” While liberals can still embrace an appreciation for personal liberties, the moral benefits of religious faith, and the importance of family values, they are more likely to also feel heightened responsibilities for the needs of their communities, their overall nation, and others with whom they share this planet.

Very few Americans want “communism” as practiced in the former Soviet Union or in China under Chairman Mao. Nore are there very many Americans who want the kind of “cradle to grave socialism” of some European countries (despite the recent name calling against liberals by conservative candidates). But, as Albert Einstein, and generations of Complex Systems and Developmental researchers have pointed out, the significant problems that we face can not be solved at the same level on which they were created. We must come together to solve problems that are bigger than ourselves. That is why we form communities and that is why we need government. That is why we should (and do) sacrifice individual liberties for the greater good of ever-larger populations. That is why we give governments limited power to regulate our affairs and tax us so as to act for our collective welfare.

The bottom line is that, between impractical extremes, there is an important place for layers of community and government. In the balance between individual liberties and and the state’s ownership of all means of production, there exists a range of options that allow for our pursuit of happiness while remaining interested and involved in our common good. It is the urge to active citizenship. It is the position of empathy, moderation, compromise, and consensus.  It is the sweet spot of the modern American Democratic Party.

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Dec 292011
 

Source: Back to Work: Why We Need Smart Government for a Strong Economy by Bill Clinton
Abstracted from pages 17-18

I believe the only way we can keep the American dream alive for all Americans and continue to be the world’s leading force for freedom and prosperity, peace and security, is to have both a strong, effective private-sector and a strong, effective government that work together to promote an economy of good jobs, rising incomes, increasing exports, and greater energy independence.

All over the world, the most successful nations, including many with lower unemployment rates, less inequality, and, in this decade, even higher college graduation rates than the United States, have both. And they work together, not always agreeing, but moving poured common goals. In other countries, conservatives and liberals also have arguments about taxes, energy policy, bank regulations, and how much government is helping an affordable, but they tend to be less ideological and more rooted in evidence and experience. They focus more on what works.

That’s the focus America

needs. It’s the only way to get back into the future business. In the modern world, leaned too few citizens have the time or opportunity to analyze the larger forces shaping our lives, and the lines between news, advocacy, and entertainment are increasingly blurred, ideological conflicts effectively waged may be good politics, and provide fodder for the nightly news, and columnist, that they won’t get us to a better future.

Our long antigovernment obsession has proved to be remarkably successful politics, but its policy failures have given us an anemic, increasingly unequal economy, with too few jobs and stagnant incomes; that is at a competitive disadvantage compared with other nations, especially in manufacturing and clean energy; and left as a potentially crippling debt burden just as the baby boomers begin to retire.

By contrast, other nations, as well as cities and states within the United States, with a commitment to building networks of cooperation involving the public, private, and nonprofit sectors, are creating economic opportunity and charging into the future with confidence.

My argument here isn’t that Democrats are always right and Republicans always wrong. It’s that by jamming all issues into the antigovernment, antitax, anti regulation straitjacket, we hog-tie ourselves and keep ourselves for making necessary changes no matter how much evidence exists to support them.

The antigovernment paradigm blinds us to possibilities that lie outside its ideological litmus tests and prevents us from creating new networks of cooperation that can restore economic growth, bring economic opportunity to more people and places, and increase our ability to lead the world to a better future.

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Oct 262010
 

The Question of Human Behavior

by David Satterlee

Source: “Pursuing Human Strengths,” Martin Bolt, Introduction

“The stream of causation from past to future runs through our present choices.” —David G. Myers, 2002

Individuals and groups have shown an astonishing capacity for both great good and great evil. World War II produced unprecedented levels of national violence. Individuals who risked themselves to help others escape from certain extermination are our modern heroes. Caretakers of the gravely disabled sacrifice large parts of their own lives in service to others. We honor those able to demonstrate a common levels of virtues such as compassion, commitment, and self-control.

Continue reading »

Sep 252010
 

Self Improvement – Coping with Fear, Risk, and Crisis

The people keep you going

Most of us are in this business because we respect natural health. Mental health is a key part of our overall (natural) health. A well-recognized sign of strong mental health is creative service to others and freedom from selfishness. Such selfless service supplies a sense of calm satisfaction which further reinforces health. This positive cycle just keeps on going.

“It was never pushing this business that got us where we are today – it was helping others,” says Marge. “We don’t set goals; we help people. It’s the people, including our wonderful Managers, that make you successful. You couldn’t be in this business if you didn’t give from the heart. The only thing that keeps you going is the people.”

“The power of man’s virtue should not be measured by his special efforts, but by his ordinary doings.”
-Blaise Pascal

Handling rejection

“You are a quack and a crook. You are unworthy of my attention. I’m not interested and I want you to go away.” Yikes! What a nasty thing to read! Are you OK? Take a moment, if you need, to put yourself back together. The rest of this page will help.

When you take your emotions and convictions public, you face some pretty personal assaults. Be prepared for this by having full faith in the value of your message. Then if (no, when) someone disrespects that message, you can bounce back. You can “shake the dust off your sandals” and move on.

Actually, rejection is no big deal. We expect a certain percentage of people to be so locked into their own ruts that they just can’t see out. Your message may represent a threat to their precious, comfortable rut. They would have to change if they took you seriously. On the bright side, maybe you gave them something to think about and their attitude will soften. It has happened. Then, when they come back seeking you out, your joy is doubled. Rejection is simply the way you know that it’s time to move on. You will find so many kind and appreciative people that you will not even worry about those who are ignorant or rude. As you keep on, your pleasure and satisfaction keeps on growing and growing.

“Every great movement must experience three stages: ridicule, discussion, adoption.”
-John Stuart Mill

Overcoming fear

What frightens you? Disapproval? Failure? Fear is death. You can take your death by fear all at once or in little bits. You have heard of people who have been so afraid of a shadow that they brought on a heart attack. Could they have had more mental control?

Fear leads to both inaction and indecisive action and both can kill. Texas roads are littered with dead armadillos and squirrels. Armadillos will stop still in the road. Squirrels will dash madly back and forth, unable to decide which way to run. I have known people who give in to their fear, bit by bit, until they are unwilling to leave their houses. I have known others who dash from one get-rich idea to another without pursuing one long enough to benefit from their efforts. Could they have had more mental control?

A key to overcoming fear is to want something strong enough that you are finally willing to plunge ahead despite your fears. Once you decide to act, you can redirect the energy of your fear into unexpectedly decisive action.

“Has fear ever held a man back from anything he really wanted, or a woman either?”
-George Bernard Shaw

“Courage is not the absence of fear, but rather the judgment that something else is more important than fear.”
-Ambrose Redmoon

“Let me not pray to be sheltered from dangers but to be fearless in facing them. Let me not beg for the stilling of my pain but for the heart to conquer it.”
-Tagore

“His flight was madness: when our actions do not, Our fears do make us traitors.”
-Shakespeare, Macbeth

“I believe that anyone can conquer fear by doing the things he fears to do …”
-Eleanor Roosevelt

“Fear always springs from ignorance.”
-Ralph Waldo Emerson

“Nothing is terrible except fear itself.”
-Francis Bacon

“We have nothing to fear except fear itself.”
-Winston Churchill

If your friends and family don’t understand

It can be discouraging if your friends don’t understand why you are “doing this strange herb thing.” You have a choice. You can fearfully give in to their ignorance or you can boldly persist in educating them.

For many years, I just deep down solid didn’t get it. My wife would try to tell me about herbs but it didn’t make sense so it irritated me. I wouldn’t eat anything that was “good for you” and I certainly wouldn’t take any capsules! Eventually it began to make sense and I changed. Give it some time.

“Keep away from people who try to belittle your ambitions. Small people always do that, but the really great make you feel that you, too, can become great.”
-Mark Twain

“Don’t listen to friends when the Friend inside you says ‘Do this.'”
-Gandhi

Risk = Commitment (Burning your bridges)

Have you heard the story of the explorer who burned his boats upon reaching the far land? His troops then had no option but to stay. They were irrevocably committed.

I operated my network business part-time for years and never grew much beyond the minimum sales required to stay a manager. When I gave notice to my employer, however, there was no turning back and I REALLY paid attention to product sales and recruiting. When I put more at risk, I generated commitment.

“I have learned this at least by my experiment: that if one advances confidently in the direction of his dreams, and endeavors to live the life which he has imagined, he will meet with a success unexpected in common hours.”
-Henry David Thoreau

“There are costs and risks to a program of action, but they are far less than the long range risks and costs of comfortable inaction.”
-John F. Kennedy

“Only those who risk going too far can possibly find out how far one can go.”
-T. S. Eliot

Crisis time: excuse or challenge?

The Chinese pictogram for “crisis” is composed of the symbols for “danger” and “opportunity.” People tend to resist change but when a crisis strikes, change forces itself on you. Your only choice is how to react.

A crisis can be your excuse for feeling sorry for yourself and quitting. Maybe a natural disaster wiped out your home and business. Now what do you do? You could lose heart and quit. The other option is to simply start over and rebuild with what you have left. You may not have much but you still have your experience. You can be determined to do an even better job this time. When the universe hands you an opportunity, take it.

“Prosperity doth best discover vice, but adversity doth best discover virtue.”

“A man must make his opportunity, as oft as find it.”

“A wise man will make more opportunity than he finds.”

“Chiefly the mould of a man’s fortune is in his own hands.”
-Francis Bacon

Failure

You shouldn’t agonize over your failures but you should dwell on them. Think about what happened and why it went wrong. When you understand why you failed, you free yourself to try again.

History is full of inspiring stories of those who failed repeatedly but kept on trying again until they were successful beyond any expectation. I always think of Thomas Edison trying thousands of materials for the filament for his new electric light bulb. Although people seem altogether too happy to remind you of your failures, I really believe that some failures are evidence that you are out there doing something. Just don’t keep making the same mistakes.

“You only fail when you fail to try,” according to Dr. Daniel Litchford, who was the motivational speaker at a New Managers’ Convention. He taught: “I’m not judged by the number of times I fail, but by the number of times I succeed. And the number of times I succeed is in direct proportion to the number of times I fail and keep trying.”

“There is nothing left to you at this moment but to have a good laugh.”
-Anonymous Zen master

When you do wrong

Does it seem today that business ethics favors the sharp operator and that no one notices or punishes all the little dishonesties that people commit all the time? Don’t believe it. When we act from bad motives, it catches up to us. When we are greedy, selfish and covetous, the stream of good that was refreshing us seems to dry up.

A manager from California, urges others: “Don’t do anything you know is wrong or later you will feel sorry and it will affect your energy, your business. If you make mistakes, don’t let them get you down; keep trying and you will do very well!”

When you do wrong, the best course is to turn it around as quickly as you can. Admit the wrong, ask forgiveness, repay or repair the damage that you have done, forgive yourself and move on.

“How pleasant it is, at the end of the day, No follies to have to repent; But reflect on the past, and be able to say, That my time has been properly spent.”
-Jane Taylor, Rhymes for the Nursery. The Way to be Happy.

If you say it, you have to do it

Isn’t it funny? You can convince yourself that you want to do something but still put it off indefinitely. As long as you keep the goal private, it’s just too easy to procrastinate.

The cure is to make your goal public; then you have to follow through or else “lose face.” Once you have made a public commitment, you feel a real obligation to begin and then keep on keeping your promise.

You might use this technique to strengthen your commitment to lose 15 pounds or to send out a monthly newsletter. When people ask you how much weight you’ve lost or want to know when they’ll receive your next newsletter, you will be more likely to get back to work in order to meet their expectations.

The hardest part of any task is getting off to a good start. Once you actually get started, it’s easier to keep going.

“The beginning is the most important part of the work.”
-Plato

Copyright 1996, 2010, David Satterlee

Creative Commons License This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License, which essentially says that you are free to share the work under the conditions that you attribute it fully, do not use it for commercial purposes, and do not alter it.

Sep 242010
 

Self Improvement – Coping with Fear, Risk, and Crisis

The people keep you going

Most of us are in this business because we respect natural health. Mental health is a key part of our overall (natural) health. A well-recognized sign of strong mental health is creative service to others and freedom from selfishness. Such selfless service supplies a sense of calm satisfaction which further reinforces health. This positive cycle just keeps on going.

"It was never pushing this business that got us where we are today – it was helping others," says Marge. "We don’t set goals; we help people. It’s the people, including our wonderful Managers, that make you successful. You couldn’t be in this business if you didn’t give from the heart. The only thing that keeps you going is the people."

"The power of man’s virtue should not be measured by his special efforts, but by his ordinary doings."
-Blaise Pascal 

Handling rejection

"You are a quack and a crook. You are unworthy of my attention. I’m not interested and I want you to go away." Yikes! What a nasty thing to read! Are you OK? Take a moment, if you need, to put yourself back together. The rest of this page will help.

When you take your emotions and convictions public, you face some pretty personal assaults. Be prepared for this by having full faith in the value of your message. Then if (no, when) someone disrespects that message, you can bounce back. You can "shake the dust off your sandals" and move on.

Actually, rejection is no big deal. We expect a certain percentage of people to be so locked into their own ruts that they just can’t see out. Your message may represent a threat to their precious, comfortable rut. They would have to change if they took you seriously. On the bright side, maybe you gave them something to think about and their attitude will soften. It has happened. Then, when they come back seeking you out, your joy is doubled. Rejection is simply the way you know that it’s time to move on. You will find so many kind and appreciative people that you will not even worry about those who are ignorant or rude. As you keep on, your pleasure and satisfaction keeps on growing and growing.

"Every great movement must experience three stages: ridicule, discussion, adoption."
-John Stuart Mill 

Overcoming fear

What frightens you? Disapproval? Failure? Fear is death. You can take your death by fear all at once or in little bits. You have heard of people who have been so afraid of a shadow that they brought on a heart attack. Could they have had more mental control?

Fear leads to both inaction and indecisive action and both can kill. Texas roads are littered with dead armadillos and squirrels. Armadillos will stop still in the road. Squirrels will dash madly back and forth, unable to decide which way to run. I have known people who give in to their fear, bit by bit, until they are unwilling to leave their houses. I have known others who dash from one get-rich idea to another without pursuing one long enough to benefit from their efforts. Could they have had more mental control?

A key to overcoming fear is to want something strong enough that you are finally willing to plunge ahead despite your fears. Once you decide to act, you can redirect the energy of your fear into unexpectedly decisive action.

"Has fear ever held a man back from anything he really wanted, or a woman either?"
-George Bernard Shaw

"Courage is not the absence of fear, but rather the judgment that something else is more important than fear."
-Ambrose Redmoon

"Let me not pray to be sheltered from dangers but to be fearless in facing them. Let me not beg for the stilling of my pain but for the heart to conquer it."
-Tagore

"His flight was madness: when our actions do not, Our fears do make us traitors."
-Shakespeare, Macbeth

"I believe that anyone can conquer fear by doing the things he fears to do …"
-Eleanor Roosevelt

"Fear always springs from ignorance."
-Ralph Waldo Emerson

"Nothing is terrible except fear itself."
-Francis Bacon

"We have nothing to fear except fear itself."
-Winston Churchill

If your friends and family don’t understand

It can be discouraging if your friends don’t understand why you are "doing this strange herb thing." You have a choice. You can fearfully give in to their ignorance or you can boldly persist in educating them.

For many years, I just deep down solid didn’t get it. My wife would try to tell me about herbs but it didn’t make sense so it irritated me. I wouldn’t eat anything that was "good for you" and I certainly wouldn’t take any capsules! Eventually it began to make sense and I changed. Give it some time.

"Keep away from people who try to belittle your ambitions. Small people always do that, but the really great make you feel that you, too, can become great."
-Mark Twain

"Don’t listen to friends when the Friend inside you says ‘Do this.’"
-Gandhi

Risk = Commitment (Burning your bridges)

Have you heard the story of the explorer who burned his boats upon reaching the far land? His troops then had no option but to stay. They were irrevocably committed.

I operated my network business part-time for years and never grew much beyond the minimum sales required to stay a manager. When I gave notice to my employer, however, there was no turning back and I REALLY paid attention to product sales and recruiting. When I put more at risk, I generated commitment.

"I have learned this at least by my experiment: that if one advances confidently in the direction of his dreams, and endeavors to live the life which he has imagined, he will meet with a success unexpected in common hours."
-Henry David Thoreau

"There are costs and risks to a program of action, but they are far less than the long range risks and costs of comfortable inaction."
-John F. Kennedy

"Only those who risk going too far can possibly find out how far one can go."
-T. S. Eliot

Crisis time: excuse or challenge?

The Chinese pictogram for "crisis" is composed of the symbols for "danger" and "opportunity." People tend to resist change but when a crisis strikes, change forces itself on you. Your only choice is how to react.

A crisis can be your excuse for feeling sorry for yourself and quitting. Maybe a natural disaster wiped out your home and business. Now what do you do? You could lose heart and quit. The other option is to simply start over and rebuild with what you have left. You may not have much but you still have your experience. You can be determined to do an even better job this time. When the universe hands you an opportunity, take it.

"Prosperity doth best discover vice, but adversity doth best discover virtue."

"A man must make his opportunity, as oft as find it."

"A wise man will make more opportunity than he finds."

"Chiefly the mould of a man’s fortune is in his own hands."
-Francis Bacon

Failure

You shouldn’t agonize over your failures but you should dwell on them. Think about what happened and why it went wrong. When you understand why you failed, you free yourself to try again.

History is full of inspiring stories of those who failed repeatedly but kept on trying again until they were successful beyond any expectation. I always think of Thomas Edison trying thousands of materials for the filament for his new electric light bulb. Although people seem altogether too happy to remind you of your failures, I really believe that some failures are evidence that you are out there doing something. Just don’t keep making the same mistakes.

"You only fail when you fail to try," according to Dr. Daniel Litchford, who was the motivational speaker at a New Managers’ Convention. He taught: "I’m not judged by the number of times I fail, but by the number of times I succeed. And the number of times I succeed is in direct proportion to the number of times I fail and keep trying."

"There is nothing left to you at this moment but to have a good laugh."
-Anonymous Zen master

When you do wrong

Does it seem today that business ethics favors the sharp operator and that no one notices or punishes all the little dishonesties that people commit all the time? Don’t believe it. When we act from bad motives, it catches up to us. When we are greedy, selfish and covetous, the stream of good that was refreshing us seems to dry up.

A manager from California, urges others: "Don’t do anything you know is wrong or later you will feel sorry and it will affect your energy, your business. If you make mistakes, don’t let them get you down; keep trying and you will do very well!"

When you do wrong, the best course is to turn it around as quickly as you can. Admit the wrong, ask forgiveness, repay or repair the damage that you have done, forgive yourself and move on.

"How pleasant it is, at the end of the day, No follies to have to repent; But reflect on the past, and be able to say, That my time has been properly spent."
-Jane Taylor, Rhymes for the Nursery. The Way to be Happy.

If you say it, you have to do it

Isn’t it funny? You can convince yourself that you want to do something but still put it off indefinitely. As long as you keep the goal private, it’s just too easy to procrastinate.

The cure is to make your goal public; then you have to follow through or else "lose face." Once you have made a public commitment, you feel a real obligation to begin and then keep on keeping your promise.

You might use this technique to strengthen your commitment to lose 15 pounds or to send out a monthly newsletter. When people ask you how much weight you’ve lost or want to know when they’ll receive your next newsletter, you will be more likely to get back to work in order to meet their expectations.

The hardest part of any task is getting off to a good start. Once you actually get started, it’s easier to keep going.

"The beginning is the most important part of the work."
-Plato

Copyright 1996, 2010, David Satterlee

Creative Commons License This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License, which essentially says that you are free to share the work under the conditions that you attribute it fully, do not use it for commercial purposes, and do not alter it.

Jan 122010
 

Source: “Pursuing Human Strengths,” Martin Bolt, Introduction

“Change” reflects our ability to adjust typical patterns of behavior. The way we think about the ability of ourselves and others to change affects how we think about and judge behavior. Entity theorists believe that our characteristics change very little. They are more willing to make generalized character judgments based on fewer observed behaviors. Incremental theorists believe that we are more able to make desired changes. They are more willing to seek opportunities for and apply themselves toward personal development. An incrementalist would certainly be more likely to make an effort to change.

One’s attitude toward the human potential for change is reflected in the relative importance of ability vs. effort in achieving success or demonstrating intelligence. Albert Einstein sounds like an incrementalist when he is quoted as saying “genius is 1% inspiration and 99% perspiration.” If one believes that their characteristics are fixed, they may interpret poor performance on a task means that they are stupid, worthless, or a complete loser. Others are able to interpret failure as the mark of effort and see the need to intensify or redirect their efforts. One path leads to pessimism, learned helplessness, and self-reinforcing failure. The other path leads to optimism, sustained effort, preparation to seize opportunities, and self-reinforcing experience with success.

While positive attitudes and hard work do not guarantee success, they clearly promote it. Lucky breaks , social support, health, and even genetic gifts are important facilitators for many people who are admired as “successful.” The book “Outliers” by Malcom Gladwell makes a fascinating study of opportunistic success. Nonetheless, cultivated attitudes and habits about the potential for change creates an environment that rewards effort toward desired change.

“Parents and teachers can also teach students to relish a challenge. Doing easy tasks is often a waste of time. The fun comes in confronting something difficult and finding strategies that work. Finally, adults should help children value learning more than grades. Too often kids rely on grades to prove their worth. Sure, grades are important. But they are not as significant as learning.” (p. 10)

Jan 122010
 

Source: “Pursuing Human Strengths,” Martin Bolt, Introduction

“Choice” reflects our freedom to strive for self-determination. We all have the experience of considering options, choosing a behavior, and experiencing the consequences. The American culture is structured around the concept of freedom. We cherish the concept, nurture the capacity, and defend the right to make choices. We are more likely to sign petitions if someone has tried to coerce us into not doing so. Like Romeo and Juliet, we may become more passionate about an option that we feel is being denied to us. The concept of “reverse psychology” depends upon related principles.

Autonomy, acting with a sense of true choice, may be considered a “fundamental human need.” A sense of autonomy increases or interest in and commitment to the things we do. Conversely, restricting choice decreases our interest in an activity. Our sense of autonomy, our human freedom of choice, increases are commitment, ability to achieve, and level of satisfaction.