Read, every day, something no one else is reading. Think, every day, something no one else is thinking. Do, every day, something no one else would be silly enough to do. It is bad for the mind to continually be part of unanimity. – Christopher Morley

You don’t get harmony when everybody sings the same note. – Doug Floyd

The reward for conformity was that everyone liked you except yourself. – Rita Mae Brown

Sticking to the high road can be quite challenging. Even so, the associated lessons all have two things in common. First, they usually are not particularly complicated. It certainly can sometimes take a while to get it; but once you do get it, the lesson is normally straight–up and to the point. Second, and here is the rub, the lessons invariably are a “So now you tell me!” kind of thing. Oh sure, hindsight is 20/20, live and learn, no one is perfect, and you are only human. Nonetheless, having learned your lesson is not much consolation once you have already missed important opportunities to stick to the high road. Yes, you may do better the next time; but your chance to get it right the first time has passed and will not return. Much better is to get it right, the first time, on time, every time.

It’s certainly true that no one is perfect, you are only human, and things only work out just the way you want them to in the movies. Life can be a real bear sometimes; but fortunately, you do not have to take responsibility for life. You are only on the hook for who you are and what you do. Here is a suggestion worth taking to heart. Start with developing a personal style that sets you apart, that lets everyone know that you are a class act. Think about people you know who stand out from the crowd, people who are certifiable class acts. They have three techniques down pat. First, they are originals. Their style and approach with people and situations are their trademarks. Second, they are not on–again, off–again. They are always uniquely themselves. Third, and here is the key: it is no accident. They usually make it seem easy and natural; but take a closer look and you will soon understand and appreciate how hard they work at it. They consciously and purposely do everything they do, with style, all the time, on purpose, one situation at a time, one person at a time.

Now you know so there you go.

F Ing Has A Lot Going For It

F’ing Has A Lot Going For It

“Whoever one is, and wherever one is, one is always in the wrong if one is rude.” –– Maurice Baring

You definitely don’t want to be rude and undoubtedly avoid what you have come to think of as rude or vulgar behavior. Eric Hoffer punctuated the point when he said, “Rudeness is the weak man’s imitation of strength.” You are neither weak nor an imitation of anyone or anything else. You are definitely your own person and are most certainly not rude. However, there is a little tip that may come in handy now and then, even for a classy person like you. It expands your options a tad as you keep your commitment not to be rude or vulgar.

Have you heard people talking whose vocabulary seems to be so adjective challenged that everything is F’ing this or F’ing that? It can get to where it’s hard to tell whether F’ing is a good quality or bad. Of course, F’ing is also sometimes a verb which one presumes refers to desirable activity but even that isn’t always clear. The problem here is that F’ing has become a word that people who are even slightly literate carefully avoid, along with staying away from people who include it in their active vocabularies. This is unfortunate since F’ing actually has a lot going for it if managed thoughtfully. You are skeptical? Read on.

Do you ever have trouble sticking to your personal priorities? Even worse, do you sometimes have trouble knowing what your priorities are? The next time you find yourself struggling with what’s important or what deserves your attention, remember that it’s only a temporary memory laps. You have just forgotten about F’ing.

F1 = Family: What’s that you are saying? You have higher priorities than your family? OK. You must be way into money or power or both. If so, you definitely have no interest in this kind of F’ing. Your kind of F’ing is quite another approach to success. Let’s hope that you are very good at it and that the next person you meet isn’t better at it than you. If they are, you are likely to learn a tough lesson that you are unlikely to enjoy. Nonetheless, it’s your choice. The rest of us will stick with F1 = Family.

F2 = Friends: Let’s restrict friends to people you could call in the middle of the night and ask them if they will do you a big favor. Sure, you can call anyone whenever you feel like it. Friends are the ones who don’t ask if you have lost your F’ing mind. Actually, they don’t ask anything. They just say, “Sure,” and wait to see what you need. Do you have a friend like that? If so, thank your lucky stars and be sure you never do anything to jeopardize such a special relationship. You have hit the people jackpot.

F3 = Fun: There you go again, mumbling in the middle of this essay. You are too busy for fun. You have too much responsibility to take time out for fun. You are going to have lots of fun just as soon as you are successful. You have your priorities and having fun isn’t one of them. Oh well, it seemed worth mentioning. While you are keeping your shoulder to the grind stone, the rest of us are going to take a little time now and then for some fun. You never know. You might notice us and decide that it looks like so much fun that you will give it a try, if you remember how. Let’s hope that you still remember how once you are finished becoming successful and that you are still up to it whenever that day finally arrives.

F4 = Food: Yes, eating healthy is important and we are what we eat and there isn’t any free lunch. But since you need to eat, you might as well make it a priority. It’s better than Fasting which is the only other “F” word in that category. What is the absolute best snack in the world? No, don’t worry about regular, every day food. You will work enough of that in without making it a priority. Think about a great snack, a totally terrific snack, the perfect snack. Do you have it in mind? Can you taste it? Is it at the center of your attention? OK. That’s called prioritizing. How will you get that snack for yourself? That’s called planning. Now, make that snack yours. That’s called performance. There you go. Prioritize, Plan, Perform. That snack is yours.

F5 = Faith: This one is easy. Have faith in your family. Have faith in your friends. Have fun while you prioritize, plan, and perform. Most importantly, have faith in you. If you do, you are assuredly going to be an F’ing success. Now just how cool is that? Sure, it’s F’ing cool.


Simon says, “Attend to the details without getting bogged down in them.” “The devil is in the details.” That is Simon’s only point here. What can be missed is the fact this devil is particularly devilish. Every situation, set of circumstances, problem, or issue has its broad–brush look and feel. From that perspective, it takes on its special definition. Given that definition, Simon can draw on his insight and experience and take appropriate action. He does not need the details to know what to do. In fact, he is so oriented to managing people and processes at this level that he quickly becomes impatient with those who insist on providing far more detail than Simon wants or needs.

Less successful leaders take a different approach. They want and need every detail, no matter how trivial. They believe the more information they have, the better will be their choices and decisions. These leaders see themselves as thoughtful and thorough. People like Simon are, they think, impulsive and inclined to shoot from the hip.

Here is the underlying problem. No matter how much detailed information leaders have, there is most always more information that could be made available, if they are patient enough. There are also things they cannot know and details that will not be forthcoming no matter how patient they are. It is normally possible to know more and impossible to know everything.

Leaders always act based on partial information. The challenge is knowing when to act and when to wait on more detail. Were that not enough, information tends to go down in proportion to the potential unwanted consequences of the decision or choice. The more potential there is for bad outcomes, the less well–informed the leader is likely to be. In these situations, successful leaders tend to act too quickly and less successful leaders tend to get bogged down in the details and postpone action indefinitely.

Understanding these facts of leadership, Simon counsels wisely: Attend to the details without getting bogged down in them. If you are apt to act too quickly, slow down and assimilate more detail. If instead, you are apt to obsess over the details, take a deep breath and act. Either way, you may want to use Simon’s secret technique. He sets a specific, future time to decide. This forces him to consider more detail and to get more input. It also forces a closure to input and an end point for attending to detail. When the time comes to decide, he decides. As Simon puts it, “When the bell rings, you just jump on the bull and hope you can hang on.”

Now you know so there you go.


I am reluctantly considering the conclusion that much of what I have believed for as long as I have believed anything may represent far more hope than truth. Sure, I admit to taking it for granted that things actually are the way I have always thought they are, that my reality is valid and based on the true and factual, and that my sense of what’s real is correct and axiomatic. Naive? Simple–minded? Perhaps dangerous? Indeed. But nonetheless, I believed.

I take some comfort in knowing that a preference for belief over thoughtful consideration didn’t just start with me. The Roman philosopher Seneca observed that “Every man prefers belief to the exercise of judgment.” It’s likely that the “exercise” part of exercising judgment is the showstopper for many, if not most of us. For me at least, it has been easier to relax and believe.

Robert Brault got it right when he pointed out that “An old belief is like an old shoe. We so value its comfort that we fail to notice the hole in it.” To my surprise and disappointment, I am starting to notice cracks if not actual holes in some of my most trusted beliefs. The cause and solution may be as simple as E D Martin suggests, “It is easier to believe than to doubt.”

Laziness? Indifference? Bertrand Russell says it’s our inherent credulity. “Man is a credulous animal, and must believe something; in the absence of good grounds for belief, he will be satisfied with bad ones.” Perhaps I should add gullibility to lazy and naive. The picture is not looking good.
The pragmatist in me is calling out for attention. He or perhaps she is arguing that belief is not the issue. The issue is whether my unique collection of notions and ideas about how things are and how they work are serving me, furthering my interests. Admittedly, this is a rather pedestrian perspective; but if it works for me, I see little need to reason otherwise. If I may lean on Robert Brault again, “Sometimes you believe a thing that isn’t true because in the world you wish to live in, it would be true.” In the world I prefer, the way I arrange the pieces and parts, notions and ideas is reality, is worthy of belief.

As self–centered and self–serving as my pragmatic self prefers being, I suspect that I’m not alone with my pragmatism. And therein lies the problem, the crack in my carefully cultivated system of beliefs. If all of us adopt this “Me first” approach to life and living, we quickly find ourselves in a pseudo–Darwinian video game where only the most ruthless survive. Me has precedence over us, person has precedence over people, power has precedence over weakness, will has precedence over law, interests have precedence over values, and the winners take all.

I am coming to understand that Laurens van der Post has a point. “Human beings are perhaps never more frightening than when they are convinced beyond doubt that they are right.” It seems to me that our elected politicians are increasingly convinced beyond doubt that they are right. But the truly frightening element is that they also believe that anyone who disagrees with them is, along with being wrong, stupid, subversive and unamerican. Name calling and finger pointing have become the political coin of the day. Ezra Pound thought that “What matters is not the idea a man holds, but the depth at which he holds it;” and the “I’m right and everyone who disagrees is wrong” approach to political discourse is deeply held.

It would be easy to just chalk it up to politics and the political game were it not for what I find to be a most disturbing theme. Dodinsky tells us that “Life will magnify what you choose to believe;” and the political single mindedness is definitely magnifying. Herbert Agar takes the point a step further, “Man tends to treat all his opinions as principles;” and unfortunately, poorly constructed and ill–considered ideas and reactions are elevating to the level of governing principles.

I could make my list of action and inaction within our federal government that I think is wrong and ill–considered, as could you. I could point to this politician or that who I think is making things worse for all of us, as could you. That fact not withstanding, I suspect we may agree that we are going through a time when there is less and less room for negotiation, diplomacy, compromise and civil discussion. We might also agree that representation has taken a back seat to re–election, public service has taken a back seat to political popularity and the rule of law has taken a back seat to whatever those in power can get away with. Of this I am sure: our government does not function the way I believed it does and perhaps never did. I’m toying with the possibility that it is less a government of laws and more a government for and by those with the most power, money and influence.

May I conclude by simply repeating myself?

I am reluctantly considering the conclusion that much of what I have believed for as long as I have believed anything may represent far more hope than truth. Sure, I admit to taking it for granted that things actually are the way I have always thought they are, that my reality is valid and based on the true and factual, and that my sense of what’s real is correct and axiomatic. Naive? Simple–minded? Perhaps dangerous? Indeed. But nonetheless, I believed.


Want to Renegotiate Your Lease on Life?

May be you are totally cool with your lease on life and have zero interest in renegotiating your lease. If so, right on. You are definitely one of the lucky ones. It’s also possible that you think you own your life and are not reduced to leasing or even worse, certainly not to being just a renter. I suspect you also have the perfect answer when asked how many of you it would take to put in a lightbulb. You know don’t you? Sure you do. It would only take one of you. You could just hold the lightbulb and the world would revolve around you.

I’m sorry. I know that’s not you. I just tossed that in there to put off any of those high–and–mighty types who might have unintentionally pressed play and started listening in on our conversation. They think they are above the rest of us. You know the type. They aren’t above anyone but sure think they are. They also think they are entitled and don’t know that they are only leasing the space they have among us and can have their lease canceled without notice at any time. But we know, we totally get it. So let’s talk about our leases.

What are the terms of our lease on life? Yes, there are always terms. The space each of us occupies is by contract only and it’s important for us to know the terms of our lease, terms of our contract, for if we don’t hold up our end of the contract, we will sooner or later get evicted – an unfortunate outcome indeed. Let’s give some thought to just what the terms of our contract to get to live among the rest of us actually are.

Our lease on life has both basic and premium provisions. Here is the catch. The basic provisions apply to each of us and are not negotiable. They spell out what is expected of us. Failure to comply gets us evicted from our place and usually gets us downgraded. Conversely, the premium provisions are the benefits we get from our place in the scheme of things and are usually at least somewhat negotiable but can be changed or taken away without notice or negotiation. We are held firmly to the basic provisions and have to comply. We have some choice about the premium provisions but have to cope with the reality that our lease on life comes with no guarantee whatsoever.

Even so, some premium packages are much safer than others, much closer to a guarantee. Think about it like this. Suppose my place among the rest of us is to watch movies. That is the basic provision in my lease. The premium provision specifies the movies I watch. There is a sub–provision that requires me to actually watch every movie I am given access to. It really is like life, since we also have to actually live through every day we have.

Getting back to the movies, my safest bet with life and the uncertainty that comes with my lease on life says that leasing one movie is safest, especially if I accept a really old movie that everyone else has seen and no one wants. The chance of losing access or having it taken away is near slim to none. Hopefully, I at least get a chance to pick a movie I like, but again there is no guarantee.

But I want more than one old movie to watch. – Stay alert, the fine print starts here. In my one movie space, the basic provisions of my lease only include keeping track of my one movie and making sure that it does not get rendered useless and does not get misplaced or taken away. Sure, it’s boring, tedious and definitely not fulfilling after a while. Even so, my space is reasonably safe and I can certainly handle it over the long hall. You can likely think of a few bad outcomes, but for the most part, my life is pretty safe and predictable.

But would you be okay with a one movie place in life? Me neither. One old movie is not nearly enough. I want to renegotiate my lease on life. I want an upgrade to a better life space.

Here’s the rub. An upgrade in the premium provisions has a corresponding ramp up of the basic lease provisions. Concurrently, the upgrade requires us to take on greater risk. Sticking with the movies, Remembering that we have to watch every movie we choose, selecting more movies requires more time and energy to select and exposes us to more risk of having to watch movies that we hate. Do we stick with what we have and know we can handle or to we take a chance?

Within our life spaces, our options for renegotiating are about more than movies. Do we stay where we are or relocate? Do we keep the job we have or change? Do we stay in our current relationship or move on? Do we exercise more or stick to the couch? Do we eat less or deal with being fat? Do we become more active in our community or just continue letting others do the work and make the decisions? Do we save for that rainy day or do we just hope that it never rains? Do we renegotiate our lease on life knowing that the basic provisions will change and the risk will likely increase or do we settle for the status quo while figuring that things always work out in the long run?

You may be hoping that I have a startling conclusion or helpful advice for you. If so, now would be the time for it. The truth of it is that I don’t know what you should do. What I do know is that if you decide to renegotiate, you should be prepared to manage the changes in the basic provisions or requirements in your lease that will come with your new life space and be ready to take on the increased risk that will unavoidably also show up in your life.

Let me share a little riddle before I leave you. If there are two flies in the kitchen, which one is the cowboy? … … … It’s the one that is at home on the range.

If you plan to renegotiate your lease on life, just be sure you are comfortable with settling into your new home on the range, knowing that things can heat up without notice.