Archive for December, 2012

You’re about to get bombarded with New-Year/New-You stories. I’m all for transformation. I’ve even written my own resolution story this year too. But it turns out, change is difficult. Habit is easy. So I reviewed several expert essays that explain our own self-made nonsense and show a way to break free of old routines. It all comes down to two simple steps:

A Slam Dunk: Plan Positive and Listen to Your Friends and Mentors

A Slam Dunk: Plan Positive and Listen to Your Friends and Mentors

One – Set a positive goal, which is attainable and clearly defined.

Perhaps, the most compelling wisdom came from New York Times columnist David Brooks in his essay, “How People Change.” He explains that expressing an alternative to an undesirable behavior is the best route. If you want to get in shape, you shouldn’t say, “I don’t want to eat twinkies.” You should say, “I want to run a half marathon by June.” That means you go on the offense. You pick a small goal and lay out measurable steps toward it, he writes.

Along the way, ask for help, which leads to step two.

Two – Listen to your friends and mentors.

To a certain extent, other people’s assessment of you predicts your behavior better than your own assessment would. To really improve, you have to ask others to evaluate you. Yikes! Who wants a serious critique? I do, but from the right people and that’s an important factor. Cultivate sage friends. Then, develop a thick skin. How do you do that? This relates to point number one. Keep your eyes on the goal. If you’re on a big journey, a little bump in the road is just that. And good friends and mentors will help you find your way.

A coach is someone who can give correction without causing resentment.― John Wooden


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Teddy Bear The Original

One of the Original Teddy Bears. Photo: Smithsonian

Most of us have held a warm fuzzy teddy bear and snuggled with it on a rainy night. But that bear also has a bed-time story and an origin that’s distinctly American. The Teddy Bear is actually named after President Theodore Roosevelt, who refused to shoot a black bear that was tied to a tree on a hunting expedition. He felt the set-up was unsportsmanlike; Roosevelt was an avid hunter and also a conservationist. The story of his refusal to shoot the bear quickly spread throughout country. Soon after, a toy designer made a stuffed bear and sent a letter to the President asking for permission to call it a Teddy Bear. Thinking nothing of the request, Roosevelt agreed. And since 1903, the bear has been awaiting the arms of bright-eyed children on Christmas morning.

To learn more about it, read this Smithsonian article. Happy Holidays!

Character, in the long run, is the decisive factor in the life of an individual and of nations alike.—Theodore Roosevelt

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Dale Carnegie

Dale Carnegie is best known for his guide, How to Win Friends and Influence People. His book is fundamentally about being a person of integrity, action and warmth. He suggests, among other things, three principles for handling people: 1) Don’t criticize, condemn or complain, 2) Give honest and sincere appreciation, and 3) Arouse in the other person an eager want. Consider that even billionaire and philanthropist Warren Buffet took his courses to learn how to speak well in front of others. Listen to what Buffet has to say about him, and consider Carnegie’s wise words:

Don’t be afraid to give your best to what seemingly are small jobs. Every time you conquer one it makes you that much stronger. If you do the little jobs well, the big ones will tend to take care of themselves. 


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