Pride and resentment: the unseen cancer

A grateful heart is a beginning of greatness. It is an expression of humility. It is a foundation for the development of such virtues as prayer, faith, courage, contentment, happiness, love, and well-being. James E. Faust

Although I may not outwardly appear so as much as I should, I am deeply grateful for my loving wife, who has stood beside me for thirty years, through the good, the bad and the really ugly.

I am grateful for our three children, who grew up to make us very proud. Their success was not in becoming financially stable, all three of them struggle, but in their character, the moral compass each developed on their own and their empathy for others. They each developed character traits that would even make a curmudgeon like Mark Twain proud.

I am grateful for the many wonderful people I had the pleasure of meeting. While there are many I would turn my back on, there are many, including a few here, that I would be happy to call friend.

But I am not grateful to certain things that in reflection, I ought to be. I should be grateful to the two individuals who brought me into this world. For too long I’ve held resentment for how my siblings and I were treated by them, for bringing ten children into a loveless and abusive environment.

I supposed the resentment has been like a cancer spreading. It’s there, but unseen, yet doing damage nonetheless. By the time the damage is seen it’s usually too late. They are both gone now, the last one just a few weeks ago. I need to let go of the resentment, and be grateful for the fact they did bring me, and the others, into this world and did make an effort, no matter how small.

But I’m not as humble as I should be. I used to think I was much smarter than many others. When I made the decision at Citigroup to blow the whistle, I leaned on my pride. Let them retaliate, I’m much smarter than they are and will do just well, I reasoned.

I little bit of humility would have gone a long way. It turned out they really are much smarter than I am and proved it. I still stand behind my decision, but I would have taken better measures to make sure I didn’t lose everything if not for my swollen sense of self.

It is amazing how humble one gets when seeing a zero balance in your bank balance and nothing in sight to change it. That is what I saw a few hours ago, and it’s beyond humbling, it opens your eyes to reality: I am nowhere near as smart or as capable as almost everyone else I’ve met.

Some resentment is still there. I still blame others at Citigroup for making it impossible for me to find a job and for putting me into this position.

Understanding comes slow, but it is coming: They did not do this to me, I did this to myself. They are who they’ve always been and I’m the one who made the choice to speak out. I could have walked away, but that would have caused regrets later on and is not the behavior I wanted my children to follow. So I need to take responsibility for what happened.

My wife sent me this quote because she still sees signs of pride and resentment. She is the doctor who saw my cancer. This quote is her prescription for curing me, and it is working.

Some of you already know, but Omar Kiam is my pen name. I did it because I published two business books under my real name and wanted to keep this side of me separate from that side. I had thought the books (The art of process improvement and The command center handbook) would carry us through the difficult times, but that didn’t happen.

As a step in the right direction, I will reach out for help, accepting the fact that I’m really not as smart or as capable as I thought I was.

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For real power, be a person of character

“Character is power; it makes friends, draws patronage and support and opens the way to wealth, honor and happiness.” John Howe

Dictionary.com defines character as:

1. The aggregate of features and traits that form the individual nature of some person or thing.
2. One such feature or trait; characteristic.
3. Moral or ethical quality: a man of fine, honorable character.
4. Qualities of honesty, courage, or the like; integrity: It takes character to face up to a bully.
5. Reputation: a stain on one’s character.
Character, individuality, personality refer to the sum of the characteristics possessed by a person. Character refers especially to moral qualities, ethical standards, principles, and the like: a man of sterling character.

Your character is defined by the type of person you are and how you live your life. Being a person of good character means you have qualities that inspire trust, respect, responsibility, fairness, caring and citizenship. It means you act in a manner consistent with those qualities.

There is no amount of money that can hide a character defect. A person may hide behind an image of someone with character for a short period of time, but eventually, their true character comes to light.

Throughout history, people who’ve possessed qualities of good character have risen up from obscurity to become very powerful individuals or leaders.

Abraham Lincoln was one such person, who is remembered throughout history for his powerful character and using that power against great opposition to abolish slavery. Others who were chosen to lead because of their character include John F Kennedy, George Washington.

With enough money, a person can buy the appearance of power, in much the same way most of our elected officials got elected, but it doesn’t give them true power. With true power, which comes with people of character, mountains can be moved. How many people in power today can move mountains?

Gandhi, the Dalai Lama, Mother Teresa and Martin Luther King Jr. moved mountains because of the type of character they were. No amount of money could do what these individuals were able to do merely by the force of who they were, defined by how they lived their life and molded into their character.

True power comes with good character. People will follow to the ends of the world someone with the six pillars of character: Trustworthiness, Respect, Responsibility, Fairness, Caring, and Citizenship. That kind of power can’t be bought. The only way to obtain that kind of power is to earn it by being a person of good character.

There is enough sadness in the world without yours

“Be happy. Talk happiness. Happiness calls out responsive gladness in others. There is enough sadness in the world without yours…. never doubt the excellence and permanence of what is yet to be. Join the great company of those who make the barren places of life fruitful with kindness…. Your success and happiness lie in you…. The great enduring realities are love and service…. Resolve to keep happy and your joy and you shall form an invincible host against difficulties.” Helen Keller

Happiness is infectious. A smile is the only infectious affliction people are encouraged to spread. When you are happy, and you talk happiness, it becomes difficult for those around you not to be happy as well.

There really is enough sadness in the world, with justifiable reasons, such that it is a crime to add your sadness to the mix.

No matter what has occurred in the past, no matter what has happened, always remember that it is in the past, and should not dictate the future. What is yet to be can be the greatest thing to come, if you will it. Once you acknowledge that the best is yet to come, it will happen, over and over again.

To ensure your life is the best that it can be, exude kindness at every possible moment. Kindness begets kindness. Be kind to others, for the simple sake of being kind, and the satisfaction you receive will be greater than anything anyone can give you.  A common trait among the great people remembered throughout history is the kindness they show to their fellow man and woman. No one is remembered for being mean, but there are many who are remembered for being kind.

Success and happiness is controlled from within. These are not controlled or dictated by others. Others can try to influence your actions, but ultimately, it is you who decides what you will do, and how you will feel. Once you know these things, success and happiness will always follow you.

Love yourself and those around you. Serve yourself and those around you. Resolve to always be happy, to spread your joy to others, and you will find that no difficulty shall cross your path that you will not be able to handle and that others around you will always be there to support and help you.

 

When did we become a nation of haters?

“If you will think about what you ought to do for other people, your character will take care of itself. Character is a by-product, and any man who devotes himself to its cultivation in his own case will become a selfish prig.” Woodrow Wilson

When did we become a nation of haters? The United States began as the nation of brotherly love. The United States of America represented equality for all. At one time, the United States of America stood for common decency towards all. The people and the government of the United States of America used to be the envy of the world. Something built to government specifications and standards meant unequaled quality and value.

What happened to the people? What happened to our government and elected leaders? What happened to government standards?

We’ve become a nation of haters. We hate the poor because they can’t fend for themselves. We hate the rich because they are successful. We hate the government because it’s become a den of corruption and infighting.

Government specifications and standards are meaningless now. Build whatever you want, someone in the government will buy it, regardless of how flimsy or overpriced it is, just as long as you make a contribution to their campaign.

We’ve become a nation obsessed with our own self preservation. We no longer care about anyone else, as long as we get our share. The rich want to get richer. The poor want more handouts. Those in between are either ignored or must sacrifice some more, so that the rich could get richer and the poor could get more handouts..

We devote ourselves to cultivating our own case. We fault the poor for being poor. We fault the ill for being ill. We fault the handicapped for being handicapped. We fault the rich for being successful. We fault the government for not doing enough. We fault the government for doing too much.

We look for others to fault, rather than looking to ourselves. We elect the leaders who don’t do enough. We elect the leaders who do too much. We’ve allowed ourselves to become disillusioned to the point where we don’t bother with elections anymore. Then we complain that we don’t have good leaders.

We’ve become selfish prigs. We’ve lost our character, our charm, our reputation. As long as we continue looking out for what’s in our best interest, rather than what’s in everyones best interest, or the nations best interest, we will never regain our character. We will never regain our reputation as the worlds greatest country, where all are treated equally and fairly. We will never again become the envy of the world.

Corporations forgot that it is both the customers and the workers who make them successful. Politicians forgot that they are elected to serve the people. Government agencies have become heartless robots that follow the letter of the law, no matter now cruel or inhumane.

No one has to go so far as to preach brotherly love. All we have to do is stop hating. All we have to do is show a little compassion for those less fortunate than we are. All we have to do is care about the health of this great nation. All we have to do is show a little bit of character.

Is that too much to ask? Is it too much to ask for people to say ‘I like this’, rather than ‘I hate that’. Is it too much to ask for our government and leaders to do something because it is the right thing to do, rather than doing what the campaign contributors want?

If you want your children to be intelligent, read them fairy tales

“If you want your children to be intelligent, read them fairy tales. If you want them to be more intelligent, read them more fairy tales.” Albert Einstein

How you perform as you approach adulthood is directly the result of how you are raised, from the moment you are conceived. If your brain is stimulated as an infant, as a child, you will be more intelligent as an adult.

When you read fairy tales to your children, you are stimulating their brains. You are interacting with their minds, making them think and dream wonderful thoughts. The more you read to them, the harder their brains will work, as they think about those wonderful characters that have suddenly became part of their life.

It isn’t the words themselves which make the children more intelligent, but what those words do to a child’s brain, a brain that is still developing. Read fairy tales to them and you will stimulate their brain. Read to them a lot more and you will stimulate and their brain and their imagination even more, making them even more intelligent.

Not reading to children doesn’t make them any dumber. It just lets them develop as average kids. If you want average children, then don’t read to them. They will develop as average adults with no imagination.

The same thing happens to children who are shown plenty of love from the day they are conceived. You stimulate the part of the brain which controls emotions. As you hug, kiss and cuddle a child, you stimulate their senses and brain tenfold.

When you do both, read many fairy tales, and show plenty of love, your children will grow up to be extremely intelligent, caring, nurturing, praiseworthy and happy adults.

The best time to start doing all this is not when they can understand what you say, but when you know you will have a child in nine months. It is never too early to begin teaching your child the values which you hold dear, and to make sure they are more intelligent and  caring than anyone else.

So if you ask yourself why your grown children got average grades in school and landed average paying jobs, think back on what you did when they were little babies. How many fairy tales did you read to them back then?

A role model for you and your kids, look no further than Kathy Ireland.

“If we want our children to possess the traits of character we most admire, we need to teach them what those traits are and why they deserve both admiration and allegiance. Children must learn to identify the forms and content of those traits.” William J. Bennett

There are certain traits every person should have in order to live a happy, rewarding and contented life. The best time to develop those traits, such that they become second nature, is when growing up. A child is like a sponge and absorbs what is seen, heard, and taught.

A parents purpose in life is to be the perfect role model for their children. To hear a child say “I want to be like you” is the greatest compliment a parent can hear from a child.

Once children reach a certain age, the age where they begin looking for what makes them happy, they start thinking about their own dreams and aspirations. Some are content to continue following in the parents footsteps. Other teens have different aspirations, or have trouble finding the right one.

If taught the proper traits, those children will succeed no matter which path they follow. What are some of those traits? Honesty, integrity, confidence, fairness, generosity, and above all, a person of good character.

The best way to teach those traits to children is by having them yourself. The next best is to find a role model, with all of those traits and many more, like Kathy Ireland.

Kathy is the symbol of success, not because she is rich and well known. She is a success because she has all of the traits which every child needs to learn to live a happy, rewarding, and contented life.  Kathy became rich and well known because of the person she was, the person she still is.

If you want to find the perfect role model, for yourself, your teenagers, or your younger kids, look no further than Kathy Ireland.

Power makes people fear you, Character makes them love you

“No change of circumstances can repair a defect of character.” Ralph Waldo Emerson

Character defines who you are. Reputations are built on character. Become a person of good character and doors will open for you. Become a person of bad character and no amount of money will repair your character.

When you damage your character, when you have no character, no identity, no reputation, becoming rich, famous or powerful will do nothing to repair the damage done to your reputation.

You can buy obedience, you can buy false affection, you can even buy false love. You can’t buy true love or admiration, those come with character. Damage your character and it will always be known and remembered.

Protect your character the way you would protect a priceless jewel. Money, fame and power may come and go, but your prized character will stay with you to your grave and beyond.

Is it right rather than who is watching should be the question

“The measure of a man’s character is what he would do if he knew he never would be found out.” Baron Thomas Babington Macauley

What this quote means is the real person we, our character, are becomes apparent when we do things which we think no one will ever know. A person of high moral character would do the same things, regardless of being found out or not. A person of low moral character will do certain things, and act one way in public, but their true self, their true character will appear when they are in private, when they think what they are doing will not be found out. A person of low moral character would ask who is watching, before doing something.

The way to become a person of character is to act the same way in private as in public. Rather than asking who is watching, a person of character asks ‘is it right’.