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.

Advertisements

The world will change when we change how we think

realitytv

“The world as we have created it is a process of our thinking. It cannot be changed without changing our thinking.” Albert Einstein

People used to take pleasure in watching performers at their best. Back then, no one was amused or enjoyed or tolerated by anyone taking pleasure in the miss-fortune of others. That was during a time when ethics, morals and maintaining good character were foremost on everyone’s mind. That was a time that ended just a few decades ago.

Things are different now. Ethics and morals have taken a back seat to greed and corruption. Pleasure comes before morals. For many, today’s philosophy is the individual comes before society or even the family.

Today, success and the pursuit of personal pleasure are the dominant goals. There are no longer any boundaries which are taboo. Taking pleasure in the miss-fortune of others is the latest rage. New reality shows that exploit and mock those who are less fortunate appear every week.

Those who are looked up to and admired aren’t the ones advancing mankind, but those who exploit mankind the most or those who can take the most from everyone else.

We let this happen. It’s us who’ve sat back and did nothing or applauded as these things happened. We’ve let others decide for us what’s in our best interest. We vote for politicians that we know are corrupt. We accuse them of corruption, and some even get convicted in a court of law, and yet we vote for them again at the next election.

We watch shows that we know are demeaning to the human race and we cry out how horrible they are, and yet we continue to watch them.

The world will not change until we do. It will not change until we say we will not tolerate this behavior and follow that up with our actions. It is not enough to say we abhor this behavior while continuing to live with it. We must be the vehicles of change. We have to change what we do, what we watch, how we vote and who we look up to.

We must change how we think. We have to acknowledge in our minds this is unacceptable behavior.

Looking the other way makes us equally guilty in what’s happening to society. It is only when we take a stand that is followed up with our actions that change will begin to come about. It is not enough to say you want change, then to hope someone else will bring it about. All of us have to be part of that change. All of us have to change how we think and what we do.

 

The buck stops with you

the-buck-stops-here1

“The buck stops here”

This phrase originated with poker to indicate whose turn it was to deal. If a person didn’t want to deal, he would pass the buck, a marker such as a knife with a buckhorn handle, to the next player.

Since President Truman, this phrase has come to mean accepting responsibility. As President, this meant accepting responsibility for everything within the Federal government.

One of my best traits has always been the ability to get things done. Regardless of the situation, whether it was at work or a personal matter, I knew that as long as I was in the right, by going up the management chain someone would listen, take responsibility, and then do the right thing.

Unfortunately, that is a thing of the past. Try going up the management chain today and see where that gets you.

The problem now is that almost everyone passes the buck. Corporate leaders, whose company is caught in a scandal, plead ignorance, passing the buck to subordinates. If profits aren’t high enough, they pass the buck to customers and workers.  Killers pass the buck to their parents. Criminals pass the buck to society. Adults pass the buck to their parents. Even Washington has joined the bandwagon. The president passes the buck to congress and to the other party. Congress passes the buck to the white house. All of them pass the buck to somebody else, when things are bad, yet take all of the credit for anything good which has happened.

The majority of people pass the buck when things go bad, but take it back when things improve. Many actually proclaim the ‘buck stops with them’, but make it impossible to find or reach them in order to give them the buck. One can send a letter to the White House or the corporate headquarters of many corporations addressed to the President, but the letter would be screened by so many people that the likelihood of the President actually seeing the letter are very slim. That is unless the letter was overflowing with praise.

As a result, there is no empathy from those around. There is no motivation for anyone to do what’s right, especially knowing they’ll get blamed if something bad happens, and that someone else will get the credit for anything good.

Many of us are exactly the same way. We continually pass the buck. When things go bad, we think to ourselves “It was David’s fault I got laid off.” “It was Susan’s fault Jim left me.” “It’s my partner’s fault that I’m not happy, or broke, or depressed.”

If we want others to take us seriously, to have empathy for what happens to us, we have to begin accepting responsibility for our lives. If we want to be happy and not worry what others are thinking, we have to take responsibility not just for ourselves, but for what happens to us.

If you want to be able to live with yourself, you have to take complete responsibility for your life. This also means that you have to be reachable, that someone can reach your heart and your mind.  It means that you don’t ‘yes’ people, but actually listen to what they’re saying.

We don’t hesitate to take credit when something good happens. When things don’t go our way, we have to take responsibility for it. By taking responsibility, we’re acknowledging that it’s within our power to make it right.

Always remember, no matter what everyone else is saying or doing, when it comes to you and your life, the buck stops with you! Don’t just say it, but live it!

How many of you have virtue that can withstand the highest bidder?

“Few men have virtue to withstand the highest bidder.” George Washington

It is unfortunate that there are very few people who can’t be bought. It is simply a matter of human nature. There are things people consider more valuable than their virtue. The bidding price might be very high, but there is a price that people believe will outweigh the loss of virtue.

People manage to find a way to justify doing something against their principles in exchange for position, money, power, sex or any other thing they consider of value. They need to feed their family. It is an emergency and they are in dire need of money. They are doing it to keep the family in the lifestyle they’ve grown accustomed to. They are not selling their virtue but doing what’s needed. And so on.

The person who can withstand temptation, who would not forsake virtue for the highest bidder, is most likely a poor person. The family of that person lives a simple un-extravagant lifestyle.

The people who would forsake the highest bidder to keep their virtue intact, might be poor, but are very content. They are comfortable with themselves. They can look in the mirror without feeling the need to justify their actions.

They are in the minority though. In a day where basic necessities require more than what a poor person has, no one can afford to be virtuous.

In this day and age, unfortunate as it is, everyone finds it very easy to justify selling their virtue to the highest bidder.

Those of us who are not for sale to any bidder, and we are out there, are a minority. We may not have fancy cars and houses, but we have peace of mind, and that is something you can’t put a price on.

Do what is right. Can politics get any simpler than this?

“If it is not right do not do it; if it is not true do not say it.” Marcus Aurelius

Can ethics get any simpler than this? Most people understand the differences between right and wrong, the truth and a lie.

Sometimes, people rationalize going against the simple premise of doing what is right by proclaiming that the end justifies the means, that they are above rules like these.

Sometimes, they claim their lies are for the common good of others.

Neither is true.

The end never justifies the means. That is just a way for people to make themselves feel better about being unethical. They lie and cheat, claiming it is for the better good of others. They are not doing it for the benefit of others, they are trying to justify an immoral action.

Annihilating an entire race of people in order to promote your own is never justified. Bombing entire cities to end a war is never justified. Suspending moral laws for the benefit of a few or many is never justified. The means will never justify the end, no matter how many benefit. There will always be other options, suspending moral laws may just be the most expeditious, the easy way out. If tried hard enough, an ethical solution will always be found.  People just need to take the time to find it.

Those who lie never do it for the benefit of others, despite what they claim. They are lying for themselves. Maybe one can justify withholding the truth for the benefit of others, that’s what secrets are. One can never justify lying for the benefit of anyone. Lying is an unethical act which only benefits the liar.

Politicians have become notorious for making these claims. They hold themselves above others, above moral laws, that when they lie or commit an immoral act, it is for the benefit of society.

No one is above moral laws, especially politicians.

Lies and unethical acts are the tools of self serving individuals, people whose main interest is their own agenda.

People have become blinded, believing that the end justifies the means, that lying to protect the majority is okay. That is why immoral politicians continue to prosper. We believe their lies. We accept their claim that they are above moral laws and ethics.

If we, the people, begin holding others accountable to these simple rules, ethics will once again prosper.

If we, the people, simply say “If it is not right do not do it; if it is not true do not say it”, regardless of the reason, others would not be able to justify immoral and unethical actions.

If we, the people, stand up and say, “that is not right, stop doing it” or “that is not true, stop saying it”, we are saying ethics comes before your self interest.

If we, the people, remain quiet, then we are accepting the fact that others are above moral and ethical laws. We are giving them permission to cheat us and to lie to us. We are saying “you are above moral laws, do what you must”

It is not “If it is not right do not do it, unless …; if it is not true do not say it, unless…”

It is not ‘Do what is expeditious, regardless of ethics”

It is not “Do what benefits the most, regardless of ethics”

It is very simple: If it is not right do not do it; if it is not true do not say it” Period!

 

 

What you think makes you who you are.

“All that we are is the result of what we have thought. If people speak or act with evil thoughts, pain follows them. If people speak or act with pure thoughts, happiness follows them, like a shadow that never leaves them.” Siddhartha Gautama

Many times you’ve probably heard that after a while, people and their pets begin to resemble each other. It is the same with people and their thoughts. You become the person that’s contained within your thoughts.

If you’re preoccupied with evil thoughts, you will become an evil person. If you’re preoccupied with good thoughts, you’ll become a good person.

What you think becomes who you are.  When you think evil thoughts, not only do you become an evil person, but pain and torment will find you no matter where you go.

When you think, speak and act with pure thoughts, you’ll become a good and decent person. Goodness and happiness will greet you where ever you go.

It is the same with failure and success. If you think, deep down, that you will fail at any task you try, then you really will fail. If, deep down, you know that you will succeed, then chances are that you will find success. One of the differences between the two, is that the person who knows they will fail will give up after each failure. The person who knows they will succeed doesn’t let a failure here or there stop them. The person who knows they will succeed will continue trying, regardless of how many failures they encounter, until they finally succeed.

If you want to change yourself, begin by changing how you think. Begin by changing your thoughts, by thinking like the person you want to be. If you want to be a winner, think like a winner. If you want to be a good person, remove evil thoughts from your mind, and try to think of happiness.

Not only are you what you eat, you are also what you think. There are no born losers. No one is born unlucky. If you think you’re a loser, you will be a loser. If you think you’re unlucky, you will be unlucky.

Change begins from within. Through the power of your thoughts, everything is possible.

My prediction for the remainder of this year

“We may pretend we are basically moral people who make mistakes, but the whole of history proves otherwise.” Terry Hands

There are very few rich and powerful people in the world who are also moral. There are almost none in positions of power, such as elected officials, high government officials, senior executives, or any who think they are in a position of power, who have any morals.

I can predict what will happen for the remainder of this year, not because I think I’m a psychic, but because I’m a pretty good judge of human nature, and read the history books.

Gasoline prices will continue to rise, until the average price of regular reaches over four dollars a gallon, sometime before the election. Neither the oil nor the financial services  industries like President Obama. As a result, they will work to manipulate prices, hoping the high prices will turn voters against him.

More people will go into foreclosure and bankruptcy, especially the lower middle class, who have to commute the furthest to work. The high cost of gasoline, combined with many other things, such as the drought over the summer, the use of food for ethanol, and greed, will cause food prices to keep climbing. This will drive more lower middle class families into poverty.

Companies, whose only concern is profits, will eliminate more jobs as revenues decrease.  By election time, a lot more people will be fed up with President Obama. As a result, Mitt Romney will win the election.

Sometime after the election, the economy will take a nosedive. With less and less people able to afford to buy anything, companies and government agencies will continue laying off workers. Gasoline prices will drop a little, but not much. Once they taste money, oil company executives hate to give it back.

 

All those people predicting the 2012 doomsday have it half right. Except it will be an economic doomsday, not a literal one.

As has been repeated so often in history, when the wealthy and powerful become out of touch with reality and become consumed with greed, so it will happen again. To see what happens next, just look at the history books. Look at what happens to each nation when the rich and powerful have no morals, when they blame the poor for their own poverty, as they sit counting, safeguarding and growing their fortunes.

Words to live by, a moral compass

“The best thing to give to your enemy is forgiveness;
to an opponent, tolerance;
to a friend, your heart;
to your child, a good example;
to a father, deference;
to your mother, conduct that will make her proud of you;
to yourself, respect;
to all men, charity.” Francis Maitland Balfour.

This really needs no interpretation or definition. This is a code of ethics, a moral compass to live your life by. Live your life by these words, and you will be one of the fortunate who can say they live a contented and happy life.

Live by these words, and you will be known as a person with a forgiving nature. A person who is fair and open minded when competing. Who will sacrifice his or her life for a friend. A person admired, looked up to and whose footsteps are followed by his or her children.

You will be known as the person who revered your mother and father, and made them both proud. A person who is content, happy and generous.

Above all else, you will be a person known for being an inspiration to others.

Ethics, not money, will trickle down to everyone

“If ethics are poor at the top, that behavior is copied down through the organization.”  Robert Noyce

The governments trickle down strategy would have been more effective if the government was promoting ethics. There are behavioral differences regarding people with money, and  people with ethics. Money at the top tends to stay at the top; with people who have it hoarding it and craving more. The rest may crave the money, but unless the ones at the top decide to share, there is nothing much they can do, except mimic the ones at the top to try getting money of their own.

Ethics at the top, unlike money, will flow down. While not able to get a share of the money being hoarded, others who don’t have money can follow the methods of those on top. They can follow their behavior. They can follow their ethics.

If those methods, behaviors and ethics worked for the ones at the top, surely they will work for everyone else. Leaders can hoard their money, but they cannot hoard their methods, behaviors and ethics. Those are out there for everyone to see and adopt, in any organization, in the government, and more importantly, in the home.

For those who aren’t successful, there is nothing to trickle down. For those who succeed, for those who become leaders, for those who become role models: ethics, above all else, will trickle down.

So the next time you wonder why ethics are poor in the company, government, or family you lead: look in the mirror. The answer will be staring you in the face.

Being moral means you can justify your sins and deeds to yourself, honestly.

“A moral being is one who is capable of comparing his past and future actions or motives, and of approving or disapproving of them.” Charles Darwin

Morality is not about doing what other people say we should be doing, or what they think is right or wrong. Who says their idea of a moral action is right or wrong? Your moral compass should not be guided by anyone else but you!

You are the person who has to live with yourself. To be a moral person means that you can look back at what you’ve done in the past and cast judgment on yourself. To be a moral person means approving of the good things you’ve done, and disapproving the bad.

The immoral person cannot do that. The immoral person sees no wrong in any actions they’ve done in the past, nor in any actions they intend to do. Just like your judgement of their actions goes by the wayside, let no other judge you. You alone, must judge yourself, and reconcile what you’ve done with your conscience.

Once you have reconciled your deeds within yourself, nothing anyone else says should matter. No one else on this planet can or should judge you! Let them jail you rather than give up your own moral judgement. You have to live with your actions, not them.

More and more people are unable to see wrong in what they do. Just because they are in the majority does not mean they are right. Just remember, one moral person can change the world. It’s been done before, and can happen again.