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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Honesty and Truth

“The precepts of the law are these: to live honestly, to injure no one, and to give every man his due.” Justinian I

The philosophy I will follow is to live honestly, to purposely injure no one, and to give every person a chance to do the same.

Any promise I make to someone is a debt which I must pay. If I cannot keep a promise I will try to make up for it. I will not make any promises which I knowingly cannot keep. I will not make a promise that I have no intentions of keeping to get something I want or need, even if the other person is being unfair.

I will be honest even if I am the only one. I will not be dishonest or deceitful even if everyone else is. Regardless of who is telling me to do it, I will not compromise my honesty.

In situations where honesty may hurt someone, I will keep my words to myself. I would rather keep quiet than hurt someone with my honesty. Unless my job is to deceive potential criminals in order to protect others, I will not be dishonest even if ordered to by anyone.

When I tell others exactly what is on my mind, then, I should be able to handle the same from others. If I cannot tolerate frankness from others, then I shouldn’t speak frankly to anyone.

Exaggerating the truth is the same as lying. I will strive to tell things as they are, without stretching the truth or undue exaggeration.

If I don’t know something, I will say that I don’t know, rather than make up a falsehood.

I will present myself to others as I truly am on the inside. I want to be liked for who I really am, not for who I can make others think I am.

For the most part, I will try to live a virtuous life. Once in a while, I may choose vice rather than virtue. If I choose to stray, I will accept the consequences if there are any. I will live with anything I choose to do, be it virtuous or vice, without regret. What is virtuous and what is a vice is for me to decide. Just because something is considered legal does not make it virtuous, just as something illegal may not be a vice. For the most part, my moral compass will guide me. If I am unable to decide and require guidance, then I will seek it from those whom I consider to be virtuous, regardless of what their beliefs are.

The Old Man and the Plumber

The-boiler

“The way to overcome the angry man is with gentleness, the evil man with goodness, the miser with generosity and the liar with truth.” Indian proverb

I’ve lived my life by always giving people the benefit of the doubt: treat people with respect, dignity, honesty and trust.

This philosophy has constantly proven how naïve I am. When I was young, one out of twenty people would turn out to be greedy, corrupt, liars, only looking out for their own self-interest.

As time went by, the number who couldn’t be trusted or were simply evil began going up. Regardless of this change, my philosophy remained the same. Sometimes I’d put myself in their shoes in order to understand why they acted the way they did. Why did they feel the need to lie or to get angry when confronted, or to constantly take rather than give, or suddenly become evil when it seemed they were good all along. I’d sympathize with them, get angry, and sometime even bend the truth for them, so that they wouldn’t get hurt or caught.

Being young, I’d let them think they were getting away with something, without anyone being any wiser. I’d let them take more than they should or deserved, feeling they needed it more than I did. As a young man, a little extra work to make up for what they took wasn’t going to kill me. I was young and they were older, so my feelings where they needed the money more than I did and with a little extra work replacing it wouldn’t hurt me.

Now, I am the older man. Things are different. Now, nine out of ten people I come across turn out to be evil, greedy, untrustworthy liars.

My philosophy though hasn’t kept up with the times, and so I continue to treat people with respect, dignity, honesty and trust.

And so, when our boiler broke down a few weeks ago and the plumber sent by the warranty company arrived, I treated him the same way I treat everyone else. Tom was a very nice and polite fellow who was about half my age. I listened in as he told the service company it would be a three hour repair and he would need to return another day since he didn’t have the needed parts.

Rather than doing the three hour repair as he told them, the plumber performed a ten minute temporary fix, using parts he forgot he had in his truck. To me, this was good news all around. I had heat, Tom wouldn’t have to make a second one hour drive to return, and the warranty company saves some money.

Two weeks later the boiler stopped working again. The temporary fix stopped working. To make a long story short, it turned out Tom charged the warranty service company for the full three hour repair and for a second visit to complete the repair. To avoid performing the three hour repair, which the service company already paid him for, Tom claimed tampering caused the second failure, which voids the warranty and gets him off the hook.

Initially I was angry. Tom had robbed me, since now I have to pay another plumber myself to perform the job Tom was already paid for, but never performed.

The shoe is on the other foot now. Tom is the younger, stronger person, who as a plumber with employees working for him, can afford to be honest and trustworthy. I’m the recently laid off older person who can’t afford to be taken anymore.

Despite all that, my anger faded fairly quickly. I suppose I should have learned my lesson, but you can’t teach an old dog new tricks. Tom is an evil, greedy, dishonest man who will get what he deserves one day. Life is too short to get angry and to hold grudges. Tom will never be allowed to set foot back into this house.

And so, even though nine out of ten people don’t deserve it, I’ll continue giving people the benefit of the doubt by treating everyone with respect, dignity, honesty and trust.

I’ve reached this age a happy contented man using that philosophy. I’ll continue being happy and stress free because each time another one of those nine crosses my path, I’ll confront the angry man is with gentleness, the evil man with goodness, the miser with generosity and the liar with truth. What’s more important than anything else to me, is that I remain part of the one in ten who is gentle, good, generous and honest.

Father, I Can Not Tell a Lie; I Cut the Tree

“Lying can never save us from another lie.” Vaclav Havel

Everyone knows those famous words associated with George Washington “Father, I Can Not Tell a Lie; I Cut the Tree”

One lie is seldom where it ends. It’s guaranteed more lies will be needed to explain why the first lie wasn’t a lie.

A manager once gave a promotion to his friend rather than to the best qualified person. This is the same as a lie because in essence he was saying that his friend deserved the promotion more than the other person.

As usually happens with lies, someone questioned this move and so the manager had to defend his actions. Rather than admitting he promoted the wrong person, he told more lies. His next lies were that the other worker wasn’t more qualified, in fact, the other worker was on the verge of disciplinary action. So now, not only did the better worker not get the promotion, but his reputation is ruined in order to justify promoting the friend.

From there it just snowballed. In most instances the manager’s many lies never surface. However, it’s known they were lies and the chances for this manager advancing much higher with this company are very slim.

The lies resulted in ending the career of a promising employee. In the long run, the promising employee will go work elsewhere and will prosper, the friend who was given the job will eventually be let go because he wasn’t qualified for it, and the manager will never get another promotion.

A lie or deceitful action done with ill intentions will always lead to more lies and deceit. They will be required to cover up for the first. In the long run, things usually work themselves out, making the initial lie fruitless.

It’s much simpler, less work, leads to better results and increased happiness simply to tell the truth from the beginning.

It’s also much better to admit you made a mistake than to tell a second lie. We all make mistakes and it will be forgiven. What’s not going to be forgiven is when you cover up a lie with more lies to the point where good people have to take the fall for your actions.

Telling the truth, when faced with stiff punishment for doing so, is the mark of a person of integrity, good character and deserving of respect. It is the mark of a person who can be trusted with unparalleled authority, like leading a new nation.

The path to success and happiness

“Whatever else may be shaken, there are some facts established beyond warring: virtue is better than vice, truth is better than falsehood, kindness than brutality.” Quintin Hogg

The way to prosperity is through many paths. The way to happiness is through many paths. The way to riches and rewards is through uncountable paths. There are some who would have you believe otherwise. They would have you believe that there is only one path to all of these.

For many, the way to prosperity and happiness is through riches and rewards. The way to riches and rewards is through vice, falsehood and brutality. For them, any other way is for the week and ignorant.

There are a few who will never bend, who will always know that success and happiness comes from being virtuous, kind and truthful. For them, there will never be enough riches or rewards that would alter these constants. They may be tempted, and some may even fall under the temptation, but they will all know what is right from wrong. Those who fall will be forever haunted by their conscience.

Those who acquire riches and rewards through vice, falsehood and brutality will never become content or truly happy. No amount of riches and rewards will ever be enough for them. Their misery is that they will always want more.

History has always shown that virtue is better than vice, truth is better than falsehood, and kindness is better than brutality. Men, women and nations who test these premises have always succumbed to their own vices, falsehoods and brutalities.

And yet, more keep thinking the path to prosperity and happiness is through riches and rewards. The way to riches and rewards is through vice, falsehood and brutality.

The true path to riches and rewards is through virtue, truth and kindness. The path to success and happiness is being content with whatever riches and rewards virtue, truth and kindness bestow upon you.

Be judged for the person you really are

“It is better to be hated for what you are than to be loved for what you are not.” Andre Gide

What this quote means is that it is better to be judged for the person you truly are, your inner self, your character, than for an image you portray to others. Creating an image to make people like you does not satisfy your inner self, since you are aware that they like the image, not the real you.

It is better to portray your inner self to everyone, your true character. Then you can make the judgement if you are happy with the love or hate you get. If you are comfortable with your self, with your character, then how others perceive you will become irrelevant. What is more important is how you perceive yourself, if you are comfortable with who you are.

You will always have an inner conflict if you create an outward image, a person you are not, in order to be loved. It will give you piece of mind to be honest with yourself.

 

Losing friends due to good intentions

Don’t tell your friends their social faults; they will cure the fault and never forgive you. Logan Pearsall Smith

What this quote means is that it is not always proper to say the exact truth, sometimes it is OK to hold your tongue, or to bend the truth a little. Most of us have come across this situation, where you meant to help a friend by telling them the truth, only to end up losing that friend, or never having the same type of relationship. Sometimes, it’s better to overlook certain faults, rather than risk losing a friend.