What Will You Regret?

'The Top Five Regrets of the Dying' by Bronnie Ware (ISBN 140194065X) You’ve probably read about an interesting study by Bronnie Ware regarding the most common regrets of people in their deathbeds. Ware, a palliative nurse who counseled the dying in their last days, studied a cohort of people between the ages of 60 and 95. One question she asked her patients was, “what do you regret in your life?” The answers were remarkable: the regrets of the dying had nothing to do with their wealth, possessions, or status. They regretted most missed opportunities in their life—not having tried something, not having taken that chance, and not having stepped out of their comfort zones when they knew they wanted to do something and could have done it.

  • “I wish I’d had the courage to live a life true to myself, not the life others expected of me.”
  • “I wish I didn’t work so hard.”
  • “I wish I’d had the courage to express my feelings.”
  • “I wish I had stayed in touch with my friends.”
  • “I wish that I had let myself be happier.”

Ware published her studies first on a popular internet article and later expanded it into a mediocre book called The Top Five Regrets of the Dying.

Wistful feeling of missing out on life’s pleasures

Younger people shared comparable sentiments on regretting not taking chances to have fun. Ran Kivetz of Columbia University and Anat Keinan of Harvard University conducted a study of how college students felt about the balance of study/work and amusement during their winter breaks. Immediately after the break, the students regretted not having studied enough, not working, and not saving money. However, a year later, they regretted not having enough fun and not traveling.

Further along, when the students regrouped for their 40th reunion, they had even stronger regrets about not fully using their college breaks to travel and enjoy life. Kivetz explained, “People feel guilty about hedonism right afterwards, but as time passes the guilt dissipates. At some point there’s a reversal, and what builds up is this wistful feeling of missing out on life’s pleasures.”

Long-Term Regrets Are Usually About Not Taking More Risks

Regrets take two forms: regrets of co-mission (regrets regarding things you did that you wish you hadn’t) and regrets of omission (regrets regarding things you didn’t do that you wish you had.) As people get older and look back at their lives in retrospect, they tend to ruminate more about the things they didn’t do but should have. Deciding not to take gap year and travel around Asia, shying away from telling that girl you love her, holding a grudge against a sibling for years, not learning to surf, and other what-ifs will come to dominate your pangs of regret.

It's Easier to Live With Disappointment Than With Regret

It’s Easier to Live With Disappointment Than With Regret

As you grow older, you will realize that the only things you regret are the things you didn’t do—things that you didn’t commit to when you had the opportunity. The following three quotes echo this life-lesson:

  • “I don’t regret a single ‘excess’ of my responsive youth. I only regret, in my chilled age, certain occasions and possibilities I didn’t embrace,” wrote the American writer Henry James at age 70 to English novelist Hugh Walpole
  • “The best advice I got from my aunt, the great singer Rosemary Clooney, and from my dad, who was a game show host and news anchor, was: don’t wake up at seventy years old sighing over what you should have tried. Just do it, be willing to fail, and at least you gave it a shot. That’s echoed for me all through the last few years,” said the American actor and activist George Clooney
  • “Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn’t do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover,” wrote H. Jackson Brown, Jr., the American bestselling author of the inspirational book Life’s Little Instruction Book. (He possibly incorporated a famous quote attributed to Mark Twain.)

Idea for Impact: You will Come to Regret Your Inactions Far Longer than Your Actions

A fascinating way of looking at life is to think about your life and your career in the context of future regret-avoidance. Regrets for the things you did are likely to be tempered by the passage of time, but regrets for the things you do not do will be upsetting in retrospect. Therefore, contemplating about what you may come to regret in the future could transform you into taking different actions today.

One key to helpful decision-making is to forestall subsequent regret. Many of the questions you will grapple with in life are about taking risk—stepping out of your comfort zone and trying something new. You know what you want to try but you’re not sure if you should try it.

The best things in life may happen just beyond your comfort zone. Don’t ruminate excessively before making a decision. Make a habit of embracing the adventure of uncertainty by taking low-risk actions. Being wrong and failing costs very little in the long-term. You can bounce back faster than you imagine.

Slow down, reassess your options, and question if the choices you’re making at the moment are part of a life-trail you’ll come to regret sooner or later.

Inspirational Quotations by Johann Wolfgang von Goethe (#647)

Inspirational Quotations by Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

Today marks the birthday of Johann Wolfgang von Goethe (1749–1832,) the greatest icon in the German literary and cultural pantheon. This master of world literature was a polymath: not only was he a poet, novelist, playwright, historian, and natural philosopher, but he also held several government positions at Weimar and made scientific discoveries.

Goethe gained early fame with his first novel Die Leiden des jungen Werthers (1774, Eng. trans. The Sorrows of Young Werther.) Written as a collection of letters by the protagonist, this sentimental epistolary novel tells the story of a young man who falls in love with a woman engaged to another man. Goethe also wrote hundreds of essays, many volumes of lyric poetry, and an in-depth dissertation on the physics of light and color contrasting his theories against Newton’s.

'Faust: A Tragedy' by Johann Wolfgang von Goethe (ISBN 0300189699) Goethe is most famous for his magnum opus Faust, published as Faust, Part One (1808) and Faust, Part Two (1832.) Goethe started writing Faust at age 23 and finished it a few months before his death six decades later. This two-part poetic drama is based on a classic German legend, which in turn is based on an actual magician who lived in northern Germany in the fifteenth century. Faust tells the story of a brilliant scholar named Heinrich Faust who is very successful yet unhappy in life. He forsakes God, makes a perilous deal with the Devil and exchanges his soul for unlimited power, knowledge, and worldly pleasures. Celebrated for its themes of damnation, witchcraft, sexual betrayal, and freeform philosophic contemplation, Faust is considered one of the greatest works of German literature.

In addition to his literary work, Goethe was also a geologist, botanist, anatomist, physicist, and science historian. His most notable scientific contributions include his theory of plant metamorphosis and his theory of colors.

Inspirational Quotations by Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

All truly wise thoughts have been thought already thousands of times; but to make them truly ours, we must think them over again honestly, till they take root in our personal experience.
Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

Thinking is easy, acting is difficult, and to put one’s thoughts into action is the most difficult thing in the world.
Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

Give me the benefit of your convictions, if you have any, but keep your doubts to yourself, for I have enough of my own.
Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

In nature we never see anything isolated, but everything in connection with something else which is before it, beside it, under it and over it.
Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

People are so constituted that everybody would rather undertake what they see others do, whether they have an aptitude for it or not.
Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

Whatever you think you can do or believe you can do, begin it. Action has magic, grace and power in it.
Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

Life is a quarry, out of which we are to mold and chisel and complete a character.
Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

The man with insight enough to admit his limitations comes nearest to perfection.
Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

Mountains cannot be surmounted except by winding paths.
Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

The heights charm us, but the steps do not; with the mountain in our view we love to walk the plains.
Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

In praising or loving a child, we love and praise not that which is, but that which we hope for.
Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

Nothing tells more about the character of a man than the things he makes fun of.
Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

Rest not. Life is sweeping by; go and dare before you die. Something mighty and sublime, leave behind to conquer time.
Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

How many years must a man do nothing, before he can at all know what is to be done and how to do it.
Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

Continue to make the demands of the day your immediate concern, and take occasion to test the purity of your hearts and the steadfastness of your spirits. When you then take a deep breath and rise above the cares of this world and in an hour of leisure, you will surely win the proper frame of mind to face devoutly what is above us, with reverence, seeing in all events the manifestation of a higher guidance.
Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

Everyone hears only what he understands.
Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

The person born with a talent they are meant to use will find their greatest happiness in using it.
Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

Excellence is rarely found, more rarely valued.
Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

If any man wishes to write a clear style, let him first be clear in his thoughts.
Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

I respect the man who knows distinctly what he wishes. The greater part of all mischief in the world arises from the fact that men do not sufficiently understand their own aims. They have undertaken to build a tower, and spend no more labor on the foundation than would be necessary to erect a hut.
Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

A talent can be cultivated in tranquility; a character only in the rushing stream of life.
Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

A creation of importance can only be produced when its author isolates himself, it is a child of solitude.
Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

Talents are best nurtured in solitude; character is best formed in the stormy billows of the world.
Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

Man… knows only when he is satisfied and when he suffers, and only his sufferings and his satisfactions instruct him concerning himself, teach him what to seek and what to avoid. For the rest, man is a confused creature; he knows not whence he comes or whither he goes, he knows little of the world, and above all, he knows little of himself.
Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

Science has been seriously retarded by the study of what is not worth knowing and of what is not knowable.
Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

A man’s manners are a mirror in which he shows his portrait.
Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

If you want a wise answer, ask a reasonable question.
Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

The older we get the more we must limit ourselves if we wish to be active.
Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

The highest happiness of man is to have probed what is knowable and quietly to revere what is unknowable.
Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

What by a straight path cannot be reached by crooked ways is never won.
Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

Thinking is more interesting than knowing, but less interesting than looking.
Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

People do not mind their faults being spread out before them, but they become impatient if called on to give them up.
Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

People should talk less and draw more. Personally, I would like to renounce speech altogether and, like organic nature, communicate everything I have to say visually.
Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

The really unhappy person is the one who leaves undone what they can do, and starts doing what they don’t understand; no wonder they come to grief.
Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

How shall we learn to know ourselves? By reflection? Never; but only through action. Strive to do thy duty; then you shall know what is in thee.
Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

It is only necessary to grow old to become more charitable and even indulgent. I see no fault committed by others that I have not committed myself.
Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

Ambition and love are the wings to great deeds.
Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

Freedom consists not in refusing to recognize anything above us, but in respecting something which is above us; for by respecting it, we raise ourselves to it, and, by our very acknowledgment, prove that we bear within ourselves what is higher, and are worthy to be on a level with it.
Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

Not the maker of plans and promises, but rather the one who offers faithful service in small matters. This is the person who is most likely to achieve what is good and lasting.
Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

The phrases that men hear or repeat continually, end by becoming convictions and ossify the organs of intelligence.
Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

The man who acts never has any conscience; no one has any conscience but the man who thinks.
Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

The first and last thing required of genius is, love of the truth.
Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

We are shaped and fashioned by what we love.
Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

Certain defects are necessary for the existence of individuality.
Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

The decline of literature indicates the decline of the nation. The two keep pace in their downward tendency.
Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

There is nothing more frightful than imagination without taste.
Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

Who is the happiest of men? He who values the merits of others, and in their pleasure takes joy, even as though it were his own.
Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

A collections of anecdotes and maxims is the greatest of treasures for the man of the world, for he knows how to intersperse conversation with the former in fit places, and to recollect the latter on proper occasions.
Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

Everybody wants to be somebody; nobody wants to grow.
Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

The greatest genius will never be worth much if he pretends to draw exclusively from his own resources.
Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

How Smart Companies Get Smarter: Seek and Solve Systemic Deficiencies

At Toyota, as cars roll off the assembly line, they go through a final inspection station staffed by astute visual and tactile inspectors.

At Toyota, as cars roll off the assembly line, they go through a final inspection station staffed by astute visual and tactile inspectors. If these inspectors spot a paint defect, they don’t just quietly fix the problem merely by touching up the paint to satisfy the customer or their plant manager.

As part of Toyota’s famed kaizen continuous improvement system, floor workers identify the systemic causes that led to the specific defect on the specific car. They then remedy the root cause of the problem so it won’t happen again.

Fostering an atmosphere of continuous improvement and learning

Most companies cherish employees who are watchful of problems and take it upon themselves to detect and solve problems without criticism or complaint. A software company, for example, may treasure a programmer who observes an unforeseen coding mistake, and swiftly develops a patch to keep her project moving forward.

In contrast, companies like Toyota who are obsessive about quality improvement, organizational learning, and developing collective intelligence don’t reward or tolerate such quiet fixers.

Taiichi Ohno - 'Having no problems is the biggest problem of all.' At companies that have adopted the kaizen philosophy, continuous improvement originates from the bottom up through suggestion systems that engage and motivate floor employees to look out for systemic problems, raise quality concerns, and help solve those problems. These companies encourage their employees to actively seek small, simple, and incremental improvements that could result in real cost savings, higher quality, or better productivity. According to Taiichi Ohno, the legendary Japanese industrial engineer identified as the father of the Toyota Production System, “Something is wrong if workers do not look around each day, find things that are tedious or boring, and then rewrite the procedures. Even last month’s manual should be out of date.”

Idea for Impact: To develop collective intelligence and build smarter organizations, discourage employees from heroically patching up recurring problems. Instead, encourage them to find, report, analyze, experiment, and fix systemic problems to prevent their recurrence.

Advice for the First-Time Manager: Whom Should You Invest Your Time With?

Advice for the First-Time Manager: Whom Should You Invest Your Time With?

Before you were a manager, success was all about your individual performance. When you become a manager, success is all about growing your employees. It is about bringing out the best in people who work for you—making them smarter, pushing them to perform better, and advancing their professional development.

As a manager and a team-leader, your performance as an individual matters in the sense of how you cultivate your team’s efficacy and foster their self-confidence through coaching and feedback. Your success will be measured less by what you do and more from the reflected glory of your team.

Given a team to manage,

  • Don’t invest the same amount of time for each employee. Treat employees differently, based on their responsibilities, strengths, and their developmental needs. Do spend some time every week chatting with each employee. Then prioritize and invest more time with:
    • those who ask for your help.
    • those who need your help, but may not ask for it—especially those employees who may be struggling with some assignments because of their weaknesses.
    • those who are transitioning into their roles or may be experiencing changes.
    • those whose ideas and performance have the biggest impact to the organization—now or in the future.
    • those competent employees who understand the responsibility you’ve assigned them and the results expected. Especially with employees who need little help and direction getting things done, focus on ensuring that your expectations and priorities align with theirs.
  • Give your employees the freedom and responsibility to do their jobs. Set high standards and make them accountable for achieving the results.
  • Give your employees continuous, timely feedback: not just during the HR-required mid-year or end-of-year performance reviews. Thoughtfully use every meeting, design review, brainstorming, project closure, or client-presentation as a teaching moment.

Inspirational Quotations by Francis de Sales (#646)

Saint Francis de Sales Today marks the birthday of Saint Francis de Sales (1567–1622,) a venerated Roman Catholic priest. This patron saint of writers and journalists (his feast day is January 24) was a Bishop of Geneva.

De Sales was born to an aristocratic family of the Duchy of Savoy (composing regions of today’s Italy, France, and Switzerland.) After studying law, he decided to pursue his sense of call to a priestly vocation, much to the disappointment of his ambitious father who wanted him to engage in a political career.

At age 35, de Sales was appointed the Catholic Bishop of Geneva, just as religious divisions spread across Europe following the Protestant Reformation. Specifically, Geneva and the surrounding cantons were deeply influenced by the French theologian John Calvin. De Sales reputedly won over half of the region’s Calvinists back to Roman Catholicism through his deep faith, gentle nature, and the eloquence of his writings. His two most influential works are Introduction to the Devout Life (1609) and Treatise on the Love of God (1616.)

'Introduction to the Devout Life' by Francis De Sales (ISBN 0385030096) In Treatise on the Love of God, de Sales challenged the contemporaneous belief that only those who withdrew from society to pursue a religious calling could realize a spiritual union with God. He declared that it could also be achieved by people busy with the ordinary affairs of the world: “It is an error, or rather a heresy, to say devotion is incompatible with the life of a soldier, a tradesman, a prince, or a married woman…. It has happened that many have lost perfection in the desert who had preserved it in the world.”

De Sales described the spiritual life as one of perpetual growth and transformation. In Introduction to a Devout Life he advises, “We must not be disturbed at our imperfections since for us perfection consists in fighting against them. How can we fight against them unless we see them, or overcome them unless we face them.”

De Sales also established the Order of the Visitation of Holy Mary (commonly called the Visitation Sisters) in collaboration with Saint Jane Frances de Chantal.

Inspirational Quotations by Saint Francis de Sales

God requires a faithful fulfillment of the merest trifle given us to do, rather than the most ardent aspiration to things to which we are not called.
Francis de Sales

There are no galley-slaves in the royal vessel of divine love—every man works his oar voluntarily!
Francis de Sales

True progress quietly and persistently moves along without notice.
Francis de Sales

A quarrel between friends, when made up, adds a new tie to friendship, as … the callosity formed round a broken bone makes it stronger than before.
Francis de Sales

We shall steer safely through every storm, so long as our heart is right, our intention fervent, our courage steadfast, and our trust fixed on God.
Francis de Sales

Friendships begun in this world will be taken up again, never to be broken off.
Francis de Sales

We must never undervalue any person.—The workman loves not to have his work despised in his presence. Now God is present everywhere, and every person is his work.
Francis de Sales

Have patience with all things, but chiefly have patience with yourself. Do not lose courage in considering your own imperfections, but instantly set about remedying them—every day begin the task anew.
Francis de Sales

You learn to speak by speaking, to study by studying, to run by running, to work by working; in just the same way, you learn to love by loving.
Francis de Sales

Flowers often grow more beautifully on dung-hills than in gardens that look beautifully kept.
Francis de Sales

There was never an angry man that thought his anger unjust.
Francis de Sales

Never be in a hurry; do everything quietly and in a calm spirit. Do not lose your inner peace for anything whatsoever, even if your whole world seems upset.
Francis de Sales

Serve with a Big Smile

Service with a Big Smile

This research from Penn State suggests,

  • The bigger a service-employee’s smile, the happier a customer. This comports with other research that has shown that the powerful emotions triggered when someone smiles at you and you smile in return can change your brain chemistry. You not only feel more optimistic and motivated, but also tend to remember such happy occasions more vividly.
  • Genuineness of the service-employee enhanced the customer’s perceptions of friendliness, but only influenced customer satisfaction when tasks were well-performed and the customer’s major expectations of the product/service were met.
  • Appearing inauthentic and fake-smiling undermined the assumed benefits of “service with smile.” Customers can spot insincerity in a smile when they see one. Inauthentic, robotic, and feigned friendliness can be a turn off for customers.
  • Given that frontline service-employees represent a company to the public, mandating that employees must smile and appear friendly during their interactions with customers can backfire. The researchers suggest that companies hire happier employees and engender a work-environment that encourages genuine smiles and empowers employees to provide authentically pleasant customer service.

Genuine vs. Fake Smiles: The Science behind Your Smile

Genuine vs. Fake Smiles: The Science behind Your Smile

You can spot the difference between a genuine smile and a fake one. A genuine smile is also called the “Duchenne smile” after Duchenne de Boulogne (1806–1875,) a French neurologist who studied the association of facial expressions with the soul of humans.

  • Scientific research has shown that Duchenne smile involves the voluntary contraction of the zygomatic major (the muscle that raises the corners of the mouth) and the involuntary contraction of the orbicularis oculi (the muscle that raises the cheeks and produces crow’s feet around the eyes.)
  • In contrast, a fake smile involves the contraction of just the zygomatic major since the orbicularis oculi cannot be voluntarily contracted. A fake perfunctory smile is nothing but a manifestation of obligatory courtesy and politeness rather than one of inner joy.

Further, scientists believe that the two types of smiles are actually controlled by two distinct parts of the brain: the Duchenne smile is controlled by the limbic system (the emotional center of the brain) whereas the fake smile is controlled by the motor cortex.

Idea for Impact: Serve with a Big, Genuine Smile

  • Fake Smiles A genuine smile is an index of your happiness. Put in a little more delight into your smile. Reach out to others and give a little more of yourself by serving with a bigger smile.
  • Don’t smile excessively. Although people like smiles but are rather distrustful of excessive smiling. Unless the source of your cheerfulness is genuine and noticeable, people will judge that your undue smiling is feigned—or that you’re smiling distastefully at some deficiency on their part.
  • Engage your eyes for genuine smiles. If you’re forcing yourself to smile, you may be able to organize your lips and teeth into a smile, but you’ll not be able to get your eyes to coordinate.
  • Try to smile even when you are feeling cranky or grouchy. A simple smile can relax your facial muscles and short-circuit your bad mood.

Choose Not to Be Offended, and You Will Not Be: What the Stoics Taught

Choose Not to Be Offended, and You Will Not Be: What the Stoics Taught

When somebody offends you or causes you distress, think of the anxiety as their problem, not yours.

The Stoic philosophers taught that if you choose not to be offended by others’ actions, you will not be. An offense is up to your interpretation. Instead, treat others with kindness and assert your autonomy.

This moral is exemplified in the following clip from the movie Gandhi (1983) portraying racial discrimination in South Africa and Gandhi’s espousal of Christian values. A young Gandhi and his friend Charles Freer Andrews are walking in a Johannesburg suburb when they’re accosted by menacing louts who yell “Look what’s comin’!” and “A white shepherd leading a brown Sammy!” (Sammy—for swami—was a South African derogatory term for an Indian.) Despite Andrews’s misgivings, Gandhi strides along rather nervously and invokes the Christian principle of turning the other cheek. When one lout’s intentions of “cleaning up the neighborhood a little” are disrupted by his mother, Gandhi responds, “You’ll find there’s room for us all!”

Mastering an Offensive Situation Is Ultimately a Matter of Mastering Yourself

'Meditations: A New Translation' by Marcus Aurelius (ISBN 0812968255) In Meditations, the great Roman Emperor and Stoic Philosopher Marcus Aurelius wrote about taking responsibility for the things within your control:

Someone despises me. That’s their problem. Mine: not to do or say anything despicable. Someone hates me. Their problem. Mine: to be patient and cheerful with everyone, including them. Ready to show them their mistake. Not spitefully, or to show off my own self-control, but in an honest, upright way.

Marcus Aurelius counsels compassion for those who offend you:

When people injure you, ask yourself what good or harm they thought would come of it. If you understand that, you’ll feel sympathy rather than outrage or anger. Your sense of good and evil may be the same as theirs, or near it, in which case you have to excuse them. Or your sense of good and evil may differ from theirs. In which case they’re misguided and deserve your compassion. Is that so hard?

Strength dissipates when you choose to be offended, and harbor malice. Marcus Aurelius counsels acting compassionately towards those who offend you:

That kindness is invincible, provided it’s sincere—not ironic or an act. What can even the most vicious person do if you keep treating him with kindness and gently set him straight—if you get the chance—correcting him cheerfully at the exact moment that he’s trying to do you harm. “No, no, my friend. That isn’t what we’re here for. It isn’t me who’s harmed by that. It’s you.” And show him, gently and without pointing fingers, that it’s so. That bees don’t behave like this— or any other animals with a sense of community. Don’t do it sardonically or meanly, but affectionately—with no hatred in your heart. And not ex cathedra or to impress third parties, but speaking directly. Even if there are other people around.

Another Stoic Philosopher, Epictetus, who advocated integrity, self-management, and personal freedom, wrote in Discourses (transcribed and published by his pupil Arrian):

For there are two rules we should always have at hand: That nothing is good or evil, but choice, and, That we are not to lead events, but to follow them. “My brother ought not to have treated me so”. Very true, but it is for him to see to that. However he treats me, I am to act rightly with regard to him. For this is my concern, the other is somebody else’s; this no one can hinder, the other is open to hindrance.

Idea for Impact: To Be Offended Is a Choice You Make

Don't Take Things Personally: To Be Offended Is a Choice You Make When somebody insults, mistreats, snubs, or disrespects you, choose not to be upset. To be offended is an issue of the self—it’s a choice you intentionally make. Taking offense is about what you want them to be. It is about your desire to change their perspective and behavior.

Try to isolate offense by choosing to respond differently: by overlooking others’ wrongdoings with compassion and reminding yourself that you cannot change others, just your own self.

The Hebrew Bible (or the Old Testament) instructs, “A person’s wisdom yields patience; it is to one’s glory to overlook an offense” (Proverbs 19:11.) To be offended is a choice you make; it is not a condition inflicted or imposed upon you by someone or something else.

Choose not to let others dictate your emotions—purposely or otherwise. Live life with the wisdom that nobody can make you do anything and that you alone can control how you react to your surroundings and circumstances. Choose to be more at peace.

Inspirational Quotations #645

I have approximate answers and possible beliefs and different degrees of certainty about different things, but I’m not absolutely sure of anything, and many things I don’t know anything about, such as whether it means anything to ask why we’re here, and what the question might mean. I might think about it a little bit, but if I can’t figure it out, then I go on to something else. But I don’t have to know an answer…. I don’t feel frightened by not knowing things, by being lost in the mysterious universe without having any purpose, which is the way it really is, as far as I can tell, possibly. It doesn’t frighten me.
Richard Feynman

The man who does not work for the love of work but only for money is not likely to make money nor to find much fun in life.
Charles M. Schwab

You might well remember that nothing can bring you success but yourself.
Napoleon Hill

Read carefully anything that requires your signature. Remember the big print giveth and the small print taketh away.
H. Jackson Brown, Jr.

It is not the criminal things that are hardest to confess, but the ridiculous and the shameful.
Jean-Jacques Rousseau

To be tested is good. The challenged life may be the best therapist.
Gail Sheehy

Either move or be moved.
Colin Powell

Nobody got anywhere in the world by simply being content.
Louis L’amour

The worst is not so long as we can say, “This is the worst”.
William Shakespeare

Don’t Be Too Helpful at Work

Agreeableness Can Go Too Far

Consider the case of Sherry, a discontented claims adjustor at an insurance firm. She is a star employee and an excellent team player. In a bid to be seen as obliging, Sherry always agrees to do everything she is asked to do by her supervisors and her colleagues. She ends up taking on a lot of extra work.

Sherry gets much praise for helping out as much as she can. However, she feels constantly overworked. This excessive dedication has left her with neither the time nor the energy for leisure or family. Her discontent materializes from the fact that her inability to say “no” is actually holding her back from some of her primary priorities.

Don't Be Too Helpful at Work

Too Much Congeniality Can Be Counterproductive

We live in an era in which self-interest is contemptible. People who aren’t generous and altruistic are branded as uncaring and greedy—even evil. At work, one mark of a high-performing employee is the ability to bring discretionary effort at work. This implies willingly dedicating energy and attention beyond the basic requirements of the role. Employees who are agreeable and helpful are much favored to those who are not so obliging.

Nonetheless, as a whole, there are dangers of being too helpful in a workplace. Employees like Sherry frequently find themselves overloaded with tasks that aren’t really part of their responsibility, tasks that are difficult to execute well, and tasks that that others don’t want to undertake because they are uninteresting or low-status in the organization. These supplementary tasks may stop obliging employees from doing their own work to the expected standard. Eventually, they get branded with humdrum work and may even be overlooked for higher-status work assignments or for promotion to senior roles.

If you’re one of those employees who is accommodating or strives to be seen as such, curtail your impulse to say “yes” to whatever people ask you to do. Don’t change abruptly from being a friendly, accommodating employee into an obstinate, unhelpful person.

Be judicious in undertaking extra work if it is only desirable in light of your priorities and the personal image you want to sustain. If the prospective task conflicts with your priorities, you are within your rights to say “no” (see my previous article on nice ways to do so.)

Idea for Impact: There is a Limit to the Results Being Nice Will Get You

While it is virtuous to think of others first at both work and home, devoting all of your time for others can stand in the way of caring for yourself. Your work-life balance can suffer.

Addressing your own needs first is not only incredibly beneficial for your well-being, but also vital to your ability to care for others. Be prudent. Stand up for yourself. Be mindful of your priorities. Be attentive to your own needs. Practice saying “no.” Learn to be assertive.

Silicon Valley’s Founding Fathers & Their ‘HP Way’ [Book Review & Summary]

Bill Hewlett and David Packard: Silicon Valley's Founding Fathers

'The HP Way' by David Packard (ISBN 0060845791) David Packard’s The HP Way recalls how he and Bill Hewlett started one of the world’s most successful corporations in 1937 with just $538 (today’s $8,850 when adjusted for inflation) and a rented one-car garage in Palo Alto, California. That garage is recognized today as the birthplace not only of Silicon Valley, but also of a new management approach.

Bill and David first met as electrical engineering students at Stanford University. Despite their different dispositions, they shared a passion for the outdoors and, with a professor’s encouragement, started Hewlett-Packard (HP) to commercialize the latest “radio engineering” theories. Over the decades, HP invented many groundbreaking electrical gadgets that were crucial to the development of radars, instrumentation devices, computers, and other technological revolutions.

In addition to their technical innovations, Bill and David established many progressive management practices that prevail even today. Starting in the initial days at the garage, the culture that Bill and David engendered at HP was unlike the hierarchical and egalitarian management practices that existed at other corporations of their day.

HP Garage: Birthplace Silicon Valley & New Management Style The essence of the “HP Way” was openness and respect for the individual. (Bill Hewlett once sawed a lock off a tool-room cabinet and left a note, “HP trusts its employees.”)

Management by objectives, managing by wandering about, nursing-mother facilities, flextime, decentralization, intrapreneurship, catastrophic medical insurance, profit sharing, employee stock ownership, tuition assistance, and many other management principles that dominate human resources practices today were all pioneered—if not invented—at HP.

Recommendation: Read. The HP Way tells the story how Bill and David built a company based on a framework of principles and the simplicity of their management methods. Good to Great author Jim Collins once wrote in commending David Packard’s The HP Way, “The greatest lesson to be divined from this book isn’t so much how to create a similar company but how creating a company based on a strong and clear set of values can lead to outstanding success.”

Postscript: Notes from ‘The HP Way’

  • Like Sam Walton, the other illustrious entrepreneur of their generation, Bill and David grew up witnessing Americans’ hardships during the Great Depression. This made them risk-averse; they vowed never to incur long-term debt to expand their fledgling company.
  • On the day Hewlett-Packard went public in 1961, David Packard took a subway instead of a taxi to Wall Street, lost his way, and reached the New York Stock Exchange late.
  • The foundations that Bill Hewlett and David Packard established individually with 95% of their stakes in HP are today two of the most prominent philanthropies in America.