When you, or someone close to you, runs into a problem, what’s your first instinct?
Is it to find where the fault is, or to find a solution?
Comedian Bill Cosby, in a televised routine, talked about, obviously from a male perspective, how your wife is NOT your friend. She is your wife.
Cosby cites the example of a man whose car broke down in the middle of the night, somewhere a distance from home. Whom should he call first: his wife, or his friend?
The friend, Cosby asserts, will first ask: “Are you all right?” Then, he will ask, “Where are you?” Then, he’ll say, “I’ll be right there.”
His wife, on the other hand, will first tell him, “I told you to get that car fixed.” You can imagine where the conversation goes from there.
It begs the question: when you are confronted with a problem, do you instinctively act to solve it first, or do you instinctively look for whom to blame for it first?
Some circumstances are avoidable. Some are not. Some you can prevent. Others you can’t. The point is, you identify the type of circumstance you are in AFTER you act to get out of it.
Leadership expert and author John Maxwell, and perhaps others, have said that we either succeed or learn. We should use our failures as learning experiences. But those lessons should come after we have acted to correct what is wrong.
Certainly, the Cosby routine is funny. We all have to laugh at ourselves. Many spouses are friends. But if our instinct is to blame first, and solve later, we will find more success if we can change that in ourselves.
Getting laid off from a job is likely not your fault. If it is, you probably have more things to correct. If it is not, don’t wallow in who’s to blame for your circumstances. Act to change them. What you do after the fact IS your doing. Wishing things were as they had been is wasting your energy. Just presume those days will never come again, and move on to bigger and better things.
Be a realist, but only for a second. Realize that the past is past and the future is yet to come. Then, dream about what you want your future to be.
Realists tend not to dream, so that’s why you should only be realist for short periods, when circumstances hit. You are realist when you believe the good old days are gone. Then, resume your dream about the good things yet to come.

Today, there are many vehicles that can help make dreams a reality. For one of the best, visit You may realize your dreams quickly or slowly, but your dreams are there for the taking if you want to work for them.
Getting back to Cosby’s advice: if your car breaks down in the middle of the night, call someone who will take care of the problem first, without a lecture. Then, think about what you might have done to prevent it, so you can minimize or eliminate that situation again.
In life, you can follow Cosby’s advice by, as many leadership and motivational experts urge, RESPONDING to circumstances, rather than REACTING to them. Responding is positive. Reacting is negative. Solving is positive. Blaming is negative.
Be positive. Know that whatever circumstance you are in, the best life ever could be just around the corner, if you act and think correctly.


We all have a (pick one: world, culture, environment) that we grew up in.
For most of us, nearly everyone in that milieu was pretty much like us. We shared the same beliefs. We had similar goals in life, even if our ways to pursue those goals might have been different.
That milieu is part of who we are. But, it’s not the “whole” world.
Keel Hunt, a columnist for the Tennessean newspaper in Nashville, talked about how diversity has been the key to that city’s prosperity. His new year’s resolution is to meet at least one person who is not like him. He discussed this in a Jan. 5, 2014, column.
Certainly, in his profession, Hunt meets a lot of folks not like him. But not everyone can say that.
Many people never leave the world in which they grew up. They never experience the culture, environments and worlds that others grew up in. Perhaps, if their children attend a school with students who are not like them, they move their children to a more homogeneous school.
This type of behavior breeds intolerance. But, today, “intolerance” has taken on new meanings.
When “Duck Dynasty’s” Phil Robertson talks about his religious and racial beliefs in public, or when a large group of people petition to have CNN’s Piers Morgan deported because of his views on gun control, it makes us re-examine what “intolerance” is.
“Intolerance” today has been comingled with free speech. Those who protest the views of Robertson and Morgan don’t watch them in large numbers. They are speaking largely to an audience of their peers, in terms of their beliefs. Those who disagree with them turn them off. It should come as no surprise that Robertson and Morgan believe what they believe.
Even though you may not agree with what they believe, or say in public, every person has to defend Robertson’s and Morgan’s rights to believe it and say it. If you disagree, turn them off. If enough people turn them off, they will pay a price not for believing what they believe, but expressing it so boldly in public.
If you follow Hunt’s idea and begin to meet people who are not like you, you may learn something. Neither you, nor they, should expect that either of your beliefs, customs, traditions etc., will change. But, neither party should presume the other is “wrong.”
We all are better people when we become an active part of the world. It takes all kinds of people to make a world, to quote an old adage. Many people in the world are different from you. They mean you no harm, in most cases. If they mean you harm, stay away from them. If you mean them harm, shame on you. Certainly, in most cultures or belief systems, most of us are taught to respect one another. There are a few cultures that teach children to avoid people because of what they look like, talk like or behave like – even when they are not misbehaving.
We learn from others. We should make it a point to learn ABOUT others. We should make it a point to live peacefully and respectfully among others who are not like us. And, yes, we should fight for the right of others to be who they are, as long as they mean no harm.
You can’t do much about others’ behavior, but you can start with your own. Believe what you want to believe, but learn more about others. You can help make the world a happier, healthier and more prosperous place for everyone. Eventually, blessings will come back to you in ways you may have never expected.
So, if you haven’t made it a practice to meet people who are not like you, try just meeting one such person. Don’t try to make him or her believe what you believe. It will never work. Instead, listen more and talk less. Each of you may learn more about each other and, perhaps, become friends. What a great world it would be if we could believe what we believe, and have an abundance of friends who are different from us.
Also, if you are well-known person, believing what you believe is certainly OK. And you are certainly free to talk about what you believe. But you might take a little extra care in how, and in what venue, you express your beliefs.

P.S. If you and your friends – those like you and those not like you – want to become prosperous, visit See how communities of friends of all types learn to prosper, and grow as people, by helping each other.


The Baby Boom generation is getting older –at or approaching retirement age, but not necessarily in retirement.
P.J. O’Rourke, author of “The Baby Boom: How It Got That Way … And It Wasn’t My Fault … And I’ll Never Do It Again,” laments that the Baby Boomers own the world. When they look back on their lives, how do they see themt? Now, what’s next?
Yes, as O’Rourke, whose book was adapted in an essay in the Nov. 30-Dec. 1, 2013, weekend edition of The Wall Street Journal, points out the great sense of self that came from the Boomers. After all, they were called the “Me Generation.” Perhaps it was because they lived in the pent-up restrictions of their parents, “The Greatest Generation.” In their parents’ time, institutions, traditions and rules formed barriers for life. The parents had no problem with the barriers. In fact, they took comfort in them.
The kids, however, did not necessarily just want to be part of a church, school, organization or even family. They wanted to be them. Often, they didn’t know who THEY were. They had to “find themselves.” Most did, in one way or another.
If Baby Boomers take O’Rourke’s advice and behold what they have wrought, and lament, how will they make the world a better place? You see, making the world a better place starts with optimism. It also starts with, well, self. Michael Jackson sang about “The Man in the Mirror.” They can’t make the world a better place if they don’t make themselves better. Sometimes, the greatest thing about the past is that it’s gone. The best thing about the future is that it isn’t here yet, and people can start fresh to build it. The best thing about the present is that people can rethink, retool, if needed, and remodel.
Author Andy Andrews has written and often talks about “The Greatest Generation,” and how that generation’s parents made them what they are. That makes the parents of The Greatest Generation even greater. As Andrews says, it’s not about raising good kids. It’s about raising kids to become good adults.
The children of Baby Boomers live in a completely different world from their parents’ and grandparents’. Technology and innovation creates rapid change. Unlike the Baby Boomers, the children have to rethink, retool and remodel every five minutes or so. Living the 40-40-40 life of their parents and grandparents (work 40 hours a week for 40 years, and retire on 40 percent of what you couldn’t live on to begin with) is all but gone.
They have to have a Plan B, or perhaps even a Plan C or D, to deal with the rapidity of change. The slowness of change in previous generations allowed for them to be what they have become.
So, no matter what generation you’re in, rethink, retool and remodel as often as necessary. But, always do it with an eye on your dream. Despite what you may read or see, there is lots of good out there. Things happen for a reason, and you may not see the reason right away. You just have to deal positively with what happens to you.
Are you rethinking yet? Are you looking for options to get you closer to your dream? For inspiration, visit You just may find a story you can relate to, and a better way to get closer to your dream.
Baby Boomers, don’t despair. You may own the world as it is, but you don’t necessarily have to keep it the way it is. Start thinking what could be, even if you’ve never given it much thought before. Don’t fret so much about what you’ve done. Put more energy in what you can do from now on.
Like your forebears , raise children – and grandchildren – to become good adults. Make yourself – yes, have that sense of self again – a shining example for your heirs and descendants. You can do this!
Here’s a tip: as you rethink your new self, use the word “give” more often than “take.”


It’s not about brains. It’s about beliefs.
Your brains may be worth a given amount to someone else, i.e. an employer or a client.
Your beliefs have a value only to you. What would you sell them for?
Rory Vaden, cofounder of Southwestern Consulting and author of “Take the Stairs,” posed this question in a column in the Dec. 1, 2013, edition of The Tennessean newspaper in Nashville.
He calls the sum you would command to compromise your beliefs your “character quotient.”
If you have strong beliefs in something, what would tempt you to deviate from those beliefs?
Criminals, obviously, have a low character quotient. Their beliefs are compromised regularly, and they don’t seem to mind. Or, they never had a strong set of beliefs in the first place. Some of them would compromise themselves for very little.
Some business people have low character quotients. Their belief systems have much to do with making as much money as possible. Some of them don’t really care whom they hurt to feather their own nests. Because of these people, commerce and capitalism carry a bad name among many.
Some people in politics have low character quotients. But, there is an exception here. One does not want a politician unwilling to compromise. Governing is all about compromise, and accepting election results. But some in politics are in it for self-gain and, frankly, make no bones about it.
No matter what you do for a living, no matter your faith, no matter your core beliefs, you probably have something you would go to the wall for. No amount of money, in your mind, would make you deviate from that. Let’s look at Vaden’s formula: a quotient is the answer in a division problem. The dividend is what is being divided. The divisor is what the dividend is being divided by.
Your character dividend, Vaden says, represents the self-assigned value you place on sticking to your virtues and doing what you know is right. The divisor is the amount of money or other payoff that would be offered for you to choose NOT to stick to your principles.
In a concrete example, we all hate paying taxes. How many of us tinker with our tax returns to pay as few taxes as possible. Of course, there is legal tinkering that is OK. But illegal tinkering – cheating – is not. How much tax savings would tempt you to cheat on your taxes, perhaps risking an IRS audit etc.?
Perhaps, you may be offered a job that would violate your core principles. How much would they have to pay you to do it? As an example, you may have a place you’ve always wanted to work. You get an offer to work there, but as a strikebreaker. In other words, you’d have to cross a picket line to go to work. How much would they have to offer you to do that?
Or, you discover that your employer is doing something illegal or unethical. You do not want to be a part of it, because of your core beliefs. Would you quit your job over it – actually take something of value away from yourself?
These are questions we may never ponder, or we may ponder constantly. Do you consider selling out as selling yourself? Do you try to justify your decisions by saying you are doing it for the greater good? Again, politicians are the exception here. They must ALWAYS think about the greater good. Have you ever been placed in a bad position, having to make a decision from which none of the alternatives would be good? What are your beliefs really worth?
If you find yourself in a position to make what you feel is a bad choice, visit You may realize there is a positive place to go when all of the choices placed before you make sense to you, and none would compromise your beliefs.
People who do the right thing usually get rewarded in the end. Those who do the wrong things eventually get caught. Do what make s YOU feel good. Don’t hurt others in the process. The rewards for straying are usually short-lived. Your reward for standing firm may not come immediately, but one day, you’ll find it.