We’ve all had friends who have, usually as they are leaving us, wishing us well and telling us not to work too hard.
Our parents, teachers, coaches and other mentors all tell us that hard work is required to get almost anything.
So why would our friends tell us not to work too hard?
Let’s forget for a minute work-life balance, and overwork-induced stress. Our friends don’t want us to work too hard because we might give our employers more than the employers are paying for.
Most good, conscientious people don’t want to be deliberately unproductive, or give less than they know they should. Most of them want to be as productive as they can be. Some will risk their physical and mental well-being to be so.
There’s nothing wrong with wanting to do things right, and pleasing your boss. But there should come a point at which one asks himself, who’s working for me? If I’m working for him or her, is he or she also working for me? If I am helping him or her get what HE or SHE wants, is he or she returning the favor?
Many people believe that they work for a paycheck. They get so busy doing that, they don’t even think about their own big picture. Sure, your boss might ask you in a performance review where you want to be in five years, 10 years etc. You give some pat answer, even if you KNOW you may not want to be in that place, doing what you are doing now, all those years later.
Even people who want to be doing something different in the future are so consumed by their circumstances that they not only can see no way out, but also they won’t even consider great alternatives that may be presented to them.
Those that do consider alternatives sometimes find great things that they never knew existed. To do that, one has to be willing to look. Serendipity is great when it happens, but, generally, one has to be willing to look for alternatives to find them.
If you believe your current situation needs to change, AND you are willing to see what might be out there to help you change it, visit Some may not find what they are looking for there, but others may find just the thing. You may also find not only that you can work hard for you, but others will work hard for YOU!
Polls show people dismayed, pessimistic and downright hostile to the future. But, when one looks at facts, rather than conjecture, he will likely find many good things out there to be had. He will also see that he can HAVE them by doing something a little different.
In short, don’t work too hard for someone else. Work hard for you! Very few others will work for you. Do what you need to do to make your situation better. Complaining requires energy that you need to do what you need to do.
You don’t have to abandon what you have, but you may need to have a different attitude about it. Good, hard workers in bad situations know that the situation is only temporary. They know that one day, what they want will be theirs.
Have a good mind-set about any task you perform. Always believe that the future not only can be bright, but you will make it so.
So, work hard, but have a reason, besides a paycheck, to do what you are doing. Take steps to get control of your future – control that no one but you can take away.


#risk #failure
We have to start life somewhere.
When we do, our relationship with the future is, well, complicated.
Kate O’Neill, founder and principal of KO Insights, discussed this idea in a May 11, 2014, column in The Tennessean newspaper in Nashville.
O’Neill discussed a project she had worked on for a large firm. One of the executives asked her how long a particular feature would take. She told him eight months. He asked how sure she was in that projection. She answered, “70 percent.” He told her that the longer it takes to get something done, the more risk there is and the less certain we can be about it.
The lesson: “Every day could be your last,” O’Neill writes. “Whether it is or not, you can take intentional, meaningful risks today to build the future you might get to enjoy.”
We hear a lot of talk today about uncertainty, as if forgetting the old adage that the only things certain are death and taxes. Part of the uncertainty talk is about taxes, and the fear of rising taxes is keeping some potential employers from expanding, so they say.
No one can know what will come next, but it should never stop us from acting. If you know you have something good, go for it. If you are unsure that what you have is good, then it may be best to stop, think and evaluate. How can I make this idea that I THINK might be good a little clearer to me?
Fear, sometimes irrational fear, can sometimes prevent us from doing something that would be good for us. Don’t let fear, particularly irrational fear, stop you.
Don’t blow something off because you THINK you know it may hurt you, before determining for certain that it will. In other words, standing in front of a moving train certainly could hurt you, so don’t do it. But examining a new business venture, or interviewing for a job that you may not think you can do may benefit you. The worst that can happen is failure that you are certain to learn from. The best that could happen is a very positive life-changing experience.
You feel great when you’re “in the zone.” But if that zone is a comfort zone, be wary. The comfort could disappear, then what?
O’Neill writes that our complicated relationship with the future can make us live our days in a balance of hope and impatience. Have you ever told your (pick one: parents, spouse, teachers) that you are onto something big, and they ask you when you expect to achieve success? Though you would like it to be tomorrow, success often doesn’t come quickly. You may have an idea of a perfect time, but that perfect time may come and go. If you know what you have, and what you are doing, are good, don’t give up because your predicted timing has come and gone. As O’Neill says: “try, fail, learn adjust. Try, succeed, learn, adjust. Then, try, fail, learn, adjust” etc.
If you are open to looking for something that could give you the future you want, visit You will see how others are living their dreams, and how you could, too.
If you fear uncertainty, learn that uncertainty is a way of life. But don’t avoid positive action because you fear the uncertainty. Take, as O’Neill calls them, meaningful risks. Step outside the comfort zone if the comfort has disappeared. You will survive. You could thrive, if you maintain the drive. Forget the fret. It wastes energy.
You may not know the perfect time, but it is out there if you keep looking for it.


To paraphrase an old adage: give a man a fish, he eats for a day. Teach a man to fish, he eats for a lifetime.
We’ve developed a culture in which the poor receive aid without conditions. We believe that they are poor because of bad luck or circumstances, or because their parents or other family was poor.
We, as a society, believe some are poor because they are lazy, resentful or don’t have the skills to hold a job. The poor believe they are poor because they have been discriminated against, treated badly by employers or, they believe the government somehow owes them.
How we would love to change the thought process of poverty. On Aug. 4, 2014, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution ran two columns – one by the New York Times’ David Brooks, and the other by engineer and former Atlanta Falcon William White – that discussed the thought process of the poor.
Brooks talked about character development among the poor. He quotes Richard Reeves of the Brookings Institution as saying that both progressive and conservative orthodoxies in dealing with poverty do so in the abstract. He believes the orthodoxies view the poor as a species of “hollow man,” whose destiny is shaped by economic structures alone.
White, on the other hand, grew up poor in Lima, Ohio. His father worked in a foundry, in which the only air-conditioned place was the engineer’s office. He was determined to succeed in school and become an engineer. As it happened, he also had a successful 11-year career in the National Football League, after graduating with an engineering degree from The Ohio State University.
What both Brooks and White are saying is that circumstances shouldn’t define a person. They also say that fewer people would be in dire circumstances if they just had the belief that they could get out of them.
We, as a society, can’t want success for anyone more than he wants it for himself, as White has shown. We hate to see anyone live in poverty, but we can’t give anyone the desire to get out. If you have the desire to get out, you WILL get out. You will fight through your circumstances and become successful.
Brooks says we should teach people in dire circumstances several things to help them out of their own situations. First, we teach good habits. If you change behavior, you will change disposition eventually, Brooks writes. He cites many government programs that help poor parents and students to observe basic etiquette and practice small, but regular, acts of self-restraint.
Then, we have to show them opportunity. Most of us, Brooks writes, can only deny short-term pleasures because we see the path between self-denial now and something better down the road.
Third, exemplars. Character is not developed individually. It is instilled by communities and transmitted by elders, Brooks writes. That brings to mind another adage: if you can’t change the people around you, change the people around you.
Fourth, standards. People can only practice restraint after they determine the sort of person they want to be, Brooks writes.
In other words, give people something to shoot for, instill in them the belief that they can get it and show them what they need to do to get it.
If your circumstances aren’t what you want them to be, there are many vehicles out there that could help the person who wants to change his life, and has a vision of what he wants his life to be. For one of the best, visit
So if you don’t like your circumstances, don’t wallow and blame. Dream that life can be better, believe that YOU can make it better, then step up and do what you need to do.


To paraphrase a Southwest Airlines ad: We all know airline employees have attitudes, but we have the good ones.
When your parents told you have an attitude, it was not a compliment. Of course, if you didn’t have the attitude THEY wanted you to have, you were told you have an attitude.
But Gregg Steinberg, professor of human performance at Austin Peay University in Tennessee, believes an attitude can be the force, as in “Star Wars,” that should be with you. He wrote about that in an Oct. 12, 2014, column in The Tennessean newspaper in Nashville.
As a child, your parents did not want you have independent thought. They saw that as attitude. They did not want you to think that things they had taught you could be wrong.
As adults, it’s desirable to question things. It’s desirable to investigate for oneself whether something is right or wrong. It’s best, as an adult, not to assume or presume. It’s best to make judgments based on facts.
But attitude is much more than finding facts and making judgments. Attitude is belief. To quote Steinberg, attitude is a force. It’s also, as he said, a choice.
One can choose to be optimistic or pessimistic. Once can choose to see the world as a great place, or a doomed place. Once can choose to believe that the best years of their lives are ahead of them.
Of course, belief is a start. One must act on what he believes. He must choose to fight through the gloom and doom and take charge of his life.
How does one do that when “life” has hit him upside the head? First, he recalls what is good in his life – and we all have good in our lives. Then, he is grateful for the good in his life. Chances are, what’s good in one’s life trumps what’s bad. So, we fight through the bad by having an attitude of gratitude.
Then, one must ask: what can I do to make things great? If you are having trouble finding a good answer to that question, visit You’ll see people who had trouble answering that question in the past finding the answer in abundance.
But no good thing comes to us without effort. We must make an effort not only to believe there is good out there, but to find it.
Once we find it, we must do what we need to do to get it. Once we get it, we must help others believe it, find it and grab it.
Perhaps it’s not what lies beneath that matters. It’s what lies within.
Our circumstances may rattle and shake us. But they should never break us.
We mustn’t fear the future, for it eventually will be bright if we make it so.
So, as an adult, it’s OK to have an attitude. It’s OK to defy what peril has been put upon you.
We all have so much good in our lives. Embrace that to start with, then go get more of it.
Attitude is a choice. Choose wisely.