Character Counts For Something, Right?

“Be more concerned with your character than with your reputation, because your character is what you really are, while your reputation is merely what others think you are.”

John Wooden   as quoted in How to Be Like Coach Wooden: Life Lessons from Basketball’s Greatest Leader (2006) pg. 5

I hate getting wisdom from athletic coaches.

As  a boy, I was rather non-athletic and I lived in a rural area where most boys were “real” boys who enjoyed hunting and fishing, were rugged and strong, and enjoyed the heck out of team sports.

Since I was “none of the above”, I felt a little out of place.   A little time in the Army cured me of the delusion that I could not become stronger and more rugged and a long period of running 5Ks, 10Ks, and longer races did help me see myself as somewhat athletic.   

But that’s not the point of this post.

Wooden points out a great reality:   You control your character, but you do not control your reputation.

Reputation is in the mind, but not yours

Your reputation is in the minds of other people.  You can influence, you can manipulate, you can campaign, you can try to trick, but ultimately those other brains still function independently of you.

Good thing to keep in mind about a great many life issues.

Character is all in your head

Character is built on what you think, what you say, and what you do … all of which are in your span of control.

Character is visible to other people, at least in part, so your overt behaviors may influence how someone else regards you.  Just remember you cannot control that regard, only influence it.

Character ultimately has more to do with how you view yourself and your world.

   Character really is all in your head.

Trying hard to remember this one because it’s important in the Heartland ….


Three “Simple” Steps to Real Listening …

“Everyone hears what you have to say.  Friends listen to what you say.  Best friends listen to what you don’t say.”


Ever had  a relationship where the other person understood what you were not saying?

… A relationship where silence was okay, because you were linked enough to not have to use words to convey your mood or siutation?

If “Yes”,  lucky you:)

Really listening to someone as active listening asks us to do, is hard work.

1)  Empty your mind

In other words, forget about what you want to say.   Minimize or eliminate distraction.   Just listen.

Never underestimate the power of focused attention to another person.

2)  Hear the words and the meaning behind them

Once you have emptied your mind of things that get in the way, you can concentrate on the words chosen to convey some message and the images that come from those words.

Words are not generic … each has a specific meaning, based on the person’s background, culture, and emotional state.  Pay attention and analyze what words they choose and the tone in which they use those words.

3)  Hear the silence and the words not chosen

This is the most difficult, but is also the source of the greatest insight.

Think about what was said and look for the missing pieces.  Try this:  

If you were talking about the topic, what would you include?

What did you expect to hear that you did not?

How congruent is their tone with their word choices?

Well, this is actually the easy part … once you hear the unspoken words and feel the underlying emotion, then you have to respond accordingly.

…. Tomorrow.

Trying to listen beyond the sounds in the Heartland ….


Enough of This Positive Thinking Already!

“I am so sick of all the positive thinking messages that are infesting Facebook!”

Not quite an exact quote, but close enough for accuracy and my purposes.

This comment was recently made in an online post, along with a request for those who are tired of the constant stream of “think good thoughts” and positive quotes that seem to be flooding many online networking sites these days to add their voices.   The underlying message seemed to be:

1)  Life is hard and those who post positive messages are ignoring that fact.

2)  Positive thinking is shallow and not reality-based.

3)  We are seeing an epidemic of people sharing sappy feel-good messages on social networking sites.

4)  Without context, all this is just annoying.

Ahem … let me respond, since I am one who posts, reposts, and shares positive thinking from a wide variety of sources on a daily basis.

First, you are right, to some extent.  I am seeing much more posting and sharing of all types of positive thoughts, from religious to whimsical to thought-provoking.  We just disagree about the value of what we both see.

Second, this is a response to the times in which we live.   Life is not easy for many these days, with little relief in sight.   Hard times tend to affect people in one of two distinct ways:  We either get more focused on thinking positively or we fall into thinking negatively.

Third, while posting a positive thought does not change the physical or economic reality of the world, benefits do accrue.  When I post a happy thought:

1)  I am reminded that not all is doom and gloom and politics.   Life does contain little treasures, if we just pay attention.   I am not denying the negative when I focus on the positive – just making a decision, the same one we all can make.

2)  I firmly believe that sharing positive thoughts helps others.  Maybe to ninety-nine folks, what I share is just trivial, simplistic, or trite.   To that one other, it may be just what they need at the time to make it through another day.  I know other’s sharing has helped me.

3)  I feel better because I am sharing positively, rather than negatively.  Sort of like engaging in empathy rather than sympathy – both are focused on the challenges faced by others, but empathy is infinitely more helpful than sympathy.  I can feel sorry for someone, but when I take the time to understand their emotions, I am in a better position to help them.

4)  I do not believe that positive thinking denies reality.   The very need to engage in positive thinking reinforces the realities which which we all deal every single day.

Life can be challenging.  Better to face it with a smile than a frown.

I should share that thought … 🙂

I honestly enjoy thinking , creating, and sharing positive thoughts with others.  I plan to keep right on and I hope you will too

Thinking in terms of abundance rather than scarcity in the Heartland ….


Live Dangerously … Be Yourself

“It is better to live your own destiny imperfectly than to live an imitation of someboy else’s life with perfection.”

“Far better to live your own path imperfectly than to live another’s perfectly.”

“Much better to do one’s own work even if you have to do it imperfectly than it is to do somebody elses work perfectly.”

The Bhagavad Gita (various versions)

Well, whichever version you prefer, the message appears very consistent – just get out there and be the best “You” possible.

Do not try to emulate others whom you admire.  Adopt what you value.

Do not try to live up to other’s needs or desires.  Meet your own needs.

Do not set yourself up with unrealistic goals or expectations.  Do your best and then relax.

Now … doesn’t this really take some of the load off ?   Who knows, you might even find that being a perfect You is easier than trying to be a perfect someone else:)

Chilling out in the Heartland ….


Six Impossible Things …

I just joined a Breakfast Club and it does not include Molly Ringwald … that I know of:)

Six Impossible Things Before Breakfast Club

This great idea via Another Lovely Day.

The basic concept is pretty simple:  You just identify six things that you think are no longer possible and focus on them every day before breakfast.  You visualize them becoming possible for you.

Who knows what might come of this?

I’m still working on my list, but here’s a few front-running candidates:

1)  Having a thriving self-owned business.

2)  Being debt-free.

3)  Completing that doctorate

 What about you?   What seems “impossible” right now in your life?

Thinking about how good it would feel to go from impossible to possible in the Heartland ….


Image used with permission.