Is work piling up and there’s just too much to do?
Are you getting frustrated with things backing up on you?
Does your to–do list keep getting longer with no end in sight?
Would you stop and relax if you weren’t so up–tight?

Does the rat race leave your head buzzing and spinning?
Is it depressing to see the damn rats are winning?
Are you holding up the world but feeling it slip?
Is the balance in your life beginning to tip?

Did your future just flash before your eyes?
Was it what you expected or a total surprise?
Either way you don’t need to see it twice.
Put on the brakes and consider this advice.

Grab that to–do list and a ballpoint with ink.
Shortening the list isn’t as hard as you think.
Put a checkmark beside the tasks that are urgent to do.
Everything else can wait until you’re through.

Look at your checkmarks and handle it this way.
Put a + beside tasks you can finish today.
Rank the + items from more urgent to less.
If it’s hard to decide, quick take a guess.

Take your + list and cut it in half.
As the bottom drops off, don’t stop to laugh.
What’s left is urgent so approach it this way.
Just buckle down and do today’s work today.


I happened across this from Mark Twain, “There is no sadder sight than a young pessimist.” At first, these were merely words prompting a flash of truth but seeming not to stick, not to pass beyond the barrier we construct to protect us from painful truths. I moved on to read more words, this time from James Branch Cabell, “The optimist proclaims that we live in the best of all possible worlds; and the pessimist fears this is true.”

I had nearly managed to escape from Twain’s painful truth when Bill Vaughan nudged me back, “An optimist stays up until midnight to see the new year in. A pessimist stays up to make sure the old year leaves.” But what if the old year isn’t leaving? What if your world, the one where you are a young pessimist, is the best of all possible worlds for you? What if what you see is all you get, as good as it will ever be?

My desire not to look directly into the sad face of Twain’s pessimistic child is strong. If you too feel you have to look away, so be it. I understand. We can look away together, telling ourselves our optimism is a choice we make, a choice anyone can make, including sad children.

We look away together, even though Kin Hubbard reminds us, “Being an optimist after you’ve got everything you want doesn’t count.” It likely doesn’t count either when you only have most of what you want but have prospects, the possibility of a better world for you personally.

What if you are nine–years–old and failing school, only to be told it’s your fault since you don’t try hard enough, don’t pay attention, don’t follow instructions, don’t settle down and do your work? No, you are probably not specifically told it’s your fault but as you repeatedly hear the litany of what you don’t do, you hear the message – you get it.

What if you are five–years–old and chronically neglected and maltreated? You receive little to none of that tender loving care all children desire and require throughout their nurturing years? Perhaps your world improves for a few days or a few months but the bad times always return; they just keep coming back.

What if you are sixteen–years–old, being sexually used by people who are supposed to care for you, care about you? What if you are expected to fend for yourself at home, at school, in your community, with no help, no one to guide and support you? What if you are essentially on your own?

I could add to the list ad infinitum but if you don’t already get the point, your barriers are already too impermeable to permit a sad child to pass through to where you feel sad for him or her, feel nearly as sad as the child.

I don’t have a grand plan, insightful advice, or magical solution. Today, thinking about Twain’s young pessimist is just making me feel sad, holding my emotions, not letting me look away.


You’ve heard the one about good old boys.
It’s rusty pickups and small town joys.
It’s beer from a bottle and friends you know.
It’s country singers and rodeo.
It’s catfish fried and collard greens.
It’s well worn boots and old blue jeans.

But if you got your idea from an old country song,
I’m here to say, you’ve got it wrong.

Those slower times are all in your mind.
A hayseed boy is hard to find.
It’s smart phones and business suits.
You know who they are by the cut of their boots.
It’s friends on Facebook and followers on Twitter.
They don’t chew tobacco and none is a spitter.

But if you got your idea from an old country song,
I’m here to say, you’ve got it wrong.

Country boys with college degrees.
Budweiser or perhaps Chardonnay, if you please.
Running the ranch with iPad and GPS.
Good ol’ boys saying “Yes,” to success.
Clinging fast to the country point of view.
Helping the neighbors; it’s the right thing to do.

But if you got your idea from an old country song,
I’m here to say, you’ve got it wrong.

A pickup truck – an office on wheels.
Knowing all about prospects and about making deals.
Managing the farm – it’s computerized.
In business matters, being seldom surprised.
God and family still heading the list.
If you can’t make it for supper, you know you’ll be missed.

But if you got your idea from an old country song,
I’m here to say, you’ve got it wrong.

But if you got your idea from an old country song,
I’m here to say, you’ve got it wrong.


Women in leadership positions seem to naturally manage some aspects of their positions better than do men in similar positions. Skilled men often do as well with these aspects as skilled women, but in general, women do better. In this episode of Audio Tidbits, we take a look at the aspects of skilled leadership where women tend to shine.

skilled leaders understand holding people responsible and accountable on the one hand and blaming and accusing them on the other are not the same. Holding someone responsible is a performance standard. Holding them accountable is a performance expectation. Alternatively blaming and accusing imply negative opinions and perceptions of the individual.

To blame someone or accuse them represents a pejorative assessment of them. Blaming and accusing are always subjective and personal while responsibility and accountability are performance elements that can be objectively evaluated and if necessary adjusted. Since the individual or group are accountable for their performance the level of responsibility extended to them may be increased or decreased depending on their performance.

To blame or accuse are counterproductive and incompatible with skilled leadership. Holding people responsible and accountable are key elements in the skilled leader’s approach with people. It starts with holding himself (or herself) responsible and accountable and then simply extending the principle to everyone else in the organization.

skilled leaders demonstrate their respect for and are pleased by the successes and accomplishments of others. The key here is twofold. They both respect the achievements of others and actively demonstrate that respect and the pleasure they experience when others do well. Respect in this context includes holding the person and the action or accomplishment in high esteem, feeling delighted, and actively expressing approval.


Read, every day, something no one else is reading. Think, every day, something no one else is thinking. Do, every day, something no one else would be silly enough to do. It is bad for the mind to continually be part of unanimity. – Christopher Morley

You don’t get harmony when everybody sings the same note. – Doug Floyd

The reward for conformity was that everyone liked you except yourself. – Rita Mae Brown

Sticking to the high road can be quite challenging. Even so, the associated lessons all have two things in common. First, they usually are not particularly complicated. It certainly can sometimes take a while to get it; but once you do get it, the lesson is normally straight–up and to the point. Second, and here is the rub, the lessons invariably are a “So now you tell me!” kind of thing. Oh sure, hindsight is 20/20, live and learn, no one is perfect, and you are only human. Nonetheless, having learned your lesson is not much consolation once you have already missed important opportunities to stick to the high road. Yes, you may do better the next time; but your chance to get it right the first time has passed and will not return. Much better is to get it right, the first time, on time, every time.

It’s certainly true that no one is perfect, you are only human, and things only work out just the way you want them to in the movies. Life can be a real bear sometimes; but fortunately, you do not have to take responsibility for life. You are only on the hook for who you are and what you do. Here is a suggestion worth taking to heart. Start with developing a personal style that sets you apart, that lets everyone know that you are a class act. Think about people you know who stand out from the crowd, people who are certifiable class acts. They have three techniques down pat. First, they are originals. Their style and approach with people and situations are their trademarks. Second, they are not on–again, off–again. They are always uniquely themselves. Third, and here is the key: it is no accident. They usually make it seem easy and natural; but take a closer look and you will soon understand and appreciate how hard they work at it. They consciously and purposely do everything they do, with style, all the time, on purpose, one situation at a time, one person at a time.

Now you know so there you go.


A “Normal” person is the sort of person that might be designed by a committee. You know, “Each person puts in a pretty color and it comes out gray. – Alan Sherman

Labels are for filing. Labels are for clothing. Labels are not for people. – Martina Navratilova

Most people have become convinced that vanity is a bad quality to have. In fact, it may actually be a cardinal vice which makes it more than bad; it’s terrible. If one explores this negative pronouncement in more depth though, it ain’t necessarily so. For example, Lord Chesterfield said, “To this principle of vanity, which philosophers call a mean one, and which I do not, I owe a great part of the figure which I have made in life.” There you go. Chesterfield thought vanity was one of the keys to his success.

It may be that vanity is little more than one of those things that is just going around. If so, even you may have a little yourself. As Blaise Pascal suggested, “Vanity is so secure in the heart of man that everyone wants to be admired: even I who write this, and you who read this.” No less an icon than Mark Twain said, “There are no grades of vanity, there are only grades of ability in concealing it;” and there is no end to how clever people can be when concealing it. To illustrate, Louis Kronenberger suggested this strategy, “Nothing so soothes our vanity as a display of greater vanity in others; it makes us vain, in fact, of our modesty;” so if you are uncomfortable with vanity, substitute modesty about being not so vane as some people you know. Just be sure to cleverly conceal it.

François de la Rochefoucauld is another one of the folks who got it, “What makes the vanity of others insupportable is that it wounds our own.” Benjamin Franklin got it too, “Most people dislike vanity in others, whatever share they have of it themselves; but I give it fair quarter, wherever I meet with it, being persuaded that it is often productive of good to the possessor, and to others who are within his sphere of action: and therefore, in many cases, it would not be altogether absurd if a man were to thank God for his vanity among the other comforts of life.” Antonio Porchia also understood, although he did slip in “ridiculous,” probably as a minor concession to the vanity police, “Without this ridiculous vanity that takes the form of self–display, and is part of everything and everyone, we would see nothing, and nothing would exist.”

Fortunately, there is a much better approach. You can simply re–conceptualize. What folks refer to in you as vanity isn’t vanity at all. Rather, it’s merely a reflection of your positive self–perception. It’s what the psychologists call a good self–image. If someone accuses you of vanity, just smile and say:

I’m not a giant or a meek little lamb. I am me, that’s who I am. I’m taller than a cat and shorter than a tree. I’m the very best me you’ll ever see.

I like to laugh, I like to smile. I like to daydream once in a while. I’m extra special but I’m still just me. I’m the very best me I know how to be.

I always try to do my best. I’m good at a lot of things and getting better at the rest. Here’s the truth for everyone to see. It’s totally terrific being me.

I could tell you more stuff about who I am. I like spaghetti and strawberry jam. Here at last is the most spectacular part. I’m extra special because I’m so smart.

Now you know so there you go.