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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.


Why should your children pay attention to anything you say or tell them?

Stop a second to think about what your first reaction was to the question. For most people, “Because I am the parent” or “Because I am the adult” or some variation on the theme comes to mind.

Both of these answers are reasonable and appropriate. What I want to point out here is that there are several reasons why your children should listen to what you say. It will be helpful for you to think about and understand which reason is operating when you want your children to listen, to pay attention, to accept what you are saying to them or telling them.

Your being clear about why they should pay attention will help them be clear about why they should pay attention this time. There is an additional payoff for you. When you are at work or in other situations where you want people to pay attention to you, being clear in your own mind about why they should pay attention will make it more likely that they will accept you and what you are saying.

Until you get comfortable knowing why you think your child or anyone else should listen to what you say, it will help to stop a second to be clear with your self before saying anything where you expect some action or response from the other person. Give it a try. You may be surprised to see how much difference it makes.

Okay, here we go.

Title Authority: Children are told that they should or should not do things because you – their parent – said so. Your title – parent – gives you the right to tell them what to do or what not to do.

Reward/Punishment Authority: If they submit to or go along with what you want or say, you will reward them in some positive way. If they do not, you will punish them.

Referent Authority: You present to them ideas of right and wrong, good and bad, and encourage them to conform to these standards. Sometimes this takes the form of encouraging certain behavior because this is “what we do” in our family or is consistent with what our family believes.

The Voice of Experience: You base your demands, expectations, and suggestions on your personal experience with the same or similar situation. “When I was young,…” is a typical intro to the voice of experience. Another similar approach starts with, “When you have lived as long as I have, you will…” The idea is that your experience takes precedence over the perceptions and judgments of the young person.

Information Authority: Your authority is based on your having knowledge or information that the young person does not possess. This authority approach is also in operation when you encourage the young person to read the instructions, talk with someone who knows about that sort of thing, or go to the library to find more information. The same authority approach is being used when you encourage the young person to check with his teacher, talk to a professional to learn the facts, or to wait awhile until you or the young person can find out more about the situation.

Control of Resources and Opportunities: This approach is ordinarily being used when youngsters are given allowances, when privileges are given or withheld, when special arrangements are made for things like lessons or the opportunity to participate in special events, or when you are trying to influence the behavior of the young person by controlling resources or opportunities. This naturally includes things like driving privileges, using the family car, grounding the young person, sending young children to bed early, and so on.

Acceptance/Rejection Authority: This approach is used far more than many parents realize. Acceptance is being given anytime you give the young person a special hug, smile at her, say nice things either to the young person or to other people about the youngster, or in some way reflect your approval and affirmation. Also, acceptance authority is being used when you reflect a continuing caring and love for the young person even when she gets into trouble, does something of which you disapprove, or behaves outside of the boundaries of family norms and expectations. Conversely, you are rejecting the young person when you become angry with her, send her to her room, do not talk to her or give the youngster the “cold shoulder,” or in other ways let the young person know that you are displeased, do not feel very good about her right now, or are unhappy with the young person. An important part of this authority approach is to devote the time and sensitivity required to know when in fact you are using it.

Now you know so there you go.