Monthly Archives: March 2012

Be Nice

I am involved in an entrepreneurial and career/life development program that helps young adults live into their dreams in the most relevant ways. We have outside success lecturers come visit the class periodically, and the morsels of wisdom they offer are astounding.

A good friend who is a CEO of a hospital group was talking about what qualities make for success, and I was struck about a truth he offered:

“It’s easier to make a nice person smart than it is to make a smart person nice”. —-Rulon Stacey-

He said in his health care realm, if a person works hard, strives to make their day as productive as possible, and are NICE, they will always have a job. He also observed that while not impossible, someone who is mean spirited (not nice), has difficulty over coming that character trait. In other words, being nice and not nice are probably learned patterns from childhood; more a part of the nature of that soul, therefore being difficult to change.

Upon hearing this, my good friend Roger who is an old movie buff, recalled a movie called Elwood Dowd, and he is quoted for this famous line:

“Years ago, my mother used to say to me, she’d say “In this world, Elwood, you must be oh so smart, or oh so pleasant.” Well, for years I was smart… I recommend pleasant. You may quote me.”

I thought for a moment after this. There are those who try to lead through bombastic tactics; included often in their personality is fear, bullying, egotism, and a narcissistic nature. Following this type of leader is not by choice.

We also know leaders who are both nice and smart—a very winning combination. I feel sometimes the ones who think they are smart (and maybe they are), get a little proud and haughty. I’ve never had that luxury. Sometimes, folks who struggle with smarts can try to lead with fear or bullying to overshadow their stupidity.

One of the nicest people I ever met was a carpenter who was simply NICE. He wasn’t rich, though he was financially independent. He wasn’t well known, though those who knew Frank, knew they had a sincere friend in him. His genuine niceness made him a guy you wanted to be around, would do anything for, and wished the best for him.
In our quest to be effective leaders, putting all of the cool cultural pyramids aside, let’s focus on just being nice. It will win the day.

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Posted by on March 15, 2012 in Uncategorized


A Heart at Peace

I ran into an author in Calgary who was selling his book, “Call Me Mom: A Dutch Boy’s WWII Survival Story”. Fred Van Zuiden was barely 10 years old when his family, who were Jewish, suffered unbelievable treatment after the Germans invaded their country.

Among other humiliations, they were forced to wear a yellow tag that would indicate to the entire world their chosen faith. He was kicked out of school as the headmaster announced, “Jewish children are poisoning our learning atmosphere and can no longer attend school.” They were forced to turn in their automobiles. Any assistance was nearly impossible to find and the few brave souls who did help Jews were shown no mercy, if caught. It reached a point that the only way to survive was to break up as families and go into hiding, to basically vanish from the face of the earth.

As I read his story, I was struck deeply with astonishment at how human beings are capable of treating one another. I was shaken by the inhumanity of man to fellow man.

Fast forward to the 21st century; in our own world there are still atrocities taking place on a global scale. Injustices largely due to one sector of human beings assuming superiority over another. Much of this is going on in the name of religion. Ironic, isn’t it?

So, what can we do as individuals to turn the tide of events? How will we make our mark, or make a contribution to change the world? Can we make a difference?

The simple answer is to begin with YOU and to begin WHERE you are. In the book “The Anatomy of Peace,” by the Arbinger Institute, a dialogue ensues about prejudicial treatment. “As painful as it is to receive contempt from another, it is more debilitating by far to be filled with contempt for another…when I’m seeing resentfully and disdainfully, I condemn myself to living in a disdained, resented world”. Clearly, we can take control of how we treat others.

Seeing people as human beings and equals rather than objects that will benefit our own personal desires and hopes, will help us to understand the great truth that we are all humans living in a mortal experience and that we have an obligation to respect our family, associates, friends, and enemies with the same dignity and respect we hope to receive.

There is no comparison in our places of work or assemblies that can compare to the horrid treatment of the Jewish people in WWII. Such atrocities we pray are never repeated. However, knowing that the difference on a large scale begins with an individual (Adolf Hitler was the catalyst for the evil that was perpetuated by so many during that time) we can strive to contribute only to the positive treatment of each other at all times; owning the message of equality that our country states in its pledge of allegiance: “One nation under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for ALL” (caps added).

In the epilogue of his book Mr. Zuiden writes, “We didn’t forget the past, but we did our best not to let it ruin our future.” Such is the start of a heart of peace, and the way we begin to make a difference in the world we all live in.

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Posted by on March 1, 2012 in Uncategorized