A Slice of Americana – Think Sunshine and Good Days Ahead
Ed

Musings by The Rooster:

 

On Tolerance:
The English writer G. K. Chesterton (1874-1936) once remarked that tolerance is the virtue of people who do not believe in anything; consequently, the have no standards by which to judge, which means they can be endlessly “ tolerant”. Within any given society or culture, the majority can, in fact, be wrong. Ergo, “Right is still right if nobody is right, and wrong is still wrong if everybody is wrong.” An act’s rightness or wrongness does not depend upon the number of its supporters. Acts that are popular or even laws passed by a legislature are not necessarily moral or ethical, not to mention fair.

On Your Potential:
It is possible that you are squandering your ability to develop your potential by spending too much time mooning over what is not right with your life rather than using that same energy to take action to achieve what you want to happen. To do so you must first decide who you are, what it is you want, and why you are here. Once you answer those questions for yourself, you will naturally gravitate toward becoming the person you are, you want to be, and what you are going to do with the rest of your life. Along the way, you will be feeding your passion rather than trying to discover your passion on an ever ending journey to despair.

On Personal Growth:
There is a huge difference between “professional growth” and “personal growth”. Do you know the difference? Virtually all successful people have professional growth. Professional growth is getting more education (a bachelor’s degree or an advanced degree), or successfully completing a training course in some specific skill (an apprentice carpenter becoming a journyman carpenter). Personal growth is totally different because personal growth requires you to change your thought process and belief system. Of every 100 people who could benefit from personal growth, only 10 at most would even attempt to develop personal growth, and, of those 10, only 1 will achieve personal growth because it is so difficult to achieve on your own without professional help of some kind. The one percent of people who achieve personal growth could be called “1 percenters”.
The 1 percenters may be 99% ahead of those who do nothing to change their thought process and belief system.

Financial Thoughts
on Investing
by Warren Buffett

 

(Ed’s Note: The following condensation is from The Tao of Warren Buffett, written by Mary Buffett and David Clark and available for sale at Amazon and bookstores nationwide. I am always impressed by what Warren Buffett has to say and am doing this condensation to help promote their book.)

On Investing: Never be afraid to ask too much when selling offer too little when buying.
(Ed’s Note: How much you get from a sale or how much you have to pay when making a purchase determines whether you make or lose money and how rich you ultimately become.)

(Ed’s Note: For more of Warren Buffett’s advice go to the menu bar above and click on Financial Thoughts.)

If You Could Only Choose One, Would You Rather Have Money, Power, Fame or Health? And Why?

By Eddie Rooster

If you could choose only one, would you rather have money, power, fame or health? And why?

Most of us have had our share of ups and downs in life.

When we were at our lowest point, we probably wondered how different our life would be if we suddenly came into some found money, or increased influence, or instant and intense attention, or lost weight without real focus and discipline.

The tendency to think our future would change is irresistible. But would it change for the better?

Here’s my take on whether it’s smarter—given the opportunity—to choose money, power, fame or health:

Let’s start with money because “it makes the world go round’. Money can do a lot of things. It can make your creditors vanish. It can make lenders suck up to you. It can cause much poorer people to buy you dinner just to be in your company.

It can get you the best table at a restaurant on the waterfront with a view. It can get you a luncheon meeting with a celebrity or a top-end producer.

Money can also bring some unwanted attention. It attracts all manner of “gorgeous” suitors to your side, begging with eager eyes and huge mounds to put some bang into your evening. It can also bring tax problems and IRS agents, eager to take away your newfound cash.

It can bring friends and relatives you never had, with sob stories about how they need your cash more than you do. They will be the ones who will love you the most when they want the money, and then hate you the most when you don’t give it to them.

Even if you win millions in the lottery, the reality is that too many lottery winners lose the money they have not earned because they have never been taught or learned how to keep and grow money. Most lottery winners are like drunken sailors on leave, they use their six months at sea figuring how to spend all of their money on wants rather than needs.

Unfortunately, money seldom brings us anything of substance that really matters. Money cannot buy us happiness. Money cannot buy us love. Money cannot buy us health. The people without money can enjoy the simple pleasures of life just as easily as those with money–like sunrises, sunsets, walks in the park, playing board games, spending time with family and friends, working up a sweat exercising, reading a good book, or watching a movie or live theater.

Someone first said that the best things in life are free. And have you ever thought that if you won big bucks in the lottery, it would deprive you of the satisfaction of making it in the world on your own?  There is something important to be said about working hard and achieving your goals by clear thinking and sweat equity.

When it is difficult to earn money, you are not so anxious to spend it recklessly. When gifted or loaned money, it slips through your hands like a hot knife through butter.

Power is another matter. Power suggests influence and creates a welcome bed for wrong-doing. People with perceived power tend to use it for ill-gotten personal aggrandizement.

Daniel Webster had this to say about power: “Good intentions will always be pleaded for every assumption of authority. It is hardly too strong to say that the Constitution was made to guard the people against the dangers of good intentions. There are men in all ages who mean to govern well, but they mean to govern. They promise to be good masters, but they mean to be masters.”

Power among high-level bureaucrats is almost legendary, as many of them become dictators. Even low-level bureaucrats like to lord it over the citizens they should be serving rather than aggravating. Should you question their use of power, you might be subjected to a bevy of bureaucrats ready to do you substantial harm. All pigs eat out of the same trough.

Politicians on both sides of the fence tend to eat each other alive when in power. They think nothing of launching a Congressional investigation into a minor happening and, when both sides are in agreement to their benefit, they ignore inquiry into a major issue, such as taking a pay raise in a down economy while raising taxes to continue salary increases and benefits for their fellow government staff members and supporters.

The effect of power among high-level military officers and law enforcement officers is no less so, and they carry and use guns and associated weapons.

Lord Acton, an English historian, said “Power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely.” Man, was he ever right. More than one inquiring soul has learned that it is best not to upset a high-level righteous bureaucrat, politician, military officer or law enforcement officer.

When I was managing editor of the daily newspaper in Westfield, Massachusetts, Teddy Kennedy and his handlers ALWAYS came calling for my endorsement during an election year. When I owned and operated a newspaper publishing company, many local citizens thought I had a power position in the community because of the newspaper
I published.

When they told me so, I reminded them that the only power I had was what they thought I had; virtually all of them had no idea what I was talking about.

In truth, people are about as powerful as we believe them to be. When people in a power position start killing people and ruining the lives of others, their power becomes a lot more obvious.

There is also great danger in being powerful as someone always wants to kill you to replace you, and many a dictator has met death on his way to the forum. When you live by the sword, you can just as easily die by the sword.

Clearly, power is a dangerous game and, when combined with money, becomes toxic to control—the propensity to do wrong (and get caught) is all but inevitable.

And then there is fame. Andy Warhol coined the phrase “15 minutes of fame”, wherein a person experiences a short-lived, fleeting moment of publicity or celebrity that melts away faster than a dewdrop in the hot morning sun.

An example happened recently to a woman in New Jersey who went to the tanning booth so often she looked more like a deep-fried Twinkie than a responsible adult. All you need to know is that the “15 minutes of notoriety” did not cure her need to go to the tanning salon and, once informed, people quickly forgot about her.

There are several attention-getters willing to commit stupid pranks or even heinous crimes just to get noticed. Hollywood types who have fallen out of favor will do literally anything, even absurd behavior, just to get back into the news; they figure even bad news is better than no news, and they are absolutely right, too many of us are drawn to stupid behavior because it fools us into thinking it makes us look smarter for not having done so.

It has been said than fame is a fickle suitor. Once lost, it never seems the same again. Fame also comes to those who least expect it. There are a number of famous professional athletes who were stocking grocery shelves and three weeks later were playing the big leagues. It almost seems unfair that fame can come to you unannounced and then leave as suddenly as it arrived.

Some people can’t wait for fame to arrive, and others are upset when it does. Fame, even for 15 minutes, can be overwhelming, and fame that lasts can be unrelenting, presenting an opportunity and a paycheck for the paparazzi.

Health is given and can also be taken away. Some of us are born with a genetic makeup that allows us talent, intelligence and longevity, and, should we take advantage of the opportunities that life serves up, we can reap great benefits. This great possibility is cast against a youngster who, through no fault of his own, contracts and dies of cancer during a single-digit existence.

While we can contribute to our well-being through regular exercise, eating wisely and avoiding obvious dangers, a good half of who we are is genetic and cannot be influenced by our behavior, attitude or will. We are at the mercy of life itself, or a higher power when you develop a spiritual awareness and choose to believe in a greater power.

That said, I believe I would choose health over money, power or fame. At the very least, without health I probably would not be a candidate for money, fame or power given my own volition and means. 

In its best state, health allows me to enjoy life without significant money, fame or power. Sometimes it is better to be the captain of your own rowboat than a 5th mate on an ocean liner. Good health allows you to be self-sufficient, independent, responsible and accountable for your own actions. I really determine my own success or failure. I can really only control myself, and even not then when I lose my health.

I would rather lose money, fame and power than my health. Should I lose money, fame or power, it can be potentially gained back again through focus, hard work and determination. Health, once lost, is never regained. Should you lose your eyesight, it will be gone forever.

Give me health, something to do, someplace to go and someone to love, and I will be happy, because people are, as Abe Lincoln has said, about as happy as they want to be.

Never forget that when we blame others for our condition in life, we give up our ability to change. Worse yet, if we lack the will for change, there is no one who can show us the way. We can only become better by being willing to change, and making better choices in doing so.

If You Think as a Parent that Little League Baseball Does Not Teach Important Survival Skills, Think Again

 

By Eddie Rooster

Sometimes as parents we forget how simple and subtle the lessons in life
can be.

I was reminded of this yesterday afternoon when
I heard the cheering of youngsters playing a Little League baseball game in the nearby city park. It is amazing when the noise of kids at play can carry the sound a half-block away and into the open window of your living room.

Little League baseball games can get noisy. Kids are excited when the bases are loaded and their next hitter sends a screaming line drive into the outfield.

They know that the outfielder will likely boot the ball, and as it gets by him on its merry way to the fence, all three players on base will score and the hitter will probably come home safe with an inside-the-park home run and 4 ribbies (runs batted in) to his credit.

Ah, baseball, spring is in the air and summer is approaching.

The pure fun of sport is so normal and so natural to our human experience.

I read a study once that interviewed hardened criminals spending life in prison for capital crimes, such as murder. A psychologist asked inmates what they missed most now that they were spending the rest of their lives behind bars without possibility of parole.

The answer stunned me, and it should stun you too. What they missed most was not their girlfriend, or sex, or drinking, or drugging, or gambling; it was the sound of kids playing. Perhaps the one, real, positive memory they have of their life was when they were a child playing.

These are two compelling extremes: children at play without a care in the world, and incarcerated criminals who are burdened with the reality that they will never again be free to play.

With all of the violence we are now seeing with youngsters who solve their supposed “problems” by shooting their perceived “enemies” (many times friends and family), I am reminded that some of our children today seem less able to cope with adversity, and even less so with patience.

How is it that they clearly lack coping skills and patience, two necessary traits for survival as an adult?

It will take someone a lot smarter than me to give you the right answer to this question.

I will leave that answer to what some educated professionals who study psychology think.

In the meantime, I choose not to tell you what I think, but to share with you what
I know.

Here is one thing about Little League baseball that is being taught by some parents and some leaders in some organizations that is really not worth teaching, and that is this:

Certain organizations have adopted the misguided practice of rewarding every kid on each team regardless of their effort or performance. In other words, a team can lose every game all year and each kid gets a trophy for participating, a team picture and his or her own baseball card with their mug on it.

Apparently some parents do not want to hurt their child’s feelings even though the child makes little effort, is clearly incompetent at improving on any skills of the game, does not understand the game, and really could care less.

I doubt the parents in the example given have a clue about the lessons they are teaching their children by insisting on this foolish practice of making their child feel like he or she has accomplished something.

First, they are encouraging mediocrity by rewarding nothingness. Practice this stupidity a few more generations and we will have our children thinking they can show up to work as an adult, do nothing and get paid for their lack of skills, effort and production.

Second, they are rewarding children for having no concept of goal-setting and achieving goals. The parents are not encouraging any concept of self-improvement and providing no incentive to do so.

Third, they are teaching no learning skills in how to cope with failure, and not providing a shred of understanding about the function of failing. Losers would be astonished to learn that successful people have failed more than losers ever thought of failing.

One of the big differences between losers and winners in the game of life is that when winners fail, they get right back up, dust themselves off, learn from the experience, and try again.

Fourth, they devalue the kids who do work hard, fail and then succeed by rewarding a bunch of kids who haul off and do nothing, learn nothing, and have no sense of real accomplishment.

I remember going door-to-door as a 9-year-old kid, looking for a sponsor for a baseball team I was putting together. I instinctively knew kids would want to be on my team if I could get them a free baseball hat and shirt; we would then look like a real team. I had played on a team that had nothing; we could not afford uniforms, we were lucky to have a glove or borrow a glove.

I found that sponsor, a business called Jewell Realty in Flint, Michigan.
I found a sponsor because
I was looking for a sponsor. The people that owned that business were impressed that a 9-year-old kid would have the guts to walk all over town and ask businesses to sponsor his rag-tag team. I put up with the nos and getting kicked out of places because
I wanted it that bad.

The year was 1953 and we were terrible; we lost more games than we won. We were put upon, put down, slapped around and got the crap kicked out of us, but
I never quit, and I made sure my teammates didn’t quit either. When someone quit trying, I kicked him off the team and found someone else.

Two years later we won the league championship, and when we did, I was surrounded by winners who had become my friends.
I did not need my parents to do this for me, I did not need some meddling adult or juvenile counselor to do this for me, I needed to do this for myself.

When I got the guys together and we took that trophy down to Jewell Realty, we all shared in the excitement of being winners. Later that summer I would walk by Jewell Realty, see that trophy in the window, and know who
I was and what I had become: a winner. Jewell Realty did not win that trophy, I won that trophy, and I knew what it would take to win another.

Our parents never saw us play, they were too busy working.

If someone had come around after that first season and given each of us a trophy for losing, we would not have accepted it. Think about it: the message they would have been sending us was we think you are so bad that you could never win a title, so in order to sooth your precious little feelings, here is a trophy for being a loser.

I think I would have spit in their face. I was that competitive. I might have been a 9 year old but I did not need some meddling parent setting goals for me that I thought were so low
I would trip on them walking across the baseball diamond.

If you think a 9-year-old child cannot have some dignity, you are dead wrong, and have probably been wrong about a lot of things in your life.

Once we won that championship and experienced our moment of victory, you could have taken that trophy away and it would not have mattered.
I knew what I had sacrificed to win that trophy, and after all of the blood, sweat and tears, nothing any stupid parent or adult could do would have made me feel less about myself.
I knew I was a winner, and
I wasn’t going to settle for anything less.

Parents, if you do not understand one thing in raising your children, understand this: if your child goes through his or her entire schooling period (kindergarten through high school graduation) and never experiences real success at anything at least one day is his or her life, your child will be handicapped for life. Nothing could be more arcane, stupid and bovine.

Don’t you dare try to prevent your child from failing. Let them try and when they fail, pick them up, dust them off, and encourage them to try again. It is in failing that we learn to succeed.

If you as a parent cannot be a winner in your own pathetic life, if all you have to offer is whining and complaining about this and that, and bemoaning how your child is treated, then get the hell out of the way and let your child fail to ultimately win on his own.

Take a snapshot of two pictures.

In one a child is given a trophy, a team photo and a baseball card with his picture on it featuring a loser who accomplished nothing. In the other snapshot, a child is given only a trophy, or the team is given one trophy to admire, because they have worked their butts off, improved their skills, played their hearts out, taken risks and won a league title. Which is your child?

Any child who has worked to get to the top of the mountain, and experiences the sheer joy of competing and winning, is someone who will go much farther in life.

I can tell you from experience in hiring that there is an incredible correlation between having athletic success at the high school or college level and success later in life. The reason is simple: winners win and losers don’t.

Do not misunderstand what I am sharing here. It is not that you cannot win bigger and better in life unless you are a successful athlete in your youth, it is that you need to have a sense of accomplishment and recognition doing something that takes hard work, dedication, effort and goals. It could be singing, it could be acting, it could be playing a musical instrument; suffice to say any activity that allows you to fail, learn, improve and succeed over a period of time.

It certainly helps to have a strong father in the house to help teach his children what it is to be a winner, to learn coping skills, patience, hard work, dedication, effort, improvement and success. A strong single mother can do the same.

Do not play patty-cake with your children when they are 9 years old, do not knowingly set them up in life to fail, let them struggle and succeed. If you do not do this someday they will be adult and not know how to act when they are put down, put upon, made fun of and beaten up emotionally. They will figure it out if you do not protect them and their feelings so much they become helpless and inept.

They will learn to cope and be stronger for the experience. When they reach adulthood they will be able to dismiss people around them who have mediocre minds and are mental midgets. They will be polite as they treat these losers as irrelevant (which they are) and be unaffected by their negative presence.

Then they will move on quickly to be with the winners. It is the losers who are left standing alone and wondering why.

Do not play to participate, play to win. It is not winning that is the be all to end all,
it is that in the process of winning we learn important skills that make us much more effective in playing and winning in the game of life. After all, life is not a resting place; life is a testing place, it is now and will continue to be as long as you live.

A wise man said it and it bears repeating here: When everyone is somebody then no one’s anybody.