More Important than Wisdom

Wisdom was my first real request. I read it in Proverbs at a young age. If I wanted wisdom, I had to ask for it. Desire was the beginning. After that came the real work of knowledge acquisition and application (understanding). Forty years later, I proudly admit that I am still a novice. Forty years later, and I have learned that how much I do not know far exceeds the very little that I do know.

A good many of these years, I had to learn to keep my ego in check. This is not small task, and I still have far to go. Leadership was another issue. I have had many opportunities, yet I never maximized them to the fullest. Along the way, I learned two important points that are paramount to success. The first comes from some of the most powerful leaders I have had to opportunity to know. Great leaders are great servants. The second I learned from the book Extreme Ownership: How U.S. Navy SEALs Lead and Win by Jocko Willink and Leif Babin. A leader doesn’t need the title. I can lead from the bottom as well as the top. Finally, I had to learn that my mission in life, though important to me, is not greater than the success of the whole team. In this regard, my team is my family, friends, and those within my network and community. This was another hard lesson that I am still working on to this day.

Kindness is more important than wisdom, and the recognition of this is the beginning of wisdom.

Theodore Isaac Ruben

Too often, I chose my pursuit of wisdom over the needs of others. I have held myself distant and indifferent. Yet, what good is wisdom if it is not for the benefit of others? What good is trying to help the people of the future if I neglect those of today? Is there any good in helping the strangers of the world while turning a blind eye to those closest to me? True wisdom requires kindness to all. My wisdom does no good if I push myself away. Who would want to listen to the words of an uncaring schmuck no matter how wise his words? Kindness: more important than wisdom.

Finding Love

“Nobody loves me!”

How many times have you heard someone say that? How many times have you felt that way in your own life? The feeling of not being loved weighs deeply on the mind. It brings on feelings of moroseness, frustration, and depression. Everybody wants to be loved. And when you don’t feel it, the emptiness within grows and eats away at your very being.

The truth is that most people are loved. Maybe they haven’t found that special someone to spend the rest of their lives with yet, but they are still loved by others in their network. The problem is they don’t recognize it. They do not feel as if they are loved. And the words, “nobody loves me,” is usually expressed to those they trust, to those that do love them.

And in the off chance that nobody really loves them, they must ask themselves why. Why does nobody love them? Hopefully, the answer to that question leads to more questions. Hopefully, it leads back to the one asking it. With a little digging we can find out the reason. We can get to the root of the problem and find ways to correct them.

If you would be loved, love.

Hecato of Rhodes

This is maxim that stretches back through the ages. If you want to be loved, you must be willing to love first. We must go beyond the selfish mindset of “nobody loves me.” We must first learn to love and freely give our time and devotion to that pursuit. If we want to receive, me must give.

Get vs. Giving

Making a Living.

Here is a simple truth: The more money you make, the better your standards of living. More money equals more buying power. Not just more in terms of quantity but also in quality. For some, this means everything. It is a completely selfish endeavor, but it doesn’t necessarily mean it is bad. It is just a truth. Who wouldn’t prefer to live comfortably, travel freely, eat better, and wear well-made clothes? To do so while incurring the least amount of personal sacrifice is the desire of many.

A Life of Giving

Yes, making a living is nice. But shouldn’t we aim for something higher, something more noble and less selfish? Our goal should be to leave the world a little better than when we entered it. The only way we can do this is by giving back to the world. Life isn’t about how much we can get. It is about how much we can give.

We make a living by what we get, but we make a life by what we give.

Winston Churchill

The getting is nice, but it is the giving that matters.

Strength from Good Actions

Each repetition with that heavy weight reinforced the signal to my muscles—they must become stronger. Oh, the strength won’t come today. No, today is the sacrifice that precedes the gain in strength tomorrow. Or in my case, the strength that may come someday in the future. With strength training, there is no immediate gratification. There is only the next repetition, the preparation for the next building block to be added to the foundation.

Every time I do a good deed, my expectation isn’t for my own benefit. But for every good deed I do, I become stronger. My ability to perform more good deeds increases. Whether that good deed is for myself or for others, I get stronger. And when those deeds are directed toward others, they, the recipients, get stronger. The community gets stronger.

Good actions give strength to ourselves and inspire good actions in others.

Plato

The beauty of strength training is that anybody can do it and reap the benefits. There is no prejudice. There is no exclusion for only a certain group of people. Everybody can train and become stronger. Strength goes beyond muscles, tendons, and bones. It is developed in our good actions. Each good action is another repetition promoting positive change and adding to another layer on top of the foundation.

Action breeds action. Inaction does the same. To become stronger, we must train.

Investment Advice from a Poet

When it comes to where to invest our money, we have a plethora of options:

  • businesses
  • currencies
  • real estate
  • sports
  • casinos

Some are slow-going and relatively secure. Others are contingent on how all the others are doing. And some are a toss of the dice with the fingers crossed.

All investments have the same end-goal in mind. The investor wants to get a positive return. So, what this have to do with a poet?

Charity and personal force are the only investments.

Walt Whitman

Charity. How is charity an investment? Is there a tangible return on a good deed that has no expectation of getting anything back in return? For the investor that is only looking to increase the portfolio size, it is an obvious no. but are we not all connected as humans on this planet? If we make a charitable investment into our communities, do we not get a positive return? By helping those in need, we can create a portfolio that goes beyond our own lives. This is an interest that truly compounds.

Personal Force. Whitman said this is the other great investment. Once we put ourselves into motion, momentum builds. When we invest in ourselves, whether through education, health, or any other self-improving endeavor, we become more valuable. Our stock goes up.

The challenge for us today is to take Whitman’s words to heart. Charity and personal force. Are there any sounder investments than these two?


Feature photo by Anne Nygård on Unsplash

Better with Love

When you love a game, it can consume your thoughts. You find yourself learning the rules, learning the strategies to help you become better, and learning how to counteract and defeat your opponent. When it comes to a game, winning is the end goal. And winning, also known as success, comes easier to those who love the game.

 The same application of love can be utilized in one’s occupation, hobbies, art, and faith. It also applies to one’s relationships. When you love something or someone, you want to become better than you were yesterday in relation to the object of your desires.

When we love, we always strive to become better than we are. When we strive to become better than we are, everything around us becomes better too.

Paulo Coelho

Better is, well, it is better. When I become better in one aspect, I can utilize that same formula to other areas of my life. My love for knowledge and understanding in one subject can spark growth in others as well. When Aristotle said, “Educating the mind without educating the heart is no education at all,” he hit the mark spot on. If we put our hearts into it, if we truly love what we are doing or pursuing, then we are getting the most out of our education. Everything becomes better with love.


Feature photo by Nick Fewings on Unsplash

Be Content and Rejoice

One of the last things I do before I go to sleep is say a prayer of thanks. I am grateful for friends and family, breath and life, health and love. I have food, shelter, and the means to provide for my wife and son. Sound of mind, body, and soul.

Be content with what you have; rejoice in the way things are.

Lao Tzu

Of course, I want more. But in truth, I have more than I really need. If I only pursue the latest and the greatest, I will be a slave to every new generation of “stuff.”

I have so much, and that is enough. For this I am thankful. Truly, I am blessed.

Feature photo by Marcos Paulo Prado on Unsplash

Courtesy as much as Courage

There was once a time when one would hurry ahead only to open the door for the one coming behind. Now a person would hardly look back to see if any was coming.

Once a lady could board a crowded train or bus and others would get up and offer her their seat. Now, she stands.

Once, driving down the road, motorists would use their turn signals and allow others to merge into their lanes. Not anymore.

But that was in the past.

A genuine “how do you do,” a hearty handshake, a smile, and a heartfelt response. Have these become relics of a previous age?

Courtesy is as much a mark of man as is courage.

Theodore Roosevelt

Courage is no doubt a virtue many would attain. Do we look at courtesy in the same light? Consider the cost it requires to show a little kindness. For you, it may only be a few seconds to go out of your way. For the recipient, the effects may leave a lasting impression paying dividends for years to come.


Feature photo by Adelin Preda on Unsplash

First Move Yourself

Natural disasters, pandemics, global elitist playing the part of puppet master, drought, starvation, war, inflation.

So much in this world that weighs us down physically and mentally. Why is this happening to us? Why now? How do we stop it?

Why us and why now really come down to our viewpoint. The good times are the easiest to remember and certainly the times we long for. But catastrophes do not discriminate. They don’t just go after you and the ones you love. They attack anybody and everybody that gets in their way. A tidal wave doesn’t pick who its victims will be. It is an equal-opportunity destroyer. The hard times has always come and gone only to turn around and come again. It is rather depressing if you allow it to depress you.

What about trying to stop it? Equally depressing is the answer. Some things you just can’t stop. You can give water to him that thirsts, but can you stop a drought?

Let him that would move the world first move himself.

Socrates

Leave it to Socrates to find a glimmer of hope in what seems to be an unfixable situation. Maybe there are some things we cannot change, but there are some that we can. We can be the catalysts that sparks a movement. We can be the rock in which others find shelter and comfort. We can be these things but not without a price. What is this price? We must first be willing to change. We must become the pinnacle of self-improvement. We must learn to grow, adapt, and as Gandhi said, “We must be the change we wish to see in the world.” It begins with us on the individual level. And once we fix ourselves, we can go about trying to fix the world.


Feature photo by Jon Tyson on Unsplash

All Are Fighting a Hard Battle

The lady stood in line at the grocery store. The associates knew who she was and was giving her a wide berth. Unfortunately, another customer got too close to her in the line. The cashier, who happens to be my wife, attempted to give him a silent signal with her mask-covered face. It didn’t work, and the lady finally found another target for her hate. And thus, unfolded the same weekly tirade at the grocery store. This lady is in a perpetual state of anger and doesn’t care who feels her wrath.

The easiest solution is to return hate with hate. If it were me, I would make a game of it and flood her with more sarcasm than she could handle. But is that the right course of action? Does this improve the situation, or is it only a severe case of pettiness? I know what I would do, and I also know what I should do. Sadly, would and should are not the same thing. In this case, I will have to consider the words of one of the great thinkers in history. What would he do?

WWPD

What Would Plato Do?

Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle.

Plato

Our antagonist in this story is angry. She is bitter. I cannot imagine the cause. But pouring gasoline on the fire is not beneficial to anybody. The battle she is fighting may be harder than anything I have imagined. Kindness may not cure her of her problems, but kindness is the answer. Thank you, Plato, for these words of wisdom.


Feature photo by Kat J on Unsplash