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Growing Old

“Growing old is mandatory; growing up is optional.” (Chili Davis)

“Why don’t you grow up.”

“Sorry Mom, I like being this way.”

Truth is, there are far too many times we have to act like grownups — take some time to be young at heart. I’m 70 and sometimes I like to feel like I’m just getting started. My wife calls me goofy at those times. Goofy can be good.

Do something that keeps you young today.

Best,

Joe Koob

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Laughter

“Laughing is good exercise. It’s like jogging on the inside.” (Sorry, don’t remember who said this. Something I just found, says Kurt Vonnegut. Great author!)

This is a great notion. Truth is we don’t laugh enough. And that’s why I’m stopping my series on “99 Words for Leaders to Live By.” Too depressing when you think of the top leadership in this country currently.

So-o-o-o, Find some moments that make you happy, especially on the inside.

I once wrote a set of sayings and thoughts for another commuter disk, which was planned to be sold as a desktop program. Every day of the year a new idea would pop up that one could click on and read about.

Now and again (perhaps once a week, more or less), I’m going to throw one of those out there. They are, hopefully, positive and uplifting. Certainly worth a few moments of contemplation. “A Perfect Year,” made it to just before publication at the software company I worked with, but for some reason I can’t remember, it never actually got “out there”.

Truth is, software, like almost everything, is short-lived anyway. Though some of my titles were actually still being sold 30 years after being published. Glad they found a home for that long.

Best,

Joe Koob

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Reliability

When I put this in my book as one of the “99 Words for Leaders to Live By,” I have always respected people who were reliable, and always been very frustrated by people who weren’t.

One of my pet peeves is when someone doesn’t respond because (I can only imagine), they are afraid to give you bad news, or whatever.

If you don’t get anything else from this blog, listen to this: people HATE not to know. And being unable to face your own fears by leaving things up in the air with someone is BAD behavior (maybe even, in my book, “despicable” behavior).” I always try to remember to respond to people whether the response is good, bad, or indifferent.

I am not perfect, either. And I know I have not always done as well at this as I would wish, but I do try. Unfortunately one of my, perhaps, distressing habits, is I tend to really think things through and my response to someone may take more time than they expect. This has always been difficult for people who have asked me something in a conversation, because I may not respond right away — I have to ponder. [Just for the record, ladies, pondering is definitely/often a man thing. I write about this in my book, “Difficult Men.” When in doubt, ask him again!]

Especially if you are in a leadership position, it is a good idea to be reliable about keeping your people informed. Period. And if you can’t because of some rule or guideline, then let them know that you can’t. That is better than saying nothing.

Also, be reliable in other ways. People like to know who you are and what you stand for. It helps them understand the dynamics of an office and a group. In other words, have the chutzpah, (I hope I am using this correctly) to stand for something and not to wave in the breeze at the least bit of difficulty that sways one way or the other.

Be reliable: in most cases people will respect you for it.

Know this, too: this country was framed by a commitment to truth and honor fostered by a group of people who were frustrated with how the government they were under ignored their requests for open dialogue and the ability to have input into how they were being treated. [Hint: Taxation without representation.] It’s nice when people are willing to listen. Be a leader with open ears and a willingness to be the truth for the people you represent with honor.

Best,

Joe Koob

 

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Frugality

Frugal: Economical in use or expenditure; prudently saving; not wasteful… (Webster)

Diverging from my list of “Leadership…” virtues, I would like to discuss something that perhaps should be thought about a bit more these days, and it wouldn’t hurt for our leaders to pay attention, too. I’ll give you as heads up in advance, this might be a bit of a rant, and maybe a wake-up call. You decide if it fits a bit too snugly for comfort.

This is a virtue that it seems many, perhaps especially Americans, have gotten away from. To tell the truth, it would be easy to aim this at a particular element of our society (e.g. I remember parents in my youth complaining about young people not being “thrifty,” etc.), but the truth is, if you look closely — there seems to be this mentality in our country that we have to have — NOW!

So lets not blame excessiveness on youth, or middle age, or middle and upper classes, etc. Just observe — yourself and others — and see what you see.

What I often see are people doing  a huge amount of getting, without, it seems, much thought for how, why, need, usefulness, etc. Just spend a few minutes watching at a convenience store (I wonder why they are so convenient?). People of all ages buying candy, sodas, junk food, and so on. Often to the tune of $10 to $20 or more just for a snack, or breakfast, or lunch. Want to go a bit higher in society? Pick a more upscale place — some coffee boutique.

Is this excessive? It seems so to me.

How about movies — pop, popcorn, and candy and you’ve spent well over $20 beyond the price of a movie. $7, $8, $9 for a soda??? All the time I see people spend lots and lots of money on immediate gratification rather than thinking through something instead and say, buying a soda two hours later at the supermarket for 50 cents or a dollar.

Are we a nation that simply self-indulges and cannot control our impulses?

Yes, I’m an old fart. When I was young I really didn’t have the money to buy stuff like this — pretty much ever. And what money I made, my parents made me save. But this non-frugality, this excess, isn’t just the young or rich, it seems to very much pervade our society at all levels. I do want to scream sometimes at the young and at those who are not prepared — “Look to the future!”

I was brought up in a lower middle-class family. Frugality was the name of the game. I was never in “want”; I had what I needed; we didn’t starve. As a result, both my parents moved from lower to upper middle class, through INTELLIGENT expenditure. We learned how to save money; how to spend it wisely; and so on. We learned where to find the best bargains and so forth.

We are comfortable today because we have always considered HOW and WHY we spend our money. We can buy the things we really want and care about now, because we understood the value of being frugal and wise when it came to money and things.

Debt is our national pastime. It doesn’t have to be. Be a bit frugal and wise and pay off those credit cards, debts, etc. Yes, it takes time, and a bit of sacrifice, especially in the immediacy of things, but it will help give you and your loved ones a future.

Make a resolution this next year to THINK before you spend that $7 on a coke or $3 on a bottle of water or…? Even once a day and you’ll be making a huge difference.

Life is, should be, a balance of things. I truly believe this. Find a balance that serves you and those you care for.

Best,

Joe Koob

 

 

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Responsibility

Would our politicians and leaders be responsible for their actions!!! Isn’t that the whole premise of our democracy? That we elect them to be responsible for our country, our lives, even our world?

Responsibility isn’t easy. We all know that.

HOWEVER! If we are truly honest with ourselves and make an honest effort to be responsible for what we do and say, and especially in how we treat others, that is what really matters.

If you only care about yourself, if you blame others for everything and never take on the things that you do and say with personal honor as the foundation of your actions, you have no right to be in a leadership position… period!

I don’t always measure up; I’m not perfect; I make mistakes; but I do try to own up to those things that I have had difficulty with. I am willing to admit when I am wrong.

Responsibility, I think, is best measured by your own conscience:

Can you say, “I’m sorry,”?

Do you make an effort to admit when you are wrong or made poor choices?

Are you willing to make amends?

Can you turn away from ego and choose kindness, compassion, and love instead?

Choose truth. Everyone you encounter in life will appreciate the effort.

Best,

Joe Koob

 

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Be Generous

Besides “99 Words for Leaders to Live By,” I also want to wax on about other terms and ideas close to my heart.

Generosity isn’t easy for most of us. A good many of us start life being taught, and this “education” continues throughout life, that striving after “the good life”  is of paramount importance. Whether we are told this directly or indirectly (e.g. through ads, what people talk about, etc.), it becomes a part of who we are — we want “the good life”; we want our children to have it too.

Many of us are also taught many decent virtues, including “giving to others,” etc.

I’m directly out of this mold. Yet… It has never been easy for me to be generous. Yes, I have, in many ways, been generous with my time. I’m good at pitching in, helping others, volunteering for things, and so on. Being generous with my “money” and “things” has been much harder. I’m learning. It is something I have improved on over the years by having some good role models and by observing the world and what seems to be important to it.

Like many people, I grew up in a lower middle class family — one that didn’t have all those things we saw advertised, or have all those things other people “had,” yet, we were okay — we got by, we had enough to eat, my parents tithed, etc.  So, striving after “things” did have its appeal.

How does “generosity” fit into your life? Can you make some adjustments?

These are good questions. As I said above, it generosity isn’t always easy. BUT, I do believe it is important.

Unfortunately, from my perspective, the world seems to be in a period that is more and more self-centered, and less and less even aware of the importance and value of being generous. Maybe we should call this the “Me” era.”

Here’s some advice: the BEST things in life have to do with kindness, compassion, helping others, giving of yourself — in other words, being generous as a person to as many of your fellow humans as feasible. What I mean is: these are the things that make us feel good. When you help someone else, in almost any way I can think of, you will create the most heartfelt YOU there is.

And what is really amazing is that many, many times, the BEST people at generosity are the people who have the fewest things to give, but they have great hearts. I have cousins like this, friends like this, family like this, and, well… I’m still working on it.

Think about what you can do for others. It doesn’t have to be money; sometimes, even small things, like a hug, a smile, a kind word, and a thumbs up work even better.

Best,

Joe Koob

 

 

 

 

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Accountable

I’m back, and I thought I would start off by returning to where I left off: going through my “99 Words for Leaders to Live By.” A good a time as any to review and go forward as things have not gotten any better with out politicians, have they?

Take the four I have already discussed: Integrity (NOPE!); Honesty (BIG NOPE!); Trust (NOPE); Ownership (REALLY BIG NOPE!). I really wonder how people can choose such law-makers. Read on:

The next word on my list is “Accountability.”

Accountability is about Ownership, AND it is also one of the fundamental truths our fore-fathers set down in our key documents. Things have to have checks and balances or you end up with a government that rules people rather than one that represents and works for the people.

“We the people…” Those three words started it all… “In order to form a more perfect union…”

Its time to make the people we elect accountable for: Having Honor/Integrity; Being Honest; being Trustworthy, having Ownership of who they are and what they do; and for being Accountable to the people they represent.

Personally, I have been embarrassed for our country these past few years. We are better than this as a people, as a nation, as individuals (if we choose to be).

Are these traits important to you? Important to your children? Important to the people with whom you spend your time? Wouldn’t you rather have someone say of you:

She/He is:

Honorable. Rather than be someone who has no integrity.

Honest. Rather than be someone who tells lies; is dis-honest.

Trustworthy — they can count on me. Rather than be someone they can’t count on; who can’t be trusted?

Someone who:

Owns their actions, words, truths. Rather than be someone who blames everyone else and accepts no responsibility.

Someone who is:

Accountable for all of the above. Rather than be someone who passes the buck.

Our country was built on these very truths I talk about here-in. It was started because our fore-fathers felt these qualities were lacking in the rulers reigning over the colonies. Let’s put ourselves (because ultimately “We the people…” accept or don’t accept who we are and what we stand for and the leaders we elect who have or don’t have these same qualities) back on track. America is about TRUTH and many other stirring and admirable qualities:

“…crown thy GOOD with Brotherhood…”

America is not about hate, division, in-equality and a host of other negative qualities and attributes: “We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America…”

Take some time and read the “Declaration of Independence ” and the “Preamble to our Constitution” again.

Leadership should be about living a life of Honor. YOU can be a leader in more ways than you might imagine. Living a positive, integrous life is a good start: Wherever you are in life, from this time forward, you have choices you can make that reflect an Honorable/Trustworthy life well-lived, or something else. Make a choice that reflects the truths you want to be and that are part of YOUR LIFE WELL-LIVED.

Best,

Joe Koob

 

 

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