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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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Ownership

This may seem like a strange title for “99 Words for Leaders to Live By” or for Living Life in general, but the truth is, it follows directly from the first three on my list: Integrity; Honesty; and Trust.”

From my perspective, one of the major problems in our world today is that people don’t own their lives — they find excuses for everything. Ergo, it’s okay to lie, cheat,  treat people badly, act like only they matter, find reasons that they are right and everyone else is wrong, be a jerk, step all over everyone in the course of making their life work for them…

Do I sound upset? I hope I do, because this IS a huge issue.

There is a scene in “Silver Linings Playbook,” where the lady protagonist is talking to the male protagonist about how she has given and given of herself until she is empty — and she is wondering why people can’t give of themselves. Why people keep taking without offering something back. Sometimes you do reach a point where you’re all given out and you would like nothing better than to have someone put their arm around your shoulders and say, “Thanks. I appreciate you.”

Are you one of the givers? Or one of the takers? Do you own what you do and say? Do you REALLY own what you do and say without offering excuses for everything that doesn’t fit who you think you are? Or more importantly, who you want to be?

Yes, we all fall away from our ideal at times. That’s what this blog is about, really — reminding ourselves. That’s what I’m doing for myself, too.

Here’s another cute quote, that  is very appropo : I have a tee shirt from “Life is Good” that says, “Be the person your dog thinks you are.”

Now THAT is something to live up to.

One way or another, pets are who they are — not much subterfuge there. You get out what’s been given and if you’ve given love, you get that and more back.

Ownership is about being love, being kind, being honest, being trustworthy, having integrity, really making an effort to be the person you think you are and want to be. Every day, many times a day, we do things, make decisions, say things that speak to our ownership of ourselves.

Who are you going to be today?

Who are you going to be tomorrow?

Own it!!!

Love, Joe Koob

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Trust

“Maybe it is because they don’t understand

or trust each other . . .

Maybe it is because they don’t understand

or trust themselves.” 

This quote comes from my little Children’s-Adult book “Purple if for Searching.” It is an answer to a question about why nations go to war.

Trust is, as many things we will discuss, a complicated issue.  Perhaps  trust is most fundamentally about what a child feels when they enter this world —  their trust of their parents is a pure as it gets…. we all had that once — maybe only for a short while;l if we were lucky, for much longer than that.

Trust, after our start in life, comes from experience. If our experiences have been positive and supportive, we trust more naturally; if not…

How trusting can a child who has been consistently neglected be? Abused? Screamed at?

How trusting is a woman who has been raped? Harassed? Put down? Treated less than?

How trusting are those who have been cheated upon? Pushed around? Bullied? Told they were less than?

We want to trust. We truly hope others trust us. But really, it isn’t always so easy for many of us.

If you have read early versions of this blog, you will remember the “Black-haired Beauty” posts. Yes, Arwen, is still with us — now a grand old dame. Unfortunately, she is pretty sick with cancer and we are enjoying each day we have with her. She has been a model of how trust grows from kindness.

I think we can learn a good bit from dogs/pets. I had dogs in the family growing up and now  as an adult with Arwen. I have seen the scope of how life has treated them. We had a shelter Beagle who had been so badly abused he would run under a bed and cower, thumping his tail loudly if you even raised your hand. Thumper had been badly abused.

Arwen is at the other end of the spectrum — she’s been loved, cared for, and treated the best we possibly could. She’s responded in kind.

Trust is something that weaves through our lives and those of us who have issues with it, it is because of how we have been treated. We struggle with it every day. In some ways it is a relearning process. Thumper eventually got much better; but I doubt he ever forgot.

As a Nation and a World we are struggling with trust today. It almost seems like people don’t think it is important any more. Folks… it has never been more important.

The best we can do is show the world the kindness it takes to bring trust back and to reject all  that negativity breeds. That’s our task — every day — be trustworthy, be kind, choose positivity. Maybe someone will notice.

Best,

Joe Koob

 

 

 

 

 

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Honesty

This may be one of the toughest words on this list of “99 Words for Leaders to Live By.”

Because:

Generally speaking we want people to be honest with us — even if it hurts.

and

Being completely honest all of the time is very difficult to do.

So where are the lines drawn?

What about “little white lies.”

Or…

Am I being honest if I tell only part of the truth and hold back some information for “the betterment of all concerned?”

Or…

Am I being honest if I tell the truth, but in such a way that the listener believes I am not telling the truth? Or they can’t discern whether I am telling the truth or not?

Or…?

There are likely many situations we can come up with where “honesty” as the best policy can be very difficult.

Perhaps Shakespeare adds a bit to the understanding of this discussion:

“This above all: to thine own self be true,
And it must follow, as the night the day,
Thou canst not then be false to any man.”

Making choices about truthfulness must come from the depths of who you truly are — and yes, they do come from your “Integrity.” If the choice you make comes from your best intentions, without guile or subterfuge, and without personal gain holding sway; then you have likely done the best you can under a given circumstance.

Weighing honesty is something we do every day; perhaps, quite a few times a day — your best choices come from your best YOU.

“Farewell: My blessing season this in thee!.”

Joe Koob

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