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Post  Admin on Sun 03 Jul 2011, 12:12 pm

Needing Approval More Than Advice

By Michael Josephson of Character Counts (694.3)

No matter what Gary did, it was never enough to please his father. When he got seven A's and three B's, his dad asked about the B's. When he described the wonderful girl he'd fallen in love with, he got a lecture cautioning that she may be different than he thought.

Gary's dad was stunned and hurt when Gary took a job in another town. He tried to talk him out of it, explaining the advantages of being close to the family and the pitfalls of moving. Finally, Gary exploded, "Dad, I'm moving to get away from you! I love you, but I can't stand the way you tear down everything I do."

He braced himself for a counterattack, but for the first time in his life he saw his dad's mask of confidence dissolve into vulnerability. With tears in his eyes, his dad stammered, "All I ever wanted was to make you better and help you reach your potential and avoid risks. It's what I do. It's why my business is so successful. Do you want me to ignore my experience and just be a cheerleader?"

"Dad, our relationship isn't about productivity," Gary explained. "You're my dad. Sometimes I need praise more than a push, and approval more than advice. Constantly trying to make me better just makes me feel worse. It's not enough that you love me; I need you to appreciate me."

That's an important lesson. In personal relationships, there may be benefits to the relentless pursuit of better, but the cost may be too high.

This is Michael Josephson reminding you that character counts.

(c) 2011 Josephson Institute of Ethics; reprinted with permission. Michael Josephson, one of the nation's leading ethicists, is the founder of the Josephson Institute of Ethics and the premier youth character education program, CHARACTER COUNTS! For further information visit www.charactercounts.org.
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Post  Admin on Sat 25 Jun 2011, 3:31 pm

Lying Is Like Drunk Driving
By Michael Josephson of Character Counts (695.2)
Sometimes lying makes our lives easier. If you want the day off, just call in sick. If your boss asks if you've finished a report, say you left it at home. And if an irate customer calls, just make up a good cover story.
Technically these are lies, but since no one's hurt, what's the big deal?
We tell ourselves they're harmless, but are they really? Telling lies is like drunk driving. If we're lucky, we won't get caught and no one will get hurt. Still, drunk driving is wrong because it's irresponsible to recklessly endanger human life. Most lies are wrong because they recklessly endanger human relationships. What's more, lies are habit-forming. The more lies we tell, the easier it becomes, so we tell more lies.
Self-serving lies that help us get out of a jam or look better are like land mines. They may lie dormant, but sooner or later some will explode, damaging both our credibility and reputation. The ethical duty to be worthy of trust does not bend to our needs, convenience, or desire to avoid unpleasant consequences. Besides being dishonest, lying is disrespectful because it deprives the victim of true information needed to make sensible decisions.
Lies damage personal and business relationships because they generate suspicion and distrust. Once lied to, most people think, "What else will he lie to me about?" This is not a healthy basis for any relationship.
This is Michael Josephson reminding you that character counts.
(c) 2011 Josephson Institute of Ethics; reprinted with permission. Michael Josephson, one of the nation's leading ethicists, is the founder of the Josephson Institute of Ethics and the premier youth character education program, CHARACTER COUNTS! For further information visit www.charactercounts.org.
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Post  Admin on Fri 17 Jun 2011, 4:01 pm

Grocery Store Ethics

By Michael Josephson of Character Counts (697.1)

You can tell a lot about people's character by how they act at the grocery store. I remember being in a crowded store when there was a shortage of shopping carts. A prosperous-looking fellow was pushing a cart when another man stopped him. "Excuse me," the second man said, "but this is my cart."

The first guy looked really annoyed. Instead of apologizing, he protested, "But someone took my cart."

His wife glared at him, and he reluctantly relinquished his ill-gotten gain. He had ignored the age-old wisdom that two wrongs don't make a right in favor of a distorted version of the Golden Rule: "Do unto others as they have done unto you."

Then there are the folks who change their mind about buying some item and put it on the nearest shelf, rationalizing that the store hires people to put things back. Well, schools employ custodians to clean the halls. Does that mean it's okay for kids to throw their candy wrappers on the floor?

Finally, there are express-line cheaters who enter the "10 items or less" line with 14 items because they're in a hurry or simply because they love having a competitive edge. They count on the fact that no one will call them on this moral misdemeanor, and even if someone does, they're ready to play lawyer: "It depends on what you call an item. I consider these melons part of the 'fruit group' and I count them as one."

Being considerate, playing by the rules, setting a good example are important, even in the grocery store.

This is Michael Josephson reminding you that character counts.

(c) 2011 Josephson Institute of Ethics; reprinted with permission. Michael Josephson, one of the nation's leading ethicists, is the founder of the Josephson Institute of Ethics and the premier youth character education program, CHARACTER COUNTS! For further information visit www.charactercounts.org.
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Post  Admin on Sun 12 Jun 2011, 7:31 pm

The Make-Up Test

By Michael Josephson of Character Counts (699.5)

Chad and his three friends were college seniors and doing well in their classes. Even though the final physics exam was on Monday, Chad persuaded his buddies to take a weekend trip several hundred miles away. He told his worried friends they could study in the car during the trip, and when they got back Sunday night. Instead, the boys partied all weekend. By Sunday night, they knew they weren't ready for the exam.

Chad, an A student, told them to relax. He had a plan. He called the professor at home Monday morning and told him they were on the road and ready to take the final, but they'd had a flat tire. They didn't have a spare and couldn't get help. Chad convinced the professor to let them take a make-up exam the following day.

When they showed up, the professor placed them in separate rooms and handed each a test booklet. They were relieved that the first problem, worth 5 points, was simple. They were less pleased when they read the second problem, worth 95 points: "Which tire was flat, and what time did the repair truck come?"

Chad's exam had an additional note: "Chad, I just received a reference request for you from Harvard. How you do on this exam will determine how I fill it out."

Then he added a P.S.: "You took two exams today. One was on physics. The other was on integrity. It would have been much better if you only flunked physics."

Kids will be kids, but all choices have consequences. Chad and his buddies took a risk by not studying, but they took a greater one when they made up a phony excuse.

This is Michael Josephson reminding you that character counts.

(c) 2011 Josephson Institute of Ethics; reprinted with permission. Michael Josephson, one of the nation's leading ethicists, is the founder of the Josephson Institute of Ethics and the premier youth character education program, CHARACTER COUNTS! For further information visit www.charactercounts.org.
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Post  Admin on Sat 04 Jun 2011, 3:09 pm

The Power of Words

By Michael Josephson of Character Counts (699.4)

"Sticks and stones may break my bones, but names will never hurt me."

Really? Insults, teasing, gossip, and verbal abuse can inflict deeper and more enduring pain than guns and knives. Ask anyone who as a kid was fat, skinny, short, tall, flat-chested, big-busted, acne-faced, uncoordinated, slow-witted, or exceptionally smart. In schoolrooms and playgrounds across the country, weight, height, looks, and intelligence are the subject of more taunting and ridicule than race or religion.

And it doesn't get better. Unkind words, tasteless jokes, criticism, and ridicule don't lose their sting when we become adults.

There's nothing new about this. But if we trivialize how damaging words can be, especially to youngsters, the ethical significance of verbal assaults can be lost. When we say words can't hurt anyone, we negate the feelings of those who are genuinely hurt.

Instead of minimizing the importance of words, we should encourage parents and teachers to demand a higher level of respect and greater sensitivity, precisely because words can be so powerful.

Yes, we should try to fortify our children's sense of self-worth so they can bear insults and sarcasm better. And we should urge them not to take what others say too seriously. But it's just as important to teach them that words have the power of grenades and must be used carefully.

This is Michael Josephson reminding you that character counts.

(c) 2011 Josephson Institute of Ethics; reprinted with permission. Michael Josephson, one of the nation's leading ethicists, is the founder of the Josephson Institute of Ethics and the premier youth character education program, CHARACTER COUNTS! For further information visit www.charactercounts.org.
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Post  Admin on Sat 21 May 2011, 2:44 pm

Planned Abandonment
By Michael Josephson of Character Counts (695.4)
Management guru, Peter Drucker, advocated a practice he called planned abandonment. He stressed how important it is that managers develop the wisdom and courage to regularly review what their organization is doing and determine whether it's worth doing. He urged executives to note and resist the systemic and emotional forces that make it difficult to abandon activities that drain resources, detract from central goals, or otherwise impede progress.
Professor Drucker's insights about abandonment seem equally applicable to the management of our lives. Many of us continue to pursue unrealistic career goals or stay in unhealthy or non-constructive relationships that ought to be abandoned because they keep us from moving upward and forward toward core life goals.
It makes no sense to settle for relationships that lessen rather than enlarge us, that diminish rather than develop our values and character. Thus, we should summon the courage and integrity to abandon dead-end personal or work relationships. We need to recognize how murky notions of loyalty can blind us to simple realities, and how unrealistic hopes that things will change can prevent us from achieving our higher potential.
Toxic relationships not only make us unhappy, they corrupt our attitudes and dispositions in ways that undermine healthier relationships and blur our vision of what is possible. It's never easy to change, but nothing gets better without change.
This is Michael Josephson reminding you that character counts.
(c) 2011 Josephson Institute of Ethics; reprinted with permission. Michael Josephson, one of the nation's leading ethicists, is the founder of the Josephson Institute of Ethics and the premier youth character education program, Character Counts! For further information visit www.charactercounts.org.
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Post  Admin on Sun 15 May 2011, 1:03 pm

Enough Is Enough

By Michael Josephson of Character Counts (696.3)

What does it take to make you happy? How much do you have to have to be grateful?

To the barefoot man, happiness is a pair of old shoes. To the man with old shoes, it's a pair of new shoes. To the man with new shoes, it's more stylish shoes. And, of course, the fellow with no feet would be happy to be barefoot. This leads to the ancient insight: If you want to be happy, count your blessings, not your burdens. Measure your life by what you have, not by what you don't.

Yet in our modern world where we're continually exposed to endless increments of more and better--others with more money, better TVs, and bigger houses--this is very difficult.

For some people, the pleasure of having something good is drained as soon as they see someone else with something better. Our sense of contentment is created or destroyed by comparisons.

A life consumed with unfulfilled wants is an affliction. The antidote is the concept of "enough." This starts by thinking more clearly about the difference between our needs and our wants, between sufficiency and abundance.

Don't get me wrong, there's nothing wrong with wanting more and striving to fill our lives with things and experiences that give us pleasure, so long as we don't believe we need whatever we want.

When we think we need what we really only want, we make our desires preconditions to happiness, thereby diminishing our ability to appreciate and enjoy what we do have.

It's easy to think happiness is achieved by getting what we want when it's really a matter of wanting what we get. In the end, enough is enough.

This is Michael Josephson reminding you that character counts.

(c) 2011 Josephson Institute of Ethics; reprinted with permission. Michael Josephson, one of the nation's leading ethicists, is the founder of the Josephson Institute of Ethics and the premier youth character education program, CHARACTER COUNTS! For further information visit www.charactercounts.org.
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Post  Admin on Sun 24 Apr 2011, 11:48 pm

I Just Talk to People

By Michael Josephson of Character Counts (685.5)

Marta was a hard-working single mother. When her minister sermonized about "living a life that matters," she worried that working to raise her kids and going to church wasn't enough. So, on the bus to work she made a list of other jobs she could do and volunteer work she could try.

Sylvia, an elderly woman, saw the worry on Marta's face and asked what was wrong. Marta explained her problem. Sylvia said, "Oh my, did your minister say you weren't doing enough?"

"No," Marta said, "but I don't know how to live 'a life that matters.'" "You don't have to change jobs or do more volunteer work," Sylvia consoled her. "It's enough that you're a good mother. But if you want to do more, think about what you can do while doing what you already do. It's not about what you do, but how you do it." "You don't understand," Marta said. "I sell hamburgers. How do I make that significant?"

"How many people do you deal with every day?" Sylvia asked.

"Two to three hundred."

"Well, what if you set out to cheer, encourage, teach, or inspire as many of those people as you could? A compliment, a bit of advice, a cheerful hello or a warm smile can start a chain reaction that lights up lives like an endless string of Christmas bulbs."

"But that's just being nice," Marta protested.

"Right," said Sylvia, "Niceness can change lives." Marta looked at the old woman. "What do you do?"

"I was a housekeeper until I retired," Sylvia said. "Now I just ride the bus talking to people."

This is Michael Josephson reminding you that character counts.

(c) 2011 Josephson Institute of Ethics; reprinted with permission. Michael Josephson, one of the nation's leading ethicists, is the founder of the Josephson Institute of Ethics and the premier youth character education program, CHARACTER COUNTS! For further information visit www.charactercounts.org.

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Post  Admin on Sun 17 Apr 2011, 9:58 am

Avoiding and Resisting Temptations

By Michael Josephson of Character Counts (691.5)

When my daughter Samara was four, I showed her a delicate glass vase and told her it was my mother's, and I instructed her to "never, never touch it." Without hesitation she said, "Then you should never, never put it where I can reach it."
Her remark reminded me of an Oscar Wilde quote: "I can resist anything but temptation." Samara understood the power of the temptation and shifted the responsibility to me. If I wanted the vase safe, keep it out of her path.

Unfortunately, we can't always count on others to protect us from our weaker selves. In fact, lots of people will find advantage or comfort if we give in to temptation.

One way to protect ourselves is to build our moral willpower, the strength to overcome temptation, however strong. We do this by practice. As Emerson said, "We gain the strength of the temptation we resist."

Another is to consciously avoid tempting situations. As Mark Twain said, "It's easier to stay out than to get out."
Even people of strong character can succumb to temptation at weak moments. So it's reckless and arrogant to knowingly subject ourselves to avoidable seductive forces.

They say temptation usually comes in through a door that's been deliberately left open, so beware of the tendency to unconsciously invite temptations.

If you're on a diet, don't let them bring out the dessert tray. If you're on a tight budget, don't window-shop for things you can't afford, and leave your credit card at home. And if you're committed to celibacy or fidelity, don't get near situations where your resolve could be tested.

This is Michael Josephson reminding you that character counts.

(c) 2011 Josephson Institute of Ethics; reprinted with permission. Michael Josephson, one of the nation's leading ethicists, is the founder of the Josephson Institute of Ethics and the premier youth character education program, CHARACTER COUNTS! For further information visit www.charactercounts.org.

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Post  Admin on Sun 10 Apr 2011, 11:37 am

Rebuilding Your Life and Reputation

By Michael Josephson of Character Counts (690.3)

Larry wrote me the following letter: "I've been a small businessman for almost 23 years in a business where people lie, cheat, and steal. I'm sorry to say I became one of them. In the short term it may have helped, but long term it came back to haunt me. There's no amount of success that's worth it. I am now 48 years old. I have lost my good name; my values and my ethics have been destroyed. Is there any way I will ever be able to restore my reputation and lead a life of integrity?"

What a pity that so many people delude themselves into believing that traditional ethical principles like honesty and integrity don't apply in the business world. They govern their daily decisions by pragmatism--what works--without reference to principles--what's right. And, piece-by-piece, decision-by-decision, they sell their souls and sully their names until they find themselves naked and alone on the barren wasteland of moral compromise.

The good news is that Larry can start leading a life of integrity immediately. He can redeem himself and become a man of character simply by choosing to be honest, responsible, respectful, caring, and fair.

The bad news is that his reputation will take longer to restore. Character is what you really are; reputation is what people think of you. And since people are more likely to judge us by our last worst act rather than our most virtuous habits, rebuilding a reputation can take years of honorable living.

Still, each phase of one's life brings new opportunities for learning and growth, and if Larry wants it badly enough, the best part of his life is ahead.

This is Michael Josephson reminding you that character counts.

(c) 2011 Josephson Institute of Ethics; reprinted with permission. Michael Josephson, one of the nation's leading ethicists, is the founder of the Josephson Institute of Ethics and the premier youth character education program, CHARACTER COUNTS! For further information visit www.charactercounts.org.


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Post  Admin on Sat 26 Mar 2011, 6:53 pm

Two Sets of Proud Parents

By Michael Josephson of Character Counts (686.2)

I received an e-mail with a story worth sharing. Only the names have been changed to preserve privacy.

Doug is the proud and loving father of Emma, a high school junior who takes a leadership class responsible for putting on dances and other student events. All student body officers must take the class, but a number of other kids like Emma who just like to participate are also enrolled. Well, Emma is a little different and she's becoming more aware of those differences. Recently, she began to tell her father through tears, "I don't like having Down's Syndrome."

Doug comforted and encouraged his daughter the best he could, but he admits he always wonders how her classmates really perceive her. Do they just tolerate or patronize her, or do they see the richness of her character and appreciate her sense of humor and the beauty of her heart?

These concerns came into play when he visited Emma at a school event where she was working at a table with the student body president, a handsome kid named Chris. Later, Emma announced that Chris had invited her to the homecoming dance. Doug was doubtful and afraid that she might be embarrassed or hurt if she misunderstood. So he checked with the leadership teacher, who discreetly confirmed it was true. This extraordinary young man asked Emma to accompany him to dinner and the dance.

Doug was moved to tears and confessed he was ashamed he doubted this could happen. He wrote of his joy seeing his daughter prepare for one of the greatest days in her life. And he marveled at the kindness and self-confidence of the young man who was able to see and care about the inner Emma.

Doug was rightfully proud of Emma, but how good would you feel to be Chris's parents?

This is Michael Josephson reminding you that character counts.

(c) 2011 Josephson Institute of Ethics; reprinted with permission. Michael Josephson, one of the nation's leading ethicists, is the founder of the Josephson Institute of Ethics and the premier youth character education program, CHARACTER COUNTS! For further information visit www.charactercounts.org.

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Post  Admin on Tue 22 Mar 2011, 11:15 am

Dishonest Merchants Don't Deserve Your Business

By Michael Josephson of Character Counts (672.2)

Some time ago, I received a handwritten message on a yellow self-stick note attached to a torn-out page from a magazine about a new book. The note said, "Mike, thought you might be interested." It was signed "L." It was sent in a non-business envelope with a stamp, but no return address. My assistant thought it was a personal message from a friend and put it on top of my correspondence.

It wasn't from anyone I knew. It was a marketing trick to sell the book.

I'm sure you've seen other deceptive ploys: mailings disguised as telegrams, urgent "personal" messages, announcements that you've won something, window envelopes whose interior looks like a check. An especially audacious variation is the salesperson who calls pretending he knows you. To get through the screening process, he or she will shamelessly try to con your secretary with "Oh, he knows what it's about" or "He asked me to call."

These are all lies and deceptions, but they're used because they work. The people who send them don't care about their credibility or who they offend. No one knows who they are.

While one can appreciate resourceful techniques, clever dishonesty doesn't make an action less despicable. I make it a rule to never do business with anyone who uses such techniques.

What's the harm? The harm is that someone has invaded my life with a lie, depriving me of the choice to decide what I will read and whom I will talk to. Worse, it erodes trust and builds cynicism. Dishonest merchants don't deserve your business.

This is Michael Josephson reminding you that character counts.

(c) 2011 Josephson Institute of Ethics; reprinted with permission. Michael Josephson, one of the nation's leading ethicists, is the founder of the Josephson Institute of Ethics and the premier youth character education program, CHARACTER COUNTS! For further information visit www.charactercounts.org
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Post  Admin on Sat 12 Mar 2011, 3:38 pm

The Self-Portrait Called Character

By Michael Josephson of Character Counts (686.1)

While I was on a radio call-in show talking about cheating, a listener I'll call Stan mocked my concern. He cheated to get into college, he said. He cheated in college to get a job. And now he occasionally cheats on his job to get ahead. In fact, he concluded, cheating is such an important life skill that parents ought to teach their kids how to cheat.

Evidence is mounting that lots of people share Stan's amoral pragmatism. Because they define success and happiness in terms of getting what they want when they want it, ethics seems irrational. After all, in a world where cheaters so often prosper, why should anyone give up the benefits of dishonesty?

Well, for one thing, the Stans of the world have no idea the price they're paying for the little they're getting. A life without principles is demeaning and self-defeating. The Stans of the world are cheated as often as they cheat others. What's more, they cheat themselves. As they scrape and struggle to fill their lives, they give up their chance to lead fulfilling lives.

The happiest people I know are those who find purpose and meaning pursuing a grander vision of a good life, measured in terms of worthiness, not net worth. Virtue is not a tactic; it's a life philosophy.

We paint the self-portrait that we call our character by our values and actions. We can choose to paint that portrait in the pale watercolors of shallow successes and short-lived pleasures or in the deep, rich oils of honor, spirituality, peace of mind, and self-respect.

The enduring impact of our choices is not what we get, but what we become.

This is Michael Josephson reminding you that character counts.

(c) 2011 Josephson Institute of Ethics; reprinted with permission. Michael Josephson, one of the nation's leading ethicists, is the founder of the Josephson Institute of Ethics and the premier youth character education program, CHARACTER COUNTS! For further information visit www.charactercounts.org.

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Post  Admin on Sun 20 Feb 2011, 1:41 pm

Appreciating Appreciation

By Michael Josephson of Character Counts (682.5)

There's a song titled "Thank God for Dirty Dishes" that makes the point that if you're lucky to have enough food to make dirty dishes, you should be grateful.

So instead of grousing about your property taxes, be thankful you own property. When you have to wait in line at the bank or are stuck in traffic, just be grateful you have money in the bank and a car to drive.

It makes sense, but that doesn't make it easy.

I have to admit that appreciation has not been a natural attribute for me. In my more ambitious days when I believed that excess was not enough, gratitude seemed like a form of surrender and a very poor life strategy. After all, if you're satisfied with the way things are, you'll never make them better.

What a pity I had to reach my 50s before I began to appreciate appreciation. I finally began to see that it was irresponsible and irreverent not to realize how many things I should feel grateful for. I also came to realize how good it feels to acknowledge how good I have it.

Real gratitude is much more than politeness, like saying thank you when someone passes the salt or conveys good wishes; it's a deeper psychological state of genuine thankfulness.

Whether we believe whatever good fortune we have is the product of our own labor and talents, random luck, or a gift from God, the fact remains that each of us could spend a full day identifying all the things that merit gratitude.

According to an old proverb, "If you never learn the language of gratitude, you'll never be on speaking terms with happiness." I'm still a beginner, but it's true; the more I appreciate, the happier I am. That's a lesson I want my children to learn.

This is Michael Josephson reminding you that character counts.

(c) 2011 Josephson Institute of Ethics; reprinted with permission. Michael Josephson, one of the nation's leading ethicists, is the founder of the Josephson Institute of Ethics and the premier youth character education program, CHARACTER COUNTS! For further information visit www.charactercounts.org.


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Post  Admin on Sun 13 Feb 2011, 12:33 pm

Freedom Is Not Free

By Michael Josephson of Character Counts (678.5)

We know from our revolutionary origin, two World Wars, and the 9-11 attacks, that there are real enemies outside our country who would impose their will on us if we did not protect it vigorously and vigilantly. But the idea that freedom is never free also applies to the price every citizen must pay to be part of a democratic society that reveres both rights and responsibilities.

Every law restricts someone's personal liberty while it seeks to protect our lives, property, and fundamental freedoms of religion, speech, and privacy. We pay for our freedom by obeying laws we don't like, paying taxes we don't want to pay, and by refraining from conduct that interferes with the personal freedom of others to choose how they want to live, and by supporting their rights to make choices that do not harm us or others and to live and let live.

Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes provided a good guideline: "Your right to swing your fist ends where another man's nose begins." The other side of that observation is, "We have a right to swing our fist, so long as we don't hit someone else's nose."

Finally, if we exercise our freedom responsibly, we acknowledge that an act is not ethical simply because it's legal, nor is it proper simply because it's permissible. As Justice Potter Stewart said, "There's a difference between what we have a right to do and what is right to do."

An ethical citizen will often choose to do less than the law allows and more than it requires.

This is Michael Josephson reminding you that character counts.
(c) 2011 Josephson Institute of Ethics; reprinted with permission. Michael Josephson, one of the nation's leading ethicists, is the founder of the Josephson Institute of Ethics and the premier youth character education program, CHARACTER COUNTS! For further information visit www.charactercounts.org
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Post  Admin on Sun 18 Apr 2010, 11:22 am

The Parable of Brother Leo

By Michael Josephson of Character Counts (640.1)

A legend tells of a French monastery known throughout Europe for the extraordinary leadership of a man known only as Brother Leo. Several monks began a pilgrimage to visit Brother Leo to learn from him. Almost immediately, they began to bicker about who should do various chores.

On the third day they met another monk going to the monastery, and he joined them. This monk never complained or shirked a duty, and whenever the others would fight over a chore, he would gracefully volunteer and do it himself. By the last day, the others were following his example, and from then on they worked together smoothly.

When they reached the monastery and asked to see Brother Leo, the man who greeted them laughed. "But our brother is among you!" And he pointed to the fellow who had joined them.

Today, many people seek leadership positions, not so much for what they can do for others but for what the position can do for them: status, connections, perks, advantages. They do service as an investment, a way to build an impressive resume.

The parable about Brother Leo teaches another model of leadership, where leaders are preoccupied with serving rather than being followed, with giving rather than getting, with doing rather than demanding. Leadership based on example, not command. This is called servant leadership.

Can you imagine how much better things would be if more politicians, educators, and business executives saw themselves as servant leaders?

This is Michael Josephson reminding you that character counts.

(c) 2009 Josephson Institute of Ethics; reprinted with permission. Michael Josephson, one of the nation's leading ethicists, is the founder of the Josephson Institute of Ethics and the premier youth character education program, CHARACTER COUNTS! For further information visit www.charactercounts.org
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Post  Admin on Sun 31 Jan 2010, 5:48 pm

Advice About Teens

By Michael Josephson of Character Counts (629.4)

Here are three suggestions for parents of teens, all learned through my own mistakes:

First, with emerging demands for independence, worries about peer acceptance, pressures of school and extracurricular activities, and a continuous search for self-identity, adolescents are on a physical and emotional roller coaster. Like every generation before them (including yours), teens are often arrogant and over-confident about their knowledge and your ignorance, and are deeply insecure about most other things.

They're going to make mistakes, behave badly, and be thoroughly self-absorbed. Although they want you to be less involved in their lives, they actually need you more. And despite continual battles, if you're open, you'll experience glorious moments that all of you will cherish your whole lives.

Second, be firm but choose your battles carefully. Don't back down when dealing with important principles, but don't make every issue a hill you're willing to die on either. Be content to lose occasionally and give in graciously.

Third, don't belittle or underestimate the importance of their feelings. It may seem like they're over-reacting, but teens feel emotions like embarrassment, loneliness, insecurity, frustration, and love intensely. It's disrespectful to minimize or discount these feelings with useless advice like "You'll get over it" or "Everyone feels that way." Nor is it helpful to dismiss or invalidate an emotion by saying "You shouldn't feel that way."

Teens can be hard to love, but be patient. Soon they'll be the parents of your grandchildren.

This is Michael Josephson reminding you that character counts.

(c) 2009 Josephson Institute of Ethics; reprinted with permission. Michael Josephson, one of the nation's leading ethicists, is the founder of the Josephson Institute of Ethics and the premier youth character education program, CHARACTER COUNTS! For further information visit www.charactercounts.org.
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Post  Admin on Wed 23 Sep 2009, 10:57 am

Today's Daily Encounter

Gift of Encounragement

"Therefore encourage one another and build each other
up, just as in fact you are doing."1

Michael Josephson of Character Counts says that "Mark
Gibson, a former gymnastics coach, tells a wonderful
story about a 15-year-old girl I'll call Cindy. When
Mark coached at a gym where several world-class
gymnasts worked out, he said Cindy was the most
important person in the gym. Cindy wasn't the best
athlete--not even close. But when she was in the gym,
everyone whined and complained less, worked harder and
achieved more. She brought out the best in everyone.
You see, Cindy was blind.

"When it was her turn to do the vault, her mother
would run alongside her, saying, "We're getting close,
we're closer," and when her mom said, "Vault!" Cindy,
with complete trust in her mother and herself, would
jump. It was awesome.

"Neither Cindy nor her mother allowed her
sightlessness to confine her, so they soared like
eagles for all to see. Cindy led in the most powerful
way possible, not by fancy rhetoric but by example.
All who watched her strive to be the best she could be
realized how much more there is within themselves."2

Cindy's mother was a great encourager to her daughter.
As Christians, that's what you and I need to do for
others.

The word encourage comes from "en," meaning "in," and
"courage" meaning to "fortify one's inner strength in
fearful situations." In other words, an encourager is
one who puts courage into another or who puts inner
strength into others when they are afraid or needing a
helping hand.

Suggested prayer: "Dear God, thank you for all the
people in my life who have encouraged me along the
way--who have helped spur me on when I was feeling
insecure, fearful, and afraid of failure. They were
'as Jesus' to me. Help me to be sensitive to the needs
of fellow strugglers and be 'as Jesus' to them and be a
great encourager in their time of need. Gratefully, in
Jesus' name, amen."

1. 1 Thessalonians 5:11 (NIV).
2. Michael Josephson of Character Counts
www.charactercounts.org

<Smile)))><

* * * * * * *


Copyright (c) 2009 by ACTS International.

When copying or forwarding include the following:
"Daily Encounter by Richard (Dick) Innes (c) 2009
ACTS International.
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Post  Admin on Sun 02 Aug 2009, 1:07 pm

Appreciating Appreciation

By Michael Josephson of Character Counts

The song "Thank God for Dirty Dishes" makes the point that if you're lucky to have enough food to make dirty dishes, you should be grateful. Instead of grousing about property taxes, be thankful you own property. When you wait in line at the bank or are stuck in traffic, be grateful you have money and a car to drive.

Easier said than done!

For me, appreciation doesn't come naturally. I'm not sure how, but somewhere along the way I came to associate gratitude with settling for whatever you get and not pushing harder to get more. Gratitude seemed like a form of surrender and a poor life strategy. If you're satisfied with the way things are, you'll never feel the urge to make them better.

What a pity I had to reach my 50s before I began to appreciate appreciation and realize it's rewarding to feel good about something--and there's always something to feel good about.

Although I don't do it enough, I've come to understand the profound wisdom in clichés like "stop and smell the roses" and "count your blessings." They remind us how easy it is to overlook things we could enjoy now while we look for what we think will make us happy later.

I'm still a novice at this, but I can tell you the more I appreciate, the happier I am. And the more appreciative my children learn to be, the happier they'll be.

This is Michael Josephson reminding you that character counts.

(c) 2009 Josephson Institute of Ethics; reprinted with permission. Michael Josephson, one of the nation's leading ethicists, is the founder of the Josephson Institute of Ethics and the premier youth character education program, CHARACTER COUNTS! For further information visit www.charactercounts.org.
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Post  Admin on Sat 31 Jan 2009, 7:12 pm

Deal or No Deal?

By Michael Josephson of Character Counts (576.1)

Sarah's mom agreed to let her 16-year-old go to a party if she promised to be home by midnight. But as the Cinderella hour approached, Sarah did a quick risk/reward calculation. She knew her mom would be angry and probably ground her, but she was having so much fun she decided it was worth it.

Sure enough, when she got home at 2:00 a.m., her mom was waiting for her, enraged that Sarah had violated her promise but relieved she was safe.

"Breaking your word was bad enough," her mom said, "but how could you be so cruel and selfish not to call and say you were safe? I was worried sick."

Sarah finished off an evening of bad choices with another: "You forced me into agreeing. The curfew was unfair. As to your worrying, that was your choice. I was perfectly safe. Just tell me the punishment and let me go to bed."

This is ugly.

Sarah's first mistake was to think she had the right to break her promise because she was "forced" into it. Mom's proposition was "Deal or no deal?" Sarah made a deal and, like it or not, she was morally bound to keep her word.

Her second mistake was to think she could buy off the moral duty to keep her promise simply by accepting punishment. Her mom's trust wasn't mended because Sarah paid the penalty. Ultimately, the issue wasn't about curfews or parties; it was about trust and credibility. Her lack of remorse and accountability only made things worse, critically damaging her relationship with her mom.

Her third mistake was to think, despite her refusal to accept responsibility for inflicting mental anguish on her mom, that she wasn't responsible. She was. If she bothered to think about it, Sarah knew her conduct would cause gut-wrenching worry, every bit as painful as a punch to the stomach. A person is ethically accountable for the predictable consequences of their actions.

In a nutshell, Sarah didn't act with character. She was untrustworthy, irresponsible, disrespectful, and unkind. It will take her a long time to build the healthy bonds of trust that both she and her mom want and need.

This is Michael Josephson reminding you that character counts.

©️ 2009 Josephson Institute of Ethics; reprinted with permission. Michael Josephson, one of the nation's leading ethicists, is the founder of the Josephson Institute of Ethics and the premier youth character education program, CHARACTER COUNTS! For further information visit www.charactercounts.org.
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