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Character Counts Empty Re: Character Counts

Post  Admin on Sun 23 Feb 2014, 6:05 pm

Parents Are Teachers First

      by Josephson Institute (836.1) 

When John Wooden, the legendary basketball coach, referred to the last game he “ever taught,” he was asked about this phrasing. He said simply that a coach is first and foremost a teacher who should not only improve his players’ athletic skills, but also help them become better people. And he was a superb teacher whose lasting influence is reflected in the values he instilled, not the championships he won.

Henry Adams said, “Teachers affect all eternity.” As those who are taught teach others, the teacher’s legacy grows. Sadly, the way we select and reward schoolteachers and coaches shows how much we undervalue their crucial role in shaping the character and destiny of our children.

But even worse, we tend to forget that the first and by far the most important teachers are those engaged in parenting. Good child-rearing involves more than providing food, shelter, and education. It also involves instilling good values and habits, teaching right from wrong, and showing how to make good decisions that are both effective and ethical.

Yes, it’s important to help kids become smart and competent, but as Teddy Roosevelt said, “To educate a person in the mind but not the morals is to educate a menace to society.” Parents need to be attentive and dedicated to assuring that their children have the tools to lead truly good lives, lives with purpose and meaning and value. That means we need to teach, enforce, advocate, and model the best we want our children to be.

This is Michael Josephson reminding you that character counts.

(c) 2014 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.

I Didn't Want the Janitor to Lose His Job

  by Michael Josephson (827.3) 


The primary responsibility for instilling good values
and building character is with parents. This doesn't
mean, however, that teachers and coaches don't have a
critically important role.

The unfortunate fact is that far too many kids are
raised in morally impoverished settings that foster
lying, cheating, and violence. If we don't give these
children moral instruction, many of them will become
predators. And I know it works because of Jesse, a
young man I met in Tulare County, California.

Jesse was in an alternative school because he had
serious behavioral problems. About a month after his
school incorporated character-development strategies
into the curriculum, Jesse found the janitor's keys. To
a kid with a history of theft, this was a mighty
temptation. When he voluntarily turned them in, people
were shocked. When I asked him why, he surprised me
with his answer. He didn't say anything about a new
commitment to honesty. He said simply, "I didn't want
the janitor to lose his job."

It's likely Jesse would not have thought about the
janitor weeks before. What changed was he had been
given a simple thinking tool that helped him see the
way his choices could affect other people. Jesse was
taught to identify "stakeholders"--all the people
likely to be affected by a choice--and to think about
how they might be affected.

Despite Jesse's flaws, he had decent instincts and
didn't want to do something that would hurt the
janitor. His teachers didn't teach him to care about
others, but they gave him a way of thinking that
unleashed the caring part of his nature. 

This is Michael Josephson reminding you that character
counts.

(c) 2014 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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Character Counts Empty Re: Character Counts

Post  Admin on Sat 14 Dec 2013, 10:36 am

Avoiding Temptations

  By Michael Josephson of CHARACTER COUNTS! (827.4)

When my daughter Samara was four she pointed to a
delicate glass vase and asked, "What's that?"

"It's very special," I answered. "It was my mother's. I
would really feel bad if it ever got broken, so please
be careful to never, never touch it."

Without a moment's 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. And, of course, she was right. We would both be
happier if I didn't tempt her.

After all, it is easier to avoid than resist
temptations. Even people of character can succumb to
temptations at weak moments. If you're on a diet, don't
let them bring out the dessert tray. If you're on a
tight budget, don't even window shop for things you
can't afford. And if you're committed to celibacy or
fidelity, don't get near situations where your resolve
could be tested.

The 19th century English novelist Margaret Oliphant
said, "As a general rule, temptations come when they
are sought." If we're honest with ourselves, we would
have to admit that many of the morally precarious
situations we've found ourselves in were not entirely
unwelcome. It's reckless to invite temptation to sit
beside us and believe that we will have the strength to
say no at the right time.

This is Michael Josephson reminding you that character
counts. 

(c) 2013 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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Character Counts Empty Re: Character Counts

Post  Admin on Fri 22 Nov 2013, 10:50 am

How to Succeed by Failing Forward -- 
    Turning Stumbling Blocks to Stepping Stones 

  By Michael Josephson of CHARACTER COUNTS (824.2)

The best way to teach our children to succeed is to
teach them to fail.

After all, if getting everything you want on the first
try is success, and everything else is failure, we all
fail much more often than we succeed.

People who learn how to grow from unsuccessful efforts
succeed more often and at higher levels because they
become wiser and tougher.

Two great American inventors, Thomas Edison and Charles
Kettering mastered the art of building success on a
foundation of what others might call failure.

Edison liked to say he "failed his way to success,"
noting that every time he tried something that didn't
work, he moved closer to what did. "Now I know one more
thing that doesn't work," he would say.

The lesser known Kettering (head of research for
General Motors from 1920-1947) talked about "failing
forward," calling every wrong attempt a "practice
shot."

The strength of both men was that their creativity and
confidence was undiminished by setbacks and
unsuccessful efforts. They accepted that trial and
error is an essential strategy for breakthrough
innovation, and simply rejected the notion of failure.
Thomas Watson, the founder of IBM, cautioned his
leaders from being so careful that they never failed.
He went so far as to say, "The way to succeed is to
double your failure rate."

Of course, failure is never desirable, but it is
inevitable and, with a proper attitude, can be quite
useful.

The only way to avoid failure is to avoid the risks and
challenges, and that probably is a case of real
failure. The great hockey player Wayne Gretzky used to
say, "You miss 100% of the shots you don't take."

Whatever your goal, whether it's to get something, do
something, or improve yourself as a person or
professional, the secret of success is learning to
transform unsuccessful experiences from stumbling
blocks to stepping stones.

Three qualities can turn adversity into advantage: a
positive perspective, reflection, and perseverance.

First, learn from the inventors. Don't allow yourself
to think of any failure as final, and never allow
unsuccessful efforts to discourage you or cause you to
give up. Remember, failure is an event, not a person.
Even failing repeatedly can't defeat you unless you
start thinking of yourself as a failure. The way you
think about your experiences shapes the experience in
ways that either stimulate or stymie further efforts.

Second, don't waste the experience. Unsuccessful
efforts are wasted and debilitating only if you don't
learn from them. Reflect on your actions, attitudes and
the results to discover the lesson within the
experience and use that knowledge to guide future
efforts.

Third, persevere. Try and try again. Just be smarter
each time.

And finally, learn to enjoy the process. Simply being
absorbed in the pursuit of any change that will improve
your life or the lives of others is a blessing.

This is Michael Josephson reminding you that character
counts. 

(c) 2013 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 08 Oct 2013, 1:36 pm

Teaching Our Children To Be Better Than Us

  By Michael Josephson of CHARACTER COUNTS (821.3) 

Do parents have moral standing to impose standards on
their children that they themselves did not follow when
they were kids? Is it ever ethical for parents to lie
to a child about their youthful experiences?

These are important questions because it's a parent's
duty to teach, enforce, advocate, and model good
behavior for their kids. Sure, it'd be easier if we
never did anything we're uncomfortable being honest
about, but judgment and responsibilities grow as we
mature. Good parenting would be impossible if we were
disqualified from setting and demanding high standards
of prudent and ethical behavior no matter how foolish
we were as youngsters. Our duty to be a good model
concerns the present, not the past.

The tougher question is about being honest about past
conduct. As many listeners pointed out, depending on
the setting of a confession and the age of the child,
discovery of a parent's moral shortcomings could be
highly disturbing, even traumatic and, yes, some
children will use our past mistakes as an excuse for
their own.

These are horrible risks, but I believe successful
parenting requires a deep and unshakable trust and an
open and honest relationship. In relationships of
trust, every lie or deception becomes a buried land
mine.

Rather than lie, I would set limits on the things I'm
willing to talk about. At the same time, from an early
age I've tried to create realistic expectations by
being open about my deficiencies, making it clear I
never was, and still am not, all I want to be. I hope
my kids have no illusions. They should know I made and
learned from lots of mistakes.

I've never wanted my children to think I'm better than
I am, but I do want them to know I'm struggling to be
better than I was. 

This is Michael Josephson reminding you that character
counts. 

(c) 2013 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 01 Oct 2013, 9:57 pm

You're Better Than That 

By Michael Josephson in CHARACTER COUNTS (393.3)

Todd was an angry nine-year-old being raised by his mom
after his dad abandoned the family. Not knowing how to
handle his anger, she sent him for the summer to live
with his grandparents on a farm. When Todd screamed at
his grandmother, his granddad immediately pulled him
outside where he showed him a two-by-four, a box of
two-inch nails and a big hammer. He told Todd that
every time he lost his temper he would be sent outside
and that he couldn't return until he pounded a big
two-inch nail all the way into the two-by-four.

After about a dozen trips to the "nail shed," Todd
began to control his temper more and pound less. After
a solid week of self-control he proudly announced that
he had learned his lesson.

His grandma said, "Not yet," and she took him to the
shed. She told him to pull out all the nails he had
pounded in. After two hours Todd told his grandma he
was finished.

She smiled and put her arm around him as they surveyed
the bent nails and the holes in the two-by-four. Then
she said: "Your temper may have helped you pound in
those nails but it didn't change anything, did it?
Pulling out the nails didn't do much good either. It's
like saying you're sorry. Sorry doesn't fix the holes."

"Here's the thing, Todd. Anger makes holes that sorry
can't fix. You can't do much about old holes, but you
can stop making new ones. Remember, every time you do
something mean and nasty you're putting a hole
somewhere, in someone. That's what your dad did to you.
Please don't do that to anyone else. You are better
than that."

This is Michael Josephson reminding you that character
counts. 

(c) 2013 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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