The best investment that you can make is in yourself. So put this post on your summer reading list. I’ve selected snippets from my book, Follow Your Conscience: Make a Difference in Your Life & in the Lives of Others.
Respect Must Be Earned
“Think about the people with whom you come into contact each day. Some of those folks demand respect because of their age, wealth, or position. Others feel entitled to respect because they’re popular, have a big office, or because they’ve won awards. And still others think that everyone deserves respect regardless of their actions. The truth is, many of them don’t even respect themselves.
“It doesn’t matter whether you’re young or old, rich or poor, work on the top floor or down in the basement, everyone earns respect the same way. You can’t require respect or demand it. You can’t cut deals or take shortcuts. You can’t buy respect or even place a price tag on it. And that’s because respect is priceless. Earn it every day!”
“It’s important for you to believe in yourself, stand up for the principles that you hold dear, and see the world for what it really is, not what you want it to be. Don’t be afraid to embrace change, confront uncertainty, and face the unknown. For these things are ways of life. Make sure to be bold, follow your heart, and dream BIG. As Walt Disney once said, ‘All our dreams can come true if we have the courage to pursue them.’ ”
The Buck Stops with You
“Personal responsibility puts you in the driver’s seat to make the most of your life. The key is to personally ‘own’ your life, rather than abdicating the responsibility to others.
“Personal responsibility needn’t be a burden. It’s a blessing when you assume complete responsibility for your life’s successes and failures (and we all experience some of each). But hard work and commitment are required. Unless you believe in the tooth fairy, no one’s going to wave a magic wand to make it happen for you (but that doesn’t stop people from hoping).”
Your Actions Matter
“When you ‘walk the talk,’ your behavior becomes a catalyst for people’s trust and faith in you. And it also emphasizes what you stand for. So, any time you make a claim, no matter how small, and display inconsistent behavior, you shatter the comfort zone –– and weaken your bond of trust with others. As a result, anything thought to be predictable in the future may be treated as suspect. The fact is, everything you do in life sends a message. So make sure to practice what you preach. As Ben Franklin said, ‘Well done is better than well said.’ ”
“Generous people give out of love, not obligation — without strings attached. Generous people know that a gift doesn’t have to be momentous. It can be as simple as a smile. Giving doesn’t have to be planned. Some of the best gifts in life are random acts of kindness such as creating a special moment for someone to remember. Giving doesn’t have to be from your material wealth; it can be a gift from your heart. It can take the form of giving someone confidence and respect, slowing down enough to provide someone some quality time, or sharing an honest opinion. Giving doesn’t have to provide an immediate benefit. You can give your children a strong sense of values, self-confidence, and a first-class education. Think about it: Do you spend more time giving or taking?”
“Humility is a sign of strength, not weakness. People with humility possess an inner peace. They’re modest about their achievements, grounded in their values, and they have nothing to prove to others. They’re down to earth, comfortable in their own skin, and quietly proud. Humble people shift their focus from taking to giving, from talking about themselves to listening to others, from hoarding the credit to deflecting the praise, and from being a ‘know-it-all’ to knowing there’s so much more in life worth learning. There’s no ego, no pretense, and certainly no gamesmanship. Humble people are authentic. As C. S. Lewis said, ‘Humility is not thinking less of yourself, it’s thinking of yourself less.’ ”
Tough Times Say a Lot About You
“It’s easy to look like a star when times are good, but when times are tough, your true character comes into full view. Be strong. Don’t compromise your integrity; don’t lower your standards; and above all, don’t quit. You’re better than that. You owe it to yourself to overcome the problem, as you have so many times before. There is great wisdom in Friedrich Nietzsche’s truism, ‘That which does not kill us makes us stronger.’ The key is to get through tough times with dignity and grace. So hold your head up high. No one ever said it’s easy. And for that, you’ll have more reason to be proud when it’s over. Tough times say a lot about us. Let’s hope that they say only good things about you!”
Keep Money in Perspective
“It’s important to keep money in perspective. When you look back on your life, will you gauge success by the power that you attained and the wealth that you accumulated? Or will you measure the degree to which your life was rich in character and purpose? Will it matter that you led an honorable existence, made a difference in people’s lives, and left the world a better place for your children? Albert Einstein said it well, ‘Not everything that can be counted counts, and not everything that counts can be counted.’ The choice is yours. There’s more to life than money.”
Do the Right Thing
“It’s not always easy to admit a mistake, persevere during tough times, or follow through on every promise made. It’s not always comfortable to convey the hard truth or stand up for your beliefs. In the short term, it may not be beneficial to do right by your customers, to put people before profits, or to distance yourself from a questionable relationship. BUT, in the long run, doing the right thing is the clear path to both success and happiness.”
It’s Time to Raise the Bar
“Next time you see someone cheat, steal, curse, or lie, remember that we’re each partly to blame for the behavior. The truth is, some of this behavior exists because we allow it to exist. It’s time to raise the bar; it’s time to stand up for what’s right; it’s time to lift our collective conscience. We must not let our kids fall through the cracks. We must not let ourselves become desensitized to these ills. We must not shy away from our responsibilities. This runaway train must be stopped before it derails. While we may not be able to change the world, we can change the world around us. Begin today. It’s time to raise the bar.”
What’s On Your Summer Reading List?
I hope you enjoyed these excerpts and that they gave you something to think about. Please share this summer reading with your friends and family. Follow Your Conscience is available online as well as in fine bookstores.