There are a few pieces of wisdom I carry around with me- some are quotes, sayings, principals or touchstones that always resonate with me. I thought I’d share a few of them with you.  It will probably help you understand me better, and hopefully they’ll help you as well.  Regardless, it seemed appropriate given that graduation and the end of the school year seems to be a time when everyone is doling out advice more frequently than AOL used to dole out discs, so might as well ride the wave.

You need not attend every battle to which you are invited.

This means simply that often people will say something or do something that seems like a provocation, a launching point into an argument or confrontation.  Remember that you can always say no and walk away.  Don’t reflexively take the bait.  Sometimes you get farther by avoiding confrontation by refusing to engage than actively seeking it out.  Think of this as not so much “letting them get away with it” as choosing not to play that game- it takes two to argue.  Or as the old joke about lawyers goes- When there’s one lawyer in town, he dines on burgers, when there are two or more lawyers in town, every one of them dines on steak.

We Teach People How To Treat Us

If you feel like someone walks all over you, why is that?  Have you let them know that that’s okay and acceptable to you?  Do you always say yes when they ask you for a favor, even of they don’t always say yes when you ask in return?  Then why do you keep saying yes?  As I tell my kids-

“If you don’t listen when I ask you nicely to do something, and only seem to listen when I scream, then you teach me asking nicely does not work and only screaming does.  Sooner or later I am going to stop trying to ask nicely first and just go to screaming, because that’s what works.  Is that what you want me to do?  No?  then please respond when I’m nice and show me that works!”

They teach me how to treat them, and vice versa.  Remember that you do have choices and more control than you think over things.

You Cannot Change What You Do Not Acknowledge

This is a big one I got from Dr. Phil- as trite as it sounds, you can’t change any behavior you don’t first recognize as something needing change.   This one goes right along with “People do what works” – we crave attention and acknowledgment, and even negative attention is better than none, because at least it shows someone cares.

When I see parents struggling with kids who may have learning disabilities, but are doing everything in their power to ignore that fact and avoid having their child tested, I know this is a case where ignorance seems like bliss.  If they do find out the child has an issue that can be addressed, sometimes as easily as getting extra help, or trying medication, they then have to explain to themselves why they have put their child and themselves through the pain of not helping sooner.    For homeowners, maybe it’s something like ignoring a roof leak- pretending it’s not a problem only works so long until the ceiling eventually caves in and costs you more money down the road.  But you can’t fix a problem if you won’t acknowledge it exists in the first place.

You are never given a wish without also being given the power to make it true.  You may have to work for it, however. This one, and the next few, come from Illusions – The Adventures of a Reluctant Messiah by Richard Bach, published back in 1977.  These little sentences got me through some rough times in high school and college.  This one in particular- you can have a wish, but you may have to work for it to make it true, is important.  You can probably accomplish more than you know or are aware of, but it’s going to require a dream, and a willingness to see it through, even if there are rough waters along the way.  The question you’ll have to ask yourself is whether you are willing to do the work required.

Argue your limitations, and Sure Enough- they’re yours. We all know this one- the moment you say you can’t, you are absolutely right.  Instead, go as far as you can- ask for help if you need to along the way.  Surprise yourself by the fact that much of your obstacles are ones you put in your own path.

Live never to be ashamed if anything you do or say is published around the world- even if what is published is not true. It’s amazing this was written in a pre-internet world, but could not be more true today.  Make sure that you live your life so that your reputation precedes you, and if anyone does say something negative, your reputation and your friends will be there to defend you when needed, or help if you need it, or otherwise come to your aid.  People screw up.  I do all the time.  But by being able to be honest about that, I can deal with anything bad that someone says, because I own my actions and I try not to do anything that I’m unwilling to own and be able to support or justify.

Life rewards Action.  Sitting on the sidelines and never taking a risk won’t get you ahead, or anywhere else for that matter.  Sometimes our inaction on a project or topic tells us a lot about how we feel about it as well.  If you feel stuck, look at why you might be stuck.  If you can find forward motion, you can gain momentum and move mountains.

And the last silly one:

I’m pretty sure that with a cape and a tiara I could save the world.- Sometimes you just have to believe you can, and swing for the fences.  No guts, no glory.