Pat Summit was a renowned basketball coach at the University of Tennessee. She had an amazing record. Like all great coaches, she knew the elements of success. There is a lot we can learn from great coaches. One of the things Pat said that resonates with me the most was, “Value those colleagues who tell you the truth, not just what you want to hear.” Continue reading
What do I understand (or at least think I understand) now that I wish I had understood when I had began my journey through adulthood? It’s of no consequence to me, of course: it’s impossible to turn back the clock. But it might be of some help to you, Vera.
In looking back I’m struck by how naïve I was when I came out of high school and, four years later, college. I had little appreciation for what the world was really like. Growing up in a working-class family in homogenous rural south-central Pennsylvania hadn’t exposed me to much. My world was very small.
More than four decades of career experiences in law, business (CEO), government (special agent for DOD and, later, cabinet secretary), and higher ed (college president) changed that. To a degree. There is still much about life I don’t understand or, perhaps more accurately, refuse to accept. I’m still learning and always will be. Nonetheless, life has imparted a few lessons along the way.
Some of the lessons were easy to learn; some were hard. Some were moments of euphoria and left fond memories; some were painful and left scars. Others were learned merely by reading or observing. (It’s always preferable to learn from other people’s wisdom or mistakes.) I decided to compose a list of what I consider to have been some of the most important lessons.
What the list isn’t, however, is a list of rules to live by. I’m not fond of rules and would never suggest life is so easily mastered. Moreover, as I’ve mentioned before, I have absolutely no desire to tell you how to live your life, Vera. Rather, I’m simply sharing some of the things I wish I had better understood when I was young, starting out.
Some of the lessons are practical; some are of the existential variety. The list is neither complete nor final. After all, I’m still learning.
Please don’t infer an order of priority, for none is intended. “You” and “your,” below, refer to me; it is as if life is speaking to me. Occasional personal comments follow parenthetically. Continue reading
One thing I’ve learned over the years, Vera, is that we think we know far more than we actually know. And we’re not shy about speaking out of ignorance.
I suppose it’s always been the case. But it seems worse now, coming on the heels of decades of unrelenting partisan propaganda. I also suspect that, as much good as the Internet has facilitated in the world, it has contributed greatly to the spread of ignorance. It’s certainly has made it easier to reach a receptive audience. Continue reading