Some rules and wisdom we can live by

Semi-retired drifterJanuary 27, 2013 

Editor’s note: As each new year begins, we reflect on our lives and make resolutions. We tend to look around to see how other people are using their lives – Lindsay Lohan versus Archbishop Desmond Tutu, for example. We wonder how best to use our own lives and what lessons we’ve learned as we travel this mysterious journey. Today, we offer the collective wisdom of seven South Sound residents.

Cecelia Loveless In my career thus far, I have had the good fortune to work with some incredible community leaders who have become mentors and friends. I have enjoyed their variety of perspectives, opinions and traits and have benefited most from those who led with passion, clear vision and empowered others.

Following their lead, I have tried to empower others to bring their own ideas and talents to the table. And when I’ve done so, my expectations are often surpassed! So whether it’s a work project or family life, collaboration and allowing others to shine in their own way will always get the team ahead.

Gerry Alexander Over the course of my life, I have received lots of good advice. But, alas, it hasn’t always been followed.

Over the years, though, I have endeavored to adhere to the admonition that one learns more by listening than speaking. Although I can’t recall when or where I first received that advice, it can be gleaned from a booklet I have often consulted. It was written more than 200 years ago by our nation’s foremost personage, George Washington, and is titled ”George Washington’s Rules of Civility and Decent Behavior.”

Of the 110 rules, a great many relate to civility in discourse. For example, he says you should “think before you speak” and “when another speaks, be attentive.” Our first president goes on to say, “in disputes, be not desirous to overcome as not to give liberty to each one to deliver his opinion.”

While Washington’s language is a bit old-fashioned, what he says is wise. Indeed, in this day and age when many debate sessions on public issues degenerate into a cross firing of talking points with no one appearing to listen to their opposite, our society could greatly benefit from greater adherence to this advice.

Warren Carlson Best one word of advice: travel. Nothing gives perspective and proportion like seeing how the rest of the world does things.

Best rules for living: The Four-Fold Way.

This is ancient wisdom learned from Catherine Bateson, daughter of Margaret Mead: 1. Show up. 2. Pay attention. 3. Tell the truth without blame or judgment. 4. Be open to outcomes, but not attached to outcomes.

You have to “be there” for anything good to happen. Being tuned in allows the best chance to maximize experiences. Tell the “truth” and you needn’t remember what you said; it will be true again next time. And how often do we ruin experiences for ourselves with unrealistic expectations? Expect the “greatest ever,” and something quite good can be disappointing. If you are open to but not attached to outcomes, each experience is appreciated on its merits alone.

Robert Wubbena Early in my career, I was advised that to be truly successful requires a commitment toward your goals of much more than 40 hours a week, that every optional task should be designed to have two positive products – essentially doubling your effectiveness and returns on your time.

Complementing this early advice, I found that most respected community leaders want what is best for the larger community of people. Even in controversial projects, I have found that if given the facts, good leaders will make public and business decisions that are fair to all concerned.

The key is they act with integrity and the broad public interest as a priority. Poor decisions are because of poor information or people acting with a self-interest motive. People guided by clear public interest motives and integrity make the best leaders, add value to the larger community and help those in need.

Jim This I think one of the biggest lessons I have learned is to take time before rushing to judgment.

Too many times, I acted quickly using only a portion of facts available. This was often the case in dealing with positions or people I didn’t agree with.

Life and people are too complex to evaluate with only surface details. I try to ask questions and listen more to get a fuller perspective before acting.

This can slow the process sometimes, but it greatly reduces the amount of time spent backtracking and apologizing.

Steve Bean Family first, then friends, then customers, clients or patients.

Treat people like you would like to be treated.

Give back to the community in which you live by helping those less fortunate than yourself.

Be honest with people even if you are telling them what they need to hear rather than what they want to hear. This isn’t easy.

If you are in a business or profession, return the worst phone call first as that is the person who will keep calling you until you do. Get it done and behind you and get on to bigger and better things. Seth Goldstein I’ve learned that the way to personal growth, to learning, to deep relationships with others is to cultivate humility.

We need to admit that we don’t know everything, that no one has an exclusive truth claim and that life is a complex series of inter-working parts, which we might not always control.

Too often, humility is confused with weakness and limitation. But to be humble is to recognize that we are part of something greater than ourselves, and that idea should endow us with clarity and strength.

To be humble is to recognize that we are always a work in progress, we always have the capacity to change.

Executive director of the South Puget Sound Community College Foundation Former chief justice of the state Supreme Court (retired) Self-described as a seeker of equitable solutions President and co-founder of The Paragon Consulting Group Lifelong Olympian resident, attorney and chairman of Thurston First Bank Rabbi of Temple Beth Hatfiloh in Olympia

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