Improving Family Life in the Digital Era

The litmus test of a solid family is how many times you eat dinner together.

Especially important in the digital age.

Does this picture scare you?  It should.

Social and digital communication is the great innovation of our age.  But it is not a replacement for face-to-face social interaction.

A psychologist told me that he recommend that families have dinner together. 

Mobile devices off!

I’m talking to mom and dad here because you can’t preach face-to-face interaction if you’re going to say one thing and do the other. 

Talk about your day.  School.  Work. People. Politics.  Movies.  Anything. 

A girl told me her parents were adamantly against using digital devices as babysitters when adults want to talk.  The other day the adults were having a good time and the two and three year old were getting restless.

The mother broke her rule and handed them her iPhone.

Until she sucked it up and took them home instead.

Don’t ruin great mobile digital devices by making them a substitute for face time.

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Bouncing Back From Failure

Thomas Edison who failed thousands of times in his quest to eventually invent the light bulb said “I have not failed.  I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work”.

That’s the attitude we need.

Failure means you’re on your way to success not that you’re headed for failure.

But employers don’t often think that way.

They want us to hit it out of the park.  Go big.  Lead the team to immediate victory.

Friends and family also send mixed messages.

Be your best.  Don’t let us down.  Everyone is counting on you.

I know of no one who has ever accomplished anything good or great by never making a mistake.  No one.

We know that but we let others get into our heads.  Instead, stop letting the stress and pressure of someone else’s desires act as a disincentive.

Don’t go big.

Go back – again, and again and again – until you succeed.

Winston Churchill said:

“Success is not final, failure is not fatal: it is the courage to continue that counts.” – Winston Churchill.

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Lance Armstrong’s Confession

Things are so bad for dethroned Tour de France champion Lance Armstrong that he has taken to Oprah Winfrey’s couch to express remorse.

From Oprah’s own mouth we hear that Armstrong did not go far enough in his confession of doping to give the cyclist the winner’s advantage. 

USA Today turned on Armstrong in a front page story yesterday where it proclaimed the view that “sorry just doesn’t cut it”.

For those who argue that Armstrong who battled through testicular cancer and did much good from the organization Livestrong, the issue is what is an apology?

A sincere expression of sorrow along with the will to right the wrong.

In fact, apologizing is dreaded by most people.

It should be the other way around.

Saying “I’m sorry” is a freeing thing.

It is being condemned to posture and defend a wrong and hurtful position that poisons the human spirit. 

So, if you haven’t found a reason to say the words “I’m sorry” today, you’re probably missing the opportunity to be really human.

And once we overcome the shame or embarrassment of being human, people gravitate to us and we feel better.

This is a good time to recall Marion Jones after her steroids case when she said:

“I recognize that by saying that I’m deeply sorry, it might not be enough and sufficient to address the pain and the hurt that I have caused you. Therefore, I want to ask for your forgiveness for my actions, and I hope you can find it in your heart to forgive me.”

Forget excuses. 

Learn to admit when you messed up and learn to relish the opportunity to admit it.

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Responding to this Dreaded Trick Interview Question

“Tell me, what is your biggest fault?”

It’s designed to have job applicants turn against themselves.  But you can’t just ignore it.

The response that many people give is:  “I work too hard” – a perceived employer advantage that applicants hope will circumvent the trick question.

I advised my students at the University of Southern California who were looking to interview for their first post-collegiate job to show up prepared.

Here are some responses like these with which you feel most comfortable:

  1. (Basic Approach) “I realize that everyone is fallible so I am sure I have the same tendencies other applicants might have.  But I learn from my mistakes and see even temporary shortcomings as long-term advantages”.  The interviewer will likely probe and you win when you are prepared to cite specific examples of fallibilities you have overcome.
  2. (Strong Response) “I can be impatient.  I have often had to overcome my desire for immediate results with swift action”.  When asked what is that swift action, you have won the interview question if you answer, “I immediately go to PPP – purposeful positive progression to turn my lack of patience into an advantage”.  Be prepared to cite an example or two if you choose this response.  That lends credibility.
  3. (Brave Response): “I can be intolerant of people who can’t work together as a team.  When this happens I try to channel my best human relations to guide my behavior and deal with theirs”.  Be ready to cite examples or this is no better than “I work too hard”.  And be prepared to show what exactly makes you skilled in human relations (courses, reading, specific life’s experience, etc). 

What interviewers really want to know by asking “What is your biggest fault?” is how do you handle not being the “perfect” candidate that you seem to be on this interview. 

Do not dump on yourself, but do not equivocate, either.  You’re out if you screw this question up.

So admit that you are like everyone else – not perfect – but attach a believable upside to your humanity with evidence.

Try these responses or consider similar ones of your own and perhaps you’ll get what most of my students received when they tried it – a follow-up interview or a job offer.

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The Loss of a Friend

One of my best friends passed away yesterday after a long battle with cancer.

His name is Wynn Etter. 

I met Wynn when he was sponsor for the Dale Carnegie Courses in Cherry Hill, NJ.  Over the years I met the most wonderful people through Wynn and was honored when he asked me to teach the Dale Carnegie Course.  I cannot imagine what my life would have been like for me without calling this man my friend.

The loss of a friend sometimes occurs when they are alive but not available for a relationship.  But in this case, Wynn was a mentor and an inspiration very much involved in my life.

When I did research for my book, he would pack up tons of motivational literature and ship it to me.  He was thanked in the book’s dedication.

He used to call me “Tiger” – an enthusiastic reminder to go after what I desired in life.

A positive man who as he endured chemotherapy never uttered a negative word even as his disease progressed. 

I have a fond memory of Wynn pulling up to tollbooths that linked southern New Jersey bridges to nearby Philadelphia and anonymously paying the toll for the car behind him.  The grateful recipient of his random kindness would step on it and pull next to his car at the top of the bridge and wave their thanks.

It’s hard to contemplate living without the benefit of people like Wynn.  But I have a consolation plan.

If I can take just one of his many good qualities and make it mine, he will live on through me.  And there is a long list to choose from.

There is a beginning, middle and end to life but the good qualities of friends can live on in their name through others.

“What we have once enjoyed deeply we can never lose. All that we love deeply becomes a part of us”  – Helen Keller

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  • Jerry,
    This was moving.
    This new feedyouhVe will not expand on iPhone or iPads anymore. You may want to correct that.

  • @ap215 Thank you very much!

  • I’m sorry Jerry my condolences.