Childhood messages I got growing up, and what I’ve learned since.

Childhood Message: Intelligence is the most valuable personal quality

What I’ve Learned: Warmth, strength, energy, confidence, common sense and caring about others are the most valuable personal qualities. Too much intelligence without enough of the other qualities is like a too an powerful engine in a car, where the wheels just spin and burn rubber rather than taking you anywhere.

Childhood Message: Someone who has studied the arts, the classic books, philosophy, history, politics and religion is more well-rounded and has more awareness of the world

What I’ve Learned: Someone who keeps their eyes open and pays attention to their own experiences is more well-rounded and has more awareness of the world. Picture a person walking while reading some classic literary work, not looking where they are going and walking into an open manhole or off an overpass or something. Figuratively, this is how I see so-called “intellectuals”.

Childhood Message: Someone who has superior command of the language, excellent grammar and extensive vocabulary can better communicate their thoughts

What I’ve Learned: Someone who has thoughts worth communicating can better communicate their thoughts. Nancy (my wife Michelle’s mom), in halting, poor English says more in a sentence than Ivy-League-schooled New York Times journalist windbags write in a lifetime.

Childhood Message: Money is the root of all evil

What I’ve Learned: Money is good. The fact that someone (an employer, or client) has chosen to open their pockets and share their money with you proves, in most cases, you have been doing something helpful.

Childhood Message: Life is not fair

What I’ve Learned: The concept of “fairness” is like the concept of perpetual motion, or alchemy. These topics seem to fascinate people and lead to endless rumination, but all are mythical concepts that will never see manifestation in the light of day. Just being alive makes one lucky, and attempting to compare one person with another, or especially one disingenuously-defined “group” with another is a meaningless exercise that in the best case can only lead to confusion, and in the worst, violence and ruined lives.


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