Posts Tagged 'personal responsibility'

Will you choose the window or the mirror?

WindowIt is amazing what you can accomplish if you do not care who gets the credit.

– Harry S. Truman




In his book Good to Great, author Jim Collins outlines what he calls the Window and the Mirror model of leadership.

To paraphrase, Collins says that when something positive happens in your life, envision a window so you can look out and acknowledge the people who contributed to your success. When things don’t go well, envision a mirror and seek to reflect on what you could have done differently.

While Collins’s intended audience is business professionals, his philosophy can apply to anyone. Sharing credit for your successes – particularly in a team setting – and taking responsibility for your failures is a sign of maturity and the mark of a leader.

The next time you evaluate a life experience, think carefully when choosing to use the window or the mirror.


Good values are a key to happiness


I like to believe that I possess good personal values: I’m an honest soul who lives by the Golden Rule.


I was fortunate to be raised by parents who believed that a strong value system is the foundation for personal and professional success, and ultimately, for a happy life. My parents were right, and my wish is that every child has someone in his or her life to teach them the same.


In addition to my parents, my values were shaped in part by a junior high school teacher everyone called Coach West (he coached the school’s football team). I took several classes with Coach West, including an elective in 7th grade simply called “Values.” More than 30 years later, I still remember that class.


Coach West was about 55-years-old but looked closer to 65, the result in part of a hardscrabbled childhood in a small Midwestern town. He was a tall and serious-minded character who looked and walked and even talked a bit like John Wayne, one of his heroes. Coach West had never been to college but he’d fought in World War II, even though he’d lost an eye as a young boy in a traffic accident. He wasn’t anybody’s fool.


Coach West created the “Values” class because he was shocked at what he considered to be a lack of values among contemporary teens (something that has persisted for countless generations).


Coach West didn’t use a lot of fancy talk in teaching values, no discussion of teleological ethics or Immanuel Kant’s categorical imperative. In fact, the class had no syllabus, outline or book – and he wouldn’t have used PowerPoint presentations or SmartBoards even had they been available in the late 1970s. Coach West simply introduced us to one value each week – Honesty; Responsibility; Loyalty; etc. – by writing the value on a chalkboard, then explaining its importance through anecdotes taken from his own life. We never took a test in “Values;” we wrote essays examining the importance of each value in our own lives. The class was a simple concept, and it worked because I respected the messenger.


I now try to instill good values in my young daughter, and I’m proud to see she knows right from wrong and is an honest little girl, respectful of others. Like my parents, I believe strong values are the foundation for happiness. My hope is that my daughter instills the same sense of importance about values in her children, and I think she will…..


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