Written by: Lew Hamburger

I talk too much. Always have. In the early seventies I was lucky enough to be selected Executive Director of an inner city settlement house/community center with a job description of “keep an explosion from taking place in the community!” The catchment area of a quarter million Blacks, Whites, and Hispanics was roiling with the kind of vitriol and violence we’re seeing today— from raucous protests to plumbing torn out and houses set afire. I knew I needed a constant reminder to be quiet and concise when I did speak. The following was reduced to one word reminders on a note the size of business cards and put on all 50 phones in the Agency’s several buildings. It helped and I taught leadership classes using the list.

Decades later I ran into several ex-students at weddings over a two year span, who pulled from their wallets or purses wrinkled little pieces of paper and announced, “I’ve been carrying these things for all those years and I wanted you to know they’ve helped in decisions and interesting times.” So I thought I’d pass them along. Use in good health!


1. LISTEN: Before you, talk ask “whose need is this wisdom meeting?” If the answer is “mine”, take a breath.

2. LEARN: from everyone especially those who disagree or who are angry with you— it’s easier to change you than your wife, boss, friends, AND enemies (“my wife is always right..”.)3. LAUGH: Find the HUMOR in the mess: you can, you know…

Can you think of ANYONE who laughs a lot and exercises and is miserable or depressed?
Even when we were being held hostage my friend showed that humor helps perspective!

“The ability to see the humorous side of things is some sort of trick learned while mastering the art of living.” Viktor Frankl

“A person who laughs, if only at themselves, is never really miserable…”
H.L. Mencken

4. WHEN UP TO YOUR ASS IN ALLIGATORS, REMEMBER the goal was to drain the swamp.. Have and hang on to your goals. Have a purpose, mission.

5. STRENGTHS: Focus and build on your strengths; not your weaknesses OR your past, and do the same for others

6. SKI: You’re going to fail—at something…RELAX: take a deep breath – each day is like learning to ski anew— you’re going to fall down. Take a deep breath. Make sure no one is hurt, then laugh at yourself, get up and go at it again.

Old (and maybe current???) definition of ‘INSANITY’: repeating same behavior and expecting different result.

8. WE ALL “GET SOMETHING” FROM OUR dysfunctional, self-defeating, “CRAZY” BEHAVIORS …. WHAT IS IT THIS TIME??

9. THE GOSSIP MILL: RUN FROM IT: It’ll suck you in and you won’t like what’s spit out at the other end.


11. 10,000: That’s the generally accepted research number for mastering a skill or art from hitting a baseball to playing Beethoven concertos— want to develop some new habits? – Start today.

12. YOUR DIGNITY: HANG ON TO IT – No one can take that away; you have to give it up. “In concentration camps, what kind of person a prisoner became was the result of inner decisions. Any person can choose what is to become of them mentally and spiritually.”
Viktor Frankl

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