Jan 272014

Much conflict occurs because two sides don’t truly “hear and fully understand” the other person’s perspective. When a debate gets heated, the combatants tend to spend the time that they are not talking reloading their next salvo in their brain. Each barely listens. They cannot wait to interrupt and machine-gun their next salvo as soon as the other takes a breath. This is the same, no matter if we are talking about loved ones at home, students on campus, or associates at work.

Most conflicts continue, and fester, far longer than they would if we deeply understood the other’s perspective.

Invest three minutes and watch this bit of video wisdom, as told by Stephen Covey:


Give it a try. I know, from personal experience, that it works. It will produce positive, optimistic resolutions to the thorniest of problems.

I.M. Optimism Man

Jan 182014

Life deals the cards.

We get different hands to play every week, if not every day. One hand might be great — maybe at work, you get a full house with aces over kings, while another one of your hands might be a pair of threes at home, while your relationship with your teenager might be queen high and nothing else.

You rarely can influence the hand that you are dealt this week. But how you play your hand is up to you and matters a lot.

Probability = 0.000154% (by the way)

Probability = 0.000154% (by the way)

Too many people slack off. To come out on top, you must play each hand that is dealt to the best of your ability. Approach each situation — strong hand or weak hand — with belief, with tenacity, with will power, and with a positive attitude. You have to be willing to do the work, day in and day out. Attitude matters. Excellence is never about one day.

The only true formula for success is enthusiasm, focus, discipline, and hard work, no matter the pursuit. There is no substitute for giving your all.

This is a great rule to live by: Play the hand you are dealt to the best of your ability.

I.M. Optimism Man

PS> Another great rule: don’t wear rose-colored sunglasses — understand your odds of success and take (more) risks accordingly. But never, ever try something without enthusiasm or you have sealed your fate.

Jan 132014

A key to solving any problem is to first understand the problem, and then take steps that address key factors that influence the severity and trajectory of the problem.

America, over the last number of years, has plunged into income re-distribution as though such policies solve income inequality and opportunity problems. Some people realize that re-distribution has been proven to not work for solving these problems; rather, re-distribution does tend to keep certain voters happy and not much else.

Below is an article from the Wall Street Journal that offers a startlingly clear statistic that does help understand the poverty problem. Yet one one running for office is talking much about it because it probably would not prove to be a popular tactic that helps one in the polls. If you don’t subscribe to the WSJ, I highly recommend it. Few publications present a clearer perspective.

How to Fight Income Inequality: Get Married

In families headed by married couples, the poverty level in 2012 was just 7.5%. Those with a single mother: 33.9%.

 By Ari Fleischer

If President Obama wants to reduce income inequality, he should focus less on redistributing income and more on fighting a major cause of modern poverty: the breakdown of the family. A man mostly raised by a single mother and his grandparents who defied the odds to become president of the United States is just the person to take up the cause.

“Marriage inequality” should be at the center of any discussion of why some Americans prosper and others don’t. According to Census Bureau information analyzed by the Beverly LaHaye Institute, among families headed by two married parents in 2012, just 7.5% lived in poverty. By contrast, when families are headed by a single mother the poverty level jumps to 33.9%.

And the number of children raised in female-headed families is growing throughout America. A 2012 study by the Heritage Foundation found that 28.6% of children born to a white mother were out of wedlock. For Hispanics, the figure was 52.5% and for African-Americans 72.3%. In 1964, when the war on poverty began, almost everyone was born in a family with two married parents: only 7% were not.


Attitudes toward marriage and having children have changed in America over the past 50 years, and low-income children and their mothers are the ones who are paying the price. The statistics make clear what common sense tells us: Children who grow up in a home with married parents have an easier time becoming educated, wealthy and successful than children reared by one parent. As the Heritage study states: “The U.S. is steadily separating into a two-caste system with marriage and education as the dividing line. In the high-income third of the population, children are raised by married parents with a college education; in the bottom-income third, children are raised by single parents with a high-school diploma or less.”

One of the differences between the haves and the have-nots is that the haves tend to marry and give birth, in that order. The have-nots tend to have babies and remain unmarried. Marriage makes a difference. Heritage reports that among white married couples, the poverty rate in 2009 was just 3.2%; for white nonmarried families, the rate was 22%. Among black married couples, the poverty rate was only 7%, but the rate for non-married black families was 35.6%.

Marriage inequality is a substantial reason why income inequality exists. For children, the problem begins the day they are born, and no government can redistribute enough money to fix it. If redistributing money could solve the problem, the $20.7 trillion in 2011 dollars the government has spent on welfare programs since 1964—when President Johnson declared the “war on poverty”—would have eliminated income inequality a long time ago.

The matter is influenced strongly by decisions and values. The majority of women who have children outside of marriage today are adult women in their 20s. (Teenagers under 18 represent less than 8% of out-of-wedlock births.)

Rather than focusing on initiatives that might address this issue, President Obama, as well as Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren and New York City’s new mayor, Bill de Blasio, believe that the income gap can be closed by increasing taxes on the better-off and transferring the money to the poor.

Good luck with that. The tax code is already extremely progressive, as a December study by the Congressional Budget Office makes clear, yet poverty remains a significant problem. According to CBO, the top 40% of wage earners, those who make more than $51,100 a year, paid 86.4% of all federal taxes in 2010, the most recent data available. The bottom 40% of earners paid just 4.2% of all taxes. The top 40% paid virtually all of the income tax collected, while the bottom 40% paid a negative 9.1% of all income taxes. Paying “negative” taxes is possible because of the earned-income tax credit and other public-assistance measures that give the bottom 40% refunds for taxes they didn’t pay.

Given how deep the problem of poverty is, taking even more money from one citizen and handing it to another will only diminish one while doing very little to help the other. A better and more compassionate policy to fight income inequality would be helping the poor realize that the most important decision they can make is to stay in school, get married and have children—in that order.

Mr. Fleischer, a former press secretary for President George W. Bush, is president of Ari Fleischer Communications.

So, what is the solution? There are no simple answers, but I know where to start: Teach everyone what works and what does not work. Teach it in schools. Teach it on T.V. Get the message out. All parents want their kids to succeed, rich and poor alike.

I.M. Optimism Man

Jan 072014

You must believe you can, if you want to accomplish great things. Whether you think you can, or you think you can’t, you will be proved right. Pessimists and realists always sell themselves short.

In my first post of a series that hopes to prove this point, watch this memorable video from the 2008 Olympics:

4x100 Mens Gold 2008

Choose to believe. Choose to be an optimist. It is the only path to greatness.

I.M. Optimism Man

Jan 022014

John Wooden is perhaps the greatest basketball coach that ever lived. He saw himself, first and foremost, as a teacher. Many of Coach’s lessons had much more to do with life than just with basketball. John’s wisdom is captured in several books that are well worth reading, including one of my favorites, Wooden on Leadership.

Coach Wooden, March 24, 1969

Coach Wooden, March 24, 1969

Here are my top 10 John Wooden quotes to consider and apply in your life:

If you don’t have time to do it right, when will you have time to do it over?

If you’re not making mistakes, then you’re not doing anything.
I’m positive that a doer makes mistakes.

Do not let what you cannot do interfere with what you can do.

Failure is not fatal, but failure to change might be.

You can’t let praise or criticism get to you.
It’s a weakness to get caught up in either one.

Success is never final, failure is never fatal.
It’s courage that counts.

It’s what you learn after you know it all that counts.

Young people need models, not critics.

Don’t let making a living prevent you from making a life.

Success is peace of mind which is a direct result of self-satisfaction in knowing you did your best to become the best you are capable of becoming.

Thank you Coach, for inspiring me and thousands of others. Rest in peace.

I.M. Optimism Man