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“Talent is God-given. Be humble.
Fame is man-given. Be grateful.
Conceit is self-given. Be careful.”
– John Wooden

How many people do you know who like a show-off or a braggart? I can’t think of many. In fact, it is not very pleasant to be in the company of someone who gloats over their successes. In Australia, there is even an expression for people who flaunt their large egos and then are brought down to earth by others who resent it: the tall poppy syndrome. Tall poppies often get cut down to size.

Do you flaunt your feathers OR are you humble?

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“By a lie, a man throws away and, as it were, annihilates his dignity as a man.” – Immanuel Kant

My word, my bond. Honesty is the best policy. Fair and square. Straight as an arrow. When people are trustworthy, their actions are congruent with their words. Watch, interact and listen and you may quickly discover someone’s character. As the poet Maya Angelou said: “When someone shows you who they are, believe them the first time.”

What about you? Do you utter empty words and promises OR live with integrity?

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“To see things in the seed, that is genius.” – Lao-Tzu

Life lessons from a seasoned gardener: Plant your seeds in fertile, well-tilled soil. Tend your garden with regular watering, ample sunshine and adjust care as necessary. Cultivate patience and when the first buds emerge, welcome them heartily. Continue this nourishing attention while flower or plant blossoms. If we try to apply these gardening lessons to our personal connections, we would focus on helping our family members, co-workers, friends — and even ourselves — realize our unique gifts and innate potential.

Do you overlook human potential OR see the seed of greatness in each person?

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“Always be a first-rate version of yourself, instead of a second-rate version of somebody else.” – Judy Garland

At every moment in life, we have a choice of how to act and react. In moments of serenity it is easy to remain calm and calculating. But what about when we are under pressure and our emotional temperature rises? Do we lash out angrily or take a step back? Exhibit grace under fire or react defensively? When the going gets tough, the tough listen to their better angels and keep calm and carry on.

Do you compromise on your best self OR act from the best within?

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“If one advances confidently in the direction of his dreams, and endeavors to live the life which he has imagined, he will meet with a success unexpected in common hours.” – Henry David Thoreau

Fall down and get back up. Stick-to-it-iveness. Persistence. Some of the greatest success stories have come from failing, and trying again. Failure is not the enemy, but the discouragement that may arise from it can be paralyzing and dream-destroying. Some of the greatest success stories come from failing, recalculating, and moving forward toward a goal. Think of Colonel Sanders and Abraham Lincoln. How many of us would have the strength and the will to try again after suffering Sanders’ 1,009 rejections and Lincoln’s staggering personal and professional failures? For them, defeat was a detour, not a dead end. It is a worthy lesson for all of us.

Do you give up when the going gets tough OR work toward your dreams?