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Balancing Act®: The Newsletter

(No. 280, December 2022)

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Balancing Act® is in four sections this month:

  1. Political Follies
  2. Musings
  3. The Human Condition: Generosity
  4. ORTIYKMWOYBNT-O Department

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Political Follies
  • Candidates’ representatives screaming at voters who are walking into polling places have no respect for others’ intelligence. After months of campaign ads, texts, debates, and email, are we really going to be influenced by people screaming in parking lots?
  • People who are abusive to polling place volunteers should be denied the vote.
  • I don’t care if people vote early, on time, or late, so long as they are legitimate voters. Timing not the deciding factor in voting validity.
  • The first thing I’d do if elected at any level would be to immediately involve some of the people from the opposition to fill some key jobs.
  • The Hays Tilden election (1876) probably was stolen, and there’s an awfully good case to be made that Joe Kennedy bought the election for JFK, and that Mayor John Daley of Chicago and the mafia played key roles.
  • The most common campaign arguments I’ve heard were all “scare tactics” and almost all of them were palpably false.
  • Everyone told Barry Goldwater that if he used the phrase “extremism in defense of liberty is no vice” that he’d lose the election. He did, and he did.
  • The television stations incessant visuals right down to the county levels are repetitive and annoying. Basically, there is nothing to report or “call” until all the votes are cast.
  • I’d certainly support a major third party’s creation based upon the track record of the current two.
  • If you don’t vote then you lose the right to complain as far as I’m concerned.
Now this is not the end. It is not even the beginning of the end. But it is, perhaps, the end of the beginning.

There seems to be a default, visceral reaction to “blame” someone. If we trip coming into a room we’re incensed that someone left a chair in the way. (If someone else trips coming into a room we call them “clumsy.”) There is an entire “industry” blaming big government, banks, big pharma, the media, an entire generation, and so forth.

Finding someone or something to blame absolves us of responsibility, but it does absolutely no good otherwise.

When organizations find blame (instead of the cause of a problem) they undermine their own performance because they think the problem is solved—“Joe” was at fault. And then everyone walks away, patting themselves on the back (except Joe). But if Joe weren’t at fault, or his judgment and behavior weren’t improved if he were at fault, then the problem remains and will recur.

Simply finding blame solves nothing.

And that includes blaming yourself. Find the cause of your error. Ask how best to remove the cause and correct the situation. Then ask how to prevent making that error again in the future.

We all learn by making errors and determining how to correct them and prevent them. But we learn nothing if we merely sink in a morass of guilt and shame.

No one and nothing is perfect.

Success trumps perfection.

We have nothing to fear but fear itself


Generous: showing a readiness to give more of something, as money or time, than is strictly necessary or expected.

“The true measure of generosity is not how much one gives but how much, after giving, one has left over.” —Joseph Epstein

One consistent attribute I’ve found in outstanding people is that of generosity. I’m not speaking solely of money, because Epstein is right: One person earning $40,000 a year is making a more generous donation when giving $100 than Bill Gates is when offering $100,000. I’m speaking of time, support, honesty, information, and so forth.

Generosity requires no expectation of reciprocity. That’s why someone allowing another driver to cross in front of them, and then becoming enraged when they are not thanked or acknowledged, is not making a generous act. That person is expecting a reward, not unlike a dog which sits and offers a paw and then growls when no treat is offered.

I’ve seen speakers who won’t take a few moments to speak to someone awaiting them off-stage, celebrities who won’t even acknowledge an adoring crowd, business leaders who share blame but not credit or praise.

When I tell the waitstaff to tell the chef that my meal is one of the best I’ve ever had, occasionally the chef will appear to thank me in person, but I neither expect it or demand it. I don’t ask for our picture to be taken to use on social media! I merely wanted to be generous with my praise.

It’s generous to consider an opposing view without critique or rebuttal. That’s perhaps the rarest form of generosity today.

It doesn’t cost anything to be generous because true generosity is not about giving money, that’s simply an act of writing a check.

I'm an Old Cowhand...

I have a circle immediately in front of our house after coming down a 150-yard driveway. The natural direction is to go around it counterclockwise.

We had workmen at the house so I couldn’t get to the garage in back, I put the car in reverse to go down the hill, then decided to turn the Rolls into the circle clockwise. I saw the Spirit of Ecstasy hood ornament and figured I had plenty of room, and the car’s cameras look to the rear.

However, I heard a nauseating “crunch” and got out to find I had hit a large rock placed to separate the asphalt from the bushes and gashed a crack under the bumper and fender. Rolls came to pick it up and the damage, paid by insurance came to $6,000.

I vowed never to do that again. However, a month later I was heading up to the garage again, realized I had to leave the car in the circle, and once again put it in reverse and tried to go around clockwise, watching the hood ornament to gauge where I was. And I hit the exact same rock in the exact same way. Another $6,000 of damage.

When I called Amica, my insurance carrier, with the second claim, the agent was very empathetic, and was amazed it was the exact same claim and same damage. “Yes,” I confessed, “I hit the same damn rock in the same way.”

“Have you considered,” suggested the agent, “removing the rock?”

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