by Judge Richard Poland,
Dr. Tracy Halcomb, assistant professor of communication, invited me to attend a recent Writing for Mass Communication class for a Q&A session. All the questions were excellent, but one stood apart from the rest. John DiLacqua asked what advice I would give to students that is not part of the classroom dialogue. Upon further reflection, I now have seven nuggets of wisdom which I will share with all those students who choose to read this article. These are Seven Simple Rules to Live By.
1. Love the Creation and its Creator. We all live on one planet and in one universe; therefore, we all need to be conservationists. Contrary to popular culture, we do not have an unlimited supply of everything. Also, it seems unlikely to me that the intricacies, the interdependencies, and the miracles of our universe are somehow an accident. I believe in a Creator and I believe that it is important for all of us to make our peace with that Creator. The Christian faith has provided that avenue for me, but I certainly respect your option of finding a different avenue.
2. Always Live Below Your Means. Too many of us do not ask whether we can afford some new item; rather, we ask whether we can squeeze another payment into our budget. After awhile, we end up paying most of our income as interest to someone else. That interest payment makes that someone else, not us, well-off financially. As a general rule, we should incur debt for two things only: Education and Real Estate. Both of those investments pay dividends over time. Everything else, like cars, big screen TVs, and fancy furniture, depreciates quickly. If we live below our means, money will never be a problem. Eliminate financial worries and you are on your way to a more satisfying life.
3. Speak out Against Injustice Wherever You Find It. It is too easy to dismiss the problems of someone else by saying that it does not concern us. However, keeping in mind that we are all in this together, an injustice to one of us diminishes all of us. You do not have to be a community leader to make this world a better place. Never let an injustice, no matter how slight, pass you by without a clear comment and appropriate action.
4. State the Truth as You Understand it, but Realize That it is Your Truth. Each of us sees the world from our own igloo and through our own spectacles. An educated person realizes that there are many truths and many perspectives. Reasonable and well-informed people should simply agree, at times, to see things differently. In life, you need to find out what you believe to be true, but be respectful of the opinions of others. Once you find truth, live by it.
5. Give Everyone the Benefit of the Doubt. Treat people with kindness and respect, at least until they give you cause to treat them differently. People make mistakes. Accept their apologies and forgive them from your heart. But always remember the old adage with which President Bush recently struggled: “Fool me once shame on you; fool me twice shame on me.”
6. Set Your Goals High and Work as Hard as You Can to Achieve Them. Someone once told me that you need to conceive it and believe it before you can achieve it. Reduce your goals to writing and make them specific. Make certain that your goals are driven by altruism and service, rather than by pure self-interest. After you set your goals, remember that it is hard work and sacrifice which will allow you to achieve those goals.
7. It’s the Small Successes which Lead to the Big Successes. My grandmother told me many times that if I watched the pennies the dollars would take care of themselves. What she meant was that if we pay attention to the little things then the big things will come our way. Those who are in a position to promote us and to advance our careers tend to notice the small details, like being on time, completing a task before the due date, or exceeding the stated expectations. If you take care of the details, success will come your way.
That’s my philosophy anyway.