Don’t Be Silly

Bad Advice Some Times

Don't Be Silly

There is a quote by Adlai Stevenson that is rattling inside my head today. It has leadership implications both at home and at work. Here are the words of Adlai Stevenson.

“It’s hard to lead a cavalry charge if you think you look funny on a horse.”

Leadership In The Home

One of the things that is the most important to us as men is that our wives and children respect us. I think for many men respect comes before love in order of importance to the male psyche. But, I won’t debate that here today. Instead, I want to talk about something that in many ways may run counter to the notion of respect.

The opposite of respect is, of course, disrespect. And as dads, we cannot tolerate that from our children. But consider for a moment the importance of being silly with your children. Did you catch that? I said that it is important to be silly with your children. Why is that important?

Many times our kids see us as the great enforcers of rules and the “sucker of all that is fun out of life.” They could never have known us when we were wearing togas to toga parties in college. They never saw us perform some goofy skit in the Fall Fun Fest our sophomore year. In their eyes, we are the one who goes to work every day and comes home too tired to play.

So, what do we do?

So, what do we do? The truth is that I don’t know how to program silliness into your fatherhood repertoire. It is hard to plan these sorts of things. But be spontaneous. The next time you need to pick up all of the dirty clothes from your child’s room, do it together and make a silly contest out of seeing how many dirty socks, shorts, and shirts you can stuff in your pants. And then waddle to the laundry room with the dirty clothes sticking out of your pockets and waistband and dump them in the washing machine. OK, that isn’t the greatest idea in the world, but I was being spontaneous!

And there is a practical side to all of this.

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The Discomfort of Thought

Are your opinions well thought out?

Discomfort of Thought

Opinions are like belly buttons. Everybody has one. And some of them are a little funky.

I am sorry for those initial thoughts which you are now desperately trying not to visualize. However, my point is that we all have belly buttons and we all have opinions. But, when was the last time you really examined your belly button? When was the last time you really considered the basis of your opinions?

President John F. Kennedy, in a commencement address to the graduating class of 1962 at Yale University on June 11, 1962, said the following:

We enjoy the comfort of opinion without the discomfort of thought.

This statement came following some opening humorous remarks to the Yale graduating class of 1962. Following a few opening barbs thrown at some of his political detractors, he began to discuss the importance fiscal policy and the role of government in the lives of our society.

If you have time to read the transcript of President Kennedy’s speech, I encourage you to do so. You can find it here. And, if you want to hear him deliver the speech in his own words, you can hear a recording here.

So, what is the leadership lesson from President Kennedy’s commencement address?

In order to learn a leadership lesson from this speech, you must first read a few more of the words that form the context of this one quote. And, please note, his speech was very fertile ground for great quotes. Kennedy said this just prior to the sentence that I pulled out of the 30-minute speech.

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