Those Three Little Words

For years I have believed that the most empowering thing one can do is to freely declare, “I was wrong.” I believe this is one of those acts that can elevate one’s character and ennoble one’s life as almost nothing else can. Why is it that we so ardently cling to being right? In The Zen of MLM I quote Eckart Tolle, who said: “The obssessive need to be right is an expression of the fear of death.” The first time I heard those words (on one of Tolle’s audiobooks), I was so struck by them that I had to pull over, stop the car’s audiocassette player, rewind, and listen again. And again. I was enthralled. Had this man just identified the single most compelling cause of conflict—from friendly spats to global warfare—in the history of civilization? Perhaps we tend to hold tight to our rightness out of the sense that doing so might make us godlike, in control of our world. My experience is that in fact, it does quite the opposite. The capacity to admit you were wrong—not grudgingly, not under duress or someone else’s insistence, but freely and in the spirit of excited discovery—is a glorious thing for the care and feeding of one’s soul. And here is its corollary—the equally glorious thing for the care feeding of one’s relationships, saying those other three little words that mean so much: “I am sorry.” In 1633, Galileo Galilei was tried, convicted and sentenced to death. His heresy: publishing a book that claimed the earth was not the center of the universe. Eventually, the church acknowledged that Galileo...

Another Lesson from My Mom

I’ve had more response from my last post, “Lessons from My Mom on Staying Young Forever,” than just about any other post I’ve written. I so wish she were here to see all these books being published, one after the other. She would doubtless have a caustic and hilarious comment; and she, ever the devoted writer, would be so thrilled. The best I can do is offer this additional piece in her honor (again, it’s from The Zen of MLM). When The Go-Giver comes out after Christmas, you’ll notice that the dedication page says, “To Mike and Myrna Burg and Alfred and Carolyn Mann, who gave us everything.” Indeed they did. How does your day end? Do you succumb to gravity and crash into the mattress, feeling defeated? Nod off to the chatter of the television? Or spend a moment looking back over the panorama of your day and pronounce it, like God on the sixth day, “Very good”? Some nights, I hate the idea of going to bed, resist it like a hyperactive 8-year-old, because I feel there’s still so much to do. I’m not satisfied with what I got done during the day, don’t want the opportunity to end. Other days, I welcome the rest and look forward eagerly to sleeping, and when I feel myself hit the sheets, actually let out a big Ahhhhh of satisfaction, as if I had eaten all my dinner and as a reward have now been served a delicious dessert. That latter is how I like my days to end. It is also how I want my life to end. And...