Tag Archives: wisdom

Trust what you see


Several years ago, I got stuck between two team members in a confrontation. Call them Joe and Steve.  A coffee date was set for the purpose of working things out. Steve apologized right away, admitting he had screwed up.  Joe wasn’t having it. An apology didn’t give him a chance plunge the knife and twist it hard. Steve tried to apologize again—several times, but he got nowhere.  Finally, in frustration, he said, “I don’t know what else to do. I’ve said I’m sorry.”  Joe leaned in, narrowed his eyes with a sadistic glint, and with a twisted grin he said, “Why don’t you say it again?”

I knew in that moment that I no longer wanted to work with Joe. It wasn’t a matter of forgiveness. I’m not perfect. Lord knows I’ve said stupid things. I just knew that I didn’t ever want to inflict that kind of behavior on my clients or other teammates.  Still, in the ensuing weeks, I wondered if I should let bygones be bygones.  One morning, I was reading in the Proverbs, a treasure trove of wisdom and always a good place to find insight. These words practically jumped off the page at me:

Don’t make friends with an angry man, and don’t be a companion of a hot-tempered man. Proverbs 22:24

I took comfort in those words. I know I’m required to treat others as I wish to be treated, but these words reminded me that I’m not required to befriend everyone. Wisdom offers protection. But how do you discern between the person who simply needs that extra measure of kindness and mercy versus the person you should avoid?

Jesus said, “You’ll know them by their fruit.” Unfortunately, we have all become adept at the fine art of putting on our best “Facebook” for the public. So how can we distinguish the authentic person versus the fake? Whether it’s the newscasters, the politicians, or the scandel-ridden public figure, we’ve seen the best of the best make mud look like diamonds. Jesus warns us not to be fooled though. Just look at the person’s life, he says. You can’t get fruit from a weed. If you see goodness, faithfulness, or kindness, you are looking at the real deal. If, though, you see someone talks one way but consistently lives another way, Jesus teaches us to trust our eyes.

Do you trust what you see?  Or do you second-guess, think you’re being “too hard” on someone, and backtrack from believing what is right in front of you?


The When of Wisdom

prissy girl

© Glenda Powers | Dreamstime.com

When I was a kid, I hated the word “proper.” It’s just such an uptight word. I hated the notion that there was only one right way to be, or one right way to do things—and I certainly didn’t care to fit into anyone else’s idea of what that might be. I grew up in the South where, believe me, we have ideas about proper behavior for any given situation, including how a lady should sit (or not!) on a toilet in a gas station.

I still don’t really like the word because so much of what is proper is culturally determined. At the same time, age and wisdom have shown me that there really is a time and a place for “everything under the sun.” But how do you know the right time and the right place?

Wisdom is the key.

How do you know when it’s more effective to speak up versus keep your mouth shut?  How do you know if it’s time to search or time to give up?  Is this the time to plant, to build a business, to marry and have children, or to buy a home? Or is this a time to uproot, end a toxic relationship, give up on a dead-end job, change careers, move to a new town, or just sell everything and become a hippy?

Wisdom is your guide, and you will find heaps of it in the Proverbs. Granted, the Proverbs are not a Ouija board. You won’t find answers to specific questions like, “Should I take this job?”  There are principles, though, that help you sort through the noise and anchor yourself to wise conclusions.

Blessed are those who find wisdom, those who gain understanding;
for she is more profitable than silver and yields better returns than gold. Proverbs 3:13-14

This post is an excerpt from a book  I’m writing about wisdom. The book focuses on the Proverbs and other books of wisdom.  Stay tuned for more…

© 2011 L. Kay Johnson, L is for LaNita. All rights reserved.

A Prosperous Chapter 11


The words “chapter 11,” usually mean ruin and bankruptcy, but I recently enjoyed a chapter 11 filled with prosperity. It’s from the book of Proverbs.  Trust me—this is better than a multi-vitamin.

There’s a common thread in this chapter that goes something like this: It pays to be good. If you think about it, this is generally true. Sure, bad things do happen to good people, but for the most part, people with integrity, people who are honest, trustworthy and responsible—these are not the people you typically find in jail. In fact, these are usually the people who do well for themselves in life, no matter what their circumstances, even through the storms (even when they are unjustly jailed!).

Consider just a few gems from chapter 11*

The integrity of the upright guides them,
but the unfaithful are destroyed by their duplicity.

The righteousness of the blameless makes their paths straight,
but the wicked are brought down by their own wickedness.

The righteousness of the upright delivers them,
but the unfaithful are trapped by evil desires.

Those who are kind benefit themselves,
but the cruel bring ruin on themselves.

Truly the righteous attain life,
but whoever pursues evil finds death.

Be sure of this: The wicked will not go unpunished,
but those who are righteous will go free.

I think this is one of my favorites.

A generous person will prosper;
whoever refreshes others will be refreshed.

Guidance, life, relative safety, refreshment: There is a trove of blessings and benefits here for those who live with integrity. I highly recommend this kind of  “chapter 11” (along with the other 30 chapters of Provers).  A chapter a day keeps stupidity away.

Read more and tell me—what benefits do you see here for the good and “upright” person?

*New International Version

Today’s post reflects ideas in a book I’m writing about wisdom. The book focuses on the Proverbs and other books of wisdom.  Stay tuned for more…

How the Mighty Fall


How The Mighty Fall: And Why Some Companies Never Give InHow The Mighty Fall: And Why Some Companies Never Give In by Jim Collins

Another great read from Jim Collins. In this short read, Collins starts with a basic question: How do great companies lose it? Are there common signs to indicate a company–once considered high performing–is now in decline? If so, what are they? And when is it too late to stop the downward slide?

It’s a fascinating little read, actually, containing nuggets for all of us. Collins identifies 5 stages that precede a fall: 1) Hubris Born of Success 2) Undisciplined Pursuit of More 3) Denial of Risk and Peril 4) Grasping for Salvation and 5) Capitulation to Irrelevance or Death. The titles alone read like a great novel, don’t they? And there’s plenty of drama in this little book to back up that feeling. In his storytelling style, Collins breaks down the numbers to show us what they look like in real companies, but Collins is ultimately optimistic. He believes and demonstrates that it is possible for companies who are on the path of decline to reverse that process. Smart companies may fail miserably at times, but a little humility and a lot of reality can go a long way to fixing things.

In this book, as in Good to Great, I was struck by some very basic age-old wisdom that Collins continues to unearth: Treat others the way you wish to be treated. Honor other people just as you would honor yourself. Don’t think too highly of yourself. Be brutally honest about the facts and deal with reality. Find, recognize, and use the gifts of those around you. There are principles of wisdom here for anyone in just about any enterprise. A worthy read…

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© 2010 L. Kay Johnson, L is for LaNita. All rights reserved.