Author Archives: Alexander Atkins

What is a First Edition of The Catcher in the Rye Worth?

alex atkins bookshelf booksJ. D. Salinger introduced the world to Holden Caulfield, the quintessential cussing, anti-phony, cynical, disillusioned, rebellious adolescent, on July 16, 1951 after working on The Catcher in the Rye for about a decade. The 277-page first edition was published by Little, Brown. Salinger objected to cover art and illustrations on his books because he didn’t want readers influenced by any artistic interpretations. However, The Catcher in the Rye was an exception. With this particular book, the iconic artwork was drawn by E. Michael Mitchell, a close and trusted friend of Salinger. The dust jacket features the pen-and ink-drawing of a carousel horse painted red-orange. The title is superimposed in yellow over a field of red-orange. On the lower left, obscured by the hind leg of the horse, is a small sketch of Central Park overlooking the New York City skyline in the lower left. Attentive readers will recognize that Holden’s sister, Phoebe, rides a carousel horse in Central Park (Holden refuses to join her); but more significantly, the horse is an important metaphor in the novel. On one level, the horse represents lost innocence. On another level, it represents Holden’s attempt to jump into adulthood but is inextricably bound to the carousel horse of his childhood. The back of the dust jacket features a black-and-white photo of Salinger taken by Lotte Jacobi.

Back in 1951, a first edition of The Catcher in the Rye cost a paltry $3.00. Since then, the book has sold more than 65 million copies. But more significantly, the value of a first edition has risen exponentially. Most first editions sell for about $20,000 to $25,000. However, first editions signed by Salinger are extremely rare and fetch much higher prices: Currently, there are two signed first editions for sale: one for $55,000 and one for $125,000. This more expensive one is inscribed: “To Ned Thompson with all good wishes J.D. Salinger Windsor, VT Nov. 5, 1961.” Both books are housed in custom clamshell boxes.

One wonders what Holden Caulfield would make of all this. Perhaps he would say, “Half a grand for a lousy book about some whiny jerk and his sister? Leave it to a bunch of phonies to read the book and then smoking and talking about how important it is. And it takes another goddamn phony bastard to come up with that much dough for a book because he believes it’s actually worth that amount. That kills me!”

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What is a First Edition of Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone Worth?
What is a First Edition of Ulysses Worth?
What is a First Edition of The Great Gatsby Worth?
What is a First Edition of A Christmas Carol Worth?
What is a First Edition of Prufrock Worth?
Best Holden Caulfield Quotes About Phonies

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Why Are Millennials So Difficult to Manage?

alex atkins bookshelf cultureSimon Sinek is a British-American organizational consultant, ethnographer, motivational speaker, and author. Sinek also teaches graduate-level strategic communications courses at Columbia University. He has published five best-selling books that focus on how leaders can inspire others, how leaders can build a company that people want to work for, and how to discover one’s true purpose. His first book, Start with Why: How Great Leaders Inspire Everyone to Take Action (2009), led to his popular TED Talk, How Great Leaders Inspire Action, which is one of the most popular presentations in that forum. Sinek introduces the concept of the Golden Circle: “a naturally occurring pattern, grounded in the biology of human decision-making, that explains why we are inspired by some people, leaders, messages and organizations over others.” One of the most common questions that Sinek answers in interviews is the infamous “millennial question” — that is to say, how do you manage millennials that pose a bit of a challenge to most company managers? During an interview with Tom Bilyeu, host of “Inside Quest” (a web-base talk show) to promote his third book (Together is Better: A Little Book of Inspiration, an illustrated and scented quote book to inspire human interaction), Sinek answered the millennial question this way:

“Apparently, millennials — as a group of people, which are those born from approximately 1984 and after — are tough to manage. They are accused of being entitled and narcissistic, self interested, unfocused, and lazy — but “entitled” is the big one. Because they confound the leadership so much, leaders will say “what do you want?” And millennials will say “we want to work in a place with purpose, we want to make an impact, we want free food and bean bag chairs.” Any yet when provided all these things they are still not happy. And that is because there is a missing piece. It can be broken down into four pieces, actually — 1. parenting; 2. technology; 3. impatience; and 4. environment.

1: Parenting

The generation that is called the millennials, too many of them grew up subject to “failed parenting strategies.” Where they were told that they were “special” all the time. They were told they can have anything they want in life just because they want it. Some of them got into honors classes, not because they deserved it, but because their parents complained. Some of them got A’s not because they earned them, but because the teachers didn’t want to deal with the parents. Some kids got participation medals. They got a medal for coming in last. Which, the science we know is pretty clear, is that it devalues the medal and the reward for those who actually work hard and that actually makes the person who comes in last embarrassed because they know they didn’t deserve it so that actually makes them feel worse.

[So] you take this group of people and they graduate and they get a job and they’re thrust into the real world and in an instant they find out they are not special. Their moms can’t get them a promotion. You get nothing for coming in last and — by the way — you can’t just have it because you want it. In an instant, their entire self-image is shattered. So we have an entire generation that is growing up with lower self esteem than previous generations.

2: Technology

The other problem to compound it is we are growing up in a Facebook/Instagram world, in other words, we are good at putting filters on things. We’re good at showing people that life is amazing even though “I am depressed.” Everybody sounds tough, and everybody sounds like they have it all figured out, [but] the reality is there’s very little toughness and most people don’t have it all figured out. So when the more senior people say “well, what should we do?” they sound like “this is what you gotta do!” But they have no clue.

So you have an entire generation growing up with lower self esteem than previous generations — through no fault of their own, they were dealt a bad hand. Now let’s add in technology. We know that engagement with social media and our cell phones releases a chemical called dopamine. That’s why when you get a text, it feels good. In a 2012 study, Harvard research scientists reported that talking about oneself through social media activates a pleasure sensation in the brain usually associated with food, money, and sex. It’s why we count the likes. It’s why we go back ten times to see if the interaction is growing. And if our Instagram is slowing we wonder if we have done something wrong, or if people don’t like us any more. The trauma for young kids to be “unfriended” is too much to handle. We know that when you get the attention it feels good — you get a hit of dopamine… Dopamine is the exact same chemical that makes us feel good when we smoke, when we drink, and when we gamble… [and] it’s highly, highly addictive.

We have age restrictions on smoking, drinking and gambling but we have no age restrictions on social media and cell phones. Which is the equivalent of opening up the liquor cabinet and saying to our teenagers “hey by the way, if this adolescence thing gets you down — help yourself.” [So] an entire generation now has access to an addictive, numbing chemical called dopamine through cellphones and social media, while they are going through the high stress of adolescence.

Why is this important? Almost every alcoholic discovered alcohol when they were teenagers. When we are very, very young the only approval we needed was the approval of our parents and as we go through adolescence we make this transition where we now need the approval of our peers. Very frustrating for our parents; very important for the teenager. It allows us to acculturate outside of our immediate families and into the broader tribe. It’s a highly, highly stressful and anxious period of our lives and we are supposed to learn to rely on our friends.

Some people — quite by accident — discover alcohol, the numbing effects of dopamine, to help them cope with the stresses and anxieties of adolescence. Unfortunately that becomes hard wired in their brains and for the rest of their lives, when they suffer significant stress, they will not turn to a person, they will turn to the bottle. Social stress, financial stress, career stress — that’s pretty much the primary reasons why an alcoholic drinks. But now because we are allowing unfettered access to these devices and media. Basically it is becoming hard-wired and what we are seeing is that [as] they grow older, too many kids “don’t know how to form deep, meaningful relationships” — their words, not mine.

They will admit that many of their relationships are superficial. They will admit that they don’t count on their friends; they don’t rely on their friends. They have fun with their friends, but they also know that their friends will cancel on them when something better comes along. Deep meaningful relationships are not there because they never practiced the skillset and worse — they don’t have the coping mechanisms to deal with stress. So when significant stress begins to show up in their lives, they’re not turning to a person, they’re turning to a device, they’re turning to social media, they’re turning to these things which offer temporary relief. [The] science is clear, we know that people who spend more time on Facebook suffer higher rates of depression than people who spend less time on Facebook.

These things balanced, are not bad. Alcohol is not bad, too much alcohol is bad. Gambling is fun, too much gambling is dangerous. There is nothing wrong with social media and cellphones, it’s the imbalance. If you are sitting at dinner with your friends, and you are texting somebody who is not there – that’s a problem. That’s an addiction. If you are sitting in a meeting with people you are supposed to be listening and speaking to, and you put your phone on the table, that sends a subconscious message to the room “you’re just not that important.” The fact that you can’t put the phone away, that’s because you are addicted. If you wake up and you check your phone before you say good morning to your girlfriend, boyfriend or spouse, you have an addiction. And like all addictions, in time, it will destroy relationships, it will cost time, it will cost money and it will make your life worse.

3: Impatience

So we have a generation growing up with lower self-esteem that doesn’t have the coping mechanisms to deal with stress and now you add in the sense of impatience. They’ve grown up in a world of instant gratification. You want to buy something, you go on Amazon and it arrives the next day. You want to watch a movie, logon and watch a movie. You don’t check movie times. You want to watch a TV show, binge. You don’t even have to wait week-to-week-to-week. Many people skip seasons, just so they can binge at the end of the season… Instant gratification. You want to go on a date? You don’t even have to learn how to be socially awkward on that first date. You don’t need to learn how to practice that skill. You don’t have to be the uncomfortable person who says yes when you mean no and no when you mean yes. Swipe right – bang – done! You don’t even need to learn the social coping mechanism.

Everything you want you can have instantaneously. Everything you want, instant gratification, except, job satisfaction and strength of relationships – their ain’t no out for that. They are slow, meandering, uncomfortable, messy processes. And so millennials are wonderful, idealistic, hardworking smart kids who’ve just graduated school and are in their entry-level jobs and when asked “how’s it going?” they say “I think I’m going to quit.” And we’re like “why?” and they say “I’m not making an impact.” To which we say, “you’ve only been there eight months…”

It’s as if their standing at the foot of a mountain and they have this abstract concept called impact that they want to have on the world, which is the summit. What they don’t see is the mountain. I don’t care if you go up the mountain quickly or slowly, but there’s still a mountain. And so what this young generation needs to learn is patience. That some things that really, really matter, like love or job fulfillment, joy, love of life, self confidence, a skillset, any of these things, all of these things take time. Sometimes you can expedite pieces of it, but the overall journey is arduous and long and difficult and if you don’t ask for help and learn that skillset, you will fall off the mountain. Or the worst case scenario, we’re seeing an increase in suicide rates in this generation, we’re seeing an increase in accidental deaths due to drug overdoses, we’re seeing more and more kids drop out of school or take a leave of absence due to depression. Unheard of. This is really bad.

The best case scenario, you’ll have an entire population growing up and going through life and just never really finding joy. They’ll never really find deep, deep fulfillment in work or in life, they’ll just waft through life and it things will only be “just fine.” How’s your job? “It’s fine, same as yesterday.” How’s your relationship? “It’s fine.” [And] that’s the best case scenario.

4: Environment

Which leads to the fourth point which is environment. Which is we’re taking this amazing group of young, fantastic kids who were just dealt a bad hand and it’s no fault of their own, and we put them in corporate environments that care more about the numbers than they do about the kids. They care more about the short-term gains than the life of this young human being. We care more about the year than the lifetime. We are putting them in corporate environments that are not helping them build their confidence. [Corporate environements] aren’t helping them learn the skills of cooperation [or] helping them overcome the challenges of a digital world and finding more balance [or] helping them overcome the need for instant gratification and [teaching] them the joys and impact and the fulfillment you get from working hard on something for a long time that cannot be done in a month or even in a year.

So we thrust them into corporate environments and the worst thing is they think it’s them. They blame themselves. They think it’s them who can’t deal. And so it makes it all worse. It’s not them. It’s the corporations, it’s the corporate environment, it’s the total lack of good leadership in our world today that is making them feel the way they do. They were dealt a bad hand and it’s the company’s responsibility to pick up the slack and work extra hard and find ways to build their confidence, to teach them the social skills that they’re missing out on.

There should be no cellphones in conference rooms — none, zero. When sitting and waiting for a meeting to start, instead of using your phone with your head down, everyone should be focused on building relationships. We ask personal questions, “How’s your dad? I heard he was in the hospital.” “Oh he’s really good thanks for asking. He’s actually at home now.” “Oh I’m glad to hear that.” “That was really amazing.” “I know, it was really scary for a while there.” That’s how you form relationships. “Hey did you ever get that report done?” “No, I totally forgot.” “Hey, I can help you out. Let me help you.” “Really?” That’s how trust forms. Trust doesn’t form at an event in a day. Even bad times don’t form trust immediately. It’s the slow, steady consistency and we need to create mechanisms where we allow for those little innocuous interactions to happen.

When we are out with friends, as we are leaving for dinner together, we leave our cell phones at home. Who are we calling? Maybe one of us will bring a phone in case we need to call an Uber. It’s like an alcoholic. The reason you take the alcohol out of the house is because we cannot trust our willpower. We’re just not strong enough. But when you remove the temptation, it actually makes it a lot easier. When you just say “Don’t check your phone,” people will just go to the bathroom and what’s the first thing we do? We look at the phone.

When you don’t have the phone, you just check out the world. And that’s where ideas happen. The constant, constant, constant engagement is not where you have innovation and ideas. Ideas happen when our minds wander and we see something and we think, “I bet they could do that…” That’s called innovation. But we’re taking away all those little moments.

None of us should charge our phones by our beds. We should be charging our phones in the living rooms. Remove the temptation. We wake up in the middle of the night because you can’t sleep, you won’t check your phone, which makes it worse. But if it’s in the living room, it’s relaxed, it’s fine. Some say “but it’s my alarm clock.” Buy an alarm clock. They cost eight dollars.

The point is: we [who are] now in industry — whether we like it or not — we don’t get a choice — we now have a responsibility to make up the shortfall and help this amazing, idealistic, fantastic generation build their confidence, learn patience, learn the social skills, find a better balance between life and technology because, quite frankly, it’s the right thing to do.”

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Read related posts: What Makes a Great Mentor?
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For further reading:
Start With Why: How Great Leaders Inspire Everyone to Take Action by Simon Sinek
Leaders Eat Last: Why Some Teams Pull Together and Others Don’t by Simon Sinek
Together Is Better: A Little Book of Inspiration by Simon Sinek
Find Your Why: A Practical Guide for Discovering Purpose for You and Your Team by Simon Sinek
The Infinite Game by Simon Sinek

The Bats that Protect Books in the Biblioteca Joanina

alex atkins bookshelf booksThe Biblioteca Joanina (Joanina Library), located in the center of the University of Coimbra (Coimbra, Portugal) was built between 1717 and 1728. It is considered one of the most beautiful, awe-inspiring libraries in the world. The three-story library, built in the Baroque style of architecture in a cross-shape, features elegant ionic columns that frame a white, gray, and rose marble tiled floor, ornately-carved arched ceilings, stunning painted ceilings, intricate gilded balustrades, and gold leaves adorning bookshelves made of exotic multicolored woods. (Interestingly, the library was built on top of a medieval prison.) But the real treasure is the collection of more than 240,000 books, manuscripts, and incunabula that the library owns. Some of the most prized books include a first edition of Roman Antiquities by Dionysius of Halicarnassus, Encyclopedia by Diderot et D’Alembert, the Latin Bible (1462), and a rare copy of Homeri Opera Omnia (the complete works of Homer). But beyond the beauty of its architecture and collection of books, what makes this library truly remarkable is that a colony of bats protects these precious books — making the library a sort of literary bat cave.

Each day, as the darkness of evening descends on the book stacks, a colony of Common pipistrelle bats that live behind the gilded wood ornaments, swoop down to devour the insects that ravenously feed on paper and book bindings. Fortunately for the librarians, the bats are not interested in eating manuscripts. The bats began their nocturnal book preservation duties soon after the library was constructed in the late 1700s. During the day, the bats keep to themselves, so librarians and guests are safe from any encounters with the winged creatures (otherwise, if you see one, run like a bat out of hell!). The librarians note that on cloudy, rainy days they can hear the bats singing to one another — a series of squawks and chirps resonating throughout the marble chambers of the library. Eerie — in an Edgar Allan Poe sort of way, no?

While the bats are incredibly effective in reducing the insect population, that service does come with a cost, or more precisely, a major annoyance that drives the librarians batty: bat guano (bat shit). Bat guano, as you can imagine, has a very distinct smell. The pellets look like dark brown grains of rice, and often get clumped together by urine. Gross! Needless to say, bat shit on the marble floor of a beautiful library is not acceptable to the librarians — unless you are as blind as, um, a bat. So each day, the first chore of the morning is to clean the library floors. Double gross! After that, they remove the animal skin covers that protect the library’s many 18th century wooden tables. When that task is completed, the library opens its doors to academics who use its resources for study and enlightenment. And most of these scholars are oblivious to the dark, furry winged creatures, hiding in the shadows, that are perhaps the most unlikely — and certainly the most grotesque — sentinels to guard some of the greatest literary treasures in the world.

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Read related posts: Exploring Carl Sandburg’s Library of 11,000 Books
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 I Am What Libraries Have Made Me
If You Love a Book, Set it Free
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The Library is the DNA of Our Civilization

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Tweeting Every Word in the English Language

alex atkins bookshelf wordsIn 2007, digital artist Allison Parrish created @everyword to tweet every word in the English language one word at a time. Parrish wrote a Python script that would run every half hour and tweet each word on an alphabetical list of 109,229 words, based on an unabridged dictionary. (Note that there are over a million words in the English language, and even the exhaustive 20-volume Oxford English Dictionary contains more than 171,476 words). Based on the 109,229 words, Parrish imagined that the project would be completed in 2013.

Parrish’s inspiration for the project was Every Icon by artist John Simon that attempted to use a 32×32 grid to produce every possible image. In an interview he explains, “I like the idea of art works that deal with arranging mundane units (like pixels or words), algorithmically ‘exhausting’ themselves over a period of time. [@Everyword] began as kind of a snarky stunt—-a parody of (what I perceived to be) the needless verbosity of Twitter. ‘You like posting words on Twitter? Well, here’s a thing that is posting EVERY word! ha HA!'”

@Everyword completed its task in 2014 and even though it had few followers in the early years, it amassed almost 68,000 as it reached the “z” words. Followers were particularly annoyed when @everyword was tweeting the monotonous “non-” and “un'” words. All of that work culminated in the publication of the ebook titled @everyword: The Book. The advertisement for the book reads: “From 2007 to 2014, the Twitter account @everyword painstakingly tweeted every word in the English language to thousands of riveted followers worldwide. Containing all 109,157 words from the original run of the account, along with accurate counts of the number of times each was favorited and retweeted by Twitter users, @everyword: The Book provides an accelerated, ‘director’s cut’ experience of the English language like no other—as well as, in Parrish’s writing on her methods, inspirations, and reactions to the initial reception of her work, a deeply personal look at the intersection of conceptual art and secret humanity.”

A blurb from the Washington Post notes the significance of Parrish’s project: “Surely no one would read through a dictionary this way, index finger underlining each consecutive word — so many of them either mundane (“a”) or trivial (“aalii,” a Hawaiian plant). And yet, since @everyword revved up in the fall of 2007, the account has attracted more than 92,000 followers and inspired a wave of copycats and spin-offs… Parrish suspects her creation is the most widely read piece of conceptual literature in existence.”

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For further reading: @everyword: The Book by Allison Parrish

The World’s Largest Tie Collection

alex atkins bookshelf triviaOne of the most popular father’s day gifts is a neck tie. According to Marshal Cohen, chief industry analyst at the NPD Group (a market research company), the typical American man owns about a dozen ties. Silk ties range in cost from $15 to $120. The tie industry saw its peak in the mid 1990s (with over $1 billion in sales), and has been dropping ever since. Specifically, in 2010, neck tie sales were down to $418 million. Part of the reason is that the boom traded power suits for casual wear as the new standard office attire. And for dressier occasions, it became fashionable to wear tie-less dress shirts and blazers. In short, men began buying less ties and recycling their old ones. Cohen adds, “”Men don’t throw away their ties. They collect them without trying.”

Which begs the question: what do you call someone who collects neck ties? Interestingly, a person who collects ties is a grabatologist. And this begs a followup question: who owns the largest neck tie collection in the world? That distinct honor belongs to Alex Bennet of Fort Oglethorpe, Georgia. Bennett, 28, an assistant manager at a clothing store when he was last interviewed in 2013, has been collecting ties for 25 years. His collection boasts more than 60,000 ties — so you can honestly believe his claim that he never wears the same tie twice. He also knows the 85 ways to tie a tie. And yes, he wears bow ties.

The inspiration for his expansive tie collection began with the gift of several ties from his maternal grandfather when he was a young lad. Then his paternal grandmother contributed to this initial collection by taking him to garage and estate sales to buy ties. Bennett explains, “I was buying [ties] with my allowance money. I was a weird little kid.” But you can interpret “weird” as stylish, and certainly out of place sartorially among his peers since he wore a suit and tie to school every day since the sixth grade. Naturally, Bennett was known around school as the “tie guy.” Bennett put up with all the hazing and is not tongue-tied (sorry, couldn’t resist) in his own defense: “I don’t care what anybody thinks. It never bothers me. I’ve been dong it so long.”

Bennett looks for old ties (think polyester, wide, with crazy, bright patterns): “The older they are, the more I want them.” Some of the oldest ties in his collection are more than 100 years old. He typically buys his ties one at a time, with one exception. Several years ago, the previous neck tie record-holder, Derryl Ogden, passed away. Guinness had authenticated his tie collection at 16,055. Bennett climbed into a car with his father and drove to Lincoln Nebraska. His collection grew dramatically when he paid $500 for about 20,000 ties. Of course, like any collector, Bennett has a clear favorite: a white tie with black polka dots made by Soprano, a London-based firm that was founded in 1992. And, naturally there is a story behind it: “I wanted this tie so badly. I saw it in a movie when I was a little kid [12]. I looked and looked and looked and finally found it.” He finally found his Holy Grail at a T.J. Max store in Kennesaw, Georgia.

Although the black polka dot tie is Bennett’s favorite, it is not the most valuable tie in his collection. The most valuable tie in his collection is the Salvador Dali tie, which was made in the 1930s, and features one of the artist’s paintings. The tie is worth more than $600. But wearing the tie with a freshly pressed dress shirt and impeccably tailored jacket — priceless.

SHARE THE LOVE: If you enjoyed this post, please help expand the Bookshelf community by sharing with a friend or with your readers. Cheers.

Read related posts: Why Do People Collect Things?
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For further reading:–20100302_1_tie-makers-tom-julian-fashions

Patriotism Means To Stand by the Country

alex atkins bookshelf quotationsPatriotism means to stand by the country. It does not mean to stand by the President or any other public official save exactly to the degree in which he himself stands by the country. It is patriotic to support him in so far as he efficiently serves the country. It is unpatriotic not to oppose him to the exact extent that by inefficiency or otherwise he fails in his duty to stand by the country. In either event it is unpatriotic not to tell the truth — whether about the President or about anyone else — save in the rare cases where this would make known to the enemy information of military value which would otherwise be unknown to him.

From the article entitled “Lincoln and Free Speech” published in Metropolitan Magazine (May 1918, Volume 47, Number 6) written by American statesman and writer Theodore Roosevelt, who served as the 26th President of the United States from 1901 to 1909. A common variant of the quotation appears as “Patriotism means to stand with the country. It does not mean to stand with the President.”

For further reading:

The Wisdom of a Father

alex atkins bookshelf wisdom“When I was a boy of fourteen,” once wrote American humorist Mark Twain, “my father was so ignorant I could hardly stand to have the old man around. But when I got to be twenty-one, I was astonished at how much the old man had learned in seven years.” If you are a father, this quotation brings a knowing smile to his face. Of course, only a parent knows that he hasn’t changed in seven years: rather, it is the child who come to understand — through actual life experience — that he should listen to and respect his father’s wisdom because he has lived longer, and with age comes wisdom. In many cases, those life lessons from a father form a firm foundation upon which the edifice of a child’s life is built — and his influence, however subtle, will last a lifetime.

Speaking of that ceaseless paternal influence, there is an insightful and touching essay by motivational speaker and author Mike Robbins entitled “Trusting the Synchronicity of Life.” Upon turning 40, Robbins reflected on the the synchronicity of his life — connecting the dots of his life in hindsight. However, the celebration of his 40th birthday also presented an opportunity to honor the legacy of his deceased father, Ed Robbins, who instilled in Mike and his sisters, valuable and enduring life lessons. Mike recounted how one of his sisters presented him with a list of 40 life lessons, titled “Life According to Ed Robbins,” that Mike had written shortly after his father passed away in 2001. Shrouded by the inevitable “memory fog” of middle age, Mike had completely forgotten about this; he explained, “Amazingly, I had no memory of writing it. But, apparently after my dad died, I made a list of some of his key philosophies and lessons, as a way to remember, honor, and memorialize him. Even more amazing to me than the fact that I didn’t remember writing it… was the nature of what I wrote. So much of the advice on the list, which came from my father and what he taught me and all of us, is similar to the core themes of my work… However, reading this list of life advice and reflecting back on the lessons he did teach me, I’m not only struck by a deep sense of gratitude for what he taught me, but I’m also blown away by the way in which he influenced my life and my work, even more than I’d realized.” Robbins generously shares the life lessons of his father, and by doing so, not only honors his life, but keeps his memory alive. It is also a testimony to the enduring influence of a kind, giving, and wise father who continues to guide his children even after he shuffled off his mortal coil.

The Hebrew Bible, through the Ten Commandments (known as the Decalogue), reminds us to “honor thy father and thy mother (Exodus 20:12). As Father’s Day approaches, perhaps this list of important life lessons will inspire children — of any age — to take a moment and write down the important philosophies and lessons that their father (living or deceased) has taught them. If your father is still alive, then give him this list as a gift and say something along the lines of: “These are the lessons that you taught me, that live inside me — they are your gifts to me. My gift to you is to honor you by remembering these lessons, to use them to guide my life, and to pass them to another generation. Thank you for your wisdom, love, and guidance.” Undoubtedly, this will make a much more appreciated gift than another necktie.

Life Lessons From Ed Robbins

Speak from your heart

Wear your heart on your sleeve

Be passionate and outspoken — do not let anyone stifle your expression

Have love be your top priority

Give kind, positive feedback as often as you possibly can

Remember that you are not your accomplishments — you are you, and people love you for who you are, not what you do

Remember that it’s okay to cry, in fact it’s good to cry often

Hugs and kisses are beautiful and greatly appreciated

Be grateful for your family and always stay connected with them

Make sure you “kiss and make up” after a fight

Cheer loudly at baseball games and always stand up when someone hits one you think might go out of the park

Stand up for the people that you love and be willing to fight for them, if necessary

Root for all your local sports teams — even if you have more than one team from the same sport near where you live

Drive slowly and carefully

Wait for all lights to change before crossing the street

Talk to strangers

Appreciate the beauty of where you are

Never get off the phone with someone you love without saying “I love you.”

Before saying something rude or contradictory, first say “with all due respect…”

Laugh loudly and often

Do not be afraid to get fired up, passionate, and raise your voice when necessary (and even sometimes when not so necessary)

Take lots of photos of people you care about and keep them organized

Save things that are important to you

Be romantic and remember important dates, experiences, and events

Sing the words to songs that you love

Read the newspaper and know what is going on in the world, in sports, in entertainment, and more

Have an opinion on everything!

Be willing to admit when you made a mistake

Forgive yourself and others

Be kind and loving to yourself first

Tell the truth

Stay true to yourself

Appreciate people

It is okay to swear sometimes

It is what’s on the inside that counts

It’s okay to feel down and to feel scared

People are the most important things in life

There is no need to rush when you are eating, driving, or doing almost anything

Money is not that important

You can bounce back from anything

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Read related posts: The Wisdom on an Immigrant Father
The Wisdom of Pi Patel
The Wisdom of Hindsight
The Wisdom of a Grandmother
What Valuable Lesson Has Life Taught You?

For further reading:
Bring Your Whole Self to Work by Mike Robbins
Nothing Changes Until You Do by Mike Robbins
Be Yourself: Everyone Else is Already Taken by Mike Robbins
Focus on the Good Stuff: The Power of Appreciation by Mike Robbins

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