Why Give a Damn:

As much as people are impressed by how much you know, they are more impressed by how much you care. Mark Albion’s blog series explores the impact that our relationship with our father has on how we build our business and life. Each post has a serial and commentary portion. While useful to read in succession, each portion is written to stand on its own.

The author of this post, Mark Albion, a conflicted achiever who climbed the ladder of success wrong by wrong, is the New York Times Best Selling author of seven books. He has ridden a horse across Afghanistan and been hugged by Mother Teresa and Ronald Reagan—not at the same time.

Seek first to understand,
then to be understood.
– Stephen R. Covey, from a prayer by St. Francis  Tweet This Quote

It was 50 years since we first met, and she was in shock and grief.

Dad began dating Marilyn in the summer of 1957. My parents had divorced in 1954, when I was three. Dad and I saw each other on Saturday; joining our twosome required my prior approval. Marilyn P. Nichols would pass with flying colors—a good sport in father-son activities, including my first love, baseball. She worked hard to be our shortstop, as the bruises on her shins attested.

They married in 1959, had three children, and through many rocky years, ended up devoted to each other in Dad’s final decade.

I thought about how Amanda’s memories were so different
from mine.

Getting my family to Marilyn’s in Florida was a challenge. Most frustrating was our inability to contact Amanda in Thailand, before she heard the news secondhand. We knew she’d be highly emotional, though she hadn’t seen my father much in recent years.

I reached her en route through Atlanta that Sunday. As it was Mother’s Day, Amanda had already called her grandma Leni, figuring Joy and I would be at my Mom’s home. Mom delivered the news to Amanda who became frantic, calling all known relatives.

After apologies, I told Amanda what I knew. She was upset not to be with the family and wanted time to reminisce. I listened hurriedly. Hearing her recount her relationship with my father, I thought how her memories were so different from mine. I wanted to correct her, reshape her memories to what really happened, but I was racing to catch my next flight and Joy had instructed me to “let her keep her memories, they’re hers not yours.” I hung up as quickly as allowed.

What matters in life is not what happens to you, but what you remember and how you remember it.
– Gabriel Garcia Marquez, Nobel Laureate in Literature

My brother John picked us up at the Fort Myers airport. Exhausted, we made our way over to my Dad’s—I mean, stepmother Marilyn’s house. We joked that the one way Dad could ensure that his four children would be with Marilyn on Mother’s Day was by dying.

From my perspective, the day went well. We talked, though not much to Marilyn. We saw six dolphins at the pier off the back of the deck Dad was so proud of. Thousands of square feet, it was the last one allowed in the area, and broke every building code! It had taken Dad years of legal maneuvers; he always loved a good fight.

For the group of 17 (nine grandchildren, eight adults), we ordered our usual Chinese food take-out dinner, about $200. Dad/Marilyn always picked up the check. But this time, as the infighting began—who had already paid for what, what it cost to get there—I the eldest simply paid the bill. I never got a thank you… from anyone.

The house felt… empty? We were scattered all over the main floor, and the kids were in the pool. With all its medical attachments, Dad’s chair sat empty nearby, on the edge of his bedroom overlooking pool and ocean. Marilyn made it clear that no one was to touch “your father’s things,” otherwise spending the afternoon quietly, in our midst but by herself.

Marilyn…spent the afternoon quietly, in our midst but by herself.

Dad had been cared for at home for over a decade—made possible by Marilyn and Janice catering to his every daily need. Having repaired a volatile relationship with our father, Janice’s nursing background helped in his last years. Her son, Max grew up living at his grandparents’ home—Dad and Marilyn enjoyed having their eldest grandson there.

Around eight that Sunday evening, the Rabbi came over for final preparations before Monday’s funeral. She didn’t know Dad well and wanted to learn more from his wife and four children. We spent three hours providing information and telling her our stories about Dad.

Who would do the talking? We all sat around the dining room table. Marilyn spoke a little, Jim and Janice were quiet, and John spoke for the “younger generation” (I’m 10-14 years older). But I spoke by far the most—feeling I knew Dad best and was the most articulate–even though our relationship, extremely close for twenty years, had drifted the past fifteen to minimal contact.

A theme emerged of two souls in one man—an outside toughness, yet an inner sensitivity that only came out behind closed doors. We laughed about Dad punishing 6-year-old Jim for saying a bad word.

A theme emerged of two souls in one man.

“I’m going to wash your mouth out with soap,” Dad promised in a menacing tone. Always the family comedian, Jim responded, “OK, Dad. But can you make sure to use Zest? I love the taste of Zest, Dad. Zest soap. Yum.” Dad kept the angry face as he walked gingerly away (supposedly to get the soap), into the kitchen where 16-year-old Mark was sitting. Dad broke out in a big grin from ear to ear. “Your brother’s quite a character,” he said with pride and glee. But my brother would not see that side, nor would I when punished.

I dominated the evening, proudly. No one complained. In a family of talkers, taking after our father, I was still the alpha male. Marilyn seemed fine with all of it, even relieved, I believed. I didn’t know; I didn’t ask. I just wanted to help the Rabbi and show everyone how well the son who lived 1500 miles away, who was born of another mother, knew Dad best.

Would I have spoken the same way, taken up the same amount of space at the table, if I’d known what I’d find in the box in the attic? Or what he’d say in his will? Tomorrow was the funeral, and there was no hint of the bomb that would come my way.

Could a greater miracle take place than for us to look through each other’s eyes for an instant?
– Henry David Thoreau, philosopher  Tweet This Quote

About the author

Mark Albion

Mark Albion

Mark Albion left his business school professorship to answer his life question: "How can I be a Marxist and still own my own Jacuzzi?" He is now a serial entrepreneur, faculty founder of Net Impact, and author of a series of books exploring meaningful careers, impact entrepreneurship, and success.

  • Rick

    Mark, good to have you and your writing back. All is good on Bainbridge. I’ll keep following your pen or keyboard
    Rick Torseth

  • Thank you, Rick. This is not posted until tomorrow. Don’t know how you got on!

  • Rick

    Mark, I received an email and link. That was actually Monday. Hope you are well

  • treehugger90

    I agree that certain siblings know their parents more than others. In my family I am the youngest and I am still living with my parents at age 23. Both my oldest brothers have moved out. My oldest brother moved out at age 18 and went into the air force, and other brother moved out at about age 22. Additionally, I do feel I know my parents more from living with them longer.

  • There’s a saying: No two children are born into the same family. You have the privilege of knowing your parents in their older years; I had the privilege of playing baseball with my dad, which he couldn’t do with my brothers and sister who are a decade plus younger than me. We each have our life, our experiences. Can we understand those of others and why they may act differently than us?

  • Haley Horn

    Thank you for sharing this story. I do not have any step siblings or half siblings, but I know people who do, and I can see the competition there. Like my father for example. He has 3 brothers, and two half sisters. Who knows my grandpa the best? My dad because he’s the oldest? Or the girls because they are spoiled and still live with him? I would have to go with my father knowing my grandpa the best, just like you. Why? Not only is there a father-son bond, but he HAS known and experienced him the longest, and has stuck by his side even as an adult. The unfortunate thing is, my grandpa’s life will soon come to an end, and decisions will have to be made.

  • Drew Cox

    Thanks for the article Mark, i also agree. Myself being the oldest and still living at home, i feel as though I’m kind of the house favorite in a way. Both my sisters which in fact are younger than me have graduated and moved on. Then there is me the oldest still in school and living with my parents. Ive never viewed this as bad experiences i love my parents to death and get along with them fairly well! I just feel like I’m in the slow lane to line while others are flying by me! I do take in a lot of knowledge from my parents and other adults i hang around in hopes to make my future brighter and easier! How hard is it when first moving on without seeing your parents daily and having those conversations in the first couple of years? Thanks again for the article Mark!

  • Keeli Gilbert

    Thanks for the story!!! I don’t have any step siblings, but I do have step Aunts and Uncles. My mother is the youngest of 3 and was 15 when her dad past away. Her mother remarried into a family of 6, if I do my math right, that’s a family of 9! Could you imagine the amount of competition in that family? In 2010, both of my mom’s parents, mom and step dad, past away within 5 months of each other. It was hard and everyone wanted to do something. When it came time to designate who would mediate between the 9 siblings, my mom and her step sister were asked to come up to the plate. Of course, I don’t know if it was jealousy or greed, but it turned into a huge family feud. As a third party by stander, it was extremely hard to watch as my family tore each other apart, emotionally. I’ve always hoped that one of these we could sit back, just for a second, and do something where we would ask, “Is this what mom and dad would want us to be doing? Would they approve of the actions we are taking and/or the words we are saying to one another?” Obviously I will never know, but I hope that this crosses my family’s mind as they are still making decisions. I also wonder if this family, in this article, will ask some of the same questions. I know each family is different and have their own forms of chaos,but I hope that they think that way and aren’t being selfish just because he was the only child from a different mother and that even though they aren’t related by blood, that they will still work with each other to make the best decisions for each other including their father.

  • Thank you for sharing, Keeli. I think we have asked those questions, but they still aren’t resolved. Two of my siblings who live 10 minutes from each other barely talk, other relationships are strained. That is why I’m writing my story — to help us think through this “competition” and look at the bigger picture, contemplate forgiveness as you’ll see in tomorrow’s post, and be more empathetic. My father was very competitive within his family with his brother and recognized how this affected the way he set up his children to be competitive. He felt badly about it, but it was his nature. Any tips for us?

  • Change is always hard, but it’s all part of growing up, Drew. And being the oldest (I am too), we have a different relationship with our parents than our siblings. And I had a different mother than my siblings, so that can create lots of different feels. Thank you for your insights. How do you think you can make this transition you speak of easier?

  • Yes, Haley, and how will those decisions be made? How they are made and what happens will dramatically affect the family dynamics. Wait till you see what happens in my story! How do you think it’s best to resolve these issues and maximizes everyone’s happiness?

  • Drew Cox

    I agree that my relationship is much stronger than those my sisters have with my parents. I sit back and see how far my younger sister are with their careers under way and striving while myself being 23 already still have a year and a half left of school. One side of me wants to get out and on with life while the other is enjoying being a “kid” as some would say. Having a degree in education upon graduation I’ve never really thought about just staying in one area. I always told myself in order to separate myself from other contenders I would be open to relocate. I just fear that my communication and relationship will turn for the worse, and between you and I thats frightening. Im not saying i rely on them or still have my umbilical cord attached but the everyday conversation and interaction is a great way to end your day. I assume a phone call will have to do someday. How often were you in contact with your father after you said you began to drift apart?

  • My Dad and I talked every day, about 2-4 hours. We discussed the “kids”–my brothers and sister, who are 10-14 years younger than me — and our business, as I got involved from 16 years old, when Dad started it, until 30 years old. Then we didn’t talk for 7 years. You will see this in the posts as the story continues, and it is way to complicated from here. But to answer your main issue –turn for the worse–simply communicate regularly, discuss the hard issues you just beautifully expressed with them before they become issues–and whether you stay, relocate, or whatever, you will work out your path and a good strong family relationship. What for you, I’d ask, are the biggest hurdles to that strategy?

  • Drew

    Thanks for the words of encouragement Mark. I love reading your blogs because they teach us readers so much about life. So many people struggle with the what’s next phase such as myself. Not knowing where life will take us after graduation and how are family ties will be when moving away. Having that insight you provide your readers with makes it much easier to remind ourselves, its going to be ok. Keep our heads up and march fourth. I’ll be sure to keep contact with not only my parents but to continue to read your blogs! Thanks again Mark

  • treehugger90

    That is defiantly true! I am so grateful that I get to know my parents in their older years! Yeah we can understand, because we are all at different stages in our lives; especially when it comes to siblings. My oldest brother is 6 years older than me, and him and I know our parents at two different stages. I have a different relationship with him than I do with my other brother that is 2 years older than me. It is amazing how just 2 years can make a difference.

  • Amanda Laatsch ?

    I think seeing the world through another’s eyes is a great
    experience. It gives you another perspective on things. In this case, it gives
    another perspective on a person.
    Sometimes it can make things difficult though. For instance, if you have
    seen someone like your dad as not the best father in the world to you for so
    long, but you see how nicely he treats your other siblings, you aren’t going to
    be happy with that. I think it can be a good thing to see the world through
    another’s eyes, but it can also be deadly.

  • How about, Amanda, if you try to understand why that person sees things differently than you?

  • Keeli Gilbert

    I mean, honestly since I am not the one that has to go through it, I am not sure I would have any tips that would help at all. Just know that you aren’t alone in this struggle.
    I think, for my mom, it’s hard to fight with family. I mean I’m sure it is this way for every family, but I lost an aunt’s friendship through this whole process and just found out she has a 3 year old little girl when I didn’t even know she was married or seeing anyone and that she doesn’t even live in WI anymore. I think for my family it is hard to not let what happens between other family members to be rubbed off onto kids and other family especially because it isn’t everyone’s war to fight, that discussion is just between those people who really are involved. So for my mom, I know she tries really hard to keep that life and family life at home separate from each other. So I guess I would say to just keep it between those who are really involved. If other’s need to be involved, by all means, but if it doesn’t effect anyone else but those involved there is no reason to put that on someone else.
    I know this isn’t anything really “new,” but I hope it is somewhat helpful.
    Good luck with everything and I hope it all turns out for the better. It’s what your father would have wanted. Competition sure, but not chaos.

  • Brandon

    Thanks for the article!! I don’t have have step siblings but i know some people who do. Sometimes being oldest sucks because the younger usually gets everything and older has to work harder for what they own. Spending key time with family is always key they are always there to comfort you. Competition between brothers or sister can happen because younger usually wants to be exactly like the older.

  • I like to say “want what you have.” As the oldest, I got my parents young — even my stepmother whom I knew since I was 5 (and she was 25). What did you have that your siblings didn’t?

  • Wow! Maybe not “new” in parts, but new in how you put it together, Keeli. And thanks for taking the time!

  • lex_alwaysMIA

    Enlighten. What is confusing to me are these titles “Stepmother”, “Stepfather”, “Stepsister”, etc. If this person was there for you in your life, took care of you, was there when you needed them the most, is genetics truly a factor? I feel that people can be so ungrateful when you throw the title “step” around so freely. You rather waste your time trying to find your “biological relative” who didn’t care about you. Yet you disrespect your “step relative” by pointing out the obvious, that they are not related. For example, your mother has been out of life for 20 years on drug yet you keep searching. While the mother at home you have (“Step”) has to fight everyday to earn that respect. My biological father is decreased but my stepfather took on that role to be there for me. When he passed away, I didn’t disrespect him by referring to him as my “stepfather” but my dad. We need to be thankful for what we have instead of what we lack genetically. I am glad that I had a “father” figure in my life and I know he is proud.

  • Yes, Lex. In this story it will become a delineation since both my stepmother and mother will be involved. But your point is very well-taken. Thank you. Is this from your own personal family experience?

  • Kendra Larson

    I really enjoyed the story that you told. It was kind of bitter sweet. Although, your dad died, you were able to create a bond with Marilyn that you probably wouldn’t of had created before. Personally, I have never had to deal with trying to get used to a step parent. But I do have friends that have dealt with this type of situation, and I can hardly imagine how difficult it can be. A good friend of mine, actually lost touch with her own father because she did not get along with his new wife. So, I have seen the result it can have on a family. Now she is engaged and her father is not invited to the wedding because of the whole bad situation. It is very sad to think that families can get this bad to the point where they start to disown each other. That is why family is so important and bonding is important as well. Without this, things start to fall apart. Thank you for sharing this article!

  • jack lomax

    Very interesting story! It’s interesting to see the relationships between you/your siblings, and your father. I think you were advantageous to know your dad in his ‘prime’, but its still odd that your siblings didn’t speak up much? why was that? were they not close to him? It just sounds like they saw this as (in a way – no disrespect intended) some kind of burden, whilst you actually valued this time to reminisce about your dad.

  • Caitlin Donohue

    What an interesting narrative. My viewing the death of all four of my grandparents, I feel there’s always one sibling that takes charge and takes care of certain and/or most things. That is evident in your story as well. Many years from now I will be in your position and probably contributing the most information as well. I, too, am the oldest child in my family, maybe that has something to do with it? It seems Marilyn was in a bit of shock when this process occurred, did she open up to any of you after the initial shock of your father passing?

  • Thank you for sharing Kendra. Read on to the next blog in a couple of weeks to see how the relationship with Marilyn unfolds and how we deal with it. And yes, lots of family interplay that unfortunately results in conflicts. My Dad and Marilyn never attended my wedding either. What can one do?

  • I did a lot of the care taking for my younger siblings so I was sort of the
    “alpha male.” My Dad and I rarely talked about me, focusing mostly on the “kids” (my siblings) and business. I had a completely different, much more complex relationship with him. So when Mark is around, he takes up a lot of space and it can be hard for them to find a place to get two words in, although they are all talkers too. Other than that, we’d have to ask them!
    Thanks, Jack – why do you think they didn’t speak up more?

  • Read on (in two weeks), Caitlin. You will see what Marilyn does next, which may surprise you. We all had different roles: Janice had the most weight with being very close to Marilyn and Dad’s caregiver the last few years after a very contentious previous 40. They got very close. John always wanted to be the representative of the children-generation. And Jim, I don’t think, much cared. He was Marilyn’s first child and that always is special in and of itself. Today, Marilyn opens up at times about the “early years,” since I am the only one alive who remembers them well — the other three siblings were much too young. The notion of “shared memory” and its importance will be coming up in a few posts. Please spread the word to friends and I love comments and feedbacks (and, of course, “likes” :).

  • Jeovany_Espino

    I just wanted to agree with you both that no two children even brother and sister will know their parents equally or have the same experiences, just a fact of life. Living with your parents longer does make you know them even better. I am the oldest and moved out first finishing college while my other brother is just about to start college, our family history is very different from when i started college to now that my brother is starting, things have changed a lot and I knew them when there were no problems and now there are some problems and obstacles but nothing we can’t overcome, one the piece it said how let her remember her memories because they hers and not yours was very eye opening, as you might feel that this person is wonderful but perhaps someone else thinks opposite it might be very hard for you to not ask why that is

  • tjbaumeister08

    Thank you for sharing this. Before my dad met my mom he was married and has three children with his first wife, a daughter and twin sons. My sister and I have never had a relationship with them because of they relationship they had with our mom when she first married my dad. I’m worried that when my dad dies, what you described will happen to us. We’ll all be trying to prove who know our dad the best. You mentioned towards the end “show everyone how well the son who lived 1500 miles away, who was born of another mother, knew Dad best.” Did you feel like you had to prove yourself because you have a different mother than your siblings. If so, how come?

  • BartuchGR11

    Thank you for posting this blog. I found this article interesting because it was neat to see the authors relationship between his siblings and father. In life family is really important and your sibling are going to be your friends for life. I do really like how the author kept a relationship with his step mom even though his father has passed because she is going to need support.

  • Britnee_Kay

    Wow, I love your articles and I can’t wait to read the next one! This is an amazing story and really makes me think about the relationships that I have with my half siblings as well as with my own father, who is actually my step dad. Our relationship is unique in itself that he is technically my step father, but I look at him as more of a dad than my birth father, and people wouldn’t be able to notice unless I told them. I pick up so many of my traits from him and he isn’t even my blood. You’re dad can have a huge impact on your life and how you go about the things you do .

  • Thank you for your question. No, I didn’t. I have had a different role in my family. I was very involved in raising my two brothers, especially when the family moved to Florida and the boys stayed up north with me while they were in private school. Still, was there some “proving?” Probably more than I care to admit, not so much because of the mom issue, but because I had not visited much the last 10 years, as when I did, it was challenging for my wife and kids. Part of the problem was Dad didn’t really talk to anyone about a lot of his life except Marilyn in certain husband-wife ways and to me about him as a man. So I remain the only one with shared memory re: Dad and to this day, with Marilyn, about the first 15 years of their marriage. The different mother affected other things, which surprised me. You’ll read about that as the story unfolds in future blogs!

  • So true. She gets 95% of her support from her daughter, Janice. But our relationship, while dramatically different, gives her support, I hope, in other ways. What are your relationships with family like?

  • Absolutely, Britnee. Thanks for sharing and I hope you’ll get your friends to read the blog and comment too. It’s all about who is there for you when you need them, not the biology as much. Marilyn was very involved in my life from 13-30 years, and no matter whatever happens, I will always be thankful to her for being there for me, treating me no different than her 3 biological children, throughout those years. What have you learned from this entry in the blog series?

  • AmandaBrom

    Thank you for sharing your amazing story. I feel that this is something almost every one goes through when someone close passes away. That’s why I think it’s important that you shared your story. It is so true that everyone else has different memories of not only people but everything.

  • Yes, we all see things through our own eyes, Amanda. My Dad said that after the 11 of the crew (in a plane) came back from a mission, they would be debriefed individually and give 11 different accounts of what happened! How do you take that knowledge and use it positively in your life and work? Read on to the next post in a couple of weeks for a deeper look.

  • Jansscor16

    Great article and sorry for your loss!! At my Aunt’s memorial, the Priest said something that I will never forget. He said that we should be thankful for our ability to keep memories. Memories are very valuable and they should not be something we take for granted. Just imagine if we lost all memories of a person. It is important that we take those memories and hold them close. As well as respect everyone else’s memories, because they are different, but their memories are all they have left of that person. Sharing memories is my way of grieving as well as many others, because memories bring joy and happiness.

  • Jessica Andrew

    Thank you for sharing your story with us! We can see that interpersonal relationships are very important in life. Networking is great, but shotgunning isn’t always the best way. Sometimes it is important to get to know someone on a deeper level. Has this experience taught you more about getting to know people on a deeper level?

  • PKroening

    Thanks for sharing this story! I feel like I have seen the same thing in my losses of family members. There is always that one sibling that really feels that they have to take charge of the situation. It was really cool, yet sad, that I was able to connect to you on that level. I saw in some of the other comments that there will be more to this article in the near future and i’m really looking forward to it!

  • Guest

    Also, I have noticed that in these times of grieveing that siblings can either really be brought together and connect on a whole new level after the experience or their relationships can just completely fall apart. Thankfully for me the experiences have only brought us closer but what do you think can be done so that this terrible experience can be turned into something that may completely turn a relationship with a sibling around?

  • PKroening

    Also, I have noticed that in these times of grieving that siblings can either really be brought together and connect on a whole new level after the experience or their relationships can just completely fall apart. Thankfully for me the experiences have only brought us closer but what do you think can be done so that this terrible experience can be turned into something that may completely turn a relationship with a sibling around?

  • Evan Hibbs

    Mark, thank you for the article. I agree that it’s hard to judge other people and many times people need to put themselves in someone else’s shoes. It’s sometimes impossible to understand certain situations and how someone responds and acts towards a situation. We as a group of people should be willing to listen to others if they have stories important to tell about their experiences. One thing our culture has started to do is criticize situations that we can’t put ourselves through and act like we are more intelligent than we actually are. Have you ever held a job where nobody understands the pressure behind what you do?

  • Caitlin Snyder

    Thank you for this article! “Walking a mile in someone else’s shoes” is a very tough thing to do. I think most of us are too quick to judge others and there actions when in reality we would probably do the same thing as them. People just do not take the time to understand each other, and frankly I don’t think we ever will. It is very tough changing people’s mindsets, we can only hope for the sake of humanity that some people figure it out.

  • Steven Bichler

    When my grandfather passed away I felt closer to all of my family members, including some I had not seen in 10 years, then I ever had. Its a shame that sometimes only a tragedy can bring a whole family together. However at the same time its great that everyone can come together to celebrate someone’s life and celebrate life.

  • Jessica Walker

    The biggest thing I took out of this was the part where you were explaining when your father and Marilyn would pick up the chinese bill every time. This time, when you paid, nobody showed you appreciation. I think situations like this make us realize how much we take for granted without even being conscious about it. At the time I’m sure you think “oh that was nice,” but how many times do we actually say that to the person to show our gratitude. So many times, my parents do things for me that I think is their “job,” but now being in college I really realized how much they have done for me in their life that they really didn’t have to do. Not having them around as much really made me appreciate even more all that they have done for me. Not that I took for granted what they had done for me in the past, but I realized that I have to express my thankfulness to let them know I am appreciative. If you could thank one person right now for something they have done to influence your life (that you have not thanked already), who would it be and why?

  • Wonderful… A forthcoming post will be entitled, what this post was titled originally, “Where Do Your Memories Meet Mine.” In my religion (Judaism), we don’t believe in history, but in memory. And it is so nice to share our memories, our version of reality and truth, with others. As you said, it keeps others with us and connects us to what’s important in life, don’t you think?

  • Absolutely, Jennifer, which is why I prefer the word you used “relationships” rather than “networking.” Companies often treat us as wallets, not as people. To be things like Facebook are counter to spending time with fewer people in deeper relationships. When I was younger and travelled to a city, I would try to see all my “friends” in a short period of time. Today, I will concentrate on seeing just one or two, just as you intimate in your comment. What about you?

  • Thank you. Yes, sometimes you do have to take charge, but not all the time. We become control freaks and don’t leave room for others to grow and contribute in what they know best and care most about. So we have to be careful about squeezing others out, and then, at times, complaining that they didn’t contribute, don’t you think?

  • That’s a million dollar question, isn’t it? What do you think? I think that the more you listen to others, the less you talk, the more you have a chance to bond rather than grow apart. We all get so into our own opinion when these things happen, our own “hurts” that we often forget the hurts of others. We bond, I believe, through connecting to our shared memories, our shared pain. Your views?

  • Frank_Stanek

    It really does make a big difference when someone you knew is lo longer there. When you described the house as “empty” I can completely understand. Whether it’s a friend who has moved away, a pet who died, or the loss of a loved one it really is a shock to the system the first time you realize that they are truly gone. You arrive at the place they have always been, look around only to find they are absent, and realize that nothing will ever be the same.

  • Yes, very important to understand that we all have our own version of what is the “truth,” and we bring that understanding into how we see what is going on now. You are right that we can miscalculate many situations by not seeing it through the other person’s eyes and experience, as it is often hard to figure out what this is and what impact it has.

  • Communicate. Try to understand. Sharing the pain and acknowledge the legitimacy and importance of the other person’s pain. When people feel heard and understood, they want to bond; if it becomes a game of whose pain is greater, we can be driven apart. Don’t you think?

  • Absolutely, Evan. Every entrepreneur feels this way when talking with people who have never started a business. “Oh, isn’t it nice what you do. I too was thinking of taking a little time to start a xxxxx business. Would be a nice way to spend some of the week and make a little money.” Aaarrrgggh! Do they know how difficult it is, how much pressure there is, building a company? On the other hand, two days ago I was dealing with some of more judgmental friends who couldn’t understand why a mutual friend hadn’t worked in 18 months after selling his company. I asked if they had ever sold a company? Do they know how exhausting it usually is? They hadn’t and had no clue how you feel after–all they saw was the money, not the price of that money. Would you agree?

  • It is hard, Caitlin, but the means are simple. Ask questions. Be non-judgmental. Be patient. Listen. Listen. Listen. And don’t try to “one-up” them after. Just support. What do you think? Any other ideas?

  • So true, Steven. It would be great to get together more often for births, weddings, christenings, b’nai-mitzvahs, conformations, etc., but often, the only thing that people show up for big time are funerals. And then the eulogies usually get us to focus a little more on the big picture–the importance of loved ones, the relevance of a legacy, etc. Yet as you say, let’s at least embrace these opportunities to celebrate life and the time we do have together.

  • This is a special and unique response so far to the article, Jessica. Taking things for granted — forgetting about what we have and focusing more on what we don’t have — feelings of entitlement, out-of-line expectations. We often ask people to write a thank you letter to someone important to them–someone they never thanked–just as you did. I guess if I had one to write, it would be to an old girlfriend, Alice. Alice was (and is) the nicest human being I’ve ever met. In fact, we criticized her often for being so nice that the rest of us felt like cads — that we could never be “good” compared to her, that we could never be good enough. It made us almost not want to try. Instead, we should have focused more on what she was, and I would like to thank her for seeing what a true giver, a true servant, in real life is like, and for setting an example that everyone should have an opportunity to experience. What about you? Whom would you thank?

  • After our two dogs died, MoMo and Jazzy, one month apart, I kept “seeing” them at the door, waiting to come into the house, lying on the couch. I’d have to take a quick second look to make sure they really weren’t there. Phantom images, I guess. After 13 years with them, it took a good year before I didn’t “see” them several times a day. While they are still in my heart, I miss them dearly. And while never the same, the love is there, just the same. Thank you, Frank, for making me think of them again 🙂

  • amykahl8

    Unfortunately death is a time when people really reflect on decisions they’ve made and it brings people together but under dim circumstances. It’s sad to me that this is what it takes to get a family together sometimes. I have seen this happen with my own family and it almost feels fake to me because I get to see my cousins and aunts and uncles again but nothing is really enjoyable. I wish more people would appreciate their families and wouldn’t feel so much regret when someone dies. Do you have any suggestions on how to bring families together before it’s too late?

  • I think it requires continuous effort in lots of little ways. I think Mother Teresa offers a great reply, for her objectives, which was getting close to God through, that I believe applies to your question: “What we need is to love without getting tired. How does a lamp burn? Through the continuous input of small drops of oil. What are these drops of oil in our lamps? They are small things of daily life: faithfulness, small words of kindness, a thought for others, our way of being silent, of looking, of speaking, and of acting. Do not look for Jesus away from yourselves. He is in you. Keep your lamp burning, and you will recognize Him.” Reaching out, some retreats together, just creating time and space for each. What do you think would work for you?

  • Kait Harman

    Thank you for sharing this touching story. It amazing how death brings families and memories together (good and bad). At the end of the day even if you and your dad were not talking or were not close anymore it didn’t change how you felt and how you remembered him. Everyone should remember how important family is not matter who walks into there life or what comes there way. Would you have changed anything about you and your fathers relationship the last few years of his life?

  • I might have seen him a bit more, brought the grandkids down to florida, but it was very difficult to do so for my family, as they did not enjoy going for reasons you will see as the story continues. What about you? Ways you might do things differently, Kait, with your family relationships?

  • treehugger90

    I agree! Every kid has a different point of view on their parents; even parents with the kids. Since my brother has been in the Air Force, my parents do not know him as well as they would know me.

  • treehugger90

    I agree, it defiantly can be hard not to ask because you are curious on why that person or sibling is thinking the way they are. I am that way with my brothers sometimes.

  • Brandon

    I would say mostly clothes because they would something then i would have to work toward getting all my stuff.

  • Brandon

    Thanks for sharing this article! it is hard to deal with death when our family has one recently lots grief and tears to get past those hard times. Family is what keep us going each day and helps us when we are down at times. Its important to remember them and tell good stories about them.

  • Yes, we carry our love and traditions through stories, Brandon.

  • amykahl8

    I really really like this analogy! Thank you so much for sharing this with me! People need to know that they are important to you and you don’t always need to show it in huge elaborate ways but they still need to be reminded of this from time to time, and this can easily be forgotten when people tend to get into a routine!

  • Jessica Walker

    If I were to thank someone right now that I have not yet done so, I think I would thank my sister. Yes, we share an unconditional love and I know she is always there for me –sometimes by default– but I never really take the time to tell her how much I appreciate that she is in my life. I consider her to be one of my best friends, yet sometimes place her on the back burner which is completely wrong of me. I need to make more of a conscious effort to ask her how things are going in her life, even in my busiest of times. I actually am going to call her tomorrow and thank her for always being there for me and being such a great role model to follow.

  • Love to hear how she reacts 🙂

  • Caitlin Donohue

    That all sounds very good! I can see how there are different types of roles involved. I look forward to reading onto the rest of what happens and will certainly continue sharing!

  • Evan Hibbs

    Mark, thank you for the reply. Yes I do agree. I imagine starting a business and running a company, or having to sell a company, can be very stressful and isn’t always easy work. One thing I’ve learned with every job I’ve had is the people who are on the outside looking in never realize the behind the scenes work of the job and can’t imagine or couldn’t actually do a better job than the person holding the job. That’s why I try my best not to comment on the performance of another person’s performance while working and why I’m not a huge fan of analysts, paparazzi, journalists, reporters, etc. Those are people paid to comment on someone else’s life.

  • Caitlin Snyder

    I think you hit it right on the head with listen. Listening is key, even though sometimes we tend to tune the things we don’t want to hear out. It’s a tough job, but I think if we took the time to listen, we can get somewhere!

  • LaurenSE

    It is always interesting to see how death can bring people together. Sometimes this doesn’t always go well, but for the most part, people are able to look past disagreements and come together to appreciate the one lost, the one that everyone loved in their own way. It is always unfortunate though, when death is the only thing to bring people together. I know there is more of this story to come, and I might find the answers to my questions there, but do you have any regrets? About the way things were between you and your father? Or how things were with everyone in the family at the time of your fathers passing?

  • I find regrets are simply hoping for a better past, something which can’t be changed, Lauren. But I can change my attitude toward what’s happened. I’m not big on regrets. I had plenty of time before my Dad died — he was not well for a good decade before he passed — to deal with things in a way I felt was most productive for me (and him, possibly). So, not really. Possibly that I and my family didn’t visit him a little more. And as for the family, he dominated it and it was what he created and struggled with, as you’ll learn more about as we find some of his writings from his 50s. Stay tuned, and get your friends over to take a look too! 🙂

  • LaurenSE

    I really like your take on regrets! I am not big on them either but I like that you said, “regrets are simply hoping for a better past… and… I can change my attitude toward what’s happened.” That’s a great way to think about it. You cannot change what has happened, what’s done is done, you can change your attitude about it though. Thank you, Mark! I am definitely staying tuned, and letting everyone else know about your series.

  • Jansscor16

    Absolutely I think it is extremely important. Through others memories you learn new stories and lessons. You gain information about a person that you never had new. Memories help people grieve and reminisce, which would be very difficult if we had no memories to remember or share.

  • Tammy Hartmann

    Mark, thank you for sharing this touching story. I have so often heard stories about how a death in the family causes the family to scatter, not maintaining close relationships or seeing each other until the next funeral. This is true for even my family; that’s why I am always uncomfortable attending funerals because of this very reason. It’s fortunate that your family was brought closer together.

  • Thank you, Tammy, though I don’t think we were “fortunate” and there are lots of shades of gray, here. I think we/I had to work at it to direct feelings, behaviors and outcomes in a certain direction. And that has taken continued effort and failed as much as succeeded. Do you have any experience, and thereby wisdom, to share here?

  • Marian326

    I wonder if your domination of the evening came from a sense of uncertainty? I am a talker and tend to command a room. What I have had to learn is to read others, to see if I have stepped over the imaginary line. The problem for me is when I’m in a group of family that I have not seen for a long time. I just keep talking…and I think I do because I’m insecure and uncomfortable around them. I’m not saying this was the case for you, but it makes me wonder…
    Thanks for another glimpse into your world, a world that I believe many of us share.

  • I certainly do this from time to time. No question. But actually that is not what I think happened here. And to be fair to you, I am a writer, not an autobiographer. I’m not Britney Spears or her ghostwriter telling you about me, Britney, and my life. I am telling my story in a way that you can connect with, so I often “fictionalize” non-fiction. What was going on is simple: with all the issues I had with Dad (and possibly he with me), we were the closest. We are by far the two smartest in the family and were together hours every day through all the tough years when dad finally made lots of money, starting in the late 1960s. I worked with him while my siblings were barely out of diapers. So when this relatively new Rabbi asked questions, I was the only one who could answer them. I was happy to answer for the family, but my blindspot was, how did this make others feel. Mark isn’t around the last decade or two, and yet he’s the one with all the answers! And as for Marilyn, she knew my dad in ways none of us did, was completely devoted to him in every way, every moment possible, but a lot of his world of work and thoughts he never shared with her. I could go on but yes, I should have probably let a lot of the questions go unanswered but when no one else could answer them, I instead did so, probably causing some bottling up of anger among some others. Smart, stupid me 🙂

  • Marian326

    Human you! Hind sight is 20/20, but it is also important for us to be reflective in most situations. Learning from our past actions is most often a wonderful chance to grow. Thank you again for sharing your soft underbelly!

  • Yes, in my case, learning is more about keeping my trap shut at times and going with whatever others come up with. It’s the same thing in business. If you think you have the best answers for everything, they no one else need come to work and you are ‘stuck’ doing everything. You learn to shut up, help when asked, and realize we all have different ways of doing things, so let it go!

  • Marian326

    It is the same for me…as a non-traditional student I have had to learn the hard way to sit back and keep my comments to myself. This is made more difficult by the fact that I am an ideas person, and I get very excited sometimes because of the ideas that pop in my head. I want to share them. The problem is not everyone wants to hear them! Let it go! Sounds like a great song title..:)

  • Do you first try to understand what other people need, particularly loved ones, or do you first explain yourself and what you need? Are you able to see things, particularly things that bother you, from their perspective? Having thought about this, what changes in yourself would you make today?

  • Thank you, Lauren. Much appreciated.

  • Max Rude

    I have a bad curse of looking threw other people eyes. I have always tried to please others before myself. I had a bad habit with pronouncing words with a odd accent. This bothered my family to the point where every time i said pud instead put my mom would roll her eyes and walk away. So i did make a change and it helped.

  • How did you make that kind of change? Just practice, or more to it, Max? And if you don’t mind me asking, why did you make that change?

  • HelpHealth002

    Thanks for writing this article Mark. I think it’s great for everybody to read because we all should be empathetic and try to understand others views so can be more true to our own. I like the quote you added by Gabriel Garcia Marquez talking about how what really matters in life is your memories and how you remember them. I think with any event in our lives, we can find good and bad parts but in order to stay happy and have a more positive outlook on life, it’s important that we focus on the good and minimize the bad. If you focus on the positives in life, those are the events your going to remember and go back to in your mind. If you focus on the negatives of your past , your going to put yourself in a pessimistic mood and you won’t find the positive in your past, or current situations. If you know a very positive person, try to see the world through their eyes and maybe you’ll become more optimistic yourself! It’s worked for me! Do you have advice for those struggling to be able to emphasize with others?

  • surffox

    Thank you for this series, I am working through them slowly as to not rush through a new favorite book series. It is odd how I can focus on others needs before mine, and am very empathetic but yet not understand how my actions will be received by the people I am close too? That probably does not make sense, but there have been many times my significant other tells me that I have slighted him somehow and I did not mean that or see it as it was happening. It is hard and I do try to see from his perspective but it would be better to see it first, rather than trying to learn it afterwards. 🙁 Not the post that I was going to make either. My dad passed, kind of unexpectedly, about twelve years ago and quite often I am reminded of how much I do not know and now that my relationship with my mother is strained, how much I will never know. What changes should I make? I am trying to think it through more before I say it and understand the situation as it is happening around me. It is hard as it takes a lot more effort to think ahead before speaking around those you are comfortable with. Those that know you. I need to take the questions you have posed and give them a lot of consideration and work on understanding what my mother needs from me and maybe that can help me to repair what has been damaged by anger.

  • Best advice is to remind yourself that for most people, happiness comes through helping others. No matter how much you focus on yourself — which is natural — yourself will only ‘feel better’ when you feel that you made a difference for another. Though I constantly ‘slip’, that reminder helps me.

  • It’s always the more difficult the closer we are to people. Maybe it’s because we feel the stakes are so much higher, or that we care extra what they think. We find it easy to open up to a stranger but not someone close to us. We can’t change the past, but we can change our reaction to it. Take it as learning, as something we can apply going forward, and with those close to us, try little things first — not the big things. They will come in time once we’ve developed a pattern of openness about what has been an ‘undiscussable.’

  • CoachDavis24

    Thank you for this blog and good questions. My fiance often accuses me of trying to fix all of her problems when all she wants is someone to listen to her and be a shoulder for her to cry on. I often struggle with empathy. I have a hard time feeling the way she does and occasionally get upset that she is upset. It’s something that i need to improve on. I need to make a conscious effort to just be that shoulder that she needs.

  • True. The classic book, “Men are from Mars, Women are from Venus,” explains this dilemma really well. Women just want us to listen and empathize. If they want a solution, they can usually figure it out better than we can. Being loved is about being listened to; men are more into being “respected” which is more solution/answer driven. Mars and Venus, eh?

  • Charles Fischer

    In our family of talkers I have found out that when my oldest daughter calls, with a problem it is not for me to try and fix them but to let her talk, vent and in the process answer her own questions and fix her own problems.

  • Yes, just listening, being heard, knowing someone cares and the her concerns are important and relevant, that’s it. The now ‘ancient’ book, “Men are from Mars, Women are from Venus” does a great job, Charles, of explaining exactly your point.

  • Alyssa Schragen

    I feel that I am a fairly good listener, and am often the first person my family or friends go to for advice. I don’t like to give my input unless asked but I do often find that when others need me they need me to share my experiences and stories as well to see what worked or didn’t work for me. I like to share my stories and experiences because its a way in which they can relate but also how I can relate to what they are dealing with. I find that when I can relate myself to their needs, we often learn from one another. I am the first to admit when I am wrong and when I need help but I do sometimes struggle to put myself in other people’s shoes just because I feel that I think a lot differently than people my age and my maturity shows just that. That being said just because I am more mature than most people my age that doesn’t mean that their opinion or feelings are wrong. I find that is something I need to work on, and that is being more empathetic to those around me. I sometimes find myself giving advice to others that was once given to me and I am frustrated that they are not grasping the concept of what I am meaning. That is when I need to take a step back and re-evaluate what it is I am saying and remember when I was the one getting the advice and how I dealt with it.

  • Advice is a tricky thing, as it not only involves who you are and what you say, but where the recipient is in her/his mind, and what they are hearing. Good for you to think so deeply about this part of communication, Alyssa, and thank you for all your comments.

  • sauerm29

    I like the point of of Mark tells this story from. It all just seemed very natural for the oldest to lead conversation, and assist with funeral arrangements, but because of the title, the reader has a feel that its not quite right. I also liked the imagery of Marilyn with the bruised shins, yet still persistent to play short stop.

  • Glassborow

    Thank you for this blog, it’s always nice to see things from another persons perspective. I feel that generally, I do tend to try and put my own point across first before anyone else, which probably isn’t a good thing but I do make sure I listen when others have to say as well. It’s also important to be able to see things from other perspectives, even if you don’t like the topic of conversation. It makes you a more open minded person which I think makes someone a lot more approachable.

  • Hannah Leggett-Hintz

    This was hands down, without a doubt, the best blog I’ve come to read on this website filled to the brim with talented minds. I relate so well to this, and can so simply see my family turning into something so similar. There have been many times such as this in my lifetime, and it’s something beautiful and cherished in taking the time to reflect it all. I honestly don’t necessarily see how this relates to the title of it. However, either way i do agree whole-heartedly that it’s so important in our lives to take the time to see things through other’s eyes. Take a walk in the shoes of another, if you may. Kind of an odd thing to think about, but perspective is everything-especially in such a dramatically culturally and class diversified world.

  • ReneeKirch19

    I really enjoyed this blog, the touch of a personal story made it much more inspiring to read so thank you! I absolutely love listening to other people. I always tell my friends and family that they can always come to me to talk about anything. Personally, I love venting to other people because venting to myself seems useless. That is why I don’t mind if others vent to me. The problem I seem to have is giving advice to others. I find myself not being able to speak the advice I am thinking in my head and I don’t know why. I also often do not want others to be offended by the advice that I give them.

  • Yet in the Judaeo-Christian Bible, it is often not the oldest who takes over, as was traditionally expected. Something I may have not thought through as much as I should have. And yes, those bruised shins scored her lots of points with a 7-year old son of a divorced father.

  • Agreed, but why (and thank you for being so honest) do you have to be first? Doesn’t that affect what happens, what comments are made, after you? What would happen if you spoke last?

  • Thank you, Hannah, though I don’t understand how you don’t understand the title. Particularly in times of stress/crisis/loss, we often focus on our own situation when that ‘perspective’ will cause more pain rather than move our relationships forward. That was the main point of the title.

  • Are you being asked for advice? Why is ‘advice’ so important? Sometimes, just listening, just allowing someone to experience their pain, confusion, etc. is all they need to give themselves the advice they need. Advice comes in many forms, not just in other-people’s ‘answers’, don’t you think.

  • Taylor Schaeffer

    When it comes to loved ones I really try to understand what they are needing and what they are feeling and then I move on to myself. I personally struggle with seeing things from the perspective of others especially if it is really bothering me or something that I am passionate about. That is a problem because to effectively communicate I need to be able to understand where another person is coming from and I am really trying to work on improving my ability to do that.

  • Yes, Taylor, the most important part of communication is listening. Glad you are working on it. What are you doing to improve?

  • Taylor Schaeffer

    I am trying to always consider others and how they feel by slowing down and thinking about the other person in terms of their feelings. I find that it helps me to understand another persons perspective if I imagine that I am dealing with the situation as them instead of focusing completely on how I feel.

  • Again, as your other comments, well-said. Are there any practices, techniques that you use? Most people if they really change a behavior over time have something they do to keep from falling back into old patterns. Would love to learn if you have one (or more).

  • Taylor

    I guess I do not have a certain technique that is my go to, but I think that maybe that is something I should work on developing for situations where it is especially hard for me. If you have any suggestions that might be helpful.

  • Shaquille Boswell-Downey

    Lately ive been thinking about what i want and need before anyone else because at then end of the day you were born alone and you are going to die alone so theres no sense in trying to satisfy people who dont think about you not one bit.I used to think about others needs because i use to love making everyone happy. I really want to live the life i ultimately want and one that i worked so hard for these 21 years. Ive been building this foundation and it doesnt include making people happy because they wont benefit me in becoming a better person just me and Jesus.

  • The technique I’m most aware of is doing something that stops you from talking and thinking on your own, and forces you to simply listen without judgment. As I wrote in my book True to Yourself, Steve Mariotti, Founder and CEO of Network for Teaching Entrepreneurship, clasps his hands behind his back and doesn’t release them until the other person stops talking. Just one of many.

  • Yes, but you do need people to help you after your born, and you will certainly need people in your later years, Shaquille. Life is a team sport. I too am a loner, but I do try my best to be more social and forgiving, recognizing that humans are social animals and helping and let others help you are an important part of why you are here (ask Jesus).

  • Schudakp21

    I first think about what I need. Not to sound selfish but how can I help someone and focus on their needs if I can’t even help myself. I’m not saying that other people are not important to me because that is definitely not true. But I need to be in a good mindset so I can give others my complete attention, focus, and my best self. I always try to see things in other peoples perspective even if I don’t agree completely but I at least try to see their views. I don’t know exactly what I would change in my life except to continue to progress in my way of accepting other people’s thoughts and view points even if they are not my own.

  • Alyssa Schragen

    Mark – Why do you think it is so difficult for some people to truly hear out what another person is saying? You can see that they are listening but when they reply it is if they have heard nothing at all. The message that I portray seems so clear and easy to understand and yet there is so much confusion on the recipients end. Is that because I am not doing a good job of communicating the message, or is it because they have to want to accept the advice given before they can truly understand it? And if that is the case, then why does someone ask for advice if they are not yet ready to hear what someone else has to say.

  • George Bernard Shaw once said: “The problem with communication is the illusion that is has occurred.” Communication requires you to meet the listener where they are, where their head and mind are at, right now. They are bringing a lot of prejudices and prior thoughts and beliefs to the moment, their mind may be on other things. You have to grab them with what you are going to say but right up front making it known that this is ABOUT THEM, that if they listen, it will be VALUABLE TO THEM. Even altruism is only sustainable if it is done in that person’s self-interest. You must appeal to their self-interest at that moment, and then they will listen, in my experience. What do you think, Alyssa?

  • Alyssa Schragen

    That makes a lot of sense. I think I sometimes im noy always aware if they know that it’s about them and what I am saying is of value to them. Something I have learned a while ago is that you can only teach the willing. And sometimes someone who needs to vent isn’t always looking for an answer. That is where I need to evaluate the discussion and figure out what it is they are really trying to get out of the conversation.

  • Glad I was helpful. Thank you, Alyssa.

  • Slepicka12

    Thank you for this article. I try and understanding others needs before my own. I am the type of person that takes care of others before myself most of the time. sometimes it is hard to pick up on what others are thinking but once you are with them for a long enough time talking than you are able to pick it up. The changes that i would make in myself today would to be a better listener than i am and to help friends in need.

  • Abbey Stibbs

    Thank you for this post. Normally I try to understand what other people need. Since I am going into social work, a helping profession, helping others and advocating for them is one of the qualities that is needed to be successful at the job. I feel like I am really good at this. Although it is important to take care of yourself and understand your own needs, I think that it is more important to understand the needs of others. I love helping people, and changing peoples lives for the better. Sometimes it is difficult to do so, but if you have the dedication, it feels like no time has passed. If I had the opportunity right now to change something about myself relating to this situation, I would change the way I approach situations. Sometimes I tend to be a pessimist, so If I had the chance to change how I approach things, I would want to make sure I do so in a positive way.

  • So how do you make that change, which may be in your nature, from pessimist to say optimist, Abbey?

  • Sounds like you are already a good listener to me! What do you need to do specifically to be a better listener? What can we all learn from your experiences?

  • You sound pretty mature — way ahead of me at 63 — to me! And I don’t think you need to ‘accept’ other people’s viewpoints. Just listen, which it sounds like you are already doing. And I couldn’t agree more about your own mindset — critical for personal happiness and to help others. Thank you for sharing.

  • Slepicka12

    I feel that i need to be a more focused listener. yes i can listen to people talk for hours but some times i lose my train of thought.

  • Schudakp21

    When I said accept people’s viewpoints, by that i meant, understand and accept that those are their viewpoints and not try to force mine onto them to make them change. I do always try to listen to another’s viewpoints to be respectful to them. I do sometimes jump the gun and try to argue and question before they can finish their point but I am trying to work on that to let them finish their viewpoints.

  • Who doesn’t? Even the Dali Lama admits that he has trouble concentrating often during his daily morning meditations. Just keep working on it, as it seems you will. Please tell me how it goes ([email protected]).

  • Slepicka12

    Thank you Mark. It is still a work in progress.

  • Good for you. Hard to do at times, to empty oneself and just listen, but it is one of the best forms of communication (and caring), just to listen.

  • Me too. We can share experiences.

  • Abbey Stibbs

    Mark, I really think the way I approach a situation depends on my mood that day. I know this is not a healthy way to do so, but I am working on trying to see the good in every situation possible. Do you have any advice on how I can do this?

  • I think that if you are always looking for the good in a person, and play to that, or the good in a situation, and follow that, you are on the right track.

  • hirthjp18

    This is a really interesting article. I’ve always been able to understand people and see things from their eyes. I’ve always been taught to understand where that person is coming from so you know what they are thinking. After that I can explain my side so we can both understand each other.

  • hmcavey

    This is one of the biggest things I try to improve on, seeing through other people’s eyes. I’m the oldest sister in the family and had never seen another side of my mother and father’s discipline techniques other than my own personal experience until they allowed me to see their side. Now when my sister receives discipline I can see the full picture. They do it out of love and concern, something I never really wanted to see before. From then on, whenever going into a dicey situation with a friend or relative, I want to first see their side and fully think my words over before I speak. Great article!

  • Hillary12

    I think that it is natural to think of our needs first and then to think of others. This doesn’t necessarily mean that everything we do puts us first. I think that we can’t help to think of ourselves first because we know what we want and need before we hear about others needs. I think since I got to college I have learned to try and look at things from many perspectives. I still want to get better at this though. Generally when it comes to politics and things like that is when I can look at different perspectives, but I don’t think about things through others perspectives everyday. I would probably like people overall much more if that’s how I lived my life.

  • That’s wonderful. How do you do it? When you say ‘always’, were you trained, modeled by your parents, or is it just a natural inclination for you?

  • I remember when my father was disciplining one of my brothers for saying a dirty word and he told my brother that he was going to wash his mouth out with soap, acting very mad while doing so. My brother (always the comedian) replied, “Ok, Dad. Can you do it with Zest soap? I love the taste of Zest?” My Dad stormed out of the living room and I caught him in the kitchen, laughing uncontrollably. We talked that day about discipline, about spanking (which was used a lot back then in the 50s and 60s), and he said, “If you are ever actually mad, or simply out of control, always walk away. Only discipline your child when you are fully aware, cool and calm.” It was an insight into his side of discipline, of how he was never really angry (though he seemed it to us), but instead was trying to teach us. Never forgot that day, now 50 years later.

  • One of the great things about college, Hillary, is meeting all different kinds of people and learning that there is more than one perspective for just about everything. When I backpacked around the world after college, making money as I went, I learned how many different ways there were to happily live a life. Important teaching that affected the rest of my life. Perspectives are worth 100 IQ points in my book 🙂

  • Alexa A Dralle

    That is such a great way to look at things, and that sounds like a great thing you got to experience. I personally would love to be able to step in others shoes automatically without having to think first. It’s important to know where people are coming from. When you don’t try to understand other points of view you are unable to make a logical answer. Though we may sometimes think it, we are not always right.

  • Well-said. Perspective is worth 100 IQ points, it is said 🙂

  • milkienr18

    I think that everyone deals with things different. Some people will deal with others feelings first because they don’t want to, or know how to, deal with their own feelings. I think I might be one of those people that is busy caring about everyone else instead of worrying about myself. I like to think that i can see things from another persons when I am wrong. I think one thing I would need to work on would be to put myself first more.

  • Will Ettl

    Everyone is unique in their own way and that translates to how we do things and deal with our problems. Some people may do things similar but it will never be the exact same way as someone else. That being said I know I look at a problem or an equation differently than another person would.

  • purperoar21

    I often describe my encounters with various people to be a form of gaining perspective. However, it is more so a different angel on things. A true perspective can only be obtained through someone else’s shoes. I think a big part of understanding someone’s perspective is understanding that you won’t obtain their perspective. There is so much you can learn from knowing someone and talking to them, however they can pick and choose what they want to disclose therefore it is impossible for us to understand fully. It is important for us to try as much as we can to get a closer look, as long as we know that we will never understand someone or their hardship’s fully.

  • Maybe so, but if you put others first, while some won’t reciprocate, others will put you first over time, often in ways you don’t know or will never find out. What do you think? And isn’t true ‘compassion’ about seeing the other as self?

  • How do you look at a situation differently than another, Will? Can you give us an example to enlighten us?

  • Yes, we haven’t fully walked in any one else’s shoes, but we can empathize in less judgmental ways, even if we can’t fully understand, don’t you think?

  • Desiree

    in any situation i like to see all perspectives on things because yours can be way different then other person. Once you hear everyones thought then you can get a sense on how they look at things and see how there mind works. Its best try and understand other peoples needs first before you let them understand you.

  • It is said that perspective is worth 150 IQ points. Seems you’d agree, Desiree?

  • kween

    I find myself come to a point of life asking the exact same questions you did above.
    I believed those who questions the above have certain leadership quality in them… they tend to be more giving and always make the informed decision that benefit all in the family yet can’t get the same in return. Can be very hurtfull at time, we put them first, and they put themself first in decision making, or its not something that would cross their mind, they are happy the way they are…
    I learned to becoming emotionally self-reliant. Find happiness within ourself .

    I am curious, what changes did youself make?

  • Mark Albion

    I remain, like most people, a work in progress. I try to not react with my ‘reptilian’ brain too much, but to take a little more time before I talk. Pausing more, trying to stay quiet and listen better.