published Monday, June 3rd, 2013

Smith: Wise choices are the foundation for success

By Robin Smith

“Find the good and praise it.”

On June 11, 1985, those words were included in the commencement address offered in Stokely Athletic Center at the University of Tennessee at Knoxville. The famed author and Tennessean, Alex Haley, stirred the jammed packed arena with his challenge to my graduating class.

My commencement was probably like most of yours: a day of excitement, relief, celebration, family and friends, and an anticipation of opportunities ahead with soaring words of encouragement, hope and challenge.

Here are a few quotes from commencement speeches with a few thoughts to ponder:

• “You’re off to great places. Today is your day! Your mountain is waiting so … get on your way!” — Dr. Seuss

Many view the journey ahead as a mountain to climb, a summit to scale, but, sadly, some see it as too difficult and look for a shortcut or decide to set up life’s camp after encountering challenges. A gentleman named Steve Jobs, creator of Apple Inc., admonished another crowd of graduates, “Don’t settle!”

• “Everything you are comes from your choices,” — Jeff Bezos, founder and CEO of Amazon.com Inc.

At a young, invincible age and energy, decisions and choices don’t seem as consequential as those made later in life. If that were true, the foundation of most homes and structures would be devastatingly brittle and shoddy. The Great Pyramids in Egypt are a testimony to the enduring value of strong foundations and strategic planning.

• “Life is like riding a bicycle. To keep your balance, you must keep moving.” — Albert Einstein

The instant our forward momentum ceases, the balance of our lives is impacted. In circumstances, good and bad, the decision faces us, “Do I keep peddling and pressing on?”

We’ve all seen the angry and disenchanted who can’t celebrate the success of others knowing that at some time, they made that deliberate decision to stop. Keep peddling!

• “The only place success comes before work is in the dictionary.” — Vince Lombardi, former coach of the Green Bay Packers.

As technology has become more of an extension of our being, the term “work” has changed. Yet, any act of productivity requires goal setting, preparation, the act of exerting energy toward completing the task at hand, and following through on details.

Most will agree that these time-tested steps are often ignored or stripped down for “efficiency.” Correspondingly, the end result is often less than successful or a job half-done after boredom sets in.

• “What lies behind us and what lies before us are tiny matters compared to what lies within us.” — Ralph Waldo Emerson

This statement holds such meaning and offers vast resolution in our world. The call from many a university dais this season will be to “Change your world!” Yet, being a solid individual driven by goodness and decency of purpose is eclipsed by the challenge to be great.

Our society reflects the core of the individual. If we want a good society, we should strive to be good people. And that’s completely left to the individual and their choices.

• “You have brains in your head. You have feet in your shoes. You can steer yourself in any direction you choose. You’re on your own. And you know what you know. You are the guy (and gal) who’ll decide where to go.” — Dr. Seuss

Simple, yet profound, God created us for service and opportunity. Take that which you have and choose. And choose wisely.

Robin Smith served as chairwoman of the Tennessee Republican Party from 2007 to 2009. She is a partner in the SmithWaterhouse Strategies business development and strategic planning firm.

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daytonsdarwin said...

'You are known by the company you keep."

Albert Waterhouse and Robin Smith, together in business. What else do you need to know?

June 3, 2013 at 7:53 a.m.
Facts said...

Funny, daytondarwin, It seems you fall into the "we've all seen the angry and disenchanted." I'll be at a large business on Riverside Drive today. What will you achieve today or any day? I guess the critic works on anger while the rest of us make the world work. Sad.

June 3, 2013 at 8:11 a.m.
daytonsdarwin said...

I'll be working, enjoying life, and calling out the public hypocrites like Smith.

June 3, 2013 at 8:26 a.m.
Facts said...

Hey, pitchfork toters, daytondarwin's ready for your ranks, if not ready to lead. Anger, anger, hate, hate. This article will be shared in our staff meeting this afternoon, along with these comments. I'll also include one of my favorite author's quotes to prove my point: "Anger is an acid that can do more harm to the vessel in which it is stored than to anything on which it is poured."
The angry on the far left, the far right and those who are just miserable fit Mark Twain's description. Again, sad.

June 3, 2013 at 8:36 a.m.
daytonsdarwin said...

Include this quote by Twain.

"This nation is like all the others that have been spewed upon the earth - ready to shout for any cause that will tickle its vanity or fill its pocket. What a hell of a heaven it will be when they get all these hypocrites assembled there!" Mark Twain

June 3, 2013 at 9:01 a.m.
Facts said...

Again, "spewed", "shout" - Individuals who run on anger just don't get too far. Good luck.

June 3, 2013 at 9:33 a.m.
charivara said...

Is it possible there just might be things going on that one should get angry about? Perhaps you should change your handle to Pollyanna, you certainly seem unmoved by the facts.

June 3, 2013 at 10:01 a.m.
MyGen said...

This is too funny. The article is full of great quotes with encouraging content meant to challenge and inspire. But the attacks rage. Seriously funny.

June 3, 2013 at 10:06 a.m.
daytonsdarwin said...

To quote MyGen from a previous post here on December 24, 2012 at 9:32 a.m: "I'm starting my own business as a twenty-something-year-old. I'll be looking to work with folks who have vision and hope. This opinion piece reminds me it really does matter who you choose to hang out and associate with in life."

Perhaps MyGen doesn't apply his bromide to Smith and her chosen business partner. As I was saying, hypocrisy runs rampant.

June 3, 2013 at 10:26 a.m.
MyGen said...

A glimpse into the mind of the pathetic and angry who needs to be avoided. It does matter with whom you associate and based on your rants against God, Mrs. Smith and whoever this Waterhouse person is, I hope you'll hate my guts next. I'll be in good company.

June 3, 2013 at 11:44 a.m.
daytonsdarwin said...

Sorry, I don't hate you MyGen; neither do I hate an imaginary deity (why hate what doesn't exist?), Smith or Waterhouse. Neither am I angry.

I do find you amusing, entertaining, and religiously and politically slow on the uptake.

June 3, 2013 at 12:05 p.m.
Easy123 said...

MyGen,

"A glimpse into the mind of the pathetic and angry who needs to be avoided."

So only you are allowed to attack people? Based on your previous comments, you seem much more "pathetic and angry" than daytonsdarwin.

"It does matter with whom you associate and based on your rants against God, Mrs. Smith and whoever this Waterhouse person is,"

You're arguing from ignorance. You don't even know who Albert Waterhouse is. Don't you think you should actually know who the man is before you claim he is "good company".

"I hope you'll hate my guts next. I'll be in good company."

I bet you do. Isn't that always what martyrs want? You're delusional and lack the basic understanding of what "hate" is. Get off your cross, MyGen.

June 3, 2013 at 12:09 p.m.
SaraB said...

I just graduated. I'm really discouraged by the angry responses to an opinion piece I read as very postive and meant to be uplifting.

June 3, 2013 at 12:23 p.m.
daytonsdarwin said...

SaraB said...

"I just graduated. I'm really discouraged by the angry responses to an opinion piece I read as very postive (sp) and meant to be uplifting.

Learn to read between the lines. Welcome to the real world where real education begins.

June 3, 2013 at 12:33 p.m.
Rickaroo said...

I'm surprised Robin Smith didn't include two other quotes that she and her wingnut ilk no doubt gain inspiration from:

"I want my fair share -- and that's all of it." - Charles Koch

"This is an impressive crowd, the haves and the have-mores. Some people call you the elite. I call you my base." - George H.W. Bush

No one can argue against the virtues of optimism, hard work, and self confidence. But there is a time for righteous anger and to be silent when it should in fact be shouted from the rooftops is either cowardly... or pathetically, hopelessly dense and stupid. We are living in an age where the greed of the 80s has returned as the new norm. Actually it never went away but today's conservatives have given it a renewed life and are succeeding in preaching it to the dense masses who are too stupid to realize they are being screwed by the very people they are cheering and praising. Our government is in the back pocket of the rich and big business and they have torn our former social contract and safety nets to shreds and rigged the game entirely in their favor, with their corporate welfare and outrageous tax breaks, all the while spitting in the face of the very people who are gullibly believing their BS about the virtues of self discipline that Mrs. Smith likes to claim are so inspiring.

CEOs and the top 1-2% are seeing their incomes rise exponentially every year while the vast majority are struggling just to be able to afford health insurance, send their kids to school, pay off student loans, put food on the table, or pay their mortgage or rent each month, as they work for crap wages that barely keep them above the poverty line. Sometimes anger can indeed be a wasted emotion, but when it is justified it should not be held in check but channeled into ways that spell C-H-A-N-G-E, or even R-E-V-O-L-U-T-I-O-N. Whether that revolution means voting the pricks out of office who have made a farce out of our government and turned into an oligarchy or whether it means something else, I don't know. But the ones who are preaching this hard work and smiley face optimism all the while they've got their boots firmly planted on the necks of those they're preaching it to need to be met with the full force of anger that their platitudes, aphorisms, and hollow preaching deserve.

June 3, 2013 at 12:37 p.m.
LaughingBoy said...

Who are you to determine what a CEO should or shouldn't be paid? What stopped you from becoming a CEO? Do you think blaming Whitey is the best way for those in poverty to escape it (see Cook's latest piece of garbage)?

June 3, 2013 at 12:45 p.m.
Easy123 said...

LaughingBoy,

"Who are you to determine what a CEO should or shouldn't be paid?"

Who are you to determine what benefits/minimum wage poor people should or shouldn't be paid?

"What stopped you from becoming a CEO?"

What stopped you from being indigent?

"Do you think blaming Whitey is the best way for those in poverty to escape it (see Cook's latest piece of garbage)?"

Do you think blaming those in poverty for their circumstances and refusing them basic help is the best way to help them escape it (see any of your garbage posts)?

June 3, 2013 at 1 p.m.
Rickaroo said...

"Who are you to determine what a CEO should or shouldn't be paid? What stopped you from becoming a CEO?"

LB, you are a perfect example of someone who is too dense to even be aware of what's going on. In the first place, we are all wired differently. Some are good at business and others are not. And then there are those who do not even have the desire to enter into the business world. Of those who do, there are few among those who have the desire or drive to become CEOs. Even if EVERYBODY among the 300 million+ Americans wanted to go into business and become CEOs, how many CEOs do you think this world can take? Somebody has to do the policing, fire-protecting, garbage collecting, food-serving, cooking, cashiering, landscaping, engineering, road building, teaching, etc. And as long as those jobs serve a vital function in our society they all need to be paid a decent living wage. No one should have to make CEO wages to be able to afford health insurance or to put a roof over their heads or food on the table.

As for what a CEO should or shouldn't make: when he/she makes more every year, usually to the tune of hundreds of thousands or millions of dollars and the wages of employees at their successful businesses are kept minimal, stagnant, and don't even keep up with inflation....then CEOs are making too much.

June 3, 2013 at 1:10 p.m.
Leaf said...

Wow, even some random innocuous quotes thrown into an article is enough to get you folks fired up. I admire your passion.

June 3, 2013 at 1:12 p.m.
LaughingBoy said...

That's about what I expected...

Outside a relatively tiny few, it's not my direct say on what nearly anyone else is paid or not paid other than individual and family consumer power. I don't have class envy for those with higher income levels.

Years of school, being relatively frugal most of the time, avoiding the typical pitfalls. I know, so difficult to comprehend how doing the right things lead to good outcomes generally.

What basic help is being refused?

June 3, 2013 at 1:14 p.m.
LaughingBoy said...

You two are ignoring how those starting at less paying jobs can work their way up the ladder. Not everyone can be rich but everyone except mentally or physically disabled has it in them to live comfortably. What sickens me is how many liberals think portions of society can't overcome obstacles.

June 3, 2013 at 1:20 p.m.
Easy123 said...

LaughinBoy,

"Outside a relatively tiny few, it's not my direct say on what nearly anyone else is paid or not paid other than individual and family consumer power."

No one is saying they have the power to decide what anyone else should get paid. Making an observation that CEO's are paid an exorbitant amount of money compared to the people that work under them is simply an observation.

"I don't have class envy for those with higher income levels."

I don't either, but I'm also not oblivious to the vast income inequality in the United States.

"I know, so difficult to comprehend how doing the right things lead to good outcomes generally."

Not always. Not even most of the time actually. How many people that where "doing the right things" lost their job during the recession?

"What basic help is being refused?"

Republicans want to cut every safety-net program. Is that new news to you?

June 3, 2013 at 1:28 p.m.
Easy123 said...

LaughingBoy,

"You two are ignoring how those starting at less paying jobs can work their way up the ladder."

That is simply not true in modern America. The United States has terrible job mobility and class mobility is even worse.

"Not everyone can be rich but everyone except mentally or physically disabled has it in them to live comfortably."

Sure, in your fantasy world where everyone has a job and the ability to move up. That isn't reality though.

"What sickens me is how many liberals think portions of society can't overcome obstacles."

What sickens me is how people like yourself will use lies like that in an attempt to support your agenda of pulling the rug from under the poor. In the United States of America, some obstacles CANNOT be overcome without help.

Get your head out of the sand.

June 3, 2013 at 1:32 p.m.
Rickaroo said...

"Wow, even some random innocuous quotes thrown into an article is enough to get you folks fired up." - Leaf

Leaf, it is not the quotes themselves. I know that you know that. Like I said, who can argue against them? But most people know full well the teabagging mindset of Robin Smith. It's what she implies between the lines that is the heart of the matter. Libertarians and teabaggers are very similar in that they both despise government and especially the safety nets that government has typically provided, but they invariably fault the individual, and not the rigged system, for being in dire straits, even when they have worked hard and played by the rules. They sing the praises of hard work and self discipline but they advocate the minimizing of opportunities that actually help the poor or disadvantaged to get out of the gutter and take that first step up the ladder. They expect everybody to pull themselves up by their boot straps but they make it almost impossible for those at the bottom to even get a pair of boots. It is still possible for some people to defy the odds and rise to positions of wealth and prominence, but our oligarchic government heavily biased towards the rich has made it more difficult than ever. Most people don't want to be Bill Gates or Ed or Charles Koch, they just want to live secure, comfortable lives without having to worry about starving or losing their homes.

June 3, 2013 at 1:46 p.m.
klifnotes said...

*“Find the good and praise it.” *

Quoting Alex Haley sounds more like an attempt to change strategy, with the primary goals remaining intact. The right has been least to find the good in anything and praise it. Maybe they just think everyone is like their base who suffer from selective memory loss.

June 3, 2013 at 1:53 p.m.
LaughingBoy said...

Roo, be specific, what holds back a student at Howard High (predominantly black HS if you're not local)?

June 3, 2013 at 2:01 p.m.
klifnotes said...

LaughingBoy said... Roo, be specific, what holds back a student at Howard High (predominantly black HS if you're not local)?

I realize Rickaroo can answer for himself. But having somewhat first hand knowledge of how students at primarily black schools verses white schools are taught, I'd say problems are both a combination of teaching methods, the way discipline is handed down and the relationship teachers and staff have with the students and parents.

Students at primarily white schools aren't punished or disciplined as severely as students at white schools. and students a black schoosl are far more likely to be suspended, expelled even or now even arrested and hauled off in handcuffs for minor offenses or just because some authority figure has taken a dislike for either the student or the parent.

In predominantely white schools where everyone basically know everyone else, and are neighbors, it's unlikely they're going to allow the child of a friend, neighbor or church member to fail. I've known in white schools where a student got caught red handed with a weapon on campus, illegal drugs etc. and nothing was done, but a black student attending that school who walked into a class room a few seconds late because his locker got stock trying to open it, was either placed on in-school suspension and outright suspended. I've seen in predominantely black schools where children were sent home because they wore the wrong colored shoes to school or a rule was used to measure their end of their skirt to their knee, and the distance from hem to knee didn't meet the length requirement school rule. Stupid stuff, that over time leads to children being to stressed to learn properly and eventually dropping out altogether.

Then there's the purposeful miseducation of black students. At times even forcing them to pretend they didn't know the answer so won't appear to knowledgeable of the subject. Some teachers actually are offended when a student proves they're actually smarter than the teacher.

June 3, 2013 at 2:18 p.m.
Rickaroo said...

LB, I'm not going to get caught up in your silly game of being "specific" about whatever hypothetical pops into your mind. Of course, anyone with some intelligence and a modicum of self discipline can still get ahead in today's world but Republicans have succeeded in starving what they like to call "the beast" and stripping so many government programs of their efficacy in helping people who need it the most get a leg up. They keep calling for austerity and budget cuts to bring down the deficit but they want those cuts to be made only in those areas that affect the poor and the middle class. They won't dare to venture into those areas that affect our bloated military or the corporations or the rich. I have had my say on the matter and it stands on its own. I have better things to do than to fritter my time away playing mental tug-of-war with you winguts. You know my stance, I know yours. 'Nuff said.

Klifnotes, good post from someone who obviously has some experience in that field.

June 3, 2013 at 2:45 p.m.
LaughingBoy said...

More excuses. I'm done, too.

June 3, 2013 at 2:57 p.m.
Easy123 said...

LaughingBoy,

You asked for specifics and you got them. Now you're calling them excuses. Most people just call it reality. The United States isn't the fantasy world you think it is where everyone has the same opportunities and anyone can move up the economic ladder.

You've been done since the start. You're willfully ignorant and oblivious to the facts.

June 3, 2013 at 3:02 p.m.
conservative said...

Ms Smith,

About 90% of your article are the uplifting words of others of which you added some positive words of your own, yet you have received great opposition from the usual.

Do I as I do and don't even bother to read them. Their names are all you need to know to know their tone.

You mentioned God and that was all it took.

Just remember Mathew 5:11-12 and rejoice!

June 3, 2013 at 4:41 p.m.
daytonsdarwin said...

Having the support of Conservative, a god-quoting and bible-thumping fundamentalist hypocrite, does not bode well for Smith. It's similar to being endorsed by the KKK, Fred Phelps, and Flat-Earth Society.

"The best cure for Christianity is to read the Bible." Mark Twain

June 3, 2013 at 6 p.m.
Facts said...

Well, after just walking in from a great day at work, I have to thank each commenter for your contribution to our staff meeting this afternoon and the new questions that will be added to our HR screening. All agreed that folks who can't work with others and who don't pursue opportunity but live in anger aren't good hires.

Find the good and praise it. Find the bad and make sure it stays outside your company.

June 3, 2013 at 8:02 p.m.
daytonsdarwin said...

Facts, since you were a Greg Vital supporter, did you ask HR to check when someone claimed to have graduated from college?

June 4, 2013 at 8:28 a.m.
Rickaroo said...

"All agreed that folks who can't work with others and who don't pursue opportunity but live in anger aren't good hires...Find the good and praise it. Find the bad and make sure it stays outside your company." - Facts

Yes, the plantation owners back in the day hated those angry uppity ni#gers too. They always preferred having team players working their fields, who sang while they worked and didn't rock the boat. Plantation owners and today's corporate America are separated by a couple of centuries but they still think a lot alike.

June 4, 2013 at 11:26 a.m.
LaughingBoy said...

Yeah, expecting employees to act like something is a plantation mentality..this is easily one of the dumbest things I've ever read on here.

June 6, 2013 at 12:42 p.m.
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