Friday, February 11, 2005

Manners, Courtesy, Discipline & Racing

One more time to wrap up this thread for the moment. I was reviewing several blogs today while waiting for the rain to stop to let my friends and I go racing. (It kept raining all day)

If you are a regular to this blog you know that I believe in having some fun. Even at work, in fact if you are not having fun at work, stay home. Find something else to do. (See the post: “At Work, What is Important”)

There are priorities in life, and the NHRA Winternationals fit into that priority area. Life is too short not to take some breaks to just have some fun. Not to steal a line from a movie but, there is nothing like the smell of nitro-methane in the morning!

Recently there have been several posts about courtesy and manners and the lack thereof in customer service these days. (see the posts “What Does Business Need?” and “It’s Courtesy, Stupid”) I have even gotten one of the site readers, Ralph to comment several times (I thank Ralph for that) on the same issues and he has a wonderful perspective.

“Manners are indeed a problem. Mine are weaker and less principled than my parents (coming to adulthood in the 60's) and my sons are weaker than mine but more principled,” Ralph says.

Boy do I resemble that remark! Spot on. Our young people do have strong principles, in some cases the right ones, and in some cases the wrong ones. Which is which? I believe determined by people like Ralph and me as parents who have been involved or not.

Again Ralph hits it on the nose with, “My sons have a strong sense of right - particularly their right but not a strong sense of a right way to do things (courtesy and manners). They reject anything formal or specifically defined.” My two sons and one daughter are the same but I have never been able to put it quite so eloquently.

“I look at the public graciousness that used to be common in America as a golden time. My sons see those times as rigid and formal - not human and personal.” concludes Ralph.
There is wisdom in those comments. It is not that the young and the younger don’t have any sense of right or wrong, but they struggle with how to actualize that in their lives.

What brings this thread up once again is an article that says “Forget Self Esteem and Work on Self Control” by Roy F. Baumeister a professor of psychology at Florida State University (,1249,600109781,00.html) and the same article titled, “The Lowdown in High Self-Esteem” from the LATimes. There was also a post on Charles Colson’s site named “Forget about Self Esteem” by John Fischer ( that refers to Professor Baumeister's article.

Dr. Baumeister has studied self esteem since 1973 and now concludes that, “In short, despite the enthusiastic embrace of self-esteem, we found that it conferred only two benefits. It feels good and it supports initiative.

Those are nice, but they are far less than we had once hoped for, and it is very questionable whether they justify the effort and expense that schools, parents and therapists have put into raising self-esteem.

After all these years, I'm sorry to say, my recommendation is this: Forget about self-esteem and concentrate more on self-control and self-discipline.

Recent work suggests this would be good for the individual and good for society — and might even be able to fill some of those promises that self-esteem once made but could not keep.

High self-esteem doesn't prevent youngsters from cheating or stealing or experimenting with drugs and sex. (If anything, kids with high self-esteem may be more willing to try these things at a young age.)

Self-esteem doesn't predict who will make a good leader, and some work (including that of psychologist Robert Hogan writing in the Harvard Business Review) has found humility rather than self-esteem to be a key trait of successful leaders.”

All this comes to mean in the words of John Fischer, “high self esteem doesn’t make you any better, it only makes you think you are better which in the end, makes you worse.”

Now, lets go back to Its Courtesy, Stupid. Its manners, its discipline and it is a lifetime of learning how to apply them to the people we interact with. Self control and self discipline and taking responsibility for your actions and your words.

Hopefully this will help us all wake up and smell the roses. They still smell wonderful, but getting them from the store in the right packaging, with the right change from the cash register, with a smile and a good attitude is something we all need to work on.



At 9:45 AM, Blogger Ralph said...

I hated the self-esteem program my sons were caught up in during elementary school. It seemed wrong at the time but I never engaged in much thinking about it - just accepted it as part of the package I had to accept with public education. (Home schooling never even entered my consiousness at the time). Now I see it as incidious undermining of any attempt at discipline by parents. How can I hold my sons accountable for their school performance (not up to snuff) when the school says they are great?

At 6:53 PM, Blogger livingthedream said...


I have the same issues, a parent cannot discipline any more. The kids have all the rights and are fed how great they are and parents can go to jail or be ridiculed for stepping in to make corrections. We have lost the ability to direct our own families.

On top of all of that, think of the BILLIONS of dollars that schools have put into the self-esteem programs over the years. The teacher training, the community outreach and the rest.

And what have we gotten? Better kids? Better Grades? Just demands from schools and teachers unions for more money to solve the problems.

Why are so few graduating when their self esteem is pumped up so high? I guess they dont think they need an education.

You know I believe that the schools and the NEA dont have any mirrors in their buildings. They cannot see the problem.



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