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Michael Josephson of Character Counts

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Re: Michael Josephson of Character Counts

Post  Admin on Sat 13 Jul 2013, 8:36 pm

If It's Broken, Try to Fix It

  By Michael Josephson of CHARACTER COUNTS(784.3) 

Former President Jimmy Carter was 70 years old when he
wrote this poem about his father: 

  This is a pain I mostly hide,
  But ties of blood or seed endure.
  And even now I feel inside
  The hunger for his outstretched hand.
  A man's embrace to take me in; 
  The need for just a word of praise.

Isn't it extraordinary that even after a life of
monumental achievements, President Carter still feels
pain when he thinks of his father, who either could not
feel or would not express love and approval?
Unfortunately, there are many people in his shoes, left
with bitter feelings and enduring wounds inflicted by
their parents.

Yet not all bad parents are bad people. Caring parents
can unintentionally injure children through excessive
harshness or permissiveness, or through well-intended
criticism and advice that comes out as relentless
disapproval or oppressive negativity. Kids not only
need to know they're loved; they need to feel worthy of
our love. They need to be valued not simply because
they're ours, but because of who they are.

It's never too late to try to fix whatever's broken:
Express caring, pride, and approval more lavishly and
often.
Be less critical, more helpful, less controlling.
Set aside your need to be right.
Be less self-righteous and more respectful toward those
you love.
Be sincerely accountable and genuinely apologize, even
if it's not enough.
It's not always possible to fix things that are broken,
but it's worth a try. 

This is Michael Josephson reminding you that character
counts. 

(c) 2013 Josephson Institute of Ethics; reprinted with
permission. Michael Josephson, one of the nation's
leading ethicists, is the founder of the Josephson
Institute of Ethics and the premier youth character
education program, CHARACTER COUNTS! For further
information visit www.charactercounts.org.
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Re: Michael Josephson of Character Counts

Post  Admin on Sun 30 Jun 2013, 10:27 pm

A Person of Character

  By Michael Josephson of Character Counts (798.3) 

Let's face it, it's not easy to become a person of
character. It takes a good heart, but it also requires
wisdom to know right from wrong and the discipline to
do right even when it's costly, inconvenient or
difficult. Becoming a person of character is a lifelong
quest to be better.

A person of character values honesty and integrity and
pays whatever price is needed to be worthy of trust,
earning the pride of family and friends and
self-respect.

A person of character plays fair even when others don't
and values no achievement unless it was attained with
honor.

A person of character has strong convictions, yet
avoids self-righteousness.

A person of character believes in the inherent dignity
of all people and treats everyone with respect, even
those whose ideas and ideologies evoke strong
disagreement.

A person of character deals with criticism
constructively and is self-confident enough to take
good advice, admit and learn from mistakes, feel and
express genuine remorse and apologize graciously.

A person of character knows what's important,
sacrifices the now for later, is in control of
attitudes and actions, overcomes negative impulses and
makes the best of every situation.

A person of character willingly faces fears and tackles
unpleasant tasks.

A person of character is consistently and
self-consciously kind and empathetic, giving generously
without concern for reward.

A person of character feels and expresses gratitude
freely and frequently.

A person of character is not defeated by failure or
dissuaded by disappointment.

A person of character seeks true happiness in living a
life of purpose and meaning, placing a higher value on
significance than success.

This is Michael Josephson reminding you that character
counts. 

(c) 2013 Josephson Institute of Ethics; reprinted with
permission. Michael Josephson, one of the nation's
leading ethicists, is the founder of the Josephson
Institute of Ethics and the premier youth character
education program, CHARACTER COUNTS! For further
information visit www.charactercounts.org.
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Re: Michael Josephson of Character Counts

Post  Admin on Sun 02 Jun 2013, 6:25 pm

Authentic Apology

By Michael Josephson of Character Counts (785.5)

"I'm sorry."

These are powerful words. Authentic apologies can work
like a healing ointment on old wounds, dissolve bitter
grudges, and repair damaged relationships. They
encourage both parties to let go of toxic emotions like
anger and guilt, and provide a fresh foundation of
mutual respect.

But authentic apologies involve much more than words
expressing sorrow; they require accountability,
remorse, and repentance.

An accountable apology involves a sincere
acknowledgment that the apologizer did something wrong.
"I'm sorry your feelings were hurt" is a fake apology
because it accepts no personal responsibility.

A better apology is "I'm sorry I hurt your feelings."
An even better one reveals an understanding of the
wrongdoing from the point of view of the person injured
and asks for forgiveness. "I'm sorry I called you a bad
mother. I was speaking out of anger, and I ask you to
forgive me." Given the natural human tendency to
interpret our own words and actions in a manner most
favorable to us, it takes great self-awareness to be
accountable.

An authentic apology also conveys remorse. It's easier
to forgive persons who have hurt us if we believe they
have suffered some pain themselves in the form of
regret, sorrow, or shame. Self-inflicted guilt is a
form of penance or reparation that clears the road to
forgiveness.

Accountability and remorse must also be joined by
repentance--recognizing something we did was wrong,
coupled with a credible commitment to not do it again.
Without such a commitment, an apology is hollow. Thus,
repetitive apologies for the same conduct are
meaningless and often offensive. "I'm sorry" is not a
Get Out of Jail Free card that lets people off the hook
who repeatedly break promises, get drunk, or say cruel
things.

It takes character to both give and accept an authentic
apology.

This is Michael Josephson reminding you that character
counts.

(c) 2013 Josephson Institute of Ethics; reprinted with
permission. Michael Josephson, one of the nation's
leading ethicists, is the founder of the Josephson
Institute of Ethics and the premier youth character
education program, CHARACTER COUNTS! For further
information visit www.charactercounts.org.
avatar
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Re: Michael Josephson of Character Counts

Post  Admin on Sun 26 May 2013, 9:51 pm

Live Backwards

By Michael Josephson of Character Counts (800.2)

Ben just came to town as a new rabbi. Unfortunately,
his first official duty was to conduct a funeral
service for Albert, a man who died in his eighties with
no relatives. Since Ben didn't know the deceased
personally, he paused from his sermon to ask if anyone
in the congregation would say something good about
Albert. There was no response. Ben asked again: "Many
of you knew Albert for years, surely someone can say
something nice."

After an uncomfortable pause, a voice from the back of
the room said, "Well, his brother was worse."

If you died tomorrow, what would people say about you?
Would it make you proud of the way you lived and the
choices you made?

Thinking about the legacy we leave can help us keep our
priorities straight. Few people would be satisfied with
an epitaph like: "She always got what she wanted." Or
"He never missed a deadline."

There's an old saying, "If you want to know how to live
your life, think about what you'd like people to say
about you after you die ... and live backwards." The
idea is that we earn our eulogy by our everyday
choices.

In his book, "When Everything You Ever Wanted Isn't
Enough," Harold Kushner writes: "Our souls are not
hungry for fame, comfort, wealth, or power. Our souls
are hungry for meaning, for the sense that we have
figured out how to live so that our lives matter, so
that the world will be at least a little bit different
for our having passed through it."

This is Michael Josephson reminding you that character
counts.

(c) 2013 Josephson Institute of Ethics; reprinted with
permission. Michael Josephson, one of the nation's
leading ethicists, is the founder of the Josephson
Institute of Ethics and the premier youth character
education program, CHARACTER COUNTS! For further
information visit www.charactercounts.org.
avatar
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Re: Michael Josephson of Character Counts

Post  Admin on Sat 18 May 2013, 10:32 pm

The Nature of Character

By Michael Josephson of Character Counts (798.2)

Abraham Lincoln was very concerned with character, but
he also was aware of the importance of having a good
reputation. He explained the difference this way:
"Character is like a tree and reputation like its
shadow. The shadow is what we think of it; the tree is
the real thing."

Put another way, your reputation is what people think
of you, your character is what you actually are.

In a world preoccupied with image, it's easy to worry
too much about our reputation and too little about our
character. Building a reputation is largely a public
relations project; building character requires us to
focus on our values and actions. Noble rhetoric and
good intentions aren't enough.

What we're looking for is moral strength based on
ethical principles. Character is revealed by actions,
not words, especially when there's a gap between what
we want to do and what we should do, and when doing the
right thing costs more than we want to pay.

Our character is revealed by how we deal with pressures
and temptations. But it's also disclosed by everyday
actions, including what we say and do when we think no
one is looking and we won't get caught. The way we
treat people we think can't help or hurt us, like
housekeepers, waiters, and secretaries, tells more
about our character than how we treat people we think
are important. People who are honest, kind, and fair
only when there is something to gain shouldn't be
confused with people of real character who demonstrate
these qualities habitually, under all circumstances.

Character is not a fancy coat we put on for show; it's
who we really are.

This is Michael Josephson reminding you that character
counts.

© 2013 Josephson Institute of Ethics; reprinted with
permission. Michael Josephson, one of the nation's
leading ethicists, is the founder of the Josephson
Institute of Ethics and the premier youth character
education program, CHARACTER COUNTS! For further
information visit www.charactercounts.org.
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I Just Talk to People

Post  Admin on Sun 21 Apr 2013, 7:07 pm

I Just Talk to People
By Michael Josephson of Character Counts (795.1)

Marta was a hard-working single mother. When her
minister sermonized about "living a life that matters,"
she worried that working to raise her kids and going to
church wasn't enough. So, on the bus to work she made a
list of other jobs she could do and volunteer work she
could try.

Sylvia, an elderly woman, saw the worry on Marta's face
and asked what was wrong. Marta explained her problem.
Sylvia said, "Oh my, did your minister say you weren't
doing enough?"

"No," Marta said, "But I don't know how to live 'a life
that matters'."

"You don't have to change jobs or do more volunteer
work," Sylvia consoled her. "It's enough that you're a
good mother. But if you want to do more, think about
what you can do while doing what you already do. It's
not about what you do, but how you do it."

"You don't understand," Marta said. "I sell hamburgers.
How do I make that significant?"

"How many people do you deal with every day?" Sylvia
asked.

"Two to three hundred."

"Well, what if you set out to cheer, encourage, teach
or inspire as many of those people as you could? A
compliment, a bit of advice, a cheerful hello or a warm
smile can start a chain reaction that lights up lives
like an endless string of Christmas bulbs."

"But that's just being nice," Marta protested.

"Right," said Sylvia, "Niceness can change lives."

Marta looked at the old woman. "What do you do?"

"I was a housekeeper until I retired," Sylvia said.
"Now I just ride the bus, talking to people."

This is Michael Josephson reminding you that character
counts.

(c) 2013 Josephson Institute of Ethics; reprinted with
permission. Michael Josephson, one of the nation's
leading ethicists, is the founder of the Josephson
Institute of Ethics and the premier youth character
education program, CHARACTER COUNTS! For further
information visit www.charactercounts.org.
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Re: Michael Josephson of Character Counts

Post  Admin on Tue 09 Apr 2013, 9:00 pm

The Illusion of Success

By Michael Josephson of Character Counts (789.3)

A common management strategy to spur achievement is to
set aggressive performance objectives that, like the
mechanical rabbits that pace racing greyhounds, push
employees to maximum effort. Using "stretch goals" can
be successful, but unreasonably high performance goals
often spawn dishonesty and irresponsibility.

Believing that "it's a matter of survival," a
disturbing number of employees conclude that
distortion, deception, and even outright falsification
of numbers are justified to keep their jobs and earn
their bonuses. As a result, almost everyone seems to
reach their stretch goals, and management congratulates
itself on generating an unbroken string of double-digit
growth.

Organizational audits conducted by the Josephson
Institute reveal that a high percentage of employees
who feel pressured to achieve ever-escalating numerical
goals ignore or defer problems and manipulate or
falsify reports to help them "hit their numbers." The
deceptive accounting tactics that caused a collapse of
trust in Wall Street and the mortgage industry
illustrate one coping strategy called "backing into the
numbers."

Look, pressure is no excuse for cheating, but it is a
frequent cause. Responsible management needs to take
into account the propensity of employees to tell them
what they want to hear. There's nothing wrong with
aggressive growth and profit goals, but if
organizations do not place an even higher value on
character in their hiring, training, promotion,
compensation, and discipline practices, all they will
achieve is the illusion of success.

This is Michael Josephson reminding you that character
counts.

(c) 2013 Josephson Institute of Ethics; reprinted with
permission. Michael Josephson, one of the nation's
leading ethicists, is the founder of the Josephson
Institute of Ethics and the premier youth character
education program, CHARACTER COUNTS! For further
information visit www.charactercounts.org
avatar
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Re: Michael Josephson of Character Counts

Post  Admin on Sat 16 Mar 2013, 8:29 pm

Slow Dance
By Michael Josephson of Character Counts (789.2)

I once heard the chairman and CEO of a huge public
company tell a roomful of ambitious, hardworking,
dedicated executives that if he had to do it all over
again, he would have spent more time with his family.
That's not news, but to Type-A personalities, it's
easier said than done.

David L. Weatherford's poem "Slow Dance" sends the
message in a particularly compelling way:

Have you ever watched kids on a merry-go-round
Or listened to rain slapping on the ground?
Ever followed a butterfly's erratic flight
Or gazed at the sun fading into the night?
You better slow down, don't dance so fast,
Time is short, the music won't last.

Do you run through each day on the fly?
When you ask, "How are you?" do you hear the reply?
When the day is done, do you lie in your bed
With the next hundred chores running through your head?
You better slow down, don't dance so fast,
Time is short, the music won't last.

Ever told your child, "We'll do it tomorrow,"
And in your haste not seen his sorrow?
Ever lost touch, let a good friendship die,
'Cause you never had time to call and say hi?
You better slow down, don't dance so fast,
Time is short, the music won't last.

When you run so fast to get somewhere,
You miss half the fun of getting there.
When you worry and hurry through your day,
It's like an unopened gift thrown away.
Life is not a race, so take it slower,
Hear the music before your song is over.

The question isn't whether this makes sense to you.
It's what are you going to do about it, and when are
you going to start?

This is Michael Josephson reminding you that character
counts.

(c) 2013 Josephson Institute of Ethics; reprinted with
permission. Michael Josephson, one of the nation's
leading ethicists, is the founder of the Josephson
Institute of Ethics and the premier youth character
education program, CHARACTER COUNTS! For further
information visit www.charactercounts.org
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Re: Michael Josephson of Character Counts

Post  Admin on Tue 05 Mar 2013, 11:08 pm

A Call for More Civility

By Michael Josephson of Character Counts (787.4)

When George Washington was 16, he discovered a booklet
of 110 maxims describing how a well-mannered person
should behave. He was so convinced that these maxims
would help him become a better person that he set out
to incorporate them into his daily living. Among
Washington's many virtues, his commitment to civility
marked him as a gentleman and helped him become a
universally respected and enormously effective leader.

By today's standards, Washington's notions of civility
seem quaint and old-fashioned, but the purpose of
manners and etiquette is to soften relationships with
respect and to treat others graciously.

Instead of updating our concept of manners to accord
with modern lifestyles, we seem to be abandoning the
notion of civility entirely. We're exposed to heavy
doses of tactless, nasty, and cruel remarks on daytime
talk shows, dating games, and courtroom and reality
programs.

As a result, we've produced a generation that's
comfortable being brutish and malicious and a society
that's increasingly coarse and unpleasant.

In a tense world full of conflicts, frustrations, and
competition, civility is an important social lubricant
that helps us live together constructively. If we care
about the world we're making for our children, we need
to be less tolerant of mean-spirited, discourteous, and
impolite remarks and do a better job of teaching and
modeling civility.

This is Michael Josephson reminding you that character
counts.

(c) 2013 Josephson Institute of Ethics; reprinted with
permission. Michael Josephson, one of the nation's
leading ethicists, is the founder of the Josephson
Institute of Ethics and the premier youth character
education program, CHARACTER COUNTS! For further
information visit www.charactercounts.org.
avatar
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Re: Michael Josephson of Character Counts

Post  Admin on Sun 24 Feb 2013, 8:28 pm

Authentic Apology

By Michael Josephson of Character Counts (785.5)

"I'm sorry."

These are powerful words. Authentic apologies can work
like a healing ointment on old wounds, dissolve bitter
grudges, and repair damaged relationships. They
encourage both parties to let go of toxic emotions like
anger and guilt and provide a fresh foundation of
mutual respect.

But authentic apologies involve much more than words
expressing sorrow; they require accountability,
remorse, and repentance.

An accountable apology involves a sincere
acknowledgment that the apologizer did something wrong.
"I'm sorry your feelings were hurt" is a fake apology
because it accepts no personal responsibility.

A better apology is "I'm sorry I hurt your feelings."
An even better one reveals an understanding of the
wrongdoing from the point of view of the person injured
and asks for forgiveness. "I'm sorry I called you a bad
mother. I was speaking out of anger, and I ask you to
forgive me." Given the natural human tendency to
interpret our own words and actions in a manner most
favorable to us, it takes great self-awareness to be
accountable.

An authentic apology also conveys remorse. It's easier
to forgive persons who have hurt us if we believe they
have suffered some pain themselves in the form of
regret, sorrow, or shame. Self-inflicted guilt is a
form of penance or reparation that clears the road to
forgiveness.

Accountability and remorse must also be joined by
repentance--recognizing something we did was wrong
coupled with a credible commitment to not do it again.
Without such a commitment, an apology is hollow. Thus,
repetitive apologies for the same conduct are
meaningless and often offensive. "I'm sorry" is not a
Get Out of Jail Free card that lets people off the hook
who repeatedly break promises, get drunk, or say cruel
things.

It takes character to both give and accept an authentic
apology.

This is Michael Josephson reminding you that
character counts.

(c) 2013 Josephson Institute of Ethics; reprinted with
permission. Michael Josephson, one of the nation's
leading ethicists, is the founder of the Josephson
Institute of Ethics and the premier youth character
education program, CHARACTER COUNTS! For further
information visit www.charactercounts.org.
avatar
Admin
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Re: Michael Josephson of Character Counts

Post  Admin on Sun 10 Feb 2013, 8:57 pm

Rebuilding Your Life and Reputation

By Michael Josephson of Character Counts (784.2)

Larry wrote me the following letter: "I've been a small
businessman for almost 23 years in a business where
people lie, cheat, and steal. I'm sorry to say I became
one of them. In the short term it may have helped, but
long term it came back to haunt me. There's no amount
of success that's worth it. I am now 48 years old. I
have lost my good name; my values and my ethics have
been destroyed. Is there any way I will ever be able to
restore my reputation and lead a life of integrity?"

What a pity that so many people delude themselves into
believing that traditional ethical principles like
honesty and integrity don't apply in the business
world. They govern their daily decisions by
pragmatism--what works--without reference to
principles--what's right. And, piece-by-piece,
decision-by-decision, they sell their souls and sully
their names until they find themselves naked and alone
on the barren wasteland of moral compromise.

The good news is that Larry can start leading a life of
integrity immediately. He can redeem himself and become
a man of character simply by choosing to be honest,
responsible, respectful, caring and fair.*

The bad news is that his reputation will take longer to
restore. Character is what you really are; reputation
is what people think of you. And since people are more
likely to judge us by our last worst act rather than
our most virtuous habits, rebuilding a reputation can
take years of honorable living.

This is Michael Josephson reminding you that character
counts.

(c) 2013 Josephson Institute of Ethics; reprinted with
permission. Michael Josephson, one of the nation's
leading ethicists, is the founder of the Josephson
Institute of Ethics and the premier youth character
education program, CHARACTER COUNTS! For further
information visit www.charactercounts.org.

* Ed. note: Further good news is that when we fall and
fail, God will forgive us if we confess and ask him to.
Furthermore, we can always enlist his help through
prayer, when we get up to start anew.
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Re: Michael Josephson of Character Counts

Post  Admin on Sun 20 Jan 2013, 10:13 am

Moving Beyond Success to Significance

by Michael Josephson, Character Counts (428.1)

Most people I know strive for success. For some it's
achieving high position, for others it's wealth, and
for still others it's achieving some long-held goal. As
the final definition of success is personal, success
may be no more than "getting what you want."

Success can be sweet or disappointing; durable or
short-lived. But either way, it's not an adequate
destination. Management guru Peter Drucker writes about
the need of many highly successful people to move
beyond their success to "significance."

Success is about achievements; significance is about
impact. Significance is having a meaningful positive
and durable impact on the lives of others.

According to legend, Alfred Nobel discovered the
difference when he read his own obituary mistakenly
printed by a newspaper that thought he had died. It was
a flattering profile of the brilliant chemist who made
a fortune as the inventor of dynamite, but it depressed
Mr. Nobel, who felt certain that these achievements
would not be long remembered. Determined to leave a
more significant legacy, he established the Nobel
Prizes for human achievements.

Mr. Nobel realized that there's a kind of immortality
in significance. Sure, a life devoted to accomplishing
personal goals can be worthy and satisfying, but it can
be enormously enriched when we consciously use our
talents and time to improve the lives of others.

In "Living a Life That Matters," Harold Kushner writes,
"Our souls are not hungry for fame, comfort, wealth or
power. Our souls are hungry for meaning, for the sense
that we have figured out how to live so that our lives
matter, so that the world will be at least a little bit
different for our having passed through it."

This is Michael Josephson reminding you that character
counts.

(c) 2006 Josephson Institute of Ethics; reprinted with
permission. Michael Josephson, one of the nation's
leading ethicists, is the founder of the Josephson
Institute of Ethics and the premier youth character
education program, CHARACTER COUNTS! For further
information visit www.charactercounts.org.
avatar
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Re: Michael Josephson of Character Counts

Post  Admin on Sun 13 Jan 2013, 8:00 pm

Lessons from the Monkey Pot

By Michael Josephson of Character Counts (775.3)

Many years ago a man came to a village in India to
catch monkeys so he could sell them to zoos. The
monkeys, however, were very clever and every sort of
trap he set failed. A young boy watched the man's
pathetic efforts and laughed.

The man said, "If you can catch me a monkey I'll give
you $2." (That was a huge amount of money then.)

The boy went to his home and took a clay pot with a
narrow neck. He placed a few nuts around the pot and
put lots of nuts inside. He then tied the pot to a tree
and he told the man, "We should have a monkey in a few
hours. Let's wait in the village. The monkey will call
us when he is ready."

Sure enough, a band of monkeys soon discovered the nuts
and the pot. One slipped his hand in the pot and
grabbed a handful of nuts, but he couldn't pull his
hand out of the narrow opening of the pot because his
fist was clenched. The monkey panicked and started
making loud noises. Some of the other monkeys tried
unsuccessfully to pull the pot off his hand.

The boy and the man heard the ruckus and the boy got a
sack. As they approached the monkeys, they all ran away
except the one with its hand in the pot. The boy
grabbed the monkey and the pot. The man was amazed and
asked the boy the secret of his monkey trap. "Why was
it so easy for the monkey to get his hand in but so
hard to get it out?"

The boy laughed and said, "The monkey could have easily
got his hand back out and escaped, but he would have
had to let go of the nuts in the pot, and he just
wasn't willing to let go. They never are."

What lessons can be learned from this story? Do people
sometimes trap themselves by holding onto things that
they should let go? Do you?

This story is often used to illustrate the power of
greed. People get trapped by the trappings of success,
by wealth, and by a limitless desire to acquire and
hold onto material things--even when the things they
hold do not give them what they want or need. But there
are other dimensions to the story as well. Many people
trap themselves by holding onto negative
feelings--resentment, anger, and jealousy--that both
lessen and limit their lives. Like the monkey who
derives no pleasure or nourishment from the nuts he
holds in his hand, we can derive nothing of value from
these negative emotions. Many of us could improve our
lives instantly by the simple act of letting go.

It's so simple, yet so hard.

This is Michael Josephson reminding you that character
counts.

(c) 2013 Josephson Institute of Ethics; reprinted with
permission. Michael Josephson, one of the nation's
leading ethicists, is the founder of the Josephson
Institute of Ethics and the premier youth character
education program, CHARACTER COUNTS! For further
information visit www.charactercounts.org.
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Re: Michael Josephson of Character Counts

Post  Admin on Sat 01 Dec 2012, 7:50 pm

Are You Wiser Today Than Yesterday?
Things I've Learned

By Michael Josephson of CHARACTER COUNTS (761.3)

Do you think you're any wiser today than you were five
years ago? Do you think you'll be wiser still in
another five years? I hope the answer to both questions
is an emphatic "yes."

One of the benefits of growing older is getting better.
And we get better by learning. I'm not just talking
about increasing our knowledge of new facts like how a
volcanic eruption in Iceland can prevent airline
traffic in most of Europe.

I'm talking about acquiring usable nuggets of wisdom
that can change our lives. I've talked about my own
life insights and re-packaged them in lots of ways, but
here's another attempt to condense some of the things
that make me wiser than I was.

For starters, I've learned that as long as I'm willing
to learn, I can learn. Just as important, I've become
more open to learning by realizing that the fact that
I'm wiser today doesn't mean I was foolish or
incompetent before. This is what I mean when I say,
"You don't have to be sick to get better."

I've also come to accept that no matter how old I am,
my life and character are works in process, and that
there will always be a gap between who I am and who I
want to be.

I've learned that it's easy to mask moral compromises
with rationalizations, and that my character is
revealed not by my words or intentions, but by my
willingness to do the right thing even when it costs
more than I want to pay.

I've learned that my character is more important than
my competence, and that being significant is more
important than being successful.

I've learned that I often judge myself by my good
intentions, but that I'll be judged by my last worst
act.

I've learned that the surest road to happiness is good
relationships, and that striving to be a good person is
the surest road to good relationships.

Finally, I've learned that pain is inevitable, but
suffering is optional and that it's not what happens to
me that matters most, but what happens in me.

This is Michael Josephson reminding you that character
counts.

(c) 2012 Josephson Institute of Ethics; reprinted with
permission. Michael Josephson, one of the nation's
leading ethicists, is the founder of the Josephson
Institute of Ethics and the premier youth character
education program, CHARACTER COUNTS! For further
information visit www.charactercounts.org.
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Turning Stumbling Blocks to Stepping Stones

Post  Admin on Sun 25 Nov 2012, 6:08 pm

Turning Stumbling Blocks to Stepping Stones

By Michael Josephson of CHARACTER COUNTS (761.3)

The best way to teach our children to succeed is to
teach them to fail [successfully].

After all, if getting everything you want on the first
try is success, and everything else is failure, we all
fail much more often than we succeed.

People who learn how to grow from unsuccessful efforts
succeed more often and at higher levels because they
become wiser and tougher.

Two great American inventors, Thomas Edison and Charles
Kettering mastered the art of building success on a
foundation of what others might call failure.

Edison liked to say he "failed his way to success,"
noting that every time he tried something that didn't
work, he moved closer to what did. "Now I know one more
thing that doesn't work," he would say. The lesser
known Kettering (head of research for General Motors
from 1920-1947) talked about "failing forward," calling
every wrong attempt a "practice shot."

The strength of both men was that their creativity and
confidence was undiminished by setbacks and
unsuccessful efforts. They accepted that trial and
error is an essential strategy for breakthrough
innovation and simply rejected the notion of failure.
Thomas Watson, the founder of IBM, cautioned his
leaders from being so careful that they never failed.
He went so far as to say, "The way to succeed is to
double your failure rate."

Of course, failure is never desirable, but it is
inevitable; and with a proper attitude, can be quite
useful. The only way to avoid failure is to avoid the
risks and challenges, and that probably is a case of
real failure. The great hockey player Wayne Gretzky
used to say, "You miss 100% of the shots you don't
take."

Whatever your goal, whether it's to get something, do
something, or improve yourself as a person or
professional, the secret of success is learning to
transform unsuccessful experiences from stumbling
blocks to stepping stones.

Three qualities can turn adversity into advantage: a
positive perspective, reflection, and perseverance.

First, learn from the inventors. Don't allow yourself
to think of any failure as final, and never allow
unsuccessful efforts to discourage you or cause you to
give up. Remember, failure is an event, not a person.
Even failing repeatedly can't defeat you unless you
start thinking of yourself as a failure. The way you
think about your experiences shapes the experience in
ways that either stimulate or stymie further efforts.

Second, don't waste the experience. Unsuccessful
efforts are wasted and debilitating only if you don't
learn from them. Reflect on your actions, attitudes and
the results to discover the lesson within the
experience and use that knowledge to guide future
efforts.

Third, persevere. Try and try again. Just be smarter
each time.

And finally, learn to enjoy the process. Simply being
absorbed in the pursuit of any change that will improve
your life or the lives of others is a blessing.

This is Michael Josephson reminding you that character
counts.

(c) 2012 Josephson Institute of Ethics; reprinted with
permission. Michael Josephson, one of the nation's
leading ethicists, is the founder of the Josephson
Institute of Ethics and the premier youth character
education program, CHARACTER COUNTS! For further
information visit www.charactercounts.org.
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Re: Michael Josephson of Character Counts

Post  Admin on Mon 12 Nov 2012, 9:30 pm

The Six Pillars of Character

By Michael Josephson of Character Counts (676.4)

I've talked before about the importance of making moral
judgments. The idea is not to encourage categorizing or
labeling the character of others, but to clarify
personal moral obligations in terms of specific values
and attributes that make us better people and produce a
better society.

The most effective framework I know is built on six
core ethical values called the Six Pillars of
Character: trustworthiness, respect, responsibility,
fairness, caring, and citizenship.

If you want to be a person of character:

First, be worthy of trust; live with honor and
integrity; be honest, keep your promises, and do what's
right even when it costs more than you want to pay.

Second, treat others with respect; live by the Golden
Rule; and avoid physical violence, verbal abuse,
prejudice, and all other acts that demean or offend
human dignity.

Third, be responsible; exercise self-discipline and
self-restraint; do your best, be self-reliant, and be
accountable for the consequences of your choices.

Fourth, strive to be fair, don't cheat, be open and
consistent, don't jump to conclusions, and be careful
in making judgments about others.

Fifth, be caring, kind, empathetic, and charitable;
avoid selfishness; and do what you can to improve the
lives of others.

Sixth, be a good citizen, do your share to make your
community better, protect the environment, participate
in democratic processes, play by the rules, and obey
laws (unless you have a compelling conscientious
objection).

This is Michael Josephson reminding you that character
counts.1

Ed. Note: To these Six Pillars of Character I would
like to add a seventh pillar: Personal Honesty. Unless
a person is honest with his/her inner self (including
one's true emotions and motives), he/she cannot always
be trusted in the things he/she says or does, and also
regarding the deeper issues of life. See Psalm 51:6
where God says that he desires truth in the inward
parts.

1. (c) 2012 Josephson Institute of Ethics; reprinted
with permission. Michael Josephson, one of the nation's
leading ethicists, is the founder of the Josephson
Institute of Ethics and the premier youth character
education program, CHARACTER COUNTS! For further
information visit www.charactercounts.org.
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Re: Michael Josephson of Character Counts

Post  Admin on Sun 04 Nov 2012, 10:12 pm

Happiness Is a Choice

By Michael Josephson of Character Counts (683.1)

In a Peanuts cartoon, Lucy asks Charlie Brown, "Why do
you think we were put on earth?"

Charlie answers, "To make others happy."

Lucy replies, "I don't think I'm making anyone happy,"
and then adds, "but nobody's making me very happy
either. Somebody's not doing his job!"

People like Lucy are so sure happiness is a matter of
getting something that they ask(,) not what they can do
for others, but what others can and should do for them.
They usually feel shortchanged or cheated. They become
so preoccupied with what they don't have that they
can't enjoy what they do have.

What's more, they don't realize one of the best ways to
be happy is to experience the joy and sense of
self-worth of making others happy.

Dennis Prager, in his book, "Happiness Is a Serious
Problem," argues that it's human nature to want and
feel we need more. The problem is, the quest for more
is endless because we can always add more to whatever
we have. As a result, the Lucys of the world often live
in an "if only" world that keeps them one step away
from happiness: "If only I could get this raise, make
this sale, pay off my debts, or win this game, I'd be
happy."

Abraham Lincoln understood that happiness is
essentially a way of looking at one's life. "A person
is generally about as happy as he's willing to be," he
said. Thus, we're more likely to experience happiness
if we realize it's not just getting what we want. It's
learning to want what we get.

This is Michael Josephson reminding you that character
counts.

(c) 2012 Josephson Institute of Ethics; reprinted with
permission. Michael Josephson, one of the nation's
leading ethicists, is the founder of the Josephson
Institute of Ethics and the premier youth character
education program, CHARACTER COUNTS! For further
information visit www.charactercounts.org.
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Re: Michael Josephson of Character Counts

Post  Admin on Sat 22 Sep 2012, 8:07 pm

Dishonest Merchants Don't Deserve Your Business

By Josephson Institute (of Character Counts) (763.1)

Some time ago, I received a handwritten message on a
yellow self-stick note attached to a torn-out page
from a magazine about a new book. The note said,
"Mike, thought you might be interested." It was signed
"L." It was sent in a non-business envelope with a
stamp, but no return address. My assistant thought it
was a personal message from a friend and put it on top
of my correspondence.

It wasn't from anyone I knew. It was a marketing trick
to sell the book.

I'm sure you've seen other deceptive ploys: mailings
disguised as telegrams, urgent "personal" messages,
announcements that you've won something, window
envelopes whose interior looks like a check. An
especially audacious variation is the salesperson who
calls pretending he knows you. To get through the
screening process, he or she will shamelessly try to
con your secretary with "Oh, he knows what it's about"
or "He asked me to call."

These are all lies and deceptions, but they're used
because they work. The people who send them don't care
about their credibility or who they offend. No one
knows who they are.

While one can appreciate resourceful techniques,
clever dishonesty doesn't make an action less
despicable. I make it a rule to never do business with
anyone who uses such techniques.

What's the harm? The harm is that someone has invaded
my life with a lie, depriving me of the choice to
decide what I will read and whom I will talk to.
Worse, it erodes trust and builds cynicism. Dishonest
merchants don't deserve your business.

This is Michael Josephson reminding you that character
counts.

(c) 2012 Josephson Institute of Ethics; reprinted with
permission. Michael Josephson, one of the nation's
leading ethicists, is the founder of the Josephson
Institute of Ethics and the premier youth character
education program, CHARACTER COUNTS! For further
information visit www.charactercounts.org.
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Re: Michael Josephson of Character Counts

Post  Admin on Sat 08 Sep 2012, 8:34 pm

Are You Wiser Today Than You Were Yesterday?

By Michael Josephson of Character Counts (743.4)

Do you think you're any wiser today than you were five
years ago? Do you think you'll be wiser still in
another five years? I hope the answer to both
questions is an emphatic "yes." One of the benefits of
growing older is getting better. And we get better by
learning.

I'm not just talking about new facts, like how a
volcanic eruption in Iceland can prevent airline
traffic in most of Europe.

I'm talking about learning basic nuggets of wisdom
that can change our lives.

For starters, I've learned that as long as I'm willing
to learn, I can learn and the fact that I'm wiser today
doesn't mean I was foolish or incompetent before.

I've learned that you don't have to be sick to get
better.

I've learned that no matter how old I am, my life and
character are works in process and that there will
always be a gap between who I am and who I want to be.

I've learned that it's easy to mask moral compromises
with rationalizations and that my character is
revealed not by my words or intentions but by my
willingness to do the right thing even when it costs
more than I want to pay.

I've learned that my character is more important than
my competence and that being significant is more
important than being successful.

I've learned that I often judge myself by my good
intentions but that I'll be judged by my last worst
act.

I've learned that the surest road to happiness is good
relationships and that striving to be a good person is
the surest road to good relationships.

Finally, I've learned that pain is inevitable but
suffering is optional and that it's not what happens
to me that matters most but what happens in me.

This is Michael Josephson reminding you that character
counts.

(c) 2012 Josephson Institute of Ethics; reprinted with
permission. Michael Josephson, one of the nation's
leading ethicists, is the founder of the Josephson
Institute of Ethics and the premier youth character
education program, CHARACTER COUNTS! For further
information visit www.charactercounts.org.
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Re: Michael Josephson of Character Counts

Post  Admin on Sun 02 Sep 2012, 8:27 pm

Teach or Punish--That's the Question

By Michael Josephson of Character Counts (761.4)

As Greg paces the floor, waiting for his 17-year-old
daughter Sandy to return from a school event, he feels
two conflicting emotions: fear and anger. Fear that
something terrible has happened to her. Anger because
he thinks his fear is probably unfounded and Sandy is
not hurt, simply irresponsible.

Finally, Sandy calls. She's all right. She just lost
track of time. Greg's fear disappears, but his anger
grows.

The love that motivated his worry is overwhelmed by a
growing sense of outrage. He begins to rehearse what
he will say and what punishment he will inflict.
Unless he intercepts his anger, it can easily turn to
rage, an emotion likely to produce foolishly impulsive
conduct that's likely to alienate Sandy and widen the
rift between them.

Here's the character challenge: Can Greg stop his
runaway train of anger long enough to think about his
objectives? His immediate goal is to vent his fury and
frustration and teach Sandy a lesson. His long-term
goals are to strengthen--not weaken--his relationship
with his daughter and to help her become more
responsible and respectful.

If Greg stops and thinks about his broader goals, he
will want to turn this event into a positive teaching
moment. To do that, he will have to choose his words
and tone carefully.

Good managers don't yell at or demean employees
because it would be ineffective and unethical. Parents
have no less of a duty to be tactful and respectful
when dealing with their children.

This is Michael Josephson reminding you that character
counts.
(c) 2012 Josephson Institute of Ethics; reprinted with
permission. Michael Josephson, one of the nation's
leading ethicists, is the founder of the Josephson
Institute of Ethics and the premier youth character
education program, CHARACTER COUNTS! For further
information visit www.charactercounts.org.
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Re: Michael Josephson of Character Counts

Post  Admin on Sat 25 Aug 2012, 6:53 pm

When Bad Things Happen to Good People

By Michael Josephson of Character Counts (746.5)

Recently two dear friends were inflicted by the
soul-searing, heart-rending pain of the deaths of
people close to them. One lost her lifelong companion
and soul mate, a gentle, good man who lived a good
life of 70 years. The other had to say goodbye to her
totally innocent newborn son, the victim of a
neurological anomaly.

I've tried to process these personal tragedies in the
context of notorious homicides, including the killing
of Ed Thomas, the teacher and coach in Iowa shot by a
mentally ill former player, and the murder of Byrd and
Melanie Billings, a Florida couple rightly revered for
caring for and loving 19 children, including a dozen
with special needs.

How can we explain the deaths of the good and
innocent? In "Why Bad Things Happen to Good People,"
Rabbi Harold Kushner, whose young son died of a rare
disease, shares his struggle to understand undeserved
suffering. He found no comfortable answers,
thoughtfully discussing and rejecting classic answers,
including the ideas that God has a hidden purpose that
we cannot and need not understand, that suffering is a
test or a lesson, and that God leads our loved ones to
a better place.

Rabbi Kushner says he found peace of mind when he gave
up the idea that everything that happens to us is
caused by or purposely allowed by God, or that
everything happens for a reason. It's futile and
foolish to expect the consequences of natural forces
and human nature to conform to our notions of
fairness. God, he says, doesn't send us the problem.
He gives us the strength to cope with the problem.

The question to ask is not, "Why did this happen?" but
"What am I going to do with the life I have?"

This is Michael Josephson reminding you that character
counts.

(c) 2012 Josephson Institute of Ethics; reprinted with
permission. Michael Josephson, one of the nation's
leading ethicists, is the founder of the Josephson
Institute of Ethics and the premier youth character
education program, CHARACTER COUNTS! For further
information visit www.charactercounts.org.
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Re: Michael Josephson of Character Counts

Post  Admin on Sun 19 Aug 2012, 8:02 pm

Do Bad People Think They're Good?

By Michael Josephson of Character Counts (760.3)

When she was six, my daughter Carissa asked, "Do dumb
people think they're smart?" Answering her own
question, she added, "They probably do because they're
dumb."

This made me think: "Do bad people think they're
good?"

I wouldn't be surprised if most do. In fact, I think
all of us are ethical in our own eyes. The human
tendency to rationalize, to justify our conduct in our
own minds, provides a powerful anesthetic to our
conscience. Think of all the athletes, politicians,
religious leaders, and business executives who've been
caught in wrongdoing and who feel more like victims
than villains.

Self-interest has a powerful tendency to disable our
objectivity and befuddle our commitment to live up to
moral principles.

The higher the stakes, the more likely it is that
we'll persuade ourselves that what we want to do, or
what we've already done, is justified. When our
financial or physical security is at stake, even the
best of us are vulnerable to reason-crippling
self-delusion that allows us to defend our positions
with self-righteous ferocity--as if the mere intensity
of our convictions makes them more valid.

One way to fortify our integrity is to be on the
lookout for our tendency to rationalize and to
remember that we don't have a moral right to get what
we want. Necessity isn't a fact; it's an
interpretation.

Living an ethical life isn't easy. It requires us to
do the right thing even when it costs more than we
want to pay. Perhaps the best antidote to
rationalization sickness is to rigorously and
faithfully follow the Golden Rule: "Do unto others as
you would have them do unto you."

This is Michael Josephson reminding you that character
counts.

(c) 2012 Josephson Institute of Ethics; reprinted with
permission. Michael Josephson, one of the nation's
leading ethicists, is the founder of the Josephson
Institute of Ethics and the premier youth character
education program, CHARACTER COUNTS! For further
information visit www.charactercounts.org.
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Re: Michael Josephson of Character Counts

Post  Admin on Sun 12 Aug 2012, 10:58 am

What I've Learned: The Perspective from
13-Year-Olds

By Michael Josephson of Character Counts (678.3)

A few years ago I got a note from Sam Rangel, an
eighth-grade teacher in Corona, California. He
distributed some of my commentaries on "What I've
Learned" to his students and asked them to write down
what they'd learned over the past year or in their
lives. Here's the world of growing wisdom from the
13-year-old perspective:

I've learned that work comes first; fool around later.

I've learned that being popular isn't everything.

I've learned that being pretty on the inside is better
than being pretty on the outside.

I've learned that not everything in life is fair.

I've learned that all people want is someone to listen
to them.

I've learned that girls seem to fight with their
friends a lot, but almost never with their enemies.

I've learned that it takes a long time to make a
friendship and a fraction of a second to destroy it.

I've learned that your imagination is as important as
your knowledge.

I've learned that to say no to someone is not wrong.

I've learned that by following others, you aren't
following yourself.

I've learned that the harder it is to do something,
the stronger it makes us.

I've learned that I am responsible for me.

I've learned to give everybody a second chance.

I've learned that teenagers will do dumb things.

I've learned that if you respect your elders, they
will respect you(,) too.

I've learned that words do hurt people more than
sticks and stones.

I've learned that when I come to a fork in the road,
ask for help.

I've learned that the easy way is not the best way.

This is Michael Josephson reminding you that character
counts.

(c) 2012 Josephson Institute of Ethics; reprinted with
permission. Michael Josephson, one of the nation's
leading ethicists, is the founder of the Josephson
Institute of Ethics and the premier youth character
education program, CHARACTER COUNTS! For further
information visit www.charactercounts.org.
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Re: Michael Josephson of Character Counts

Post  Admin on Sun 05 Aug 2012, 7:49 pm

Good Ethics is More Than Good Business

By Michael Josephson of Character Counts (759.2)

Ethics is a popular topic at corporate meetings today
because managers correctly see the benefits. Good
things tend to happen to companies that consistently
do the right thing, and bad things tend to happen to
those that even occasionally do the wrong thing. Being
ethical is playing the odds.

Ethical companies have a competitive edge because
people prefer to deal with firms they trust. They also
benefit from high credibility; being believed is an
enormous asset. In addition, ethical companies attract
and retain employees better because they have higher
morale. And finally, good ethics generate a good
reputation, good will, and loyalty. So it's true: Good
ethics is good business.

Still, I question the strategy that most companies use
to motivate employees to be ethical: stressing how
their ethical behavior will benefit the corporation.
The problem rationale is grounded in self-interest
rather than morality; it is essentially amoral. It has
nothing to do with ethics.

Doing the right thing to get something in return is an
investment, not a demonstration of character. Ethics
based on self-interest is situational; ethics based on
moral convictions is reliable. It's the difference
between acting ethically and being ethical.

Trying to motivate people to do the right thing by
stressing benefits rather than values and virtue turns
decision making into a cold cost-benefit analysis
rather than a reflection of what's right.

But if a company encourages employees to make
decisions based on the supposed advantages, why should
anyone put the firm's interests above his own? In the
absence of authentic moral conviction, why should
employees refrain from unethical or illegal conduct if
they think it will save their job or enhance their
compensation? Clearly, what's good for an enterprise
is not always good for its employees.

My point is, it's foolish and fruitless to expect most
employees to sacrifice their financial well-being for
the good of the company. On the other hand, many will
do so in the name of honor, as a matter of conscience,
and to earn the esteem and admiration of family and
friends.

Corporations have a much better chance of deterring
improper conduct by appealing to conscience and
principle rather than to risks and rewards.

This is Michael Josephson reminding you that character
counts.

(c) 2012 Josephson Institute of Ethics; reprinted with
permission. Michael Josephson, one of the nation's
leading ethicists, is the founder of the Josephson
Institute of Ethics and the premier youth character
education program, CHARACTER COUNTS! For further
information visit www.charactercounts.org.
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Re: Michael Josephson of Character Counts

Post  Admin on Sun 29 Jul 2012, 8:42 am

Emotional Resilience

By Michael Josephson of Character Counts (743.1)

Despite romanticized myths about the gloriously
carefree teenage years, adolescence has always been an
emotional battlefield where young people must fight
their way through insecurity, depression and anger.

For many teens, classrooms, playgrounds and hallways
are hostile environments where name-calling, malicious
gossip, taunting, and physical bullying regularly
threaten their emotional and physical well-being

Technology has not made kids meaner but it has
provided them with new weapons to inflict more severe
and lasting damage on each other. And while greater
vigilance by schools and stiffer penalties for bullies
may reduce unkind behavior, somewhat more is needed to
protect young people from each other.

Hard as we may try, we can't insulate children from
all negative interactions with their peers, excessive
pressure to succeed, debilitating self-doubt, or
feelings of alienation. We can, however, help them
develop emotional resilience, the inner strength to
prevent or purge toxic feelings.

Emotional resilience consists of two major attributes:
mental toughness and realistic optimism. Mental
toughness is the ability to handle problems and
pressures without panic or surrender. It's the ability
to overcome negative emotions and to rebound from
disappointment, disruptive change, illness, or
misfortune without being overwhelmed or acting in
dysfunctional ways.

Through discussions, simulations and counseling, we
can teach kids how to discount or ignore hurtful
words, to lose without being defeated, to fail and not
become failures, and to deal with rejection without
becoming hopelessly dejected. We can also instill a
sense of realistic optimism. We can give them
confidence in their capacity to survive, knowing that
tough times are temporary. We can teach them Little
Orphan Annie's undaunted certainty that, no matter how
bleak it is today, "the sun will come out tomorrow."

This is Michael Josephson reminding you that character
counts.

(c) 2012 Josephson Institute of Ethics; reprinted with
permission. Michael Josephson, one of the nation's
leading ethicists, is the founder of the Josephson
Institute of Ethics and the premier youth character
education program, CHARACTER COUNTS! For further
information visit www.charactercounts.org.
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