Wandering Into Wisdom

This blog chronicles the knowledge, insight and wisdom I encounter every day as a leadership consultant, executive coach, educator, father, friend and citizen. This site is dedicated to my father, Louis (Jack) Laughlin, who passed on to me an appreciation for wisdom. A special thanks to my friend Isaac Cheifetz, a businessman and journalist, who helped me understand the value of blogs and encouraged me to write one.

The Dark Side

“Every part of our personality that we do not love will become hostile to us.”
From “A Little Book on the Human Shadow” by Robert Bly


The sun generates energy by fusing hydrogen atoms to form helium. The gravitational force of the sun’s core, which generates the pressure necessary to create this fusion reaction, is so strong that the light produced can only travel at about nine feet per hour as it leaves the core.


I went to a presentation by Steve Farber, author of "Radical Leap." I found his talk inspiring, not because of the content, but because he himself was inspired by the subject of leadership and the stories of the people in his presentation. His inspiration overflowed to the rest of us.

Me or We

It can be difficult to find a way to communicate our achievements while acknowledging the role of the rest of the team. Someone I recently helped with this issue found that speaking in terms of “her” contribution to the “group’s” success was an authentic and balanced way of framing her accomplishments.

Established 578 A.D.

Kongō Gumi Co. Ltd. was the world's oldest continuously ongoing independent company, operating for over 1,400 years, until it was absorbed by a larger construction company in 2006.  The company was established about the time Constantine became emperor and if CEO's lasted an average of 10 years that would be 140 CEO's over the life of the company.  Wikipedia Link

Prove Me Wrong

A marketing director I know had a product manager who disagreed with the strategy they chose for his product line. After the meeting he pulled the manager aside and said, “You might be right, but the only way to prove us wrong is to execute this strategy like you believe in it.”


“I find that the harder I work, the more luck I seem to have."
Thomas Jefferson
"Indeed, none but the Deity can tell what is good luck and what is bad before the returns are all in."
Mark Twain

"Good luck needs no explanation."
Shirley Temple


A friend of mine who does drug and alcohol counseling once told me, “Serenity is an acquired taste; you might not like the initial experience.” Sometimes we become so accustomed to anxiety that we are uncomfortable in its absence.


“It takes only a modicum of psychological savvy to admit that a corporate culture that constantly repeats the word excellence to itself must still have endless reservoirs of mediocrity on which to draw, and is deathly afraid of facing up to this fact.”
From “The Heart Aroused” by David Whyte

The New Deal*

“The new corporate contract is that we’ll offer you an opportunity to express yourself and grow, if you promise to leash yourself to our dream, at least for a while.”
John Sculley, former Apple CEO

Prisoner of Optimism*

In an interview for his book "Good to Great" Jim Collins asked Admiral James Stockdale, the highest ranking POW in the Vietnam War, which prisoners didn't survive. Admiral Stockdale replied,

"Oh, that’s easy, the optimists. Oh, they were the ones who said, 'We're going to be out by Christmas.' And Christmas would come, and Christmas would go. Then they'd say, 'We're going to be out by Easter.' And Easter would come, and Easter would go. And then Thanksgiving, and then it would be Christmas again. And they died of a broken heart. This is a very important lesson. You must never confuse faith that you will prevail in the end—which you can never afford to lose—with the discipline to confront the most brutal facts of your current reality, whatever they might be.”

Think Positive*

Acclaimed journalist, author and political activist Barbara Ehrenreich explores the darker side of positive thinking.

Aging Rebels*

My Grandfather refused to use an ATM machine. He didn't trust a machine to count his money.  I always wondered what technological advance would leave me in that same state of rebellion. Then I went to a public bathroom and noticed the young man next to me texting while using the urinal. I think my rebellion is imminent.

Skills Transfer*

The first place to look when a situation requires a new skill is an existing skill. My son is just learning to drive so I explained the need to keep looking around. He immediately said, “Head on a swivel.” This is the term his Lacrosse coaches used to tell players to maintain situational awareness on the field. He’d spent years developing the skill which he applied effortlessly to watching traffic.


I recently went on my first cruise and noticed that getting my sea legs followed a classic learning pattern.

Dock - Unconscious Incompetence
              Didn’t know I didn’t have sea legs.
Day 1 - Conscious Incompetence
               Ship sailed and I realized that I was walking like a drunk.
Day 3 - Conscious Competence
               Started to feel the boat’s movements and compensate.
Day 6 - Unconscious Competence
               Walked a straight line without thinking about it.