Probably thinking I needed it, someone recommended a book with pithy business and life advice. When I looked it up, I discovered it was larded with the kind of time-worn advice that if you live long enough, you’ll see over and over again. Only the color of the lipstick changes, but it’s still the same pig.
Besides, how many times can you write about building a better mousetrap? It would appear, interminably. Cicero had his moral lessons and Marcus Aurelius his meditations on life and Ben Franklin his “Poor Richard’s Almanack.” And almost 30 years ago, Robert Fulghum had “All I Really Need to Know I Learned in Kindergarten” with his version of epigrammatic life lessons, including for example,
“1. Share everything.
2. Play fair.
3. Don’t hit people.
4. Put things back where you found them.
5. CLEAN UP YOUR OWN MESS.
6. Don’t take things that aren’t yours.
7. Say you’re SORRY when you HURT somebody.
8. Wash your hands before you eat.
10. Warm cookies and cold milk are good for you.
11. Live a balanced life – learn some and drink some and draw some and paint some and sing and dance and play and work everyday some.
12. Take a nap every afternoon.
13. When you go out into the world, watch out for traffic, hold hands, and stick together.
14. Be aware of wonder. Remember the little seed in the Styrofoam cup: The roots go down and the plant goes up and nobody really knows how or why, but we are all like that.
15. Goldfish and hamster and white mice and even the little seed in the Styrofoam cup – they all die. So do we.
16. And then remember the Dick-and-Jane books and the first words you learned – the biggest word of all – LOOK.”
Obviously, there’s a lot of wisdom in such writings. So there’s a reason the old chestnuts are repeatedly repackaged for consumption for each generation.
Over time a few of the aphorisms and “lessons” have even made their way here.
So a few days ago, courtesy of Dumb Little Man – Tips for Life, I came across Dan Bacon’s “10 Ways to Be a Better Man (No you aren’t already doing them all.”
Which of course made me immediately think of a favorite romantic comedy, “As Good as It Gets“ and what Melvin Udall (Jack Nicholson) memorably told Carol Connelly (Helen Hunt) on their dinner date — “You Make Me Want to Be a Better Man.”
And has it really been 17 years since that movie came out and she called it “the best compliment of my life”?
But no matter. Time to take stock of Bacon’s iteration and of course, to challenge his gender conceit of a “better man.” Clearly, the 10 ways can also apply to women. Consider it was feminist Gloria Steinem who said, “Far too many people are looking for the right person, instead of trying to be the right person.”
“1. Don’t Crumble Under Pressure.
2. Give, But Also Expect Respect in Return.
3. Love Others Without Judgement.
4. Have Life Purpose and Follow Through On It.
5. Be a Man of Your Word.
6. Always be Yourself.
7. Maintain Control of Your Emotions.
8. Be Someone That People Look Up To.
9. Take the Lead in Situations.
10. Take Full Responsibility For Your Own Success or Failure.”