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“Every marriage is a story,” Carol Tavris and Elliot Aronson write in their book Mistakes Were Made (But Not By Me): Why We Justify Foolish Beliefs, Bad Decisions, and Hurtful Acts. The Wall Street Journal called it “illuminating” but also, “when you recognize yourself in the stories it tells — mortifying.” You’ll soon see why.

You have your own marriage story version; so does your spouse. How you tell your version could mean the difference between a life of happiness or pain and divorce.

Every married person is guilty at some point of defaulting to this type of toxic storytelling. The good news is that having awareness of the dangers can help you correct your marriage’s trajectory. Tavris and Aronson aren’t marriage counselors, but social psychologists. They prescribe a better marriage storytelling formula based on scientific research. …

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One of four faces of American presidents carved into Mount Rushmore in South Dakota, Washington was chosen to represent the nation’s birth. (Photo: Thomas Hawk)

George Washington should have never been the first president of the United States. He seemed to be predestined for the paramount role he was to take in the winning of American independence and navigating the tumultuous first eight years of the country’s history. It was, however, a miracle he stayed alive through it all.

Time after time his leadership styles propelled him into danger. Time after time, however, he evaded it. Maybe the countless brushes with death allowed him to face his final encounter at the age of sixty-seven with what he called “perfect resignation.”

(Washington’s last words were “‘Tis well.” Not surprising for someone who as a teenager studied the writings of the stoic philosopher Seneca the Younger: “He is the brave man . . . that can look death in the face without trouble or surprise.”) …

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We’ve all been there at work: somebody lampoons you, either in front of others or on one of those lanky email chains. Whether their comment was intentional or not, now your day is capsized. Emotion floods your system, and your levelheadedness drowns.

Defensive mode engaged, you waste the next ten minutes justifying your innocence. Surgically picking apart that arrow-to-the-heart of a comment, you analyze its merits. Perhaps you even squander the mental energy drafting a rebuttal for the ages.

You choose to trade productive work for prolonging a soon-to-be-forgotten incident. What good does it do? …

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Sir Paul McCartney on tour in 2010 (Photo: oliver.gill)

In 1980, a decade after the collapse of the Beatles, Sir Paul McCartney arrived at Tokyo’s Narita International Airport where he was met first by screaming fans and TV cameras, and then handcuffs.

Perhaps the most adored and famous human on earth during Beatlemania’s zenith in the mid-sixties, Paul headed for Japan with his family over a decade later, this time as the frontman and leader of his own band.

Paul McCartney and Wings, a concert-attraction juggernaut, were to embark on an eleven-date world-tour beginning in Tokyo’s Budokan Hall, “where the Beatles had appeared in 1966 during the chaotic Far East tour that helped finally sicken them of live performance,” biographer Philip Norman writes in Paul McCartney: The Life. …

“A former psychologist and guidance counselor is now sucking the shit out of people’s septic tanks full time,” Mike Rowe tells Tim Ferriss on The Tim Ferriss Show episode number 157 titled “The Importance of Being Dirty: Lessons from Mike Rowe.”

At first glance, the story of this former guidance counselor, now sewage-handler, evokes sympathy. But there is more to the story than that.

Host of the Emmy-nominated show Dirty Jobs, Rowe spent eight years interviewing people with the grimiest, most back-breaking or dangerous jobs imaginable, experiencing first-hand the work in their shoes.

He ruminates about the unique perspective this experience gave to him and the patterns he recognized that run counter to most of the scripture about buzzwords such as fulfillment and passion touted by “gurus.” …

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Theodore Roosevelt and his enormous smile known for “showing teeth” (Photo: jamesgross22)

In 1912 on an autumn evening in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, crowds flooded the streets. An open-carriage pulled through the masses, carrying the most eminent politician in America, perhaps the world.

In the midst of a campaign during which thirty speeches in a day was common, the buggy came to a stop and the candidate stood for remarks. In the cacophony of shouting and confusion, a gunshot burst out.

“Ladies and gentlemen,” the man announced to the crowd, “I don’t know whether you fully understand that I have just been shot . . .” As authorities apprehended the deranged would-be assassin, the victim calmed the audience by presenting his mangled steel eyeglasses-case through which the bullet penetrated en route to his chest. …

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(Photo: opensourceway)

The best piece of career advice I’ve ever received came from a senior executive at my job, and struck me like a lightning-bolt.

I learned from her that getting ahead at work is simple. It may not be easy but it can be simple.

A year or so into my second job out of college, this senior executive of the company I work for asked to meet with me during her next visit to our Chicagoland office. …

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“a possible self-portrait…often defines our image of Leonardo.” — Walter Isaacson (Photo: MAMJODH)

“Describe the tongue of the woodpecker,” writes Leonardo da Vinci in one of the countless notebooks he kept throughout his life. Walter Isaacson, who in 2017 published the wonderful and expansive biography, Leonardo Da Vinci, marvels at the staggering curiosity of the person who defined the term Renaissance Man. “Who on earth would decide one day, for no apparent reason, that he wanted to know what the tongue of a woodpecker looks like? How would you even find out?”

A master biographer, Isaacson unveils the mystique that shrouds da Vinci’s legend, revealing a methodical mind capable of powering an unending fountain of creativity. The genius of da Vinci, Isaacson contends, “did not come from being the divine recipient, like Newton or Einstein, of a mind with so much processing power that we mere mortals cannot fathom it.” …

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D-Day — June 6, 1944 (Photo: PhotosNormandie)

There sometimes is nothing more sobering than the slap-in-the-face that is perspective. And there may be no greater source of perspective than war. To learn about war is to better understand life and it offers insights into strategy, conflict, empathy, human nature, and more.

In The Tim Ferriss Show episode The Scariest Navy SEAL Imaginable… And What He Taught Me, Ferriss interviews retired U.S. Navy SEAL officer Jocko Willink. Also number 1 New York Times bestselling author of Extreme Ownership: How U.S. Navy SEALs Lead and Win, Willink commanded Task Unit Bruiser, the most highly decorated Special Operations Unit of the Iraq War. …

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Skeletons abound in the iconic Grateful Dead imagery (Photo: paul goeltz)

Stoic philosophers often contemplate, perhaps obsess, about death. They welcome death as a friend to life. The stoic philosopher Seneca wrote over 2000 years ago that “Philosophy bestows this boon upon us; it makes us joyful in the very sight of death.” The latter can be said about the Grateful Dead.

In 1970 the Grateful Dead released their classic album American Beauty, ranked number 261 on Rolling Stone magazine’s list of the “500 Greatest Albums of All Time.” …


Bradley Calvin

Business school grad, operations leader for a Fortune 500 company and author of the blog where I write about business, history, music and more

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