Most Things in Life Aren’t Worth Labeling

“Most things in life are neither good nor bad, right nor wrong.  Most things just are.”

–     Dr. Tom Graff, clinical and corporate psychologist, Wichita, KS

I lost track a few years ago whether this quote or one of Dad’s is the most-repeated DD lead-in, and, that’s not right or wrong, good or bad, it just is.

Because this one, and Dad’s “No matter where you go, there you are,” are two pretty solid cornerstones upon which difference-makers build.

Somewhere along the way, our society got really into labeling.  Everything.  That person was good or bad.  That saying was good or bad.  Some diet or another was either good or bad.  Music or its lyrics, churches, jokes, coaches, athletes, politicians, political parties…

Dr. Graff nailed it when I first met him in 1987 — and 33 years later, it’s as true as it’s ever been.

What if we worried less about labeling things and more about what we’ll do, next?  What if we put 98.3% of the effort we put into labeling into understanding. instead?  I didn’t set out to quote three really smart dudes in one Daily Difference, but what if we took Stephen R. Covey‘s advice, “seek first to understand?”

Someone with whom we work today will do something amazing.  That doesn’t make them “good.”  Several people with whom we work today will commit Rule #5 violations.  That doesn’t make them “bad.”  Someone for whom we work today will issue a directive.  That doesn’t make them right.  Or wrong.

In each moment, the huge majority of people and things we encounter just are.  By staying in that moment, and just being – we’ll increase our odds of making a difference.

Editor’s Note:  Since February 14, 1991, I’ve believed that there are only 10 things that are truly Right.  When I get off track, it’s when I’m trying to expand the list, interpret it, or start a new one, labeled “Things / People That Are Wrong.”


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