Great accomplishments require hope, love, & forgiveness



Nothing that is worth doing can be achieved in our lifetime; therefore, we must be saved by hope. … Nothing we do, however virtuous, can be accomplished alone; therefore, we are saved by love. No virtuous act is quite as virtuous from the standpoint of our friend or foe as it is from our standpoint. Therefore, we must be saved by the final form of love, which is forgiveness.

–Reinhold Niebuhr
The Irony of American History
Page 63



Love fosters a “Community of Freedom”

we are fundamentally free:
free to view our life,
and respond to it,
as a loving gift
or not.

To love or not to love, that is the question. No argument or evidence can strip us of this freedom that lies at the root of our being and is therefore so ineradicable. How we choose to respond to this awareness—the awareness that love makes us whole and that we are free to love or not—seals our character and defines who we are. An awareness of the power of love and forgiveness forms, in John Fetzer’s phrase, “a community of freedom.”

How we choose, in that freedom, to live out our awareness of the power to love and forgive can completely transform our lives as well as the life of, and the lives in, the world around us.

–Lawrence E. Sullivan
Pres. and CEO
Fetzer Institute
in Fetzer Institute News

Carl Rogers Emphasizes Relationship



I watched the famous “Gloria” films this weekend, more properly known as Three Approaches to Psychotherapy. Gloria, the patient, generously agreed to have filmed sessions with each of the three great psychotherapists of the 1960s: Carl Rogers, Fritz Perls, and Albert Ellis. It must have been quite a day for her!


Carl Rogers actively worked to wrest control of counseling from the medical monopoly established by Freud and Jung, opening the work to (more…)

Language & Relationships Make Us Human

Grooming, Gossip, and the Evolution of Language According to the social-brain theory, it was this need to understand social dynamics–not the need to find food or navigate terrain–that spurred and rewarded the evolution of bigger and bigger primate brains.

This isn’t idle speculation; Robin Dunbar, an evolutionary psychologist and social-brain theorist, and others have documented correlations between brain size and social-group size in many primate species. The bigger an animal’s typical group size (20 or so for macaques, for instance, 50 or so for chimps), the larger the percentage of brain devoted to (more…)

Loses Hand, Finds Love

Aron Ralston

In 2003, Aron Ralston amputated his own arm after he was trapped by a boulder in a Utah canyon. Six years later, he still struggles with the meaning of his survival.

It’s not about what you do; it’s about who you are.

I still do like adventures. But it’s different. It’s not coming from an esteem-building, need-fulfillment place, like my life won’t amount to something if I’m not the first person to make some major accomplishment.

Now I’ve identified what that source is, and it’s love.

We’re tapping into that source of strength and courage when we feel love, and we do it for our families and our friends and hopefully for the world at large. Those opportunities are out there all the time, and hopefully we’re doing it for that instead of just our own egos.

–Pushing the Limit
Climber Still Seeks Larger
Meaning in His Epic Escape

Most Powerful Force in the World

Medal of Honor

I was lucky to attend a benefit dinner last night for injured combat veterans. About 100 local business people paid $275 each to reserve a room at Morton’s steak house in Tyson’s Corner, Virginia. They invited a small group of soldiers undergoing treatment at Walter Reed to join them for a meal and the NCAA basketball game, projected on huge screens at both ends of the room. It was one of many small, unpublicized gestures people routinely make to support and appreciate each other.

The evening was short on ceremony but did include one brief speech that made a lasting impression. Captain Roger Donlon, who earned the first Medal of Honor in Viet Nam, reminded the soldiers present that, though some of them have earned Silver Stars and other medals for valor and all were permanently injured in battle, their most courageous acts may be ahead of them as they faced the normal temptations and challenges of life. He closed by saying,

“I and the other warriors here know that the most powerful force in the world is not hatred for the enemy but love for the man next to you.

That love was much in evidence last night, amongst the wounded warriors and between the businessmen. I was lucky to be there.

Teaching with Love

Teacher Gina Rohlfs

My son’s sixth-grade teacher, Mrs. Rohlfs, died one year ago today, on February 26, 2008, ten years after her doctor gave her just six months to live with ovarian cancer. Here is part of what my wife wrote to Mrs. Rohlfs’s adult son:

I am so sorry to learn of your mother’s passing. Your mother had a profound impact on my son and because of that I feel compelled to write to you. I want to tell you about who your mother was for my son. I suspect that what I want to tell you about your mother is not unique. Through tear-filled eyes and sobs of grief, my son told me about your mother. I knew Mrs. Rohlfs was a special teacher, and that Greg was fond of her. I knew that she gave him his first-ever “C” and that he was working harder than ever this year. I knew that she was a really good teacher – one who was good at explaining things. But what I didn’t know, and learned Tuesday night, was that Mrs. Rohlfs deeply and passionately loved her students – each and every one of them.

Greg told me the following and I remember his every word, every look, like a videotape in my head. “There is one boy who all the teachers hate to deal with. But Mrs. Rohlfs found the good in him. She found the thing that he was really good at, and he’s been doing so well this year, so well. She loved him.”

I asked Greg “How do you know she loved him?” With tears streaming down his face, he looked at me with the most knowing look I’ve ever seen. I understood. So I said to him “You just know it, don’t you?” He nodded and sobbed. I asked him “Did Mrs. Rohlfs love you?” All he could get out was “Oh yeah.”

What an incredible gift. To be loved so completely, for all that you are and all that you aren’t. To convey your love so that, not only does the recipient know it, but everyone around knows it too. Wow. What a wonderful place the world would be if people were more like Mrs. Rohlfs. To be able to see the good in everyone. To be able to see potential in everyone. To be able to foster that potential, in just the right way. What a gift Mrs. Rohlfs was to all of her students. Sometimes, kids (and all people!) just need someone to believe in them, and that makes all the difference in the world.

How many children has she influenced? How many lives has she changed for the better, forever?

One of Mrs. Rohlfs’s favorite quotes was:

Be who you are and say what you feel because those who matter don’t mind, and those who mind don’t matter.

–Dr. Seuss

And now, this. From the New York Times.

Students Learn From People They Love:
Putting relationship quality at the center of education.

By David Brooks
Jan. 17, 2019

The New York Times

See Gina Rohlfs’s online memorial here.

Closeness Counts




The news item below is a bit technical, so here is the gist:

Every cell in our body is continually sensing and responding to tiny chemical, electrical, and temperature changes created by nearby organisms without physical contact. As a result, cells alter their physical structure in response to the presence of other living things, including reshaping themselves to move toward or away from their neighbors.

A single atom or molecule, without even touching the cell, can move it.

When great big bundles of such cells get close, as in (more…)

This is love

Louis Armstrong
Years ago, when I was new to being coached, I experienced a fundamental attribute of transformational coaching. I was completing a fantastic call with my coach, Mary Arzt. I had done a lot of venting and whining. I had seen some new possibilities. I, ultimately, had gotten clear and excited about the steps I would take into my future. A fantastic coaching call. I thanked my coach for the generosity of her listening and the power of her insight.

At which point, everything had been said and there was nothing left to say. The coach let the silence continue and we sort of basked in that rare space of nothing to do and no place to go: just perfect. At some point, my ego started to second-guess the just completed conversation. My ego realized that I had revealed (more…)