Monday, May 9, 2011

Show Me Don't Tell Me

My Dad died. For the past three weeks I have been totally immersed in the emotional experience of life’s natural cycle… the passing of my last living Parent. For me it was loss of unconditional love, a Dad I affectionately and respectfully called “Boss”. The “Boss” was a sweet, gentle man who was a strong and wise teacher. Our relationship was always intimate and allowed my father to easily pass on to me… a willing and open student… many of his “Secrets of Life”. In honoring his journey, I wish to share with you my most valuable inheritance from Joseph J. Rothman.

My Dad was first and foremost a “Mensch”. He believed at his core that the most important value in life was to be a “Mensch”. I can best define a “Mensch” as a true, responsible human being with integrity. He taught me many lessons about how to deal with the ups and downs of life, about taking action “By the Numbers”, but the most important lesson he drilled into me… my Dad had been a master Sergeant in the US Army so he knew how to drill you… was “Show Me Don’t Tell Me”. He would stand tall, cup his hands and thrust them out at me and say, “Son, show me, don’t tell me”. It was a powerful teaching of accountability and perseverance… but more importantly it was his way of teaching me integrity.

“Show Me Don’t Tell Me” is “Walk the Talk”. And as a dear friend from Hong Kong described it… “Integrity of Tongue”. In life we must do what we say we are going to do. Our words need to take on a life of their own thru committed action. Who are we if we don’t honor our own voice with integrity… with honesty in carrying out our promises, our intentions?

If we analyze “Show Me Don’t Tell Me”… we see the depth and richness of this basic teaching. Several connecting lessons and life forces that flow through this simple, laser focused concept… awareness, accountability, and perseverance.

Awareness is being mindful before we speak. Thoughtfulness in the moment will bring clarity to our words, to our promised intentions.

Accountability drives positive action. If we say we are going to do something, than we must hold ourselves accountable to our words… responsible for our own voice. The more we discipline ourselves to be accountable for what comes out of our mouths… the more success, contentment, fulfillment, and integrity we create.

But awareness and accountability of what we say are only as effective as our willingness to persevere. If we can’t “Walk the Talk” or better yet survive with dignity and faith at what life throws at us, then we are not truly willing to hang in there to make it happen. Either we persevere or we betray our own voice.

My wise 92 year old Dad spent over four years, yes four years, on the front lines in Europe during WWII fighting daily for his life and the many men whose lives he was accountable for. As a fighting group they needed to be aware… Zig when they were required to zig and zag when the needed to zag. As a team they were totally accountable and bonded to each other for survival… and if they didn’t have the strength and commitment to persevere they put each other’s lives in jeopardy.

No wonder my Dad, my “Boss”, the Sarge, drilled into me the importance of “Show Me Don’t Tell Me”. It was core to his existence; it was his personal experienced “Secret of Life” to pass on to me, his son.

Dad at 92- dancing in the kitchen with his favorite Daughter-In-Law, Susan


  1. I am so sorry to hear about your loss. Thank you so much for sharing your story, it is very inspiring!

  2. Glenn, I will keep your dad and your family in my thoughts and prayers. You were truly blessed to have had such a wonderful mentor all these years!
    Diane Frassanito

  3. Glenn, your father was a remarkable man who clearly carved a very special place in your life and heart. Cherish those memories daily to bring cheer and happiness for years to come. All our thoughts are with you.
    Keith and Bridie Gill

  4. Thank you for your support and thoughtfuness. My Dad was a sweet, gentle man who taught me many life lessons that will always live within me. Your warm words are much appreciated.