- Chapter 1 -
LIFEMANSHIP AND RELATIONSHIPS
ust as Statesmanship refers to skill in conducting affairs of state, and Seamanship involves effective navigation of boats upon the water, so Lifemanship is defined as the ability to bring about favorable events in life. Based on this definition, Lessons in Lifemanship is about relationships - strengthening them, making them more enjoyable for ourselves and for others, and avoiding the self-defeating actions which make life a struggle.
How my writing Lessons in Lifemanship took place is somewhat unusual; it was not an original intent; it just developed with time. As a 1st Lt. Platoon Leader in General Patton's Army in World War II, I had many narrow escapes from death. I came home with a deep sense of gratitude, a feeling that I might have been preserved for some reason, and a desire to be of service to others. I participated in a number of such activities which became an important part of my life and provided the ideas and observations which are the foundation of this book.
For over four decades I have conducted a free counseling service, and have met with hundreds of people, listening to them with keen interest, discussing their personal situations, and offering advice, or preferably, helping them reach their own conclusions. It was not an activity I planned. It just happened. If a person benefitted, he or she told others and the "clientele" grew. I enjoyed it greatly.
I never charged for the service; the vast majority of people who came to me were in no position to pay, and it would have greatly reduced both the clientele and my enjoyment. More customers use a service if it is free! Anyhow, I had no official credentials, just experience of my own and what I had learned from others. Although I read every book I could get my hands on which dealt with such matters, it was an effort to apply common sense, practicality, and spiritual values to the events in life we all go through.
In looking back, I think of the variety of "clients" from all walks of life: rich and poor, old and young, confident and depressed, the lonely, ministers, attorneys, business people, many students, the jobless, housewives, the bereaved, a retired Major General and others. I stayed away from mental and deep emotional problems, because of lack of qualification in those areas, although some element of psychology was frequently involved. The activity challenged me to be creative in seeking solutions.
Other experiences, in addition to the counseling service, contributed to these pages. Well over fifty years of entrepreneurial endeavors brought me in contact with many people and situations from which to draw conclusions. (I describe my profession as putting people, money, and ideas together.) During these years, I have also been engaged in community and church activities. Then there was my active family life. With an energetic wife and five spirited children, how could I have avoided learning experiences?
Another early activity gave me valuable insights. During the late 1930's and early 1940's, I hitchhiked and rode freight trains 33,000 miles, an activity much safer then than now. I picked peaches with Okies in California, and joined the Hodcarriers' Union in Alaska. During that time I was keenly interested in conversations with hundreds and hundreds of ordinary Americans who told me about their lives, their problems, and their vocations. They liked to talk and I liked to listen. As young as I was, I learned a great deal about human behavior.
This book is sprinkled with names, because it deals with real people in real situations. However, in some cases which reflect negatively on individuals, the names are changed and the circumstances modified. The events, experiences, and direct quotations are authentic. There are over 160 real life situations, events, and case histories which illustrate various principles and concepts.
Before completing anything like a final version of Lessons in Lifemanship, I had many copies printed, and submitted them to editors, successful authors, librarians, and ordinary readers, people some known to me and some who were not. I earnestly asked for criticism, suggestions, and comments. There were many responses, which proved to be exceedingly beneficial. What surprised me was the great variety of preferences as to which parts of the book were most helpful to different people. My hope is that you will find ones which are worthwhile in your life.
Lessons You Can Learn from These Pages
The purpose of this book is to help you to:
- Bring about favorable situations in life, a process which is all the more satisfying if potential disasters have been neutralized, or maybe even a potential problem is turned into a favorable event.
- Learn principles from the experiences of others which can be identified, understood and applied,
- Gain knowledge and understanding of human behavior as demonstrated in one situation and which can be applied in subsequent experiences, and to
- Discover that some controversies cannot be avoided, but that you can be helped in handling them more effectively.
See Ch. 19 (Avoiding Controversies) and Ch. 20 (Settling Disputes Using a Mediator).
A common response about this book is, "I wish I could have read it years ago." I, too, wish I could have read something like this years ago.