It has been said, if you expect perfection from people, your whole life will be a series of disappointments, grumblings and complaints. Be kind. Remember everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle.

If, on the contrary, you pitch your expectations low, taking folks as the inefficient creatures which they are, you are frequently surprised by having them perform better than you had hoped.

Here’s a short story about teamwork taken from a 1977 issue of Bits & Pieces. During a hike in the woods a troop of boy scouts came across an abandoned section of railroad track. Each, in turn, tried walking the rails but eventually lost his balance and tumbled off.

Suddenly two of the boys, after considerable whispering, and displaying their scout training, offered to bet that they could both walk the entire length of the track without falling off. Challenged to make good their boast, the two boys jumped up on opposite rails, extended a hand to balance each other, and walked the entire section of track with no difficulty whatever.

There, in a nutshell, is the principle of modern business and community living. The day of the hermit and the lone wolf are gone forever. We do things better, we produce more, and we live better by helping each other.

The fellow who lends a helping hand benefits himself at the same time as he helps the other fellow. The reverse is also true. When we don’t help each other, when we don’t cooperate, the whole system starts to rattle and shake.

Whether at work or at a community event, when people help each other, freely and voluntarily, there’s a spirit of teamwork that makes a project or event really go. The result is often a rousing success to be celebrated by all.

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Dog lovers will appreciate this story found in The Rotarian magazine. A man answered his doorbell and a friend walked in, followed by a big, shaggy dog. As they sat talking, the dog bumped into an end-table, sending a lamp crashing to he floor.

Then the dog chewed on an expensive oriental carpet. Restlessly he roamed through the house, his route marked by crashes and tinkling glass. Finally, he jumped upon the sofa with muddy feet, and curled up for a nap.

The homeowner, outraged at last, burst out, “You are a dear friend, but if you can’t train your dog better than that, leave him at home.”

“My dog!” exclaimed the surprised friend, “I thought it was your dog.”

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A person’s self-esteem can be very fragile. Many years ago, Robert Skogland of St. George, Maine, known as The Humble Farmer, wrote this telling story about his neighbor Mark who seemed to have everything: a wife, three kids and a successful business.

No man in town could come close to him when it came to providing for his family. Mark and his crew of woodcutters were at work at daybreak. During the day, Mark would deliver several truckloads of green firewood to customers and drive away with his pocket stuffed with money.

Bob said he complimented Mark for his industry one Sunday morning as he watched him change the oil in his log skidder. “How do you work so hard?” Bob asked. “What keeps you going?”

“I have to work hard,” Mark confessed. “I have to prove I’m as good as anyone else. I have this feeling that other people can do things better than I can. I guess I work hard just to get praise from my wife and friends. I have to please them before I can feel good about myself.”

“Your problem is low self-esteem,” Bob told him. “Most men who work hard are very insecure.”

Mark had to admit. “No matter how much I earn I don’t feel any better. I live with a constant fear of failure and rejection.” With that, Bob loaned Mark a book that told how people can achieve personal happiness through self-love.

Mark did his homework and soon built a new life of self-esteem. His feelings of inferiority and inadequacy melted away and were replaced by a new sense of his importance, power and self-worth.

No longer afraid to let people see his Real Self, Mark stayed home and watched soap operas and game shows. His crew worked alone until the machinery broke down because they forgot to oil and grease it.

Mark had a new-found confidence and he felt no need to defend his actions. His business failed and he cheerfully applied for welfare and unemployment benefits. His wife had to walk to the Goodwill Store to rummage for winter clothing.

“I finally feel good about myself,” Mark confessed. “Reading that book on self-esteem was the most rewarding thing I’ve ever done. I’ve got a whole new viewpoint on life and I’m equipped to enjoy it.”

As Mark leaned back in a worn stuffed chair he smiled as he reflected.

“I’ve mastered self-discipline and have learned how to let go. Now no one in town has the power to put me down.” he said. “Since I’ve taken total responsibility for myself, I’ve been able to create the worry-free life I really want.”