Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Words To Love By

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I typed the above title with the intention of writing, “Words to Live By” and ended up with a typo that I think speaks volumes. “Words To Love By...” Perfect, considering this blog post is inspired by my father and some words of love that he had written on an index card.

My father died in early 2006, 5 whole years ago, and I’m still surprised the he doesn’t answer the phone when I call my mother. We were very close, and I felt very lucky that he always knew how I felt about him, and I always knew he was my greatest champion. A few years ago, my mother gave me an amazing gift - a scrapbook filled with mementos from my father’s life - pictures of him as a child, copies of his school records, old driver’s licenses and passport photos. It also had a bunch of things from our life together - pictures of him holding me as a baby, cards that I had given him for Christmas, tickets he had saved from shows I had done.

Yep- I am a natural brunette.
And I reaaaaalllly liked the camera when I was little.

As I looked through the scrapbook this year, I saw an index card that I had never really noticed before. There were a bunch of phrases written in his quasi-calligraphic hand, all inspirational nature.

Let me preface this by saying that my father was a very intense man. He had quite a bit of trouble expressing his emotions, and when they did come out they were often big, hearty laughs or tyrannical bursts of anger. We never really knew what would set him off to make him livid, and we spent many years trying to deal with his outbursts without fueling the fire. There was a point, however, when he went to a series of anger management courses, and he began to deals with his feelings in more constructive ways. He adopted anger management phrases that he repeated so often it sometimes made my brother and me laugh. Phrases like, “Erin, that is unacceptable behavior...” - in a straight monotone - were often heard, and usually related to me rooting for someone other than the Redskins, or voting for a Democrat.

All of the work he did to make himself a better man makes the index card I found all the more exciting to read. I have a vague recollection of the card being taped up near his desk - which is supported by the tape marks at the top of the card. The phrases are, at once, a creed to live by, and a guide for proper networking. It’s almost as if it was written jointly by Dale Carnegie and Dr. Phil. Here is, for you, a transcript of what’s written:

Don’t Criticize - Praise
Support person’s need for importance
Seek to Satisfy other’s needs
Become genuinely interested in other people
Remember the importance of a person’s name
Be a good listener. Encourage others to talk of themselves.
Talk in terms of the other person’s interest.
Make the other person feel important (Sincerely)
You can’t win an argument. Avoid them.
Show respect to other opinions. Never tell a man he’s wrong.
If you’re wrong, admit it quickly and emphatically.
Begin in a friendly way
Get others saying “yes”
Let the other man do the talking
Let it be the other man’s idea.
See the other man’s view.
Let the other man save his face.

My favorite phrase of them all is, “Make the other person feel important (sincerely.)” I pride myself on making sure those around me, however we’re acquainted, understand that I value and respect them.

I'd like to think that I inherited a good amount of positive qualities from my parents. From my mother I've learned the power of introspection and self-awareness. From my father, I think I have inherited a desire to take action. Putting both of those together, in addition to everything else they've give me, have made me a better actor, and better human being in general.

Leave me a comment:

What’s your favorite phrase? How do you express it in your life?
Is there a phrase by which you’d like to start living?

Erin Cronican's career as a professional actor and career coach has spanned the last 25 years in New York City, Los Angeles and San Diego. She has appeared in major feature films and on television, and has toured nationally with plays and musicals. She has worked in the advertising & marketing departments of major corporations, film production companies, theater magazines, and non-profit acting organizations. For more information, please visit


  1. This is beautiful Erin. I'm so inspired by the words on your father's index card I'm printing them out! Thanks for the reminder of how unique and wonderful a soul's journey is:-) love, Mary xoxoxo

  2. This is a great post Erin! I do a lot of work in the Diversity & Inclusion field at my job. At a conference in October, newly appointed EEOC Commissioner Chai Feldblum said "It is not about treating people equally, it is about treating them as equals. We should celebrate that which is different in each and everyone of us." That has really stuck with me.


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