10 Life lessons I’ve learned from serving individuals with Autism on the ‘Front Line’

Dr. David Larson Holmes
Commencement/Scholarship Lecture
Princeton Corridor Rotary
June 13, 2014


1.  Develop Social Capital; as it is the foundation for success.

      a. Bank it! Blessed are they who can give without remembering…and receive without forgetting.

2. Heed Machiavelli; “The Prince”

      a. “There is nothing more difficult to carry out, nor more doubtful of success, nor more dangerous to handle, than to initiate a new order of things.”

3. Be a good listener… I know of no one who has ever “listened” their way out of a job.

    a. Do you find yourself thinking of how to respond before the person before you has not finished his inquiry?     

    b. Let the other person rant and rage, or even calmly present to you their monologue , and, when they are exhausted or done, merely say “is there anything  else you would like to tell me?” And, then get your point across.

4. Recognize that there will always be an equal and opposing point of view on matters.

    a. “We don’t see things as they are…we see things as we are” Anais Nin

    b. Confirmation Bias; we only capture information that supports our own bias/prejudices.

5. Recognize that there is a major difference between Prejudice and Discrimination… and the real demon is prejudice.

     a. Do not to prejudge someone based upon gender, race, skin color, religion, school they attended, food they consume [vegan, freegan, organic], how much ‘stuff’ they have or don’t have… or what company they work for.

     b. Once you have done your due diligence then you can discriminate, i.e., Make informed decisions about what you like and dislike!


6. Embrace the notion that there are many constructs/interpretations for the behavior of people… and that behavior may evoke different sanctions depending upon where they are expressed.

     a. Right vs. Wrong

    b. Legal vs. illegal

    c. Righteous vs. sinful

    d. Ethical vs. unethical

    e. Moral vs. immoral

    f. Pius vs. secular

    g. True vs. False

    h. Correct vs. incorrect

    i. Honorable vs. dishonorable

    j. Rational vs. irrational

7. Choose your trusted advisors/true friends carefully; promises alone count for nothing… vetted history demonstrates capacity[s].

    a. Get to know someone before trusting your future to them and, once vetted and found ‘true to their word’, keep that person close.


8. Jealousy, envy and anger will keep you from your true potential, decrease your peace of mind and will deter you from increasing your social capital. Remember, such emotions demonstrate to others a dissatisfaction with yourself.

     a. Seek your reinforcement from within; do not compare yourself with others nor envy their successes. Strive to improve yourself over past performances.

     b. Celebrate the successes of others and you will become a ‘member of an expanding band of successful and happy people’.

     c. Speak positively about others or you might find yourself with a plateful of lexicons that you must consume, i.e., you will be eating your own words.

     d. Ayn Rand, author of “Atlas Shrugged”, once said “A creative [successful] person is motivated by the desire to achieve [beyond one’s current station]; not to best others.”

     e. Set aside your anger. You will never get ahead in life as long as you are “trying to get even”. Remember, helping someone up will never drag you down.


9. Think positively; people become successful the moment they plan to be.

     a. Plan; “People don’t plan to fail…they fail to plan”.

     b. People spend more time planning their vacations than planning their life strategies; education, health, marriage, career, retirement, spirituality, demise.


10. Leadership Sucks! Be a leader anyway!!

      a. Most leaders agree that the foundation for their successful movement to the top of the “feeding chain” is build solidly by the bricks that others have thrown at them throughout their life’s journey.

      b. Leadership has always been tough. Groupthink rules… because most people feel comfortable with it. Sadly,  in the kingdom of the Blind, the one-eyed person has a difficult time leading. Everyone is busy trying to take that eye out!

      c. Finally, as you go forward in your education and life goals and become a leader, a person engaged in social change for the better… HEED MACHIAVELLI !!!

  “There is nothing more difficult to carry out, nor more doubtful of success, nor more dangerous to handle, than to initiate a new order of things.”

God’s speed dear graduates may you all see your life plans come true and may your lives be filled with purpose and resilience and, above all,  peace of mind.

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