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The news Wednesday of the Virginia shootings sickens me. All shootings sicken me. GOP House Whip Steve Scalise, R-La., was among five people wounded when a shooter sprayed rifle fire at congressional Republicans practicing on a diamond in Alexandria.

I will not draw lines, make comparisons or participate in any conversation right now that does not begin with a message of nonviolence.

We need leadership on all sides to quell the hateful rhetoric and to restore our faith in one another. When I was a boy, it was my father who knew how to moderate the tempers of his sons who had, for one adolescent reason or another, lost their better judgment. My father passed away 16 years ago and he was that kind of leader; he inspired people in his life (like his sons) to find just and peaceful solutions to conflicts. He led by example with resolute values.

Wisdom was found in how he led his life and how he viewed success. Today, with the hope of having better conversations with those with whom I sometimes disagree, I want to find some common perspectives.

My father had 11 rules for success and for a happy existence that some of you may relate to. Ten would have satisfied our obsession with base 10, but he didn’t even know he had this set of principles. These were culled, by me, from his consistent application of them.

They are:

1) Get up early. Successful people have more done by 8 a.m. than many people will by noon.

2) Arrive early! Never be late. Respect your time and the time of others.

3) Conserve. Nothing is unlimited. Never wear out a light switch, or even a welcome.

4) Use things as they were intended. A screwdriver is not a hammer. Although, a “screwdriver” can get you hammered (note: his humor was corny).

5) Details are important. The attention you pay is the attention you’ll receive.

6) Treasure what is in your hand. Don’t measure your life by what is missing from it; cherish, instead, what you have.

7) Being positive is infectious and creates energy; energy is the source of creativity.

8) Share credit. Nothing is accomplished alone. This is what inspires trust and others will join your cause.

9) Never give up. Those who win can only be from among those who didn’t quit.

10) There is no genuine success unless you are genuinely moral, kind, generous and fair.

11) Play by the rules. You may lead the agents of change, but you won’t change anything if you’re not in the game.

You see what I mean? Leaders are not always the person at the head of the room or in charge of great numbers of people; leaders are also relevant when they live a simple, noble life, even if they inspire only a few. It is the integrity of their values that defines them as a leader.

Take from this what you will, but contained within is a sincere wish for a safe, happy and prosperous life. This is also a plea for better conversations, greater understanding and a clearer commitment to cooperation.

Gary Kroeger is an advertising executive in Cedar Falls and a former Iowa legislative candidate.

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