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  • Writer's pictureNeal Hagberg

TLC Blog Is Back! – “40 Things I Have Learned in 40 Years At TLC”

This past summer I said the words out loud to campers for the first time and found them hard to believe: “This is my 40th summer at TLC, 13th as director.” How is it possible I have been here 40 years when I made it clear I was only intending to stay one? Part of it is in the lessons I kept gleaning, and still glean, each year that goes by. I’ll share 40 of them with you now in no particular order.


Neal in the early ’80s donning the TLC short shorts. Those were so cool back then!


  1. My purpose in life is not to find the right job, the right spouse, the right kid, the right amount of money, my purpose in life is to love.

  2. Laugh often, but at yourself, not others.

  3. Diversity is a beautiful thing. Why are we so afraid of it?

  4. There is nothing quite as joyful as being in a room of staff members or campers who can’t wait to sing.

  5. Silence reaches places that words never will.

  6. Music reaches places that silence never will.

  7. Love is hard, hate is easy, but only love will bring you peace.

  8. When you think you are in the right or you fear you are in the wrong, ask someone you trust, “What am I missing?”

  9. Every action has a consequence. Choose carefully.

  10. You cannot be “anything you want to be” in life. I wanted to be a Wimbledon champion, an NFL quarterback, and an NBA point guard.  Case closed.

  11. Not everyone is going to like you. When you get your mind around that, you are free to be yourself.

  12. Being forgiven is out of your control, but forgiving someone is your choice.

  13. There will be times when you must make decisions that will make you terribly lonely. Find someone you love to listen and, if you are not Swedish, give you a hug.

  14. You are not doing anybody a favor by avoiding conflict.

  15. You will have adversity every single day of your life, so instead of avoiding it, have a plan and embrace it to the best of your ability.

  16. “I’m sorry” is strength. Adding “but…” is weakness.

  17. A hundred years from now we won’t remember anything. We are only guaranteed “now”.

  18. When you lose to someone you think you should have beaten, resist the urge to make an excuse, and instead tell them one thing they did well and congratulate them on their victory. (Steve Wilkinson)

  19. Everyone is brain washed. It’s just a matter of how you want your brain washed. (Barb Wilkinson)

  20. Taking time to write a four sentence thank you note will change two lives for the better: the recipient’s and yours.


Neal during Training Camp this past summer!


  1. Your emotions will come and go, they are not in your control, but how you choose to act or react is.

  2. Be kind to yourself, no one gets the Three Crowns right all the time.

  3. A gratitude minute twice a day will reset your mind and make you remember what is actually important. And it’s usually not the things you are chasing after.

  4. If you are 99% sure the ball is out, you must call it good for your opponent, or you will be cheating your opponent at least 1% of the time. (Steve Wilkinson)

  5. Loosen your grip on your racket and life and both will flow easier.

  6. Bullies usually learn to bully by having been bullied themselves.

  7. After every point with your doubles partner, no matter how good or poorly you or they are playing, 1) smile, 2) make eye contact, 3) give a word of encouragement, and 4) give a high five, racket touch, or fist bump. (Steve Wilkinson)

  8. You cannot change other people, but how you treat them may cause them to reconsider their actions.

  9. Accept the things you cannot change, change the things you can, and spend time learning the difference.

  10. Positive Attitude, Full Effort, and Good Sportsmanship will not keep painful things from your doorstep, but it will give you tools to deal with them. (Steve Wilkinson)

  11. Everyone suffers from something. Be as compassionate as possible with each person you meet.

  12. When you need help, ask for help.

  13. Until everyone belongs, no one truly belongs.

  14. It doesn’t matter what my good intentions are if the impact of my actions hurts others.

  15. If you are not willing to take a stand for justice for all, nothing will change, including yourself.

  16. Looking in the mirror and saying, “You’re beautiful!” will make you laugh even if you don’t feel beautiful.

  17. Every person in a group or organization has something unique and important to bring that no one else can. Make that room as diverse as you possibly can, and don’t give up until it’s done.

  18. Failure is essential in order to learn, but that doesn’t mean it’s fun.

  19. I am still learning.

  20. See #1

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