December 31st, 2008
If you’re serious about becoming a wealthy, powerful, sophisticated, healthy, influential, cultured and unique individual, keep a journal. Don’t trust your memory. When you listen to something valuable, write it down. When you come across something important, write it down.
I used to take notes on pieces of paper and torn-off corners and backs of old envelopes. I wrote ideas on restaurant placemats. On long sheets, narrow sheets and little sheets and pieces of paper thrown in a drawer. Then I found out that the best way to organize those ideas is to keep a journal. I’ve been keeping these journals since the age of twenty-five. The discipline makes up a valuable part of my learning, and the journals are a valuable part of my library.
I am a buyer of blank books. Kids find it interesting that I would buy a blank book. They say, “Twenty-six dollars for a blank book! Why would you pay that?” The reason I pay twenty-six dollars is to challenge myself to find something worth twenty-six dollars to put in there. All my journals are private, but if you ever got a hold of one of them, you wouldn’t have to look very far to discover it is worth more than twenty-six dollars.
I must admit, if you got a glimpse of my journals, you’d have to say that I am a serious student. I’m not just committed to my craft, I’m committed to life, committed to learning new concepts and skills. I want to see what I can do with seed, soil, sunshine and rain to turn them into the building blocks of a productive life.
Keeping a journal is so important. I call it one of the three treasures to leave behind for the next generation. In fact, future generations will find these three treasures far more valuable than your furniture.
The first treasure is your pictures. Take a lot of pictures. Don’t be lazy in capturing the event. How long does it take to capture the event? A fraction of a second. How long does it take to miss the event? A fraction of a second. So don’t miss the pictures. When you’re gone, they’ll keep the memories alive.
The second treasure is your library. This is the library that taught you, that instructed you, that helped you defend your ideals. It helped you develop a philosophy. It helped you become wealthy, powerful, healthy, sophisticated, and unique. It may have helped you conquer some disease. It may have helped you conquer poverty. It may have caused you to walk away from the ghetto. Your library, the books that instructed you, fed your mind and fed your soul, is one of the greatest gifts you can leave behind.
The third treasure is your journals: the ideas that you picked up, the information that you meticulously gathered. But of the three, journal writing is one of the greatest indications that you’re a serious student. Taking pictures, that is pretty easy. Buying a book at a book store, that’s pretty easy. It is a little more challenging to be a student of your own life, your own future, your own destiny. Take the time to keep notes and to keep a journal. You’ll be so glad you did. What a treasure to leave behind when you go. What a treasure to enjoy today!
December 30th, 2008
One of the amazing things we have been given as humans is the unquenchable desire to have dreams of a better life, and the ability to establish goals to live out those dreams. Think of it: We can look deep within our hearts and dream of a better situation for ourselves and our families; dream of better financial lives and better emotional or physical lives; certainly dream of better spiritual lives. But what makes this even more powerful is that we have also been given the ability to not only dream but to pursue those dreams and not only to pursue them, but the cognitive ability to actually lay out a plan and strategies (setting goals) to achieve those dreams. Powerful! And that is what we will discuss here: How to dream dreams and establish goals to get those dreams.
What are your dreams and goals? This isn’t what you already have or what you have done, but what you want. Have you ever really sat down and thought through your life values and decided what you really want? Have you ever taken the time to truly reflect, to listen quietly to your heart, to see what dreams live within you? Your dreams are there. Everyone has them. They may live right on the surface, or they may be buried deep from years of others telling you they were foolish, but they are there.
So how do we know what our dreams are? This is an interesting process and it relates primarily to the art of listening. This is not listening to others; it is listening to yourself. If we listen to others, we hear their plans and dreams (and many will try to put their plans and dreams on us). If we listen to others, we can never be fulfilled. We will only chase elusive dreams that are not rooted deep within us. No, we must listen to our own hearts.
Let’s take a look at some practical steps/thoughts on hearing from our hearts on what our dreams are:
Take time to be quiet. This is something that we don’t do enough in this busy world of ours. We rush, rush, rush, and we are constantly listening to noise all around us. The human heart was meant for times of quiet, to peer deep within. It is when we do this that our hearts are set free to soar and take flight on the wings of our own dreams! Schedule some quiet “dream time” this week. No other people. No cell phone. No computer. Just you, a pad, a pen, and your thoughts.
Think about what really thrills you. When you are quiet, think about those things that really get your blood moving. What would you LOVE to do, either for fun or for a living? What would you love to accomplish? What would you try if you were guaranteed to succeed? What big thoughts move your heart into a state of excitement and joy? When you answer these questions you, will feel great and you will be in the “dream zone.” It is only when we get to this point that we experience what our dreams are!
Write down all of your dreams as you have them. Don’t think of any as too outlandish or foolish – remember, you’re dreaming! Let the thoughts fly and take careful record.
Now, prioritize those dreams. Which are most important? Which are most feasible? Which would you love to do the most? Put them in the order in which you will actually try to attain them. Remember, we are always moving toward action, not just dreaming.
Here is the big picture: Life is too short to not pursue your dreams. Someday your life will near its end and all you will be able to do is look backwards. You can reflect with joy or regret. Those who dream, who set goals and act on them to live out their dreams are those who live lives of joy and have a sense of peace when they near the end of their lives. They have finished well, for themselves and for their families.
Remember: These are the dreams and goals that are born out of your heart and mind. These are the goals that are unique to you and come from who you were created to be and gifted to become. Your specific goals are what you want to attain because they are what will make your life joyful and bring your family’s life into congruence with what you want it to be.
Education is the chief remedy for all those great evils which afflict the country. Education will not only cultivate and improve the intellect of the nation, but will also purify its character.
- Keshub Chunder Sen
Learn the rules, break the rules, make up new rules, break the new rules.
- Marvin Bell
“You can never earn in the outside world more than you earn in your own mind.”
— Brian Tracy: Personal and business training author, speaker, and consultant
“There is an ancient script that says, ‘He that wishes to be ignorant, let him be ignorant.’ But I took off the last word and it now reads for me like this: He that wishes to be ignorant, let him be!” Jim Rohn
December 30th, 2008
I love the quote, which I read on AsAManThinketh: “And the day came when the risk it took to remain tight inside the bud was more painful than the risk it took to blossom.” Anais Nin It caused me to think . A bud when it is closed tight is protected from the wind and rain. Its delicate petals and stamens are enclosed, safe from harm, bundled up tight and secure. But the pressure is building! Some thing is pushing them, one against the other and gossip is that at the top of the bud, the protective case has split and some of the petals are being pushed out!
Actually some of the petals were excited at the prospect of being free, of being able to move as they wished, of greeting the ‘Sun’ that they had heard so much about. Others were more cautious – fearing unnecessary change!
Now the report had come back from the top petals that the sun was dulled, and they were being battered by the wind. They were trying to get back in the bud – and all that was doing was increasing the split – and other petals were exposed.
One big petal was very quiet in all the ensuing discussion! He knew he was close to the Sun now. He had waited sooo long! He pushed up and out with all his might. He could see the split just above him now! I’ll try again, he determined. I must get a glimpse! So he focused and tried again. He pushed and pushed and the pressure was too much for the bud and it split down the side. The petal turned his eyes outward! What wonder! What fresh air! The smells! The perfume! The possibilities! The freedom!
“It is wonderful, just wonderful!” he yelled to the petals behind him. “Come on! Let’s show the world how beautiful we are!” He urged.
“But, the risk!” the other petals argued, “Let’s stay here – it is more comfortable now the bud is split!”
Just then a little voice was heard outside. “Daddy, come quick. The bud is opening! Look at the beautiful colour!” “Can you smell the perfume?” was the reply. “No, Daddy, no smell!” “You will be able to smell it when all the petals are open. It will be wonderful”
The petals were all quiet for a few moments. Suddenly they understood! To bloom, would eventually cost them everything! But to bloom is what they were created for! To remain a bud and die on the vine was unthinkable! “We must bloom. We must all push together. We must be the best most attractive bloom. Then the bees will come and sup with us, and though we die we will actually live for ever!”
PS A week later a satisfied petal lay under the vine, blown against the fence. His colour was fading, but his perfume was still strong. They had done well. The little girl had admired them everyday – but more importantly they had opened themselves completely to the Sun – and the bees had come. And as he looked up to the vine, even now he could see the swelling, just below the last few petals, that spoke of fruit, with its promise of new life.
Near him on the ground was a bud – it had never opened itself to the Sun. The vine had dropped it to the ground as useless. How sad to have never experienced the Sun – to never have reached fulfillment! How thankful he was that the big petal had the vision and courage to lead them out!!
December 25th, 2008
I remember tearing across town on my bike to visit my Grandma on the day my big sister dropped the bomb: “There is no Santa Claus,” she jeered. “Even dummies know that!”
My Grandma was not the gushy kind, never had been. I fled to her that day because I knew she would be straight with me. I knew Grandma always told the truth, and I knew that the truth always went down a whole lot easier when swallowed with one of her world-famous cinnamon buns. Grandma was home, and the buns were still warm. Between bites, I told her everything.
She was ready for me. “No Santa Claus!” she snorted. “Ridiculous! Don’t believe it. That rumor has been going around for years, and it makes me mad, plain mad. Now, put on your coat, and let’s go” “Go? Go where, Grandma?” I asked.
“Where” turned out to be Kerby’s General Store, the one store in town that had a little bit of just about everything. As we walked through it doors, Grandma handed me twenty dollars. That was a bundle in those days “Take this money and buy something for someone who needs it. I’ll wait for you in the car.” Then she turned and walked out of Kerby’s.
I was only eight years old. I’d often gone shopping with my mother, but never had I shopped for anything all by myself. The store seemed big and crowded, full of people scrambling to finish their Christmas shopping. For a few moments I just stood there, wondering what to buy, and who on earth to buy it for. Suddenly I thought of Bobbie Decker. He sat right behind me in Mrs. Pollock’s grade-two class. Bobbie Decker didn’t have a coat. I knew that because he never went out for recess during the winter. I fingered the twenty-dollar bill with growing excitement. I would buy Bobbie Decker a coat. I settled on a red corduroy one that had a hood to it. It looked real warm, and he would like that.
That evening, Grandma helped me wrap the coat in Christmas paper and ribbons, and write, “To Bobbie, From Santa Claus” on it – Grandma said that Santa always insisted on secrecy. Then she drove me over to Bobbie Decker’s house, explaining as we went that I was now and forever officially one of Santa’s helpers. Grandma parked down the street from Bobbie’s house, and she and I crept noiselessly and hid in the bushes by his front walk. Then Grandma gave me a nudge. “All right, Santa Claus,” she whispered, “get going.” I took a deep breath, dashed for his front door, threw the present down on his step, pounded his doorbell and flew back to the safety of the bushes and Grandma. From there we watched Bobbie come to the door and pick up his present from “Santa.”
Forty years haven’t dimmed the thrill of those moments spent shivering, beside my grandma, in Bobbie Decker’s bushes. That night, I realized that those awful rumors about Santa Claus were just what Grandma said they were: ridiculous. Santa was alive and well, and we were on his team.”
I still have the Bible, with the coat tag tucked inside: $19.95.
To the American People: Christmas is not a time or a season but a state of mind. To cherish peace and good will, to be plenteous in mercy, is to have the real spirit of Christmas. If we think on these things, there will be born in us a Savior and over us will shine a star sending its gleam of hope to the world. – Calvin Coolidge (1872-1933), American president. Presidential message (December 25, 1927)
December 24th, 2008
Give what you’ve got. Agnes W. Thomas tells the story of what happened when her next door neighbor died and left a fourteen year old daughter named Amy who was often alone when her father was at work. “Amy spent much of her after school time in my apartment, so I decided to teach her how to crochet.
“Over the years we spent many happy hours together as we worked. One Christmas we called a local nursing home and asked if they had any residents who would not be receiving gifts at Christmas. Amy and I took our crocheted lap robes to these people on Christmas Eve.
“The following year Amy married and moved away and later when she came back to our area with her beautiful, red haired baby girl, she called and asked if I planned to visit the nursing home on Christmas Eve. ‘I want to be with you,’ she said, ‘but I haven’t had any time to crochet since Jennifer was born, so I don’t have any gifts to take them.’ ‘That’s all right,’ I said, ‘you can help me take mine.’ ‘No, I have a better idea,’ she said, ‘I’ll take my greatest treasure – my baby.’
“Great merriment appeared on the faces of the elderly people when we walked into the room with that beautiful baby. ‘Oh, she looks just like my daughter did when she was a baby,’ exclaimed one of the residents. ‘May I hold her?’ asked another. Jennifer was passed around like a doll.
“That baby brought more joy and laughter than all of my crocheted lap robes. Amy was happy too. ‘They really liked my baby, didn’t they?’ she asked as we left the building. ‘To make people happy, I guess you just give what you have.’”
How true. The human spirit is encouraged by the love and concern of another person, and what could be more encouraging and delightful to the elderly than holding an innocent baby? That’s a real gift any time of year. Give it a try and I’ll SEE YOU OVER THE TOP!
December 24th, 2008
On Christmas Day, 1776, nearly all thought the Revolution was lost, except for a valiant few who still believed in “The Cause.” We owe our liberty today to those valiant few.
Led by George Washington, most of his army, dressed in rags and barefoot, faced a winter gale of rain, sleet, ice and snow. This band of patriots braved a midnight river crossing and a nine mile march over frozen roads to win a spectacular victory at Trenton, New Jersey, the following morning. Those were indeed times, as Thomas Paine would write, that “try men’s souls.”
In a season that has become too commercialized and — worse yet — had much of its religious meaning driven from the public square, Washington’s Christmas crossing is a story that should be remembered and celebrated, this Christmas and every Christmas.
Christmas is a time to celebrate the birth of Christ, to be with family and friends, and, I would add, to give thanks to God for those who endured so much on that Christmas night, 232 years ago.
Yet there is so much that is alive and dynamic about Washington. And if ever there is a truly epic, heroic moment in our national story, it is when he boarded a small boat, in the midst of a driving winter storm, and crossed the Delaware River on Christmas Night of 1776 with his exhausted, ragged army of little more than 2,000 men in a do or die mission.
When You Start to Feel You Have Nothing to Be Thankful For, Remember that Night in 1776
America is not without its problems this holiday season. Our economy has taken the worst battering in nearly eighty years and enemies abroad still seek our destruction. But when we start to feel like we have nothing to be thankful for, we should think back to the Christmas of 1776.
George Washington and those who crossed the Delaware with him had a clear vision of the future. They were willing to pledge their lives, their fortunes and their sacred honor, on their actions that night.
As you and your family celebrate the holidays, please take a moment to reflect and offer a prayer of thanks for those who risked all for the freedoms we enjoy today. And as always, keep in your prayers those, who on Christmas night and during the celebration of Hanukkah, will stand silent vigil on distant fronts to insure our safety and freedom.
December 23rd, 2008
If there is a future there is time for mending-
Time to see your troubles coming to an ending.
Life is never hopeless however great your sorrow-
If you’re looking forward to a new tomorrow.
If there is time for wishing then there is time for hoping-
When through doubt and darkness you are blindly groping.
Though the heart be heavy and hurt you may be feeling-
If there is time for praying there is time for healing.
So if through your window there is a new day breaking-
Thank God for the promise, though mind and soul be aching,
If with harvest over there is grain enough for gleaning-
There is a new tomorrow and life still has meaning.
December 23rd, 2008
I was parked in front of the mall wiping off my car. I had just come
from the car wash and was waiting for my wife to get out of work.
Coming my way from across the parking lot was what society would
consider a bum.
From the looks of him, he had no car, no home, no clean clothes, and no
money. There are times when you feel generous but there are other times
that you just don’t want to be bothered. This was one of those “don’t
want to be bothered times.”
“I hope he doesn’t ask me for any money,” I thought.
He came and sat on the curb in front of the bus stop but he didn’t look
like he could have enough money to even ride the bus.
After a few minutes he spoke.
“That’s a very pretty car,” he said.
He was ragged but he had an air of dignity around him. His scraggly
blond beard keep more than his face warm.
I said, “thanks,” and continued wiping off my car.
He sat there quietly as I worked. The expected plea for money never
As the silence between us widened something inside said, "ask him if
he needs any help." I was sure that he would say "yes" but I held true
to the inner voice.
"Do you need any help?" I asked.
He answered in three simple but profound words that I shall never forget.
We often look for wisdom in great men and women. We expect it from
those of higher learning and accomplishments.
I expected nothing but an
outstretched grimy hand. He spoke the three words that shook me.
"Don't we all?" he said.
I was feeling high and mighty, successful and important, above a bum
in the street, until those three words hit me like a twelve gauge
Don't we all?
I needed help. Maybe not for bus fare or a place to sleep, but I
needed help. I reached in my wallet and gave him not only enough for bus
fare, but enough to get a warm meal and shelter for the day. Those
three little words still ring true. No matter how much you have, no matter
how much you have accomplished, you need help too. No matter how little you
have, no matter how loaded you are with problems, even without money or
a place to sleep, you can give help.
Even if it's just a compliment, you can give that.
You never know when you may see someone that appears to have it all.
They are waiting on you to give them what they don't have. A different
perspective on life, a glimpse at something beautiful, a respite from
daily chaos, that only you through a torn world can see.
Maybe the man was just a homeless stranger wandering the streets. Maybe
he was more than that.
Maybe he was sent by a power that is great and
wise, to minister to a soul too comfortable in themselves.
Maybe God looked down, called an Angel, dressed him like a bum, then said, "go minister to that man cleaning the car, that man needs help."
Don't we all?
December 22nd, 2008
There’s a Chinese proverb that is more relevant today than ever before: “If you haven’t seen a man or woman for three days, look them over very carefully when you next encounter them, for they will have changed dramatically during that three-day period.”
More changes are crammed into every day of our lives than our grandparents experienced in decades – and this process is just beginning. Every 15 seconds a new website is launched! Every 15 minutes a new technological breakthrough occurs! Every 15 days a new product or service is introduced, that didn’t exist before! Consider for a moment that the musical greeting card you ordered via the web has more computing power than existed on the planet when the first satellite went into orbit in outer space.
Consider the computer’s impact. Designed as a tool for managing complexity, it also adds complexity, just as freeways add more traffic. The computer enables us to sort, store, retrieve and transmit information with ever-increasing speed. But the faster data can be analyzed, the faster decisions are expected – and the greater the pressure to reach them. And the computer’s efficiency is hardly lost on our competitors. They utilize them to produce goods and services of comparable quality, for less money.
As this year comes to a close and a new year arrives, welcome change rather than try to resist it. Learn how to make change work for you rather than against you. Develop unique strategies and skills that enable you to create opportunities from challenges. In response to rapid change, introduce it in the form of new business systems, pricing, and marketing that increase effectiveness and efficiency; create new products and new services; lower costs and encourage ideas to enhance productivity.
In everything we do, there are more choices available today than at any other time in history. To become the “brand” or “person” of choice, give others what they want in a time-starved world. Save others time and money, and you will gain more time freedom and wealth.
This week embrace change and make it work to your advantage!
Problems are a Normal Part of Change
When asked, “How do you develop mental toughness in life?” my response might sound negative at first. I answer, “Always be prepared for a surprise. The surprise might be a negative surprise. Something is going to happen in your day, whether you are late because you got stuck behind a train or your car had a flat tire — something is going to happen. And the key is your ability not to take mole hills and look at them as mountains.”
Problems are a normal part of change. Things are changing so rapidly that there are going to be problems you face. So you must look at failure as an event, not as a person. I’m not a failure. Maybe I’ve had a failure or a temporary inconvenience. I’ve had a stumbling block, and the idea is to turn the stumbling block into a stepping stone, and step on it instead of stumble over it. So look at failure as the fertilizer of success.
Fertilizer stinks, it smells. You see that guy putting it on his lawn and you say, “Wow, that guy fertilized his lawn.” You fertilize your mistakes. You don’t wallow in them, lay in them, roll in them; you pick yourself up off your mistakes and learn from them. You try not to repeat that same thing again. But you look at it as a temporary inconvenience, as a detour — a detour in life — not as a failure.
Attitude is the Edge
At the world-class level, talent is nearly equal. On the PGA tour only a few strokes for the year separate the top money winners in golf from the rest of the players. In baseball, the American and National League batting champions hit safely about 20 or 30 more times in an entire season than those below the top ten. In the Olympic Games, the difference between the gold-medal winner in the one hundred meter dash and the fourth place, non-medal winner is less than two-tenths of a second.
What´s true in sports is also true in our business and personal lives. There is only a fractional difference between winners in life and those who merely exist. The difference is attitude under pressure. It’s the winner’s edge.
The Edge is not a gifted birth. The world is full of wasted talent.
The Edge is not academic degrees. Education is important, but the world is full of educated misfits.
The Edge is not luck. If it were, Las Vegas would be a ghost town.
The Edge is not capital. Many of today’s self-made, multi-millionaires started building their fortunes with under $5,000.
The Edge is all attitude. Attitude, not aptitude, is the criterion for success.
December 20th, 2008
One of my all-time favorite aphorisms is: “A pat on the back accomplishes more than a slap in the face.” Recently I saw it stated a little differently: “A pat on the back, though only a few vertebrae removed from a kick in the pants, is miles ahead in results.”
In this uncertain job market, with employees worrying about the health of their companies and their own futures, encouragement is especially reassuring. In tough economic times, when companies need to re-evaluate raises and bonuses, a positive word can ease tensions and promote productivity.
Send a signal that someone is incompetent or bad at something and you have destroyed almost every incentive to improve. Hey, if the boss already thinks you are an idiot, do you stand a chance?
However, encourage that person and he or she will work even harder to excel. It is possible, and desirable, to criticize errors without destroying an employee’s confidence. A person may not be as good as you tell her she is, but she’ll try harder thereafter and achieve even more.
When was the last time you said any of the following? “You did a terrific job.” “I’m sorry.” “I was wrong.” “I forgive you.” “I believe you.” “I appreciate all that you’re doing.” “You make me proud.” If you can’t remember using these phrases, you’ve got some retooling to do.
The late Mary Kay Ash, the cosmetics giant, was a champion motivator and a “people person” if I ever met one. She put it this way: “The two things people want more than sex or money are recognition and praise.”
The cost of giving sincere praise is next to nothing, but a recent study has found that the payoff can be huge.
Employees want to be praised because it means they can be seen as competent, hardworking members of the team. Good managers want satisfied, motivated and productive staff members.
A Personnel Today survey of 350 human resources professionals found that the greatest factor in workplace productivity is a positive environment in which employees feel appreciated. The survey reports that two-thirds of the respondents said they felt a lot more productive when they received recognition for their work, while the remainder said they felt a little more productive.
Just feeling productive can be motivating in itself. When workers don’t feel productive, frustration sets in, according to 84 percent of the survey respondents. Twenty percent said they felt angry or depressed when they weren’t able to work as hard as they could.
Here are three tips for providing praise effectively:
- Be sincere. Give praise only where it is due. Workers can spot phony sentiments, and resent the implication that they are so gullible that they would fall for such flattery. The Greeks have a saying: “Many know how to flatter; few know how to praise.” Learn the difference.
- Give public praise. Your goal is to encourage the employee to keep up the good work, while simultaneously encouraging others to put out greater effort. Praising in public is a good way to raise general morale. Praise loudly, blame softly.
- Be specific in your praise. Name exactly what it is the employee has worked on and what he or she has accomplished. Don’t just say, “Well done, John.” Remember that if the employee feels the praise isn’t genuine, it could have a negative effect.
Praising your staff may lead to an unexpected result: You, the manager, will come away with a renewed sense of confidence in the people who report to you. After all, if you hired someone to do a job that they are not suited for, you have to assume some of the responsibility for their shortcomings. It’s up to you to help them build the strengths and competencies necessary to deserve some praise. Then delivering those compliments is especially sweet.
I learned an important lesson about praise from my father, contained in a letter that he’d written to my sister and me to be read after his death. He reminded us of some of the things he wanted us to remember in our relationships with others.
One point he stressed was how important it is to compliment and praise others so we can never feel sorry for something left unsaid. I have taken that advice to heart, and I know it has been as important in my business life as it has been in my personal life.
Mackay’s Moral: People have a way of becoming what you encourage them to be.