Seeds of Opportunity

When adversity, failure, and heartache are part of my day, the first reaction is not, “Oh, great! What a wonderful opportunity to learn and grow.”

Yet, the definition of opportunity is:

When the situation is right for you to do something you’re interested in doing, you have the opportunity to do it. The word comes from the Latin phrase, ob portum veniens “coming toward a port” which refers to a favorable wind blowing ships into the harbor. Think of an opportunity as something a good wind blew your way.

When problems raise their ugly, fire-breathing, dragon heads, I’d much rather gather up the black balloons, invite some whiners, crawl off into a cave to lick my wounds, and throw a grand ‘Pity Party’ — all for me.

Timeless Principles

Recently, however, I fumbled into an old audiobook download in my Audible library, by Napoleon Hill, of Think and Grow Rich fame. When I use ‘old‘ as an adjective, it’s because the season of his major thoughts and famous books was from the late 1920’s through the late 1930’s.

Although, in keeping with the principle of, “There’s nothing new under the sun,” I’ll mention that the concepts presented by Napoleon Hill are timeless. Read through his biography and notice how many times he, in the eyes of the bystander ‘failed.’ Yet, he — like Thomas Edison — simply, believed he had found one more way that doesn’t work and had discovered a stepping stone to future success.

All of the great Thinkers share this one noble premise, “Success is a State of Mind.”

Whatever the mind can conceive and believe, it can achieve.

Two Very Different Worldviews

I know you’ve heard the story about the two boys on Christmas morning. One boy is taken to the barn by his Dad and surprised with a pony. The young fellow is upset — because, he wanted a motorcycle. The other boy, when the stable door is opened, is greeted by a large pile of sh!t. Excitedly, he jumps right in and announces to his Dad, “Somewhere in this large pile of manure must be a big horse!”

Or, in the words of Napoleon Hill,

Every adversity, every failure, every heartache carries with it the seed of an equal or greater benefit.

Odds are good our young entrepreneur didn’t find a horse in the dung heap. Yet, his Dad probably commended him for his attitude and effort. And, then, introduced him to a steed beyond the boy’s imagination.

All We Do Begins With A Thought

When we’re confronted by a Problem, can we immediately turn our minds from thinking, “Oh, darn!” — to believing there is a hidden Opportunity?

If we’re struggling a little, we can listen to this encouragement.

Regardless of what you think about Garth Brooks — or, his lifestyle choices — there is undeniably a resonance with the lyrics of that song for each of us.

There have been times in each of our lives when we thought we knew best. Other times, when we asked, “Why me Lord?” And, many times when we endured the laughter of the judgemental enjoying the pain of our mistakes.

One Man’s Mistake Is Another Man’s Harvest

Were they, really, mistakes, or seeds of opportunity?

Think about it. If you’re a gardener, you know seeds are necessary to grow anything. To have a harvest, seeds must be planted and nurtured. It’s a small leap of faith to see that we are given seeds — for our personal growth. What we do with them is our choice.

Speaking of gifts, here’s another thought. If flesh and blood, imperfect specimens of earthly Fathers have an aching desire to give the best to their children, it’s pretty easy to imagine a Higher Power having our best interests at heart.

The Man In The Arena

Speaking of heart, here are the words of a hero, Teddy Roosevelt.

It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.

Cold and timid souls will delight when we stumble. They will envy our success — and, the galactically stupid of them will, literally, swear at us, as we offer to help them in their journey.

At the very best, 50% of the world will love us — and, the other 50% not so much. If we boldly share our beliefs and courageously defend them, guaranteed, we will make enemies of those with different beliefs. Because — birds of a feather do flock together.

It is not the end of the world when we face adversity, failure, and heartache. It is, simply, the end of one, very long, bad day.

Framing Is What Builders Do

Because success is a state (or, frame) of mind, all we need to do is ‘re-state‘ — or ‘re-frame‘ — the situation from a Problem to an Opportunity.

And, “No,” this Story is not about defining Success by how much Money can be accumulated in a bank account. Remember, you are a unique creation — and, quite capable of defining Success in your way and on your terms.

Later in the life of Napoleon Hill, he had this to say,

Only by working harmoniously in co-operation with other individuals or groups of individuals and thus creating value and benefit for them will one create sustainable achievement for oneself.

We do that by planting the seeds of opportunity harvested from adversity, failure, and heartache. Then, we tend them with the greatest gift (love), which is a chosen, purposeful effort — often done in the face of fear — to nurture our own growth and the growth of others.

Magic of Three

“The definition of genius is taking the complex and making it simple.”
― Albert Einstein

And… the best way to do that is by using the Magic of Three.

The blue hyperlink, above, is an excellent explanation of why this is true.

Automobile Univesity

On a road trip this weekend, the concept was reinforced in my mind. For many years, I’ve been enrolled in AU (Automobile University). Through the curriculum offered by Audible, extensive course selection is available on audiobooks.

As a business coach and consultant, I’m always interested in what thought leaders have to offer. So, I dutifully paid for the course Million Dollar Consulting, by Alan Weiss.

Magic of Three

What is the magic of 3?

Take a look at the left side of the number — 3 points, which form a pattern, which our mind can process and remember, easily. Two feels lacking, and four feels tedious. Test for yourself — choose three of anything and see how comfortable the relationship is.

As a CPA (Certified Public Accountant) for 35+ years, I’ve been guilty of sharing too much, too fast, and scaring the living bejeezus out of People. I’m still in the process of breaking that bad habit. However, I know for a fact, “Less is More.”

Complex To Simple

So, as I’m cruising the deserts of Wyoming this weekend, in my Rudy Red Ford F-150, the magic of three enchants me, once again. I discovered that a 6-hour and 21-minute audiobook can be condensed into three words.

Objective
Measure
Value

Now, to be clear, the rest of the book explains the importance of those three words. One of the reasons this book can be of value to anyone is that it demonstrates the steps in motivating ourselves and others to grow.

To move from where we are to where we want to be, we must begin with the end in mind (Objective). To maintain our enthusiasm in the middle of a desert journey, we must nurture hope by managing our progress (Measure). We are able and willing to reach our destination, because of the benefit to ourselves and others (Value).

Another Worldview

These 3 words encapsulate another way to think of this concept.

Why
How
What

Why are you thinking about doing something? Does it complement your purpose in life? Will it provide happiness and joy? (People)

How will you accomplish your goal? Are you able to make the sacrifices necessary to let go of the old habits and develop new ways? (Process)

What will be the benefit to you and others in your sphere of influence? Is this legacy adequate for your mark on the world? (Results)

Just like all Universal Principles, it is impossible to describe the logic of magic with words. But, I’ll bet you have felt the power of it.

By reading this article once, you’ll always remember the concepts presented, above — thanks to the Magic of Three.

Catch A Gear

Generally, I write at a PG-13 level — for minds of an impressionable age.

However, this article is intended, only, for mature audiences.

My definition of that, for this conversation, is anything north of 30 years old. By the age of thirty, we have gained a wealth of education and experience. We have been suckered into believing things that, simply, were not true — by people who intentionally wanted to cause harm. And, we have, probably, been betrayed at least once.

Searching and Speeding

As a result, we have searched for that fine line, between — wanting to believe the best about everyone and protecting the integrity of our soul. For each of us, that fine line of distinction will be different. So, our search for answers will have been unique.

During that search for answers, odds are good that we read a few books. One of them might have been Speed of Trust, by Stephen M. R. Covey.

Catch a gear is my euphemism for —

grab a gear
turnin’ and burnin’
runnin’ full stack
mashin’ and a gassin’

All of which are Trucker terms of endearment for — going faster.

Marbles In The Jar

As twenty-somethings, we were invincible — with no thought for tomorrow. In fact, we didn’t even think about the end of days, because we were consumed with squeezing every last drop of fun out of each day.

The idea of going faster was a joke — because, we were already running around with our hair on fire, billowing black smoke, and going in big circles. Yet, past that doorway threshold of thirty into a bit of dimness in energy, the light came on.

As thirty-somethings, using the math of Threescore and More (score is twenty), we felt a sense of urgency and discovered a jar half empty — or, half full. Either way, time became a more precious resource and priority in our thinking.

Imagine A World

Think about what our world could, should, and would be like if, only, the truth was spoken, there was adherence to moral principles, and sincerity of belief accompanied every action. In other words, rather than some individuals striving to be characters, everyone became self-disciplined in nurturing righteous character.

Just imagine the new frontiers…

Whatever the mind can conceive and believe, it can achieve.

Let’s catch a gear. 🙂

Real Deal

When I hear someone use the word try in a sentence, I cringe. Because I know, for a fact, they are more interested in the talk than they are living the walk.

Accordingly, it’s another humor Kim moment. In support of the above statement, take a pen into your hand. Now, try to drop it. See my point? You’re either going to hang onto it — or, you’re going to drop it.

There’s no “try” to it.

Here’s another example — the word maybe. Those people, who refuse to make a decision, end up high-centering on the fork-in-the-road. Look at the word closer: ma-Y-be. See the fork-in-the-road? The people who are fond of maybe are reluctant to choose — left, or right, at Oak Street.

To encourage us to, always, make a decision, look at ma-Y-be, again.

Ma = Cry Baby
Be = A Creator
Y = Choose to Be

Just one more — how many times have you been promised something, someday? And, someday never came. Builders know this as the secret to accomplishment, “You must begin — and, begin again.” Because — they live by this creed.

Whatever you can do, or dream you can, begin it.
Boldness has genius, power, and magic in it.

Begin it, now.

If we put all of this silliness together, we have, “Someday, maybe I’ll try.

There Is A Better Way

Much more than an audition for the opening night of the Broadway playbill, Life — this is the Real Deal.

So real, in fact, I want to share insight from my children. To be precise, they are young adults, who are taking Relationship Strategies to increasingly higher levels for the benefit of all.

Lindsey and Ryan are priceless gifts. Yet, at times, they will also purchase tangible expressions of reminders for me. On a Father’s Day, Ryan presented “Easy 88“, a bronze of a cowboy making a great ride on a bull. On another day, a beautiful bouquet of flowers arrived from Lindsey, in acknowledgment of birthday “Fifty-Five“.

Also, she has given me Words — inspiring words:

Family ~ Forever, For Always and No Matter What

Tomorrow is the most important thing in life. Comes to us at midnight all clean and perfect and puts itself in our hands. And hopes we’ve learned something from yesterday.

In regards to ‘Lessons Learned’ from yesterday, the most important one can be expressed by a single word:

Forgiveness ~ Let go of the notion that there can be a better, or different, yesterday.

The purest definition of a ‘Rut’ — a grave, with the ends kicked out.

When we replay the past in our minds, over and over, a rut forms — a pattern of thinking. Really, those familiar grooves are the equivalent of a broken record — ’round and ’round the same track, while expecting new music. Does insanity come to mind?!

Music

A common theme in my Family is music — always has been, always will be.

It is the best way to convey messages for us to remember.

Better Get To Livin’ (Video)
Artist: Dolly Parton

People always comin’ up to me and askin’
“Dolly, what’s your secret?
With all you do, your attitude
Just seems to be so good
How do you keep it?”
Well I’m not the Dalai Lama, but I’ll try
To offer up a few words of advice

Chorus:

You better get to livin’, givin’
Don’t forget to throw in a little forgivin’
And lovin’ on the way
You better get to knowin’, showin’
A little bit more concerned about where you’re goin’
Just a word unto the wise
You better get to livin’

A girlfriend came to my house
Started cryin’ on my shoulder Sunday evening
She was spinnin’ such a sad tale
I could not believe the yarn that she was weavin’
So negative the words she had to say
I said if I had a violin I’d play

I said you’d better get to livin’, givin’
Be willing and forgivin’
Cause all healing has to start with you
You better stop whining, pining
Get your dreams in line
And then just shine, design, refine
Until they come true
And you better get to livin’

Your life’s a wreck, your house is mess
And your wardrobe way outdated
All your plans just keep on falling through
Overweight and under paid, under appreciated
I’m no guru, but I’ll tell you
This I know is true

You better get to livin’, givin’
A little more thought about bein’
A little more willin’ to make a better way
Don’t sweat the small stuff
Keep your chin up
Just hang tough
And if it gets too rough
Fall on your knees and pray
And do that every day
Then you’ll get to livin’

The day we’re born we start to die
Don’t waste one minute of this life
Get to livin’
Share your dreams and share your laughter
Make some points for the great hereafter

Better start carin’
Better start sharin’
Better start tryin’
Better start smiling
And you better get to livin’

When we do it right, the livin’ that Dolly encourages is more like playing, than working. Although, as with all things in Life, there is a fine line. On the one hand, we must acknowledge this is serious business. Because, at the end of our Play, all of the props go back in the box. On the other hand, we learn the most when we are playing and having fun.

The Point

And, that, my friend, is the point — We are to learn, grow, care, share, and love.

There’s a story about a southern farmer who goes out into his field early one morning to catch his mule for the day’s work ahead. To his dismay that mule was nowhere in sight. As the farmer headed back to the house, he passed an old, abandoned, hand-dug well. Sure enough. At the bottom of that well was Clyde.

Since the farmer was poor, he had no money to hire the necessary equipment to lift that much weight, from that far down. He was rich in friends, though. So he asked his neighbors to bring their shovels. As sad as it was to lose Clyde, the right thing to do was to fill in that deathtrap.

From the mounds of dirt excavated when the well was originally dug, the farmers began the serious business of burying Clyde and making sure nothing else was ever harmed by the long ignored danger of a pit.

Making the best of a bad situation, they shoveled quickly. As they were finishing up their work and upon hearing something, they paused to look up. To their amazement, they watched Clyde jump out of the well.

You see, while they were shoveling dirt down the hole onto Clyde’s back, he simply shook it off and stepped up.

The gifts from Ryan and Lindsey are much more than plaques and bronzes, They are the evidence of their success in ‘shaking it off and stepping up‘. Through no fault of theirs, they have experienced The Pit and the Bad Hands of cards dealt to them.

With courage, poise, determination, and grace, they have chosen to shake it off and step up — time and time, again. Consequently, the bull and bouquet speak volumes about their character.

A Chosen Effort

From the mouths of babes and the examples of our young people, we learn to — Preserve a childlike sweetness and innocence, while growing out of our childishness.

When I was a child, I spoke as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child; but when I became a man, I put away childish things. For now we see in a mirror, dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part, but then I shall know just as I also am known. And now abide faith, hope, love, these three; but the greatest of these is love.

One thing I have, always, understood — Family and Work are the two legs carrying me across the stages of life.

I believe purpose in life is discovered by acknowledging a power greater than ourselves. As a result, accomplishment is possible by being a conduit for timeless and priceless gifts.

The greatest gift – LOVE – is a chosen, purposeful effort, often done in the face of fear, to nurture our own growth and the growth of others.

Let’s get to livin’!

Why and How

The secret to getting things done is to ask, “Who is going to do What by When?”

An even greater mystery to doing the right things is to know, “Why and How!”

There’s a story about a Montana rancher that goes something like this —

A country doctor is suturing a cut on the hand of a Montana rancher.Post Turtle

Rancher: “At least this hurt comes from building something. Just imagine the pain of a post turtle.”

Doctor: “Oh? What is a post turtle?”

Rancher: “Well, when you’re driving down a country road and you come across a fence post with a turtle balanced on top. That’s a post turtle. You know he didn’t get there by himself; he doesn’t belong there; he can’t get anything done while he’s up there; and, without help to get down, he’s stranded!”

How often do we get stuck?

Pedestals, Ivory Towers, and White Horses

Do we ever consider: “Why?” Is it because we allowed someone to place us on a pedestal, in an ivory tower, or on a white horse? It’s one thing to work hard to earn our place in the world — it’s quite another to be placed somewhere. Even more dangerous than the physical geography is the mental fantasy. It can be our mind playing tricks on us — or, the imaginations of another person projected onto us.

From our earliest memories we are indoctrinated with the propaganda that, to be somebody, we must rise above. Movies, novels and childhood stories revolve around the themes of a princess in an ivory tower attracting the knight in shining armor who gallops in on his trusty white steed.

Joy Is In The Doing

What goes up must come down. Down to the reality that the greatest joys in life are found by serving — not swooning. Life is all about attitude — not altitude. Love is defined as giving — not getting. Let’s all get down, to the business and pleasure of accepting others for who they, really, are — not who we want them to be.

While the grandeur of heights is intoxicating, the grounded efforts of servants produce harvests of abundance. Those who are the greatest, purposefully, take the lowest rank. They are recognized as true leaders by their efforts to serve.

They are the ones who know Why they are here; How they got here; What they are doing here; and, Who have absolutely no fear of falling down. When they stumble, it is to learn a new lesson on their way to another opportunity — of service.

Radical Acceptance

From Upset To Ecstatic

Is anything bothering you – right now?

Are you uptight about any event, thing, or individual — who has caused you grief?

For most of us, the answer is, “Oh, let me count the ways!”

Yet — there is a secret to calming ourselves.

For the sake of conversation, pick an item, above. Odds are good that, if it’s: 1) an Event, you’re replaying the video in your mind of some action, or inaction, that might have gone better, 2) a Thing, you’re reminded of the expression, “We don’t own things — things own us,” and 3) an Individual, you’re either plotting revenge, or impatient for Karma to deliver their just desserts.

In other words, we feel trapped in a world beyond our choosing.

But… what if, I can guarantee to change that feeling — immediately?

The Secret

Radical Acceptance

That’s right — simply, unconditionally, accept what is – iiWii – It Is What It Is.

That event you’re replaying over and over in your mind. Stop it! Wrap your mind around this, “Forgiveness is letting go of the notion that there can be a different, or better, yesterday.” The event is done, over, and in the Past — where it belongs. Move forward into the Present and set your mind on a dream of the Future.

That thing you’re obsessing about. Fix it, give it to someone less fortunate, or be as happy with it as the day you bought it. And, if none of that works, absorb the lesson of, “Beware the impulse shopping purchase and sleep on any major decision requiring resources of time and money.”

That individual you’re imagining in Hades. Let them go. They have made their choices — now, make yours. Decide that you can’t fix Stupid. Take back the power you have given them over your Thoughts. Change their role in your life and think this, “When I give, I’m all in — but, when I’m done there’s no looking back.”

Forgoing All Others

There is something magical about making a choice. Notice the adjective “a” — singular. While there are multiple options, we are stressed — uncertain about which one to choose. At the moment we pick one, we forgo all other choices.

Again, it’s radical acceptance of that one option.

Doesn’t it feel good?

It is our Independence Day.

We have found freedom from the outside influence of anything or anybody.