All In

If you have the passion for building something special (Attitude) and you have done the challenging work to define who YOU are (Boundaries), then, the final step to success is YOU must go All In (Commitment).

Success

Success is not going to magically waltz into our lives. It is not a destination, at which to arrive. Daily, we must create success — the unique version each of us has determined to be right — for the benefit of ourselves and the rest of the world.

The reason people join cults and gangs is that they want someone else to provide the answers to Life. In other words, they want to shirk the responsibility of making their own choices — and, of being held accountable for their own decisions and actions.

All I can say is, “Good luck with that.” I’ve seen how those stories end — and, it’s never pretty. There is a better way. We get our Attitude right and we get our Boundaries right. Then, we go All In — by sacrificing all of the other options, for a single choice — with Commitment.

Got Me Thinking

When I challenged my son, Ryan, recently as to “why” he was letting customers use him as a banker and “why” he was not asking for a deposit on larger projects, he pushed back with, “Well, you’ve always said people want to pay for results.”

As much as I love hearing my own words quoted back to me, I had to grin — because a complete response was going to require some time for thought.

Rest of the Story

Yep — it’s true — people do want to pay for Results, rather than pay by the Hour. However, there’s more to the psychology and ethical business practices than letting the customer determine the degree of our success.

People only do business with those they know, like, and trust. Ryan is a lot like his Grandpa Jim Foard — in so much both of them ooze charisma. Men and women were naturally attracted to my Dad — and, I’ve watched Ryan bask in the glory of his aficionados.

So, for those two men, the Know and Like elements are a given. Trust is a matter of character. I do not have a single memory of my Dad ever saying one thing and doing another.

If Ryan is uncertain about being trustworthy, then I can understand his reluctance in asking for money, before the work is completed. However, if he builds a reputation of being true to his word, then, in the minds of his customers there will be no concern if the project will get done. It will, only, be a matter of when — and, they will know the ETA of that will be ASAP.

In time, Ryan will learn that the very best way to test the commitment of a customer — to the engagement — is to ask them for money. The good customers will already have a check written — and the bad ones will whine.

Old English

Generally, I steer away from the old King’s English, but because of childhood exposure to the Good Book, my memories of that are recorded in KJV. So, when I did the Google Search for “double-minded man” an authorized version was discovered.

A double minded man is unstable in all his ways.

What caught my eye is that the word “is” is italicized — as in absolutely no doubt about it.

New World

Now, I know that I can attract narcissists like moths to a flame. By definition, they are chameleons. Love bombing their victims, today — and, kicking them to the curb, tomorrow. I’m curious, though, have you, too, experienced a plethora of bad actors, lately? For me, in a single month, there was the Pet Dragon gal — and the Trust Fund Baby geezer.

Along with the multitude of other Zombies, the modus operandi of these two was identical — refuse to make up their mind and then explode, when I ask, “Why do you say one thing and do another?”

Mother Nature and Vacuums

Mother Nature hates a vacuum. No, it’s not that she has anything against a clean Earth. She refuses to allow nothing to exist. In any field, we have a choice, plant good seeds — or, weeds will grow.

Our minds are fertile beds waiting for us to tend them. Plant productive thoughts — and, success is guaranteed. Leave our minds unattended — and, vile imaginings will appear.

The choice is ours. Either go All In — or, the world will go All Out to destroy our potential. In other words, we either draft a Blueprint for our lives — or, others will have a game plan for us and our resources.

This is more important than any other “game” we will ever play. This is not a hand of cards in a Poker game — that even if we lose, it is only money. This is the real deal — the future of our Life.

Choose A Master

Each of us will serve someone, or something — either by choice, or hand of fate. If we go All In, we will achieve one, or the other, of these results: 1) a goal will be accomplished, or 2) a lesson will be learned.

Either way, we will be growing, learning, and loving the adventure of discovering who we are — and the value of our contribution to the world.

Pearls and Pigs

Attacked, Condemned, and Trampled

Have you ever been attacked for offering goodness?

Have you ever been condemned for doing right?

Has another person ever trampled you into wondering, “What’s up with that?!”

A Better Way

There must be a better Way.

In the realm of human nature, there is nothing new under the sun. Things today are about like they have always been. Amazingly, though, when it’s our pain, the hurt is real.

When managing our emotions, this one encouragement is a reminder of the power that is ours.

We get what we allow.

In other words: If we do what we have always done, we will get what we have always got.

This Is The Way

Tired of being attacked? Sick to death of being condemned? Crawled out of the mud, for the very last time?

Do you want to know about a better Way?

Don’t waste what is holy on people who are unholy.
Don’t throw your pearls to pigs!
They will trample the pearls, then turn and attack you.

Pigs

Who are PIGS?

People
Intently
Glorifying
Self

Pearls

What are PEARLS?

Precious
Exquisite
Arrangements
Reflecting
Life’s
Secrets

The precious gem of your multifaceted life Story deserves to be shared with the world. Because a few ugly creatures are ungrateful, does not diminish the value of YOU.

Please, accept the responsibility for never again offering your gifts to the wrong people, move beyond the pen of PIGS, and boldly share your PEARLS of wisdom — Your Life Story — with those patiently waiting for the one and only, unique, courageous, and priceless creation of YOU.

The CARE Credential

Alphabet Soup

At one time, I was quite proud of all the initials behind my name —

  • CPA ~ Certified Public Accountant
  • CITP ~ Certified Information Technology Professional
  • CGMA ~ Chartered Global Management Accountant
  • AMM ~ And Many More…

Yes, they demonstrated the discipline and commitment to play the game of achieving recognition in the eyes of academia.

Yet, no one other than I knew, fully, the extent to which sacrifice was made to achieve these designations.

And, the humorous point of this whole exercise, in bragging rights, is how times have changed. Now, another meaning for the acronym of CPA — in the realm of Digital Marketing — is Cost Per Acquisition.

Student, or Trailblazer?

When we play the game of Credentials, we are simply going where others have gone, before. Or, we seek the approval and acceptance of those in authority — with the power to grant acknowledgment or dash the dreams of the inspired.

For those who have matured beyond being overly concerned about what others think, they are the Trailblazers going where no one has dared go before — sometimes, to places where even angels fear to tread. However, they will make the discoveries crucial to the progress of humankind.

People don’t care about what we know — until, they know how much we care.

CARE Defined

This is one Credential for which the world begs to be in front of every thought.

Compassionate
Aware
Responsive
Empathetic

Compassionate

The contrarians among us might find the use of a C-word — like Compassionate — too sissified, for their taste. In that case, I challenge them to choose from one of these: Cooperative, Competent, Committed, and Confident. Pardon the pun, but, Contrarians must care about someone other than themselves — the focus is outward, not inward. This is a Spiritual endeavor.

Aware

In the busyness of business, how often do we purposefully pause to breathe — to stop and smell the roses — to be Aware of the opportunities for service? The funny thing about offering assistance is how much we benefit from the effort. Whatever we choose to give is returned many times over — probably not from the beneficiary in receipt of the goodness we share. But — Karma is 100% accurate in delivering what is earned. This is a Mental endeavor.

Responsive

There is an ancient Proverb, “Faith without works is dead.” We may believe we are compassionate and aware of the needs of others — yet, only with Responsive action is the benefit delivered. All we Do begins with a Thought. There is intrinsic magic in the thinking — there is discernable value in the doing. Maybe, IT has never been done before — and, maybe the world will laugh in the beginning. Yet, the reward is worth the effort. This is a Physical endeavor.

Empathetic

My friends are quite familiar with the Three-E Formula defined as: Enlighten, Empower, and Encourage. You probably have a similar mantra, which is your Empathetic cry. We are, after all, engaged in a Crusade to ensure that the goodness from above flows through us for the benefit of the whole wide world. As conduits of goodness — similar to lighthouses for the protection of vessels — we can silently do our work. This is an Emotional endeavor.

Our Choice

We can place alphabet soup Credentials behind our names — or, we can anchor CARE in front of our thoughts.

I hope you will join with me in leaving behind the Three Evil E’s of Ego, Expectations, and Emotions — which are attached to limiting Credentials.

So, that we can boldly state our belief in The CARE Credential — as we courageously lift up those in our sphere of influence.

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.

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. 🙂

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 —

Post Turtle

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

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.

Foundations

I’ll bet some pretty good money it’s been a while since you thought about the foundation of your home.

Yet, of all the parts and pieces of your beautiful home, the foundation is the most important.

Our Structure

The same can be said about the structure of YOU.

Each of us has a foundation. The majority of it was formed in childhood and as young adults. There are some people who obsess about their foundation. They want to regale us with the stories of abuse — because they had ‘bad’ parents.

Granted, there are evil people who engender children — and, those children have bragging rights. For the rest of us older kids, we can acknowledge we had regular parents — imperfect ones. And, as a parent, I fit right in that category.

Our Foundation

Let’s take a look at the similarity of our foundation and the one designed for a beautiful home. In fact, we might start with the home, itself — and, see that the home fits the foundation.

In other words, if you live in a McMansion, the foundation is massive and somewhat of an architectural wonder — with all of its various depths and offsets. For the more humble of abodes, the foundation will be much more plain and straightforward.

In the olden days, most log cabins were built on a foundation of four large stones — one at each corner of a four-sided structure. The old-timers did their best with what they had. For the skyscrapers of today, months – and, sometimes years – are invested to provide the necessary support for what rises above.

Our Choice

Here is another of those ‘humor Kim moments” — examine the structure of YOU. Are you a Cabin? A new-fangled Modular? Or, maybe you are an honest-to-goodness Mansion. There’s no right, or wrong, to this mental exercise.

However, I can guarantee the structure each of us has built fits and matches our foundation. And, to be clear, I’m not talking about the physical manifestation of who we are. I’m making reference to the emotional, mental, and spiritual components of the real individuals underneath our personas.

I’ll bet some more money that those individuals who experienced hardship in childhood and as young adults have the strongest foundations. Those hardships are the rebar and aggregate (rock, sand, and gravel) binding with cement to support the multi-story complex of these individuals.

Magnificent

The good news for all of us is that we can continue to build. For those with a massive foundation, they will keep on adding stories.* For those with a structure they have grown to dislike, there is the option to remodel — which, generally, requires new foundations.

I hope each of us examines our foundations, revisits our blueprints, and, then, sets our hands to the construction of somebody magnificent.

* Stories — and, Chapters to the Book of their Life. 🙂

People Over Process

Do you want to be a star? Someone who is a sparkling speck of celebrity?

Someone who can tip off the stage and be swept around the arena on the hands of raving fans?

Here’s the secret — always, keep People over Process.

Think about it. Process is designed for efficiency. People are created for growth. As soon as an individual grows, the process no longer fits the occasion. The rules must change to reflect the new person.

POP ~ People Over Process

POP — How many definitions come to mind? A father figure is a POP. There’s snap, crackle, and POP. Maybe it’s the sound at the beginning of a race. Or, it might be the crack of a whip. Sweet to the taste is a soda. Pick your favorite — so, as to always remember — People over Process.

How do we build relationships with People? Let’s use just a little bit of Process to break down the word and discover the steps up to the stage of becoming a bonafide PEOPLE star.

Present ~ Be present. When given the opportunity of another person, be with them.

Enlighten ~ Think light. Be bright, lead the way, and exude warmth.

Open ~ Be vulnerable. Put a little skin in the game and get prepared to be bruised.

Powerful ~ Offer the best in sacrifice of time and resources for the benefit of others.

Listen ~ Stories are the channels to deeply connect and experience the flow of a soul.

Enjoy ~ The talk and walk are less important than the music and dance. Feel it!

Our Performance Stage

Now, the final question, “Do we need a stage on which to perform?”

Yes, and No.

No, in the sense, that we hone our gift in the garages and basements of life. We work diligently with a select few, out of sight, and out of mind — until, our talent is ready for presentation, to the whole wide world.

Yes, in the sense, that we must be visible — to offer our best, to the most. We climb high to project our voices to many. Guaranteed — by choice, or fate — each of us will, eventually, fall off the stage on which we have chosen to perform.

And — when we do, we will know whether we have kept People over Process.

There will be the POP of a body hitting the ground — or, the POP of fingers keeping time to the chorus of voices from adoring fans, as we are carried in loving arms, to a place of safety.

Inspirators

We are well past the Point of No Return and headed into uncharted territory. Literally, all of the graphs and maps of the past are of little value as we navigate into this new frontier of uncertainty and opportunity.

Beyond the time for leaders — this is a time for Inspirators.

Inspirators provide a breath of fresh air while inspiring the next bold Step, forward, to Success.

Each Day We Have A Choice

1.) Give in and give up to Resignation and Despair — or,

2.) Set a course of discovery with Fascination and Curiosity.

Break Down To Build Up

I ~ Ideas, beliefs, and thoughts are the very fuel for the engine of the Inspirator. Not just any old idea will do, either. An Inspirator will collect, process, and file the stories of others until they find one concept that can change the lives of many. They give the rest of their life to make a difference in the lives of many.

N ~ Novel approaches to old problems and new opportunities are the Trademarks of the Inspirator. They refuse to be bound by the insanity of doing the same old things to achieve the same old results. Inspirators break molds to create, heretofore, unknown beauty.

S ~ Singular focus on a target results in a laser-like power to melt away the distractions and objections standing between mediocrity and greatness. Although they are dogged in determination, Inspirators are flexible in philosophy. They adhere to the proven — right up to the moment of innovation.

P ~ Passion is at the core of every breath an Inspirator takes. They inhale the chaos contaminating their world and exhale solutions. First, they listen — then, they generously share in word and deed what is necessary to make a difference. Much more than a desire “To do and die,” theirs is a passion to “Live and guide.”

I ~ Inherent faith, hope, and love of a Power greater than themselves is the catalyst for every successful launch of new endeavors by the Inspirator. They accept the physician’s creed of primum non nocere, (first, to do no harm) as a reminder of physical limitations. Inspirators understand the Latin phrase is “a hallowed expression of hope, intention, humility, and recognition that human acts with good intentions may have unwanted consequences.”

R ~ Radiate one small speck of light and darkness is destroyed. Inspirators understand the premise — from the inside, out. They are conduits of goodness for the benefit of all. They purposefully manage their wake to ensure that the ripples from their actions lift others to the beaches of new opportunities.

A ~ A, B, C’s — always maintain an aura of excitement for the Inspirator. Those simple letters are a reminder of the importance of a strong foundation of Education. They are also the trinity for the Experience of building dynamic relationships. Attitude, Boundaries, and Commitment are the cornerstones of life — because, life is all about the people.

T ~ Teaching, coaching, and mentoring are the ways Inspirators transform the “Why” of their existence into the “How” of guiding others to “What” their students want and need. Theirs is not a one-way street of pompous dictation. Inspirators learn, grow and develop from the feedback, insight and creative challenges of other viewpoints.

O ~ Open to constructive criticism is the greatest attribute of an Inspirator. It will be one of the last character traits accepted and practiced. It is the difference between good and great. Inspirators find optimism is easy — acceptance of negatives is hard. No one enjoys receiving honest suggestions for improvement. Inspirators, eventually, accept the importance of understanding the real impact they have on others.

R ~ Releasing the past, letting go of hurts, and offering forgiveness brings the Inspirator to the present belief, “Right here, right now, it’s great to be alive.” They are enlightened, empowered, and encouraged to manage everything within their control for the express purpose of building bright futures for everyone within their sphere of influence.

S ~ Serving is a present tense — action — verb. It is what Inspirators do. While freely giving of their life in service, Inspirators are not doormats to be used and abused. They know and will defend to their last breath the Universal Principle — giving is the secret to receiving.

Fun Is In The Doing

Those claiming to be “leaders” are a dime-a-dozen. In fact, leadership has become nothing more than a synonym for narcissism. Listen to those touting themselves as leaders and you will hear a chorus of accolades about their own greatness. Pedestals are dangerous — for those on them and for those below.

In fact, life is not about the empires — empires come and go. Life is about the doing — and, the fun is in the doing. Actions speak louder than words and bright lights make, absolutely, no noise.

The difference between leaders and Inspirators is the difference between words and Deeds. Please, tune out the static shrill of self-professing leaders and follow the example of an Inspirator — to become one.

Your life and the lives of many will be positively changed to make a difference in this Universe — and, beyond!

(Originally published on April 9, 2011)

Good Directions

Moving Forward

Imagine your favorite action movie. The ground is crumbling behind our heroes and heroines as they run toward the only escape available to them. Our heart is in our throat, as we encourage them to go, quickly, forward.

Life is like that. There is no standing still. There is no going back. The only direction to safety is forward.

The Story of a Friend

I lost a dear friend of twenty-plus years because he made a choice to be comfortable in a rut. The definition of a rut is – a grave with the ends kicked out. Yes, it’s dark, damp, and depressing down there. My friend exploded upon being reminded of the only two choices we have: Grow or Die.

He assured me in no uncertain terms that he was not depressed. (The fellow doth protest too much, methinks.)

As recently as, November 15, 2006, this is the complete text of the Testimonial he offered when asked to document our business relationship — Client and Certified Public Accountant.

While reflecting on the past years of business growth … the ups and downs; the trials and tests; the hard work; and, never-ending commitment to push forward … I come to realize that you have been a vital part of that growth. You have been with us all the way.

The accounting profession has truly been honored by your steadfast commitment to serving, to advise … to help direct my thoughts in the financial decisions of our company. It has made my job as CEO much easier.

We are in our 15th year and looking forward to working with you in the years to come.

Fast forward to September 14, 2011, and this is my goodbye to a business relationship, which was enjoyed by that friend, who (at one time) was closer than any brother.

The purpose of this letter is to document the essence of our phone conversation, yesterday.

At the end of that conversation, you wondered if your message was adequately communicated by asking, “Is that clear?!” My response, “Perfectly.”

It is crystal clear that there is a difference in core philosophies.

You believe and have stated quite clearly, numerous times over the last few months, that you and your Company are at the mercy of the Hand of Fate. In essence, you are tethered to a fixed set of practices, which have brought you success in the Past — and, now, are frustrated that the Present is less than accepting.

I believe life is what we make of it, friend — if it doesn’t fit, make alterations. My purpose in business is summarized in four words: Building Bright Financial Futures. I have gone to great lengths to promote this idea to the world via every digital means possible. I have clearly communicated this core belief to you via an email conversation thread from May 17th to July 20th.

My last email request of you was for one hour of your time to discern how we might build a dynamic business relationship. Having heard absolutely nothing from you, I called yesterday with an offer for year-end planning. In the past, you welcomed the opportunity for us to talk about your Company.

You chose to refuse my offer. You have that right. I also have the right to choose.

As of today, we no longer have a business relationship. You are encouraged to engage other professionals to provide services for your financial fiscal year (and, payroll calendar quarter) ended September 30th. Documents in your Client File Portal will be available to you and your representatives until December 31st.

What happened between November 15, 2006, and September 14, 2011?

We will never know. To be judgmental toward my friend and all he has experienced in the last five years is the wrong thing to do. I can, though, tell my story. In the past, I have first-hand knowledge and experience of what it’s like to be stuck in a rut. It is dark, damp and depressing.

Rest of the Story

Since this is my story, I’ll finish telling it my way.

The darkest times in my life began, at the moment, when I started to think that I had arrived. Thinking that I had reached my destination and could quit — or, coast — or, savor the rewards — or, otherwise think I had, really, become somebody. You see, the focus had shifted to thinking, believing, and acting as if, the world revolved around me.

In the simplest of analogies, my life had gone off a cliff. The ground was, literally, crumbling beneath my feet as I tumbled into the chasm of darkness.

Recovery from the pit was only possible by acknowledging, “There but for the grace of God go I” … further down into the abyss. At that moment, there was a Rock on which to cling and a view of the hard work necessary to climb from the rubble into the brightness of opportunity, once again.

Don’t Look Down

There is nothing new under the sun.

There’s a story of a guy walking on water. His name was Peter and he was a cocky fellow, with relatives from Missouri (the Show Me state). He enjoyed the companionship of a friend, who cared deeply about the growth of others.

So, one day Peter challenged his friend with, “If you’re really as good as you claim, ask me to walk on water.” Guys being guys, the friend accepted the challenge and said, “Come ahead.”

Jumping out of the boat, Peter walked on the water. But, when he looked down at the waves churning beneath his feet, he lost his nerve and started to sink.

Moral of this story: Don’t look down.

Children Grow Up

In fact, don’t look back, either. The ground is crumbling behind us. There is only one safe path — Forward.

There’s another story of a guy pondering the progression of life. His name was Paul and one of his many attributes was that of a Philosopher. He observed, “When I was a child, I talked like a child. I thought like a child. I had the understanding of a child. When I became a man, I put childish ways behind me.”

Moral of this story: Children grow up.

The Challenge

At this point in my story, there is at least one person just aching to challenge this thesis of — Forward motion being the best direction and Growth being a prerequisite to a rich life. They will posit that “going back” has its merits.

As in:

We miss a turn at the intersection and need to go back.

We forget something when leaving on vacation and need to go back.

We neglect to learn a lesson and need to go back (for another dose).

We ignore an opportunity, which is good for us, and need to go back.

Going Back & Moving Forward

I agree. There are legitimate times for us to go back and recover from frailties of the human condition. “Thank God for Good Directions and turnip greens!” (by Billy Currington and his album Doin’ Somethin’ Right) Turn up your speakers and enjoy this tune.

For the astute scholars among us, I will acknowledge their point that we are encouraged by the Good Book to go back. As we examine this riddle to the very essence of life, the answer is simple. We are encouraged to be childlike, not childish. There is a difference.

So… at the moment, when there is the temptation to think we have arrived and can stop growing — Look up, think forward, and really focus on the hard work to take the next step.

Go ahead — do it. Now, that we are big kids — older and wiser, with all of our education and experience, hurts and betrayals, safely archived in the memory banks — do it. Be innocent, be sweet, be open, be humble, be accepting, be trusting, and believe that we can experience heaven, here on earth.

All we need to do is to take that next step — often into the unknown — forward, to grow.