Grab Another Plate

Having just returned from the QuickBooks Connect technology conference in San Jose, CA, I am more mindful of possibilities.

As a Certified Public Accountant (CPA), I was trained in probabilities — however, life is best encountered and enjoyed in the realm of possibilities.

At any conference, many times we learn as much outside the formal sessions as we do sitting in them. A presenter’s opinion is relevant to a specific topic — yet, the surprises usually come at the lunch table.

For our physical nourishment, yes, the provisions were spectacular. Even better were the conversations, which offered food for thought — to stimulate mind, heart, and soul.

Grab Another Plate - Feast

Two Sets of Seven

Two sentences of seven words each are the Alpha and Omega of Success.

  • All We Do Begins With A Thought
  • Start With Nothing and Build Something Special

The in-between journey is a multi-faceted Story, requiring a step-by-step and brick-by-brick endeavor. Many are the whiners and few are the shiners. Because, it is easier to complain about what is wrong, rather than create the opportunities leading to a life of our dreams — Heaven on Earth.

Every single one of us will experience the spectrum of life — ups and downs, highs and lows, triumphs and defeats. We all wake up to the same world each morning. The difference is in what we do with the 24 hours.

The secret to pushing through all events and past the naysayers we encounter each day are these two acronyms — ATM GAP.

At That Moment — Grab Another Plate

Challenges

Moving along through the buffet line of life, we have two choices — take what is offered, or move on past. Moment by moment we make decisions, which determine what accumulates on our plates.

If we forgo an item of opportunity, we might never see it again. However, if we choose unwisely, we have burdened our plate with something unsavory.

Those people who complain about a plate of scarcity let opportunities slip by. Those people who complain about a plate of undesirables chose those brussels sprouts — which, now, take up space and crowd out the desserts.

In the vernacular, we might classify the above actions, or lack of action, as “mistakes” (mis-takes). We simply mistook an item unfit for consumption, or we didn’t take an opportunity available to us.

Grab Another Plate - Colors

Beyond the things that we do to ourselves are these four challenges, which confront us all — and the plates in our hands.

  • Theft
  • Betrayal
  • Benevolence
  • Fate

We can have the most beautifully constructed mobile feast and, then, someone decides they will take what is ours. Let them have it — ATM GAP.

At That Moment — Grab Another Plate

We can carefully select the choicest of morsels, with the intent of sharing them and, then, someone stabs us in the back. Let them have it — ATM GAP.

At That Moment — Grab Another Plate

We can prepare and look forward to enjoying the goodness on our plate to, then, discover a poor unfortunate soul. Let them have it — ATM GAP.

At That Moment — Grab Another Plate

We can diligently harvest the banquet table to, then, be surprised when our plate bends, or breaks. Let the hand of Fate have it — ATM GAP.

At That Moment — Grab Another Plate

Banquet of Life

The richest individual is not the one with the greatest wealth — it is the person most happy with what they have.

Yes, we all enjoy the proverbial Thanksgiving feast of abundance. Yet, there are times when the horn of plenty is less than full. It, really, doesn’t matter — if we focus on what is.

In the darkest of hours, there is always a glimmer of hope — and in the most trying of times, there are seeds of opportunity.

Success is a State of Mind.

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

Napoleon Hill

So, my friends, when misfortune has overtaken you, or you have become burdened by your choices, please, remember ATM GAP.

At Those Moments — bridge the gap of disappointment, take a leap of faith, and — Grab Another Plate.

Trust Fund Babies

I must confess my sin. For more than thirty-five years, as a CPA very good at what I do, I assisted in building little empires.

Having grown up poor, the intent was pure. I wanted those, for whom I served, to have the best that money can buy. What I discovered was that my Grandpa Foard was right, “Too much money will make people go crazy.”

There is never enough money. The more stuff people accumulate — the more unhappy they become. Which then fuels the fire for them chasing after even more of what is making them miserable.

Temper Tantrums

During those 35+ years of doing a great job for the Trust Fund Babies, I noticed something — those were the, only, individuals in the ranks of the thousands of clients I served, who would throw a fit. You know, a good ol’ two-year-old temper tantrum — the aisle blocking, head turning, hushed murmuring, and clerk cringing — type of hissy-fit.

Why did they do it? Because they are spoiled. Clueless to the bone, they are chock full of arrogance and ignorance. If they knew half as much about what they think they know, they’d know twice as much as they really do.

They were born on third base, thinking they hit a triple — and, then, they will lie through their teeth as they try to convince you it was a Home Run.

The Reality

The grandparents, of the Trust Fund Babies, worked hard to build something — special. Then, generally, Mom and Dad were expected to maintain what Grandma and Grandpa built. Unknown to little Junior, as he struggles to deal with what has shown up on his silver platter, he is the Janitor’s son. And, by the time we move to the fourth generation of this Family, everything has reset.

The wealth that Mom and Dad inherited from Grandma and Grandpa was slowly chiseled down in size — because they were playing not to lose, rather than working hard to build something special, of their own. Junior has no idea how the Empire was built (because Grandpa is gone and Dad has neglected to teach) — and, Junior has even less knowledge of how anything operates. If something breaks it remains broken.

So, at the end of the third generation, the Ranch (or, the main-street Business) is on the Auction Block. If by some stroke of luck the remaining wealth passes to the fourth generation, it will soon be squandered. At that moment, a Universal Principle kicks in.

If you want to eat, you must work.

What appeared to be a life of luxury to the poor kids of the world, became an affliction and a limitation for the Trust Fund Babies.

History Repeats

Fifty years ago, as a twelve-year-old kid, I thought it harsh that the mistakes of parents carried over to the children and grandchildren. Why must they suffer for the bad choices their elders made?

I believe it’s because of another one of those darn ol’ Universal Principles. For example, Gravity — it’s real, it’s unseen, and it’s hard to explain. However, it works the same way every time. We can take comfort in that Universal Principle and depend on its consistency. Or, for those who doubt the effectiveness — and, take a flying leap off a tall building — they will learn the hard way.

Personal Note

After those 35+ years of holding the hands and wiping the snotty noses of way too many Juniors, I burned out. After two years, of what I call, “My trip through the desert,” one day, my son, Ryan, had questions. In fact, I remember the day, well — January 11, 2018.

He came to the closed bedroom door, knocked lightly, and said that he had a question. So, I went with him to his office area, stood behind him, as he pulled up a QuickBooks screen and wiggled his mouse over the real estate where his Question resided. I answered that question and went back to the bedroom.

A few minutes, later, another tap on the door and another question. Same song, second verse: I went with him to his office area, stood behind him, as he pulled up a QuickBooks screen and wiggled his mouse over the real estate where his Question resided. I answered that question and went back to the bedroom.

A few minutes later, another tap on the door and another question. Well, by now, I’m thinking, “OK – Ryan has lots of questions. I might as well just stand there with him and answer them all.”

Sure enough, seven hours later, after a review of the mistakes on the two prior years of Tax Returns and detailed Depreciation Schedules prepared by the best CPA Ryan could find, the tumblers of the lock on my mind turned and I realized, “I’m the best — CPA in the Country.”

I’ve heard people talk about being Born Again — and, always, wondered what that was all about. Now, I know. I wasn’t “back” — as Arnold might say. I felt like a brand new person. Later, as I searched for something of which to compare the feeling, the best I can do is, “I feel like I’m in the fourth grade, again!”

Once — and, For All Time

So, why did I recently agree to one more Consulting engagement to provide services for the benefit of a Trust Fund Baby? Answer — Old habits, similar to bad beliefs, die hard.

This particular specimen of a Trust Fund Baby is 75 years old and is still as clueless as he was at age 25 — when Grandpa’s money was used to buy him a Ranch. He was put on the Ranch and offered an opportunity on a silver platter. Now – that I think about it – Junior is just like a Post Turtle.

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!

Junior could not articulate the specific Objectives he wanted me to resolve, he had no idea how to Measure our progress, and he offered little feedback about the Value he was receiving. What begins twisted, ends twisted.

After two months of a six-month commitment to provide services, I had grown tired of being a valet for his ego. I suggested that my “work” was done and he had no further responsibility to honor our Agreement. Junior insisted that I stay — he needed to use me, some more.

However, after four months of enduring his silliness, “Oh, Wow! — did he pop a cork when I asked him, “Why?”

Why do you want to withhold information and keep me in the dark?

The sniveling little pup did a Trump on me, too, while yelling into the phone (so loudly he was cutting out and I asked him to repeat his foul language), “You’re fired!”

What a blessing!

I think I’ve passed — in flying colors — the final exam in the high-level coursework of Trust Fund Babies.

Oh, by the way, this Consulting engagement was to assist in the transition of Junior off the Ranch. Because of the two clowns for Realtors he had chosen, I finally asked, “After their neglect of an important issue (to the tune of $150,000), why do you continue to believe their nonsense?”

Lesson Learned

Around the 25-year mark, in the 35+ years of my crusade to save the world as a CPA, I noticed something. I felt dirty. As I served the Trust Fund Babies, there was no appreciation or recognition of the Value my efforts produced for them. They were paying me and I was doing things for the money. There’s a name for those kinds of people — Hookers.

Confession without repentance is counterfeit spirituality. As you are my witness, I fully and completely give up the old way to enjoy my rebirth.

Die Broke

The scholars among us will take great offense at the concept of not leaving children and grandchildren a monetary inheritance. They will even pretend to have God on their side of the argument and quote an old Proverb.

Good people leave an inheritance to their grandchildren, but the sinner’s wealth passes to the godly.

Well, here’s the Real Deal — I don’t see a single reference to Money in the line, before the comma, about good people. Do you?

I know – for a fact – that my Grandchildren will receive an inheritance from me. No, it will not be because my Lindsey and Ryan were anxious for me to tip over — so they might win the Lottery of wealth untold.

The inheritance that my Children will pass on to my Grandchildren will be everything they have learned from me. I have diligently provided opportunities for Lindsey and Ryan to learn everything they need, to be successful in this life — and, beyond.

Perfect Imperfections

Think about the person you most admire. Why do you admire them?

Isn’t it because they are calm, cool, and collected? Nothing seems to bother them. They are like a Rock — waters part and go around them. Regardless of the craziness swirling around the situation, they focus like a Laser on the points of meaning.

And — the point on which our heroes focus — “Play the cards you’re dealt.”

Less Than Perfect

Seldom is there the ‘perfect‘ hand of cards. In fact, the greatest ‘sport‘ is in playing the less-than-perfect hand. The adrenalin rush from the courage and skill required to navigate uncertainty trumps the monotony of the sure thing, every time.

Why, then, do we judge ourselves to be less than someone else? Maybe, they are pretty — for a while. Maybe, they are talented — in one thing. Maybe, they are intimidating, in speech, dress, and mannerisms — according to societal trends. Who cares? They are not perfect — and, never will be.

Good luck? Bad luck? Who knows?

An old farmer lived in a small village with his teenage son. He worked hard in the fields and his meager possessions were limited. The most valuable of his belongings was a workhorse, which he used for tilling his fields. One day, the horse escaped into the hills, seemingly lost forever.

The man’s neighbors visited and sought to sympathize with the old man over his bad luck. “We are sorry for your bad luck,” they would tell him, shaking their heads in sympathy. The farmer, lifting his hands, gently as if balancing a scale, replied softly, “Bad luck? Good luck? Who knows?”

Two days later, the farmer and his son were working in the fields. The sun was slowly creeping behind the hills in the distance. They caught sight of a horse cresting the mound. Their horse had returned with a herd of other wild horses. The son quickly corralled the horses and the neighbors were in awe of the farmer’s good luck. He responded with the same reply as before, “Good luck? Bad luck? Who knows?”

The next day, the farmer’s son attempted to tame one of the wild horses. As he rode in the corral, he fell off the horse and broke his leg. As you can imagine, this was believed by all the neighbors to be very bad luck. However, the farmer, once again, replied …  “Bad luck? Good luck? Who knows?”

Several weeks later, the army commanders entered the village seeking every able-bodied youth they could find to fight in the war. As they came to the old farmer’s home, they had no use for a boy with a broken leg. He was dismissed … “Good luck? Bad luck? Who knows?”

Who Knows?

And — so, it goes. Who knows?

You can — that’s who.

You can know this — LIFE is a journey to be enjoyed, at each moment. Going back is impossible and the future is uncertain. Accept what is and the game becomes more fun.

So — why not — live in the moment, with all of the ‘imperfections‘ inherent with it.

Let’s stop whining about everything outside of our control and start smiling about the opportunity to play through.

In the game of golf, there’s the general rule of, “Hit it where it lies.”

Good shot? Bad shot? Who knows?

Swing away!