Point of Light

The gleam in a father’s eye is waiting for each of us as we emerge from darkness into the brightness of life. In fact, the eyes of new Dads get a little misty as they witness the miracle of birth.

As days go by, the initial excitement dovetails into the responsibilities of fatherhood. Oh, how grand are the visions of being the perfect dad. Then, we encounter the reality of how messy relationships really are.

Although, literally, tongue-tied upon entry into this world, once that little member was set free, my insatiable curiosity was the driving force behind the questions in my mind. It was the beginning of my twenty-question routine, which later morphed into the Cowboy Poet & Philadelphia Lawyer shtick.

Birds and the Bees

Around ten years of age and in the 4th Grade, I started to notice girls. The one with blond hair, blue eyes and straight A’s had captured my full attention. At that age, boys will be boys, and we were learning cockiness, which naturally included the art of swearing. In the course of our classroom studies of spelling and vocabulary, we never seemed to get around to the definitions of what some of those four-letter words meant.

One word, in particular, was especially mysterious to our adolescent group. Since this was before the day of Google searches — and, the conversation around the dinner table, one evening, seemed conducive to a question — I asked my parents. Swivel-neck is the best visual I can offer to explain their response. In a millisecond, their facial expressions and body language spoke volumes. Only problem — I didn’t understand the language.

Next day, I received a book from Mom. The following weekend, during Christmas Vacation, Dad and I were on foot behind a small group of cows as they were following the pickup to a new pasture. There was a skift of snow and all the grasses were dry, with heads full of grain. Dad reached down and pulled a handful of needle-grass. As he rubbed the seed into the palm of his hand, the name was obvious — a thin strand was attached to each seed of grain, which gave it the appearance of a needle and thread.

I knew something was up, because he gave a nervous sniff and cough — before, beginning what he had to share. Since a picture is worth a thousand words, he wanted the needle-grass seeds in the palm of his hand to emphasize the point. All I remember of what he said was something about swimming, wiggling, and eggs. Then he paused, literally — we stopped walking. He turned, with relief in his face, and assured me that the only intimate relationship I was going to have to worry about, until high-school graduation, was the one with my horse.

Daddy’s Hands (Video)
Artist: Holly Dunn

Daddy’s hands were soft and kind when I was cryin’.
Daddy’s hands were hard as steel when I’d done wrong.
Daddy’s hands weren’t always gentle,
But I’ve come to understand.
There was always love in Daddy’s hands.

Old Babe

True to Dad’s word, I developed a special relationship with that horse. In fact, the very next summer found the two of us engaged in a “mind meld ” experience, as we convinced a bunch of bulls to do it our way. Dad was nowhere in sight, ours anyway. With hindsight and a son of my own, I have a sneaking suspicion Dad was on top of a hill enjoying the rodeo.

He had this crooked grin on his face, as we pushed a dozen bulls through the pasture gate — and, then he turned back, stepped off his horse, and closed the gate between us. As he stood safely on his side of the gate, his hand was gesturing towards the west — where I and the bulls were to go. Just a few miles through the hills and he would bring the stock-truck (olden days, before horse-trailers were invented) to haul my horse back home. That was the plan.

Thoughts to self, at the time — “What the heck is he thinking?! I’m just a kid. Is he serious?! The odds aren’t fair! There’s just one of me and a dozen bulls.” As he swung back up onto his horse and rode away, I had my answer.

Like Father, Like Son

Dad’s brother, my uncle John Foard, tells a story about their dad. He would line out his sons (four of them) on a project, by explaining what he wanted to be done, omitting most of the details of how to do it. Before he left, though, he would turn and ask, “Now you boys can do that, right?” In John’s words, “There was no way in hell we were going to tell him, No!”

Because of the anxiety of the journey ahead with those bulls, I have no memory of what, surely, must have been the same question of me. The answer, though, was a given. Now, all I had to do was figure out how to get from Point A to B.

Feminine and Masculine

Cows, being of the feminine gender, generally, tend to be fairly social. They stick together. Where one goes, they all go. Bulls, on the other hand, must strut their stuff, separate and apart from anyone else — twelve bulls and twelve different directions. Unless they’re on the run. Typical male approach to the world — one thing at a time.

One of me and one direction to go. So, I gathered up the corners of what seemed like a herd of cats and off we went, at a jog. Once they tired a little, the pace slowed. Then, in the middle of the whole dang show were shade trees and a waterhole, wouldn’t you know. Bogged-down is inadequate to describe the revenge taken by the bulls. As they stood belly deep in mud, peeking out from behind what had quickly become their favorite thicket, the unspoken jeers were worthy of a solution.

My horse almost put a kink in his neck turning back to look at me. We were thinking the same thing. This was ugly and it was going to get messy. There was only one way to do it, though. Pry out one bull at a time — and, make a good example of that first one. So, we picked the one giving us the dirtiest look and went to work on him.

No Easy Way

By then, I had uncoiled several loops of my lariat, to just the right length, to pop that knot on the end like a whip. That old bull winced a little and stood his ground. Just what we thought — no easy way to do this. So, into the mud, we went with my horse leaning into the bull — while, I shortened the length of the rope whip. The combination of pressure and pain resulted in the bull, grudgingly, taking a few steps.

My horse and I were of the same mind to enhance one of the laws of physics — what is in motion, stays in motion. In fact, we wanted that bull to catch a gear. Once we had him on dry ground, up and over a small knoll into some green grass was where we took him. As we headed back for bull Number 2, my choice of words to describe our frustration included several of those four-letter ones — admittedly, even some directed at Dad. After a few more trips to that spot of green, the mud-hole bulls began to wonder what they were missing and volunteered to follow their peers.

I’ll never forget the smile on his face and the twinkle in his eye as Dad stood there by the open gate as a dozen bulls paraded past. Whether he had been watching, or not, he knew what was required to pass his test. He asked how it went. I replied, “Good.”

Lessons Learned (Video)
Artist: Tracy Lawrence

I was ten years old the day I got caught,
With some dime store candy that I never bought.
I hung my head and I faced the wall,
as Daddy showed me wrong from right.
He said this hurts me more than it does you;
There’s just some things son that you just don’t do.
Is anything I’m sayin’ getting through?
Daddy I can see the light.
Oh lessons learned; man they sure run deep.
They don’t go away and they don’t come cheap.
Oh there’s no way around it,
this world turns on lessons learned.

Silly Me

A few years ago, there was an occasion for me to say to my son and daughter, “Now, I want you to watch me.” They cocked their heads and gave me the Scooby Doo, “Huh?!”

The intent was pure. Rather than listen to words, which are cheaper by the dozen — I wanted them to watch the actions and results. Recently, I’ve had to laugh at how funny ‘we‘ can be. Sure enough, they have watched me — fall down, make mistakes, be humbled by the hand of fate, admit frailties, and, generally, be a perfectly normal dad. Even funnier is the realization that they have watched all of that, from the very beginning. Why I thought they, as teenagers, needed to be reminded is still a mystery. Guess it explains the Scooby Doo response from them, though.

Silly Them

I watched my Dad give all. Late in his life, there was an occasion to defend his honor. A couple of clowns wanted to take issue with his silent creed — “I am bound to live up to the light I have. I must stand with anyone who stands right, stand with him while he is right, and part with him when he goes wrong.”

While true to his core, those other two guys needed to understand a little more about my Dad. Known to be verbose, I thought a better approach was to use a song, recently released at the time, to make my point. So, the four of us listened together.

Point of Light (Video)

Artist: Randy Travis

There is a point when you cannot walk away,
When you have to stand up straight and tall and mean the words you say.
There is a point you must decide just to do it ’cause it’s right.
That’s when you become a point of light.

There is a darkness that everyone must face.
It wants to take what’s good and fair and lay it all to waste.
And that darkness covers everything in sight
Until it meets a single point of light.

All it takes is a point of light,
A ray of hope in the darkest night.
If you see what’s wrong and you try to make it right,
You will be a point of light.

There are heroes whose names we never hear,
A dedicated army of quiet volunteers
Reaching out to feed the hungry,
Reaching out to save the land,
Reaching out to help their fellow man.

There are dreamers who are making dreams come true,
Taking time to teach the children
There’s nothing they can’t do,
Giving shelter to the homeless,
Giving hope to those without.
That is what this county’s all about.

One by one, from the mountains to the sea
Points of light are calling out to you and me.

All it takes is a point of light,
A ray of hope in the darkest night.
If you see what’s wrong and you try to make it right,
You will be a point of light.

If you see what’s wrong and you try and make it right,
you will be a point of light.

Living Up To The Light

Jim & Kim Foard

At the end of 3 minutes and 37 seconds, two heads were bowed in disgrace. Dad and I — with heads held high — were looking at each other remembering an open gate and a dozen bulls. My hope is that Lindsey and Ryan – each – have a special memory of me, to be their point of light.

Respect

RESPECTWhat would you do if someone screamed, “You’re a Dumb F#cker!” And, then went on to yell, “I have no respect for you!”

Yes, I know, that paragraph is missing the “?” at the end. Yet, the experience for me was more about the “!” — or, in other words, the exclamation of ignorance and arrogance.

If one is an incident, two is a coincidence, and three is a pattern, then I have a Story to share with YOU.

Three Times In Three Months

The first time was in February — when a Teenager had been asked to keep their stuff gathered into somewhat organized piles. Perfection was not the standard — simply the traditional courtesy of keeping foreign objects out of the travel paths of other inhabitants of the Family abode.

When multiple requests were ignored, I asked that young fellow what he was ‘thinking’ — because, I know for a fact, “All we do begins with a Thought.” Well, he shared what was on his mind — which was to find fault with me, for asking.

The third time was in April — when a Marine sought my participation in helping him start a new business. After 26 years as a Gunnery Sergeant and 6 years as an Air Traffic Controller, this Middle-Age fellow seemed to be an excellent candidate for my Coaching Services.

One problem was he wanted to constantly present his Resume and refused to Listen to some pretty good advice. Then, the cherry-on-top was catching him in a lie — which we had wasted a large amount of Time discussing the solution to what, really, wasn’t a problem, at all.

The second time was in March — when a third-generation Millenial rancher was planning a Family transition without the participation of his Parents. Yes — I participated, briefly, thinking, “Although not the best way to start, at least this might be the first step toward something good for the Family.”

What Begins Twisted, Ends TwistedPost Turtle

Here’s the reality:

1.) Grandpa (with the help of Grandma) built something special.

2.) Dad (with the help of Mom) was expected to maintain what Grandpa built. Maintenance men are commonly known as Janitors.

3.) Junior was born on third base and thinks he hit a home run. Although he is the Janitor’s son, the rest of the world recognizes him for what he is — a Post Turtle. (click the hyperlink — it’s a good story)

Nothing New Under The Sun

I do believe things today are about like they have always been. In other words, I get it — sometimes misunderstandings happen because of generational differences. The educations and experiences – of each generation – create a different worldview in its participants.

Yet — that to which I’ve been making reference — disrespect is a character flaw. And, the way these Stories end is never pleasant.

Once, there was an old fellow who was on a Mission to give the inhabitants of a County a heads-up. He had an old-fashioned name — Elijah. His successor had another old-fashioned name — Elisha.

In the vernacular, the ship hit the sand when 42 young men decided to have great sport with Elisha. They did not hurl sticks or stones — they simply used words (which, regardless of the schoolyard rhyme, do hurt more than sticks and stones). They received immediate consequences for their disrespect.

Gaslighting Is Pure Craziness

Gaslight

Narcissists are big on gaslighting us in an attempt to disorient and confuse us. They do this by using denial and projection, usually under the pretense of being concerned — in order to make us feel even more perplexed. If they succeed at this, they can then grandstand us by saying, “See, you are crazy and out of control!”

Introduction To A Narcissist

A Narcissist WeaponA narcissist’s weapon of choice is often verbal — by slander, lies, playing the victim (in flipped tales of who was the victim and who was the abuser), gossip, rage, verbal abuse, and intentional infliction of emotional pain.

Think of direct, clear communication (The Truth) — especially when it is about the manipulation itself — as the psychological equivalent to holding up a cross to a vampire. Most manipulators recoil in the face of being “busted,” and the air goes out of the pressure they are trying to create just as easily as it escapes a punctured balloon.

Three Chords and the Truth

Boundaries & RespectRespect is only possible with clearly defined boundaries. The sovereignty of a country is defined by its border. As individuals, we are citizens of one.

Self-respect is everything that goes on within our boundaries. Respect for others occurs at the border and according to mutually acceptable customs.

Profitable interactions occur through doors of opportunity that swing on the hinges of “No, thanks.” and “Yes, please!”

Never Accept DisrespectGrown Adults

Narcissists will capture our attention — they are the swashbucklers cutting a wide swath with their theatrics. They are manipulative and easily angered, especially when they don’t receive the attention they consider their birthright.

People with Narcissistic Personality Disorder believe they are superior or special, and often try to associate with other people they believe are unique or gifted in some way. This association enhances their self-esteem, which is typically quite fragile underneath the surface. Individuals with NPD seek excessive admiration and attention in order to know that others think highly of them. Individuals with narcissistic personality disorder have difficulty tolerating criticism or defeat and may be left feeling humiliated or empty when they experience an “injury” in the form of criticism or rejection.

Pop Goes The Weasel

That young, ignorant, arrogant, and clueless fellow at the beginning of this Story, has chosen to enroll in the School-of-Hard-Knocks — his classes are about to begin.

Similar to the consequences in the story about Elisha, I see bears in the future of this foul-mouthed childish imp. One bear I see approaching is a Market less than bullish — and, another bear even more ferocious is a rate of Interest greater than zero.

You see — I invested hundreds of hours for the benefit of this guy and his Family. Scattered on their little farm, there’s lots of new green paint (John Deere Green)  — which can never possibly be paid for with current management practices.

So, I guided him and his wife to an understanding of Balance Sheets, by using the basic Accounting Equation of Assets = Liabilities + Equity. Or, another way to state the same set of facts is Assets – Liabilities = Equity. (which can be Negative)

When the light (Truth) was shown on his misadventures (Too Much Debt), he literally hissed all around the house, as the air from his little balloon (Ego) was punctured.

To this day, I remain amused.

80/20 Crutch

80/20 CrutchExcuse to Hobble

When you hear someone quote the 80/20 Rule, brace yourself. Because — you’re about to hear an excuse for their inattention to detail.

Sometimes I’m a Slow Study when it comes to catching on to someone’s shenanigans. Maybe, it’s because I look for the best in a person and want to believe what they say.

Recently, it took two months to realize a Coach was a Hoax. Everything he said sounded, really, good. Eventually, though, his actions spoke louder than his words. So, I had a choice to make: continue to overlook the lies, deceit, and lack of attention to detail (including me and his other Scholars) — or, do the right thing.

All — or, Nothing

My dad (James Burnett Foard) was named after a fellow (Jim Burnett), who lived by this creed, “I am bound to live up to the light I have. I must stand with anyone who stands right, stand with him while he is right, and part with him when he goes wrong.”

Evidently, my Grandfather knew what he was doing — because my Dad lived by the same creed and fulfilled its intent 100%. There was no 80/20 with my Dad — or, anything he set his hand to. With him, it was All — or, Nothing.

Can You Imagine?

Think of the most important decision you’ve ever made. Maybe, it was the decision to get married. Maybe, it was that mutual decision to have children. Maybe, it was a flying leap of faith to start your own business.

Can you imagine applying the 80/20 Rule to those events?!

I don’t know of any individual who believes they can be partly married. How about a little bit pregnant? Or, an Employer providing a paycheck to someone who is no longer an Employee — but, is now, an Independent Contractor?

Those scenarios are laughable – aren’t they?

Oh, I’m having way too much fun with this. Imagine the skydiver who at 10,000 feet wants to apply the 80/20 Rule to their situation. Nope, doesn’t work. They are either in a perfectly good airplane or out of it hurtling toward the earth.

In Summary

For those lacking the moral fortitude to apply the concept of Commitment to their lives, they will forever live in mediocrity.

As for you and me, we’re going to give our all.

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)

Ego Expectations Emotions

Three Evil E’s

Recently, a friend teased saying, “Now, keep your Ego, Expectations, and Emotions out of the way.”

“Profound,” I thought. For many years, I’ve been on this Crusade to — Enlighten, Empower, and Encourage. My friend just exposed me to the Yang of my Yin — the Flow of my Ebb — the Take of my Give — and, the Down of my Up.

I commonly refer to my E’s as the Three-E Formula — Enlighten, Empower, and Encourage.

To remember there is a Dark side – or, shadow – to any Light, I think I’ll refer to these as the Three Evil E’s — Ego, Expectations, and Emotions.

“Now, hold on!”, You say, “Aren’t emotions good? After all, my special someone is always encouraging me to express them.”

Well — yes. Controlled emotions are good — expectations of positive results are fine — and, even, a little bit of ego helping us march confidently through our day is great.

Ego

Yes — it is important that we boldly approach our day.
No — it is not right to think the world revolves around us.

The People interrupting our good Stories will always have (in their mind) a better Story than ours — they are Legends in their own Minds.

Expectations

Talk too slow, and People will try to finish your sentences.
Talk too fast, and People will look for other entertainment.

You see — those People have (in their mind) better things to do than listen to you share a Chapter from your Life. They expect you to fawn over them.

Emotions

Give too much to some People — they think you’re trying to manipulate.
Withhold your commentary and good advice — People will call you God.

Immature individuals are just like Toddlers — they whine, they pout, they cry, they throw things, they yell, and they make the ugliest faces. Oh, and, when we laugh at their antics, they EXPLODE.

Seeds of Opportunity

The ‘problem’ (opportunity in disguise) is when, Ego gets in the way of new learning and growth — when, Expectations taint a new adventure with an already premeditated determination of outcome — and, when, Emotions are uncontrolled and released with fury on the innocent.

Why is this an opportunity in disguise?

Because, now that my friend has helped me to recognize the dark side of my Three-E Formula, I can be cognizant of the dangers that the Three Evil E’s present.

After all, I think of my Mission and Vision for our SageTalk friends in this way:

My mission is to guide YOU to personal and business success,
according to the vision that YOU establish for us.

Three-E Formula

Three Good E’s

Three-E FormulaGreater than a Magic Wand to wave at the hand of fate, this is E-ven better. This is E times 3.
Enlighten
Empower
Encourage

The prefix forming verbs of “En” and “Em” are expressions of action and doing, defined as:

To put into;
To go into;
To cover with;
To provide with;
To cause to be;
Thoroughly

Just Do It

In the simplest of terms — Just Do It.

Some may ask, “Do, what?”

Let’s examine the Three E words above — Enlighten, Empower, and Encourage.

Do ~ Light
Do ~ Power
Do ~ Courage

The smallest speck of light destroys darkness. To clearly see the next step on our journey of life, we focus to Do what is right, just and fair.

Whether we think we can – or, can’t – we’re right. We have the freedom to choose whether – or, not – we use willpower to Do what is right, just, and fair.

The strength to change the things we can and to forgive difficult people requires the fortitude – always – to Do what is right, just, and fair.

Energy and Efforts

My energy and efforts are focused on your success. If you are ready for a change, I can help — by gently teasing YOU into considering the power of the Three E’s.

Enlighten ~ Individually, our worldview is limited by our education, experiences, and resources. My role as A Business Coach is to broaden your horizons with Stories that shine a light on the path you have chosen — so, you can act on your new aspirations.

Empower ~ Beyond the talk, I will provide opportunities for you to learn by accomplishment. Teaching is an honorable profession. I will make sure the right tools are in your hands – and you will have the knowledge, understanding, and wisdom to use them properly.

Encourage ~ The 5-Step Teaching Model can be described as Explanation, Demonstration, Imitation, Correction, and Repetition. With each and every Step to Success, you will be tempted to quit. Until you run me out of your Life, I will continue to ask that you believe in YOU — the I AM.

The Magic

Some might ask, “Where’s the magic in that?”

To quote:

Their purpose is to teach people wisdom and discipline,

To help them understand the insights of the wise.

Their purpose is to teach people to live disciplined and successful lives,

To help them do what is right, just, and fair.

The catalyst for being of service requires the components of Wisdom, Discipline, and Understanding. The result is a successful life of Doing what is Right, Just, and Fair.