Leadership

Money does not a leadership problem fix.

In fact, a problem is simply an opportunity in disguise.

We grow — when confronted with the impossible. It is that defining moment of decision. Many will quit. A few will do what others say can’t be done.

Leaders

Leaders will accomplish what has never been attempted, before.

Those who do are the leaders among us. Those who talk are not necessarily the followers. Talk is cheap and those who blather, generally, complain about all of their problems. Unknowingly and unwittingly, they are complaining about themselves.

For the entirety of human existence, the accumulation of wealth has been the measure of empires. The Golden Rule has been disenfranchised into a barbaric slogan, “Those who have the Gold make the Rules.”

Rules and regulations do not an Empire make. In fact, Empires come and go — because, their leaders abdicate the responsibility to set an example. We — the People — learn by doing.

Passion

Leadership is not a cult-like mission of forcing others into compliance. Leadership is a deep-felt passion of guiding everyone to the best individual choices.

Say what?! Doesn’t a leader, by default, need followers?

For a moment, forget about following and let’s focus on leading. Leaders believe in the power of one. They understand life is best experienced from the inside, out. They are true to themselves, by constantly improving the character at their core.

Leaders make absolutely sure they have much to give. What they offer to the whole wide world is the Three-E Formula to Enlighten, Empower, and Encourage.

Enlighten

We don’t know what we don’t know. Leaders share the best of what they have learned with all who are accepting. The story of their journey is the inspiration for broadened horizons and myriad options of choice. Leaders communicate their saga — and, they color that vision of abundance with broad strokes and vivid detail.

Empower

Knowing what to do and doing it are two, entirely, different things. Leaders offer the tools to build something special. We all want and need something different. Leaders are the ultimate teachers through explanation and demonstration, then asking for imitation, offering correction, and expecting repetition.

Encourage

The best teachers have humbly learned from the School of Hard Knocks. They can share many lessons learned the hard way and know, for an absolute fact, their Students need a few of the same experiences. Leaders patiently wait for new lessons to be learned, all the while supporting that effort.

The Legacy

True leaders always have a following. Hundreds, maybe even many thousands, are watching the silent example of their heroes. Actions speak so much louder than words. A life of sterling character generously offered to others — through consistent choices to build mutually beneficial dynamic relationships — is the legacy of leaders.

The choice is free, for us to make.

The results are priceless, for future generations.

Let’s accept the challenge of leadership.

Pet Dragon

The Stuff of Fairy Tales

Well, I did it again.

After listening to the fears, concerns, and apprehensions of a woman whining about the dangers before her, I rode in on my white horse – with sword in hand – and stuck that fire-breathing beast. He tipped right over into a heap of problem solved.

And, then, oh, wow! — the ship hit the sand.

Come to find out, that was her Pet Dragon.

Once upon a time…

My Proposal

I’ve been thinking.

Rather than I charge you a Price for Value — how ’bout we just exchange Value.

On the horizon, I can see opportunities requiring more of a Process focus: QuickBooks, Bill.com, TSheets, Applications (etc.) — worthy Projects for which I do not want the responsibility.

And, if you have opportunities for People coaching, consulting, etc. for whom you might want help — I am interested in assisting YOU. (Because my new focus and purpose is: POP)

So, as Time marches forward, maybe, we can be available Resources — for each other.

In the interim, we can connect remotely and set the parameters for a mutually beneficial professional relationship.

What are your Thoughts?

Her Response (Word-for-Word, I Kid You Not)

Hey Kim

I think I would like to pay you for your services – at least initially until we get better acquainted with our skill sets and what we desire to do. I am just getting my feet back under me this week – having been out all week last week. But I’ve been thinking about our conversation and how we might work together. I feel like I don’t have many answers in that regard. Would a standing Thursday 9 a.m., 1-2 hour meeting work for you? I’m thinking every other week as opposed to every week and if that were the case, probably 2 hours would be better than one. That being said, I could do this Thursday but not next. Then if I just get it on the calendar, I should be able to make that work.

Do you think you could guide me through working on value pricing/niche development within my business and learning to focus on the types of things you focus on, i.e., helping people get what they want, POP, value as opposed to compliance work? I’m asking if you feel this is skill set you have an could help me work on modeling my business more appropriately. If you feel this is a conflict – as we’re trying to “work in the same space” – I totally can understand that. However, I think there is enough work to go around – but appreciate your thoughts as well.

I have expertise on the QuickBooks side and integrations, etc., for sure and don’t know that I want to give that up. Maybe that’s where my niche is to focus. Maybe Carla Caldwell – gal I told you about who does what I’m asking you to do – is my coach, but you help guide me through organizing all this. I’m sort of lost when I think about all of it.

You asked me to price the service you’d provide. I will be brave and throw out a number. I was thinking $200 for a 2 hour session is too low and $400 seems to high. Maybe we’re in the middle at $300 for each 1-2 hour session? Not committing to 2 full hours – just what we need that time to get our work done?

Thanks Kim. Talk to you soon!

Silly Me

Excellent!

Yes — I accept your Proposal.

This is my Understanding:
• You will pay for my Coaching and Consulting Services.
• We will connect every-other Thursday, at 9:00 AM, for no more than 2 Hours.
• We will begin each remote Coaching and Consulting Session with your Thoughts and Questions.
• My focus will be on sharing concepts relative to Value Pricing, Psychology of Coaching, and Practical Application to Your Niche.
• We are not Competitors — We will Complement one another.
• After all, it is impossible to be competitors — because, we are unique Artists and one-of-a-kind Value Creators.
• For those individuals seeking QuickBooks type processes, with accompanying App integrations, I will provide an introduction to You.
• I will establish a Google Drive portal for the sharing of Resources — which will assist in keeping us Organized.
• I will prepare — and, submit for your approval — a Contract for Coaching and Consulting Services.
• Acceptance of the Coaching and Consulting Contract will be accomplished by the payment of a $100 ‘Commitment’ Fee.
• The fee for my Coaching and Consulting Services will be $300 per Session.

To prepare for our first remote Session, tomorrow, Thursday, August 9th, at 9:00 AM, I suggest the following:
• Read the article: I AM — do the exercise of finishing the I am… Statement — and, be ready to Share with me.
• From your Thoughts and Questions list, pick one item of greatest importance to You — and, be ready to Share with me.
• To select that first item, You might find it beneficial to choose an issue, which you know will ‘feel good’ — as you take the First Step toward your desired Goals.

Acceptance of the Coaching and Consulting Contract will be accomplished by making an Online Payment from the QBO Invoice that I will transmit to You.

If any questions, or concerns, please, contact me immediately.

Seen One — Seen ’em All

We’ve all seen a Contract. Every professional has their boilerplate version. I had to revamp my four pages to fit the parameters of a $300 Coaching Session. I will confess, this whole episode was beginning to feel odd. I was going along to get along. Yet, the intent was pure — this was a ‘friend’ whom I wanted to help.

As the reader of this comedic drama, all of your warning bells, sirens, and whistles are probably going off right about now. Me, at this point, I’m still clueless.

Except, I took great care to make the money part of the Contact crystal clear.

YOU are committing to pay SAGETALK

a one time non-refundable sum of $100 + payments of $300
per 2-Hour Sessions for access to – and use of – the SAGETALK Program.
The first $300 payment will be due upon receipt by YOU of a QBO Invoice.

Yes, I know, “Communication is what the listener does.” But, I had given this my best effort.

Session Number 1

We had fun!

Two hours of non-stop banter, questions, stories, teasing — and, otherwise good-natured fun. Or, anyways, as much FUN as two CPAs can muster.

And, yes, we did a LOT of great work, too.

Confusion

Prior to our first session, the Contract and Invoice for $100 (the Commitment fee) had been emailed and Payment received. As promised, after the Session, I emailed a QuickBooks Online invoice for $300.

This was her response (Word-for-Word, I Kid You Not):

Hi Kim
I paid this. I didn’t realize that the $100 was over and above the $300 per session. I thought the $100 was just an I’m serious about this and want to get started. I thought this invoice might be for $200. Thoughts are appreciated. Thank you. (Maybe I didn’t read well enough!)

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

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

Lesson Learned

My original mistake was giving up on my sincere premise of giving to a Friend. At the moment money was involved — Price for Services — there was a business transaction and professional relationship.

Because of my first mistake, clearly defined expectations were impossible. As a result, there was no possibility, or probability, of success.

What begins twisted ends twisted.

I wanted to share with a Friend —and, a Client simply wanted a business transaction and professional relationship.

So, thank goodness for the Termination Clause:

SAGETALK may terminate this Agreement at any time in its discretion, upon notice to YOU. Paragraph 3.1. below shall survive termination of this Agreement, binding YOU to Confidentiality in perpetuity.

I immediately initiated an online transaction with Wells Fargo for the $400 to be refunded by Paper Check. I had failed to meet her expectations.

Our two hour Tango high-centered on the fork-in-the-road with my acquiescence to follow the lead of someone who does not understand Value Pricing. That’s why she suggested a relationship at the very beginning.

Value Pricing

She asked for an understanding of Value Pricing. For two hours I told her about the concept — yet, I have a process to show, anyone, how it’s done.

• I will deliver Results to exceed your Expectations by (at least) a factor of 3.
• Because I offer a money-back Guarantee, negotiation on Price is irrelevant.
• I will provide Value (x 3) to the level – and beyond – of whatever the chosen Price.
• You choose the Price, clearly define Objectives, and set expectations for Results.
• I will choose the Time, during which we will work Together.

Silly me, I more than bent my own rules — I broke them. There is a better way. I have designed three Steps to prequalify anyone wanting to do Business with me.

Pet Dragon Resolution

There are Questions in each of the three Steps (each more intense than the preceding) testing for Commitment (the exact opposite of her Pet Dragon: NO Commitment.

Why didn’t I lead her through these Steps?

Come to find out, I had a rascally Pet Dragon hiding in my own dang forest: People PLEASER.

He has been dispatched to Dragon heaven.

… and, everyone else lived happily forever, after.

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.

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.

Truth and Consequence

For every cause, there is an effect.

For every pebble, there is a ripple.

For every action, there is a reaction.

For every effort, there is a result.

For every choice, there is a consequence.

The question becomes, “What is Truth?”

In the simplest of terms, “The seed planted yields a harvest in kind.”

Judgment of Others

Don’t do it. Those who do will receive the same. What is given is received. The caveat, though, is not to waste what is precious on an individual who is content with filth.

Goodness is not appreciated by those wallowing in a rut. They will attack anything and everyone representative of a better way.

Effective Requests

Persistence is the secret. To do is to ASK.

Ask to receive — Seek to find — Knock to have the door of opportunity swing wide open. Children know to ask for what they want and need. Parents joyfully respond with good gifts to those requests.

We — older kids — can do the same.

The Golden Rule

“Do to others whatever you would like them to do to you.”

Narrow Gates

No Pain–No Gain. Easy is Hard–Hard is Easy. Follow the crowd and complain about the destination — or, lead the way and discover new frontiers.

Trees and Fruit

As the twig is bent, so the tree grows. Eventually, though, mature trees are known by what they produce. Good trees produce good fruit. Worthless trees produce nothing. In the same way that trees display their value, people express their worth by what they do.

Actions trump words.

Wise Students

Talk is cheap. Only those who do the homework assignments pass the exams.

Education is the enlightenment to know what to do. Experience is the empowerment to do the right thing. The combination of the two is an encouragement to learn by doing and to have fun learning.

Solid Foundations

Storms will come. Those who listen and do are the equivalent of a home built on a rock. Those who hear and reject are the equivalent of a tent pitched on the sand.

Rock vs. Sand — it’s Obvious which will Stand.

In Summary

Truth is everywhere. It begs and pleads to be discovered. On bended knee, it offers rewards to those who will listen and receive. The journey is not one of passivity — it is one of active engagement.

This courtship requires a, daily, best effort experience in the arena of life to gain an education from the consequences of our choices.

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)

Heard and Understood

Communication Is What The Listener Does

Upon calling Support and hearing, Press 1 for English, 2 for @#$%, we select the language of greatest comprehension. We want to hear and understand the solution to our situation.

Do we offer the same in our interpersonal communications?

Or, do we launch off into a discourse that is foreign to the ears of our partner? When they seem puzzled, do we simply ‘turn up the volume’ and give them another dose of @#$%?

Imago Relationships

When discovering the concept of Imago Relationships, my first thought was “I’m-A-Go” — that’s cute. It reminds me of a Space Shuttle lift-off. Many of our relationships are desirous of going go to a higher level.

These quotes from the article are a few of my favorites:

Partners cross a bridge into each other’s worlds, motivated not only by the Receiver’s desire to ‘hear and understand’ but also to meet the Sender’s need to be ‘heard and understood’ — with a commitment to slow down our lives and devote specific uninterrupted time to our relationships. Ultimately saying to the other, “I respect your otherness — I want to learn from it. And I want to share mine with you.”

Discovering two distinct worlds — whenever two people are involved, there are always two realities. These realities will always be different in small and large ways, no matter what. And, the reality of the other person can be understood, accepted, valued, and even loved — but, not made to be identical to our own.

Your conflict can be the very fuel for the fulfillment you seek.

Being aware of ourselves is the key — it changes everything.

What we need to understand and accept is that conflict is supposed to happen. This is as nature intended it. Everything in nature is in conflict. Conflict is a sign that the psyche is trying to survive, to get its needs met, and become whole. It’s only without this knowledge that conflict is destructive.

Regardless of what we may believe, relationships are not born of love — but of need. Real love is born in relationships, as a result of understanding what they are about — and doing what is necessary to have them.

A ‘conscious’ Relationship itself is the practice you need to restore your sense of aliveness.

Clear communication is a window into the world of your partner — truly being heard and understood is a powerful aphrodisiac.

Without change, there is no growth — we are confined to the fate of remaining stuck in our unhappiness.

Change is the catalyst for healing.

I call the process by which we alter our entrenched behaviors to give our partners what they need: ‘stretching’ — for it requires that we conquer our fears and do what comes unnaturally.

Finally, we learn to see our partners for themselves, with their own private world of personal meaning, their own ideas and dreams, and not merely as extensions of ourselves — or, as we wish they were. Our approach becomes, “I want to know how you think.”

A conscious relationship is a spiritual path which leads us home again — to joy and aliveness, to the feeling of oneness we started out with. We learn to express love as a behavior daily — in large and small ways. In other words, in stretching to give our partner what they need, we learn to love. The transformation of our relationships may not be accomplished easily or quickly — we are setting off on a lifelong journey.

In The Game

In the game of Football, team members ‘huddle up’ to have the opportunity to ‘hear and understand’ the next play. If it’s a passing play, it is only successful if the receiver catches the ball.

Next time we have the opportunity to quarterback a conversation, let’s call plays in a language our receiver understands. Then, as they run the route, let’s give them the opportunity to catch what is thrown.

After all, the only goal that, really, matters — to be Heard and Understood.

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.

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.