May 162013
Planting shade trees ...

Planting shade trees is a metaphor that, when drawn out, leads to a clear understanding of the value of building and creating a legacy that will far outlast you.

When you plant something that takes time to take root, you quite likely will not be able to partake in the benefits of what you’ve done; however, if you grasp the immense value of paying something of value forward, you won’t bat an eyelash, since it was the very ACT of planting the tree(s) in the first place that gave you the leadership achievement.

In a mass media/consumerist/un-dreaming culture, those that plant the shade trees are defining success not in terms of what’s in it for them, but rather, what’s in it for the next 2-3 generations. That kind of thinking used to be far more common, and it is a mission field of mine to restore it, step by step. When you have detected your purpose, and piggyback your reality onto your vision, it clears up any and all misconceptions or desires to live in the ‘now’.

A tree that protects a future generation from a dearth of wisdom, from poor information, from a lack of dreaming and goal setting, or from become a debt serf, or any of a number of other negatives, is a tree worth buying, planting, nurturing, and watching grow.

Re-defining success in one’s life may require completely rebuilding many things, however, the payoff will be a ripple effect that will not only transform you from the inside out, as it did me, but additionally, it can and will save a marriage, create principle centered servant leaders, pull some out of debt and teach them the huge difference between investment and expense, and restore and promote the eight meanings of freedom.

Have a terrific ‘thank you’ Thursday & I look forward to many stories of those who start planting!

Mar 232013

This was so eye opening to me, that I immediately had my next blog post topic!

So yes, we’ve all heard of rules before. Many times. Often. However, what about these kind of “rules” , those which have a strong root in past history, and can surely be re-applied as history’s rotating cycle has brought us into a ‘4th season’ and on the upcoming brink of a ‘1st season’ ?   Most definitely worth discussing!

These 14 are derived from C.E. Sargent’s classic read, ‘Our Home‘ , which is a Top 100 recommendation on the TJed Teen/Youth list, thereby making it a must-read, regardless of if you grew up in this classical educational tradition, are now embarking on it, or will be in the future.

One/1 :  Embrace the New, then Embrace the Now.

“Those who pine away for the old will not succeed, nor will those who wait around for the old days to come back.”

Two/2 : Spend evenings and Sundays with family.

Community’s cornerstone is the family unit. When endless entertainment, excessive trading of time for money, dissolution of family, or other issues arise, it’s surely best to address these at the root.

Three/3 : Strengthen your selfculture.

This is the antithesis of popular culture; it runs counter to the concept of peer pressure (fitting in with the crowd, looking for approval, being right with others)

Four/4 : Articulate and write out your individual rules for life.

Who are you?  Leaders are not conformists, except to core morals & goodness.

Fifth/5 : The focus of families is on raising adults & the focus of education is to prepare young people to be good parents & informed citizens.

Opportunities abound to offer leadership and other crucial chances to impact society positively to those age 12 & up; responsibility is borne from the need to help the family succeed.

Sixth/6 : Meaning is a central component of learning.

Replacing the tunnel focus on ‘getting ahead’ & prosperity for self. Gratitude, mistakes as growth moments, & persistence shine through.

Seventh/7 : Spend time serving the less fortunate/vulnerable in society.

Service ahead of self (entertainment all the time) and boredom are moved aside. This creates real community and rebuilds social capital.

Eighth/8 : Marriage as a central, vital project/focus.

This evolves from putting working & parenting ahead of your spouse. Family is strengthened, tying back to the fifth rule above.

Ninth/9 : Pursue & complete a true leadership education.

Also known as an ‘Impact’ education, this replaces 1:1 the previous focus on job & career / professional track. Initiative, ingenuity, tenacity, creativity, and persistence, amongst other skills/values are at the core.

Tenth/10 : Entrepreneurship.

A must. Period. Even for those who have apparent security in their job/career, many find that the security translates to prosperity or fulfillment. The views of entrepreneurs changes over the seasons; the best to emulate is “build(ing) a business to change the world.”

Eleventh/11 :  Produce wealth.

The best time to produce wealth? Build it when the community, including your family (to maintain standard of living), your country, and society need it the most — in times of economic calamities and challenge. The response is to become a producer, which is far more valuable than a dependent, victim, employee, or consumer.

Twelfth/12 : Developing Creativity and Inventiveness.

Doing so helps address society’s problems & ties back to the 11th rule in producing something(s) of value. Opportunity springs from challenges in offering people what they need, as well as want, even in times that it seems far more difficult to do so.

Thirteenth/13 : Inner resiliency.

Winston Churchill is a wonderful role model for this rule. He was able to remain optimistic and enthusiastic even when life was very very hard. Leadership dovetails perfectly here with effecting positive change.

Fourteenth/14 : Growing your ambition.

Being clear to define ‘ambition’ in the right context for the season/time, as either/both of these >  Making sure the right side wins. Making sure the right changes happen.

The quality of the education and leadership determines at the heart what will result from the winning side’s victors and after the change(s) take place.


Did this information hit you as mentally hard as it did me?  I have come to believe more and more that the times we are in are far from what the self-anoited ‘experts’ are saying is a ‘great recession’; on the contrary, it is far, far deeper than that. However, without reading, studying, and listening, let alone associating with those who also do these things, its clear why a fair number of those in America & the West have agreed, at least on the surface.

Comments are most welcome. Thank you, as always, for reading, and God Bless.


* Chapter 7 in the terrific book, ‘Thomas Jefferson Education for Teens” was my primary reference for the above; some of the comments below each rule are mostly my own, tying in from other books.

Dec 232012

Culture. That word alone can be the theme of an entire book!  So, suffice to say, I will not be delving in too deeply, just skirting the word’s meaning/definition and tying it into the words ‘credential’ (-ist) & ‘consumer’ to form the core of this pre-Christmas post.

As the West has always faced its share of challenges, two of these are much more recent, and perhaps have eluded the radar of many citizens, those being the rise of an overly credentialist and consumerist culture. What are the definitions & tell-tale signs of each, one might ask?

Credentialist:  Someone who believes that they are an expert, and knows all there is to know based strictly on having various paper-based, classroom-focused credentials, whether a B.A., B.S., M.A., M.B.A., J.D. or post doctoral coursework.  A person(s) who believes he/she/they can make decisions for others who may not have as much schooling*

Consumerist:   A person(s) who, incidentally or otherwise, puts consumption of goods & services ahead of production; Someone whom does not anchor their consumption to what they can actually afford based on their production, but rather, uses credit to expand their income beyond their means to pay in the present without selling off their future; lastly, someone who does not know, understand, or ignores the vast difference between expenses & investment.

Here’s why I believe both of these to be challenges that require a firm and even-handed response:  Both are acting together, and in some cases separately, to erode the foundations of free enterprise and the traditions of the West which brought countries like the United States and Canada unprecedented prosperity.  How so, one might ask?

First, while I’d not say there is anything wrong with classroom based schooling, there is something wrong when men & women get credentials and any of these happen thereafter:

1. He/she/they cannot find a stable career that pays back the time spent in earning the credential(s)

2. The credential offering institution does not focus on entrepreneurship as a way forward.

3. The schooling leads to thinking which does not offer the student(s) the mindset to know and understand “How” to think, rather than just “what” and/or “when”.

4. The debt burden for attaining the credential(s) puts the student in financial bondage.

5. The credentials lead to a way of thought that says “I earned “X” , therefore I am smarter than you” and I am immediately qualified to make decisions for everyone else.

6. The schooling does not recognize or teach that values like creativity, tenacity, innovation, humility, character, & purpose matter, and always will matter.

Second, while every one of us is a consumer of goods & services, putting consumerism on a shelf and almost considering it a religion to be worshipped, that is where the common, every day need to consume crosses over into the challenge for us to recognize, face, & counter-act. Here’s why this matters:

1. Consumerist culture alone pushes too many citizens into financial bondage to credit card companies, banks, leasing agencies/firms, marketers, advertisers, & Hollywood/NY/Miami celebrity trends.

2. Seed corn/wheat is a metaphor for having money always available to invest in oneself. (no, I’m not talking about 401(k)s and stocks) – when one is a consumer above most/all else, he/she often not only has no seed in reserve, but actually OWES seed to someone else — i.e., a bank!

3. Compound interest is the 8th Wonder of the World in some respects, and not only does it have such a label, it is also, sadly, a mystery to the majority of citizens, who haven’t had financial education in the K-12 (conveyor belt) schooling (and often not much more, if any, in undergrad or graduate professional track curriculum)

4. Consumerism often puts pleasure and short term thinking well ahead of happiness and mid to long term vision.

5. Being that there is a gigantic difference between investment & expense, it is crucial to grasp the concept of delayed gratification, and how buying books, listening to audios, attending seminars & conventions, and the like is an investment in one’s MIND, and therefore, has a return that cannot be measured in mere dollars and cents alone. Expenses come and go out of one’s wallet, and often draw a person(s) into bondage to others, especially if compound interest is involved, without the same return.

6. There is nothing at all amiss with having fun, and entertaining oneself; however, restoration and serving others is far more valuable than just spending money to have temporary fun, esp. if its seed wheat, on something that is often not remembered even a week later.

To bring these both together and tie to the response needed to counter-act the challenges posed, I offer up some thoughts, and some references to other sources.

Response A : Read. History will show that many many great men & women did not have so much schooling, yet they were highly educated. If you don’t read much, or at all now, start small:  15-20 mins./day-night, and build a habit. Trade those 15-20 for wasted time already in your day:  while waiting for an appointment; while (in park!!) in a traffic jam; by turning off the radio or TV in a 1:1 ratio to time spent in a book.

Response B : Listen. Audios (CD, mp3, vid clips, webinars) are golden. Learn from someone else’s experience(s) – especially someone who may not have any press clippings, however, he/she has the ‘fruit on the tree’ and has earned the responsibility to lead, and thus is worth following.

Response C : Associate positively. One can spend time most anywhere and for any amount of time, yet, is it in an environment where education is primary, and does it encourage personal growth and change that will ripple outwards into society?

Response D : Pay it forward/Serve others. If you have read a great book, listened to a fantastic audio, or been to an event that inspired you to find your purpose, sharpened your vision, and taught you principles and not pragmatism, bring someone else with you next time!  Give that book or audio to a friend(s) who may be struggling with life’s circumstances.

Response E : Do not confuse schooling and education. Being in school is one thing, but is the student coming out on the other end of the tunnel with an education?  Therefore, look into a self-directed/liber education, and understand how many in the West had just such an education and changed the world ( Jefferson, Madison, Washington, Franklin, et al. )

Response F : Use an acronym like “Y-D-I-L” as a financial education tool.  Y = You, Inc. Invest in your mind first, always. D = Debt. Pay off all consumer debt as quickly as you can, ahead of saving or investing in non mental things. I = Investment. This is the classic type of investment that the conventional wisdom teaches; nothing wrong with it, however, it comes after the first two letters. L = Lifestyle. Be a consumer last. Of course, you have to eat and buy clothes, and shop for a place to live with a roof; otherwise, never let an advertiser, PR specialist, the mass media, or a celebrity/sports star convince you to part with your hard earned income to “look like” him/her/them.

Response G : Understand the value of production. Study, think like, and learn from entrepreneurs. Even better, become an entrepreneur!  What you learn from the transition from employee-ship type thought to ownership type thought is priceless; there’s no dollar value that can be placed – it is that important to the future of our culture and the restoral of the Western world that reigned supreme for centuries.


Nothing but the best to one & all. May you find your North Star, and put service ahead of self!  Blessings & good will to my readers. 🙂