Jun 152014
 
(Father's Day edition) - 'Courageous' - 2014 Rascal's Guide to + Movies Series - Two

Just in time for Father’s Day …

… it’s my privilege to post a review, and a very strong recommendation, to watch the movie ‘Courageous‘.

Courageous is a terrific movie filled to the brim with truths in it’s moving, insightful, & heartfelt script. It will tug at your metaphysical heartstrings, and make you really reconsider if you are doing all you can as a man in serving your family.

It is very much the case that not all males are men; a man is created from the crucible of living for far more than a paycheck. He is molded by his culture/society, his local community, his friends, his pastor/spiritual leader, and his family unit. Some men run from their multi-pronged duties, some blame shift, some never mature … and then, there are some that fight back the ‘FLD’ (Five Laws of Decline), and serve their families with honour, with courage, with character, and with a determination to never quit on them.

This latter group is what we see emerge as the movie eventually reaches its plateaus of raw emotion & decision point(s). Without spoilers, the four lead characters each have to come face to face with situations which test their faith (or lack thereof), and put them square in the middle of a moral battlefield. Will each of them make the right decision(s)? Will they buckle under pressure? Will they put the lure of lesser things ahead of the greatness and glory of God?

This movie earns an A+ from this reviewer for multiple reasons – it rings like a tuning fork in the quiet room, for starters. It also is very real; we know these characters don’t exist in real life, yet you can surely see them in the faces & voices of your neighbors. Additionally, the movie doesn’t shy away from tackling difficult issues that may be considered “off limits” by those who don’t understand that one should have thick skin & a soft heart, rather than the reverse.

Who would’ve thought that an independent studio could cobble together the funds to put out such a quality film, one may ask? These folks in Georgia did. This movie doesn’t cut corners and it shows in the high level of acting skill, scenery, and quality of script-writing.

As we celebrate Father’s Day in our land, this is the best way I could show support for all the men in my life who are fathers (and for those who read this blog whom I don’t know!): put up a review of a movie which is a must-see (and must own) to sharpen their saw ( Habit 7 ) and use this movie as a sterling example of what a father should be.

All best!

Oct 282013
 
Habits, Traits, & Principles of the Successful

Successful people are not lucky.

They simply follow a different ‘guidebook’ of habits, traits, and principles which Mr. & Mrs. Average do not either choose to or know about. Chances are, they are living far too much of their lives awash in the conventional wisdom, advertising/PR, and/or mass media entertainment sources to have dug far enough below the surface to hit the gold veins that would transform their lives from the inside-out.

However, let it be said that its never too late to grow into these!  I’m living proof, as it took me several decades post graduation from traditional schooling to have struck the gold. And, now that I have, the veins continue to appear: all over the place!  There is no shortage of world class information to make these veins produce additional gold; in fact, there’s so much that quite some time ago, I made it a large part of my life’s purpose to spread & share what I’ve learned with as many humble, honeable, & hungry people that I am able to build relationships with.

And, with the above mission in mind, here are ten to study, learn from, and live each & every day:

[1]  Have a Focus & a Purpose in Life.

+ Focus like a laser, and not like a flashlight.

+ Know your “Why” – this is imperative!

+ Define your purpose. Mr. Orrin Woodward thought so much of this, he used it as foundational Resolution 1 in his landmark book, ‘Resolved’  (!)

+ Keep in mind that purpose, legacy, and destiny are Level 3/highest of the high/ motivators. Once you find yours, your life will feel far more complete and fulfilling.

[2]  Always strive for Excellence

+ Self explanatory, yes?   However, one would be surprised, mildly, or perhaps more so, to find how many aren’t. Mediocrity and same-ness are prevalent in mainstream culture. “Home to work”, “home to work” …  is the mentality. And, when not working, you may find these same folks who are not living up to their potential holding their favorite sports teams to a super high standard.

+ Be the example. You’re the project. Not someone else – unless you are living intentionally for excellence in all areas of your life, you cannot in good stead point out others’ perceived imperfections or attempt to correct them.

+ Rise above the crowd. The crowd has fallen prey to a little known (yet becoming more clear) factor called ‘Sturgeon’s Law’ –  One has to read NYT Best Seller, ‘LeaderShift’ to be educated in depth on this law, however, in short form, it means that the crowd, defined as the 90%, will be average at best.

[3]  Always leave people better off than before you met them.

+ Every interaction you have with someone else can be scoreboard’ed on a scale of 1-5. Keep yours at 4 or 5 always.

+ Study books like ‘The Great Connection’, ‘Personality Plus’, ‘The Five Love Languages’, & ‘Positive Personality Profiles’

+ Be an encourager & a cheerleader. The world has too many discouragers, cynics, unhealthy skeptics, & correctors.

[4]  Take Responsibility

+ Look in the mirror. You are always the final responsible party. If you have/own a ‘victim card’, toss it in the trash, never to be played again.

+ Sometimes, taking responsibility means you accept fault when something is out of your control. However, leadership entails such high levels of ownership of situations, people/followers, and the resulting circumstances.

[5]  Always take on new challenges.

+ Living in one’s familiar zone won’t result in the success that is earned by those who are in the pool and moving against the current. The current will be given new life by those who stretch and grow in all areas. A challenge is an open opportunity; don’t pull down a shade over it.

+ The mindset of a winner and a climber is that of someone who takes things on with ambition and determination. Create the new reality by tapping into your vision. Overcome the goliaths and achieve the private/personal, public, and leadership victories that are yours for the taking.

[6]  Produce, regardless of the situation you’re in

+ Excuses are useless. Don’t ever make them. Find reasons to produce something remarkable.

+ Never whine. Never complain. Never make excuses.  Wooden’s set of three’s is just as applicable today, a few years after his passing at age 99, as it was when he was growing up.

[7]  Have a strong work ethic

+ You’re entitled to nothing except life, liberty (freedom), and the pursuit of happiness. Natural laws, as so brilliantly espoused by Patrick Henry in his 7 Resolves { 1765 } , are the governing ‘rules of the road’ for true leaders.

+ Laws that encourage anything remotely resembling entitlement are those which successful people repel. Earn your stripes by what you do to make yourself better, and then, thereafter, to go out and serve others.

[8]  Invest in yourself.

+ The monies one earns should be paid to ‘You, Inc.” first ahead of anything else. No one can take away wisdom, knowledge, and learned truth(s) from you unlike they can a house, a car, electronics, or sports gear.

+ The poor have big TV’s; the wealthy have big libraries. A generalization? Sure. Are there exceptions? Sure. However, for the clear majority of cases, this holds true. Study spending & investment trends to find out.

[9]  Persevere.

+ Jack Canfield & Colonel Sanders come to mind – both were extremely successful. Yet, each man found rejection after rejection until someone said ‘yes’

+ Adversity quotient is incredibly valuable; in the aforementioned book, ‘Resolved’, it ranks as number 12. What is your IQ x EQ x WQ = AQ ?

+ Failure is simply an event, and not an individual. Failure is a huge part of success. Be sure you know how to reframe & how to learn from each setback.

[10]  Ability to prioritize.

+ Stephen R. Covey taught this crucial success principle the best in his Habit 3.

+ Have you drawn out your entire life and segmented into ‘priorities’, ‘obligations’, and ‘urgencies’?   Or, at least, done this by the day, week, month, quarter, or year?

+ Priorities should align with your mission(s), purpose, and your dreams. They will get you from “A” to “B” fastest of all, while your obligations and the urgencies will act as anchors.

___________________________________________________

Hope this post, like all others, has added value to you. Comment if you’ve been especially impacted – always welcome feedback at all times.

And … a huge & heartfelt …

… Thank you to Mr. Alex Nickerson for inspiring this content!  Having met him once in person & seen him another time, his credibility in putting forth this kind of content is clearly reflected in the successes he has realized thus far in his life.

Feb 282013
 
How much are you reading?  How much are you growing?

“The keys to life are running and reading. When you’re running, there’s a little person that talks to you and says, “Oh I’m tired. My lung’s about to pop. I’m so hurt. There’s no way I can possibly continue.” You want to quit. If you learn how to defeat that person when you’re running. You will how to not quit when things get hard in your life. For reading: there have been gazillions of people that have lived before all of us. There’s no new problem you could have–with your parents, with school, with a bully. There’s no new problem that someone hasn’t already had and written about it in a book.

Will Smith

 

********
Reading. Such an imperative activity for making one’s life better, yet why aren’t more in the West making it a habit?   There are many reasons, although I’d posit that the vast majority of them are dressed up excuses which are actually reasons to read, once unraveled and consider in depth.
So many of us know Will Smith by his many many successful movies, perhaps his old TV show, or even his time as a music mogul, rapping with DJ Jazzy Jeff 😀  However, were you aware of his love of reading, and how much he values it?   The quote is powerful in its own right, and its shines as a truth beacon.
How often have we spoken with, heard, observed, or been pulled into an unfamiliar or tense situation in any area – say with a friend, a manager, your kids, even a perfect stranger, and not been able to handle it well?  Would not having read some world class books on people skills, leadership, faith, or history have given you the tools to learn from those who had those same situations in their own lives?    Undoubtedly!
I strongly urge all readers to think about this – please don’t react; think. Self-improvement, personal change, and lifelong growth don’t just happen:  They require intentionality, determination, focus, humility, and courage. None of these are talents, though, they are skills, learnable skills. The question that you have to ask yourself tonight is:  Am I willing to make a difference in the lives of everyone I encounter, and in my own mirror, and start to read from quality books?
I hope the answer is ‘Yes!’.
May you be blessed in your days ahead.
Thank you for reading.
Jan 302013
 
What traits do you share with Sir Winston?

We’ve all heard so much about Sir Winston Churchill, that his name & legacy are burned into our conscious minds.

Yet, have we really exhausted the deep well of insightful wisdom which this great man left behind for all the successive generations?  I’d say ‘not even close.’  There are numerous reasons why I come to this conclusion: One of which is that we do not teach history nearly as well as we used to; another is that not enough people read great books; a third is that we have bought into the self-deception that we have all the knowledge we need to live fruitful, purposeful lives, yet we are still in want of more wheat & farmers’ seeds to germinate in our minds.

So, with the above in mind – I am summing up the table of characteristics of Mr. Churchill’s life that served him so very well [ my thoughts/comments in ( ) ].

I happily point the readers to Appendix A of a really good book that I read over a year ago, ‘Ready, Begin!‘ by Lawrence M. Kryske., from which this information originated. Mr. Kryske did a fantastic job pulling it all together! Get that book on your shelf/in your e-reader 🙂

 

VISION

Focus     ( whom wouldn’t benefit from laser instead of flashlight focus?)

Innovation   ( producers & creators in society do this. Think: Steve Jobs. )

Perspective  ( C + “P” = E )

Simplicity  ( Something that every Type C/Melancholy needs to remember-note to self )

Being Proactive  ( Habit 1 – Covey )

Open Minded   ( NEVER close your mind or eyes to an opportunity! )

Insightful   ( mentors and coaches provide )

Adding Value   (  Edify. Never subtract from a person via your words. )

Detail Oriented   ( See above re: melancholy 😉 )

Big Picture  (  Vision – Resolution 4 )

Discernment   (  a component of human relations / people skills )

Preparation   (  Plant seeds/a tree well before you need a crop/apples! )

 

COURAGE

Risk Taking   ( entrepreneurs do this & America needs many more of them! )

Introspection  ( deep thinking v. reacting )

Enthusiasm   (  Carnegie & Bettger taught this years ago. Still imperative! )

Generosity   ( Serve others 1st. Always. )

Priorities / Timing  ( Habit 3 – Covey )

Integrity / Truth   (  truth is truth. Know it, live it, and expect it at all times )

Decision Making  ( make a decision, don’t ever fear a mistake or failing. )

Judgment  ( important for growing personally & leading others )

Empathy   (  HUGE importance. )

Accountability     ( NEVER ‘pass the buck’, blame shift, or make excuses. )

Boldness  ( nail your colors to the mast! )

 

DETERMINATION

Tenacity   ( A crucial trait for an entrepreneur. )

Resilience   (  Another for entrepreneurial minded folks. Never, ever quit. )

Problem Solving  (  problem ID’ed —> series of choices –> problem solved. )

Attitude  (  Resolution 3 )

Discipline  (  Build your internal integrity. Don’t cut yourself slack via excuses. )

Dedication  ( Imperative for having long term vision )

Action Oriented  ( can’t have all green lights before you move ahead. )

Patience  ( crucial element in dealing with others )

Versatility  ( grow in all personality types – be Type D, I, S, & C all at once 🙂 )

Involving Others  (  Level 4 thinking – interdependent / Habit 6 – Covey )

Impassioned  ( ollin – all in!

Flexibility  ( very valuable skill. )

 

In the end, what can be learned from this great leader’s life is nothing short of remarkable. That surely explains the vast number of books & other post mortem recognition he has received.  Successful people mirror their lives to those who have results ( define – learn – do ) and one can’t go wrong by using Sir Winston as a role model!

Nov 232012
 
Monthly Movie Recommendation for Eagles & Climbers – IV

Today’s blog post is the fourth in a monthly series that I plan to post for the rest of 2012.  I hope all the readers of this blog find as much inspiration, value, & encouragement in these as I intend there to be :)

October’s ** movie recommendation from the vault for eagles ( those who soar! ) & rascals ( those climbers who strive to be part of the 5-10% riding the success curve of LIFE ) is 1982’s  ‘Rocky III‘, written by the star of the series himself, Sylvester Stallone.

As with the previous posts, my perspective with this review/recommendation is to tie the script in with the 13 resolutions for LIFE and/or the 8 cornerstone F’s, along with a short take on the movie itself. Due to the movie having been released nearly a quarter century ago, there’s nothing original to be said in the latter 😉

In this 2nd sequel to the ground-breaking original from 1976, we find Rocky at the top of his game. He has won the Heavyweight Championship from Apollo, and he and Mickey, his original and current manager, are seen in the opening montage, along with Adrian, while Rocky is on a domestic and international tour, defending the title and remaining undefeated throughout. Survivor’s iconic song, http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VgSMxY6asoE is playing in the background 🙂

Fast forward from here to Rocky’s first in person encounter with his nemesis in this film, Clubber Lang, played by, a debuting to the big screen/celluloid star in the making, Mr. T. Clubber is clearly the guy with hunger and passion, and his purpose is clear:  He wants the title, and he will go through whatever it takes to get it. Rocky, on the flip side, is basking in the peace and affluence of being on the peak of the mountain-top.

We see what happens when there’s a clash of hunger v. satisfaction “as is” – Rocky is pounded mercilessly, and loses – badly. Along the way, as the narrative advances, Rocky is re-introduced to his former adversary/foe, Apollo Creed, and he and Apollo build a relationship and bound together as friends with aim at common goals: to regain the title and rediscover Rocky’s hunger and original passion, his courage, and raw determination. And, with this movie being as popular and long-lasting as it is, we all know the end result:  Rocky, against all the odds having been stacked up against him by the critics, cynics, and even his own subconscious mind for a time, wins, and wins going away. The final 5-10 minutes are stand up and cheer all the way!  😀

How does Rocky’s dream, struggle, and victory storyline tie in with the 8 F’s of LIFE?   Let’s look closer:

Family – Rocky & Adrian had their first child, a boy, in the first sequel a few years hence. He is now growing up, and Rocky feels a pull on himself that did not exist before:  He now has two very important cornerstones in his life that transcend boxing, and his mentoring/coaching relationship with Mickey (and later Apollo).

Faith – Rocky always says a prayer in the corner before his bouts. Like with many athletes, including much more recently, Tim Tebow, this grounds him properly before he goes off to make his living in the center of the ring.

Friends – Mickey, while a tough nosed trainer, has become a trusted friend to Rocky. Rocky grew up under his tutelage, after all. Rocky also forms a concrete bond with Apollo Creed as the film moves forward after Clubber won their title bout.

Finances – Rocky started in the original movie with very little money, and by the time of this second sequel, his success in the ring had brought him riches that seemed to have no end: endorsement deals from all corners, title bout monies from promoters worldwide, and merchandise sales from his public training! ( the latter thanks to the entrepreneurial Paulie 😉 )  However, it is clear that the money took the edge off of his hunger, determination, and willingness to be a student. This cost him far more, at least for a good chunk of the film, than what he had gained.

Fitness – The training montages from the Rocky films are legendary. This sequel did not disappoint one bit!  After Adrian reached Rocky’s soul with her admonition on the beach, it was like the ‘Italian Stallion’ was reborn!  His heart (EQ) reconnected with his mind (IQ), and the will to win returned (WQ).

Fun – Rocky knows how to have fun. The initial training at the gym before his title loss was hilarious in many ways; not to Mickey, mind you, but to the fans who came to see the champ up close.

Following – Leadership is character in motion; Rocky’s character is battle tested throughout the series, and in a special way in this sequel. Having lost his original fire in the belly (hunger), not to mention his humility, he had to rediscover them both after experiencing failure. Failure is simply an event; every leader knows this. However, until Apollo came along, let alone his wife’s from the heart (to heart) talk, Rocky identified his loss to Clubber as a failure = he as a man, and as a father/husband. His success that won him the title originally was based on failure after failure, including mistakes!

Freedom – The financial windfall after defeating Apollo in the sequel gave him plenty of freedom through wealth:  wealth is composed of time and money. However, it came at a steep price – he paid it in spades, and once he found his purpose ( the convergence of potential, passion, and profits = hedgehog concept, all credit to Jim Collins ), this type of freedom was grounded not on a foundation of mud and sand, but rather on concrete.

The 13 Resolutions apply rather neatly to the narrative as well –

Purpose has been mentioned numerous times; Rocky’s character ( integrity x courage ) was put through the furnace of struggle. His attitude needed a lot of work, and his friend and wife helped him immensely to fix it at the core. He struggled with vision, due to issues that too few of us understand:  the subconscious mind is so much more powerful than the conscious, and for Rocky, the former was in a war with the latter, and when this happens, the person almost always doesn’t get what he wants. He needed to understand the immense value of PDCA’ing, including grasping that his scoreboard/card was missing some key elements.  Along the way, he built a deep seated friendship with Apollo, and grew closer to his wife, who clearly is his friend and confidante as well as his spouse. Undoubtedly, his finances improved markedly by being a champion, however, he let the affluence get to his head & heart, which whittled away at his will to win. Leadership includes so many features, inc. the willingness to change, to have priorities in line, and to be interdependent, and practicing team-work. Along the way, Rocky learned how crucial each of these are to being a winner both in and out of the ring. He also had to learn how to be a better man, which often comes by truly grasping conflict resolution skills; triangulation, avoidance, and silence are each poor substitutes for truly getting to the heart of what’s dividing one person from another. His thinking was also lacking both before his startling defeat at the hands of Clubber Lang, but also after during the initial training with Apollo. Systems thinking shows that circular reasoning, such as knowing something needs to be different (behavior/understanding) to face a new foe (a threat, competitor, et al.) and responding defensively will simply not work. Unquestionably, we saw that Rocky’s adversity quotient was lower than one might expect from having a World Championship belt around his waist; so it took a crushing defeat, a return to basics, bonding with his wife, and a new friend to bring his equation of IQ + EQ + WQ up to the standards required to again be victorious. Last of all, Rocky’s legacy was put in serious doubt due to his response-ability after winning the belt. He didn’t realize that Mickey was accommodating his protege, which dulled his passion and iron will. Of course, this led to failure and defeat, and in some measure, took Rocky back to his roots through the eyes of Creed, his new mentor. In the end game, though, his legacy was restored to its former glory, and his fans went wild after he took Clubber and pounded him into the mat 🙂

While some see this movie as simply a sports flick, there is so much more below the surface. As usual, a sensus plenior / metaphorical perspective produces so much more lessons than a sensus solum / surface level one.  Thank you so very much for reading, and as always, shares & comments are most especially welcomed.  Namaste!  🙂