Jul 242015
 
Social Media Platforms for SBSL

Service Before Self Leadership is an educational services company that has a very broad based presence on social media networks/platforms, & communities.

Below is the full list as of the time of this post in the mid summer of 2015. Thank you very much for connecting, if you choose to do so!

Twitter : https://twitter.com/RkKaizenSbsL

Facebook : https://www.facebook.com/pages/Service-Before-Self-Leadership/102956400046734

GoodReads : https://www.goodreads.com/review/list/10209267-sj-barakony?shelf=read&utm_medium=api&utm_source=grid_widget

LinkedIn : https://www.linkedin.com/company/service-before-self-leadership?trk=biz-companies-cym&_mSplash=1

Instagram : https://instagram.com/sbslceo/

Google+ : https://plus.google.com/111810965279306738054/posts

Tumblr : http://thisrascallovesfreedom.tumblr.com/

YouTube : https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCUvaS0zx-HaFvaj8O9W9lzg

40Billion : http://www.40billion.com/company.asp?resid=204390954

MeetUp.com : http://www.meetup.com/members/102403822/

Best of the best at all times!

Jul 152015
 
The 15 Root Issues

Over the course of the next few months, this blog will be used to spotlight, issue by/per issue, each of the fifteen/15 root issues that exist within the traditional public school/undergraduate educational models, which span from pre-K all the way through the end of the four years until a B.A., B.S., or other functional equivalent credential is received.

The full list of 15 is below to get us started:

o Little, if any, focus on people (soft) skills
o Entrepreneurial / business ownership mindset is rarely, if ever, taught
o Instilling a vision & encouragement of dreams is missing/lacking.
o Financial literacy / wisdom ( too much focus on consumerism )
o “Silo” approach to learning / too narrow. ( nearly all, if not all, content is, and should be, inter-linked.)
o Political climate
o Testing ( credentialist )
o Gift sets ( define/learn/do ) not a focus. Too much standardization and conformity.
o Autonomy & empowerment ( teaching critical/depth thinking )
o Leadership is for all.
o ROI ( $$ -> results ) – this equation is not bearing fruit.
o Stuck in past era/age(s) – the amount of time in the classroom hearkens back to the Agricultural Age, and the curriculum/discussions are akin to the Corporate Industrial Age.
o Remediation – too many have to retake the same material/content later on.
o Lack of focus on personalities/temperaments
o State v. Social (family) power ( the family, not the state, is the cornerstone of society. )

As always, with this blog, feedback is most welcome. Thank you for reading & all the very best at all times!

Aug 292013
 
By the hour, by the task, by the relationship, or by ROI

I’ve had the privilege to expand my formerly fixed pie mindset into that of a lifelong student with an ever growing pie mindset due to being on the ‘path less traveled’ which I’ve been walking down these past 3+ years.

In this time, I’ve read north of 100 books, listened to somewhere between 500 and 1,000 audio recordings, watched over 50 DVDs, read hundreds of blog posts, and been to between 100 and 200 different events where I am surrounded by creators/builders/eagles/climbers. All of these, summed up, has completely been transformational. Not an overstatement in the least!

As part of the above, one particular book, amongst many, serves as the inspiration/foundation stone for this post – that being ‘Cashflow Quadrant’. It was one of the first dozen books I read when I discovered what true education really was ( = liber/liberty/how to think ), and I constantly recommend it in the present, and will do so into the indefinite future:  It is THAT crucial — a must read.  In fact, I believe it should be required reading in all high schools, regardless of if public, charter, private, Christian, or one of the many home school curriculums.

Taking a high level view of the acres of material in this book leads back to the title of this post. There are four/4 quadrants —  each of them will appeal to people based on their core values, their personality traits/temperaments, and their willingness to be a student (read: humble, honeable, hungry).  Each of these can also be attached to one of the short descriptors;  let’s unpack them one by one, then will close off this post with a summation.

By the Hour

E > Someone who ‘lands’, chooses, or is shuttled here through the ‘system’ and/or programming most usually thinks in chunks — hour(s). Extended further out: days, weeks, with a mindset of “hump day”, or Friday is more important than any other day of the week. This is due to an ingrained mindset where he/she measures things in such time increments which are short term in focus and perhaps also in vision.  Often, someone in this quadrant will say he/she “has no time”, or is “very busy”. Chalk this up to a priorities/urgencies root issue, and the age old difficulty in being unable to do anything about the time v. money 1:1 exchange.

By the Task

S > Here is a quadrant where one also tends to be shuttled or programmed to put up stakes, although there is a definitive difference b/w it & its cousin, ‘E’. A person(s) here now thinks more along the lines of – how much can I earn (income) for task “X”, “Y” ?  Example is the trading of time for an appointment which requires the other party to pay ( e.g., Doctors, dentists, accountants, certain types of coaches/counselors, stylists, consultants, lawyers ). So, to extend, it is in the best interests of the person to squeeze as many clients-customers into a given time period as possible. The outlook here can usually be longer than a day or a week, although a person here can oft-times employ others, so he/she may also be marking off in his/her head the time between ‘now’ & when payroll is due.

 

We’ve now traversed the metaphorical wall/chasm between sides of the squared quad. What is the difference between them, one who has yet to read this landmark book may inquire?  Quite straightforward:  One’s incoming information, and subsequent thinking (and actions/application of the former two). Another way to say it:  You are no longer depend”E”nt nor are you a member of independent”S” Inc. (so to say)

 

By the Relationship

B >  The least understood corner real estate, yet within lies the most profound answers to many of life’s perplexing issues/questions. Such as?  :  Why can’t I ever seem to get ahead? — Why don’t I think I have enough time in the day to do everything I must get done? ( yet, the day is just as long as it was millennia ago ) — Why is there more week/month than what is in my paycheck ( net income ) ?  Just who are the folks who own (not manage!) those ‘chains’ = franchises that I spend all of my waking time or currency in?

When you quite likely have made your way into this quadrant, since a very small number will be born here, you will find that your thinking requires a reboot. And, furthermore, that much of what you learned before quite likely will need to be unlearned over time. To “B”, you are no longer the magic elixir. You’ve instead discovered interdependent life — its all about Resolution 11: Systems (Holism) & working in concert with a proven, duplicatable system. This system often takes the form of a recurring inflow of life changing information or, in some cases, it is a reference manual/guide/book that you can use over + over + over again to get the same result.

How does relationship(s) tie in?  This way:  Since you are interdependent, you are interlinked in many cases with others in common purpose. The others will either ensure your financial security through their prosperity; and/or they will be your extended term clients/customers as you have earned their unshakeable trust and loyalty; and/or, lastly, you are seeking to grow your tribe and expand your network, so you must know people skills and sharpen the human relations art & science abilities that are not nearly as well taught as an “E” or an “S”‘er. Folks here also have a strong understanding of financial fitness & are coming to the realization that you don’t retire — unless the word is re-defined to mean that you are retiring from your obligations.

This leads to the final corner >

By ROI

I > This is rarified “air”, as the % of those occupying the ground in this bottom right real estate are most always those who spent a good deal of time as a “B”, and they’ve earned their stripes and have become truly free:  In both time and in money. So, they can now put their money on the line in great big chunks, and become real investors. No, if you are “investing” in a corporate-industrial age retirement vehicle such as a 401(k) nor an industrial age one like a defined benefit pension plan.

In those two latter examples, you are not spending money, however, you have not leveraged money to get an ROI on money. The leverage here is purely monetary as opposed to a system from its cousin to the north, the ‘B’. Instead, this is building or creating of an asset(s) that kicks off cash flow. The book describes the levels of investors far better than I could attempt to dissect, so dear readers, please be sure to read, or re-read, this seminal book, then pay it forward to your friends, family, and especially, the younger generations.

In this quadrant, to cap it off – you are receiving so much inflow of currency from your dependent ‘E’ & independent ‘S’ neighbors across the wall, that your well being is set. You are a living breathing example of the maxim of financial fitness that its NOT where the $ starts, but rather, where it ends up that COUNTS.

 

In wrapping up, please be willing to always change. It is hard, however, beating one’s head against cement and expecting cement to crumble!  If you have those questions above, or simply are a student and wish to gain wisdom and knowledge to then turn around to apply & then pay forward to another, you have found (A) one of the best books ever written, and (B) a post here in the blogosphere which has attempted to explain it all from a slightly different perspective than others likely have already. ( since this book has sold so many copies, I know there are tons of links online talking about it! )

Be the best you can be. Live. Learn. Grow, And may you find & earn your dreams.

Aug 192013
 
S - U - C - C - E - S - S

This acrostic caught my eye right away when I heard a highly successful entreprenuer lay it out on a white board earlier this month. I think the value of such a visual can often be under-rated, so rather than let that happen, am using this gentlemen’s focus on the familiar word ‘success’ as the heart of tonight’s post.

/////////////

S = $

U = You.

C = Common

C = cents ( sense 😀 )

E = Enthusiasm

S = $$

S = $$$

\\\\\\\\\\\\\

I can easily relate to why the ‘S’ s all were tagged to money. Since so many equate success to financial well being, it was a neat idea to build the acrostic with book ends which a majority of individuals will relate to at a surface level. Does this mean that success is exclusively financial?  Of course not. It is far, far more, yet since many aspire to financial freedom, with being successful as their vehicle to get there, it makes sense.

‘C’ & ‘C’ = how valuable, yet its not all that common sometimes, is it? This can be attibuted to so many root reasons ( e.g., non physical fears, programming, poor/bad information, not associating with positive communities/individuals, entertainment overload, schooling instead of education ) — so, let’s counter that by mentoring with those who have your best interests in mind, plugging into gold medal quality information, and changing your thinking. Mentorship matters.

Enthusiam, let alone excitement, are so crucial. Frank Bettger taught us this so many years ago in his remarkable book, ‘How I Raised Myself From Failure to Success in Selling’. Have vivid, clear goals that you are chasing at all times. Be in the race to the top. A winner is up even when she is down – you must pour the gas on the dreams, and act enthusiastic even if you don’t quite feel all the way there 🙂

Lastly, we back up to the U.  That is you. Yourself. (and I!). We are our most valuable asset, yet we often take our trillion dollar on board computer known as our brain (primarily the subconscious/unconscious = a goal setting device) and feed it the equivalent of junk food, yet we expect the best of our sports teams and celebrities (?).  This is entirely upside down.

There’s nothing amiss with having a favorite player, team, or even a star actor, but why do so many tolerate mediocrity in their own day to day lives?  This must be fixed at the core. We control our decisions and our choices. Never play the victim, or bring out the victim card; if you do, the success card is off the table, and will not be in the deck. Why? By doing the latter, you’ve donated it to the person next to you who is reading to be a leader and borrowing the experiences of those who have results; the person in the car in the next lane who is using her vehicle as a rolling university; the man who is attending seminars and conventions and rubbing shoulders with eagles/climbers/creators who want to get better.

It is an honour and a privilege of mine to lead others to their oasis of success. And, I hope this recap, with my own analysis attached, helped the reader, even if just a little. Blessings!

Aug 112013
 
What you do MATTERS -- Serve. Pay forward. Give. Bless Others.

Ripples in the still water…

They are caused by something which breaks the stillness; something which serves as the cause, while the effect is palpable to the naked eye …

Who among us, likely while with your parents on a hike, a camping trip, or at a retreat, hasn’t tossed a rock into a pond, a lake, and watched with glee as your act caused something so obvious?  Raising my hand, I am one of them 😀

So, why would we, as adults, not apply this same principle to your life?

What you do MATTERS.

Here’s the principle I speak of. This is not a new idea, yet I wished to cover it today, as earlier this summer, I was privilved to hear a moving talk from an accomplished business owner ** ( w/ her husband ) who re-told the story that I’ve linked back to at the bottom of this post. The story is a core of the ‘Butterfly Effect’ , and is synonomous with ripples from a smooth stone tossed as a young child. Rather than re-tell that story, let’s use it as inspiration – print it off, and refer to it often …

Let’s apply this to our lives today. Stop spending so much time on obligations that only benefit ourselves and which have limited value to our families, trusted friends, and our society. Our families are the cornerstone of our culture – thus, the butterfly effect, the ripples, matter – and our culture is in dire need of an infusion of leadership that rises from organic growth of our own thinking. Our friends are valuable, so why would we not spend time and effort cultivating those relationships?  That will ripple.

And, social capital can only be rebuilt by conscious focus on restoring values which will bring satisfaction in our business ownership (or our careers/jobs), our faith/spiritual development, our marriages/parenting, and in our time spent community building (anything from the YMCA, PTA, church youth groups/VBS, et al.)

Yes, what you do MATTERS. Focus on priorities! Match your calendar to them at all times. No excuses, please. If you rank something as #1 in your life, it should be #1 on your calendar in terms of the time you spent on it, as often as possible. Sure, urgencies will arise; so long as you remember Covey’s ‘Big Rocks’ vid clip, the visual should stick with you  to guide you back onto the path in case you are knocked off of it.

It is a privilege of mine to serve others, paying forward world class/gold medal information which has the highest potential to lead to the butterfly effect in others’ lives. Help one person/family/entrepreneur fix an issue and grow their servant leadership?  Define their purpose? Sharpen their vision?  Up their adversity quotient?  Fix their finances at the deepest roots?  Those are ripples. They are priorities for those folks, right?  So, the stone and rock tossed is the information, that which, once learned & applied, will effect the change.

How amazing a feeling to shake hands, hugs, fist bumps, and pats on the back with the people whose lives you bless!  Up your count. Give of yourself & pay forward transformational info that has benefited you/your family/your business. And, you will have  your own opportunity to be the Moses, the George W. Carver, the Henry Wallace, and the Norman Borlaug in your own ways.

+ + +

** Thank you so very much, Laurie Woodward, for your ability to inspire through stories! The story that she cited can be found elsewhere; however, here’s a great source that is found easily online > http://lifetoday.org/connect/words-of-life/the-butterfly-effect/  <

Aug 032013
 
Mindset -- Thick skin, soft heart > Soft skin, hard heart --

Your mindset is a very large input factor – its impact is much like a rock that ripples the standing, still waters on a lake once a person skips it across the surface.

So, after hearing a talk by a very accomplished business owner/entrepreneur about 6 weeks ago, and re-visiting my notes from her ** talk, I was inspired to blog about some of the contents of her talk, adding some of my own color to her words.  It was a very enlightening perspective!

First >

Being offended.

Have thick skin & a soft heart when it comes to being offended. Our culture is far too close to the soft skin, hard heart than it should be, which causes needless friction in relationships. Let alone, one’s mindset is impacted, as he/she is always either carrying a chip on his/her shoulder(s), or is always being overly concerned about what to say & when to say it. Manners matter, yet having empathy and grace are better.

Second >

Credentialism.

If someone has more credentials, certifications, or other ‘flair’ than the person next to you, please don’t have the mindset that this individual is more intelligent, smarter, or more impactful to society. There’s nothing at all amiss about pursuing these as you go after what you want ( ‘Define’ step ), however, your mindset must be centered on the value of people as far more than their career/occupation/job. The latter is just a small part of our lives. Let alone, the fact that self-directed (liber/leadership) education doesn’t bring with it any of these “tokens”, however, this path is just as valuable,and unquestionably so.

Third >

Being an employee & lacking understanding of being an owner/entrepreneur.

As with the second, neither of these pathways are “wrong”, however, oft-times, with the last century having been a force-shift culture rather than the previous 125 years, there is a mindset that someone who is an owner has to put their entire life on the line by signing a stack of papers, or having a name on a building. Let alone that entrepreneurship is ‘risky’, or requires a ton of time to get ahead versus a 40 hour employee’s average week. Not the case!  Here, again, mindset makes all the difference. Have thick skin if you are an owner facing questions like this; have a soft heart if you are dealing with an owner who is chasing his/her dream of freedom

Fourth >

The desire to always win an argument.

Dale Carnegie taught us all about four score years ago that one never really wins an argument. Sage wisdom from the past, as usual, is timeless. However, when your skin is not thick, you may be far more defensive, less humble, et al., so I can clearly can tell why she included this in her talk about mindset.  Instead of winning an argument, and losing the battle, let alone the’ ‘war’, how about digging into people skills books, audios, and surround yourself with those whom will make you better?

Fifth >

Image.

One possible way to approach image is to compare it to one’s reputation, as opposed to what one truly is, inside-out. A person is far more than how he looks on the surface, how much schooling/education she has, etc. Being materialistic, judgmental of someone’s choice of clothing without knowing details, critiquing his way of talking; all of these are image-conscious. It’s far more valuable to re-focus your mindset on something that will edify and glorify others.

and, lastly, Sixth >

Excuses.

We’ve all made them; in fact, Dr. David Schwartz, in his landmark book, ‘The Magic of Thinking Big’, dedicated a whole chapter to ‘Excuse-itis’!  So, let’s not reflexively judge others, nor beat ourselves up if we’ve come up with excuses. These are signs of the latter from this blog’s subject – a hard heart and thin skin. Rather, turn the excuses into reasons! And, have a thick skin and grace when it comes to dealing with others who have not yet reshaped their mindset to one of solutions, rather than problems.

_________

** – all credit for the outline/core themes from this post to Mrs. Terri Brady. Her talks are always a value add to my life. Visit her blog @ http://terribradyblog.com for an excellent dose of success, wealth, and interpersonal development thinking.

Jun 302013
 
The never-ending value of audio based learning

The only edge that you have in this economy – which is moving ever faster & deeper into the internet/connected/tribal/information age – is how much of a learning culture you’ve immersed yourself in. This culture could be a mastermind group, a community that you’ve built, a challenge (such as the MFC) that you participate in with friends, or even just by yourself.

Part of this learning is necessarily audio based. Adults tend to learn best by being impacted from all their senses — eyes ( reading, video ), ears ( see this post. ), and via “touch” ( positive association with others of like mind, purpose, and vision. ).  A topic like this could easily form the thesis of a whole book; thus, this post will cover a major theme of the value of such learning.  Learning, framed w/ the right mindset ( humility, honeable, hungry ) can easily equate into wisdom, as you learn how to discover, which is a core of true education.

With that foundation, laid, below is a list of the many fundamental reasons why you should invest in your own thinking via audios:

+ + + + +

> They put a lid on your own self-talk, so you don’t take advice from yourself. Bottling up your personal negativity is a key forward step to living for significance and not just survival..

> They substitute in something that is positive & valuable to help grow yourself.

> The impartation of timeless principles of success and good living.

> They take the place of the world’s dominant media, the vast majority of which is very negative, de-edifying, and lacking in wisdom.

> An input into building a strong attitude & sharpening your purpose.

> Give you staying power and persistence, allowing you to get through low points, valleys, and the inevitable bumps in life.

> They start to build an entrepreneurial mindset, one of an owner.

> The building of dreams, encouragement of belief in something bigger than your present reality.

> They teach principles of self-confidence, posture ( steadfastness ), & individuality ( vs. negative peer pressure/conforming to the crowd )

> Principles of consistency, which are lacking often in a society that is so steeped in a microwave mentality that pits the ‘quick fix’ ahead of ‘staying the course.’

+ + + + +

May you find this insight valuable on your own pathway to personal growth, change, and as you learn how to serve others first. Thank you for taking the time to read, and all the very best!

______________________________

* with sincere, heartfelt appreciation to Mr. Chris Brady, whose talk inspired the content of this entire post ( some of the wording and organization of the points was mine – icing on the cake 🙂 )

Mar 102013
 
Do you have the mindset of an innovator & creator?

Innovation & creation. Are they not both building blocks of a growth based, free enterprise economy?

For sure!

So, in that case, we can draw an arrow, without any leap of logic, to what one engine of rebuilding the entrepreneurial mindset of America is and what we need to encourage across all socio-economic classes, whether age, gender, race, ethnicity, or otherwise.

The below information was culled from a fantastic book I read about 15 mos. ago, by none other than leadership expert, John C. Maxwell, ‘Developing the Leader Within You’ 

For any given change proposal, the graphing of the responses looks like this:

2%  – Innovators

10% – early Adopters

60% – middle adopters

20% – late adopters

8% – laggards

I’d say that this is very telling as to why the macro economies of the West have stalled; of course, there is far more to this analysis than just this, however, it’s definitely a piece of the analysis that may not be as well studied as others. Regardless of one’s intent, often, a review will be colored by the person writing it- so if you’re reading an economic study, you may not find out that the person is resistant to change in his/her profession, or generally, so could that’s why, perhaps paired with a lack of reading, we’re not hearing more about this.

When roughly 12% of the population embraces change openly and without time, emotional, or rational resistance acting as ‘sand in the gears’, and 28% on the other side of the teeter totter, could that be why so many look not to entrepreneurs, but to big institutions of yore ( think: big business/corporations, big education, big unions, big government ) or “experts” (many of whom aren’t really experts, lacking their 10,000 hours invested ) to deal with the issues causing economic dis-location, stagnation, and missed growth opportunities?

Let’s change this graphing by addressing the deep roots:  Read more. Listen more (at the expense only of your own thinking that you know the answer(s)). Invest in yourself ahead of all else by cutting needless expenses that have no return on dollars spent. Find mentor(s)) to follow. Join a community based leadership growth group in your area. And, by all means, focus on the great that’s out there – innovate your thinking, and adopt the mindset of an eagle. We have enough chickens and chicken littles 😉

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!

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. 🙂