Jul 082013
On a peak (of life)? in a valley (also of life)?

I recently put a cap on a terrific book called ‘Peaks and Valleys‘ by Spencer Johnson, M.D. What a truly inspired read! I compare it to the ‘Great Connnection‘ , ‘Leadershift‘ , and ‘The Ant and the Elephant‘ in terms of how much it impacted me through the lens of a business parable writing style. This post will not serve as a recommendation / review of the book ( please visit my other blog for that in near future ), but rather, I will sum up some immediate thoughts that I had about the book; it’s core themes can easily be applied to anyone’s life.

Five Major Themes

1 + ‘To Manage Your Good and Bad Times:’ > ‘Make Reality Your Friend’

What an on point, to the heart question Mr. Johnson poses! “What is the truth in this situation?”

How often do we allow ourselves to think independently, or use our self-talk as a positive, rather than a huge lead weight?  Let alone bringing the word ‘truth’ into the solution to a problem, however small or vexing, or seemingly unsolveable?

2 + ‘To Get Out of a Valley Sooner:’ > ‘Find and Use the Good Hidden in a Bad Time’

Fantastic perspective! How often have we heard that there’s a silver lining in every dark cloud?  This is a corollary of that metaphor. Yes, but it sounds so corny?! You may say..

Sure, you may respond that way, and it may even be the case, however, being able to laugh at yourself and have fun, even in bad times, brings levity and is like dropping some of the bricks from the bag which you filled yourself.

3 + ‘To Stay on a Peak Longer:’ > ‘Appreciate and Manage Your Good Times’

Absolutely. Comparing this to what I’ve heard on an audio multiple, multiple times — you should not eat your seed corn or wheat. These crops are akin to good times; one may also be familiar with the metaphor, ‘every good time must come to an end’

Don’t use these in any way but to be a good steward of your resources — financially, do not spend every penny that you make; ignore the incessant calls to borrow more money which will keep you in debt in perpetuity — relationally, always be humble, do what you have done to get to your peak. Turn the spotlight off of yourself, and onto others.

4 + ‘To Get to Your Next Peak:’ > ‘Follow Your Sensible Vision’

Mr. Johnson describes it well – “Imagine yourself enjoying a better future in such specific, believable detail, that you soon enjoy doing what takes you there

You cannot merely fantasize, wish, or pretend; you have to use the immense power of vision ( Resolution 4 ) combined with planning, doing, checking, and adjusting ( Resolutions 5 & 6 ) to make what you have dreamed about real!

Bastiat’s Law, one of the FLD, will tug you away from doing any of these last four action steps, making you want to play the lottery, or wait for someone to leave you inheritance monies, however, to scale a peak require real work and effort.

Lastly, 5 + ‘To Help People:’ > ‘Share It with Others!’

Simple, yes? However, don’t fall into a trap of human-ness, and want to hold these lessons close to you like a blanket in the winter; be grateful you heard them, and turn around and pay them forward. Resolution 13 is a clarion call to thinking well beyond you, and planting the seeds that will become great trees, or stalks of corn, or fruit in others’ lives; those whom you may barely know, or will never meet.

Whether you give this book out as a gift, loan your personal copy to someone, practice these lessons and be the example in front of everyone, or something else not listed, just be sure to get “outside of yourself”, and put service before self.


Have a wonderful week~!


Sep 302012

Today’s blog post is the third 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 :)

September’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 1989?s original script/film,  ‘Field of Dreams‘.

My review/recommendation will uncover no new facts, as this film has been reviewed by so many different folks over the past 20, almost 25 years, however, my specific intent and purpose in writing this blog post is to tie the themes of the script into the values/resolutions/categories for which I have chosen to use to serve others with = the 8 F cornerstones,  the 13 resolutions and the entrepreneurial/freedom values that many of us take  for granted, but which are the anchor posts of our republic.


We open the movie with some backstory on Ray, a non descript 30-something married man with a young daughter who owns a farm in small town/rural Iowa. I enjoyed the opening moments, as they made Ray seem so real to the viewer – and truly, any of us, single or married men, can step right into his shoes. He loves his small family, he seems to like farming ( humour about settling down on a farm aside ;)), and he really loves the American pastime – baseball.

However, his quiet lifestyle is rocked to its core very early on, a voice from the cornfield exhorts him to ‘build it, and he will come’  Who will come?!  Much of the first part of the movie answers that question, and later on, the same voice has a new twist:  ‘Ease his pain.’     At one point, Ray is in his bedroom with his wife, Annie, and he talks about the concerns he has of turning into his father, who lived a safe life – peaceful, yet without vision. No vision, no dreams of something bigger than him, a legacy, although he had sacrified by going off to WWI like so many men in his early 20th century generation.


As the movie runs on, we meet some wonderfully descript characters, like Terance Mann, Archibald/Archie ‘Moonlight’ Graham, and so many MLB Hall of Famers too numerous to count!  (of course, the primary spotlight being on ‘Shoeless’ Joe Jackson).  Each of these men help justify, in Ray’s mind, heart, and soul, that what he did – to break from his father’s dream-less existence and build a baseball field in the middle of his cornfield (!) – was the exact right thing to do. He surely faced the usual criticism, cynicism, and skepticism, and even some outright derision from his own in-laws and many in the nearby small town, however, none of it dissuaded him, or Annie herself, from sticking with this unexpected, yet powerful vision.

And, as the movie moves towards wrapping up (after many tears – I am far from ashamed to admit that I shed them; this movie is so amazingly good, and puts the mind & heart together, as oft our present day society fails to do), while this decision almost split him from his wife (ever so briefly), and put his finances, (economic) freedom, & faith all to the test, it all paid off in spades. Ray gets to spend time with Mann, whom was he & his wife’s favorite author in their college days at Berkeley, he grows closer to his daughter & wife, he travels to Boston & Minnesota to get answers from that voice, and he makes friends with a whole bunch of baseball players who are a who’s who in Cooperstown 🙂

There are so many tie-in’s to the 8 F’s that I have the privilege to share in my business, which is all focused on blessing lives.  I watch this movie to remind me of this high responsibility that I have to serve others, and help them live a life like Ray’s – focused on a vision for the future, wrapped in their dreams, and anchored in quality information that is timeless & based on principles that have served our republic for generations.







Family:   Ray’s family life was very good before the voice changed his life, turning it upside down. However, it is clear that it was improved immeasurably afterwards.  Goes to show that the ‘good’ is quite often the enemy of the ‘great’

Faith:  Ray’s faith was like many from his generation ( read: ‘How Shall We Then Live?’ to better understand). However, he surely had to grow some very deep roots into fertile soil quickly in order to wrap his mind around what he had to do!  And, he won. Faith can and does move mountains. His fears were very moral, and nary physical. And, there’s a big difference between the two.

Finances:   His wife nearly had to pull the plug on his dream once – while she was with him on his decision, she ran the books, and almost put scarcity ahead of abundance. The abundance of good will he had received from Jackson, the other players, his daughter ( who loved to watch ‘the baseball men’), and Terance Mann were almost toppled by a short term focus on the mortgage and other bills. God will provide for those who have vision and purpose ( read: ‘Visioneering’ to better grasp this)

Following (Leadership) :  Ray is like most true leaders; he doesnt have a title, or credentials, or a position, or lots of fame, power, or money. He was the leader of his small family, and he developed a following of Hall of Famers who, due to mistakes they had made when they were active ballplayers, truly embraced the opportunity to again step onto the dirt infield, grab a bat, and run out into the grass outfield.  Ah, how we take things for granted, as they did!

Fun:   Ray sure did have a lot of fun, laughs, and enjoyment hanging out with the players, and on his somewhat (mis) adventure to Boston!

Freedom:   Like described above, Ray’s finances went from stable to very rocky over the time period in the movie, however, he stuck to his vision, putting the short term on a rope, and pulling it along behind the long term.  It is imperative to always attach your reality to your vision!  ( and definitely avoid the other way around.)

Friends:   Ray built new friendships with all the Hall of Famers ( many of whom were starters on the infamous ‘Black Sox’ of 1919, his father’s favorite team at one time) & a true blue friendship as well with Terance Mann. What a joy it was to watch the latter develop from their first meeting in Boston to the very end, not long after Mann’s ‘steamrollers, blackboard, & people will come talk!!)

And, the 13 Resolutions. How much can be said about how these are so very valuable.  Many of them make an appearance in the script, let’s add them up here below –>

Purpose; Character; Attitude; Vision; Friendship; Finances; Leadership; Adversity Quotient; Legacy

Ray detected, as Viktor Frankl described, his purpose. It changed his life from the inside out, and all for the better. His character was shaped, as we know the equation well, Integrity x Courage, yes?   Ray had integrity, as he had settled down after his college years and was a model citizen, however, he knew his father lacked courage to go after his dreams;  he clearly didnt make the same mistake.

Attitude. How very important this resolution is!  Ray kept his in very good form for nearly the entire movie, even when confronted with some struggles, doubts, and moral fears. Vision. He surely had it in spades, as discussed above!   Friendships were created from scratch and in some cases, given new concrete bonds (the latter with his wife, primarily, who had stuck by Ray, even becoming very impassioned at a PTA meeting, of all places!)

Ray’s leadership shone through all the while building a legacy for his daughter and those family members after her in the Kinsella tree. Lastly, AQ = IQ x EQ x WQ.  A powerful and crucial equation to build!  Ray’s emotional intelligence/quotient was tested in the fires of public opinion, in what his own family members thought of his dream being a ball field in his corn (!) and how this put a major strain on his finances, and in having to prove himself to strangers like Mann & Archie Graham.

We then come to the freedom / entrepreneurial values –  how do they relate to Ray’s story as told in this award winning script?

Innovation:   Ray surely was an innovator. With some help from Annie & his daughter, he built the entire field from scratch!

Initiative:  He took the reins on his vision and anchored the vision to his work ethic & determination to prove to himself and everyone else that dreams can & do come true for those who have courage.  Let alone the fact that he already was an entrepreneur as a family farmer, which is the choice of roughly 1-2% of Americans at the time of the movie’s release, and probably less 20+ years later.

Ingenuity:  See above. And to further illustrate, Ray was given an opportunity to showcase his inner genius, and it surely shown through. Genius is not restricted to simply IQ; far from it. Genius is within all of us, so long as we don’t let the ‘glaze’ of day to day life cover us so thickly as to restrict our neural growth. Remember the “ant” and the “elephant” ?  ( read:  ‘Ant and the Elephant’  for more details)

Lastly, tenacity. All entrepreneurs and those who value freedom are tenacious;  Ray certainly had to be, as the tomatoes were hurled at him from multiple directions, and he put his present situation at risk (family and finances) to realize his dream through that vision that came out of nowhere one hot summer day!


I hope you truly enjoyed reading this post, and as always, comments & shares via the blogosphere or through social media are welcomed with open arms. Have a grand-tastic week ahead & enjoy the month of October!  🙂