Mar 232013
 
14

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.

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* 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.

Mar 152013
 
The timeless wisdom ...

… of Solomon.

Yes, wisdom is timeless, also priceless, and regrettably, not nearly common enough in present day society. Of course, below the radar leaders, those who understand the values of service, being a blessing to others, humility, hone-ability, and learning via mentorship and liber education will change this, over an adult timeframe.

This brief excerpt is full of nuggets to apply to your life right after reading the words >

a crown that people are expected to bow down to always sits heavy on the head, and a crown that excites envy is a net for the feet. The only crown that can be worn with comfort is the crown of service, and that crown should spring up naturally so that no one takes any particular notice of it.

What did you learn?  Comments most welcome.

May you be blessed on your walk of a thousand steps towards your purpose, and towards your discplined life.

Be the best you you can be.

Feb 252013
 
The Responsibility of Leadership - Illustrated

This illustration came from a talk that Mr. Bob Burg, co-author of ‘The GoGiver‘ and other books, gave a couple years ago – I recently felt compelled to transcribe it anew from an audio track recorded that evening.

There’s a lieutenant who is getting ready to camp with his troops during World War II. He is educated ahead of time by his commanding officer, who said:

 

Lieutenant, when your men have been fed, and if there is any food left, then you will eat. And, after your troops here [ in camp ] have been bedded down, if there’s a place to lie down, then you will sleep.

 

Be very prepared for leadership. It is a calling, a mission field, and far beyond what you may have been led to believe if you have been immersed in the mass media portrayals of leaders.

Yet, if you want to grow your leadership ability, even from ground zero, it is most certainly needed & you can do it. Just get the right mindset = serve 1st; always be humble; grow daily; fail often; learn from each mistake you make (PDCA); dream & visioneer constantly. All of these tend to be contrarian in our society/Western world, however, leadership requires sacrifice, which is the production of sacred things.

I wish you nothing but the best on your journey.

Jan 122013
 
Associate like an Eagle

One thing that goes without saying:   Associate positively.

What does THAT mean?!?

In short form, it simply means to spend as much time as possible around those, whether they be friends, family, fellow businessmen & women, or other students, who have the right thinking, and who are striving to become.  There’s been an awful lot of ‘dumbing down’ in our Western society over the past 50+ years, and the results are in, and continue to roll in:  Friendship, true friendship, the number of those whom you’d put your trust into without concern of gossip, is well down from the past; Less people know their neighbors; marriages don’t last as long; parents aren’t as prepared to raise quality kids since they don’t spend enough quality time with them …

So, let’s do whatever we can, house to house to house, family to family, and person to person, to change this. Not surface level/wave change, though. Rather, let’s resolve to be the example, to break away from the conventional wisdom/norm, and go out and meet people who are living lives intentionally, who are growing themselves personally, and who realize that education is different from schooling, and thus are putting world class information into their lives on a day to day basis.

Nothing is promised, and will doing the above & associating with people of this caliber by itself be easy?  No.  Nothing easy is ever worth it, and nothing worth it is ever easy. However, the price we are paying for the questionable association and for putting endless entertainment ahead of lifelong learning is ever clearer, and it is high:  High in that the foundation of the West is crumbling, and it will take true leaders to put their feet down in the proverbial pool to change this.

When you find a group of men & women who are doing this very thing, do not even think to criticize them, to complain, or to whine that it won’t matter, or that what they are doing is too hard, or will take too long to show results.  Instead, make a decision ( far different from a preference ) to join them.  The West needs more of us to answer the call:  Will you?

Dec 302012
 

Role models. Heroes. Those who carry a positive burden.  Leaders.

These are descriptors that sum up proactively what I’m going to discuss in today’s post.

First, let’s discuss those whom should not be considered any of the above ** :

Actors/Actresses

Other celebrities.

Politicians.

Sports stars/athletes.

Mass media stars ( anchors, reporters, journalists.)

From my reading, listening, and associating positively, I have come to the foregone conclusion that the real role models, heroes, and leaders are those whom we can look to from our rich history and from the present day who aspire to live up to timeless values, principles, and resolutions which bring out, as Alan Loy McGinness taught us, the best in people.

These are those whom should be considered instead :

Entrepreneurs

Statesmen

First Responders

Social capital rebuilders

 Authors/writers

Why, for instance, would an entrepreneur be a role model for our culture/society?  Simple. He/she/they have stepped out from the crowd/herd, and built a business, nearly always from scratch, and by doing so, has put up a bridge between a problem identified and a likely solution.

Think of Bill Gates, Steve Jobs, Richard Branson, Mark Zuckerberg, Randy Gage, Carrie Wilkerson, & countless other entrepreneurs too numerous to name. These men & women were/are rascals. They made, and still are, making a difference by doing something to ‘dent the universe’, and not simply settling for their perceived lot in life, as far too many do by default (or due to following societal norms/conventional wisdom)

Social capital rebuilders – who/what am I talking about?  I am referring to those who have grasped that something is wrong with our society due to a lack of interdependent thinking, connectedness, bonds of true friendship, faith/hope, strong marriage, and model parenting. As these entail a vast percentage of what really makes someone happy, someone who embraces any or all of these should be a role model worth writing about, following, or studying; Edmund Burke realized this centuries ago, and today, Chris Brady, Tim Marks, Art Jonak, Oliver DeMille, Paul Zane Pilzer, Bob Burg, John Maxwell, Tony Dungy, & Seth Godin fill this bill very well.

First responders. That’s an easy one. Think of 9/11:  Every single man & woman who ran TOWARDS danger, knowing that they were serving others by upholding their responsibility, is automatically a qualification to be a role model, and a hero worth emulating. Unquestionably.

Authors/writers. Regardless of the medium/vehicle used to consume, study, and then apply the wisdom (paperback, hardback, audio, or e-reader), authors and writers should be applauded and properly recognized as role models for our citizenry. Thomas Jefferson once said that he couldn’t live without books, and there are many other fantastic quotes from history just like his; in short, do not let technology or entertainment distract you from consuming the words that these men & women put from their will, heart, and head into yours.

Lastly, statesmen/women. What a HUGE difference there is between this category and politicians!  Huge. The same yawning gap exists between a politician and a true leader. We are seeing this today in present day America & elsewhere in the West, especially when compared to those who practiced and understood public virtue and servant leadership from our past. These names should never be forgotten:  Thomas Nelson, Abraham Clark, & Robert Morris. All three of these men, along with their wives, were statesmen & women were heroes. Look up their stories: There’s nothing that changes the world more than these type of folks.

I hope this blog stirred something in your mind, your heart, and/or your souls. We must understand the true nature of those whom we pattern our lives after and define, learn, and then do our way to success with the right role models. The world as a whole badly needs true leadership, and these categories of citizens are those who have the most to offer.

** – There are always exceptions, I think of Joe Thomas, Ron Paul, Ronald Reagan, Andy Roddick, & Chuck Norris.

Have a fantastic night & week ahead!

Oct 212012
 

Today, I want to address a topic that can be sensitive to many, especially living in the economic times that we do here in the US, and that is the crucial difference between investment & expense(s).

This post will not go in depth into the textbook definitions, nor will it serve as a step by step guide, however, my goal is to just blow up a few myths and bad, or even obsolete, information re: these, and ideally, help you think deeply when it comes to your money.

First, high high level.  What is an expense?  I define it as something that you exchange your money for that doesn’t offer any long term value, return (ROI), or which grows your wealth or reduces your debt burden.  Let’s briefly cover each of these:

1. Long term value. Many excellent authors/business owners/entrepreneurs have made crystal clear that money is NOT something you simply trade in exchange for a good or object; it is much more – money should create memories, and most definitely, bring something back to you that doesn’t simply last for a day, a week, or a month. What you get back must have value that carries on a least a year, and even better, a decade or more.

2. Return ( ROI ). Rate of return, for the purposes of this post, is simply summed up as —  did/will you receive something of value back, over an adult time frame, for what you spent your money on?  ROI is not necessarily just measured in financial terms (such as if you were able to pay down debt quicker by buying a financial pack to apply principles that you were never taught); it can also be measured intangibly: Did you sign up any new clients in your consulting business due to that seminar on people skills you attended?  Have you been able to get on the career path/track that you wanted after pursuing more credentialist based (professional track) education?

3. Reduction of debt / Growth in wealth. Growing one’s wealth/assets runs inversely to lowering one’s debt(s)/liabilities. And, keep in mind, a mortgaged home is a LIABILITY, not an asset, unless you have rented it out and are receiving recurring rental income. From that perspective, expenses need to be reduced, including paying off consumer debt, and eventually investing in ‘hard’ assets, like bullion metals, later on down the line. Growing one’s wealth requires buying back time, having a systems based model, understanding the power of compounding (of interest, of invested monies, et al.), & delaying expense based gratification until you can truly pay or whatever you want in cash based equivalent(s).

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Now, let’s move on to investments. Investment is not what you may think!  Let’s start w/ understanding that investment in one’s mind most definitely counts just as much as investment in something paper-based ( like stocks, mutual funds, bonds, or REITs ). The vehicle of a 401(k) or its functional equivalent has only been around for 30+ years, yet it seems like it, or the becoming obsolete pension plan gets mentioned most when this word is discussed in the mainstream of society.

Don’t get me wrong:  these are all investments, however, how much stronger is your mental fitness if you just put 10% of your W-2 income into a 401(k)?   Will you be closer to true wealth?  Unlimited time & money choices?   Perhaps a step or two, or ten, yet think bigger and more metaphorical (in depth):  what about directing some of these monies into your mind?   That’s a key threshold to cross when it comes to understanding even better the critical distinction b/w expenses and investment.

Here are some examples of investment now that we’ve set this foundation in place:

1.  Building a library.  Whether its a virtual (read: e-book) library, meaning you invest in an e-reader/tablet & download books online or via app, or the other way, where you buy paperbacks or subscribe to receive them monthly, this is a perfect starter example for someone who wants to invest in the mind.  We’re all worth minimum wage from the neck down; all the great leaders of history, from Napoleon, to Teddy Roosevelt, to Thomas Jefferson — they read. A LOT. Books matter. They expand your horizons, expose you to lessons you can learn from by living someone elses’ experiences, and you can apply what you read to your life immediately.

2.  Audio Learning.  Subscribing to, or buying audio material – whether books, podcast downloads, mp3’s, CDs from seminars – they all count. Audio is an excellent complement to reading, as it engages different areas of  your brain, and rounds out further the investment in your mental fitness.

3. Attending Seminars / Streaming webinars. Association with other climbers, those who are on the success curve of life, and whom understand the critical importance of ‘You, Inc’ investing, know that being around others who are growing from the inside out, who value personal change, will put monies into this category.

4. DVD / web videos ( YouTube ).  Another option as technology continues to evolve is to purchase, subscribe, or click on a link to have vids sent to you to watch. Visual learning on your own time is still another investment vehicle that will pay great dividends on your leadership development/self help journey.

5. The final one I’ll list is a BIG one. I would strongly and unequivocally urge everyone to do this:  Start a business. Own something, an asset that is yours, which will generate income that is not subject to a third party and will allow you to direct monies away from expenses and into the above options I listed.

 

 

 

 

 

 

To put a capper on this post:  I wholeheartedly believe that entrepreneurship and self-directed learning, investment understood in a much different way than what is the “CW” , and outside the realm of pure ‘credentialist’ institutions, is a crucial element to being able to maintain freedom (see my earlier blog posts) & to strengthen your financial standing in our internet/connected/information age world. The industrial age is gone, regardless of what the politicians are saying in this election cycle; the sooner you invest in ‘You, Inc’, and turbo-boost your mental fitness, the better off you will be.

All the very best & God Bless.

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!  🙂

Sep 112012
 

Todd Beamer answered the call.  So did the other courageous men on Flight 93.  Leadership is so often mis-defined, even with the volumes of books explaining what true leadership is and must be.  Please be a life student, always be ready to answer the siren call of leadership in your day to day life. Do not outsource your thinking, your education, or your freedom to anyone:   Be ready.