May 162013
 
Planting shade trees ...

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

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

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

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

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

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

Apr 242013
 
'Four Corners' of Friendship

Friendship. So very important, yet so many don’t put a time value on creating, building, and bonding with others in a healthy, win:win friendship: Why is that?

This type of analysis could fill a research paper, let alone an entire book, so this post will necessarily only address at a high level. I am using some content gathered from my own reading & the majority from a seminar that I attended a few months ago where the speakers did a tremendous job weaving together  a tapestry of just what true friendship really is.

First core is to separate the underlying skill set of attractiveness from maintenance. Both of these are learnable, and do not require luck nor talent nor false flattery (or teeth whitener ūüėÄ ) – however, like with so many things in the consumerist, mass media culture, neither are taught all that well.

To Attract —-

Empathy

Responsive listening

Ask lots of questions

Keep good posture / stance & eye contact on the other person

Be likable & build confidence. Trust doesn’t grow overnight.

and …

Edification

Be a ‘good‘ finder at all times

Grace over law ( don’t correct )

Make the other person feel better after having been with you.

—- ¬†—- —

This paves the way so very well for the second core: ¬† To maintain —-

Enthusiasm

Be joyful & use big words to describe how you feel.

Focus on lending others your spirit ( especially if he/she/they are down )

Give ‘happy’

Encourager

Affirm the traits that you previously edified. (i.e., you admire how well the person speaks in front of people she doesn’t know; you think the person is very skilled in cooking steaks on the grill.)

Be a great ‘expect-or’ ( expect the best. Don’t reward mediocrity. )

Talk & share experiences, dreams, goals, & affirmations/resolutions together. Positive association is so very valuable.

—- —– —– —– —-

The talk started to wrap up through the discussion/listing of a terrific selection of books that buttress each of these four ¬†– please feel free to comment on this post if interested in any of the titles: ¬†Am happy to offer up personal testimonials/recommendations for them, as I’ve been blessed to have already read the vast majority of them.

The capstone was the visual of a graph of friendship achievement that looks very much like an exponential curve. In other words, the growth of true, principle based friendship may appear to be completely flat for quite some time, and you may be thinking, “Have I really helped this person know, like, and trust me (as a friend)?” ¬† ¬†The answer is: ¬†“Yes!” , and the pay-off, like any solid success or wealth building principle, is going to take some time to show up, but once it does, the reward will return so many blessings to your life.

Then, it becomes your responsibility to pay it forward into another’s life. Friendship isn’t Resolution 7 for nothing – it is central to ever-lasting, purposeful, resolved living.

Mar 182013
 
Do social capital & mental fitness overlap?

To answer the question in the post header … ¬†my answer is an unqualified ‘Yes’. ¬†Of course, as always with my blog, comments are most welcome, however, first, let’s discuss this in more detail:

( note that these are core topics that can fill entire books, so the post’s purpose is to encourage sensus plenior = metaphorical, systems based type thought, reflection, and focus. May it make you a better person too! )

 

Social Capital

Social capital & a related ‘twin’, community building, both cover some similar ground. One way to describe is putting a premium on voluntary association in/with groups of like minded people. Rebuilding of organizations that focus on positive social capital creation & maintanence is imperative in order to restore a key building block that made America what it used to be in the time of the Founding generation, and well into the 19th century.

I could cite a litany of groups that fit under this vast umbrella; to wit:  YMCA/YWCA; 4-H; Red Cross, Salvation Army, PTA, church youth groups/Sunday school, and even local governmental bodies / positions within like a (low or non paid) city manager or mayor, council member, or volunteer fire fighter.

Regrettably, as our culture and society has fractured due to various reasons over the past century, participation in these groups has not kept up with population growth and the aging of those who made time spent in/with these groups central to their lives. I’ve nothing against technology, as its march into our lives will continue forward and has brought us numerous positives, however, I’d cite it, a too relentless focus on trading time for money, and too many hours spent on personal entertainment (mass media) as the main culprits to lift time spent building social capital and community to where they need to be.

How does the ‘twin’, community building, come into the picture? ¬†Community building is a focus on growing your own leadership ability to lead someone to follow you. Cast a vision, focus on one’s purpose, coach/mentor/counsel, and bring out the best in everyone, and you have the core “tools” to build a community. And if you compensate it, that’s the icing on the cake ūüôā

Mental Fitness

Mental fitness. A broad category/classifiation, indeed. For the purposes of this post, let’s define as a focus on strengthening your ability to handle what life brings your way – for instance: building relationships (esp friendships); generating the right mindset/attitude; how to handle conflict & adversity.

What vehicle are you using to grow your mental fitness ‘muscle’? ¬†Are you even growing it, or is it weakening? ¬†It is really important to realize how important it is to be humble, honeable, and hungry ¬†to get better; no one who understands people skills will think any less of you if you admit that you can be a better person through conscious focus!

The mental fitness of our society overall, I believe, has been weakened by the very same forces that I discussed above: technological over-dependency; mass media over-entertainment, and too much focus on making money over making memories and putting time ahead of dollars instead of trading them. Like the re-generation of social capital, this can be fixed, and there are people out there who realize this – anyone from Peter Block, Robert Putnam, John StahlWert, Chris Brady, Dan Hawkins, and Charles Murray, to name just a few.

Some concluding thoughts >

The overlap gives those who want to restore a foundation in America (let alone other Western nations) a ring of bulls eyes to focus on. Does this mean that someone who wants to improve his/her mental fitness or rebuild social capital cannot ever entertain him/herself? ¬†That he/she cannot have a smartphone, or social media accounts? ¬†No! It just means that you have to parcel out your time more wisely: ¬†We have the exact same 24 hour day as all the men and women who have walked the Earth before us, yet there is far too many who say they are “busy”. That is a time allotment and prioritization issue, and nothing else, at its direct core.

Recommendation: ¬†Find a mentor & join a group that is focused on building communities & instilling mental fitness and social capital in our society. By definition, it’s a voluntary decision and quite often, the decision is the best thing that you’ll ever do. Why? ¬†You are growing yourself personally, and given tools to bring out your inner genius, so you can, over time, pay it forward to someone else. Your legacy won’t be written by how many hours of TV you watched, how many songs you have on your iPod, how much O/T you worked, or how many times you posted on your Facebook: ¬†these are all part of the fabric of your life, however, your real legacy is reflected back in how many people you edified; how many marriages you helped improve, how many you helped to get out of debt & grow their financial literacy, how much better you handle conflict and adversity, and the revival of the numbers who are joining you in whichever social capital groups that you are part of.

These are part of a mission which has completely revolutionized my life, and I extend my hand to others to ponder it in depth as I did/have. Many kind regards, blessings, and success to you!

Feb 162013
 
Is the entrepreneurial community the future of business?  Thoughts of the Day

Something to closely think about as 2013 moves full steam ahead:  What is the future of business in the West, let alone the world?

Could a concept melding entrepreneurship, in some ways historically considered to be someone(s) who is a lone wolf (-ves), and community, which by its very definition is plural, be the path forward, the ‘Ho Chi Minh‘ trail out towards prosperity, purpose, and to fulfill our potential as born geniuses who have been covered in ‘glaze‘ ?

My answer:  Most definitely.

Why?

Think about it. When you take the ‘edge’ off of the perceived risks of entrepreneurship as compared to its alternatives by mixing it with community, which is rightly perceived as a team who has come together to make the individuals forming it stronger ( ‘iron sharpening iron’ ), you get a potent combination, do you not?

Taking this a step further, we live in a completely new age/era – we are well past the years when people were looked at as mere hands to build widgets while not exercising independent thought; we’re also beyond the time where huge corporations and other big entities dominated the landscape, and everyone felt secure in giving up autonomy and trade it for perceived (false) security. And, are we also not well past the time when your only entrepreneurial pathway was to sign a big stack of papers, putting your entire future on the line, to get a loan to build a business from scratch?

Again, my answer is:  Most definitely.

The issues we have in order to grasp this is to replace traditional thinking, traditional sources of information, and traditional habits for what is already working well. Going back centuries into history, we find that Edmund Burke opined about entrepreneurial communities in his time & place; he called them ‘little platoons’, although he was living in a time when agriculture was still the dominant industry. ¬†Talk about having foresight! ¬†So, now that we live in a time when the internet connects us all, and the ‘six degrees of separation’ have been shrunk to four, is there any reason why the little platoons of yore cannot become the dominant business model of the 21st century?

These communities can & will comprise of men & women who want to learn together, grow personally by applying better quality information into their day to day lives, leverage their investment into their minds by pooling those perceived risks of being an entrepreneur, & al l the while, being the ‘glass cleaners’, the ‘candles in the dark’ for society.

What kind of non traditional, non conformist thinking, information, and habits will be an asset to those who voluntarily choose this path forward? ¬†Let’s ponder for a few:

 

1. Putting aside that winning means someone else loses (‘zero sum’) and trade it for Level 4 thought / Habit 4 from Covey — win:win

2. Tossing aside entitlement and victimology for earned results & personal accountability

3. Understanding that big institutions/entities no longer can effectively offer security, govern society, or be on the cutting edge of thought.

4. Over time, replacing mass media sources ( satellite/cable + radio, FM/AM, newspapers, magazines, et al.) with specialized information culled from the very best in entrepreneurship & community building. ¬†This is a branch off the crucial “Define. Learn. Do” tree that is a base law of success.

5. Realizing that schooling & education are not one in the same. There is nothing at all wrong with conveyor belt & professional track schooling ( K-12 & undergrad/grad/post grad ) so long as they are supplemented by self-directed education, also known as liber/liberty/TJed.

6. Building the habits of associating positively, putting others ahead of yourself ( ‘service before self’ ), reading, and listening.

7. Studying entrepreneurship and applying the skills that these men & women use in your day to day lives within the community (while learning, studying, & growing oneself) & outside of it the rest of the time by practicing top notch people skills.

8. Being very clear on the massive difference between investment and expense. ¬†(using the “Y-D-I-L” equation goes a long way to help make this simple. )

9. Putting mental fitness and physical fitness on the same level playing field. Both matter; a LOT. This seems so simple, yet why do so many not put money into their minds, yet spend so much money on gym memberships?  The latter is very useful, but the former is just as much.

10. Paying forward what you learn inside of the entrepreneurial community with others. Learning is best applied when you teach/coach/mentor someone else who is not yet part of the community with you. The old way would be to ‘hog’ what you know, thinking it would be a competitive advantage; this is Level 3 thought at best, and perhaps Level 2; ¬†Only Levels 4-5 are useful in this developing model.

 

Thank you for reading today, and I hope & trust that this post made you pause, ponder, & stretch your mind. Nothing but the best to you on your journey!