Saturday, August 29, 2009


I don’t think there is a time in each of our lives when we haven’t wished that we knew what was going to happen in the future. When I was young, I remember wondering how tall I would be. Now I just wonder how big around... how times have changed!

A funny thing about growth is that we generally cannot control how tall we will be…but we generally have some control of how big around. We also have some control regarding our psychological growth. I have known some people that are mentally stuck in the 4th grade. I would bet that you know a few also. Maybe they are the same people!

Charlie “Tremendous” Jones says that we will be the same people we are today in 5 years, but for the people we meet and the books we read. I don’t think Mr. Jones is talking about physically the same. He is talking about mental growth. Learning… in a way that improves our outlook and our potential to make the world, and us, better.

Another of the differences between humans and the rest of the natural world is that we have the ability to think about and ponder “things”. In nature, a tree doesn’t wonder how tall it will be, it does not ponder its future, it just grows as tall as it can. How cool is that?

We humans have a unique ability to be self-limiting. Our growth is sometimes limited by our attitude of pessimism. I wonder what we could really do if we began our career or a project or just our day knowing that we couldn’t fail? What if we could see the future?

I propose to you that we can see the future if we just look. But we have to do more than just look…we have to look in the right places…and we have to take action. The best way to predict the future…is to create it. Knowing what the future will look like is totally dependent upon our vision of it and our effort to affect it. Don’t look where you don’t want to go.

You too are a prognosticator!

Sunday, August 23, 2009


Several months ago I was talking with a new friend who is also a business consultant. We were attempting to construct a plan for a client in financial and operational distress. Though our approaches were, and are, very different, after several hours of conversation, it was clear that we both wanted the same thing for our customer…success. The consultant himself had recently experienced some severe financial problems due to a failed investment. I was impressed by his upbeat attitude and his ability to talk about this issue with total openness and without the appearance of bitterness. He was even calling on some of his negative experiences to help our mutual client.

Of course, I was curious about his method of handling what apparently had been a real crisis in his life. When I asked him about his outlook in light of the circumstances, he mentioned support from his family, his Christian faith, and help from friends as factors in keeping his attitude positive. He then asked me a strange question. He asked if I knew about the Chinese symbol for “crisis”. I did not. I did not know even the context of the question.

He explained that the symbol for crisis was actually 2 symbols, the first is the symbol for “danger” and the second is the symbol for “opportunity”. He went on to suggest that he had chosen to believe that his crisis would yield new opportunity. He even mentioned that our getting together may not have happened but for his issues.

I have since done some research regarding Chinese symbols and have learned that he may not have been exactly correct in the interpretation of the symbols…but it didn’t matter. He had made a choice. And that choice was working for him. I consider him a success just by the strength of his mindset.

I have written about choices in the past. They are very important. To see someone who has been kicked around by his own choices and yet pick themselves up and move forward with enthusiasm is truly inspiring. That experience reminded me of a quote by Richard Broadhead, the president of Duke University. It goes like this, “We must outlive our darkest day.”

How do we handle adversity? Do our circumstances dictate how we act and feel? Sometimes we don’t have a choice about our circumstances, yet we always have the choice about our attitude. It is easy to feel good in the midst of good times; it is how we act on the rainy days that our true mental toughness is evident.

My new friend is tough…very tough. I want him on my team any time.

Sunday, August 9, 2009


On July 29, 2009, I attended my son-in-law’s graduation exercise from the Houston, Texas Police Academy. It was quite an event with lots of pomp and circumstance. Marvin graduated ranked 7th in a class that began with 70 participants, 66 graduated. I am very proud of his effort and accomplishment. The graduates came in all sizes, races, and genders. The top 3 graduates were recognized as “high achievers” and received special accommodations.

Ranking and achievement have dominated my thinking since the ceremony. Who are the achievers and why? What achievement does each of us seek…or do we seek any? Should we?

I sure wish I had all these answers. Maybe I should stop thinking so much and actually achieve something myself!

I just wonder if all the candidates at the police academy began as equals. As I said, they came in all shapes, sizes, and colors. But on day number one they were equals. At graduation, 6 months later, only 3 received accommodations. Sure each of them came to day one with all of their experiences prior to that day, but in that line, on that day, none of that mattered, they were equal….or were they?

If they were all equal, why then, did they all not receive the high achievers award on July 29? My belief as to why is this…they had equality of opportunity, not equality of skills, intellect, and drive. They absolutely were not guaranteed an equality of outcome.

I truly believe that we cannot and should not attempt to assure an equality of outcome to all persons. I am an American capitalist and I believe that God has endowed us with certain unalienable rights, among those are the rights to Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness. I believe that God has also blessed each of us with certain abilities unique to each of us individually. He provides us with a certain amount of natural skill and intellect. He gives some more than others, but to each, something. My question is this: does He provide each of us with the same ability to summon drive, determination, and ambition? Is this what is meant by having free will?

No matter your education level, no matter your family background, no matter the direness of your current circumstances, opportunity awaits. If you are waiting for a guarantee of an outcome you just may be waiting forever. If you are waiting for an opportunity, open your eyes, they are all around you. Your achievement depends on you. How bad do you want it?

George Bernard Shaw put it this way:

“I don’t believe in circumstances. The people who get on
in this world are the people who get up and look for the
circumstances they want. And if they can’t find them,
make them.”

Hard work, determination, and ambition will not guarantee success any more than size, strength, and brainpower. But sitting around waiting on success to interrupt you is a guaranteed path to failure and ruin.

I am curious if those 3 police officer achievers simply decided they were going to be the best and attain the awards ….or if their talents were so great it just came easy for them. I choose to believe the former. They all began as equals…and these 3 made a choice that made them unequal.

I think we do an injustice today by not recognizing those who achieve. Those are the ones I want on my team, whether it is a sporting event, a business endeavor, a mentor, or a charity fundraiser. We may have all started as equals but we sure don’t end up that way.

Another quote from Thomas Jefferson sums it up:

“There is nothing more unequal than the equal treatment of
unequal people.”

There you have it.