What Do You Believe?

achievement, belief, benjamin Franklin, Uncategorized, vision, Walt Disney

Millions each year join the daily throngs of people who willingly unload their wallets so they and their children can enjoy a brief encounter with Mickey Mouse and the gang in the land of enchantment.  Visiting Disneyland or Disney World for the average American family has almost become a pilgrimage that must be completed at least once in a life-time.  Amazingly, the allure that pulls people into these gates like a mosquito to a bug light can all be traced back to the VISION of one man—Mr. Walt Disney himself.

Sure there were many collaborators who made the project possible, but without the dreamer—the “Visioneer” if you will, a collection of talent and resources never comes together to create the physical reality.  In Walt’s case, his vision for a Disneyland on the East Coast was all he provided because he passed away before the project was completed.  Mike Vance, the man in charge of the Development of Disney World, while giving a tour of the recently completed park overheard someone say, “Isn’t it too bad Walt Disney didn’t live to see this?” To which Vance quickly replied: “He did see it—that’s why it’s here!”  (Bringing Out The Best, p 166).  Without belief, or put another way a mental creation, the physical creation isn’t possible. To lead or succeed then, one must create a vision that is so vivid, so real that when he or she opens their mouth that vision spills out in such a fashion that it compels others to not only see it but feel it.

Benjamin Franklin was one such visionary who developed the art of persuasion through vision casting.  His belief or vision capacity coupled with leveraging the power of daily habits made him one of the most influential American Founders.  For example, many don’t know that nearly 30 years before the Revolutionary War, Franklin helped organize a local militia group in Pennsylvania.  In 1747 Spain and France were hostile to England and sent privateer ships over to America where they sailed up the Delaware River near Philadelphia, Franklin’s home town.  The privateers successfully plundered two farms and made off with an American ship.

Franklin, while acting as clerk of the House of Representatives for the province of Pennsylvania, had witnessed many failed attempts by the Governor of this province to obtain legislation to provide for a colonial militia and thus the colony remained defenseless.  Franklin, however, was determined to see to it that his community was protected.  With the Quakers in the area preaching that war was unlawful and the legislator not willing to act, Franklin took matters into his own hands.  Everyone could see the need for protection, but Franklin could see a successful outcome in his mind.  Where others excused themselves with words like, “if the Governor can’t do it how can I,” Franklin saw possibilities and his compelling vision drove him to take meaningful action and rally his community to do the same. Using his skill of communication, he wrote a powerful pamphlet wherein he expressed his vision and promised action.  Soon he was casting his vision to a small group, then larger groups and his proposal was ultimately signed by thousands.  Eventually, his firm belief rallied some ten thousand men to volunteer.  They brought their own arms, formed into companies and regiments, chose their own officers and began meeting weekly to learn the art of military discipline and procedure.

Most would have called this a success, but Franklin had seen more in his vision and so he organized a fundraising initiative for the construction of a fort and the acquisition of cannon to be ordered from England.  With construction underway and funds procured Franklin still did not rest until he had traveled to NY to request that their governor loan Pennsylvania a number of cannons until their shipment arrived.  At first, the governor flatly refused, but after a persuasive conversation over a meal and plenty of Madeira wine, Franklin records that the governor agreed to loan 6 and then 10 and by the end of the evening Franklin had procured 18 cannons to fortify his fort.  (Real BF pgs 71-73)

Whether it’s Franklin’s vision that organized a community into a volunteer militia or Walt Disney’s vision that assembled his team of “Imagineers” to create an unparalleled family vacation destination, they both supplied a clear and compelling vision and continued to believe and inspire belief no matter the obstacles that loomed before them.  The fact that it hadn’t been done before was irrelevant because they could see it almost as if it already existed and their enthusiasm and conviction helped others buy-in as well.  In the end, they moved people and people moved the vision into reality.

Free people see freedom clearly and project that vision around them just like Franklin did.  Unfortunately, too many today are fixated on all the problems that surround us.  From the government, the economy to their personal problems they are continually casting a dark cloud of fear, failure, hopelessness, and subservience.  Before you spout the woes of your current frustrations, ask yourself if Franklin’s vision built a fort what does a negative vision build?  Too many today are overly focused on a loss of freedom or their financial frustrations, their struggling business or job and thus their freedoms decline.  So if you would truly live free ask yourself what are you continually visualizing or dreaming about?  Is it compelling you and others to positive action or fearful destruction?  Free people remain free and flourish because of belief in a bright new future.  What are you selling yourself and others?

Five Steps to Stop Emotional Instability and Win Big with Your Money! 

achievement, Blog Entries, debt

Financial well being is emotional not logical!  I know, I know the savvy investor has logarithms, newsletters and spreadsheets to logically pour over data to snag the best stock pick of the day.  BUT, one emotional slip up busts a budget and robs one of any capital with which to invest.  The bottom line is small holes sink great ships as do small leaks in financial plans.  So while logically spending less than you make is the key to financial progress, emotional outbursts (or passive aggressive ones) riddle our financial plans with holes.

Personality, upbringing, mood and marketing contribute to our spending habits.  Everywhere you turn messages suggest that happiness, fulfillment, prestige and even elegance can all be purchased.  Logically we may not buy this, but our subconscious mind (the storage center that houses all images, commercials, scripting, family modeling, etc.) IS the driving force behind our ultimate actions.  My point in this short article is not to establish the science behind this, but to provoke you to act differently.  For example, simply stating that I am going to spend less than I make this month is like trying to turn a cruise ship (the subconscious mind) with a row boat (your worthy intention or conscious mind).  That of course would be an exercise in futility and so is the goal of spending less than you make if the record reveals regularly falling short of that goal.

 

Here are five tips on getting things lined up for financial victory:  

 

  1. Invest in your thinking.  Benjamin Franklin said, “An investment in knowledge pays the best interest.”  Warren Buffet declared that knowledge compounds like interest. He therefore has a habit of reading not just financial but personal development material for hours every day. A habit of reprogramming just a few minutes a day is the foundation to securing your budget.  Read everything from classics like How to Win Friends and Influence People to The Richest Man in Babylon as well as studying programs like Financial Fitness.  Add positive affirmations daily (i.e. I am master of my finances and accumulate wealth for security, enjoyment and making a difference) and you are now intentionally programming your “subconscious” mind for success.
  2. Track everything you spend in a written notebook (it can be digital) for 30 days.  If you buy a gumball from a machine write it down.  This is important.
  3. Interrupt your daily patterns.  Bring a sack lunch instead of eating out.  Listen to a personal development audio or podcast instead of talk radio, music or sports.  Avoid commercials for awhile.  Unplug from the daily programming that bombards us.  I am not talking about becoming a monk; I am emphasizing the importance of taking control of the inputs so the outputs are intentionally what you really want.
  4. Pay yourself first.  When you treat investing in you and your savings account like you treat paying your mortgage, the “needle” will move.
  5. Utilize tools to help manage your money.  The internet has allowed disruptive innovators to create apps, business tools and personal resources in abundance.  Barriers to entry into business, investing and financial planning are lower than ever.  From free apps like Good Budget, which my wife and I have personally used, to tools like FeeX that will analyze your investments for ways to save on fees, it’s never been easier to become smart about your own money.  In fact, I recently read an article on CNN Money that highlighted 10 top apps to help the everyday investor become efficient in their quest for financial success.  If you are ready to move beyond financial fitness, check out this article and discover some amazing resources available to you.  Before you do though, I recommend you spend at least 30 days with the first three suggestions in this article.  Get the foundation right or you could very well end up compounding your financial woes.

 

Now go forward, fix the subconscious, fill it with information that will send you on a path to financial well being.  With this new way of being you are empowered to truly pay yourself first.  As you do so and see your accounts grow rather than shrink you’ll be thrilled you intentionally chose financial fitness.  In fact you might just celebrate on the beaches of the world.

 

Wooden Wisdom for the Ages

achievement, Education, leadership, virtue

John Wooden is a paradox in the sports world!  In many ways, more dominant and legendary than Michael Jordan and still he maintained a level of sincerity and humility unlike any coach/athlete I know of.  He stands alone in the record books atop a mountain of wins which culminated with ten National Championships in twelve years.  His list of accomplishments, including being the only man elected to the College Basketball Hall of Fame as both a player and a coach, is a mile long.  Yet, in the midst of all the accolades and success he has remained true to himself.  John is first as a teacher of men, a builder of character and the most powerful lesson he offers is example.

Author Steven Jamison described Coach Wooden as “pure of heart, modest, trusting, humble, understated, serene, without pretense or hidden agenda, sincere, straightforward, intelligent, quick, confident, and filled with such a profound decency and tremendous inner strength that it is humbling.”  Jamison wrote books with Wooden and was in absolute awe of the man.  In their book, Wooden, A Life Time of Observations and Reflections on and Off the Court, Jamison penned the following poem.

 

True North

Our Ships are tossed

Across the night,

Our Compass cracked,

For Wrong or right.

True North is there,

Or over here?

Confusion rules

Our sea is fear.

Then suddenly a beacon bright

Is shining through

This stormy night.

It’s pure and straight

To his true course.

The coach is seen.

He is True North.

 

In the sea of turmoil we call life, Jamison was deeply affected by this man he came to know.  Wooden always turned away from this kind of direct attention, but Jamison just wrote what he observed and what others felt.  Coach Wooden first desired to teach his players how to live right and second how to play basketball.   So just how did Wooden represent true north for so many?  It came about as a decision to valiantly follow the lifetime creed his father passed on to him on a hand written card at John’s graduation from grade school.

 

On one side of the card was a verse by Henry Van Dyke:

Four things a man must learn to do

If he would make his life more true:

To think without confusion clearly,

To love his fellow-man sincerely,

To act from honest motives purely,

To trust in God and Heaven securely.

 

On the other side it read “Seven Things to Do.”

  1. Be true to yourself.
  2. Help others.
  3. Make each day your masterpiece.
  4. Drink deeply from good books, especially the Bible.
  5. Make friendship a fine art.
  6. Build a shelter against a rainy day.
  7. Pray for guidance and count and give thanks for your blessings every day.

His father’s simple sermon that day was, “Son, try to live up to these things.” John Wooden carried that actual card with him throughout his life and he endeavored to do exactly that.  His life offers evidence that the sermon is true.  Can you imagine a world where politicians, business leaders, coaches and parents followed this model of the man they call, “Coach.”  That’s a world I get excited about!

So allow me to keep the final thought as simple as the original, “try to live up to these things.”

The Virtue of Money and the Value of Today’s Resolutions

achievement, attitude, Blog Entries, money, resolutions, Success, Uncategorized, virtue

Why do we wait for the New Year for “new resolutions,” when in reality most of those goals are just old resolutions resurrected under a different time and title?  Why don’t more of us resolve to fix our work, health and financial habits right now when we are feeling the pain?  In fact, why not resolve today to adjust just one habit that can improve your relationships or increase your sales or grow company profits?  Because just being engaged in the right activity consistently brings rewards.  Let me provide a couple of illustrations.

In a cause I have worked with for years, one of our sales reps I’ll call Bob shared with me an experience he had while cold calling on businesses for support.  During a drop in call, a customer of that business after hearing his introduction walked up to Bob and warmly said, “its good to see you out beating the streets.  I used to be a supporter of your organization before I retired and I want to support you again.”  He then pulled out his checkbook without another word and wrote him a decent sized check.  You see, he wanted to reward effort, diligence and important work.  Now, if Bob hadn’t maintained the daily habit of being out in the field he would have missed that “easy” sale.

For the next example, I turn to the author Ayn Rand.  In her controversial book Atlas Shrugged, she creates a scene which emphasizes the merit of dedicated work.  The scene is set at a party where a wealthy industrialist responds to an intellectual who proclaimed that, “money is the root of all evil:”

 

“…So you think that money is the root of all evil? Have you ever asked what is the root of money? Money is  a tool of exchange, which can’t exist unless there are goods produced and men able to produce them.          Money is the material shape of the principle that men who wish to deal with one another must deal by  trade and give value for value.  … Money is made possible only by the men who produce.  Is this what you  consider evil?

“When you accept money in payment for your effort, you do so only on the conviction that you will  exchange it for the product of the effort of others.  It is not the moochers or the looters who give value to  money.  Not an ocean of tears nor all the guns in the world can transform those pieces of paper in your  wallet into the bread you will need to survive tomorrow.  [Money is],…, a token of honor—your claim upon  the energy of the men who produce.  Your wallet is your statement of hope that somewhere in the world  around you there are men who will not default on that moral principle which is the root of money…

To trade by means of money is the code of the men of good will.  Money rests on the axiom that every man  is the owner of his mind and his effort.  Money allows no power to prescribe the value of your effort except  the voluntary choice of the man who is willing to trade you his effort in return…”

 

Thomas Jefferson put it this way, “It is not to the moderation and justice of others we are to trust for fair and equal access to market our productions… but our own means of independence, and the firm will to use them.”

So what does all this have to do with resolutions? Well, I believe most resolutions stem from a desire to be happier.  One thing that keeps us from enjoying happiness is a lack of resolve to get engaged in meaningful work and worthwhile goals.  Unfortunately, society has allowed “moochers and looters,” as Ayn Rand puts it,  to manipulate the supply and flow of money to reward special interest as opposed to value added.  The more we allow this the more it affects our ability to produce fairly and enjoy wider happiness. This goes for the welfare recipient who is fully capable of working to the politician who uses his position to get something for nothing.  Happiness won’t be found that way and society certainly has no value added in both cases.  As more people buy into this “something for nothing mentality” economies slow.  Individuals then become fearful and hold on tightly to the few remaining dollars and freedom for all diminishes.

So the next time you decide to skip making your daily sales calls, or stay in bed, or avoid work or that uncomfortable conversation you must have with an associate, or skip breakfast, or burn up your savings, or stop investing, or watch TV instead of reading that book  or listen to the tabloid talk shows instead of personal development audios or stay up late playing video games instead of taking your wife on a date or whatever productive task we drop because idleness is easier, resolve to look squarely at the habits that lead to the results you know down deep that you want and ask, am “I willing to make my resolution now to produce?”  In other words, will you put forth an effort that is worthy of the honest trade of another man’s money.  Because when you do, that willing exchange will not only make you wealthy and free, but your nation as well.  And that can only happen now not on January 1st!

Remember to KISS Daily!

achievement, Blog Entries, character

Mark Twain once said, “I didn’t have time to write a short letter, so I wrote a long one instead.” Frank Betcher declares that the # 1 reason salespeople lose business is over talking; Ron, a personal acquaintance of mine and a successful national sales trainer emphatically teaches the skill set of summarizing a prospect/client’s comments in ten words or less; and the famous Abraham Lincoln moved the world with his brief to-the-point speeches and arguments.

As a young lawyer Lincoln found himself representing the Rock Island Railroad company in a lawsuit brought by the wealthy steamboat owners who feared a proposed railway bridge across the Mississippi.  Not wanting to see their transport business diminished, they sued to protect their turf and stop the project.  The owners hired the best lawyer money could by —Mr. Judge Wead.  In his closing arguments, he captivated the crowd and the court with two hours of powerful oratory before sitting down to thunderous applause.   As the applause died down, the thin country lawyer took the floor.  The audience braced themselves for an equally long rebuttal, but instead Lincoln, simply congratulated his opponent for a fine speech, and said, “…but gentleman of the jury, Judge Wead has obscured the main issue.  After all, the demands of those who travel from east to west are no less important than those who navigate up and down the river.  The only question for you to decide is whether man has more right to travel up and down the river, than he has to cross the river.”  Following this short statement, he took his seat and the jury quickly returned a verdict in his favor.

The Bible says, “But let your communication be, yea, yea; Nay, nay: for whatsoever is more than these cometh of evil. (Mathew 5:37)”  While this may have just as much to do with warning against a flattering and deceitful tongue, it also supports the idea of keeping things simple and straight forward.

Finally, take a look at the US Constitution, the first of its kind.  To this day, it remains the shortest of all written National Constitutions and yet its straightforward restrictions and protections produced the freest and most prosperous nation the world has ever known (though years of laws, case law, court interpretations and gradual power creep have changed its simplicity today).  Now imagine what brevity, simplicity and sincerity can do for your personal life, goals, businesses, communication, families and influence in community and even country.  Surely you’ve heard of the KISS principle (keep it simple stupid).  I propose instead we think of it as “Keep Inching to Success Simple.”  Or in other words your freedom and success doesn’t come because of some elaborate scheme, it comes from properly exercising your will by doing small simple daily actions.

“Simple?”

“Yes!”

“Easy?”

“No”, but the results WILL astound you.  So remember to KISS daily!

Saving a Wretch, Finding a Friend & the Will to Change the World

achievement, Blog Entries, character, freedom, virtue

John Newton, author of the profound Christian hymn Amazing Grace was indeed a “wretch” in need of saving in the year 1748, but it was physical liberation not spiritual he desired. Not yet 24 years of age, he had already experienced impressment in the navy, flogging and forced servitude after being shanghaied in Africa.  Ironically, after his physical liberation from slavery he turned back to the industry that had once shackled him and wallowed in the abhorrent slave trade eventually captaining several slave ship.  After years of participating in this inhumane business, searing pain and remorse opened John’s calloused heart.  He experienced healing through a miraculous conversion to Christianity and entered the ministry where he would have a profound influence on a young man named William Wilberforce.

Wilberforce experienced a dramatically different upbringing, enjoying the advantage of wealth, education and a charismatic, friendly personality.  In great contrast to Newton’s enslaved state in his mid-twenties, at the same age Wilberforce was enjoying the exhilaration of political success after winning his first term in British Parliament.  Wilberforce was the life of the party in social settings and was inclined towards pleasure seeking.  However, while traveling through Europe with his former schoolmaster, Isaac Milner, a shift from his hedonistic tendencies occurred.  He and Milner light heartedly discussed any topic, but when it came to religion Milner would grow serious and reverent.  William chided his friend for his sobriety, but even his whit and charm could not move him to levity on the subject.  Milner acknowledged that he could not  match his gift for debate and persuasion, but told William that when he wanted to engage in a serious discussion about the subject he would be ready.  These serious discussions came and Wilberforce quickly found himself at a spiritual crossroad.

Upon returning to London, he was perplexed by his emotions.  With out his friend Milner, who had returned to Cambridge, he was left to face them alone.  Understanding he needed a spiritual mentor his mind turned to John Newton, a clergyman he knew as a boy but hadn’t seen in some 15 years.  Newton, who had experienced radical personal change in his conversion to Christianity, stood ready to advise William not just on spiritual matters, but on the direction of his career.  He counseled him to stay in politics rather than turning to ministry so he could use his gifts, position and connections to change the world for good.  William left this meeting in peace knowing that he must discover God’s purpose for him.  As part of this process he consulted his good friend William Pitt who would soon become Prime Minister of England.  Pitt assured him either decision would not change their friendship, but he did urge him to stick with politics.  Wilberforce ultimately concluded, “My walk is a public one…my business is in the world… I must mix in the assemblies of men or quit the post which providence has assigned me.”

And what was the post which providence had assigned?  In his own words he wrote, “God almighty has placed before me two great objects, the suppression of the slave trade and the reformation of manners (or the moral conduct of society).”  This concise and clear mission statement would drive him through the most daunting opposition for the rest of his life.  To better appreciate the magnitude of this mission, one must realize that he was taking on a centuries old lucrative British industry.  Not only did many powerful people stand to lose greatly, but numerous jobs throughout the British Empire would be lost.  Powerful lobbies therefore stood in his way questioning why Britain should just hand the slave trade over to foreign countries that would perpetuate it anyway.

A man on a mission however does not count the odds, he proceeds with faith, but even Wilberforce with his phenomenal gift for debate and his skill at coalition building could not move this established industry and year after year his bill was rejected. Finally, in 1796 his jubilance at having the votes to end the trade was crushed in the very hour of the vote when he discovered that the critical moderate swing voters he needed had been lured away from the floor by the lobbies with nothing more than free opera tickets.  It failed by just 4 votes. Simple enticements for entertainment had kept the slave trade in operation.

In spite of these set backs and other challenges ranging from severe health problems, bouts with depression and physical exhaustion, Wilberforce pressed on.  He also endured vicious personal attacks which branded him as un-patriotic during the War with Napoleon.  For decades he withstood all this and steadily moved towards his goal with character, tenacity and the support of friends like Pitt, Milner, Newton, his wife and the dedicated members of the Clapham Circle.

Finally, after persevering for 20 years, the momentous day arrived when parliament was poised to pass the bill.  The atmosphere was charged with electricity as Wilberforce stood to deliver a moving speech.  As his final words went silent, thunderous applause erupted throughout the hall.  Sensing it was at last finished he dropped in his seat and wept openly.  As the tears flowed freely the applause grew louder and gave way to an unprecedented three cheers for Wilberforce.  The final vote was 283-16, a decisive victory and an overwhelming show of support.  Wilberforce who had been vilified, ridiculed and  slandered became a national hero because of his unshakable courage, perseverance and character which in the end elevated him above it all!

Today it is nearly impossible for us to perceive the deplorable conditions that accompanied the trafficking of 11 million plus slaves out of Africa or comprehend the conditions that caused millions to perish in the process.  Thankfully we don’t deal with this moral dilemma in the same way today among the governments of the world because inspired men like Wilberforce who surrounded himself with worthy friends chose to fight injustice in his day rather then deferring it to another generation.

Bishop Desmond Tutu said of William Wilberforce, “[He] shows us that one person can make a difference.  Few of us will be in Parliament as Wilberforce was, but all of us are part of community.  Each of us can find ways to serve each other…”  Today, the political landscape appears daunting and people clamor for change but doubt that leadership exists to bring it about.  Whatever concerns the reader may feel about our current condition, remember that legislative bodies have always been slow to act and have been overly preoccupied with intrigue, favor and special interest.  But, before this thought overwhelms you, think of Wilberforce and remember that it only takes one to create positive change in the world.  Are you one who will?

Thomas Jefferson, Titan of Liberty

achievement, Blog Entries, Education, freedom, perseverance, Personal Application, personal development, Podcast, Thomas Jefferson

Podcast # 13: Thomas Jefferson, Titan of Liberty

The list of incredible accomplishments assigned to Thomas Jefferson seems super human.  How did he accomplish it and what was he most proud of?

You’ll discover the foundation of this answer here and in the process you just may find yourself accomplishing a whole lot more.

Listen in and tell me what you think