How to Quantify the Value of “Showing Up!”

attitude, Constitution, Personal Application, personal development, Podcast, resolutions

Society pays a price when people don’t show up.  Coaches complain when their teams don’t “show up” to play.  You and I pay a price when we halfheartedly show up and nations can rise and fall depending on who shows up.  So what does our lack luster approach to “showing up” in every sense of the word cost us?  Now that the fire works and parades of the American Independence Day celebrations have ended what will you do today to secure your own freedom?  And whether or not you “show up” has more to do with it than you may imagine.

Click here to listen to this Podcast of a dramatic true story about the power of “showing up!” 

*some of the events of Abraham Baldwin’s story was gathered from content in  Ron G. Carters book, Unlikely Heroes.

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!

Trust, Traitors and Tax: What Does Trust Cost?

freedom, resolutions, trust

I received a visit the other day from an agent of the US Department of Defense.  Upon presenting his credentials to me, he asked if I would be willing to entertain a few questions about the character of a friend of mine who I knew was considering a high security clearance position with the DOD.  I experienced no cross examination or intense scrutiny, but the questions were devised to establish two things: first, was this man trustworthy and second, was he moral?  This short conversation caused me to consider the cost of distrust in our society.

I’m not just talking about the cost of government policy created to determine the character of the employees who will be placed in positions of trust, but rather the unseen economic and relational costs born by societies of low trust.  Ralph Waldo Emerson declared, “Our distrust is very expensive.”  Consider the expense of the Sarbanes-Oxley Act of 2002, enacted in the backlash of corporate scandals ranging from Enron to WorldCom.  According to Steven M. R. Covey’s book, The Speed of Trust,  implementing one section alone of that bill cost 35 billion dollars, leading him to declare, “Compliance regulations have become a prosthesis for the lack of trust—and a slow-moving and costly prosthesis at that…when trust is low, speed goes down and cost goes up.” (p 14) Such cost I remember well while acting as a General Manager in an International 500 Corporation tasked with trying to comply with that very act.  Even though I could understand the motive, I felt less trusted and more divided between compliance and productivity then ever.

While we can measure the dollars and cents costs of low trust environments economically, can one measure its impact on peace and security?  Benedict Arnold and his associates during the Revolutionary War provide an excellent case study on the subject.  Arnold was a brilliant military man, fearless in combat and courageous beyond measure, but his actions off the battlefield did not endear him to others.  On more than one occasion, he resigned his commission rather than subject himself to a fellow officer promoted into a command he felt he deserved.  Time and again his pride and ego tripped him up and broke down trust as he abandoned his team.  His loyalties were to himself.  At one point his character was questioned in a court martial proceeding that ended in a formal reprimand.  In spite of these suspicions, Washington needed capable military leaders and decided to give Arnold another chance by granting him command of West Point, a strategic American fort.

In debt, suffering from envy and feeling disrespected, the duplicitous Arnold, turned his back on his country and plotted to surrender West Point to the British in return for 20,000 pounds and a command as general in the British Military.  In a dramatic espionage climax, the plot was discovered, and Arnold escaped down the river to a British ship just before Washington rode in to his quarters with the intent of capturing the traitor.  The costs were high, trust had been lost on both sides, the British paid over 6,000 pounds to Arnold and gave him a high commission and a significant pension, but noted British Parliamentarians such as Edmund Burke considered this an erosion of military strength, stating, “the sentiments of true honour which every British Officer [holds] dearer than life, should be afflicted” by this action.  Military and Government officials on both sides had lost respect and trust as a result of one man’s actions.

With critics on both sides of the ocean, Arnold had gained a high commission but had lost respect.  James Thatcher, an MD during the war, quoted an officer in his journal as having said, “It is not possible for human nature to receive a greater quantity of guilt than [Arnold] possesses.  Perhaps there is not a single obligation, moral or divine, but what he has broken…His late apostasy is the summit of his character.”  Arnold died at age 60 suffering from dropsy, gout and delirium before passing on, but his greatest pain must have been the loss of respect and trust which he had so doggedly pursued.

It’s been said that nothing is as fast as the speed of trust.  High trust yields high self confidence, powerful relationships, improved economic conditions and strong organizations.  So the next time you consider breaking your word to yourself or others, consider the cost of broken trust and then resolve to lubricate the track of success with actions that build trust!

Benjamin Franklin and the Power of Resolution

Constitution, Education, freedom, Personal Application, personal development, resolutions

Benjamin Franklin headed for Philadelphia at age 17 and arrived broke, hungry, dirty and exhausted.  Everything he owned he was literally carrying.  In fact, Franklin would start from “scratch” so to speak several more times as he clawed and willed himself to grow and improve.  So if it wasn’t birthright, inheritance, position or politics that placed young Franklin in favorable circumstances what accounts for his incredible success in life?—in one word, resolve.

CLICK THIS LINK and enjoy a powerful video/podcast on the subject… It will help you with your resolutions this year.