Posts Tagged ‘success’

LEGACY 1: What Is MY Legacy?

May 6, 2018

(Note: I wrote the following, exactly as is, almost 4 years ago, 9/16/14. I had intended to begin posting a series of LEGACY blogposts, but for whatever reason, haven’t followed through. I am now 65, in business full-time 25 years, and thinking more about LEGACY more deliberately. Thus, I’m coming back round. I will probably post 1/day for around 2 weeks, all of them written in the fall of 2014 and a couple during 2015. From there, I will try to be more intentional about posting. If you are reading this, thank you, and I hope these posts, and future posts, create value and add to your life.)

When I joined a short-term mastermind group last year, we were given a pack of 50 or so cards with terms on them like PERSEVERANCE, MONEY, SUCCESS, FAITH, FAMILY, FRIENDS, etc. We were told to sort through the deck and pick the top 6 we felt were most important in our lives, and then to prioritize them. My top pick was LEGACY.

I’m not totally sure why. But I know the drive to leave something of significance is reflected in many of the choices I make, some even daily. I sometimes think of a time 100 years from now, when I won’t be remembered, which really doesn’t bother me, because I know I don’t remember people of 100 years ago or think of them really at all, unless I’m studying genealogy. Life demands too much focus, simply sometimes to put one foot in front of the others, to even think about legacy, whether it’s the legacy we received or the legacy we’re leaving.

But we do leave ideas. We impact the future by how we think, how we live our lives, the concepts we embody, the ideas we embrace. “Ideas have consequences,” someone said. Indeed they do. “The pen is mightier than the sword” remains true today, even if you substitute “gun” or “bomb” for “sword.” An ancient Chinese proverb, “The weakest ink is stronger than the strongest memory,” points out the importance of leaving a legacy in writing if possible.

So what do I consciously choose to leave as MY specific legacy?

  • Life is process. It’s ongoing. Keep doing it. It’s worth living. (My basis for saying this: My father committed suicide when I was 3. He had 3 bullets under the pillow his head was laying on—and they may have been intended for my mother, my younger sister, and me.)
  • Invest in people. People have eternal worth—even God invests His universe in their care! (Wisdom dictates following others’ ideas of what’s significant, and the same logic should apply to considering what God thinks is important.)
  • KISS—“Keep It Simple, SIMPLE!” Stick with what you know, are good at, do best. (Warren Buffett and Donald Trump—and probably many others—espouse this idea. Being too scattered dissipates energy, and results in no legacy of significance. Dan Ariely, in Predictably Irrational, points out an experiment that supports this line of thinking. Often the most successful are those who focus on one or two things, and do them superbly.)
  • Communication is key. Talking—and, more importantly listening—is uniquely human, what distinguishes humans from animals, at least with regards to leaving legacy. (Animals do communicate, but for the purpose of short-term needs related to survival. Humans are able to think conceptually in terms of future, past, imaginary and theoretical concepts, hierarchy, eternity—in short, outside themselves. We need to relate to legacy with that in mind.)

That’s all for now. I want to keep these under 500 words.


Some Mistakes Endear Us

January 29, 2013

A few days ago, my stepson texted me to let me know he had made a serious and potentially dangerous mistake on the job. He had dropped a piece of metal strut through a knockout into a live 480/277-volt electrical panel. Fortunately, the piece blew itself off the lug and welded onto the metal can housing the panel, and no one was harmed, nor was any equipment damaged. A little time and peace of mind was lost, and the piece of metal ruined—but that is peanuts compared to what could have happened. (He had previously had cardboard on top, but had moved it for some reason and neglected to put it back.) At first he was hesitant to share with the foreman (who was away at the time) and cleaned it up.

But because he has seen me make serious and sometimes costly mistakes (one that cost our company insurance $16K when the entire gross on the job was only $5K; another where I drilled into a water line and damaged the customer’s drawings which had to be presented the next day, causing him to spend the night re-configuring, and costing us over $1K for his time), he was willing to tell me. (And after sharing the first comment below via text and speaking with him shortly thereafter, he did go on to tell the foreman, who in turn told me some of the mistakes he had made.)

Almost immediately, I had a thought: Sometimes our mistakes make us memorable to those who care about us, give them compassion, free them to share their own mistakes, and ultimately create positive memories as they bond us together. I made a very costly mistake a few years back based on bad judgment of someone’s character, and we are still re-couping. And just yesterday, our bookkeeping department found out (after agonizing calculations) that we had overcharged a customer about 3% on a huge job, which we are crediting back on the next invoice, along with an honest explanation of why.

Ultimately, we will be known by at least two things: our successes, especially in relationships; and our mistakes. But sometimes what appears to be a mistake can be a blessing in disguise—consider, e.g., “Seward’s Folly,” the purchase of territory which is now Alaska, surely a blessing to the USA in many ways. King David’s mistake of adultery with Bathsheba (and murder of her husband Uriah) gave us Solomon, who comparatively for his day was probably wealthier than Bill Gates and Warren Buffet combined, and whose wisdom is beyond legendary; the Lord even gave Solomon a special nickname, Jedediah (“beloved by Yah”), and David’s subsequent humility was another blessing, resulting in many of the Psalms being written (notably Psalm 51).

And the mistakes of others can allow us to forgive, which is a blessing of release of bitterness: As someone has wisely said, “Holding onto unforgiveness is like drinking poison and waiting for the other person to die.” Bitterness undealt-with will eat away at us like battery acid, and can ultimately kill us.

It can be argued that not all mistakes are blessings, and I think that may be true on a microcosmic scale. But from an eternal perspective, they must somehow all be blessings, since “God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to his purpose.” (Romans 8:28 NAS) And the Old Testament patriarch Joseph was able to tell his brothers his matured perspective on their perfidy in selling him into enslavement in Egypt, “you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good in order to bring about this present result, to preserve many people alive.” (Genesis 50:20 NAS) Even the devil serves God’s purposes, albeit unwillingly and unintentionally—as in the case of Job’s trials and both Jesus’s temptation in the wilderness and his betrayal by Judas, to bring about salvation through the crucifixion—surely one of the greatest travesties in history.

The greatest determiner on the microcosmic scale is whether we can somehow advance toward the macrocosmic—whether intentionally or not, over time, and in light of eternity. How we view mistakes determines whether they are good or bad, beneficial or harmful, in the short term.

So how are you viewing your mistakes? How about those of others?

I told the bookkeeper, “It’s NOT a mistake. It’s a chance to operate ethically and do what is right. Ultimately, it will bring in MORE business, not less.” And I truly believe that.

Letter to Roby on Becoming the You You Were Meant to Be

January 18, 2013

(Below is the last part of an email I wrote to a friend this morning. What preceded the first comment was my explanation of an accomplishment I’ve done that he admired in his email to me…)

I don’t encourage people to do what I’ve done. You have to find what sparks your imagination and do that. You are a totally unique creation God designed specifically to be and do what you are called to be and do. As the old Mission Impossible statement says, “Your assignment, should you choose to accept it…” is to find out what that is, and do it excellently, just as you do your accounting. That is why you are unhappy with yourself–I know, I was there for the better part of 55 years (I’m 60 now)! It IS doable.

Here’s are the rubs that are keeping you from getting there (I thought of 1, then another, so not sure how many I’ll list here):

1)     FACT 1: Our culture does NOT encourage contentment, satisfaction, or real joy. They SAY they want you to be happy, but if you think about it, NOTHING sells unless there is DISSATISFACTION! The entire premise of advertising and marketing is CREATING DISSATISFACTION! (Read Romans 12:1-2 in this light, and you will see that by and large, Christianity in our culture has bought into being “conformed to the world” rather than being “transformed” into the Glory they were meant to be!)

2)     FACT 2: Christianity as taught ant practiced typically says “Our hearts are BAD, and we can’t trust them.” And there is a truth there, but it’s only a partial one. Scripture also says that when the Lord comes in, He gives us a NEW HEART, one that DESIRES to serve Him, to love Him, to worship Him. If we really believed that, and lived it, it would transform our lives into lives of PASSION and DESIRE–but DESIRE THAT IS GOOD AND WHOLESOME AND AWESOME IN THE WAY IT IS LIVED OUT! And THAT, my friend, is what Jesus was willing to DIE for (“for the JOY that was set before Him, endured the cross…” etc.)

3)     FACT 3: NOTHING EVER GETS DONE OF ANY SIGNIFICANCE WITHOUT DESIRE AND PASSION! Think about it: All of us do the very things we WANT! We may even sabotage and kill ourselves doing it, but we MAKE time for what we FEEL is valuable! It IS ultimately about the FEELING, and only when you get passionate and on-fire for something will you invest the time and energy to make it work. Millionaires become so mostly through this–it’s the one keystone that mentors and positive thinking teachers and motivational speakers build their careers on!

4)     FACT 4: You are UNIQUE, and NO ONE can tell you exactly how to find that PASSION and DESIRE! Most of our society, sadly, spends all its time trying to be something they are not, were not designed to be, and never will successfully be! It’s true, but it doesn’t have to be this way. BUT in order to escape it, you have to become YOU! No one else can do it for you. It may be a pain-full process, but ultimately, it is well worth it! (See #3 above.)

5)     FACT 5: You don’t have to do it alone–and yet you do. There are people out there (like me) willing to help you get there–but you have to put the rubber to the road. And as one of the mentors I listen to says (if you like, I’ll send you a link), you have to have 4 kinds of people in your support group: teachers, doers, pushers, and cheerleaders. Usually they are NOT all combined into one person who “speaks into your life.” That’s one of the values I see in this group we’re in–and I’ve not had that kind of thing for most of my life.

6)     FACT 6: You won’t get there overnight. As the saying goes, an “overnight success” most likely has put in decades becoming that. BUT DON’T LET THAT DISCOURAGE YOU! If you do nothing, 5 or 10 years will STILL pass, and you’ll be at least as dissatisfied as you are now. Charlie Tremendous Jones said, “The only difference between the you now and the you you’ll be in 5 years is the people you meet and the books you read.” Lot of truth in that statement. There are other factors in it too, but basically, you have to commit to a PROCESS! As Steven Covey says, “Start with the end in view.” (With this advice, he advocates picturing your funeral, with 4 people who knew you in different ways [family, friend, co-worker, and one other–can’t remember right now]–and ask yourself, “What do they say about you? What would you want them to say?” Then begin consciously, conscientiously, and persistently to work toward that vision of yourself at your own funeral. Good exercise.

7)     FACT 7: Books are one of the easiest ways to gain wisdom–but you HAVE to pick the right books! You have limited time, limited energy, and limited passion–so use them wisely. Someone said, “An intelligent man learns from his mistakes; a wise one learns from others’ mistakes.” In that vein, I’ve attached an Excel spreadsheet of a book I recently read and thought enough of to encapsulate in this chart. One of the authors is Jack Canfield, of “Chicken Soup” fame, and his story is in there too. The book is titled YOU’VE GOT TO READ THIS BOOK! but the subtitle says it all: 55 stories by people telling what books changed their lives. Jack is one of the people; Covey is another. Yes, some of the books are NOT Christian, and could lead people into Buddhism or Stoicism, or “New-Agey” thinking–but I’ll take that chance. One of the books mentioned is the Bible, and God’s Word CAN and WILL stand the test–it really, as Roy says, is the “Book of Best Practices,” not only for business but for ALL of life! And I firmly believe that the principles Christianity is solidly based on (e.g., faith) are actually laws in the sense that gravity and inertia are laws: They operate on their own, by God’s design, whether we acknowledge them as coming from Him or His Word or not! Think about it: Every time you turn on a light switch, or the ignition switch for your car, you’re operating in faith!

I’ll stop off here. I would suggest you begin by making a list of 10 books you want to read this year. I can suggest some if you like, and even lend you some (though I really recommend you INVEST in them, as that will make them mean more to you, and you can then annotate them, a valuable exercise in itself). And I can suggest some other things to get you on track of living that ABUNDANT LIFE Jesus promised as we go along.

I’m glad to get to know you. Thanks for being someone I can invest my talents into!


A Man Called Marshall

July 23, 2012

Yesterday, Sunday, my wife and I were driving down to have lunch with her son, Allen, who is my step-son (though he has become as much a son as my own flesh-and-blood son), and his son, Colt, our 1-year-old grandson. He is in the middle of family and custody issues that rival a soap-opera, and we, of course, get caught in the middle, trying to navigate the treacherous waters that will bring the most benefit for the little tyke, whom we want to have the best family and spiritual heritage possible in the midst of a not-so-pleasant situation. It IS resolving itself some, but it is painful, and we were going to lunch to try to resolve some of most recent eruptions of the issue.

On the drive down, we are talking about a man who paid tribute to his just-deceased father at the start of a long teaching I had been listening to. We have a lot of respect for this particular teacher, having heard him in person a number of times, but this particular video is on YouTube, and has become relatively well-viewed. Out of the blue, my wife says, “I don’t know what I would say at my father’s funeral. I guess if I don’t have anything to say, the best thing would be to simply keep quiet.”

I was appalled. My wife’s father, Marshall, is in his upper 80’s. He has lived all his life in flat farming country in the Midwest. He was a successful farmer, a major officer in a land bank, and still married—they just celebrated 65 years in May. But that is not where I think his greatest success lies. The last 6 years have been probably the most painful of his whole life, watching his wife be slowly stolen from him by the ravages of Alzheimers. Whether out of stubbornness or perseverance (flip-sides of the same coin to me), he resists putting her in a nursing home. In-home care is costing him into 5 figures each year, and is slowly eating away the inheritance he longed to—and was giving some of—to his 3 daughters. He has had to make necessary adjustments—keeping the stove power off because his wife tried to boil water in plastic, having to restrain her in ways that tear his heart out, watching her weep when she gets up on a Thursday morning and dresses for church and cries because she can’t go (it’s not Sunday), seeing her personality disappear out of a body that is like a walking death endured in a thousand indescribable ways. (The blessings of our medical prowess have brought us curses as well, like the Cumaean sibyl of Ovid, able to live forever, but having failed to ask for eternal youth, withering away till we’re trapped in a jar with only a voice left.)

So I said to my wife, “Your dad is a monument. I wish the world could be full of Marshalls.” I went on to describe some of the ways I admire him—a man who at 88 still lives in the same house for half a century, who still makes his own ammo and shoots prairie dogs, who is still able to drive to visit his daughter a thousand miles away, who is proud of how little he has to recycle, who still eats a simple breakfast—the list goes on and on. I said, “If the world had a lot more men like your dad, we wouldn’t be having all the situations like we are going to try to take care of today. I wish there were thousands of men like Marshall.”

She got teary-eyed and said, “Thank you. I appreciate you helping me see that about my dad.” But it’s true: I would gladly be like a man called Marshall, and I wish far more men had models and monuments like that to look up to.