Trinity of Choice

Life is so much more fun when seasoned with the Rewards and Risks of action.

Verily, it is almost a religious experience to ask a simple question and to receive a simple answer.

Why is it that so few people know what they want?

Why do they complain about who and where they are?

Why are they reluctant to provide the answers to questions?

Listen carefully to one-hundred individuals and about five of them are happy, content, and at peace with the world. The other ninety-five will be complaining about something. Why?

Happy people take full responsibility for the: Who, What, Where, Why and How of their existence. In fact, they understand their life is the result of every single decision they have ever made.

We get what we allow. If there is something in our life, we put it there. If there is something missing from our life, we have purposefully kept it out. By the selective process of Yes and No, we have made our life, exactly, as it is, or isn’t.

The really whiny individuals of the world will counter with an argument that they didn’t decide. I thank you for the opportunity to state the obvious: A decision to not make a choice is still a decision.

When given the opportunity to choose, we can:

Do the right thing.
Do the wrong thing.
Do nothing.

That’s the trinity of choice. Imagine a fork in the road: Left, Right, or Paralysis. Imagine an elevator: Up, Down, or Stuck. Imagine a simple question: Yes, No, or Maybe. You get the idea.

Do the right thing.
Do the wrong thing.
Do nothing.

Doing the right thing garners inherent rewards.
Doing the wrong thing reveals inherent risks.
Doing nothing does nothing.

Do nothing, be nothing. Do nothing, get nothing. Do nothing, go nowhere. Do nothing, answer nothing. Do nothing, accomplish nothing.

Zero times anything results in a zero-sum game. Life is so much more fun when seasoned with the Rewards and Risks of action.

When facing a choice, make it.

Do something, even, if it’s the wrong thing.

Better, yet, do the right thing!

www.kimfoard.com

Leadership

Leadership is a deep-felt passion of guiding everyone to the best individual choices.

Money does not a leadership problem fix.

In fact, a problem is simply an opportunity in disguise.

We grow — when confronted with the impossible. It is that defining moment of decision. Many will quit. A few will do what others say can’t be done.

Leaders will accomplish what has never been attempted, before.

Those who do are the leaders among us. Those who talk are not necessarily the followers. Talk is cheap and those who blather, generally, complain about all of their problems. Unknowingly and unwittingly, they are complaining about themselves.

For the entirety of human existence, accumulation of wealth has been the measure of empires. The Golden Rule has been disenfranchised into a barbaric slogan, “Those who have the Gold make the Rules.”

Rules and regulations do not an Empire make. In fact, Empires come and go — because, their leaders abdicate the responsibility to set an example. We, the People, learn by doing.

Leadership is not a cult-like mission of forcing others into compliance. Leadership is a deep-felt passion of guiding everyone to the best individual choices.

Say what?! Doesn’t a leader, by default, need followers?

For a moment, forget about following and let’s focus on leading. Leaders believe in the power of one. They understand life is best experienced from the inside, out. They are true to themselves, by constantly improving the character at their core.

Leaders make absolutely sure they have much to give. What they offer to the whole wide world is the Three-E Formula to Enlighten, Empower, and Encourage.

Enlighten

We don’t know what we don’t know. Leaders share the best of what they have learned with all who are accepting. The story of their journey is the inspiration for broadened horizons and myriad options of choice. Leaders communicate their saga — and, color that vision of abundance with broad strokes and vivid detail.

Empower

Knowing what to do and doing it are two, entirely, different things. Leaders offer the tools to build something special. We all want and need something different. Leaders are the ultimate teachers through explanation and demonstration, then asking for imitation, offering correction, and expecting repetition.

Encourage

The best teachers have humbly learned from the School of Hard Knocks. They can share many lessons learned the hard way and know, for an absolute fact, their Students need a few of the same experiences. Leaders patiently wait for new lessons to be learned, all the while supporting that effort.

True leaders always have a following. Hundreds, maybe even many thousands, are watching the silent example of their heroes. Actions speak so much louder than words. A life of character, generously offered to others — through consistent choices to build mutually beneficial dynamic relationships — is the legacy of leaders.

The choice is free, for us to make.

The results are priceless, for future generations.

Let’s accept the challenge of leadership.

www.kimfoard.com

Passion or Prostitution

Money is a tool, nothing more. Equally important is how any relationship feels. It must be mutually beneficial in ways beyond the quid pro quo of a financial arrangement.

Passion ScrabbleOur affair was over when I heard her ask, “Is it about the money?”

Without hesitation, the answer was, simply, “No.”

As a builder of relationships, I knew better.

What begins twisted —
ends twisted.

In the beginning, as a young CPA, I said, “Yes!” to everyone who waltzed through the front door. Thirty years later, I still dance with some of them.

Where did the others go?

They are off to find someone able and willing to be paid to perform.

Those little words: To and For. They are innocent in appearance — powerful in meaning. Many times, professionals exhibit an attitude of doing things to their Clients. I believe in performing acts of service for People.

Knowing something and doing it are two, entirely, different things. My philosophy has, always, been to serve. Yet, at times, my actions have been less than honorable. The rationalization was made that, as a businessman, it was okay to take on projects simply because someone asked me to do it — and, they had the money to pay.

“And,” you ask, “the problem is?!”

My reply, “It didn’t feel right.”

Difficult to put into words. Yet, there was something about their attitude that bothered me. There was not a true meeting of the minds or a connection at the core of word and deed. While I wanted to do something of value for them, they just wanted me to do it for the money. There was going to be a financial exchange — nothing more. And, I agreed.

What begins twisted — ends twisted.

So it was with the woman above. For over a period of ten years, she had money and needed accounting services. I was paid well for my services — very, well. In fact, I asked to be paid more each year in search of a better feeling (commitment) for our arrangement.

Silly me, for believing that people are more important than projects. I offered ideas for building wealth and achieving success — she took them and paid me. Right up until she wanted to believe she owned me — and, that I should be willing to accept her abuse.

You see — she is very gifted in intelligence, charm, and social skills. Yet, rather than grow in maturity of business acumen and ownership of the consequences — of her choices — her approach is to manipulate those around her. And, if that fails, to buy them.

When I said, “No. No, thanks. and, No more.” — she asked, “Why?”

I went on to say, “Because, for the last few years, I have felt dirty working for you. While I want to do things for you, you want me to do it for the money. No more.”

Lest anyone think that I work just for the love of it, let’s take a look at the spectrum between logic and emotion.

Yes, money is important. Those who say it isn’t will lie about other things, too. Money is a tool, nothing more. When managed properly, it allows great businesses to serve great people.

Equally important is how any relationship feels. It must be mutually beneficial in ways beyond the quid pro quo of a financial arrangement.

Those clients with whom I have danced for thirty years are the ones who receive much more than the accounting projects for which they ask. They, in turn, share with me their life stories. We have a connection beyond description. Suffice it to say, we share a similar worldview and an enduring bond of family, friends, and community.

Much more than a professional ‘Accountant ~ Client’ relationship, it is one of friendship. Friends go above and beyond to serve the best interests of each other.

So, when I hear one of my Friends say, “You sure do a lot of work for that amount of money!” I know we have discovered the true potential and passion of a mutually beneficial long-term relationship.

www.kimfoard.com

Loyalty and Kindness

A ripple and a wake emanate from every action we take. The journey to frolicking in the companionship of accomplishment requires patience, kindness and loyalty.

Loyalty and Kindness“When two men always agree, one of them is unnecessary.”

The quote above is attributed to William Wrigley, Jr. and was, probably, used as adjusting feedback for a subordinate, who was being political rather than productive. Because we are, each, unique individuals, it is impossible to agree on everything, all of the time.

In fact, put two people in the same vicinity and there will be conflict.

Since disagreement, and the resultant creative friction, is a reality and the catalyst for change and discovery, how do we manage it?

Imagine a tranquil setting with a pond as its centerpiece. Overhead, the sun is radiant in a sea of blue and, all around this natural oasis, sounds of life saturate the freshness of the air. That’s the picture before placing two humans on opposite sides of the pond. Before long, one of them will begin throwing rocks.

Since the pond is large, there is no danger from the rock, itself. It is the ripple caused by the rock as it hits the water, which becomes the annoyance. In the course of life, we all make a ripple and leave a wake, behind every action we take.

The real question — How much control do we have over another person’s wake making? Simple answer — absolutely, none.

The only thing within our control is our ripple-making efforts — strength of arm, size of rock, number of rocks, purpose of throw, direction of target, style of delivery, and attitude of approach. We cannot stop another person from throwing rocks — yet, we can influence them by our example. Not by the words, we say — but, by our actions and results.

In the imaginary pond setting created in our mind, consider the possibility of one rock-thrower watching the other until a decision is made to approach with a proposition — let’s share thoughts and techniques for the mutual benefit of achieving synergy of effort and joy of growth.

Before long, the rock throwing morphs into more enterprising thought and effort, until … who knows what might be possible?!

The journey from opposite sides of the pond to frolicking in the companionship of accomplishment will require the patience of a Saint. In fact, it will require a point of reference and a frame of mind:

Never let loyalty and kindness leave you!
Tie them around your neck as a reminder.
Write them deep within your heart.

Easier said than done — because, when we find ourselves in conflict with another person, it is so much easier to see their faults and what they could do to improve our situation. The temptation is, even, strong to tell them what they should do.

At that moment, the time has come to remember the pond. The actions of another person and the resulting ripples of their choices are out of our control. Now, focus on what, individually, we have within our control and can choose to do —

Practice loyalty and kindness.

www.kimfoard.com

Here We Are

It is by our individual choices that we find ourselves, exactly, where we are at the moment. Wherever we go, there we are!

New Year 2011

Last night, at the end of one year and the beginning of another, I was reminded of the expression: Wherever we go, there we are.

I felt a tap on the shoulder while standing in the crowded Bull & Bear Saloon of Red Lodge, Montana. Dancers were kicking up their heels to the music of Wild Bill and the Coyotes. There were only a few tables to hold drinks and conversation. The rest of us were engaged in the bump and shuffle of tight quarters.

As I turned around expecting a polite disclaimer of accidental contact, my eyes met those of someone intent on conversation. Always up for a little social banter with a complete stranger, I listened as she said, “My kids sent me over to ask you to dance.”

Assuring her that I love to dance, I asked for a first name. About the time Becky and I headed for the dance floor, the band plucked the final chords on the last song before a break. Just my luck! Oh, well, accepting that things do happen for a reason, this must be perfect timing for a little conversation before we waltzed into the New Year.

For the next ten minutes, I heard the story of two husbands, four kids (2 by 2; ages 22, 18, 11, and 7) and a pending adventure in Alaska. Yep; as Becky exclaimed, “I need to go find myself, because I don’t know what I want to be when I grow up!”

Upon hearing that oft stated phrase, I always wonder, “How can you find something for which you don’t know to look?!”

As dysfunctional as the story-line was, I did have to admire her honesty. Earlier in the evening, I had noticed this woman in a group of Twenty-somethings. She was ordering shots of Tequila and leading the way into oblivion.

How sad.

Sacrificed on the altar of Selfishness were at least two “committed” relationships, four children and all hopes of a family life. Now, I understand, there is surely more facets to the Rest of this Story. What I do know for a fact: We get what we allow.

If we don’t know what we want, that’s exactly what we get: The result of a decision by someone else. That’s what parents do for, and to, children. And, they do it for all of the right reasons. Young children are, too, immature to decide for themselves.

About the age of 12, though, is the Age of Reason; we all start to think for ourselves. Then, in the teenage years we begin turning those thoughts into words and actions (some pleasant; some less than). Sooner, or later, we learn that our actions have consequences.

Society is fairly forgiving in our young adult years. Parents and others will listen to the whining and rationalization about how the world must be picking on the poor, saintly, martyr. Eventually, though, it becomes obvious that:

Wherever we go, there we are!

It is by our individual choices that we find ourselves, exactly, where we are at this moment. No one forced us into our decisions; no one is that powerful. In fact, even God recognizes the importance of free will. We are given opportunities; it is up to us what we do with them.

Becky’s children didn’t make her push through a crowd for the purpose of asking me to dance. Becky made that choice. Her children didn’t ask to be born into a broken home. Becky made that choice. I am absolutely positive those same children don’t want their mother to seek the thrill of a new adventure in Alaska, as she leaves them behind in Montana. Becky is making that choice.

Yes, her tone was that of a teenager as she complained about the past, expressed uncertainty of the present, and looked forward to finding herself in the future.

My amusement of the immaturity surely expressed itself in facial expression, body language, tone of voice and the actual words, playfully, teasing Becky about her choices. Soon, the, real, young adults were looking for new entertainment adventure. Their leader accepted their offer as an appropriate exit strategy from our conversation and off they went, in search of the unknown, by the unknowing.

www.kimfoard.com

Pet Dragons

At the moment an individual is weary of playing with fire and asks for help, we have an opportunity to empower them. Knowledge, understanding, and wisdom are the fuel for the engine of change.

Pet DragonsAs a young, swashbuckling, knight, I made a few mistakes when dealing with snarly, fire-breathing, dragons, and those who played with them.

Having had exposure to the beasts in my childhood, I developed the belief and world view that dragons were good for only one thing: extermination.

Upon seeing an individual threatened by the worthless creature, I would ride in on my trusty steed and, with sharp sword, stick the monster. Much more than a piercing, the effort was designed to tip him over and kill it—dead.

Upon having achieved success, rather than the hero’s welcome that I expected, immediately, I was treated as a villain. The reason: That was a Pet Dragon.

There’s another story about a young boy who is walking along the beach and throwing Starfish back into the ocean. When challenged about the effectiveness of his effort and whether it, really, made any difference, he just reached down and grabbed another Starfish. As it sailed upward, reached the top of the arc, and settled back into its home, the little boy said, “Sure made a difference for that one.”

Question: What’s the connection between the two stories of Dragons and Starfish?

Answer: People and Choices.

Consider that life is like a game of Scrabble. We are all given, relatively, equal opportunities in the pieces, with which we start. For example, having drawn these letters: A, R, S, T, some of us will see a clever reference to a pack animal with first name of Jack. Since no points come from that, we shift our focus to a choice of words with scores. My choice is: STAR.  Another person might, only, see: RATS.

In fact, much more than a Scrabble match, those two words might be demonstrative of our, individual, world views. While teased about my rose-colored glasses, it is true: I’m an eternal optimist, who is always looking up at the Stars. Others are comfortable in the sewers, with their Rats.

Question: Is it right for the swashbuckling knight and starfish savior to rescue those who play with fire, or are stranded away from home?

Answer: Depends on point of reference.

It is right for them to be wonderful conduits for the goodness from above to flow through them for the benefit of others. It is wrong for them to force that goodness on another person. In fact, in the realm of human relations, they are not anointed ones, or saviors. They are simply individuals doing the best they can with the game pieces they have drawn.

Best is synonymous with Grow.

Good, better, best.
Never let it rest.
Until our good is better,
And, our better is best.

Each of us has a fiduciary responsibility to others. It is not to change anyone; it is to empower them.

At the moment an individual, with singed hair and blackened face, peeks out of the dungeon to ask for help; or, a person lifts their eyes upwards to look for a better way; we have an opportunity to share knowledge, understanding, and wisdom with them. That is empowerment; it is the fuel for the engine of change.

Education and experience are the twin catalysts to enlightenment. As we share ours with those able and willing to receive what we offer; and, in turn open ourselves to receive goodness from others; world views expand. Where we once only saw STAR and RATS, now, we can discern TARS and ARTS.

TARS is important to fuel our automobiles and seal our roofs; ARTS is what this life is, all, about.

As we open our minds and souls to the expanse of the Universe, we begin to realize the unlimited potential in each of us, just waiting to be unleashed. Let’s take PET DRAGONS of this world and convert the letters into a much more powerful dynamic: NO DRAG ~ STEP.

While it is not our right, or responsibility, to Drag another person anywhere, we have the opportunity to make gifts of chosen, purposeful efforts, often done in the face of fear, to nurture our own growth and the growth of others. That, my friends, is a Step in the right direction!

www.kimfoard.com

To the Nth Power

From NO to ON, and NOPE to OPEN, profitable interactions occur through doors of opportunity that swing on the hinges of “No, thanks.” and “Yes, please!”

Yes and No

This is a story about a Hen, a Pig, a Cat and a Rat. Neighbors with very different world views. Unique in their approach, they became aware of the consequences of their choices at an individual pace.

Before we begin, I must confess. The catalyst for these thoughts came from a question asked of me by one of my favorite young adults, “Why did you choose accounting as your work?”

My first response was, “Well, there was this teacher, back when I was a junior in high school …” Then, a thirty year story about jobs, college, doing, learning and growing. Until, a Rest of the Story moment of, “And, I wanted to provide financial opportunities for my family.” Later, that day, as we were comparing leadership qualities, I experienced a flash-back to childhood and the story of The Little Red Hen.

Now, to many people, the little word “No” is perceived as a “Negative”. Maybe, it’s because both words begin with the letter “N“. Maybe, it’s because “Communication is what the listener does” and the listener has had their twig bent from childhood experiences modeled on scarcity, derision, intimidation, inferiority, or just plain, old-fashioned, generic, meanness.

This morning, the thought occurred that NO written on a piece of paper and held up to a mirror might morph into ON. With thought into action, the result was close. With failure, comes new opportunity. Then, I remembered the sign in the window of a store I drive by each day to work. Early in the morning, I see NOPE. If I pass by later in the day it displays OPEN.

More than the power of “N”, we will discover the degree of opportunity in “NO”.

When the little red Hen asks her barnyard friends, “Who will plant, harvest, thresh, carry and bake?” the answer is the same every time. “Not I,” says the Pig. “Not I,” says the Cat. “Not I,” says the Rat.

“Well, then,” said the Little Red Hen, “I will.”

And, she did.

Then, probably because she had acquired the habit, the Red Hen called, “Who will eat the Bread?”

All the animals in the barnyard were watching hungrily and smacking their lips in anticipation. The Pig said, “I will.” The Cat said, “I will.” The Rat said, “I will.”

But, the Little Red Hen said, “No, you won’t. I will.”

And, she did.

The flip of a coin is used to determine choice at the beginning of every football game. On one side is Heads and on the other side is Tails. One coin; Two possible answers. Of the results, one is not “better” than the other, before the question.

Why do some people say No to everything? Why do others say Yes to everything? Both groups, will then, struggle to understand “Why” someone will tell them, “No. No, thank you. Heck, No! What part of “NO” don’t you understand?!”

The secret to understanding is: Boundaries.

Those with solid walls for boundaries keep everything, and everybody, out. Those with porous sieves for boundaries let everything, and everybody, in. Both are dysfunctional.

Profitable interactions occur through doors of opportunity that swing on the hinges of “No, thanks.” and “Yes, please!”

Look carefully at the word NO. Now, focus on the O. What do you see? I see the beginning of Opportunity!

Just like the Little Red Hen, I see an opportunity to say, “I will.”

In fact, there is an opportunity to remember and practice, once again, the “2×10” mantra: If It Is To Be, It Is Up To Me.

The most important part of the “2×10” is the first “2×5”: If It Is To Be.

“To the Nth Power” is a reminder to move the N from NO to where it belongs: ON. And, to move the N from NOPE to where it belongs: OPEN.

From there, let’s toss the P and center the N: ONE. By doing so, we leverage the power of N to the Nth Degree and enjoy a reality bigger than we ever imagined!

www.kimfoard.com