Harvest Time

Harvest Time

Separating the Wheat from the Chaff

Because only 2% of our society works the land, we’ve become disconnected from the Farmer Philosophy.

Simply stated, “Mother Nature hates a vacuum. Plant good seeds — or, weeds will grow.”

So… for 50 plus years, I’ve been preparing, planting, tending, nurturing — and, dealing with the result. The bins were stretched to the limit and I was wondering, “Why am I so tired?”

Was I tired of the goodness? Was it, simply, too much of a good thing? Was there, even, any purpose in all this business and busyness?

The answer was discovered in violence. It came in the form of a real threshing — to beat, to flail, to separate, to thrash, to examine, and to toss.

Paradoxical Commandments

Do It Anyway

You see, there’s a maximum from the Paradoxical Commandments, “If you are successful, you will win false friends and true enemies. Succeed anyway.”

Long ago, I discovered the 50/50 Rule — Half of the world will love us and the other half will hate us.

I’ve always been amused by the true enemies. What they meant for harm has always resulted in more goodness. The weapons they formed against me silenced them. The enemies gave their best to condemn and the Master offered honor.

As an eternal optimist, with my rose-colored glasses, I’ve — now — come to realize the problem (opportunity in disguise) of my tiredness was because of my naivety and those false friends.

They knew — for a fact — they were the beneficiaries of Education and Experience freely offered. In other words, they wanted what I had. And — they expected me to listen to their whining, endure their disrespect, and do for them what they were unwilling to do for themselves.

In the simplest of farming terms, they were chaff, light-weights, shriveled, and cracked — the winnowed waste only fit for chicken feed.

Action speaks louder than words.

When People Show You Who They Are, Believe Them

Yet, for some crazy reason, I couldn’t bring myself to blow them away. What I couldn’t do was done by the One who can.

To winnow means to force air upon the good and bad — to separate. Again, we forget the process required to put quality grain in the bin. The modern combine harvesters are beautiful monsters eating their way through ripe fields of plenty. Yet, inside their bellies, the process of separating the wheat from the chaff is a violent operation of beating, flailing, shaking, thrashing — with air used as a force to blow away the final remnants of impurity.

After all of that violence, what remains is the kernel of opportunity — to be used in baking, or in planting the next crop.

So… if you feel beaten, flailed, shaken, and blown upon by the winds of fate, take cheer — there’s A Time for Everything.

A time to plant and a time to harvest.

If you have planted and enjoy a crop meriting attention, then, know a harvest is required.

As I did, you’ll discover quality at the core of your character and you’ll discover who your true Friends, really, are!

www.kimfoardcpa.com

Three To Be

Three To BeFor every ending, there is a new beginning.

Leading the way into a bigger word is a little one: Be.

See it?

Be-ginning!

Shakespeare asked the questions, “To be; or, not to be?”

There, really, isn’t a question of our existence. The answer is in the exploration of what it is, “To Be.”

Sterling Character

Yes, the adjective is subjective. Nobody wakes in the morning to believe their character is bad. Yet, do we wake to the Wooden Creed? “Success is peace of mind which is a direct result of self-satisfaction in knowing you made the effort to become the best of which you are capable.”

Again, some might want to argue that “best” is subjective. It is, if we compare ourselves to others; It is not, if we judge ourselves to a higher standard. Through all of civilization, there have been Codes of Conduct. The best of them are simply a map to guide us in The Journey to the highest quality of life.

Passionate Commitment

Knowing something and doing it are two, entirely, different concepts. In fact, choosing one and forgoing the many is the purest definition of commitment. Contempt for failure and death is another measure of being, all in; Or, all out, if we consider the example of the skydiver.

At the moment of jumping from a perfectly good airplane, the skydiver is committed to reaching the ground. They have two choices: Dead, or Alive. In other words, if they have a passion for life, their entire focus is on a successful landing.

Dynamic Communication

Before babies can say a single word, they are effective communicators. By facial expression, tone of voice and body language, they command attention. They know what they want and how to ASK for it. Why are so many adults dysfunctional? They stopped learning. Literally, the answer is that simple.

We are either growing; or, we are dying. Entropy is the natural physical condition. There is a higher realm, which requires pushing beyond the resistance of what “Is”, to what can “Be.” All we do begins with a thought. We learn by doing. The fun is in the doing. Let’s have fun learning!

In the course of a lifetime, people will come and people will go. There are chance encounters, whereby strangers become friends. There are diabolical missions of deceit, whereby wolves appear to be sheep. In between, are all the other opportunities for new relationships.

There is a season for all things. Remember, though, there is only one YOU. You are a unique creation, no better than any other; yet, just as good as all the others.

As others seek a relationship, begin with the end in mind: Sterling Character, Passionate Commitment, and Dynamic Communication.

Three To Be: Free.

www.kimfoard.com

Degrees of Leadership

Navigators Compass RoseFrom the mouths of babes comes this sage proclamation: “Today, I want to be my own boss!”

In our early development, we knew how powerful those words were.

What the heck happened?!

Why do so many people forfeit their active leadership position for a passive lemming role?

Why do they look outside for a life purpose, which can only be determined from the inside? Why do they think others have the answers to their questions?

All we do begins with a thought.

Our thoughts determine our actions.

What are we thinking?

Oh, how quickly the mighty are fallen. In the course of one month, Steve Jobs has traveled the spectrum from Saintly Genius to Villainous Extremist. Why?

He was human. As are we.

He was authentic. Are we?

Humans are either busily placing people on pedestals, or equally ambitious in tearing them down. What if that effort was invested in really making a difference in the world, in actually bringing about change?

When the student is ready the teacher will appear.

There is only one person any of us can change. I see him every morning, while shaving. Staring back at you from any mirror is your first, and only, lifetime project.

The simple Secret is to change ourselves; to learn, to grow, to teach and to share. By doing so, the world will change.

In the course of this journey (to become all that we can be) is this guarantee: half of the world will love you and the other half will hate you. Why? Because, there are 360 degrees of choice. Yes, that’s the measurement of a full circle.

We can choose to go in circles. Or, we can pick a direction. I encourage you to, please, select 1 of the 360. By doing so, you forego the other 359. Now, raise your head, fix your eyes on a destination, and take the first step. Then, another and another, until, you reach that point of no return.

Look around and you’ll find fellow travelers. Billions of people on the face of this earth divided by 360 choices is a factor of many companions for our journey.

Standing 90 degrees to our left and 90 degrees to our right are our friends. Those on the opposite hemisphere will have little use for our way of life. In fact, they view us as being upside-down in thought and deed, which is exactly our view of them, too.

Now, the ultimate question: Can I be a faithful servant to offer my inherent and unique gifts to all?

For those who answer “No,” please, find someone to follow.

The rest of us will be leading, living, laughing, loving and leaving a legacy.

www.kimfoard.com

Passionate and Vulnerable

Royal FlushAfter thirty years engaged in the business of success and relationships, I am beginning to understand certain Universal Principles.

Success can breed the twin evil sisters of Arrogance and Pride. Steve Jobs taught us to stay Hungry and Foolish.

Idealism can breed the twin evil brothers of Bitterness and Reluctance. My encouragement is for us to remain Passionate and Vulnerable.

What do the concepts of friends, price, and value have to do with car salesmen, unrealistic expectations, and the encouragements, above?

Everything.

This is my experience from last week.

As a preface to this story, I’ll ‘fess up. These are the lessons that I learned. There is absolutely no fault attributed to the cast of other characters. At the point of: “Oh, my bad,” all was well. We pay dearly for our education. I was invested in a refresher course on the merits of gamesmanship.

You see, I had let “magical thinking” get in the way of a perfectly good deal.

This story comes together over the span of the last year. Because of my patronage of The Dealership over a lifetime, two of the car salesmen were beneficiaries of watching me do business. So, when they had questions relative to new investment opportunities, I was honored to provide answers.

They were not Clients and probably never will be. Yet, for the last twelve months, by phone and in person, they asked questions and I gave them answers. First mistake: Free advice is received for what it is; worthless. With no established price, the perceived value is zero.

What begins twisted, ends twisted. With hindsight, I can freely admit that I got what I allowed. I chose not to charge these guys and let them think there was no value in my “priceless” advice. That same advice to established business relationships is priced at $2,500.

Now, I get teased a lot about the condition of my vehicles. At this season of life, with no young children and no rambunctious pets, the only “wear and tear” is on the driver’s seat. With an occupation of CPA and mostly highway miles to reach my favorite people, my 2009 Ford Lariat was in showroom condition; a new pickup, with 82,500 miles.

So, with the unrealistic expectation that I had banked $2,500 worth of goodwill with my car salesmen friends, I waltzed into The Dealership. Second and Third mistakes: Gifts are offered and Friends are chosen.

Preconceived notions are always dangerous. For me to unreasonably believe that the car salesmen were friends and that the relationship was enhanced by my generosity, the stage was set for a wreck.

Imagine my surprise to learn that they believed it fair to dock me twice for my “high miles” to arrive at an average Auction value for my beloved pickup. My feelings were hurt. “How dare they? The dirty rascals,” were my thoughts.

Standing in the way of a perfectly good new 2011 Ford Lariat pickup and the future of a relationship with these two guys was $2,500. Exactly, the amount of their second deduction for high miles and the amount of free advice they had received.

Silly me.

Two years ago, I thought I had learned this lesson. At that time, a Family situation had me asking the same question, “How dare they?!” In one of those life defining moments of clarity, I found the answer: iiWii (It Is What It Is).

OK, now, back to the pickup deal. Same song, second and third verses: taWta (They Are Who They Are) and iaWia (I Am Who I Am).

So, very, tired of the nonsense, I walked away. That’s just good advice for any deal; make a decision the next morning. After a good night’s rest, I woke to the realization, “They have every right to make their choices and I have the right to make mine.”

I will continue to generously give of my best with no expectation of anything in return.

Then, I remembered the inherent inspiration in a verse from my first tome, A Dance To Love:

Since life is the hand of cards to which we awake each morning, I admire those who play theirs with grace and poise. Strength of will and courage combined with the flexibility of thoughtfulness and humility results in a softness that trumps bitterness every time. As the windows to the soul, the eyes can be beacons of hope and the sparkling oasis of plenty.

With head high and eyes bright, I accepted their final offer and left an extra $1,500 on the table.

They have what was important to them, a little extra profit. I am the richer man for having the experience of valuable lessons and the opportunity to acknowledge my mistakes.

These two beliefs remain:

I am passionate.

“Friends deserve the best in everything. No sacrifice is too big, or task too small, when friendship is being nurtured. I have noticed that only my friends do business with me; so, probably in a selfish vein, I take very seriously the relationships with which I have been entrusted.”

I am vulnerable.

“Purpose in life is discovered by acknowledging a power greater than ourselves; delivery of value is possible by being a conduit for timeless and priceless gifts. The greatest gift is a chosen, purposeful effort, often done in the face of fear, to nurture our own growth and the growth of others!”

Stay passionate; Stay vulnerable.

www.kimfoard.com

Sacrifice

Giving and ReceivingThe answer to the human condition, literally, leaped from the screen into my consciousness. Last week, a Fellow vented his frustration at me by announcing, “I never sacrifice, even for friends because: a) if they are true friends they would not want me to sacrifice, or b) I would be willing to do it and therefore was not a sacrifice.”

First, let me share the rest of the story. As you read through the conversation thread, below, which was the catalyst for the Fellow’s remark, remember to always listen carefully to what people say and you can, vividly, see into the core of who they are.

The topic of discussion on this professional forum for the exchange of ideas was about which word is best: Customer, or Client.

(Kim Foard) Much more than a matter of semantics and the focus on our “professional” command of the English language, the concept is to build a relationship and produce positive results. From experience, I have found some (of those for whom I work) like the word Client, others like the word Customer, and everyone (who pays me) loves to believe they are my Friend. Let’s raise the bar and think of those we serve as Friends!

(Fellow) Friendship can happen, but the vast majority are business relationships and not friendship, IMHO.

(Kim Foard) One thing I have noticed: My “enemies” respect me; they don’t do business with me as Customer, Client, or any other label.

(Fellow) True, but being friendly is not the same as being a friend.

(Kim Foard) Again, it is a matter of semantics. Included in my definition are these parameters: “Friends” deserve the best in everything. No sacrifice is too big, or task too small, when friendship is being nurtured.

(Fellow) I never sacrifice, even for friends because a) if they are true friends they would not want me to sacrifice, or b) I would be willing to do it and therefore was not a sacrifice.

(Kim Foard) You’re right! It is a spectrum of thought. You and I have clearly identified the “Pots of Gold” on each side. The real secret is to be passionate about our beliefs, because we will attract those of like mind.

In my humble opinion (IMHO), he is “right”, only, in the context of being entitled to his opinion. What is your belief? As you can see, the conversation morphed from a matter of semantics into one of foundational issues at the core of any relationship. The label choice between Customer vs. Client pales into insignificance when measured against the word: Sacrifice.

Is sacrifice important? Is it old-fashioned? Is it taken, or given? What do you believe?

Let’s set the stage for our thoughts by considering two simple Proverbs:

When people’s lives please the Lord, even their enemies are at peace with them.

Calloused climbers betray their very own friends; they’d stab their own grandmothers in the back.

Thoughts of the vernacular, which might come to mind: “With friends like those who needs enemies.” And, “The enemy of my enemy is my friend.”

Yet, we are encouraged to move our thoughts, words, deeds and character to a higher level.

You’re familiar with the old written law, ‘Love your friend,’ and its unwritten companion, ‘Hate your enemy.’ I’m challenging that. I’m telling you to love your enemies. Let them bring out the best in you, not the worst. When someone gives you a hard time, respond with the energies of prayer, for then you are working out of your true selves, your God-created selves. This is what God does. He gives his best—the sun to warm and the rain to nourish—to everyone, regardless: the good and bad, the nice and nasty. If all you do is love the lovable, do you expect a bonus? Anybody can do that. If you simply say hello to those who greet you, do you expect a medal? Any run-of-the-mill sinner does that.

“In a word, what I’m saying is, Grow up. You’re kingdom subjects. Now live like it. Live out your God-created identity. Live generously and graciously toward others, the way God lives toward you.”

Right about now is when we, all, start squirming and looking for the semantic Exit Strategies. With thoughts running wild: Great idea, cute concept, life changing; we accept the realization that Knowing and Doing are very different. Yet, we remind ourselves and move, forward, through the pain: Hard is easy; Easy is hard.

And so, dear brothers and sisters, I plead with you to give your bodies to God because of all he has done for you. Let them be a living and holy sacrifice—the kind he will find acceptable. This is truly the way to worship him. Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect.

Because of the privilege and authority God has given me, I give each of you this warning: Don’t think you are better than you really are. Be honest in your evaluation of yourselves, measuring yourselves by the faith God has given us.

The idea that one person can define what sacrifice is to another individual reeks of arrogance and ignorance.

When we ask for anything from another person (as simple as a glass of water; or, as complex as the price for an exchange of goods and services), they make a choice between Yes and No. If the request is beyond a boundary of theirs, they will choose: No. If the request is within their will to deliver, they will choose: Yes.

To fulfill our request, another individual might offer a sacrifice.

What is a sacrifice?

Forfeiture of something highly valued for the sake of one considered to have a greater value or claim.

To forfeit (one thing) for another thing considered to be of greater value.

Surrender of something of value as a means of gaining something more desirable or of preventing some evil.

Something of value given away or up in order to gain something more important or to benefit another person.

One word, sacrifice, is the thesis of “Giving to Receive.” It is an individual choice executed by the internal will of that person. No managing by committee. No having it all. No maybe in approach. Sacrifice is a committed decision to offer. What another person does with the offering is their choice.

In my closing remarks in the conversation with the Fellow above, the “Pots of Gold” on either side of the rainbow are Time and Money. In business, the focus is generally on Money and the opportunities it can buy. Of the two, Time is more precious, because of the priceless relationships it can build.

When my Friends offer money in exchange for the value of my time, plain and simple, they are making a sacrifice. From the blood, sweat, and tears of their effort, they produce value in the marketplace. The money earned, by the sacrifice of their time, has great value to them. They exchange it for something perceived to be of greater value. I acknowledge and appreciate their sacrifice.

As their Friend, I believe in: Going far beyond the call of duty, Doing more than others expect, Striving after and maintaining the highest standards, Looking after the smallest detail, and Traveling the extra mile. Sacrifice means giving my best, in everything and every way.

Beyond the realm of business, the gift of Time is a daily sacrifice that we all make. The question becomes: At which altar do we place it?

On the altar of Narcissism, humility is sacrificed by those who believe they are the center of the universe.

On the altar of Friendship, pride is sacrificed by those who believe they are, simply, conduits of goodness for the benefit of others.

“There is no greater love than to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.”

www.kimfoard.com