Do the Work

Do the Work

I’m always amused by those, who have done nothing — yet, they presume to know everything.

Evidently, the one thing which has escaped the cauldron of their arrogance and ignorance is an understanding about the Buckets of Knowledge.

Bucket 1 — Those things we know that we know.

Bucket 2 — Those things we know that we don’t know.

Bucket 3 — Those things we don’t know that we don’t know.

If we’re totally honest with ourselves, there’s a little bit of “ac-knowledge-ment” about what’s in Buckets 1 and 2. We’re clueless about that big Bucket 3.

Simply, “We don’t know what we don’t know.”

A closed mind is a dangerous thing to encounter. The dark, swampy, stewed mixture of arrogance and ignorance emits a stench from which to flee.

All we do begins with a thought.

Until we choose to believe that we have much to learn, actual learning is impossible.

After adopting new thoughts, we must embrace a new habit,

Say what we are going to Do and Do what we Say.

Since we learn by doing and the fun is in the doing, let’s have fun learning, together.

In fact, if our minds wander back to the regrets of the Past, or if they race ahead to the anxieties of the Future, we can calm them by focusing on the task “at hand” in this Present moment.

Yes — simply, by putting our hands into doing something, our minds engage in helping our hands be successful in this new adventure. Any “mistakes” are simply acknowledged as measurements on this Journey of Progress.

From the Sage of the Ages,

Whatever your hands find to do, do it with all of your strength.

From the One of the Word,

My Father is always working — and, so am I.

By doing the work, we learn. We are also humbled — to be honored — in more fully understanding how little we know.

At that moment, we join true Leaders in the chorus,

What you learn — after you’ve learned it all — counts most of all.

In other words, let’s forget about the Buckets of Knowledge and open our minds to learning, more — by doing the work.

www.kimfoardcpa.com

Emotion Follows Motion

Emotion Follows MotionSo … there you are, wanting to feel in love, and wondering why Prince Charming is not riding in to sweep you off your feet.

For the faint of heart, stop reading, now. For the tough and tender, brace yourself and be prepared to laugh, with me.

First of all, that Prince Charming fellow is a caricature of Fairy Tales. The script is way too predictable: He gallops in on a white steed to save Damsels in distress. Now, really! Are you in distress and in need of saving?

Furthermore, pedestals and ivory towers are dangerous. Those perched high above the common folk were placed there by someone, are useless while up there, and, without help to get down, are stranded. Now, really! Does that sound like fun?

The fun is in the doing and we learn by doing. Let’s have fun learning, together.

Since I grew up in a sea of cowhides, that Prince fellow will need to tighten his cinch. While he continues the dysfunction of slaying Pet Dragons, I practice the Three-E Formula to Enlighten, Empower, and Encourage.

Enlighten ~ If you’re happy in a rut, which is simply a grave with the ends kicked out, I will frustrate the heck out of you. Since we don’t know what we don’t know, I’m constantly asking, “Why?” and, then, “Why, not?!”

Empower ~ If you’re happy being a victim, I will unceasingly tease you. The world is what we make of it; if it doesn’t fit, make alterations. By learning from the stories and experiences of others, I believe in building dreams into reality.

Encourage ~ If you’re happy taking without giving, I will show no mercy. Serving is the foundation on which all other noble traits of character are displayed. Character matters. Doing the right thing can be made easier by the catalyst of a kind word.

Speaking of which, these are the attributes of the Love that I want us to feel: Kindness, Patience, Honesty, Protection, Trust, Hope, and Perseverance. As we DO each of these, we BECOME kind, patient, truthful, courageous, vulnerable, optimistic, and willful in our desire to share Love.

Love begins with Motion and ends in Emotion.

www.kimfoard.com

Less is More

Less is MoreMuch more dangerous than failure is success.

With success comes loss.

There is a loss of striving to reach the goal.

After the empire is built, then what?

Last week, in the course of a three-hour conversation with an empire builder, he was most proud of one story.

It was not about the treasures of the empire; it was about the joy of doing. The story epitomizes the essence of this Universal Principle: the fun is in the doing.

As his eyes danced back to the memory of a time long ago, he spoke of a harvest. Earlier in the conversation he had briefly mentioned the juggling act of doing the seeding in and around the other duties of caring for his cows. His first love is the livestock; he farms to care for them.

He smiled as he reminisced about an accomplishment only a few can appreciate. As a member of his club, I enjoyed the verbal portrait he presented. It was one of a cowboy, a combine (without a cab and with a 14’ header), a small straight truck, 320 acres of 20 bushel wheat, and 11 days.

Just imagine hot August days, with hardly a breath of air, sitting in the open on a bouncing seat above the spinning reel of the header, as it sweeps the standing stalks into the cutting bar. The aprons catch the fallen individual stems with heads of grain and rolls them gently to the center of the combine.

This continuous river of wheat flows under the driver into the threshing cylinder at his back. More dust and more roar, as metal fingers pluck wheat kernels from heads of grain. A cowboy, a combine, and a cloud of dust creep back and forth through the field.

The field is 320 acres. That’s one mile long and half a mile wide. A mile is the equivalent of 5,280 feet. With the combine traveling at two miles per hour, two trips across the field can be made in one hour. Each swath measures 14’ across. Since the cowboy, the combine and a cloud of dust have 2,640 feet (one-half of a mile) to traverse, that’s about 200 trips back and forth across the field.

Two trips per hour, nine hours per day, for eleven days was the time required on a bouncing seat, in the heat of August, through a fog of chaff, for our cowboy to earn the right to tell his story. In addition to the time in the driver’s seat, effort was also required to grease, fuel, and repair the iron beast. That was done throughout the stops to unload each hopper of grain into the truck for transport to the bin.

Short story; long lesson: the fun is in the doing. Really?! Eleven days of slogging through the discomfort of heat, dust and itch. Fun?! Yes, because the accomplishment of a harvest is the “Ribbons and Bows” around the planning and preparation that transforms thought into action.

Actions accumulate into a manifestation of success: the treasures of an empire. The stuff will come and go; the legacy will last forever.

The legacy is, simply, to say little and do much. A little bit of verbiage can be powerful, by speaking only the truth. Actions speak so much louder than words.

By giving our best, each and every day, we honor those pioneers of long ago and encourage the beneficiaries of tomorrow, to discover their own path to destiny.

www.kimfoard.com

Flights of Fancy

Baby StepsI have a memory of something, which I don’t remember.

Since all we do begins with a thought, I must have been thinking, “That looks like fun. Take the next step.”

I was learning to walk. Walk at one; Talk at two: I must have been approaching one year old.

We’ve all heard the expression, “We learn to walk by falling down.” Never to do anything according to societal norms, I took that idea to a whole new level: the Basement.

Yep, I rode that baby walker down a flight of steep stairs and sailed onto the concrete floor of the basement. Don’t remember a thing; yet, I had recurring scary dreams of the event into my teen years.

All we do begins with a thought.

This last week, I had a phone conversation with a fellow, who wants to find purpose for his life by looking to others for the answer. His approach is, “I’ll know what I’m supposed to do when I feel it.”

So sorry; It doesn’t work that way. In fact, feelings flow from what we do. In other words, do the work; then, there will be the appropriate feelings.

What work?

All we do begins with a thought.

For a toddler, the thought was, “That looks like fun. Take the next step.” Unaware of the lessons waiting for me, I learned much. Among the take-a-ways, “What doesn’t kill you will make you stronger.”

As older kids, we forget that lesson and stunt our own development.

This last week, I was honored to engage in a Coaching Session of a young entrepreneur, who has asked for me to share my thirty years of business experience with him. In the course of our time together, these words captured the essence of his success, “Dan, the reason you learn so quickly is because you are willing to make the mistakes.”

That is the essence of success: Make mistakes and Learn from them, quickly.

Does that mean we become loose cannons, blasting away, hurting others in our quest to learn? Simple answer is, “No.” What it does mean is that we plan and prepare to make mistakes. “We don’t know what we don’t know.” If we want to know It, guaranteed, we will make mistakes in the discovery process.

Flights of FancyOh, and those scary dreams of bouncing the walker down the stairs, to land upright?

They became much more fun, when I let go of the fear, pulled back on the yoke, and soared into the unknown.

Go ahead, just, Do It. Strap on the knee pads, buckle on a helmet, pull on a pair of leather gloves, slip into your favorite flak jacket and take a Flight of Fancy.

www.kimfoard.com

Game of Life

GamesAs encouragement for those struggling with a daily frustration, I will gently offer, “Just play the hand you’ve been dealt.”

Fairly good advice for these reasons: This, too, shall pass; their cards might, actually, be better than anyone else’s at the moment; and, the fun is in the doing.

Before we launch off into the sport of the game, there is one question which has infinite possibilities: “What is the passion at the core of everything you do?”

Your response will be different from mine. Mine will be different from anyone else’s. And, therein, is the secret to the Game of Life.

Each of us has the opportunity to choose the games we play.

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 creativity that trumps bitterness every time.

Does that mean we play the games chosen for us by others? The simple and definitive answer is, “No.”

We, individually, choose our game. The one we are willing and able to play. Unless we do, everyone will have an idea for us. That’s just a Universal Law of human nature.

Unless you’ve encountered a narcissist, enamored of their own visage in the mirror, each of us spends the day looking outward. As a result, it is so much easier to see the foibles of others and what they should do.

Reality check: Who is the only one within our sphere of control? (Hint: not anyone else.) Yes! The answer is a question:

“What is the passion at the core of everything you do?”

You; Me; One person at a time: We answer that.

Or, do we? Have YOU?

If so, then, you have chosen your game. You have studied the rules. You have engaged the competition. You have failed. You have succeeded. You have grown. You have learned.

You have studied even more; this time much harder. You have discovered what you didn’t know, before. More engagement, more failures, more successes, more growth, and, now, you’re ready to teach.

Passion drives YOU forward.

Each day it will always be something; some days it’s just nice to know what “IT” is. Because we thrive on the challenge, nothing can upset or frustrate us. We know and have embraced the premise, “What doesn’t kill us will make us stronger.”

Let the games begin!

www.kimfoard.com

Up To and Through

Up To and ThroughIn regards to four letter words, this phrase trumps all others: “When this, then …”

Social Media exchanges and Text messages are replete with a variety of abbreviations and acronyms. It seems WTF is used as frequently as LMAO to provide dramatic exclamation.

Cloaking the unpleasant behind a mask of letters to make the offensive, somehow, more acceptable seems to be the hieroglyphics of this era of time.

In the category of WMD is WTT: “When this, then …”

We’ve all heard friends say and do it; in those moments of complete honesty, we even ‘fess up and admit saying and doing it. “It” goes something like this, “When I reach this age of twenty-one, then I can enjoy the benefits of adulthood.” Or, “When I discover this gem of a special someone, then I can learn to build dynamic relationships.” Or, “When I produce this adoring child, then my life will have purpose.”

Excuse me while I string together all of the Capital Letter acronyms above to dramatically exclaim, “What a JOKE!”

Lives are wasted by waiting on the barometric pressure, alignment of planets, phase of the moon, price of computers, political parties, religious beliefs, and perfect people to all synchronize into a defining moment of wonderful splendor. It ain’t gonna happen folks!

Let me introduce the concept: Up To and Through.

As we begin, it is important to acknowledge the anticipation of events. Stated simply and eloquently, there is:

A Time for Everything

For everything there is a season,
a time for every activity under heaven.

A time to be born and a time to die.
A time to plant and a time to harvest.
A time to kill and a time to heal.
A time to tear down and a time to build up.
A time to cry and a time to laugh.
A time to grieve and a time to dance.
A time to scatter stones and a time to gather stones.
A time to embrace and a time to turn away.
A time to search and a time to quit searching.
A time to keep and a time to throw away.
A time to tear and a time to mend.
A time to be quiet and a time to speak.
A time to love and a time to hate.
A time for war and a time for peace.

It is natural and right to look forward to the seasons of life. Reaching goals is important. Resting to savor the success is one thing; thinking we have “arrived” is something entirely different.

The secret key to the hidden treasures of life is: Up To and Through.

Imagine a bicycle and the activity required to enjoy it. Since life is a journey, we need a mode of transportation, right? Setting aside the option of riding on the coattails of others, let’s continue the bicycle analogy. Hop on and let’s go for a ride.

Sure, we can ride in little circles around the neighborhood. Or, we can pick a farther destination. The universal principle is that we will begin with small circles and then move on to bigger ones. Unless we choose to remain in comfortable ruts, we will continue to pursue the challenges of the unknown.

We begin our bicycle tour by picking a spot for riding “up to.” As we reach that destination, we pedal “through” to another location, for the express purpose of continuing the fun.

Life is like that. The fun is in the doing.

And, doing; and, doing; and, doing, …

You get the idea: Up To and Through!

www.kimfoard.com

Creating to Creation

Creating to CreationSince we learn by doing and the fun is in the doing, learning is fun!

Doing is the secret path to discovering happiness. In fact, the power of “ing” brings into existence the “ion“.

All we do begins with a thought. Good judgment comes from experience; experience comes from bad judgment.

Thinking produces action, doing produces education, and creating produces creation. One is the process; the other is the result. From its Greek origin, ion is defined as something that goes.

The premise of this treatise is that any accumulation of stuff during our lifetime will go, away.

To continue this thought experiment, we will consider a two-word phrase: Building Empires. The first word, Building, is the process; the second word, Empires, is the result.

Let’s begin by experiencing the feelings, which flow through us, when thinking about an Empire. What a headache, right?! Who protects it? Who maintains it? What do the subjects need and the royalty want? Where are the borders and are they secure? How many turf wars are there between the politicians? When will enough be enough? The answer: Never.

In fact, we are encouraged to remember:

Don’t wear yourself out trying to get rich.
Be wise enough to know when to quit.
In the blink of an eye wealth disappears,
For it will sprout wings and fly away like an eagle.

Now, let’s experience the feelings from thinking about the process of Building. Oh, what excitement! There is the initial sense of adventure and discovery. Then comes the dreaming, the planning, the preparing, and drawing of blueprints. Anything is possible! Next, begins the actual construction. Messy at the beginning; yet, still exciting: the hole in the ground, the ballet of activity to pour footings and foundations. And, on it goes, until: we have a new creation.

If we focus on the doing, the learning, and the growing in our individual lives, it is guaranteed that action, education and a new creation will emerge. By engaging in the process of creating, creation will be the result.

We learn by doing; the fun is in the doing. Let’s, continue to, have fun learning!

www.kimfoard.com

Two Things

Two Things

In the course of a journey of fifty-five years and serving the public for thirty of them, a simple discovery has been made.

While the hand of Fate is a constant presence in our life, a variable within our control is the power to believe and choose whether we do, or don’t; will, or won’t.

Much more important than the empire built is discovering that the fun is in the doing.

For the last two years, we have all experienced a New Normal. From financial to societal, things are much different, now. On the other hand is the premise: There is nothing new under the sun; things now are about like they have always been. While the only constant in life is change; human nature changes little.

A prayer, thousands of years ago, is as timely, now, as it was then:

And then he prayed, “God, I’m asking for two things before I die; don’t refuse me—
Banish lies from my lips and liars from my presence.
Give me enough food to live on, neither too much nor too little.

If I’m too full, I might get independent, saying, ‘God? Who needs him?’
If I’m poor, I might steal and dishonor the name of my God.”

Just imagine a world without lies and liars. Every hurt, betrayal, and wrong in the universe originates from us lying to ourselves, or others; and, others lying to themselves, or us.

Then, after the lies are told, the day’s thoughts and actions, typically, revolve around the fears of scarcity, or abundance. What if there is not enough? What if the excess is stolen?

There are no luggage racks on hearses. We take nothing with us when we go. What we leave behind is important. Let’s, all, pause for a moment and look at our ripple in the pond, our wake in the lake, of life.

While impossible to ever go back and have a new beginning, we can choose, at any moment, to write a new ending to our story.

These two things are true and fulfilling:

All we do begins with a thought.
The fun is in the doing.

By focusing on these two things, the answer to the prayer above is guaranteed:

Truth will set us free.
Doing trumps the worries about too little, or too much!

www.kimfoard.com

Young Pilots

Pilots at the Controls

At The Controls

The hand of the young businessman reluctantly reached toward the mouse. After he swirled it a few times to synchronize his mind with the cursor, he looked at me for the flight coordinates. We were ready for a new adventure!

Yesterday, he was sitting behind my desk in my executive chair and I was standing beside him, to be his guide. Waiting for us was an unexplored frontier, which I wanted us to look at together. As the CFO of a family business for the last couple of years, he has done everything asked of him, plus some. Rather than more words of instruction, I wanted him to have the experience of sitting at Command Central.

Since we learn by doing and the fun is in the doing, the purpose of our mission was to have fun learning!

A conversation with a businesswoman, earlier this week, is also a facet of this Thought du Jour. Recently, she enjoyed the opportunity to experience an aerial tour of a project, on which she is working, as a passenger aboard a large corporate helicopter. Part of our conversation included a discussion of best practices for bringing the next generation into an existing, and very successful, business.

How can we expect young entrepreneurs to captain the large ships of industry, when they seldom have the opportunity to sit at the controls?! That helicopter pilot learned the basics by flying small machines and, eventually, worked his way up to mastering the big ones. Guaranteed, he did not learn artistry of his craft by someone telling him how it is done!

Classrooms are not the same as Boardrooms; Professors are not the same as seasoned Veterans; and, Talking about something is not the same as Doing.

Young pilots, in training, sit at the controls. Next to them, in the co-pilot seat, is the instructor. The primary job of this instructor is to engage in a wonderful combination of activites which will build student confidence and scare them silly. The instructor will: by their words, tell their students what they need to know; by their actions, show them how to do it. Then, the real education begins, as the student learns by doing.

Typically, as in everything, the first few attempts are ugly. Improvement is made by practice, until the student thinks they know it all. At that moment of pride, their instructor makes a new believer out of them; by introducing an element of surprise. In the world of business, that is commonly referred to as a Variable.

For instance, a “stall” in the air is similar to one in business. The first time it happens to a young pilot and the new entrepreneur, hearts stop and breathing ceases. Same reaction: “Now, What?!” Same response: “Nose down, throttle up, regain composure and let the universal laws of physics and finances be your friend.”

Speaking of which, another conversation this week yielded, yet, one more gem of wisdom related to the importance of “hands on” education and experience. As a young man, my friend worked as a horse wrangler on a large ranch, which operated primarily for the benefit of encouraging and empowering adolescents.

The young people who came as guests, all, had one thing in common: they suffered from the insecurities of never having accomplished anything on their own. For six weeks on the ranch, they had a project and a choice. The project: a horse; their very own horse. The choice: work to connect with the horse as a friend; or, endure the relationship with the horse as an enemy.

As parents, we think training wheels on bikes are helpful and cute. Believing, they are a facet of building confidence. Generally, they are a crutch. The real joy on faces, only, comes after we provide the freedom to fail. Oh, sure, there are the looks of pure terror as our young people wobble, and crash. Yet, there are no words for the exhilaration of finding that first balance, on their own, and the accomplishments, which follow!

Later, our teenage student drivers discover a similar feeling, in the course of earning a license. The foundational principles learned in the classroom are important; what is practiced behind the wheel with an instructor, even, more so.

As we transition from the stories above into the world of business and finance, these same principles have merit. For instance: Spending an allowance is different from Budgeting a net employee paycheck, or business profit. The first is analogous to training wheels given to us; the second is the reality of producing results with our own hands on the yoke, wheel, or mouse.

As my young student clicked the last window closed and leaned back in my chair, our conversation turned to his frustration with some of his peers, who fail to consider the effect of key universal financial principles. When I asked him how he learned them, his response was, “You taught me.”

What began as a routine training exercise ended with a glimpse of the heavens; my spirit soared.

Let us, always, encourage our young people to fly!

www.kimfoard.com

Coattails

Coattail LessonsHave you heard the one about the two golfers, Fred and Bob? Well, the two of them were playing as a duo in a tournament with some of their buddies. At the end of the day, everyone was sharing stories at the 19th Hole in the Clubhouse, when someone noticed Fred and Bob were missing. As the party moved outside onto the veranda to peer into the dusk of the evening, movement was detected advancing toward the Clubhouse.

Naturally, some went out to meet Fred and Bob. As they approached, it was discovered that Bob was no longer of this world. When they asked Fred how he managed to finish the course, he replied, “Hit the ball; drag Bob.”

While the names have been changed, Fred is a friend of mine and the story above is one that he tells. He and Bob have been business partners for more than thirty years. To continue with the dark humor of a sad situation, Bob’s tombstone might as well display the reality of his life:
Died 198X – Buried 20XX

In the course of a road trip with my family, one day we were waiting to be seated at a restaurant. Hanging on the wall was a sign that read:
Unless You’re Lead Dog, The View Never Changes

Now, there are several themes in the introduction above:

We get what we allow.

Coattails are dangerous.

Leadership begins with self.

An unspoken question between Fred and me has been, “How much better might his Game have been if he could have just concentrated on hitting the ball?” We don’t talk about it because it is a judgment relative to the past. What we know, for a fact, is that Fred has grown into a productive citizen; whereas, Bob relies on coattails for mobility. Furthermore, as an accomplished critic, Bob is one of those cold and timid souls who know neither victory nor defeat.

Coattails can appear in the form of Heritage, Wealth, Success, and Reputation of a preceding generation. While all of that can be the foundation for the succeeding generation to build something special for themselves, generally, it exudes the taint of janitorial duty: the next generation is expected to maintain the empire.

Friends, Mentors, Employers and a variety of other Heroes can be sources of coattails. The most dangerous source of all is Government, with its propaganda of Free Lunch programs. Folks, “There ain’t such a thing!”

There is a price we pay for everything. Future dividends only come from present investments. Much more than financial matters, though, we are contemplating facets of the soul.

Moral of the story: The secret to happiness is, so eloquently, articulated by Teddy Roosevelt.

The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs and comes up short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but, who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end, the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly!

From the Ages, comes the premise that we are to work out our own salvation with reverence. As with any relationship, the effort begins with us, individually, and is directed toward one other individual, deity, or focal point of development. Once we realize that life is best experienced from the inside, out; we begin to understand that internal change affects the external.

In this year of 2010, let’s consider that it might be time for the 2 x 10:
If It Is To Be, It Is Up To Me.

Ten little words, two letters apiece, which if believed and lived, can make a difference in our life, and the lives of many others.

So, please, pause for a moment and check for Coattails: Are you trying to ride on someone else’s? If so, hop off. Is someone trying to ride on yours? If so, shake them off. Trying never accomplished anything. In fact, we learn by doing and the fun is in the doing. Let’s all discover the fun of learning, together.

www.kimfoard.com