Able and Willing

Growth is a result of positive answers to these two questions: Can I do IT? Is IT worth it?

Able and Willing

We want what we don’t have.

If we have it, we don’t want it.

Granted, there are a few individuals, who purport that they have risen to a higher level of existence, by not wanting anything. They claim to be perfectly happy with nothing.

Making the best of whatever the situation — in which we find ourselves — is different than doing nothing. Those who do nothing are stuck in a rut, regardless of the rationalization for their inactivity. And, you do know the definition of a rut: A grave with the ends kicked out.

To lead ourselves and others to higher levels of awareness and success, we must grow.

We grow and become of greater value in service only as much as we choose.

Each and every day, each and every decision, our choices are determined by the answers to these two questions:

  • Can I do IT?
  • Is IT worth it?

In other words:

  • Am I Able?
  • Am I Willing?

Am I Able ~

All we do begins with a thought. Change nothing and nothing changes. The easiest thing in the world is to find reasons why something can’t be done, which results in no leadership and no growth. Simply, by believing IT can be done, our minds begin finding ways to achieve.

Am I Willing ~

Where there’s a will, there is a way. Our willingness is governed by two raw emotions — Pain and Pleasure. Given enough pain, our will becomes stronger. Offered enough pleasure, our will finds a way. The beauty of will is that IT resides within our sphere of influence.

A mind changed against its will,
Will be of the same opinion still.

How do we persuade our minds to choose the greater motivator of pleasure?

One way is to tempt it with Riches. The better way is to feed it with Purpose.

Oh, I know, that money trick is a quick-and-dirty way to get our attention. To hold it, though, requires the intrinsic higher rewards, which originate from doing the right thing.

Sometimes, we know what that Right Thing is. Other times, we struggle to DO IT — right. That’s when we remember the Three-E Formula — Enlightenment, Empowerment, and Encouragement.

Enlightenment is the catalyst for believing we can do IT.

Empowerment is the motivation for choosing to do IT.

And, from time to time, our confidence is bolstered by the Encouragement — of family and friends — for us to be Able and Willing.

www.kimfoard.com

Degrees of Leadership

Lead, follow, or get the heck out of the way.

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

Good Directions

Go ahead — do it. Take that next step, forward. Be innocent, be sweet, be open, be humble, be accepting, be trusting, and believe that we can experience heaven, here on earth.

Good DirectionsImagine your favorite action movie. The ground is crumbling behind our heroes and heroines as they run toward the only escape available to them. Our heart is in our throat, as we encourage them to go, quickly, forward.

Life is just like that. There is no standing still. There is no going back. The only direction to safety is forward.

This last week, I lost a dear friend of twenty-plus years because he has made a choice to be comfortable in a rut. The definition of a rut is a grave with the ends kicked out. Yes, it’s dark, damp, and depressing down there. My friend exploded upon being reminded of the only two choices we have: Grow or Die.

He assured me in no uncertain terms that he was not depressed. (The fellow doth protest too much, methinks.)

As recently as five years ago, November 15, 2006, this is the complete text of the Testimonial he offered when asked to document our business relationship — Client and Certified Public Accountant.

While reflecting on the past years of business growth … the ups and downs; the trials and tests; the hard work; and, never-ending commitment to push forward … I come to realize that you have been a vital part of that growth. You have been with us all the way.

The accounting profession has truly been honored by your steadfast commitment to serving, to advise … to help direct my thoughts in the financial decisions of our company. It has made my job as CEO much easier.

We are in our 15th year and looking forward to working with you in the years to come.

Fast forward to September 14, 2011, and this is my goodbye to a business relationship, which was enjoyed by that friend, who (at one time) was closer than any brother.

The purpose of this letter is to document the essence of our phone conversation, yesterday.

At the end of that conversation, you wondered if your message was adequately communicated by asking, “Is that clear?!” My response, “Perfectly.”

It is crystal clear that there is a difference in core philosophies.

You believe and have stated quite clearly, numerous times over the last few months, that you and your Company are at the mercy of the Hand of Fate. In essence, you are tethered to a fixed set of practices, which have brought you success in the Past — and, now, are frustrated that the Present is less than accepting.

I believe life is what we make of it, friend — if it doesn’t fit, make alterations. My purpose in business is summarized in four words: Building Bright Financial Futures. I have gone to great lengths to promote this idea to the world via every digital means possible. I have clearly communicated this core belief to you via an email conversation thread from May 17th to July 20th.

My last email request of you was for one hour of your time to discern how we might build a dynamic business relationship. Having heard absolutely nothing from you, I called yesterday with an offer for year-end planning. In the past, you welcomed the opportunity for us to talk about your Company.

You chose to refuse my offer. You have that right. I also have the right to choose.

As of today, we no longer have a business relationship. You are encouraged to engage other professionals to provide services for your financial fiscal year (and, payroll calendar quarter) ended September 30th. Documents in your Client File Portal will be available to you and your representatives until December 31st.

What happened between November 15, 2006, and September 14, 2011?

We will never know. To be judgmental toward my friend and all he has experienced in the last five years is the wrong thing to do. I can, though, tell my story. In the past, I have first-hand knowledge and experience of what it’s like to be stuck in a rut. It is dark, damp and depressing.

This is my story and I’ll tell it my way.

The darkest times in my life began, at the moment, when I started to think that I had arrived. Thinking that I had reached my destination and could quit — or, coast — or, savor the rewards — or, otherwise think I had, really, become somebody. You see, the focus had shifted to thinking, believing, and acting as if, the world revolved around me.

In the simplest of analogies, my life had gone off a cliff. The ground was, literally, crumbling beneath my feet as I tumbled into the chasm of darkness.

Recovery from the pit was only possible by acknowledging, “There but for the grace of God go I” … further down into the abyss. At that moment, there was a Rock on which to cling and a view of the hard work necessary to climb from the rubble into the brightness of opportunity, once again.

There is nothing new under the sun.

There’s a story of a guy walking on water. His name was Peter and he was a cocky fellow, with relatives from Missouri (the Show Me state). He enjoyed the companionship of a friend, who cared deeply about the growth of others.

So, one day Peter challenged his friend with, “If you’re really as good as you claim, ask me to walk on water.” Guys being guys, the friend accepted the challenge and said, “Come ahead.”

Jumping out of the boat, Peter walked on the water. But, when he looked down at the waves churning beneath his feet, he lost his nerve and started to sink.

Moral of this story: Don’t look down.

In fact, don’t look back, either. The ground is crumbling behind us. There is only one safe path — Forward.

There’s another story of a guy pondering the progression of life. His name was Paul and one of his many attributes was that of a Philosopher. He observed, “When I was a child, I talked like a child. I thought like a child. I had the understanding of a child. When I became a man, I put childish ways behind me.”

Moral of this story: Children grow up.

At this point in my story, there is at least one person just aching to challenge this thesis of — Forward motion being the best direction and Growth being a prerequisite to a rich life. They will posit that “going back” has its merits.

As in:

We miss a turn at the intersection and need to go back.

We forget something when leaving on vacation and need to go back.

We neglect to learn a lesson and need to go back (for another dose).

We ignore an opportunity, which is good for us, and need to go back.

I agree. There are legitimate times for us to go back and recover from frailties of the human condition. “Thank God for Good Directions and turnip greens!” (by Billy Currington and his album Doin’ Somethin’ Right) Turn up your speakers and enjoy this tune.

For the astute scholars among us, I will acknowledge their point that we are encouraged by the Good Book to go back. As we examine this riddle to the very essence of life, the answer is simple. We are encouraged to be childlike, not childish. There is a difference.

So… at the moment, when there is the temptation to think we have arrived and can stop growing — Look up, think forward, and really focus on the hard work to take the next step.

Go ahead — do it. Now, that we are big kids — older and wiser, with all of our education and experience, hurts and betrayals, safely archived in the memory banks — do it. Be innocent, be sweet, be open, be humble, be accepting, be trusting, and believe that we can experience heaven, here on earth.

All we need to do is to take that next step — often into the unknown — forward, to grow.

www.kimfoard.com

In The Game

Amateurs practice until they can do something right — Professionals practice until it is impossible for them to do anything wrong.

In The GameThere is only one way to, really, learn anything — and, that is: hands-on.

It is impossible for the mind to forget what the hands have learned.

Why, then, do we believe someone else has the answers to our questions? And, why do we defer our good judgment to others?

We are unique!

No one else has our combination of Heredity and Environment. Only we, individually, can encourage our growth.

To do that, it is imperative we get — and, stay — in the game.

Do you know the difference between an Amateur and a Professional? Well, the Amateur practices until they can do something right — the Professional practices until it is impossible for them to do anything wrong.

In fact, the Professional, always, practices. Why?

Amateur vs. Professional

1.) Talk is cheap. Knowing something and doing it are two, entirely, different approaches. Those who can: practice — those who can’t: preach. Those who spin their stories of yesterday will be left in the dust of those who are getting it done, today. What got us here will not take us to where we need to go. The principle is, “A little less talk and a lot more action.” Amateurs will tell you how to do something — Professionals will show you.

2.) No pain — No gain. Easy is hard — Hard is easy. Shortcuts are the surest way to oblivion. There is an order to the Universe. It is obvious when we realize that every worthwhile endeavor begins with a rock-solid foundation. The beginning of every construction project is ugly — it starts with an excavation, a hole in the ground. It requires a whole lot of digging and pounding. Amateurs want the glory of a finish — Professionals seek to serve from beginning to end.

3.) Pink elephants are absurd. Any single negative in an equation forces a negative result. When told, “Don’t think about pink elephants,” what do we do? Bad habits die hard. They don’t go of their own volition — a stake must be driven through the heart of the beast. That stake is sustained, positive, decisive, and committed actions toward the new desire. Mastery of the self is an artistic expression. Amateurs are tethered to the past — Professionals use that vine to swing into the future.

Those who claim to know it all — and, therefore, take it upon themselves to think that they know what is best for us — are dangerous. Arrogance and ignorance are a volatile combination. Regardless of what someone might know up to this present moment, there is always the opportunity to learn more. If… they stay in the game.

The game always changes. It is the only constant in life. Those on the sidelines are stuck — frozen in that moment of time — when they chose to stop there. Those on the court continue to learn, to get better, to improve, to innovate, and to grow as individuals and teammates. They do common things in uncommon ways — they take the scientific to an art form.

All, because of their love for the game — of Life!

www.kimfoard.com

IIITB, IIUTM

The more we think and do, the more we learn and grow. As we stretch through the pain of change, we find even higher peaks of adventure, just, waiting for us.

If It Is To BeIf It Is To Be,
It Is Up To Me

I’m amazed at the whining that goes on, because one person is waiting for other people to change. Change, as in — who they are, what they do, and how they think. Good luck with that.

Wherever we go there we are. It has taken a lifetime to arrive at this moment in time. We have made every, single, choice along the way to be, exactly, where we are. Why, then, is it such a stretch to believe that everyone else has done the same?

If we nurture a belief that we, individually, are a child of God, do we extend the same courtesy to others? When we see, experience, or are otherwise affected by another person — different in belief from ours — do we accept them, or judge them?

Judging is so much easier and more fun to do. In fact, it comes naturally to find fault with others. There they are, right in front of us, behaving stupidly. Do we ever consider that they are looking at us and thinking the very same thing?

Accepting others is a daily challenge. Embracing the explicit independence of another is entirely different than being a punching bag for their dysfunction. There is a fine line between respect and folly. In regards to boundaries, discretion is the better part of valor.

Speaking of boundaries, do we know where we end and another person begins? Have we done the hard work to define ourselves to the point of an ‘elevator speech‘ introduction to the rest of the world? Are we willing to listen — and, accept — the eight seconds offered by others?

If the narrative, above, has yet to make sense and you are struggling with anything in your life, please, go look in the mirror. The individual staring back at you is the one responsible for how you feel and what you think. Change that individual and the whole world will change.

Not enough time to do the things you want? Change your priorities.

Not enough money to do the things you need? Change your patterns.

All of us have 24 hours in a 7 day week and the same 52 weeks in 1 year. We are all given the same opportunity. Are you jealous of those who successfully manage their time and money well?

The secret: Different choices — different results.

Begin with the end in mind. A crystal clear vision of the future encourages us to make choices, which move us forward in that direction. As we advance, other exciting opportunities along the way broaden our horizons of awareness.

The more we think and do, the more we learn and grow. As we stretch through the pain of change, we find even higher peaks of adventure, just, waiting for us. Those who have chosen to remain stuck in their rut are no longer of concern to us.

We have discovered that the fun is in the doing.

If It Is To Be,
It Is Up To Me

www.kimfoard.com

Help Yourself

As children, we knew the world was our oyster. The journey began with a single step: “I think I can.” The goodness from the banquet table of life waits for us older kids to help ourselves!

Banquet Table of Life

After a short pause for an expression of thanksgiving, Dad would raise his head to look at us and say, “Help yourself!” We would survey the table for the serving dish to our right, make a choice of portion, and then pass it to the left. As our hands offered one, we prepared to receive another.

That was in the day when families gathered at home for the evening meal; a meal that was prepared by Mom with loving effort. In fact, the abundance on the table was a portion of the wealth produced that day: Roast beef, potatoes, salad, vegetable du jour, warm bread, cold milk and a cookie for dessert.

We were connected to the land and understood the importance of working, if we wanted to eat that evening!

Advance forward a couple of generations, and we find a society of fast food and slow thoughts. Diminished are the thrill of the hunt and the sport of accomplishment. Instead, we find whiners with an attitude of entitlement. Unless everything magically appears on a silver platter, they are clueless about their survival. Instead of wanting a hand up, they want a hand out.

The real joy in life is discovered when we understand, “Help yourself!”

Of all creatures, humans are the most helpless at birth. Choices are made for us, and care is provided to us, by parents. Before we can talk, though, we are reaching for that spoon to do it ourselves. For the next five years, we fear little and do everything. We delight in our accomplishments and learn the most from our mistakes. We help ourselves.

Then, we start school. We are taught that there is a right way and a wrong way: Our way is wrong and the right way is only known by those with the answer key. Funny thing, though; that key only works for one set of questions.

Life is different!

After twelve, sixteen, or more years, young adults tip from the conveyor belt of modern education into a world with more pop-quizzes and test-questions than they have answers.

One of two things happen: Either, they realize the extent to which they don’t know what they don’t know and begin to “help themselves” learn it. Or, they point fingers of blame and expect someone else to compensate for their lack of resourcefulness.

I admire the first group and, thoroughly, tease the second about their “Stinkin’ Thinkin’!”

All we do begins with a thought. The most important thought of all is: “I think I can.”

At that moment, we tap into the childhood belief that the world is our oyster; just waiting for us to pry into it for the pearl discovery. We don’t want anyone else messing with our project. In time, we might discover that we need a little coaching on technique. If so, we ask for it; or, we struggle through to re-invent the wheel. Either way, the prize will be ours.

As we sit at the banquet table of life, only we can know what is best for ourselves.

The only way to discover That is to “Help Yourself!”

www.kimfoard.com

Tight Fences

In Montana, we have an expression and a tradition: “Good fences make for good neighbors.”

Six Wire FenceIn Montana, we have an expression and a tradition: “Good fences make for good neighbors.”

Those individuals intent upon building a ranch empire will jest, “I don’t want to own the entire state; just what my neighbor has.”

Much more than keeping those types out, the focus of this article is about fencing ourselves in.

Fence me in?!

Literally, I can hear and feel the push-back. The idea of taking personal responsibility for ourselves is a novel thought. For several generations, we’ve had exposure to the 24/7 propaganda: “If it feels good, do it.”

As a result, our “fences” are in disarray; the wires are loose, staples are missing, posts are rotted, and we find ourselves trampling on each other.

There is a better way. It begins with us, individually, from the inside, out. We discover and define ourselves. Then, we build dynamic relationships with others. Regardless of the enterprise, life is all about the people.

Think about the best six-strand, barb-wire, fence you have ever seen. That was a “stretch.” Wasn’t it? There aren’t many six-wire fences. Many ranch managers will build five-wire fences. The hobby-farmers settle for four. And, the rhinestone-cowboys cheat with three. A six-wire fence is a little bit higher, with spaces between the wires narrower, and the boundaries a whole lot tighter!

Nothing goes over, through, or under a six-wire fence. Permission to pass is offered at the gates. With good braces at the corners and every opening, the gates are designed for ease of operation. In our great state of Montana, neighbors are few and far between. When they’re in the mood to visit, we want to graciously provide the way. We know they will respectfully close the gates upon passing through.

Pretty simple.

Yet, some might be wondering, “What do tight Montana fences have to do with life?”

Everything.

Forget about the neighbors for a minute. Let’s focus on ourselves. Harder to do; I know. It’s so much easier to see what others are doing “wrong” and mettle in their business. Since their affairs are beyond our control, let’s re-focus on what is within our sphere of influence. We will find that at the tips of our fingers and looking back at us from our favorite mirror.

Yep, there we are.

Now, ask these questions:

Who am I?

What do I believe?

Where am I going?

Why do I think the way I do?

When will I commit to the future I want?

How many of my friends will help me grow?

The answers to those questions will define YOU and your current condition. Capture that image vividly in your mind’s eye. Close your eyes and save it to the hard-disk of your mind. Open your eyes. Now, go, quickly, to build a six-wire fence around the wonderful creation of YOU.

Barb WireWipe the sweat from your brow, clean the blood from the cuts on your arms, and dab the tears from your eyes as you look (maybe, for the very first time) at YOU. For everyone who makes the effort to build that tight fence, we all see the same thing: Gardens of goodness and Patches of weeds.

After we tidy up the areas of neglect, we feel a sense of peace and tranquility. We thoroughly enjoy what is ours and we generously offer our best to others. In time, we realize that to serve more people in a better way, we must continue to grow.

Fenced PasturesThe best way to do that is to close our eyes, again, and dream: Big dreams, vivid dreams in full color, even those beyond our wildest imagination.

Anything is possible.

Forget the past; it doesn’t matter. Ignore the nagging worry about the future; right here, right now, it’s great to be alive. Position yourself in the center of that marvelous territory (the one protected by the new six-wire fenced boundary) of YOU — and, dream!

Are you there, yet? If so, write down what you just imagined. It’s much more than a fantasy, or a dream. If you can sketch the rough outline and, then, draw a detailed blueprint of that place to which you just went, it can be built.

By standing in the image of that new country of YOU, you will be able to see the steps to take ~ from where you are, to where you want to be!

www.kimfoard.com