One to Five

Five by Five

Let’s start in the middle.

What is the most powerful three letter word in the English language?

YES ran a close second. Yet, it can also be the most dangerous word — if not accompanied by NO.

So, again – standing on its own – what is the most powerful three letter word?

ASK

See how powerful it is? If we need, or want, to know something, we simply ask. By asking, now, you know my opinion.

While you are certainly entitled to your opinion, please, let me share the reason for my belief.

The three letters of ASK are actually an acronym for Ask, Seek, and Knock. If we Ask, we will receive answers. If we Seek, we will find opportunity. If we Knock, doors will swing wide open.

Now, let’s count down, from three, to one.

DO is the most powerful two letter word. In fact, knowing and doing are two entirely different concepts. We can ask to know, which empowers us to act for the benefit of others. Yet, until we do, our knowledge is worthless.

I is the most powerful one letter word. It is the only Individual over which we have absolute control. Beyond our fingertips, any semblance of control ends. For the narcissists among us, this isn’t all about you — there’s the rest of the story.

WORK is the most powerful four letter word. Taking personal responsibility for ourselves is the greatest gift we can offer. Because, only, then, can we share the excess bounty from our efforts with those less fortunate.

SERVE is the most powerful five letter word. Want to be happy? Simply, focus on taking care of the wants and needs of one other person. Want to be, really, happy? Passionately, help enough other people get what they want and we can have everything in life we want.

It Is What It Is —But, It will become what you make It.

I
DO
ASK
WORK
SERVE

From top to bottom, life really is that simple.

By bending a knee in service to all, we will receive everything our heart desires.

www.kimfoardcpa.com

Authentic Hero

Authentic HeroFrom time in memorial, humans have been in search of a Super Hero.

You know: That omnipotent character, who can answer every question; the mighty one, who can save the day and those weaker souls among us. (Heck, even we tough guys welcome a little time off from the daily struggles.)

In a political season, there are at least a couple of candidates proclaiming to be the solution to every problem. Flip a coin, pick the winner, and what you have is an individual just like you, and me, and a few billion other people: just, another regular person.

If there are no, real-life, Super Heroes, what are we to do? Give up? Tremble in fear? Trudge through each day with resignation and despair?

The simple answer is, “No.”

You, my friend, have everything required to be an Authentic Hero. Authentic trumps Super every time, because Super is a figment of the imagination, while Authentic is the heart and soul of greatness.

Okay, I realize some are reluctant to believe. So, let’s start with the undeniable. A comes before S in the English alphabet. Unless you’re the lead dog, the view never changes. Let’s take a look at what makes an Authentic Hero.

They are big believers in the KISS Principle: Keep It Simple Sweetheart. As a result, the character attributes of the Authentic Hero are: Desire, Humility, and Courage.

Desire

Authentic Heroes have The-Want-To. They know that all we do begins with a thought. By guarding their hearts, positive thoughts are captured and nurtured into plans of action. With diligent preparation, those plans — one at a time — are implemented with precision.

Humility

Authentic Heroes, on bended knee, seek engagement to build mutually beneficial relationships. Theirs is an attitude of service for the greater good of all. They know that the joy of life is discovered in the Doing. Their purpose is to Enlighten, Empower, and Encourage.

Courage

Authentic Heroes accept the creed that there is no greater love than to give their life, so others might live more abundantly. They boldly face each day, knowing full well mistakes will be made. Criticism is accepted as a badge of honor for the lessons learned.

Long after the Super narrative of the narcissist is forgotten, the life of the hero offered in Authentic sacrifice will be remembered, forever.

www.kimfoard.com

Shepherd Heart

Shepherd HeartThe surest way to enjoy the Future we want is to create it.

Otherwise, we’ll be living the dream of someone else.

Since we, individually, are as unique and temporary as snowflakes, it is impossible for the dream of one person to be the passionate desire of anyone else.

How powerful is passionate desire?

Recently, a story was published in the Billings Gazette of a devastating barn fire. The loss of possessions is always sad; the loss of life is tragic. The barn was full of ewe sheep and their lambs. The night of the fire, Sam and Nellie (the sheepdogs) were diligently doing their patrols outside the barn.

The next day, Sam looked all over for his sheep. He looked all over the place and cried and howled. You couldn’t believe the mournful way he howled that day. It broke our hearts. And in the middle of the afternoon, he laid down and died.

There’s a moral within this Story for each of us: Dreams, Goals, and our Purpose in life must include a dimension beyond the Stuff. Otherwise, if our possessions are lost, we’ll tip over and die, too. Animals operate on instinct. Humans are the only creatures of thought.

Whatever we Think about is, eventually, what we will Do.

The common belief is, “We came into this world with nothing and we’ll leave with nothing.”

That statement is partially correct; insomuch, that, there are no luggage-racks on hearses. Yet, we arrive naked and crying into this existence with the most valuable asset and greatest potential for building a legacy: A Mind.

Start with Nothing, Build Something

There are two ways to do that:

1.) Focus all of your early efforts on your own Business. Start with one Customer and carefully manage those early earnings by minimizing expenses and maximizing savings, until the Business can provide (extra) Time and Money for Personal pursuits.

2.) Establish yourself as a Get-‘er-Done person with a quality Company, which pays for performance, while you Learn and Save. Then, the path of Success might be to continue that Journey (of more Time and Money for Personal pursuits), or the Seed Money will be available to Start your own Company.

Either way, there is only one person responsible for your life: YOU.

I struggled with that for a long time, too. I thought if I worked hard and played by all of the rules, someday, somehow, somebody would notice and make me rich and famous. Doesn’t work that way. Individually: The world is what we make of it. Stated differently, in the first-person tense: If It Is To Be, It Is Up To Me.

Recommendations:

1.) Write down, exactly, what you want your Future to be.

2.) Prepare your Mind and make Plans for your Future. When possible, grab your SmartPhone and Search on topics of interest. In other words, do the Research & Development required to move you one step closer to your Dream.

3.) When appropriate, share the image of your Future with others. That can only be done after you Commit to the Future of your choice. By sharing, you empower others to make choices which dovetail with yours. Those who care about you will hold you accountable to your Vision.

Money is important; those who say it isn’t will lie about other things, too. Financial resources are necessary to provide opportunities. In the same way that tools provide the opportunity for a craftsman to create, money is the leverage to build something special.

As mortals working within the physical realm, we can be proactive in asking this question of all within our sphere of influence, “How can I help you achieve your goals?” After carefully listening to their answer, we have the opportunity to respond with these very bold statements.

“I can do that. By serving your interests, I expect this to be a mutually rewarding long-term relationship.”

Beyond the monetary negotiations is the real reward, which waits, for those with the heart of a shepherd.

www.kimfoard.com

King Ranch

King RanchThe question was a simple one: How does a guy get ahead?

It was expressed with emotion and a twinge of frustration.

His eyes and body language were communicating the same, legitimate, curiosity about life. I realized he was serious and I was at a loss for words.

Sitting in front of me was a young man of twenty-three, who had accomplished more in the last two years than many get done in a lifetime.

Far beyond the six-figure salary that society uses to measure success, this young man is responsible for the lives of two dozen men, many who are more than twice his age. He manages millions of dollars of trucks and equipment for the production of billions of dollars of revenue.

Even more important, than the money and resources for which he is held accountable, is the character at his core. And, I guess that’s where words fell short of providing the best answer possible. All I could say in the moment, “Just keep on doing what you’re doing. You’re doing it right.”

We both knew that wasn’t the best response either one of us ever heard and, in time, there was apt to be more to the story. Two weeks later, I had a few more thoughts to share. This is the Rest of the Story.

At age twenty-three, empires are enticing. Courageous young men are determined to build one. And, that’s a good thing for them and all in their sphere of influence. The secret that awaits our crusaders is that the process of building is much more fun than the empire, itself.

The young empire builder and I have common knowledge of individuals sitting in the middle of wealth they did not earn. In this newly tuned conversation, I asked that we mentally separate those men from their inheritances. Then, we examined the individual ability to produce: those who appear to have it made vs. those who actually get-‘er-done.

The list is pretty dang long of the things this young man of twenty-three can do. Because of his humility, he was reluctant to begin taking inventory of his attributes. I gently reminded him, “It’s not bragging, if you can do it.”

Then, we considered what the “Born on third-base ~ Thought they hit a home-run” types can do. That didn’t take long: very, short list.

For a couple years now, I’ve been on this kick: All We Do Begins With A Thought. So, with time to think about his excellent question, I knew a better answer was possible. In fact, the answer was in the question, “How does a guy get ahead?!”


There it was: “A Head”: a noggin which is constantly thinking about splendid dreams. Thoughts without character are as dangerous as ships without rudders. And, that my friends, is when it dawned on me, that as much as my first response was adequate, the best answer recognizes the power of mind and heart.

For as he thinks in his heart, so is he.

Guard your heart above all else,
for it determines the course of your life.

We are a combination of our heredity and environment. Undeniably, we slip into this world hard-wired a certain way and, then, parents bend our little twigs.

Communication is what the listener does. Stories provide food for thought.

As we were sitting in Red Robin, munching on our hamburgers and fries, I began a story about Volkswagens, Road-trips, and Ford Pickups that I had been rehearsing in my mind for two weeks.

My dad worked on ranches owned by others. He made $200, per month, cash wages, the equivalent of $2,000 in today’s dollars. Half a century ago, the tradition was for Moms to be homemakers. So, one household income provided funds for the daily necessities and a two-week trip in the fall to exotic destinations.

Well … for a kid who lived twelve miles from the nearest semblance of civilization the other fifty weeks of the year, places like Squaw Valley and Lake Tahoe, California, seemed like another world. From the prairies of Montana to the wonders of the Sierra Nevada, and beyond, miles of road stretched before us like ribbons around the best surprise.

The year was 1965 and my parents had just purchased a brand new VW Bug. Not the Super Beetle introduced in the mid-1970s, or the Daisy Mae sedan sporting a flower vase; this was the original bug: Pregnant Roller Skate in the vernacular. I was 10 and my little sister was 3.

Looking around Red Robin for a way to describe the cabin size of that classic automobile, my eyes measured the four-person booth at which we sat. Perfect; the size of the table top was approximately the same amount of space in that VW Bug for two little kids and luggage for a Family of four.

My dad had an eye for packing and a creative mind. By removing the backrest from the rear seat, he could stack suitcases and travel totes to create a wall of luggage and a replacement backrest for his passengers. Our little bottoms, somehow, fit on the eight inches of seat visible and available.

Off we went on our adventure. As an experienced truck driver, Dad knew to adjust his speed according to road conditions and the weight of his cargo. In September, the highways are absolutely perfect. Yet, we were heavy. I remember leaning over to peek between the front seats to see the speedometer needle stuck on 45.

With four on the floor (manual stick-shift transmission) and four in the rear (cylinders in the air-cooled engine) maybe that was top speed. I don’t know. What I do know is that it was an era before audio books and iPods. Lucky for us, though, we had the real deal and an iMom. She read books, lots of books, to us.

The first Interstate Highways were being constructed. They were wonderfully straight and smooth. Cars and trucks passed us as if we were standing still. On the narrow, two-lane, roads, we backed up traffic for miles. Two little kids, with noses pressed to side windows that didn’t open, witnessed many middle-finger salutes.

I closed my eyes and dreamed about fast cars.

Fast-forward to 1971 and we were living in the foreign country of East Texas. I was 16 and running a tractor and brush-cutter for a farmer. He let me use his newer model Ford pickup to haul diesel fuel out to the field for that little John Deere tractor. For some reason, I imagined him giving me that pickup.

I closed my eyes and dreamed about fast pickups.

Then, in the spring of 1972, Dad decided he missed the open country of the North. We were headed home to Montana, kind of. A job was available on a ranch near New Underwood, South Dakota. For the month that we lived there, I rode to school with the kids of the family who owned the ranch. They all drove newer model Ford pickups.

I closed my eyes and dreamed about a fancy Ford pickup of my own, someday.

For as he thinks in his heart, so is he.

Guard your heart above all else,
for it determines the course of your life.

From the dream of many years ago to the reality of what I drive, now, a 2011 Ford Lariat King Ranch pickup, I told the story for the merit of the journey, not the destination. The value of the Builder is much more important than any Empire.

Rocky Mountain High

As I looked into the eyes of my lunch partner, he seemed to understand the moral of the story: To get ahead, the mind and heart are our greatest resources. Of all the men I know, if push came to shove, the one I want watching my back is this young man with great questions.

He has dreams of a ranch, cows, and horses.

His grandfather and I came down from setting roof trusses on the day this young dreamer brightened our world. As a Leo, he is a King and I believe a Ranch will be his, someday.

www.kimfoard.com

The ‘ould Conspiracy

Thinking One CanThinking One Can

A little girl commented, “Dad you seem to know which people are big-hearted, good-hearted, and even those who have a heart of gold. How can I know?” His answer, “Just listen to what they say.”

It is true. From the abundance of the heart, we speak.

While the words big, good, and gold are subject to the foibles of semantics, the ‘ould words are definitive in their usage and meaning. When we hear them, a judgment is being made. The words are: Could, Should, and Would.

In fact, there are three degrees of judgment:

  • Of Others
  • Of Ourselves
  • Of Providence

Human nature loves to find the faults in others. If we think our discomfort is caused by another person, then our response becomes, almost, a religious experience. Magically, we are shrouded with the belief that, somehow, we are absolved from any responsibility for the situation. So, when the ‘ould words are used in judgment of what someone else could, should, and would do, I think of the adage, “We get what we allow.”

Less egregious, although just as damaging, is when the ‘ould words are used by us against ourselves. As Pogo acknowledged, “I have seen the enemy and he is us.” In combination with “I could have …”, “I should have …”, and “I would have …”, listen for how many times the individual saying those things, also utters the little word “Try”.

While the four-letter word “Can’t” is clear in communicating inaction, the three-letter word “Try” is sinister. At best it is misdirection and at worst it is manipulative.

As proof to this premise, do this exercise with me. Take a pen into your hand. Now, stretch your arm straight out, parallel with the floor, and “try” to drop the pen. One of two things will happen: You will either hold onto the pen; or, you will drop it.  No try to it.  It is a matter of will. You either don’t; or, you do.

The final and only legitimate usage of the ‘ould words is when we’re communicating the contrast of our frailties to the mysteries of Providence.

For example, this is a favorite explanation of Commitment:

Until one is committed
There is hesitancy, the chance to draw back,
Always ineffectiveness.
Concerning all acts of initiative (and creation),
There is one elementary truth,
The ignorance of which kills countless ideas
And splendid plans:
That the moment one definitely commits oneself,
Then Providence moves too.
All sorts of things occur to help one
That would never otherwise have occurred.
A whole stream of events issues from the decision
Raising in one’s favor all manner
Of unforeseen incidents and meetings
And material assistance,
Which no person could have dreamt
Would have come their way. 

I have learned a deep respect for one of Goethe’s couplets:

Whatever you can do, or dream you can, begin it.
Boldness has genius, power, and magic in it.

While temptation is strong to find all the reasons why we couldn’t, shouldn’t, or wouldn’t do something, there really is no excuse. Ours is not to judge; ours is to do!

My favorite childhood book was The Little Engine That Could. It is a story about optimism and hard work. The underlying theme is of a stranded train that is unable to find an engine willing to take it over a mountain to its destination. Only the little blue engine is willing. While repeating the mantra “I think I can, I think I can …”, it overcomes a seemingly impossible task.

Whether we think we can’t, or think we can, that is what we will do.

All We Do Begins With A Thought!

www.kimfoard.com

Credits:
The Little Engine
Book Cover Illustration

Three Little Words

Listen to your Heart

When my twenty-four year old daughter takes time to draft an email reply for the sole purpose of teasing me, I know my efforts to tickle the keyboard in hopes of reaching her funny-bone have been successful.

Hey Dad!  Thanks for the note. My first question would have to be: What’s this about me being in a cylinder practicing the “3×5” with a Roman soldier?!  LOL!  …Sorry! Couldn’t resist!!!  haha..!  The vines were kinda swingin’ and swayin’ there for a while, but I’m pretty sure I read between em! 🙂 Thanks, Dad. Love you too!

My daughter has grown up in an era where “equality” has been the mantra.

A quote attributed to William Wrigley, Jr. gives pause to this notion of equality of the sexes: “When two men in business always agree, one of them is unnecessary.”

If we have come so far in our “evolution” that there is no difference between men and women, “Which gender will volunteer to disappear?” Or, “Which gender thinks the other is unnecessary?”

The introduction of the email to my daughter contained this observation from, and about, me:

For some crazy reason, tough guys struggle with expressing their love. Words don’t seem to do it. So, we swing through the jungle to show you how much we care.

As a student of relationship strategies, I’ve discovered many models present theorems based on quadrants. The DISC profile uses descriptors of Dominance, Influence, Steadiness and Conscientious. The KWML profile uses descriptors of King, Warrior, Magician and Lover.

In the course of “doing the parent thing” to my daughter, and her twenty-one year old brother, they have both been exposed to KWML, as an introduction to the notion that we are, all, unique and different – hard-wired at birth into one of the four quadrants. The fun is growing towards the other three and maturing to the point where we are “centered” and balanced.

Since I’ve incorporated the spectrum opposites of logic and emotion into my “Cowboy Poet & Philadelphia Lawyer” shtick, the stage was set for the email communication to my “little girl.” Rather than do the parent thing to her, one more time, the presentation was as if she had joined a conversation that I was having with a friend:

The Poet speaks of the feelings of an ever expanding heart, purpose and fate. The Warrior thinks in terms of logistics.

Remember that sea of umbrella toting singles? If you look closely, you will also see two other groups. There are those waifs, who have no umbrella and wait to be rescued from the consequences of their choices. And, there are those poor souls, who are hermetically sealed inside their bubble of bitterness. If you look even closer, what at first glance appeared to be umbrellas are actually shields held by the Warriors.

They are fully equipped to Serve, Share and Smile (The 3×5). Their gear includes the belt of truth, breastplate of righteousness, shoes ready to pursue peace, shield of faith, helmet of insight, and the light saber of the Spirit. Giving the lead role to Kings, the stage to Magicians, and the sanctuary to Poets, these Warriors can be found on the fringes of the crowd thinking, “You are all safe on my watch.”

This one does it all believing, someday, a woman will choose to fold her umbrella, step close, wrap feminine arms around her man and express from the bottom of her soul, “Oh, my hero!”

My daughter will turn 24 in September. Her moniker is Foard Tuff, a word play on the original Ford Tough displayed at the Dealership where she works. In fact, the local community refers to her as the Ford Girl. Little do they know that she is a one-of-a-kind Foard Girl. She thinks it’s funnier than heck.

Dads have been known to be prejudicial. This one confesses in full. I’m very proud of my daughter. As her high school math teacher gushed in a Parent-Teacher Conference, “Your daughter is the perfect student. She does everything asked of her and does some things just for herself.” From high school and the extra-curricular activities within the community, she worked her way through college and a couple of relationships, enjoyed a bidding war for her talents in December of her senior year of college between the Ford Dealership (where she had worked for the last two years of college) and a Website Design firm (where she had worked the year before that) until she finally said, “Dad, it’s not about the money. I love my job!”

Gifted in all things creative, her umbrella is quite colorful. She holds it with a strong arm and a gracious spirit. Do I want some beast of a fellow to “trample her bloom”? We, both, know the answer to that silly question.

What I believe, and hope, is that someday there will be a gentle bear of a man dressed in his Roman Soldier finest, who is ready to practice the “3×5” with my daughter. At that time she can fold her umbrella and join him in the cylinder of protection he offers.

Should she pretend her umbrella no longer exists, destroy it, or have it locked away to atrophy? Again, the answer is, “No.”; “No, thanks and no way …”; to the definitive, “Heck, no!”

As much as that hero of hers will become a better man with her arms around him, he is only human. There will be times when his arms become tired and, as hard as it is for a guy to do, he will need to ask for her help in shielding them. Other times, the wind of fate will rip his shield to pieces and enemies will slash it to ribbons. While he repairs the damage, it will be my daughter’s umbrella protecting them.

On a daily basis, she will need her umbrella to journey through the day, just as he will need his shield in the daily course of battle. The secret to all of this is that as he drags home the trophy dragon at the end of his day, his life has purpose and that shield has real meaning because of a woman who chooses to fold her umbrella at the end of her day and wrap her arms around him – one more time.

The moral of this story:

Men are invigorated by knowing they are Respected. They need to hear and experience the actions that flow from these three little words,

“Oh, my hero!”

Women are nourished by knowing they are Cherished. They need to hear and experience the actions that flow from these three little words,

“I love you!”

www.kimfoard.com

Power Of One

We have all witnessed the spectacle of someone in front of a crowd banging on their drum, making noise and giving the appearance of a parade, when in reality, they were being run out of town. Those who once followed are now in pursuit! The scene captures the essence of human nature: we’re constantly moving toward something.

The ancient scholars gave instruction that we cannot serve two masters. We will love one and hate the other. The one who hung one sun and one moon in the sky of our unique earth, as a reminder that there is one designer and master builder, is known simply as “I Am.” Acknowledging that higher power allows us, as an instrument of His goodness, to boldly proclaim, “I’m the leader of one and boss of me.”

At the beginning of each new day is a reminder of our limitations, as we subject ourselves to the law of gravity and put on our pants, one leg at a time. Then, with a knee bent, we remember the one great commandment, “Love the Lord with all your heart, soul, mind and strength.” And, one similar, “Love your neighbor as yourself.”

A working definition of love might be, “Love is patient, Love is kind, It rejoices with the truth, Always protects, Always trusts, Always hopes, Always perseveres.” The result of that effort will always be growth in ourselves and others. The secret mantra is, “If It Is To Be, It Is Up To Me.” It is impossible to drag (or, ride on the coat-tails of) anyone else to any destination.

In the course of our journey, we will discover “one more” as the difference between failure and success. Our greatest success comes when we commit to a singular focus: able and willing to give our all for that one choice. We can choose to make the world better for days by planting flowers; we can improve it for years by planting trees; and, we can change it forever by planting ideals in the minds of those we touch.

From one tiny seed grows much. Whether a bountiful garden, productive orchard, or fruitful life, it all begins with a single thought. Individually, we have the right to choose. More than a right, it is a responsibility. As students of life, we begin with a choice of teachers, coaches, mentors, and heroes. At some point in our growth, we become the teacher and accept the mantle of leadership to guide another on the path they have chosen.

To do so, we become their servant. As a shepherd cares for a flock, we lead by gentle nudges. It is then we understand the story of twelve guys debating among themselves who would be the greatest and the Master replied, “Whoever wants to be first must take last place and be the servant of everyone else.”

Whatever you can do, or dream you can, begin it.

Boldness has power, genius, and magic in it.

www.kimfoard.com

Rainbow Rider

Life is presented to us on a spectrum. Sometimes, we lose sight of that.

To illustrate this concept, if we raise our arms to the height of our shoulders, an axis line is established. It runs from the fingertips of one hand, through our heart and soul, out to the fingertips of our other hand. Now, if we picture in our minds eye the innumerable arcs that stretch from fingertip to fingertip, we understand spectrums.

On the one hand we have this — on the other hand we have that. Our left hand is opposite our right hand. They are different and unique, working together individually to accomplish a greater good. We would never think to dismiss one in favor of the other. We’re reminded of their mutual importance when we try to zip with one hand.

While some may believe the universe revolves around them, our control is limited to the two hands connected to the core of our heart and soul. As we expand the analogy of spectrums, we find the sphere of our earth. An imaginary axis line that man uses as reference, exits at the opposite Polar Regions, establishing North and South. Between the poles, we have the Equator, which is defined by East and West.

North is as opposite and as far from South, as East is from West. Wherever you are right now, look into the distance towards your favorite direction. Can you believe that you are standing on the “X” of spectrums, marking the exact spot which is the beginning of a journey halfway around the world in any direction?

The choice is ours. We limit ourselves by anchoring to a favorite spot and then whining about what is in sight. We forget that our view is always limited by the spectrum curve.

Now, with the stage set, think of a rainbow — the most vivid spectrum of reality and imagination. Folk lore provides for a pot of gold at each end. Streaming from one to the other is a gorgeous spectrum of color.

Life is a journey of contrasts. We have good times and bad times. The effort required to go up a mountain is rewarded by the tummy-tickle at the top as we coast down into the valley below. The straight stretches of highway allow us to set the cruise control, while the switchbacks provide for a white-knuckle focus of attention.

There is treasure to be found at the extremes. From the grief of loss to the ecstasy of triumph, we are rewarded from the pot of gold at each end of that rainbow of experience.

After a storm, a rainbow is given as a sign of hope and a reminder to ride the spectrum of life. As any good bull rider knows, we must ride “jump for jump” — while staying centered and balanced on top. That’s where the view is the best!

www.kimfoard.com