Success in a Can

Success in a CanThere is a, guaranteed, way to success and happiness.

In fact, we already have all of the ingredients necessary to make the lives of which we dream. The secret is in the mixing, baking, and serving.

We begin with a Can.

“Can of what?!” you may ask.

There is one four-letter word uglier than all others: Can’t. It paralyzes, taints, marginalizes, and prevents richness of life. By eliminating the “apostrophe t”, we Can. In fact, by choosing to see that T as a positive; we can transform it into a powerful catalyst: Think.

We Can Think.

All we do begins with a thought.

Maybe that’s why we are instructed to, “Guard your heart above all else, for it determines the course of your life.

It, literally, is impossible to guard an absence, a void, a lack, or a negative. Mother Nature hates a vacuum. We either plant good seeds to produce crops of value, or weeds will grow. Once seeds of good character are planted, we have something to nurture and guard.

From the core of who we are, what we want, how we give, why we care, and where we direct our efforts, flows the essence of Can.

This is my Can: I can offer a disciplined commitment to Enlighten, Empower, and Encourage entrepreneurs to: consider options, set goals, and continuously innovate.

The contents of your Can will be different.

Why is my Can important to success and happiness?

Because, regardless of any attack on my heart, I can respond positively to the threat by choosing to apply the Three-E Formula: “Enlighten, Empower and Encourage.” By giving that, I receive the same back. My heart is safe.

~ Enlighten

We always have options. Even if physical resources are limited, we still have the emotional, mental, and spiritual sources of inspiration, to choose our response to any situation. A choice to say, “I can!” will enable us to continue forward progress.

~ Empower

We arrive at a destination by choosing one. To move from here to there, we need a There: a destination, a target, a goal. Some goals are tangible; others are intangible. They are unique to the individual. Pick one.

~ Encourage

We grow by pushing at the edge of the artificial boundary of who we were, yesterday. Right here, right now, it’s great to be alive. 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.

As we are “mixing” in the blender of life, remember to remain enlightened; we always have options. As we are “baking” in the oven of trials-by-fire, remember to stay empowered; we can focus on the end result. As we are “serving” in the delivery of goodness to the world, remember to be encouraged; growth is possible by giving our efforts to make the best of any situation.

It all begins with a Can.

I think I can!

www.kimfoard.com

Help Yourself

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

Blinkin` Thinkin`

Blinkin' Thinkin'Only in my wildest imaginations might I have guessed that the answer to making the world a better place would come from a Ford Service Advisor in a dealership far, far, away.

In her opinion, the problem with people is a warranty. You know: An Entitlement.

She went on to explain, “Regular customers want their vehicle serviced, or need something fixed, and they are able and willing to pay for it. Warranty customers are demanding and are usually disappointed in something we say, or do.”

I’m glad it was a telephone conversation, because I cringed. It was as if I had crested a hill and the sky was alive with emergency flashers, blinking wildly: This is important; pay attention. At least once a year, I struggle to keep my emotions in check. The last time involved an episode over a warranty.

Last year, I purchased a brand new, redesigned, Ford Lariat F-150, pick-’em-up truck. One of the first things I noticed was that it cornered like it was on rails. In making one of those corners, I reached across the padded center console to get a grip. What I felt was other than smooth.

As I got home, parked, and went over to the passenger side to take a look, I found a break in the leather upholstery. Just a flaw in the material, I thought. The local dealership took a look, listened and agreed with my interpretation of the situation. After receiving photos taken by the dealership, Ford Motor Company said, “No. Looks like abuse by the customer.”

Now, many times, after putting 80,000 miles on a rig, I have been teased about that new showroom look, by friends. Strangers will hop in and make a comment, “Well, I can tell: no kids and no dogs!” (Been there; done that: another story for another day.) Never have I been accused of vehicle abuse!

Since I’ve been working hard for the last several years to build a better me, I was able to practice keeping my words gracious. I’m pretty sure my facial expressions, body language and tone of voice were all screaming like a toddler.

All because of a bad belief, that: I was entitled to special treatment.

Every day, we hear reference to Entitlement Programs designed by our Government to help us:

  • Like Unemployment Benefits: really, is it a benefit? I thought having the skills to work and provide value to the marketplace, with or without a job, is a benefit.
  • Like Social Security: really, is it security? I thought tapping into a passion for life and using our unique gifts for the benefit of others is always in style.
  • Like Public Education: really, is it education? I thought preserving our individuality and creativity, to discover new and better ways, brightens each step of our journeys.
  • Like Health Care: really, is it care? I thought Customers only care about what Professionals know, after they know how much we care, by carefully listening.

Who, really, cares the most about you and your family? Yes; you do.

In the strictest sense of the word and as we break it down into its true meaning, the word “En-title-ment” simply means: to give a Title, raise in Rank, assign to a higher Position. For those into Pedestals, good luck with that. For the rest of us, please, with help like that: who needs it?! In fact, Government can be explained in the words of Pogo: I have seen the enemy and he is us!

Each of the social programs was created with pure intent: to provide a bridge to opportunity. They can never be a way of life. Life does not come with a warranty and intelligence does not arise from legislation; to believe so is pure, unadulterated, stinkin’ thinkin’. In fact, to live so is to remain immature. In this case, though, no one is available to change the diaper.

There is a story about Henry Ford wanting a V-8 engine for his automobiles. He asked his engineers to make one. After several months, they returned to say it couldn’t be done. Henry explained why it was important for families to travel in safety, with the increased power of more horses under the hood.

Off the engineers went, to try, again. After many more months and with conviction, they reported that the task was impossible. Henry said firmly, “Boys, you don’t understand. You can either build me a V-8 engine, or I will find someone who can.” They built Henry his V-8.

In recognition, comes this quote: Whether you think you can, or can’t, you’re right.

At the crossroads of life, when you come to the moment of decision, remember your choices: Stinkin’ Thinkin’ or Blinkin’ Thinkin’.

Please, choose wisely!

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 the 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