Take the Next Step

Take the Next Step

How many metaphors are there, for Life?

Life is a journey.
Life is a dance.
Life is like riding a bike.

Yes, and, many, many more. Yet, these three offer food for thought. Each of them involve choice and movement.

Pedal, or tip over.
Shift balance, or fall down.
Take the next step, or stay stuck.

In other words, the mantra for successful living is, “Up to, and through.”

Yep. The secret is to step right up to the edge of fear and push through to the other side. Oh, does that ever feel so, very, good! And, then, if we bask in the glory too long, regrets of the Past and anxieties of the Future sneak up on us.

This is the magic elixir to replace fear with courage.

Take ~

Life is what we make of it. Grab the bull by the horns and the tiger by the tail. Hop aboard the carousel and reach for the brass ring. The best way to receive all we want and need is to take the time to serve the wants and needs of others.

The ~

This is it folks. This moment will never happen, again. Right here, right now, it’s great to be alive. Those who hesitate are lost. The early bird gets the worm. The victory goes to the quick. There is no time like the Present.

Next ~

Forget the Past. It’s gone. Ignore the Future. It will be there patiently waiting. Ask any bull rider their secret and you’ll hear, “I just ride ‘em jump for jump.” Their mind is centered on that one jump, which follows the last and comes right before the next.

Step ~

Action is the catalyst to move from Here to There. Increase the action and results increase, too. For every cause, there is an effect. Want warmth? Throw wood on the fire. Want friends? Act friendly. Want to be happy? Smile.

At some point in the journey of life, many of us have been guilty of wanting to arrive. You know, “Set a goal, work hard, get there, and, then, desire to camp out, rest, coast, play, and otherwise goof off.” Then IT happens, regrets of the Past and anxieties of the Future sneak up on us.

Or, there are those who can’t make up their mind. They take forever to make a decision and, then, are quick to change direction. Whatever direction the wind is blowing, they drift with it. In contrast, are the achievers, who are quick to decide and slow to change course.

In setting a course, peaks trump plateaus. To reach any peak requires a climb from the valley below. The view from the top is an opportunity to see higher vistas. Then, down we go, coasting into another valley, to begin the ascent to higher levels of accomplishment.

Whatever the mind can Conceive and Believe, it can Achieve.

Let’s boldly take the next step.

www.kimfoard.com

Successful Failures

Ask the average person if they want to fail and the answer is, generally, an emphatic, “No way!”

Please, take just a moment to grab a piece of paper and pen. On the paper draw a Dot representative of YOU. Now, write the two words Failure and Success on your paper.

Did you write Success above YOU and Failure below YOU?

Or, is your diagram more like a fork in the road, with Failure to the left and Success to the right?

Or, maybe your drawing is that of a straight-line, with YOU stuck in the middle between Failure and Success?

Many of us have experienced the frustration of paralysis analysis. Do we go up, or down? Do we go left, or right? Or, maybe we’re just stuck: not wanting to slip backwards into Failure; yet, fearful of the steps, forward, toward Success.

Query any successful individual about their journey and, inevitably, you’ll hear stories about “trips through the desert.” Only, through the obstacles, disappointments, mistakes, and (Yes!) failures did they learn the lessons resulting in, eventual, success.

There are choices, we make, about the roads we travel. Character does matter. Those who choose the high-road of service will experience the benefits of a marvelous destination. The view is better from the top.

Although … the destination matters less than the journey. In fact, when enjoying a life of abundance, we never do fully arrive. Learn, grow, stretch, and climb as far as we can and, guaranteed, there will be new vistas to explore.

Examples are everywhere of individuals failing their way to success: Thomas Edison, Abraham Lincoln, Michael Jordan, Walt Disney, Henry Ford, Bill Gates, and many, many, others. There is a common theme to their success.

Edison: One day, an assistant asked him why he didn’t give up. After all, he failed over a thousand times. Edison replied that he had not failed once. He had discovered over 1000 things that don’t work.

Jordan: I have failed over and over and over again in my life. And, that is why I succeed.

The, only, way to success is through failure.

Are people laughing at you, because of their judgment of your failure? Smile right back, because they can’t do what you will accomplish. Somewhere, beyond the lessons learned, is something important to you. Push forward, take the next step, and you will arrive.

When you do (what others claim to be impossible), then what? What is success? Is it a destination, or is it a journey? One of the better definitions, by Earl Nightingale: Success is the progressive realization of a worthy ideal.

Now, we have the secret to why so many are stuck in paralysis analysis. They’re trying to decide which way to turn, when all they really need to do is: Dream big, have belief, take the first step, and then the one after that.

Those who do sacrifice the compulsion to talk for an investment in action. One of their beliefs is that short-term pain is the price to enjoy the value of long-term pleasure.

The pleasure will not be in arriving. It will be in the progressive realization of a worthy ideal. And, when that dream morphs into reality (through the journey of many steps), a successful person lifts their eyes to the horizon of new opportunity.

They smile, again, as they take the first step toward the next failure waiting on the road to another success.

Let’s boldly run in the direction of our dreams. Between here and there will be many failures of our efforts. Beyond the failures is success. In time, we proudly wear the badge engraved with our status: Successful Failure.

Forever, we march forward in progressive realization of a worthy ideal.

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

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

The Want To

To The CloudsA dream without fuel is simply a fantasy. The propulsion forward into reality is only possible with a force more powerful than TNT. Rather than blow up the bridges behind us to ensure motivation, we can leave them in place for the benefit of others and continue our journey, forward. We will use the one true force of accomplishment, TWT: The Want To.

Playing not to lose is entirely different from playing to win. Fighting to stay alive is a poor substitute for living to make a difference in the world.

While on the battlefield, it may be necessary to blow up bridges to protect a flank and motivate troops to focus on a forward objective. In our civilian arenas, let’s focus on leaving the past and ignoring the temptation to go back, by using a force greater than the physical. It is often given lip service and is known by its many names: Commitment; Self-control; Willpower. We will examine the powerful force of The Want To.

Those limited to physical resources will, always, be at a disadvantage to the individuals harnessing higher powers.

Character vs. Brute Strength
Better to be patient than powerful; better to have self-control than to conquer a city.

Vulnerable to Attack
A person without self-control is like a city with broken-down walls.

Lack of Focus
No one can serve two masters. For you will hate one and love the other; you will be devoted to one and despise the other.

By now, it is obvious that the inherent power of “The Want To” comes from a mental, emotional, and spiritual commitment to a single choice; by choosing one, we forego all others.

When asked to give a definition of the word Commitment, many are visibly puzzled and perplexed. Since a picture is worth a thousand words, the analogy of a skydiver relieves the tension and provides an image to explain commitment.

Simply: the skydiver is either in the plane; or, out of the plane. While those anchored to the ground want to debate the merits of “Try, Maybe and Fence-sitting”, there is never a “third” option. The choices are: In; or, Out.

At the moment our skydiver leaves the plane, there is no going back. They are committed to a rendezvous with the ground. Now, there are, still, two choices: Smack hard; or, land safely. Except for those with a death wish, the singular focus becomes one of enjoying the trip and executing a graceful touchdown.

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.

(—W. H. Murray, The Scottish Himalayan Expedition)

Those individuals with a life wish understand the importance of injecting The Want To into their decisions. They are able to live the Australian expression of, “No worries mate!” Their focus is on seeking, first, those facets of life more important than the physical. The lesson they learn: Easy is hard; hard is easy.

Doing right is harder than doing wrongBuilding is harder than destroyingAsking, Seeking, and Knocking is harder than Whining, Hiding, and Pouting. Those fueled with TWT know that all of the physical goals and conquests will be theirs, too!

www.kimfoard.com

Freedom

Liberty and Freedom At The Core

From the song written by Kris Kristofferson and Fred Foster, Me and Bobby McGee, comes the line, “Freedom is just another word for nothing left to lose.”

The powerful, rhyming, complement in verse is what I offer for consideration, “We all have the free will to choose.”

In the darkest depths of war and in the slavery of a Nazi concentration camp, Viktor Frankl discovered true freedom.

A thought transfixed me: for the first time in my life I saw the truth as it is set into song by so many poets, proclaimed as the final wisdom by so many thinkers. The truth — that love is the ultimate and the highest goal to which man can aspire. Then I grasped the meaning of the greatest secret that human poetry and human thought and belief have to impart: The salvation of man is through love and in love. I understood how a man who has nothing left in this world still may know bliss, be it only for a brief moment, in the contemplation of his beloved. In a position of utter desolation, when man cannot express himself in positive action, when his only achievement may consist in enduring his sufferings in the right way—an honorable way—in such a position man can, through loving contemplation of the image he carries of his beloved, achieve fulfillment. For the first time in my life I was able to understand the meaning of the words, “The angels are lost in perpetual contemplation of an infinite glory….

More from the Wikipedia article:

He (Frankl) often said that even within the narrow boundaries of the concentration camps he found only two races of men to exist: decent and unprincipled ones. These were to be found in all classes, ethnicities, and groups. Following this line of thinking, he once recommended that the Statue of Liberty on the East coast of the United States be complemented by a Statue of Responsibility on the West coast.

Quoting from the Statute of Responsibility Foundation:

The Statue of Liberty has served as a symbol of liberty, both in America and throughout the world. Its counterpart, the Statue of Responsibility, will likewise serve as a symbol – a visible representation and call to responsibility – both in America and abroad. These two principles – liberty and responsibility – when linked together, will help engender and secure freedom for the present generation, and for generations yet unborn, wherever a thirst for freedom exists. Only by balancing Liberty with Responsibility can Freedom be sustained.

In other words, our freedom to choose is not a license to harm others. Our choices must be within the parameters of what is: Right, Just and Fair.

Loss of Freedom

Granted, the concepts inherent within the words Right, Just and Fair are intangibles; hard to understand and measure. So, the temptation is strong to take the easy path of materialism. The accumulation of Stuff becomes a way of life. It is visible to all, very tangible, measurable, flaunt-able, and laughable. Because: We do not own things; Things own us. As a result, true freedom is lost.

A wise, farmer, friend brought to my attention the fact that Mother Nature hates a vacuum. In his words, “You either plant seeds to produce a crop of value, or weeds will grow.”

So it is with our life. We either nurture the character required to produce liberty and responsibility, or a society of selfishness emerges.

The secret to happiness and freedom is found in: A belief that we are wonderful chunks of conduit for the goodness from above to flow through us for the benefit of others.

Our value is not in who we are; it is in what we allow to flow at the core. We have the freedom to choose the object of our service. That choice will determine every thought and action.

Love Is ...

Some will gain the whole world and lose their soul. Others will embrace suffering and sacrifice in their journey to finding the true self.

The first group will be concerned about “keeping up with the Joneses” and “what others think about them”.

The second group has nothing to lose and everything to gain. They understand: The salvation of man is through love and in love.

As the song Me and Bobby McGee concludes, we hear the rest of the chorus: “Nothing ain’t worth nothing but it’s free.”

www.kimfoard.com

Points of Light

The gleam in a father’s eye is waiting for each of us as we emerge from darkness into the brightness of life. In fact, the eyes of new dads get a little misty as they witness the miracle of birth!

As days go by, the initial excitement dovetails into the responsibilities of fatherhood. Oh, how grand are the visions of being the perfect dad. Then, we encounter the reality of how messy relationships really are!

Although, literally, tongue-tied upon entry into this world, once that little member was set free, my insatiable curiosity was the driving force behind the questions in my mind. It was the beginning of my twenty-question routine, which later morphed into the Cowboy Poet & Philadelphia Lawyer shtick!

Around ten years of age and in the 4th Grade, I started to notice girls. The one with blond hair, blue eyes and straight A’s had captured my full attention. At that age, boys will be boys, and we were learning cockiness, which naturally included the art of swearing. In the course of our classroom studies of spelling and vocabulary, we never seemed to get around to the definitions of what some of those four letter words meant.

One word, in particular, was especially mysterious to our adolescent group. Since this was before the day of Google Searches and the conversation around the dinner table one evening seemed conducive to a question, I asked my parents. Swivel-neck is the best visual I can offer to explain their response. In a millisecond, their facial expressions and body language spoke volumes. Only problem: I didn’t understand the language!

Hand in HandNext day, I received a book from Mom. The following weekend, during Christmas Vacation, Dad and I were on foot behind a small group of cows as they were following the pickup to a new pasture. There was a skift of snow and all the grasses were dry, with heads full of grain. Dad reached down and pulled a handful of needle-grass. As he rubbed the seed into the palm of his hand the name was obvious: a thin strand was attached to each seed of grain, which gave it the appearance of a needle and thread.

I knew something was up because he gave a nervous sniff and cough before beginning what he had to share. Since a picture is worth a thousand words, he wanted the needle-grass seeds in the palm of his hand to emphasize the point. All I remember of what he said was something about swimming, wiggling and eggs. Then he paused, literally; we stopped walking. He turned, with relief in his face, and assured me that the only intimate relationship I was going to have to worry about until high-school graduation was the one with my horse!

Daddy’s Hands
Artist: Holly Dunn

Daddy’s hands were soft and kind when I was cryin’.
Daddy’s hands were hard as steel when I’d done wrong.
Daddy’s hands weren’t always gentle,
But I’ve come to understand.
There was always love in Daddy’s hands.

True to Dad’s word, I developed a special relationship with that horse. In fact, the very next summer found the two of us engaged in a “mind meld” experience as we convinced a bunch of bulls to do it our way. Dad was nowhere in sight, ours anyway. With hindsight and a son of my own, I have a sneaking suspicion that Dad was on top of a hill enjoying the rodeo!

He had this crooked grin on his face as we pushed a dozen bulls through the pasture gate and then he turned back, stepped off his horse and closed the gate between us. As he stood safely on his side of the gate, his hand was gesturing towards the west; where I and the bulls were to go. Just a few miles through the hills and he would bring the stock-truck (olden days: before horse-trailers were invented) to haul my horse back home. That was the plan.

Note to self: “What the heck is he thinking?! I’m just a kid. Is he serious?! The odds aren’t quite fair: one of me and a dozen bulls!” As he swung back up onto his horse and rode away, I had my answer.

Dad’s brother, my uncle John Foard, tells a story about their dad. He would line out his sons (four of them) on a project, by explaining what he wanted done, omitting most of the details of how to do it. Before he left, though, he would turn and ask, “Now you boys can do that, right?” In John’s words, “There was no way in hell we were going to tell him, No!”

Because of the anxiety of the journey ahead with those bulls, I have no memory of what, surely, must have been the same question of me. The answer, though, was a given! Now, all I had to do was figure out how to get from Point A to B.

Cows, being of the feminine gender, generally, tend to be fairly social. They stick together. Where one goes, they all go. Bulls, on the other hand, must strut their stuff, separate and apart from anyone else: twelve bulls; twelve different directions. Unless, they’re on the run. Typical male approach to the world: one thing at a time.

One of me, one direction to go. So, I gathered up the corners of what seemed like a herd of cats and off we went, at a jog. Once they tired a little, the pace slowed. Then, in the middle of the whole dang show were shade trees and a waterhole, wouldn’t you know. Bogged-down is inadequate to describe the revenge taken by the bulls. As they stood belly deep in mud, peeking out from behind what had quickly become their favorite thicket, the unspoken jeers were worthy of a solution.

My horse almost put a kink in his neck turning back to look at me. We were thinking the same thing: this was ugly and it was going to get messy. There was only one way to do it, though. Pry out one bull at a time; and, make a good example out of that first one. So, we picked the one giving us the dirtiest look and went to work on him.

By then, I had uncoiled several loops of lariat to just the right length, to pop that knot on the end like a whip. That old bull winced a little and stood his ground. Just what we thought: no easy way to do this. So, into the mud we went with my horse leaning into him, while I shortened the length of the rope whip. The combination resulted in the bull, grudgingly, taking a few steps.

My horse and I were of the same mind to enhance one of the laws of physics: what is in motion stays in motion. In fact, we wanted that bull to catch a gear! Once we had him on dry ground, up and over a small knoll into some green grass was where we took him. As we headed back for Number 2, my choice of words to describe our frustration included a few of those four-letter ones; admittedly, even some directed at Dad. After a few more trips to that spot of green, the mud-hole bulls began to wonder what they were missing and volunteered to follow their peers.

I’ll never forget the smile on his face and the twinkle in his eye as Dad stood there by the open gate as a dozen bulls paraded past. Whether he had been watching, or not, he knew what was required to pass his test. He asked how it went. I said, “Good.”

Lessons Learned
Artist: Tracy Lawrence

I was ten years old the day I got caught,
With some dime store candy that I never bought.
I hung my head and I faced the wall,
as Daddy showed me wrong from right.
He said this hurts me more than it does you;
There’s just some things son that you just don’t do.
Is anything I’m sayin’ getting through? Daddy I can see the light.
Oh lessons learned; man they sure run deep.
They don’t go away and they don’t come cheap.
Oh there’s no way around it, this world turns on lessons learned.

A few years ago, there was occasion for me to say to my son and daughter, “Now, I want you to watch me.” They cocked their heads and gave me the Scooby Doo, “Huh?!”

The intent was pure: rather than listen to words, which are cheaper by the dozen; I wanted them to watch the actions and results. Recently, I’ve had to laugh at how funny “we” can be. Sure enough, they have watched me: fall down, make mistakes, be humbled, admit frailties, and, generally, be a perfectly normal dad. Even funnier is the realization that they have watched all of that from the very beginning. Why I thought they, as teenagers, needed to be reminded is still a mystery. Guess it explains the Scooby Doo response from them, though!

I watched my Dad give all. Late in his life was an occasion to defend his honor. A couple of clowns wanted to take issue with his silent creed: “I am bound to live up to the light I have. I must stand with anyone who stands right, stand with him while he is right and part with him when he goes wrong.”

While true to his core, those other two guys needed to understand a little more about my Dad. Known to be verbose, I thought a better approach was to use a song, recently released at the time, to make my point. So, the four of us listened together.

Point of Light
Artist: Randy Travis

There is a point when you cannot walk away,
When you have to stand up straight and tall and mean the words you say.
There is a point you must decide just to do it ’cause it’s right.
That’s when you become a point of light.

There is a darkness that everyone must face.
It wants to take what’s good and fair and lay it all to waste.
And that darkness covers everything in sight
Until it meets a single point of light.

All it takes is a point of light,
A ray of hope in the darkest night.
If you see what’s wrong and you try to make it right,
You will be a point of light.

There are heroes whose names we never hear,
A dedicated army of quiet volunteers
Reaching out to feed the hungry,
Reaching out to save the land,
Reaching out to help their fellow man.

There are dreamers who are making dreams come true,
Taking time to teach the children
There’s nothing they can’t do,
Giving shelter to the homeless,
Giving hope to those without.
Isn’t that what this land’s all about?

One by one, from the mountains to the sea
Points of light are calling out to you and me.

All it takes is a point of light,
A ray of hope in the darkest night.
If you see what’s wrong and you try to make it right,
You will be a point of light.

If you see what’s wrong and you try and make it right,
you will be a point of light.

At the end of 3 minutes and 34 seconds, two heads were bowed in disgrace. Dad and I, with heads held high, were looking at each other remembering an open gate and a dozen bulls. My hope is that Lindsey and Ryan, each, have a special memory of me to be their point of light.

www.kimfoard.com

Feedback Three-Step

Dancing ChildrenCircles of Life

Baby’s first step is cause for celebration! Even for us older kids, first steps can be special times of celebration and acknowledgment.

They are, always, the beginning of a journey to discovery.

Sometimes we follow the first step with a second. Other times that first step forward is followed by two steps backwards.

Regardless of the pattern, we are dancing!

Those who love to dance know about the Two-Step. If we are to dance our way into the hearts, minds, and souls of those about whom we care deeply, maybe, it’s time we learn the Three-Step. It is much more than leading with our good foot and, then, dragging the other behind. In fact, it has nothing to do with our feet and everything to do with our heads.

Communication is what the listener does.

While there are many mediums available for communication, the most popular is — Words. Some of us use many, while other individuals use few. We all use them constantly to express our thoughts and ideas to others. Our messages are composed of two elements: Content and Context.

Guaranteed — the words I choose and the intent behind them will be heard and understood differently by each person, who receives them. They will be filtered though the education and experience of that person. And, they will mean something different to that individual, depending on the day and mood.

Since Certified Public Accountants are trained in probabilities, let’s look at the odds of being heard and understood. Setting aside that which is beyond our control (the context within which our message will be received), let’s take a look at the content.

A researcher named Mehrabian was interested in how listeners get their information. The results: 55% from the visual component, 38% from the auditory component and 7% from the language. Our words account for only 7% of comprehension. Have you ever wondered why emails are misunderstood?!Feedback Model

Regardless of how elegantly we Transmit, the logic and emotion of the Receiver is beyond our control. With the first two steps of this communication dance, we have made noise and they have heard sound. Communication is yet to be accomplished.

The third, and most important, step is Feedback. The communication circuit is complete, only, when the Receiver is courageous enough to Transmit back what they have heard and understood.

In our daily life, we take for granted closed circuits. We flip the switch and the lights come on. Thus, we have reinforced a truth — Electricity will only flow in a completed circuit. Why then do we insist on wandering around in the dark while refusing to complete our communication circuits? We complete them by giving Feedback.

Circles of LifeWhile there might be legitimate reasons for our inertia, the encouragement is for us to consider the circle of life, itself. Just like the electrical circuit, we are of limited value unless, and until, we complete the circuit.

If we consider the possibility that we are simply wonderful chunks of conduit for the goodness from above to flow through us for the benefit of others, then, it’s logical to envision the lights coming on for ourselves and the rest of the world. We, literally, become lighthouses to guide others through the storms of life. Bright lights make absolutely no noise.

Since all of the words above only contribute 7% to this premise, let’s add the 38% auditory component. By clicking on the “Circles” hyperlink below, we can enjoy sensory delights.

Circles

By Sawyer Brown

There’s one around my finger
One around my coffee cup
One around the hands of time
And that big orange ball a comin’ up
There’s one around my eight to five
Four beneath me when I drive
An extra one for overtime, circles
There’ll be one in the hugs around my legs
And one around my waist
And one around the table holdin’ hands and sayin’ grace

I thank God for circles
For you, for me, for family and friends
I thank God for circles
May they go round-and-round and never have to end

There’s one around the block
There’s always one around the bend
Any to and from you go
And back again
Some are green and some are golden
Summer turns to winter cold
And into spring the seasons roll, circles
There’ll be one around the candles
One around the birthday cakes
One around the table holdin’ hands and sayin’ grace

I thank God for circles
For you, for me, for family and friends
I thank God for circles
May they go round-and-round and never have to end

There’s one around the world
That goes around so we can see it all
One around the halo
When we’re called

I thank God for circles
For you, for me, for family and friends
I thank God for circles
May they go round-and-round and never have to end
I thank God for family and circles
May we find and have so many more of them

The researcher, Mehrabian wrote about a substantial limitation to his study, “These findings regarding the relative contribution of the tonal component of a verbal message can be safely extended only to communication situations in which no additional information about the communicator-addressee relationship is available.”

In summary, Listeners derive information from visual, tonal, and other verbal cues. Yet, their understanding is dependent upon a number of other factors, including how well they know the communicator.

Communication is what the listener does.

This communicator believes Feedback is a necessary dimension of effective personal growth. It provides for real-time modifications of behavior, and related events, to achieve mutually desired benefits for the participants, which might otherwise be unobtainable, or delayed.

To achieve 100% effectiveness, let’s add the 55% visual component to our circuit of communication. Picture a knight standing at the ready to be of service in your kingdom. He waits for the Feedback that will enhance his efforts to be of greater value to you. If a courageous leader, you will empower him to serve in more effective ways, by offering the Feedback necessary to achieve even greater victories in this our journey, the circle of life!

www.kimfoardcpa.com

Credits:
Dancers
Feedback Model
Circles of Life

Forwards, or Backwards?

Sunlight Basin

The inanimate objects of Things can be placed in a spot to never move; the animated creatures of human Beings are always doing, and moving towards, something.  We move towards Stuff, or we move towards Principles.  More than the destination, life is all about the journey! 

If I offer for you to take a trip with me by exclaiming, “Let’s go!”, a legitimate response might be to ask, “Where?!” 

Why, then, do so many stumble through life unaware that their discomfort in the journey is related to choice of destination?  In fact, some actually believe they can “sit on the fence” and “play both ends against the middle” by refusing to choose a direction.  Mother Nature hates a vacuum; Fate will make choices for them.

Silly them; not choosing is a choice!  By analogy, think of a “fork in the road”.  Our choices are Left, or Right.  Those who refuse to choose find themselves wedged-up, and high-centered, on the Fork in the middle, and as a result, unable to move! 

So, again, the question is: “Which way: Forwards, or Backwards? 

To be fair, there is a caveat to this “trick” question.  The best answer includes another component, which truly is a Gift

As human beings, we tend to measure life in the way it is experienced: chronologically.  We all have a Past, Present and Future.  So, we tend to “Think” in that order; One, Two and Three. 

You’ve probably seen the bumper-sticker: “Accountants Do It By The Numbers.”  Well, this one does It by the Numbers, and the Letters, too!  The result is this Cowboy Poet & Philadelphia Lawyer, who wants you to consider that “One, Two, Three” may have a more precise order.  In fact, “Two, One, Three” is what you and I are encouraged to practice. 

I am among those who start their morning with:

Give us today the food we need.

Forgive us our mistakes, as we forgive others.

Lead us in the direction best for us and deliver us from harm.

We tend to like our ruts, rotes, and routines; they are very safe and comfortable. 

Recently, I was jolted from mine, into the uncomfortable awareness that there is more to those three sentences than what I was mumbling! 

Present: Our focus is to be on, “Right here, right now, it’s great to be alive.”  Rather than consume ourselves with the insatiable desires of what we want, our awareness is to be on what we, and others, need

Past: We all make them and they are a burden to our growth, unless we forgive and forget our foibles, and, those of others.  Mistakes are simply disguised opportunities to learn important lessons. 

Future: It waits for us with bated breath.  We have the choice to approach it with resignation and despair, or fascination and curiosity.  Since it is of what dreams are made, let’s tackle it! 

A favorite quote: “The clock is running. Make the most of today. Time waits for no person. Yesterday is history. Tomorrow is a mystery. Today is a gift. That’s why it is called the present.” 

As with so many of life’s riddles, the answer is multi-faceted: We are to focus on the opportunities of today; learn the lessons from the past; and, boldly face the future! 

www.kimfoard.com

Heard and Understood

Communication is what the listener does.

Upon calling for support and receiving instruction of, “Press 1 for English, 2 for @#$%^&*”, we select the language of greatest comprehension. We want to hear and understand the solution to our situation.

Do we offer the same in our interpersonal communications? Or, do we launch off into a discourse that is foreign to the ears of our partner? When they seem puzzled, do we simply “turn up the volume” and give them another dose of @#$%^&*?

When discovering the concept of Imago Relationships, my first thought was “I’m-A-Go: That’s cute; reminds me of a Space Shuttle lift-off.” Many of our relationships need to go to a higher level.

These quotes from the article are a few of my favorites:

Partners cross a bridge into each other’s worlds, motivated not only by the Receiver’s desire to “hear and understand” but also to meet the Sender’s need to be “heard and understood”; with a commitment to slow down our lives and devote specific uninterrupted time to our relationships. Ultimately saying to the other, “I respect your otherness; I want to learn from it. And I want to share mine with you.”

Discovering two distinct worlds; whenever two people are involved, there are always two realities. These realities will always be different in small and large ways, no matter what. And, the reality of the other person can be understood, accepted, valued, and even loved, but not made to be identical to our own.

Your conflict can be the very fuel for the fulfillment you seek.

Being aware of ourselves is the key; it changes everything.

What we need to understand and accept is that conflict is supposed to happen. This is as nature intended it: Everything in nature is in conflict. Conflict is a sign that the psyche is trying to survive, to get its needs met and become whole. It’s only without this knowledge that conflict is destructive.

Regardless of what we may believe, relationships are not born of love, but of need; real love is born in relationships, as a result of understanding what they are about and doing what is necessary to have them.

A “conscious” Relationship itself is the practice you need to restore your sense of aliveness.

Clear communication is a window into the world of your partner; truly being heard is a powerful aphrodisiac.

Without change, there is no growth; we are confined to the fate of remaining stuck in our unhappiness.

Change is the catalyst for healing.

I call the process by which we alter our entrenched behaviors to give our partners what they need: “stretching”, for it requires that we conquer our fears and do what comes unnaturally.

Finally, we learn to see our partners for themselves, with their own private world of personal meaning, their own ideas and dreams, and not merely as extensions of ourselves, or as we wish they were. Our approach becomes, “I want to know how you think.”

A conscious relationship is a spiritual path which leads us home again, to joy and aliveness, to the feeling of oneness we started out with. We learn to express love as a behavior daily, in large and small ways: in other words, in stretching to give our partner what they need, we learn to love. The transformation of our relationships may not be accomplished easily or quickly; we are setting off on a lifelong journey.

In the game of Football, team members “huddle up” to have the opportunity to “hear and understand” the next play. If it’s a passing play, it is only successful if the receiver catches the ball.

Next time we have the opportunity to quarterback a conversation, let’s call plays in a language our receiver understands. Then, as they run the route, let’s give them the opportunity to catch what is thrown.

After all, the only goal that, really, matters: To Be Heard and Understood.

www.kimfoard.com