Character Matters

Character MattersAt the core of who we are is our character.

It matters.
It is a matter of the heart — and,
It is a tangible expression of intangible beliefs.

To be precise in the “matter” ~

That which is in itself undifferentiated and formless and which, as the subject of change and development, receives form and becomes substance.

Never have I heard someone say, “I woke up this morning to realize that the needle to my moral compass is bent — and, therefore, must confess: I have no character.”

Mother Nature has her rules. One of them: Birds of a feather flock together. Turkeys do not soar with Eagles — Crows do not cavort with Robins — and, Pheasants do not form a V with the Geese.

Why?

It’s a matter of character.

Look at our sphere of influence and those within it. Is it comprised of happy, contented, peaceful and successful people? Or, is it afflicted with sad, whiny, antagonistic and bitter individuals?

Either, Or — There is a reason for the birds in our nest.
Take a trip to the mirror for an answer to the quest.

We get what we allow. In fact, what goes around comes around. Our harvest matures from the seeds we plant. Others are attracted to us because of our character.

What is character?

Many times we discover the positive by experiencing the negative. Good judgment comes from experience — experience comes from bad judgment.

Spectrum of Character

Negative: haughty eyes, a lying tongue, hands that kill the innocent, a heart that plots evil, feet that race to do wrong, a false witness who pours out lies, a person who sows discord in a family.

Positive: patient, kind, rejoices with the truth, protects, trusts, hopes, perseveres.

In all of our relationships, there is only one individual within our control — who we can change. As Pogo so eloquently observes, “I have seen the enemy and he is us.”

From the inside, out — we can, individually, change the world.

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.

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

Barking Cats

Pets and Partners

Profitable interactions and exchanges flow from the answer to one simple question: “What do you expect from me?”

When young, the reality is “We don’t know what we don’t know.” In other words, “Good judgment comes from experience; experience comes from bad judgment.” Until we discover what we like, many times revealed by exposure to what we find distasteful, we are limited in our ability to choose wisely.

For example, until young humans learn that cats meow and dogs bark, there is the potential for a bad relationship between pet and owner. If the young pet owner expects their cat to bark, they have three legitimate choices; and, one which is more popular and less effective, practiced by adults in dysfunctional relationships.

They can:

1.) Decide to be happy with the reality that their cat meows and purrs.

2.) Decide to be unhappy with the fact that their cat doesn’t bark.

3.) Replace the cat with a dog.

4.) Attempt to change the cat.

Good luck with that last one!

Humans are not like pets: hardwired to bark, or meow. We can do and be absolutely anything. The secret to a relationship with another person, though, is the same as the pet story: We need to really listen and decide at the beginning of the relationship if we can commit to happiness.

Pets have no choice about the relationship into which they are brought; they are owned as “things.” Although noble that people mature enough to choose a barking dog, the dog has no choice in its owner. Loveable and loyal, the dog makes the best of its new home, while expecting nothing in return: the ultimate definition of unconditional love.

The dog’s owner is happy because their expectations are met: barking and unconditional love.

People are not things and we have the freedom to choose our relationships If mature, we know what we want. Even more important, we are able to articulate and demonstrate what we are able and willing to give.

Thus, there are no “right” or “wrong” answers; only truthful responses to the one simple question: “What do you expect from me?” The fun begins by knowing whether we want a pet, or, a partner; then, actively listening to the sounds they make and the stories they share!

www.kimfoard.com