What Is

The Wind In Our Sails“I am amused that you continue to ask for me to explain — what is not and never was.”

That was my response to an attorney, who wanted me to explain the unexplainable. He had taken a course of action, which transformed the simple into the complex. In fact, the potential exists that he has endangered a Family by encouraging them to, unintentionally, break the law.

How often do we fall into the trap of letting our thoughts and energies be consumed by the not of what is?

In other words, how much of our day is wasted by thinking about what is behind us — or, what is outside of our control? That’s the purest and craziest definition of — what is not and never was.

If we’re standing in the light of what is right, there is absolutely no reason to explain the darkness of another person’s wrong. To do so changes our thinking from, what is — to, what is not.

This is what is:

1.) Law provides order to what otherwise results in chaos. Every structure of dynamic goodness functions within the parameters of principle.

2.) Activities of growth and purpose occur in the Present — moment to moment — because of a thoughtful plan for the Future.

3.) We are Captains of our own Destiny, who sail the seas of the unknown and find our greatest happiness in the Journey of enriching the lives we touch.

That’s plenty to keep us busy.

Understanding the core principles of right and wrong is one thing. Living a life of principle is another. Sometimes, we do what we know not and, then, forget to do what we know. Eventually, we sync knowledge with action, to discover a higher dimension — of thought and being.

Focusing our attention on one thing at a time can best be remembered with this mantra — “Whatever our hands find to do, let’s do it with our might.” And — if those efforts are constant and consistent with a purposeful plan, the result will be a reality of our dreams.

Believing in a future beyond our imaginations unshackles us from the safe harbor of what is known. In fact, belief in a Higher Power becomes the wind in our sails. As with all destinations, Ports of Call come and go. What endures, forever, are the impressions made on the souls aboard — and, beyond.

Forget about the small minds chained to the chaos of — what is not and never was.

Remember the power of Understanding, Focusing, and Believing in — What Is.

www.kimfoardcpa.com

Stand Right

Stand for what is Right, even if you stand AloneAs a thought experiment, ask a dozen individuals this question: “Which attributes of character are most important to you?”

The people you ask can be your close friends, your worst enemies, or random transients on the street. The odds are very good that nearly every one of them will include with their answer: “Honesty.”

Why, then, do we struggle so much to be honest with ourselves, and others?

One of the greatest statesmen of all times was known by his moniker, “Honest Abe.”

“I am not bound to win, but I am bound to be true. I am not bound to succeed, but I am bound to live by the light that I have. I must stand with anybody that stands right, and stand with him while he is right, and part with him when he goes wrong.”

Abraham Lincoln
American 16th US President (1861-65)

How many times are we tempted to cheat (just a little) to win?

How many times are we tempted to take (just a little) advantage to succeed?

How many times are we tempted to go along to get along (with wrong) to fit in?

That word choice by Abe: bound. Sure feels constraining, limiting, and subservient. Doesn’t it?

Yet, Abraham Lincoln knew true winners set their mind in thought and engage their hands in action to be honest to whom they are at the core: “I am bound to be true.”

Achievers know they are wonderfully made, unique, and one-of-a-kind, with much to offer the whole wide world. They believe, “I am bound to live by the light that I have.”

Yes, I know, easier said than done.

In fact, knowing something and doing it are two, entirely, different things. One is fairly easy; the other is extremely difficult. Actions speak so much louder than words, though. Hard is easy; easy is hard.

What is Right? And, then by antithetical definition, what is Wrong?

One absolute truth is that Right and Wrong cannot be legislated. Every group, clan, civilization, and country sets forth a Code of Ethics. Yet, individuals make choices from their heart and soul.

Please, invest the time to discover the answer to this question, for yourself:
“What is my deepest innermost value?”

Once we identify our (individual) value, we can be true to ourselves and live by our light.

We must stand with anybody that stands right, and stand with them while they are right, and part with them when they go wrong.

www.kimfoard.com

To Be

To BeWhat do you say to the person struggling with the question, “To Be; or, Not To Be?”

The dark side of the human condition is eloquently captured by William Shakespeare in the Hamlet Soliloquy: “slings and arrows of an unbearable situation, sea of troubles, heartaches, thousand natural miseries, whips and scorns of time, offences of tyrants, contempt of proud men, pain of rejected love, insolence of officious authority, and the advantage that the worst people take of the best.”

I propose that we accept the darkness as necessary for us to fully appreciate the light.

Rather than fear the unknown of death, let’s celebrate life. Rather than “sweating and grunting under the burden of a weary life” as cowards trapped in paralysis by analysis, let’s consider what is necessary to enjoy rich, full, vibrant, meaningful lives.

Although unique in our melodies and verse, we share a common chorus. The best part of life comes after an event of near death. Each story will be different; yet, we will all, eventually, experience the realization, “There, but for the grace of God, go I.”

It is a defining Scene in the Act of Life.

By choosing life, we turn our back on the darkness of defeat. We set our mind to living.

These are the Seven Secret Serenades:

1.) Everyone is responsible for their own happiness.

By accepting that we are responsible for choosing our individual happiness, we acknowledge the same for everyone, else. In other words, it is not our responsibility to make and keep happy, or otherwise entertain, anyone. By offering the best of who we are to another, we have fulfilled the letter and spirit of this universal law!

2.) We must be true to ourselves.

As a unique, one-of-a-kind, original image, it is just plain silly to think that it is right to copy any other person. It is one thing to be open to advice and wise counsel; it is something entirely different to let our decisions be influenced by the opinions of others. We get what we allow; and, we teach others how to treat us!

3.) Live in the Present moment.

We can eliminate from our mind regrets of the Past and worries about the Future, by focusing all of our senses on this moment. Really see, hear, smell, taste, and touch the Right Here Right Now to experience a delightful gift. It is either a pleasurable moment to be savored; or, the valley of opportunity to climb another mountain!

4.) Accept what is.

Everything happens for a reason. At a minimum, in every situation, the reason is to remind us of our freewill. We get to choose how we respond: Resignation and Despair; or, Fascination and Curiosity. Stress is caused by the dissonance between what we want and what is. Acceptance wraps our arms around what is possible!

5.) Be a conduit for goodness.

What goes around comes around. Happiness is guaranteed by: Loving and being loved; Purposeful work; and, Anticipation of an event. These three components are within our control. By choosing to share with others, we become a vessel for delivering value. Flowing through us for the benefit of others are our gifts!

6.) Focus on the distant horizon.

Straightened shoulders, lifted views, and deep breaths facilitate our ability to keep things in perspective. Dizziness, and other forms of queasiness, can be mollified by taking a bigger, longer, and broader view of the situation. When faced with the impossible and insurmountable, remember, “This, too, shall pass!”

7.) Think about opportunities and possibilities.

All we do begins with a thought. Imagine where you want to be. Now, look back from that magnificent place to where you are. Can you see the steps from here to there? Sure you can. Whether you think you can, or can’t, you’re right. Right now, the journey begins for each of us To Do what we can and To Be who we are!

www.kimfoard.com

Three-E Formula

Do ItGreater than a Magic Wand to wave at the hand of fate, this is E-ven better.

This is E times 3.

Enlighten

Empower

Encourage

The prefix forming verbs of “En” and “Em” are expressions of action and doing, defined as:

To put into;
To go into;
To cover with;
To provide with;
To cause to be;
Thoroughly

In the simplest of terms — Just Do It.

Some may ask, “Do, what?”

Let’s examine the Three E words above — Enlighten, Empower, and Encourage.

Do ~ Light
Do ~ Power
Do ~ Courage

The smallest speck of light destroys darkness. To clearly see the next step on our journey of life, we focus to Do what is right, just and fair.

Whether we think we can, or can’t, we’re right. We have the freedom to choose whether, or not, we use willpower to Do what is right, just, and fair.

The strength to change the things we can and to forgive impossible people requires the fortitude — always — to Do what is right, just, and fair.

Some might ask, “Where’s the magic in that?”

To quote:

Their purpose is to teach people wisdom and discipline,

To help them understand the insights of the wise.

Their purpose is to teach people to live disciplined and successful lives,

To help them do what is right, just, and fair.

The catalyst for being of service requires the components of Wisdom, Discipline, and Understanding. The result is a successful life of Doing what is Right, Just, and Fair.

Knowing + Doing = Building Dynamic Relationships

www.kimfoard.com

A Few Good Men

Hard Work AheadTriumph of Right

Win, lose, or draw, there is a powerful and lasting legacy from doing what is Right. No amount of words can capture the essence of that Universal Principle. All I can do is to suggest, “Try it; you’ll like it!”

Within this series: Part I asked nicely; Part II probed into the core issue; now, We take a look at the choices before us.

There is only one way to defeat darkness: subject it to Light.

In this year of 2010, let’s use a 2 x 10 plank of action: If It Is To Be, It Is Up To Me

~

Dear Commissioner:

The purpose of this correspondence is to ask for a response to my email of June 28, 2010, in regards to the Subject of Fairness. Since the underlying issue of our conversation is of paramount interest to the great State of Montana, the complete history of our exchange is available on my website.

Yesterday, the headline of an article from the Billings Gazette caught my eye:
Montana’s Unemployment Rate Up Again

This is the lead sentence for the article, “The state’s unemployment rate continues to climb into territory last seen in the 1980s.”

In the simplest of terms, the discussion between you and I can be summarized by an answer to this question: Is it the purpose of the Montana Department of Labor and Industry (DLI) to Educate and Grow individuals; or, to Punish and Thwart their right to work?

Apropos to this discussion is the wisdom inherent in these words by Edmund Burke:

All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing.

Since a key component of happiness is rewarding work, unemployment is a scourge – on individual psyches and the moral fabric of our society.

Why, then, has the DLI chosen to target business owners, who provide opportunities for employment? Yes, a job for an Employee is one legitimate route to satisfying work. Another path is that of being an Independent Contractor. In fact, before people worked for companies, they worked independently to provide for their own needs. To be quite clear, unemployment is strictly defined as the lack of a job.

The older Lady in this saga, who provides opportunities to Montana Employees and Independent Contractors, approached me for help in her recent audit with DLI. She grew up on a dirt farm in North Dakota. There is something about the experience of a childhood with limited opportunity, because of little money, that can be the catalyst for real labor and industry.

This woman, a Montana entrepreneur, has chosen a life path of service to others – first as an Employee and then as an Employer. Her choices have provided opportunities for others to learn and grow. Literally, in more ways than one, her efforts have provided roofs over the heads of many families.

In my email to you of June 28th, I suggested an equitable resolution to the audit issue of Employee vs. Independent Contractor. Since there has been no response, I’ll further extend the boldness to suggest that the issue of Unemployment can be fixed by encouraging our Montana Citizens to focus on Work, rather than a Job.

If the State of Montana and DLI is serious about the unemployed, offer to waive the $125 fee (for at least a year) that is currently required to register as an Independent Contractor. The publicity for the State of Montana will be priceless. The opportunity for neighbor to help neighbor, by providing value to the marketplace, will be the greater reward.

In the interim, I, do, want answers to my questions. This is a Montana Employer, who is in need of understanding – from those who hold the fate of her business and the jobs of her employees, in their (your) hands.

Sincerely,

Kim

~

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