Dare

DareRecently, I enjoyed the opportunity to ask a young man the secret to his success.

He continues to thrive while others failed to survive.

His three responses lock into, and rhyme with, one word: Dare.

To have the courage — To challenge someone to do something requiring boldness — To confront or oppose boldly — To be courageous, or bold, enough, to do something; A challenge.

Two years ago, as he accepted the challenge to give his life in service to many, he quickly observed and shared this pearl of wisdom, “In school, the attitude is that no one can fail. In our business, failure is deadly. If we make a mistake, people die.

From the abstract of academia, to the fantasies of the political realm, false propaganda is postulated as, “Too big to fail.” Although — the reality is — pride does go before a fall. Arrogance mixed with ignorance is a volatile combination.

Those clamoring for national leadership positions have much to learn from those on the front lines of life. These are the lessons the wannabes can learn from a young man who dares to be responsible for himself and those in his sphere of influence.

This young leader of men and producer of wealth has a story to share, encapsulated in these three words:

Aware

Prepare

Care

Those three words rhyming with Dare are mine. Yet, this is his story. When asked about the top three lessons gleaned and what might keep others safe, this is what I learned from him.

Aware

Don’t believe what anyone says, until you check it for yourself.

The world is what we make of it — if it doesn’t fit, make alterations. In other words — if it is to be, it is up to me. Talking about something, or what might be tried, someday, is a worthless substitution for getting it done.

Prepare

Don’t become complacent in what is working — imagine it all coming apart.

Those who are builders put it together one piece at a time. They understand what it takes to make it hum — while it does, they’re less than bum. In their minds, they break down the systems — to build them again, until they’re glistening gems.

Care

Don’t think there are any unimportant details — pay attention to absolutely everything.

Every small cog is of importance. Fix it before it breaks. Measure it to manage it, effectively. Tools in the hands of those who know how to use them receive tender loving care. The hands of those hard workers have earned their compensation. Much more important than the money is the compassion for people.

In watching his eyes and body language, I was reminded of earlier days. Always, his heart has been generous, attitude respectful, and spirit strong. From the very beginning, I’ve heard, “Dad, I’m a hands-on kind of guy.

Much more than hands on, he dares to be Aware, Prepare, and Care.

For that, we’re all thankful.

www.kimfoard.com

Tops & Bottoms

Tops and BottomsDearest Friend,

Thank you for your thoughtful questions:

“How do you stay at the top?”

“Which is the hardest: Making it to the top — or, Staying there?”

“What is the secret to avoid muddled down?”

The answer to these questions arrives in the form of these Universal Principles and Proverbial Riddles:

Easy is Hard — Hard is Easy
First will be Last — the Last, First
Top is the Bottom — the Bottom is the beginning of a Top

And, that, my friend, is the secret:

Good, better, best.
Never let it rest,
‘Til our good is better,
And our better, best.

As a reminder, Coach John Wooden believed: “Success is peace of mind which is a direct result of self-satisfaction in knowing you made the effort to become the best of which you are capable.”

Each one of us, individually, is capable of much more than we, originally, think we can do.

All we do begins with a thought.

At one time, I believed in the axiom: Preparation + Opportunity = Success
That’s wrong — we don’t need to wait around for opportunity.

All we need to do is Prepare;
And, Opportunities are everywhere.

In other words, as Coach Wooden exemplified and his Players affirmed: Build It — and, They Will Come.

The fun is in the doing. And, yes, you’re right and Coach teaches — it’s easier to make it to the Top the first time, than it is to remain there. Because, once we think we have arrived, someone is digging a hole and planting us, six feet deep.

Life is like riding a bicycle — Pedal, or Coast, the choice is ours. When we coast, we’re headed downhill. It’s so easy — at the Top — to become lazy and complacent. Definition of Rut: a grave with the ends kicked out.

Staying on top of our game requires taking our game to new heights of performance. Coach says, “Be quick, don’t hurry.” He believed in the Fundamentals. In other words, break it down (Pyramid of Success) and build it back: better, faster, stronger, bigger, and more beautiful. Use lots of mortar: Faith and Patience.

John Wooden was a Teacher before and after he was a Coach. His encouragement for us, “Call yourself a Teacher.” In his words, “What a leader learns, after you’ve learned it all, counts most of all.” By taking the science of anything to an art form, we discover joy. By teaching it, we learn even more.

It’s not the arena in which we perform — or, even the performance itself. It’s all about the People.

Reputation is what others think about us. Character is who we, really, are. Building character is within our control. Managing the expectations of others is not.

If we focus on: People, over Process — the Why, before What — and, the Reason for the Results — we attract those of like mind. We are known by the Company we keep.

Character can be defined as:

Respect for Self
Respect for Others
Respect for Rules

From the passion at the core of who we are, we can offer our best in service to all.

Look around and you will see your Team, comprised of: Customers, Vendors, Friends, Peers, Family, and Community. We look to you for the Value of your life Story. There’s only one of you. We want and need what you have to offer. Not everyone will be accepting. That’s OK — many will be appreciative, of YOU.

I encourage you to say, “Yes, please,” to those who choose to be on your Team — and, “No, thanks,” to those finding fault with Your Way. In fact, as Coach Wooden did, help them find another Team.

After we think there is no room for improvement in the fundamentals (Building Blocks and Mortar comprising the Pyramid of Success), we can always improve in how we manage our precious Time. Coach was a crusader for Time Management. As a leader, he accomplished more in two hours than other coaches did in two days.

We learn by doing.
The fun is in the doing.
Let’s have fun learning.

There is no Easy way — only, Hard challenges, which inspires us to new discovery of opportunity and levels of achievement.

First is, simply, a place of Ego. Last is just another word for Endure, which does produce legacies through service to others.

Reaching the Top is, simply, a fleeting moment of recognizing it as the Bottom of a foundation, from which to build, again.

Let’s keep building.

Best,

www.kimfoard.com

Two Farmers

Harvest

In the fertile valleys of Montana, harvest is almost complete. Malt barley is headed for the breweries, hard winter wheat is destined for the flourmills, soggy steer calves are trucked from the Red Lodge mountains to feedlots on the plains, sugar beets provide a poignant aroma to the air of Billings as they are processed into sweets for treats, and ear corn waits on the stalk to be picked.

The secrets to life can be found in the sixty miles from Red Lodge to Billings, Montana. This is a story of two farmers, Tom and Fred.

Their farms sit side-by-side, with a fence between them. Fred is a man of few words, while Tom likes to talk. Early morning, finds Fred at the kitchen table with a cup of dark, rich, coffee, as he plans his day. As dawn gives way to the first light, Fred is preparing his tractors for the circles they will make. Here comes Tom, with a little hair of the dog that bit him from the night before, to lean on the fence and begin his stories of high adventure.

Fred understands the benefit of crop rotation. If he wants to grow corn in one of his fields, he plants corn seed. For the sugar beet fields, he plants those little sugar beet seeds. In his wheat fields, he plants kernels of wheat.

As the spring rains stop, Fred is ready to start his irrigation to provide water for the crops. In early summer, the weeds are in competition with his crops; so, he cultivates. When the calves sneak through a hole in the pasture fence, he cowboys them back home and fixes the fence.

Tom watches Fred work. While continuing to lean on the fence day after day, Tom has all kinds of advice for how Fred should do his work. Fred just nods. In fact, Fred nods and waves as he puts his grain in the bin, steers on the truck, beets in the pile, and corn in the crib.

Then, one fall day while surveying his barren fields, Tom is in, especially, fine form. He walks up to his favorite leaning post and waves Fred over to the edge of the field. As Fred idles his new tractor down to a gentle purr and steps from the cab to learn what is on his neighbor’s mind, Tom says, “You’re sure lucky!” Fred just nods and says, “Yep.”

We harvest what we plant.

The shorter version of the story is the proverb: “Some sow their wild oats and then hope for a crop failure.” Those are the lucky ones. Lucky in the sense that less bad seed is blowing in the wind to cause harm for the neighbors. Un-lucky, since the real joys of life are discovered by doing, learning, and growing.

In this era of fantasy, when: work is spelled l-u-c-k; wrong is thought to be right; and, black and white are old-fashioned; how can we know good people from the bad ones?

Again, from agrarian principles, comes the answer.

You can identify them by their fruit, that is, by the way they act. Can you pick grapes from thornbushes, or figs from thistles? A good tree produces good fruit, and a bad tree produces bad fruit. A good tree can’t produce bad fruit, and a bad tree can’t produce good fruit. So every tree that does not produce good fruit is chopped down and thrown into the fire. Yes, just as you can identify a tree by its fruit, so you can identify people by their actions.

Anyone who listens to my teaching and follows it is wise, like a person who builds a house on solid rock. Though the rain comes in torrents and the floodwaters rise and the winds beat against that house, it won’t collapse because it is built on bedrock. But anyone who hears my teaching and doesn’t obey it is foolish, like a person who builds a house on sand. When the rains and floods come and the winds beat against that house, it will collapse with a mighty crash.

… He taught with real authority—quite unlike their teachers…

In returning to the story of our two neighbors, Tom is a Talker and Fred is the Farmer. Talk is easy. Work is hard. Or, is it?

Maybe, the moral of the story is: Easy is hard — and, Hard is easy.

As for me, I enjoy full bins!

www.kimfoardcpa.com