Three Chords

Three Chords

Many times, less is more.

There is merit to the KISS principle:
Keep It Simple Sweetheart.

For music aficionados, the minors and majors add a dimension of emotion to the foundational key. Variety is the spice of life. Yet, the basics of scale and note must exist before flavor is added.

So, it is with the melodies of the heart.

We can achieve harmony with a commitment to always: Honor the Past, Respect the Present, and Trust the Future.

The Basic Functions of Harmony

At its core, all music can be considered an interplay of tension and release. The degree of tension can come from dissonance vs. consonance, orchestration, dynamics, or a hundred other musical elements. The key to using tension and release is balance. With too much tension and no release the tension can become unbearable and the music unlistenable. On the reverse side, if the music is too neutral with little to no amount of tension it can be dull and lifeless.

The Perfect Country Song

He sits with his elbows on the table, mellow and relaxed. He smiles a lot, and his deeply lined face is dominated by serene brown eyes. “A lot of country music is sad,” he notes softly. “I think most art comes out of poverty and hard times. It applies to music. Three chords and the truth — that’s what a country song is. There is a lot of heartache in the world.”

Honor

We are the beneficiaries of those who have gone before. By their sacrifice — the blood, sweat, and tears of their effort — we enjoy opportunities, otherwise impossible. Everyone has done their best, with what they have known and the resources available.

Respect

Right here, right now, it’s great to be alive. This is the only moment to boldly make our decisions. By setting aside the regrets of the past and the anxieties of the future, we can focus on the choices available at this time.

Trust

With preparation, comes opportunity and success. By doing our best to become all of which we are capable, we can confidently look forward and know that goodness waits for us. It might be in the form of lessons to be learned; or, it might be a celebration of accomplishment. Either way, it will be right, for us.

Three chords and the truth is the melody of a life to be enjoyed.

For generations to come, that song will endure.

www.kimfoard.com

Straight Talk

Straight Talk

How many times last week did someone tell you one thing and, then, did something entirely different?

Have you ever made plans with someone, who at the last minute changed their mind and did not participate?

Why is it essential to say what we believe and believe what we say?

Reputation is what others think about us. Character is who we truly are — at the core. Sterling qualities of these attributes are nurtured into existence as a result of consistency in word and deed.

John Wooden in his book, The Wisdom of Wooden, shares with us what his father shared with him.

Two Sets of Three

1.) Never lie.
2.) Never cheat.
3.) Never steal.

1.) Don’t whine.
2.) Don’t complain.
3.) Don’t make excuses.

Words, if inconsistent with actions, are blatantly misleading. Recipients of this deceit are cheated out of belief. The most precious of resources — Time — is stolen.

As a result, the cover-up is camouflaged with a combination of whining, complaining, and excuse making.

Take a few moments to imagine a world in which individuals are careful with their commitments.

By default, commitment is entirely void of one word: Maybe.

In fact, commitment is either: This, or That.

Just say a simple, “Yes, I will.” Or, “No, I won’t.”

Then, after giving our word, one way, or the other, just, “Do it.”

The only downside risk of doing what we say is that the Drama Kings and Queens will need to find another venue for their acting. Theatre can be a pleasant diversion from reality. Honesty in thought and action is a perquisite for building trust and respect.

Straight talk and a straight walk lead straight to dynamic relationships!

www.kimfoard.com

Tops and 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; 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 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 inspire 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

Simply Complex

Diamond 3-D BrillianceArtisans give new life to the old perspective by capturing the essence of a single focal point.

The complexity and chaos of the ordinary is simplified into an expression of the divine.

The masterpieces of great art forms are discernible by one simple test. They appear magnificent: at close-up and from far-away.

By broad stroke and precise finish, tangible raw material is transformed into a reflection of the intangible thought, conveyed from the artist to the beholder.

What once was crude and unrefined becomes beautiful and polished.

Such is the journey of a diamond.

Formed in the center of the earth at high-pressure, high-temperature conditions and forced to the surface by a volcanic eruption, an ordinary rock in appearance becomes a priceless treasure.

The name diamond is derived from the ancient Greek αδάμας (adámas), “proper”, “unalterable”, “unbreakable”, “untamed”, from ἀ- (a-), “un-” + δαμάω (damáō), “I overpower”, “I tame”.

Diamond is the hardest known natural material on the Mohs scale of mineral hardness. This has been known since antiquity and is the source of its name. Somewhat related to hardness is another mechanical property: toughness, which is a material’s ability to resist breakage from forceful impact.

Diamond is renowned as a material with superlative physical qualities, most of which originate from the strong covalent bonding between its atoms into an inflexible three-dimensional lattice, protecting it from contamination. Diamond has the highest hardness and thermal conductivity of any bulk material.

Diamond has remarkable optical characteristics. Combined with wide transparency, this results in the clear, colorless appearance of most natural diamonds. Diamond also has relatively high optical dispersion (ability to disperse light of different colors), which results in its characteristic luster.

At the beginning of this thirty year adventure as a CPA entrepreneur, I was sitting in a Continuing Education Seminar and the presenter asked us to do the following: Draw a Triangle at the top of a page; underneath that, draw a Square; underneath that, draw a Rectangle; underneath that, draw a Circle; and, finally, underneath that, draw a Wavy Line.

Then, he asked us to place a Checkmark next to the image which best reflected our personality.

After a brief pause, he continued. The wavy lines are the Free-spirits. The circles are the Friendlies. The rectangles are the Worker-bees. The squares are Upper-management. The triangles are …

In his words: There are a few of you leaning back in your chair, with your arms folded across your chest, thinking, “I could do that. In fact, I could do that better.” They are the innovators, leaders and visionaries.

I laughed, because he had just described my posture and read my mind. And, my Checkmark was pointing at the pinnacle of the Triangle.

Do we come hard-wired into this world? Or, is our twig bent, in the formative years, to produce the fruits of our efforts, today? I don’t know.

From the comments of Family and Friends, this is what I do know:

“Kim, you ask so many questions, I’m sure you’re going to grow up to be a Philadelphia lawyer!”

“Kim, your problem is not that you were born poor. Your problem is that you were born with ambition. Many are born poor and stay that way. You want something else.”

“It’s rare to get cowboy poetry from a CPA, so thanks again Kim for making our day. More importantly, congratulations to you for having an open mind, looking for a better way, and contributing to the dignity of our profession by doing the right thing for your customers.”

Average is not a way of thinking, or behaving, for me. I respect and honor the right of others to be a commodity. My frustration will be on display for those who think that I should accept Average as my standard. Never have; never will.

With the belief that each individual is a priceless gem, my choice of stone is the Diamond: proper, unalterable, unbreakable, untamed, hard, tough, inflexibly three-dimensional, thermally conducive, widely transparent, optically dispersible, predictably exhibiting trigons of positive and negative relief.

This is the 100th Blog Post Anniversary Edition of SageTalk ~ Building Dynamic Relationships. What began as a forum for sharing thought has become a journal of adventure. Rough on the outside, rich on the inside; treasure awaits for those souls who will cut and polish the core of these messages.

We all have a unique perspective.

Mine is simply complex.

www.kimfoard.com

Pursuit

PursuitWe want what we don’t have. Once we have it, we don’t want it anymore. Then, we want something else.

We want what we don’t have. Verse after verse the song repeats, with the same chorus:

We want what we don’t have!

To bring into captivity the elusive, for the express purpose of making it ours, we pursue.

Since success is only possible by identifying worthy targets of acquisition, what are those?

The great minds of the individuals who framed the Declaration of Independence were bold enough to capture the imagination, hearts and souls of the citizens making choices from that era:

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.

Fast forward Two-hundred-thirty-five years and the questions become, “Is the pursuit of happiness, really, a worthy cause?” Or, “Is It an effect resulting from the pursuit of an even, more, noble goal?”

Ah, the ever elusive “It“. We want It; we pursue It; and, It leaves us empty. Void of fulfillment and frustrated, we wonder if we can ever catch It.

Just maybe, if we pursue the right Cause, we can generate the Effect we desire: Happiness.

Since our fore-fathers held a belief in, and made reference to, our Creator, a peek at the Proverbs from the Sages of the Ages gives greater insight into the cause and effect of our pursuit choices:

21:21 Whoever pursues righteousness and love finds life, prosperity and honor.

22:4 True humility and fear of the Lord lead to riches, honor, and long life.

The common denominators in the results (Effects) are these three: Honor, (riches) Prosperity and a (long) Life. The catalysts (Causes) are identified to be these four pursuits: Righteousness, Love, Humility and Respect for a power greater than ourselves.

Legitimate pursuits will, always, result in discoveries (finds) and a journey (lead), which ultimately results in arriving at a destination: Happiness.

The challenge for each of us is to move the Cart from in front of the Horse and position It for the greatest results. The driving force and horsepower of our pursuits must be Righteousness, Love, Humility and Respect. Bouncing along behind, merrily gathering up the results, will be the cart of Happiness!

www.kimfoard.com

Cutting-edge Generosity

Gift of TimeFifty years ago, on the Main Street of a little town in Lavina, Montana, an older gentleman gave a knife to a young child. Naturally, he wanted to teach a lesson; so, he presented it to me, handle, first. It was the most magnificent rubber knife that I ever enjoyed.

This was back in the day when everyone gave directions by using the Phone Booth, next to the little Post Office, as a reference point. Men of that generation were always building something; seems like Dad and I were in town to help pour a sidewalk in front of that new Post Office. It was my lucky day to be the beneficiary of Mr. J. C. “Jim” Jensen.

His generosity is the beginning of this story about the Jensen family.

Jimmy was always the most interested in my life story when the chapters were about bowling and building. As an inventor, he was interested in my construction techniques. He would take the good ones of mine and offer the best of his ideas to make it even better. Tangible to those he helped were the Sand-Points driven to provide water.  isible to the community was the lighted Ice-Windmill for the entertainment pleasure of all.

Carl was comprised of the material of which heroes are made: Handsome devil on the outside; borderline saint on the inside. The one thing that always interrupted my play with the rubber knife was when Carl and his college buddies came to help my Dad on the ranch. After lunch, they would play ball with me. Literally; I was the ball! Tossed from one to the other: sometimes, it was a full-body catch; other times, only the last-second grab of an arm, or leg, kept me from hurtling to the earth, below.

Through high school, Carl supported every cause that our senior class dreamed up. My first sale of Cutco knives, as a freshman in college, was made in his kitchen. After working the last two years of my college crusade for a CPA firm, I was asked if I wanted to “help” with the Ranch books. That was in the olden-days, when accounting was done in paper Journals and Ledgers.

With hind-sight, I now realize the “help” requested was for my benefit, not Carl’s. He was quite capable of doing the Books and had done so, successfully, for many years. His keen eye observed a young accountant, who needed to build confidence. I was offered that opportunity.

Then, he blazed new trails in the use of Excel spreadsheets on the first Personal Computers. As I might be struggling to make something work in the Land of DOS, I would think of that hero of mine leading the way. Weakness gave way to strength, as a path through the technological wilderness was found.

Speaking of strength, what does it take to stand firm in the belief that life is all about the people? If there is an episode in the annuals of Lavina history to provide the answer, it is the one of a new Library and Gymnasium. Having served on the School Board for many years, Carl understood the importance of education and community. In small towns, the School is the anchor keeping ships of families safe.

In the mind of J. C. (Carl) Jensen, the cost of a little Brick and Mortar was a small price to pay for the eternal dividends from that one investment. He gave what he had, personally and financially, to bring a dream into reality.

Supportive of these men of the Jensen family are women of toughness and tenderness. Theirs is a story of nurturing everyone through the hardships of Ranch life. From the outside looking in, the full measure of their generosity is unknown to many. From within the familial core, these Jensen women offer goodness to all and they continue to make sacrifices that will engender the greatest rewards.

As this chapter of the story about the gifts of the Jensen Family concludes, the question remains: “Why was I handed a knife?” Just, maybe, “Jim” Jensen knew that cutting-edge generosity was the secret to slicing through the thickets of resistance on our individual journeys of Building Bright Financial Futures.

Craig, Scott and Clint continue to live the Family traditions. They begin each conversation by honoring the gifts of the Past, respecting the opportunities of the Present, and dreaming big, big, thoughts as they consider the abundance of, very, bright Futures!

www.kimfoard.com

Riding for the Brand

Four V

On the prairies and frontiers of a century ago, men rode for the brand and women admired their efforts. The strong, silent types of the silver screen and sagebrush oceans were benevolently loyal and sternly kind. They were the original men of Steel and Velvet.

It was a time of personal responsibility and unlimited opportunity. The men and women of that era were keenly aware that the world was what they made of it — if it didn’t fit, they made alterations.

Young men traveled west in pursuit of their dreams. They came with all of their belongings in a bed-roll tied behind their saddle and a rifle in the scabbard. No horse, no cows, no land — nothing permanent. All they possessed was a crystal clear vision in their mind of what they wanted their future to be.

The work on that future began by establishing relationships in the area of their new home. An option for many was to cowboy for the cattle empires and land barons. Cows and dirt are of limited value until properly managed. A cowboy was the catalyst to turn a horse remuda into a money making machine.

From the rope used to catch their first horse of the day, to the jingle of the spurs at their heels, those cowboys took care of their gear. Saddles were oiled, cinches were reinforced, and saddle bags were provisioned with the tools of their trade. It was a mutually beneficial arrangement — the Cowboys provided mind and muscle — the Barons provided everything else.

Understood by all — Loyalty and kindness was the rule of the range.

Kindness was evident around the chuck wagons. Cooks did their best to fuel the ambition of hard-working young men. Strangers were offered the generosity of a meal. Care of the animals was on the minds of everyone.

Loyalty was the difference between life and death. There was an understanding — you were either friend, or foe. There was never the Political Correctness of making excuses for poor choices. Cattle rustlers were hung and horse thieves were shot, by the men who knew the importance of riding for the brand.

Four V was given to me by my Dad about the time he was shortening stirrup leathers to fit the legs of a five year old. Wise man he was to know that the Brand fits me. Four is representative of the four winds and four corners of the world. As an Objective Thinker, I consider all four quadrants formed by the intersecting lines of Up, Down and Sideways. The V is what it takes to break through the drifts of prejudice formed by the inertia of many. As a Trailblazer, I thrive on going where others fear to tread.

Lazy J F BarLazy J F Bar was given to my son by my Dad about the time he was building his Grandson custom chaps, with fringes for flair. Although the initials J F were apropos for the man James Foard, “lazy” in the sense of idleness is a misnomer. It is reflective, though, of the gentle, subdued, behavior of a big, big, man. He was always quick to bend a knee in service and subordinate his desires in the best interest of others. His grandson continues that tradition. Both men apply the Bar as an underscore to their every effort.

One brand composed of straight lines and interconnected — another, with the curvature of style and distinction of application. They carry an unspoken appreciation for the past, discipline of the present, and hopes for the future. For the efforts they represent, each Brand carries a legacy of family and tradition.

Whether applied with a hot iron, chiseled into stone, or tickled from the keyboard into a digital universe, our individual Brands are worthy of honor and respect. Similar to a flag over a sovereign county, they are a symbol for: Who we are, the principles for which we stand — and, the sacrifices we are able and willing to make.

Let us always be kind and loyal, as we ride for the brand.

Building Bright Financial Futureswww.kimfoard.com

Steel and Velvet

Steel and VelvetIt Takes Both

Life is experienced on a tightrope.

Fine lines of distinction separate This from That.

As an example, the short riddle below, comprised of two sentences, is deserving of being solved.

It will be our segue into the Thought Du Jour.

Each sentence is accurate.

Together, they become powerful in thought and deed!

Don’t answer the foolish arguments of fools, or you will become as foolish as they are.

Be sure to answer the foolish arguments of fools, or they will become wise in their own estimation.

While appearing contradictory, the Secret is within each of us, at our core. If we know who we are and are generous of spirit, the “answer” becomes obvious:

We refuse to follow a foolish person down rabbit trails and we boldly share our beliefs with them.

By now, you might ask, “What does this have to do with a man of Steel and Velvet?”

The answer: They can be firm and soft, at the same time.

In fact, they are who they are; yet, they generously share of themselves. The perceived differences are inherent within the individuals who approach. For example: these men of Steel and Velvet have the patience of a Saint. Some will recognize the character trait as a virtue; others will perceive the same trait as weakness.

The first group will experience the softness that flows from mutual respect; the second group will experience the firmness that results from the rude awakening to reality. While giving the benefit of doubt, these men of Steel and Velvet will defend their boundaries, for the benefit of those who seek protection there.

Boundaries are simply “fine lines of distinction”. One of these fine lines separates forgiveness from flaccidity. Forgiveness is hard (to do); flaccidity is (by its very definition) soft. Forgiveness lets us enjoy the present moment, while moving forward into a future of opportunities. Flaccidity is for those who allow themselves to be a doormat, for the feet of their enemies, while remaining tethered to the past.

Lambs

Is it possible for lambs to move through a pack of wolves? What is the Secret to that?! Answer: We are to be as wise as snakes and as innocent as doves.

Wisdom is the forerunner to success. In fact, a four letter word is the pun intended to create a new beginning in our lives: Fore.

Yes, that which comes before. Have you ever wondered how generous people got to be that way? They give here, there, and everywhere. What came first? What is at the very beginning of their current efforts? Answer: Fore-give; in the vernacular, Forgive.

One of the best definitions of forgiveness was received in a place far removed from a religious setting. Yet, it dovetails with a belief in a Higher Power and summarizes the distinct black and white choice we will each make in our, individual, lives.

Forgiveness: Let go of the notion that there can be a better, or different, yesterday.

Simple enough. Yet, check your thoughts. Where are they? Dwelling on an episode, conversation, mistake, hurt, offense, etc. of the Past? If so, look again at the definition above. “But”, you might say, “I have tried to forgive and that person does not deserve it, will not accept it, continues to do it, etc.” (the excuses continue on ad infinitum, and ad nauseam)

DovesFore-giving is not about anyone else. It is about us and totally within our control.

Does it mean we condone the actions of another? No. Does it mean we continue to allow another to hurt us? Heck, no! Does it mean we forget, for now, with hopes of revenge, later? Again, the answer is: No.

We “simply”: Let go of the notion that there can be a better, or different, yesterday.

Then, we assure ourselves with, “Right here, right now, it’s great to be alive!”

Many will choose to be offended. They will be envious of the peace and tranquility in our lives. The pathologically challenged will remain tethered to their past, while we move forward. Each new day will bring the tightropes for us to walk boldly and in balance. Through it all, we retain our innocence by being able and willing to, quickly, ask for forgiveness when we are wrong and offering it freely to erase the foibles of others.

By doing so: We ignore the foolish arguments, while sharing our core beliefs. We wisely chart our course through danger, while being careful to remain harmless. We forgive ourselves and others, while receiving a ticket to the future. We learn the inherent principle of Steel and Velvet: easy is hard; hard is easy.

www.kimfoard.com

Mirrors & Teeter-Totters

Many define their quest for a life partner as searching for their “other” half. Any definition of the word “half” refers to a state of “less than whole”. I’ve tried rolling half an orange across a table; it goes roll, thump! I believe we are of greater value to ourselves, and a partner, when we are “whole” and able to “roll” smoothly.

The thought du jour: I think the answer is found in mirrors and teeter-totters.

Regardless of how attractive we are to others, when we look in the mirror we see someone with whom we are comfortable. We see our flaws, give a sigh and fantasize what it would be like to be different. In a way, that’s a good thing. If within our control, we have the opportunity to grow. Yet, before we turn away, we are accepting, forgiving, and, if mature, confident of what we have to offer the world.

Think of how our reflection, although reversed, responds to our every action. If I extend my right hand, the guy in the mirror offers his left hand in return. If I need a smile and offer one, he gives it back. What we give is what we receive. I believe when we find our partner, the same will be true. We will be looking at a mirror image of who we are. It is part of that universal principle, “Like attracts like.”

Equally as true is another universal principle, “Opposites attract.” Although it seems as though we have a paradox, I believe these opposing and contradictory statements actually offer a glimpse into what holds our world in orbit. The earth hangs perfectly in balance between North and South, East and West.

For electricity to flow there is a Positive and a Negative, for accounting systems to balance there are Debits and Credits: the principle of the magnetic Plus and Minus. It takes both. Remember when we were kids and it was OK to have teeter-totters? Sometimes they were fun and sometimes we walked away with a pain in the rear. It all depended on the partner, right?!

If an equal was on the board with us, fun was to be enjoyed. Up and Down we went. It was a relationship which required two, whole and relatively equal participants. In essence, the relationship was mirrored, opposite, and balanced. At the center of the action and our board was a fulcrum. In any relationship, that is Trust and Respect.

There is one reality to these reflections and tummy ticklers, “Beauty is in the eye of the beholder and we voluntarily give of ourselves to receive the love of another.”

www.kimfoard.com