Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Our Brand (Part 6) – Serve


ServeWhen you think of the word “Serve”, what do you think of?  Do you think of being a servant in the Master/Slave idea or do you think of it more as an answering of needs?  Does the idea make you cringe or make you smile?  Keith and I choose to look at it as a way of answering the needs of people. 

Most Americans are familiar with the quote, "Ask not what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country." When President Kennedy spoke those words at his inaugural address, it was a call to be more, to do more. He asked the American people to think about the gifts they have been given, and the price that was paid for them. More and more often in the news and media, I see that people doing things for others has been replaced with people doing things for themselves. The idea of giving back has been replaced with a sense of entitlement -- people want what is "owed" to them. 

If your only reason for serving others is to get something back, you’ll only get that something back. That’s it. It’s like a transaction. 1 for 1. An apple for an orange. I do this, you give me that. People are always complaining that there are no opportunities out there when they already have within them the power to create them naturally by serving others. They refuse to serve and because they refuse to serve, those opportunities don’t come about at all.  But when you serve others because you genuinely want to, something big happens. A relationship is formed.

One of the most valuable ways to serve others is to show them that we care. Giving our time and encouragement to someone will often be more valuable than even the most generous gift. There are many people who feel lonely and want to chat with others. Even those who have many friends, and a loving family, enjoy speaking to new people.  When others need our help most, we should make a special effort to show them that we care. By providing love and support we can make a real difference in the lives of others.

There’s power in serving others and the power I’m talking about here is not the type that usually comes to mind when you see the word power. The power I’m speaking of is more like power in terms of opportunity, namely that serving others will result in powerful opportunities coming into your life that you never would’ve thought possible.

They’ve essentially made a habit of helping people with whatever they need AND they follow through on it. It becomes automatic. They don’t think – “What am I going to get out of this?” They just do.

As a result, the person that’s been helped senses this genuine desire to serve with no hidden agenda whatsoever and is compelled to help that person back. It’s natural. In fact, we tend to repay even more than what’s been given to us. Now since each person is so unique, filled with so much different knowledge, skills, abilities, contacts, etc., all of that can result in a myriad of opportunities that be given to you, without you even asking.

Serving others in it of itself is a powerful opportunity to help and when you start to serve others, you’ll realize the simple fact that we all need help and because you realize that, you’ll start to get in the habit of serving others even more. Imagine the avalanche of opportunities that fall into your lap then.


One of the things I keep learning is that the secret of being happy is doing things for other people.  - Dick Gregory

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Living a life of quiet desperation


Henry David Thoreau, in his book Walden, said this very famous quote:
Most men lead lives of quiet desperation and go to the grave with the song still in them.
Having talked with many people over the last several years I have discovered that too many people fall in this category.  And I think I am understanding why – finally.

As a child growing up, the message I most often heard from my parents, and all of their adult friends, was “go to school, get good grades, get a job and you will be successful”.  I listened and then I did.  I am now in my fifties and living a life of quiet desperation.  What is it that is causing this feeling?


I think most of it has to do with defining and living your life’s purpose.  Coupled with that, I think our modern lives rob us of the time and energy to do this.  One of the things I’ve noticed is as I get older, I have more and more responsibility at work.  I also have more and more responsibility at home.  If I tracked a typical progression it would basically look like:
  1. Age 25 – start career, get married
  2. Age 30 – continue up the career path, larger family, larger house
  3. Age 35 – continue up the career path, larger family, larger house
  4. Age 40 – continue up the career path, more family activities/events
  5. Age 45 – continue up the career path, more family activities/events
  6. Age 50 – hold on to the career path, more family activities/events
  7. Age 55 – hold on to the career path, more family activities/events, kids weddings, college, etc.
  8. Age 60 - hold on to the career path, maybe start downsizing
  9. Age 65 - hold on to the career path, figure out how to retire
If I were to show this visually as a graph of Time vs. Effort it would look something like this.  While we have become more and more successful in our career, we have become more and more detached from our spouse.  With an about 60% divorce rate here in America it is the rare bird indeed that is able to grow their marriage as well as their career.  And this does not even take into account all those things we wanted to accomplish when we were cutting the strings from our own parents. 

What happened to those dreams?  What ever happened to that purpose most of us had coming out of High School?  What happened to that crazy feeling when you first saw who later became your spouse?  Is it because the perceived effort to get the assumed reward seems to go up every year of our life; and we never quite seem to get as much reward as we thought we would?  I think that might have quite a bit to do with it.

I have several friends who have traded away their security in the employment and small business worlds to become big business entrepreneurs.  After picking their brains for the last several months I have discovered that the Effort vs. Time graph looks completely different for them.  The amount of effort up front is several times what we face as an employee.  However, there comes a point in time where a tipping point is reached and the amount of effort sharply decreases!

While my first graph shows a typical progression in age from 25 to 65, the second graph is a yearly progression.  This is important as most people don’t start down this route until “later” in life.  However, that does not inhibit an 18 year old from doing something like this.  And in fact, in several ways, I think our youth should do something like this before they are taught by society to take the less successful route.

Another thing to note, and this really got my attention, is the amount of time needed to hit that tipping point.  My graph shows 5 years and this is a rough average of the dozens I have talked with.  Some hit that point in as little as 3 years while others hit it in about 7 years.  And somewhere along the way to the tipping point they were able to walk away from the job scene and start devoting their time to their purpose in life.

Time and Money

I could go into all the different studies on how to make money but I don’t have the time.  I will leave that as a piece of research for you to do dear reader.  However, I will state simply that there are 3 main ways to make money:
  1. Trade hours for dollars.  This is the typical employee and small business owner route.  Here you are limited by several factors like how much the company is willing to pay for a particular job description, how much time in a day there is and what the market will bear.
  2. Compound money.  You will recognize this as stock market portfolios, 401k, and other investments.
  3. Compound time.  This is the big business model.  Earning income from other people’s efforts.  If you want more money, involve more people in your enterprise.

Now what I find curious is that only #1 is taught in school.  As we start climbing the career ladder we will find out about #2.  The sad thing is, most of us will mortgage something to try to get into #2.  Whether it is our time, working more and more overtime, getting a loan so we can invest, chipping away at our own income to sock money away in stocks and retirement plans, or what have you.  The sad fact is we are never taught how to invest money wisely and so end up losing most, if not all, by the time we are ready to retire.  #3 is not taught at all even though most of us work in a big business setting.  The owners keep getting richer and we struggle to climb a ladder where the top rungs are already full.  We have to wait for someone to leave or die before we have a chance to move up.

Another interesting set of questions that I am dealing with goes something like this:  On a sheet of paper, write out your ideal lifestyle then set it to your left.  On another sheet of paper, write out your ideal job the set it to your right.  Now compare the two.  What do they have in common?  If you (and your spouse) were honest, I would guess that they have very little in common.  In fact, most of your ideal lifestyle would be centered around time; time with your spouse, time with your loved ones, time to pursue your purpose, time to relax and finally, supporting all of that, enough money to support all the things you need time for.  Most of your ideal job would be centered around money; more money for what you are doing, more money for retirement, more money to get out of debt, and finally, at the bottom, would be less time at work.

Now you are starting to see a bit of the dilemma.  While working as an employee you have no control over either your time or your money.  Small business owners are in the same boat.  Do you think that is a basis for living a life of quiet desperation?  Do you think there is more, or less involved?

More soon dear readers…

Our Brand (Part 5) – Inspire


“To succeed, you need to find something to hold on to, something to motivate you, something to inspire you.” – Tony Dorsett


Inspire - Be Inspired This is probably going to be the hardest blog/post that I have written regarding our Brand.  The biggest reason is that though Keith and I have had people tell us that we inspire them, I have a very hard time with the idea of being inspiring to anyone.  Not because I don’t want to be, but because I intimately know my past and am generally embarrassed about it.  There are a LOT of things that I have done that I am not proud of.  So, I think that the best way to do this blog would be to look at it in more clinical terms to start with.

The Oxford Dictionary defines Inspire as:

  1. To affect, guide, or arouse by divine influence.
  2. To fill with enlivening or exalting emotion: hymns that inspire the congregation; an artist who was inspired by Impressionism.
  3. To stimulate to action; motivate
  4. To affect or touch.
  5. To draw forth; elicit or arouse feelings
  6. To be the cause or source of; bring about
  7. To make someone want to do something
  8. To give (someone) an idea about what to do or create

There are many things that someone can find inspiring in their lives.  A personal mentor, pictures, dreams, goals, etcetera. 

When you are talking about a mentor in your life, that person makes you feel better about yourself and makes you want to be better to prove your mentor right.  Keith and I have a few people in our lives who do just that.  They see something in us that we don’t really see and it inspires us to flush it out so that we can be better people and better business builders. 

When it is a dream or a goal that inspires you, you do what work you need to because you want or need that “thing” to come to fruition.  You are willing to step outside of your comfort zone to get it. Or maybe you absolutely do NOT want that thing (i.e. a job, a boss, whatever) and you are still inspired to get out of that comfort zone.

Pictures are fabulous ways to be inspired.  We use pictures all the time to invoke feelings within ourselves.  I have pictures of female bodybuilders to remind me of what I want to look like when I am done losing weight.  We have pictures of Peter Island to remind us of why we are building our business.  We have even more pictures of things that we want to accomplish in our house, yard and on our way to retirement.

However, to be inspired to greatness is one thing, to inspire others to greatness is completely different.  Here are some ways that you and I can inspire the people:

  • Be a good example. People watch what you do more than they listen to what you say. Be someone worth emulating.  People who are deeply inspiring have forged their own authentic path. In other words, these people are living full-out what they talk about, study and research.  They are the true embodiment of courage and fortitude in the face of opposition, criticism, judgment, and what sometimes seem to be unbeatable odds.  John Quincy Adams said “If your actions inspire others to dream more, learn more, do more and become more, you are a leader.”
  • Care about others. People don’t care about how much you know until they know how much you care. Ask questions. Take a genuine interest in people.  You need to be “others-focused” and derive satisfaction and reward by helping other people grow and flourish.
  • Encouragement. Everyone goes through tough times. When you support people and encourage them through these times, you’ll be inspiring them to see the best in themselves and in the situation.  Ralph Waldo Emerson said, “Our chief want is someone who will inspire us to be what we know we could be.”
  • Be inspired yourself. Look for people, ideas, environments and knowledge that you find inspiring and motivating.  Look up inspiring quotes, find inspiring pictures, keep them in front of you all the time!
  • to_inspire_by_mushir1Share from your own experience. You have more to share than you realize. You may be the only one who can touch someone with your message.  Be focused on turning your “mess” into a “message” or helping others succeed and overcome the deep challenges out there in the way of greater success, fulfillment, peace, contribution, and progress.  Be willing to share your failures as well as your successes. Others will relate to you and understand that they’re not the only ones with challenges.
  • Tell stories. Your individual set of traumas, experiences, longings, failures, triumphs, and history give you a unique way of looking at the world, and you need to share your special vision.  The best way is through powerful stories that pluck at heartstrings, stimulate thinking and emotions in ways that literally no one but you can.
  • Be a good communicator. Increasing your ability to communicate effectively is a critical element for you to inspire others. Watch how you speak and what you say.  You have the power to build a person up or rip them to shreds with your words and tone.
  • Challenge people. Many of us have had teachers who at times seemed more like tormentors than mentors. They challenged us to do our best and we were better for it.
  • Read. It may not follow that all readers are leaders, but certainly all leaders are readers. Stay informed. Share what you read with others. Tell people about books that have inspired you. Share your knowledge.  I suggest authors John C. Maxwell (, Og Mandino ( and Gary Chapman ( to start with.

Next week we will discuss the final installment of Our Brand – Serve and then I will discuss with Keith what we want to talk about next.  Have a great week everyone!!!

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Our Brand (Part 4) -- Love:

types-of-love The saying "Love is a many splendored thing" means it is brilliant, magnificent and beautiful.  As most of you know, there are several types of love:

Agápe  means love in a "spiritual" sense. It often refers to a general affection or deeper sense of "true unconditional love" rather than the attraction suggested by "eros." This love is selfless; it gives and expects nothing in return.  Whether the love given is returned or not, the person continues to love (even without any self-benefit).

Éros is "physical" passionate love, with sensual desire and longing. Romantic, pure emotion without the balance of logic. "Love at first sight".

Philia is "mental" love. This type of love has give and take. It includes loyalty to friends, family, and community, and requires virtue, equality and familiarity. Philia denotes a general type of love, used for love between family, between friends, a desire or enjoyment of an activity, etcetera.

Keith and I have this as part of our brand to show how we feel about each other as well as the people around us.  We choose to love people unconditionally.  That is not to say that we love them the same way that I love Keith or that he loves me -  for lack of a better term, we have different heart spaces for people.

Heart space number 1: Spousal love

The love I have for my husband is a combination of all 3 of these types of love.  I love him mentally, physically and spiritually.  Some are stronger than others at various points, but they are always all there.  It is a beautiful, magnificent thing, one which many people comment about on a regular basis.  But let me tell you, it is work.  We made a choice to love each other through everything. 

Heart space number 2:  Our family by blood and choice

Whether our family is by blood or by choice they have a bond of love with each of them.  To us, our friends are our family and we strive to have our family as our friends.  We call our close friends our brothers and sisters, daughters and sons.  Few we call mom and dad.  But all of them have a special place in our heart.  

We have been told that our hearts are to big, because we give people multiple chances if they screw up.  We don't really live by the "fool me once shame on you, fool me twice, shame on me" because we genuinely care about people.  We want to see our friends happy and will help anywhere that we can to make that happen.  We love them with the philia and agape types of love.  It is give and take, but it is also unconditional.  We may get frustrated with them and need to take a break, but it doesn't change the fact that we love them.

Please understand that there is a big difference between friends and acquaintances.  I like most of my acquaintances, but I would not necessarily open my home or my heart to them, until I know them well enough to call them my family. 

When you truly love someone, you want to see them happy and comfort them when they are not.  The easiest way to let people know you love them is to show that you are thinking about them, even if it is nothing more than a quick text or phone call.  Chances are very good that if a person pops into your head there is a reason that you need to talk to them.

Until next week...