Saturday, August 23, 2008

For a Season and a Reason

I just finished a phone call with a client of mine. It turned out to be a very inspiring and spiritual event. I currently have the home of Lonnie and Deborah listed for sale. They have already moved to a new location and have trusted me to keep an eye on their home and to get it sold. Today is Saturday. Earlier today, I played a small roll in a movie. Lonnie had called earlier today and left me a message about an item we had been working on. After the shoot was over, I sent a text message back with an update from my side. A couple of hours later, they called me and we had a pleasant visit. 

At first, our conversation was focused on the business at hand. I then told them that they would laugh at me because I had been in a movie earlier that day. We had a fun discussion about it and I shared the plot of the movie. The plot is based on the debate of the Problem of Evil. The basis of the debate is if God created everything, and if Evil exists, then there can not be a God. The story develops and leads you to the realization that God does exists. 

Deborah asked me what I would do when I was rich and famous, to which I replied, "It won't happen." But if it did, I went on to explain that I would use my "fame" to share inspiring stories and teach people how to become better than they are now. I feel passionate about life and its purpose.  I shared with her the ideas I share in this blog. After one of the stories I shared with her, she thanked me and stated that she needed that message today. I was deeply touched. 

We shared appreciation of our friendship over the past year and a half. Lonnie and Deborah have a great spiritual depth and have been so kind to share with me. I expressed my sorrow that our relationship we have had would decline after their home sells. I shared how I feel frustrated from time to time in that I fail to keep in touch with great people that I have had the opportunity to learn from and grow with. Great friends from previous points in my life don't receive calls from me, but I think of them often.

Deborah then shared a great lesson with me. She said, "God brings us together for a season, and a reason. Once that season is gone, then the relationship may change. The love and appreciation stays and the benefits of the season remain to sustain and carry us through life, even though we have moved on to the next 'Season'".

Upon conclusion of our conversation, I knew two things. 1) I believed in the Season and Reason reality. I pondered on those precious relationships I have had over the years. I still hold those individuals in high esteem and love. Even though the frequency of contact has changed, the respect and special feelings of those relationships quickly returns when we meet on occasion.  2) We are all brothers and sisters. The feelings I have for Lonnie and Deborah are not that of a regular "client" relationship. I truly feel they are my brother and sister. The influence and support we have with each other is more than circumstance. God saw a need for us to cross paths briefly, but each of us are better for the meeting and I will ever be grateful. 

So to each of us. Who has God put in your life this season? What are you to share? What are you to learn? How long will your season be? As a farmer needs to plant in the spring and harvest in the fall, so we need to be aware of the signs of the seasons. 

And to Lonnie and Deborah...Thank you for the season. 

Thursday, July 24, 2008

It's All About Position & Preparation

Last Sunday on the way home from an early morning church meeting, I was stopped at a traffic light waiting for the signal to allow me to proceed. I was positioned between two cars. In the car behind me was a good friend of mine. Both he and I are competative, so already I had thought about how I would manage to stay in front of him as we turned onto the highway before us. When the light turned green, and the three vehicles turned onto the highway, I shot for the open lane only to be cut off as the vehicle in front of me changed lanes. I glanced into my rear view mirror only to discover that my friend had stayed in the other lane and had closed the gap enough that a safe lane change was not available. And even though I was driving a sedan that was known for its power and handling, I was now looking at the tail lights of my friend's car in front of me. Not a happy sight, but I was happy for him and the good patience and decision he had made. I waved as I passed him; he having to slow for his right turn.

Later I received a text message from him that said,
"It is not always speed & power, but position that wins."

A couple of days later, I had entered a photo into a contest online. The photo was a hurried attempt to shoot something I had in my mind. It was near bedtime and I didn't want to disrupt the home schedule. So I took my son out across the street, set up the shot and got it done. It was fun. Always like being with my kids and they are also so supportive of my hobby. We had a fun shoot and ended up with this photo.

The next morning after I posted the photo, I received a Private Message from a great photographer who does a lot for the site. He gave a quick complement and congratulations. I responded that I had just quickly thrown the shot together. He replied with a profound statement. He said, "Most of what I consider my best also "just happened". But I know that these brief moments that lead to a great capture wouldn't exist if there were not hours and hours of preliminary work.

Everybody can make the last few steps to the top of Mt.Everest. Getting yourself into position to be able to make them - that's the trick."

These two stories pounded home the reality of the need for preparation. The olympics are just a couple of weeks away. Each athlete will give their all to win in their event. As we watch, we will only see a small performance of great brilliance. We will stand amazed at the power, speed, and grace they will exhibit. But none of us will have watched their hours of preparation. 

How often do we look to have the victory of the day only to realize that we failed to "position & prepare"? When our teenager comes home with an attitude of disengagement, and we try to have a productive conversation only to be shunned, it is too late to position and prepare. Steve Covey stated it well. He talked about making emotional deposit into life that we can use at a later day. 

If we failed to build a relationship of trust with our kids when they were young, then continued to nurture that relationship; when they became teenagers, we had no deposit to withdraw from when a need arose. 

So too in every area of our lives. Position and preparation begin a long time before the actual act. The challenge can be, however, that we don't always know when the time to perform will arrive. It is our challenge to prepare and position every day for that which is to come. So how do we do it?

1) Take time to pray and ponder. There is an insight that can come to us as we quietly ponder our life and purpose. Clear direction will come to us and inspire us as to what we should do now to prepare for tomorrow.

2) Read good books. Many brilliant and inspiring people have left a record for us to follow. Study good books. They become deposits in our minds of things we can do in ours.

3) Serve others. When we selflessly serve others, a higher purpose in life becomes apparent. Our burdens become smaller and our self-esteem grows.

4) Exercise and eat right. By creating a healthy body, we create a vehicle for us to perform in. The better the vehicle, the more options we will have.

5) Know your destination. If you don't know where you are going, how will you know where to turn? Start with eternity. Where are you going? How about 10 years from now? Then 5, 1, 6 months, tomorrow. Without a direction, we wonder aimlessly through life and miss out on opportunities to grow and contribute and become whom we should. By knowing where we are going, difficult decisions become easy because they are made in light of our destination.

Begin today to position and prepare for your future. Make a chart to your destination. Then place one foot in front of the other and get going. It will take time, but 10 years from now will be 10 years no matter what you do today. But what you do today will determine where you are in 10 years. Live higher!

Monday, May 19, 2008

The Puzzle Piece

There once was a little boy who wanted a puzzle for Christmas. As part of this Christmas traditions, they would always open a present on Christmas Eve. When Christmas Eve arrived and it was time to open one present, he selected the beautifully wrapped box that was shapped like a puzzle and rattled with pieces inside, just hoping his sluthing would be right.

He eagerly tore through the paper to reveal to his yearning heart, the 500 piece puzzle he wanted. A big smile and gleaming eyes adorned his face as he threw his arms around his parent's and thanked them for the charished gift.

The boy and his dad skipped to the kitchen table and opened the box and dumped the many pieces out. For hours they worked on the puzzle as it slowly started taking shape. The warmth of the fireplace and the joy of creation kept time at bay.

Dad picked up a piece and carefully looked at it. Showing it to his young son, he asked, "Do you know where this piece fits?" The boy shook his head and stated he didn't know where it belonged. Dad took the piece, leaned toward the fireplace and tossed the piece in to burn. The boy's eyes opened in disbelief accompanied with an expletive gasp of horror!

Dad then began to teach his son a life's lesson. He said, "Sometimes life can be like this puzzle. We receive a piece that we don't know where it fits, but we end up tossing it out instead of waiting to find where it belongs."

Frequently in life, we have experiences that just don't make sense. It is not until the puzzle gets further a long that we find a fit for that experience. I read a history of a man who went through many trials in his life. One day during a particularly trying experience, he plead to God to know why he had to go through these hard times.

Feelings of peace came into his heart and he recounts a list of trials that he went through flowed through his mind in details. Then the thoughts that followed changed his understanding and provide inspiration to each of us. The thoughts were, "All these things shall give thee experience and shall be for thy good. The Son of Man hath descended below them all. Art thou greater than He?"

As we endure hardship, if we look around, we find those that endure more than we do. It is like the sign in the shoe shop which reads, "I used to complain about not having shoes, until I met one who had no feet."

Like steel, we are strenghtened as we go through trials. There is no other way for meaningful growth to occur. As we go through trials, think about the gain you will receive from enduring the fire. Be grateful for the opportunity to grow and stretch. Then look around you and extend a hand of friendship and strength to those around you who need your support during their trials. Together we can grow to become great.

Like every great individual who has changed the world for better, their histories are filled with trials of growth. So the next time you feel like giving up, take a breath, look to those who have gone before, and say, "This too shall give me experience and shall be for my good!"

Monday, April 21, 2008

Leaving a Legacy

"If we live for ourselves, when we are gone, we will leave behind stuff. If we live for others, when we are gone, we will leave a legacy."

This was part of a talk I heard a couple of weeks ago. These aren't the exact words, but the content is the same. I am currently unable to get a copy of the talk but hope to soon.

Yesterday an acquaintance of mine passed away. He is the father of a co-worker and his death was not expected. Times like these bring into focus a larger view of life. When I heard of his passing, I reflected on my association with him. I relived some of the conversations we had and recall with fondness, his genuine smile and the gleam in his eye.

I called my co-worker to share my heartfelt sympathy at her loss. Her crying accented the depth of love she had for her father and the shock at the untimely loss. Each memory dug deeper into her love and admiration for her father.

I started wondering about my parents. I wondered about my kids and wife. What about my friends? If I were to die today, I think I would be missed. But would I only leave a memory behind and a temporary void in the lives I lived in?

Each of my 6 children have been named after someone great. Grandmothers, spiritual giants, great-great-great-great grandparents, and other inspiring namesakes. Why did these individuals come to mind? As my wife and I thought about each name, it was those who are or who have left a legacy by the way they lived their life for others. Those who have passed on whose names we have used as inspiration for our kids, created wonderful legacies which inspire our family generations since.

So what should we do? Take this challenge. Take two pieces of paper and write on the top of one, "My Obituary", and on the second, "My Legacy 100 Years Later".

Now write out what you would like each of these two things to say. Now live your life to fulfill these desires. To create a legacy takes as much time as it does to not. So why not start creating your legacy today. There is an eternity waiting for your legacy. Don't disappoint the future.

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

Learning Success from a Child

Have your ever watched a child learn? It is amazing to me the persistence they have. My 7 month old daughter is just mastering rolling over. It has taken her weeks to get it down. Even last week she was still rolling over onto one arm which would put her face in the carpet and no arm to push her up. She didn’t like that very much.

From one small accomplishment to the next, children continue to succeed. In a few more months, my daughter will start to get up on her hands and knees, then shortly after she will learn to crawl. Next comes walking. This is where things start to get interesting: the bumps, the bruises, and the pain. I almost hate to take my kids out in public during this learning phase. They look so bad! But they fall, get hurt, and then get back up until they get it right. Sometimes it takes weeks or months, but they persist until they succeed.

When we set our sights on a goal and start pursuing it, what happens the first time we “fall down” and get a bump and bruise? We tend to quit; or at best, we try a couple of more times, then quit.

As we begin life here on earth, we have a large potential and inclination for success. Without it, many of us may still be crawling around today, and maybe some wouldn’t be toilet trained yet either.

What happens to us to change the unconquerable spirit that empowered us to success at all costs? Let me share a story. My 8th grade year in school, I was talking in English class when I shouldn’t have been. My teacher singled me out in front of the whole class and stated with emotion, “Steven! You will never amount to anything!”

Whether she was right or not is irrelevant to this discussion. But as we become more aware of our surroundings, we begin to put more value in the comments of others, and strive to live up to other’s views of ourselves, and little by little, the unconquerable spirit is whittled away and we become less and less believing in ourselves and our potential.

Two things I think we should learn from this. First, how do we interact with the children around us? Do we encourage them and build up their belief in themselves? Or do we contribute to the taking away of their inherent capacity to succeed?

Second; the next time you set a goal and have a setback and want to give up, get down on your hands and knees and crawl around for a minute; the ability to succeed never left you. Then get back up on your feet and get after it again, and again.

Your potential to contribute to your family, your neighbors, and society is great! What legacy are you leaving? Someday in the future, we will all leave this life. When that day arrives, will you have completed everything you wanted and needed to do? When that day comes none of us know, but we do have NOW! The gift of NOW is only valued by how you use it. Start NOW the dreams you have always had, and do those things that will leave the legacy that is fitting of you and the success you realized as a child.

Monday, March 3, 2008

Learning from Our Mistakes

Just over a year ago, I received a call from one of my clients to sit down and visit. Upon arrival at his home, I could feel a level of tension; I knew there were issues. At the conclusion of our discussion, I had been fired, and I had deserved it. Nearly a month earlier, I had promised to contact him every week and I had not lived up to the deal. We had interacted via the internet several times and on the phone multiple times since that promise in regards to a pending offer and negotiation. But of the phone calls, only two were originated by me. It doesn’t matter that we had over 40 showings and two offers on the property, I failed to live up to my commitment and promise.

Why do I share this experience with you? I do so in the hope that you can learn from it. My initial response was to try and “justify” the situation. I recognized this early in the discussion and quickly realized that approach was wrong. I then asked for specifics, took notes, apologized, and then promised to work with the next agent in getting the property up on the market quickly.

Had I kept that defensive attitude, I would have lost an opportunity to learn. I had a miserable weekend. I stewed, worried, didn’t sleep, and stressed. I hate to let people down. But as I went through this process, I started to ask myself questions. If I am failing with this client, am I failing with others as well? What about my family? What about my friends? What about myself? As I took this inventory, I discovered that this same trait was bleeding into other areas of my life as well. Not a good thing.

I am now in the process of correction. It may take a while, but identifying the problem has been the first step. So I also ask each of you to hold me accountable to this, as well as I apologize if you have been the recipient of this mistake.

As stated earlier, our natural response when we make mistakes is to “justify” and put the blame somewhere else. By doing so, we dismiss accountability and loose an opportunity for growth and correction. I once read a book that stated criticism is like a bucket of water being thrown on you. There is an initial shock of impact, followed by some irritation of grains of sand in your eye, but if we look carefully, we may find a small piece of gold which will help us grow and improve.

I wish I wouldn’t have had this opportunity to learn, but I am grateful for the education I have taken from it. Let’s look at life with open eyes. Take the mistakes as opportunities to learn and grow. I anticipate each of you are imperfect like me. I doubt I will even get close to perfect during my life, but I hope to improve continuously.

Friday, February 29, 2008


I have always been captivated by change. There seems to be in each of us an internal flame that burns, igniting the desire to improve, grow, and get better. Traditionally the first of every year is one of those landmark points that make us think a little deeper about where we are, where we have come from and where we are going or becoming. I love this time. It is exciting to me to dream and look to the future. I get excited about who I can become. Yet, every year I continue to make only part of my goals and fall short on quite a few.

I heard a great saying the other day. “Change is easy unless not changing is easier”. That truly captivated my feelings. Each time I had pondered the changes I wanted to make in my life, the steps were easy to compile and realistic to implement. But not changing was even easier. So how can we change the odds to help us? How can we make the changes happen?

Three Steps to Change

1) Write down the desired change

2) Review the written statement daily

3) The Key – Accountability


A goal not written is a wish. Write it down. Something happens in the mind that makes it easier to fulfill and accomplish written goals. Also, write your goal in the form of the desired outcome. For example; if you desire to quit smoking, don’t write “I am going to quit smoking.” Instead write, “I enjoy the freedom of clean lungs.” The mind cannot focus on an opposite. If I say to you, “Don’t think about a Pink Elephant” can you do it? Focus on the positive outcome.


The constant reminder of your desired goal is mandatory. Our daily lives will weigh us down in discouraging events that will tend to pull us away from out goals. The daily reminder will help us keep first things first.


Maybe the hardest step is this. I believe it is FEAR that stops us from making accountabilities. We fear that if we fail, someone else will know about it. But this is the key. Being responsible and accountable to someone else keeps the flame under us to keep moving. There are three different levels of accountability. 1- Personal Accountability Partner. 2- Mentors. 3- Coaches. Each serves a different purpose and has a different responsibility. Depending on your goal, a different accountability is needed. A Personal Accountability Partner is a trusted friend that will push you and encourage you. Mentors are individuals who have made it to the goal you are seeking. Coaches are usually paid experts who help you implement the systems to get to the final goal.

Take time this wonderful holiday season to review your life. Evaluate your Spiritual, Family, Business, Financial, Emotional, and Physical areas of your lives. Set some goals to make 2007 even better than 2006. Write down your goals. Identify which accountability to implement. Then get it done. 365 days from now will be 365 days from now no matter what you do. But what you do in between now and then will make the difference of how your life will be. Remember it is all about the small details. It is the golfer who was one stroke less that won twice as much money. So believe that you can become better and achieve more in your life.

Thursday, February 28, 2008

I'm Dying

The other day as I was listening to the radio, a song came on with a line, “live as you were dying.” I may not agree totally with the choices of the song writer, but I love the idea. A couple of months ago, I had the pleasure of helping a gentleman find a home. While we were out looking, we began to discuss life. He shared with me that he had cancer that would eventually take his life. I wish each of you could have been there with me. His disclosure wasn’t one of seeking sympathy or compassion, but one of fact. He then immediately went on to talk about the benefits of his condition. He smilingly stated that he lives each day so that it counts, without regrets. I loved the answer.

Our tendency is to live each day out of habit. It is what we as humans typically do. We get in a rut, get comfortable, and trudge through doing the same thing until the end. We fail to stop and ponder our lives until one of the moments in life opens our eyes to “forced pondering”. These events could include the birth of a baby, the death of a family member or close friend, a class reunion, a visit to the doctor, and other situations. These events kick us out of our daily routine and open our eyes to life. We start to ask questions; deep questions. Recently I drove without the radio on. As I was thinking, I asked myself, “Does life have a purpose? If so, what is it?” It was a great experience. I didn’t want to arrive at my destination so I could contemplate that question longer. Many more questions came from that experience which lead to others and more thinking time.

So back to living each day with purpose. If we chose to live each day as if it were our last, we could choose one of two paths. 1) We could live under the creed that, “He who dies with the most toys wins!” or 2) There is a tally being kept and true joy only comes from living a life which is in harmony with eternal principles. One leads to a better world and the other to selfish elevation and destruction. We have all heard the comment that no priest has ever heard someone on their deathbed state that they wish they would have spent more time at the office. We each could insert many things into that statement as well.

So if you were dying, what would you change today? How would you live now? May I be the doctor and give you your prognosis? Today you are one day closer to dying than you were yesterday. Accidents happen and you may not live much longer. Right now is the only time you have. We each have a condition that will eventually end in death. That condition is being human. It is 100% mortal. Well, now that each of us have been given the prognosis, it is time for us to make the adjustments we need to make.

Here are a couple of ideas to help make the changes. 1) Take time once a week to think. Ask questions. Evaluate the previous week. Make plans for the next. Compare your actions to how you want to be. Write down the changes and plans as they come to you. 2) Share your plans and actions with those you love. Have them help you be accountable to the change. 3) Accept that it will take time and that things will slip to the old. Don’t give up. Regroup and move forward.

When that day comes that we are laying on our deathbed, and the priest comes to visit us, let’s look him in the eye and say, “What a great ride!”

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

(from a newsletter dated: Feb 13, 2006)

Two Profound Stories

This month I had intended on writing about a different subject, but I came across these two stories and knew that I had to include them in my newsletter. I don't know who authored the text, but have verified the stories as real. I hope you enjoy them as much as I did.


Many years go, Al Capone virtually owned Chicago. Capone wasn’t famous for anything heroic. He was notorious for enmeshing the windy city in everything from bootlegging booze and prostitution to murder. Capone had a lawyer nicknamed “Easy Eddie.” He was his lawyer for a good reason. Eddie was very good. In fact, Eddie’s skill at legal maneuvering kept Big Al out of jail for a long time. To show his appreciation, Capone paid him very well. Not only was the money big, but also Eddie got special dividends. For instance, he and his family occupied a fenced in mansion with live-in help and all of the coneniences of the day. The estate was so large that it filled an entire Chicago city block. Eddie lived the high life of the Chicago mob and gave a little consideration to the atrocities that went on around him.

Eddie did have one soft spot, however. He had a son that he loved dearly. Eddie saw to it that his young son had the best of everything: clothes, cars and a good education. Nothing was withheld. Price was no object. And, despite his involvement with organized crime, Eddie even tried to teach him rite from wrong. Eddie wanted his son to be a better man then he was. Yet, with all his wealth and influence, there were two things he couldn’t give his son; he couldn’t pass on a good name and a good example.

One day, Easy Eddie reached a difficult decision. Easy Eddie wanted to rectify wrongs he had done. He decided he would go to the authorities and tell the truth about Al “Scareface” Capone, clean up his tarnished name and offer his son some semblance of integrity. To do this, he would have to testify against The Mob, and he knew that the cost would be great.

So, he testified. Within the year, Easy Eddie’s life ended in a blaze of gunfire on a lonely Chicago street. But in his eyes, he had given his son the greatest gift he had to offer, at the greatest price he would ever pay.

Police removed from his pockets a rosary, a crucifix, and a religious medallion and a poem clipped from a magazine. The poem read:

The clock of life is wound but once
And no man has the power
To tell just when the hand will stop,
At late or early hour.

Now is the only time you own.
Live, love, toil with a will.
Place no faith in time.
For the clock may soon be still.


World War II produced many heroes. One such man was Lieutenant Commander Butch O’Hare. He was a fighter pilot assigned to the aircraft carrier Lexington on the South Pacific.

One day his entire squadron was sent on a mission. After he was airborne, he looked at his fuel gauge and realized that someone had forgotten to top off his fuel tank. He would not have enough fuel to complete his mission and get back to his ship.

His flight leader told him to return to the carrier. Reluctantly, he dropped out of formation and headed back to the fleet. As he was returning to the mother ship he saw something that turned his blood cold, a squadron of Japanese aircraft were speeding their way toward the American fleet.

The American fighters were gone on a sortie, and the fleet was all but defenseless. He couldn’t reach his squadron and bring them back in time to save the fleet of the approaching danger.

There was only one thing to do. He must somehow divert them from the fleet. Laying aside all thoughts of personal safety, he drove into the formation of Japanese planes.

Wing-mounted 50 caliber’s blazed as he charged in, attacking one surprised enemy plane and then another. Butch wove in and out of the now broken formation and fired at as many planes as possible until all his ammunition was finally spent. Undaunted, he continued the assault. He dove at the planes, trying to clip a wing or tail in hopes of damaging as many enemy planes as possible and rendering them unfit to fly.

Finally, the exasperated Japanese Squadron took off in another direction. Deeply relived, Butch O’Hare and his tattered fighter limped back to the carrier. Upon arrival he reported in and related the event surrounding his return.

The film from the gun-camera mounted on his plane told the tale. It showed the extent of Butch’s daring attempt to protect the fleet. He had in fact destroyed five enemy aircraft.

This took place on February 20, 1942, and for this action Butch became the Navy’s first ACE of W.W.II, and the first Naval Aviator to win the Congressional Medal of Honor. A year later Butch was killed in aerial combat at the age of 29.

His home town would not allow the memory of this WW II hero to fade, and today. O’Hare Airport in Chicago is named in tribute to the courage of this great man. So the next time you find yourself at O’Hare International, give some thought to visiting Butch’s memorial displaying this statue and his Medal of Honor. It’s located between Terminal 1 and 2.


Butch O’Hare was Easy Eddie’s son.

My wife originally read this to me. When she read the last statement, my emotions got the best of me. The two key lessons I pulled from this story are: 1) An example can be a powerful influence. 2) Do the right thing and let the consequences come. Eddie never saw in his lifetime the full effects of his change, yet his change affected thousands of individuals in an ongoing generational growing number. I hope you enjoyed these stories as much as I have. Have a great month, and thanks for all you do.


(P.S. Last fall, on a business trip to Chicago, I was thankful to have a couple of hours prior to my flight to see the tribute to Butch. It rekindled the strength of the story to me again.)


Over the past few years, I have written a newsletter with stories about life. I believe that there is so much more to life than what we spend the majority of our time on. Yet, too often, it is the important but insignificant things that really consume the majority of our time and we leave the most important things in life to simmer on the back burner. This only leaves our lives filled with, "I should have..."
So my goal with these stories is to share inspiring thoughts that help each of us keep a perspective on things that are really the most important. We as human beings can be so much more, and it is my hope that sharing these thoughts will help you and me become more and help others along the way as well.

To start out with, I want to reprint articles that I have sent in my newsletters in the past. Many of these have been very profound to me personally and have opened my eyes to the potential that lies within me. I hope you enjoy them as much as I have. Please feel free to leave comments on the stories and thoughts that may inspire the rest of us as well.

Best wishes,