A Good One

In a conversation with a colleague, we discussed the possibilities of moving to a different position within the organization. The new position is potentially cut-throat and very political. Like crabs in a bucket, the ones in this job don’t care about climbing over their workmates to get to the top. In the words of my colleague, there are some willing to sell their souls to get ahead.

How far are you willing to go to move ahead in this life? Would you be willing to play the game that has more losers than winners?

Later in the conversation, my colleague made an interesting comment. She said that some of these guys are older now and that you can see the regret on their faces and in their actions. Many are now disengaged and lacking any real enthusiasm for the job. Now that they have been passed up for multiple opportunities, they are content to sit back and coast into retirement. It is a good lesson to play the game in the right way because chances are your actions will come back to haunt you.

What these guys did was not take ownership of their jobs. If you are doing the right thing, there is no need to cover your tail. There would be no need to throw your teammates under the bus.


That is where our conversation headed. It doesn’t matter if you are at the top of the food chain or at the lowest of the low. We all have our responsibilities. We all have our jobs to do. As Jocko Willink says, “You must own everything in your world.” If you are scrubbing the floors, own it. Be the best floor scrubber on the planet. Who knows, one day someone might see the attention to detail you are paying to that floor and think this is the person she needs to promote into a higher position. But if you take no pride in your work, if you have a flippant, careless, or even unethical approach to your business, the opportunity for greater things will pass you by. And then you will be the one with the regret.

Whatever you are, be a good one.

Abraham Lincoln

Looking for Dirt

Charity 12/22/2019

My job is to find dirt. To be more specific, I look for dirt and other quality issues on the painted bodies of luxury cars. I am an auditor and finding dirt is one of my specific functions. I know what dirt looks like underneath the paint and can spot a speck that is smaller than a millimeter. When I go looking for dirt, I find it.

Before I was an auditor, I built cars for the same company. I didn’t know what dirt looked like and honestly I didn’t care. My focus was functionality and performance. I cared about what was on the inside.

Those who look for the bad in people will surely find it. –Abraham Lincoln

Finding dirt on people is just like finding it on cars. If you go looking for dirt, you will find it. We can find all kinds of things we don’t like about other people. If that is our intention, nobody, not even the good ones, will stand a chance. We will find a way to criticize even their positive aspects. We see it in politics. We see it in our coworkers and even with our family members.

I get paid to find dirt with the hope that our customers won’t see it on their cars. I would rather they focused on the inside which contains the majority of the car’s value. I don’t get paid to find the dirt on the people in my life. Doing so will drive them away and create an unnecessary chasm between us. I would rather focus on their inner qualities. That’s where their real value lies. By focusing on that, we have the chance to strengthen the bonds between us.

This is a good thing to keep in mind this Christmas season. We can begin with the friends and family we will see over the next few days. We can carry our practice into the new year giving us the opportunity for true peace in our lives.

The Skeleton Keys #2: Hope in Yourself

Hope 11/23/2019

America, the land of opportunity. It is the reason so many come to this country. They want a better life than what is possible by staying in their own countries. Here is a chance to live the rags to riches story. Here is the chance for success that they dream of.

This is why my father’s ancestors came to America in the late 1600’s. It is why my mother’s family, fleeing from religious persecution and the threat of communism, came over 300 years later in the late 1960’s. They wanted the freedom to pursue a better life, and not just for them but for their families and their future generations.

As a kid, I didn’t understand the sacrifices that were made by those who went before me. I saw the “have’s” who had more than me and considered myself a “have-not.” It was foolish, but I was young. I imagined all the things I could do if I came from a wealthy family. The aristocrats I read about in my books filled my imagination as well. It is amazing to think there was a time when people got a stipend for having a title in front of their name. Why couldn’t this have been me?

We live in a time when we can peek into the lives of celebrities and stars. We see the where they are today, but we don’t always see how they got there. Some were born with silver spoons in their mouths. Others had to earn it. It is these others that we should really look at. How did they get to where they are today?

This week, I listened to an interview with Shaun White on the Ed Mylett Show. This was the second interview I have listened to with Shaun White and was amazed to hear about his childhood. His family wasn’t wealthy. They made a lot of sacrifices so that Shaun and his siblings could get to the mountains. Where he is today wasn’t handed to him on a silver platter. He had to earn it. He was willing to learn by watching the best until he became the best himself. He is a beneficiary of the America our forefathers imagined. Very little stands in the way of the one who has faith in the future and is willing to work for it.

That some achieve great success, is proof to all that others can achieve it as well. –Abraham Lincoln

All through history, and not only in America, do we see the success some are able to achieve despite the circumstances of their childhoods. So many come from very little but are able to attain to great heights. Once again as a youth, I didn’t believe this was something available to me. What a fool! As I get older and continue to work on myself, I now have a different belief. I have a belief that I can do anything that I put my mind to and am willing to work for. If others can do it, so can I.

The first part of this skeleton key to success is to pray mightily and work hard. The second part is to have an unwavering hope in your own self. You have to believe you can do it. If the others can, so can you!

My son, do not think I have forgotten about you. These words are not just for me, but they are for you as well. Our family blood runs strong and the desire for the success of future generations continue to this day. You must believe in your abilities and work to cultivate them. Others can guide you, but they cannot do the work for you. You will have to find your own path and then walk it for yourself.

The virtues of faith, hope, and love make up these keys able to open any door closed to you. Two keys have been discussed, the third is next.

Be the Axe

Prudence 10/14/2019

Ever try to chop wood with a dull blade? You can get it done, but it is not easy. I have been chopping a lot of wood lately, and it has got me thinking about this tool.

The purpose of a good tool is to get a job done and to do it efficiently. A dull axe is like using a 3G phone today. You can eventually get where you want to go, but it is going to take you a while. And the whole time you are waiting for it to load up, you are going to know that things could be a lot better. In a world of sharp axes, your 3G phone is dull.

We are similar to that axe. We can be sharp, or we can be dull. When you are sharp, you get things quick. You are efficient and productive. But when you are dull, you are slow and inefficient.

To take a dull axe and make it sharp takes time. The latest method I tried using began with a metal file. I filed the edge of the axe down until I could no longer see any chips along the blade. When I was satisfied with the edge, I began to use a smooth stone. By the time I was done, my sharpened axe was an efficient chopping machine. My cuts were deeper, and my work went by quicker.

Like the axe, to become sharp in life takes time. You have to slowly and methodically remove the imperfections. In the beginning, like the metal file, you are shaving away the big chunks through your own education. You will get sharper as you go, but you will still be rough. But once your foundational work is done, you can get that whet stone out and start honing yourself to a fine edge. The whet stone is trial and error. This can’t be taught in books. You live and you learn.

Give me six hours to chop down a tree, and I’ll spend the first four sharpening the axe. –Abraham Lincoln