Pleasant Words

Temperance 11/12/2019

When you hear the words, you are refreshed. Invigorated. They stir your soul like a pat on the back or a gentle hand helping you up. It is a cup of hot soup on a cold winter’s day. The heat goes down to your core and warms your very being. We all yearn to hear pleasant words. They are the words that confirm your choices and justify your actions.

Think of that dog with nothing but unconditional love in his heart. Pleasant words and that tail will show it. But if you speak out in anger, that poor beast will shrink away from you, put its tail between its legs, and lower its head.

We want to hear the kind words. They are powerful and have more effectiveness than any venom a person can spew. And as bad as we all want to hear it, we can be the ones speaking them.

Imagine they that struggle. Why beat them down when you can lift them back up? Or the bitter. You could return their bitterness, but what good would that do? Return their words with sweetness and just maybe the harshness of their words will dissipate. Regardless of the outcome, you will be blameless if you return their hatred with love.

To hold your tongue when you are being attacked with words takes great discipline. To not return anger with anger takes humility. And out of love and charity, we can freely give kind words, words that cost us nothing, to those who desperately need it. It might be the difference in their lives. It might bring them the health they need to keep going.

Pleasant words are like a honeycomb, sweetness to the soul and health to the body. –Proverbs 16:24

It Starts With Numero Uno

Temperance: 11/5/2019

In Lee Iacocca’s autobiography, Henry Ford III is described as a despot in control of Ford Motor Company. It was his kingdom, and he did as he pleased.

It reminds me of a previous supervisor. She ruled her kingdom with an iron scepter, yet she was completely disengaged from the actual business. She held her people to a high standard, yet she was exempt from holding herself to one. When major initiatives were being launched, she was conveniently on extended vacations far away from the action. She was a poor leader, who garnered no respect from her subordinates, peers, or senior managers.

I’m also reminded of my own experiences as a leader. I never received poor ratings, but I know my performance could have been much better. I didn’t have the discipline or the desire to know the business as well as I could. I only got by, which was far from optimal.

Remembering my own shortcomings is a good way for me to not lose my focus today. I need discipline in my life to succeed. As Jocko Willink says, “Discipline equals freedom.” When I once thought I was free, I was in fact a slave to my own fruitless whims and desires. I couldn’t trust myself to make the right decisions and I doubt anybody else could trust me as well.

Your kingdom may be a Fortune 500 company or the family unit in your home. Regardless of the size of the kingdom you would rule, you have to maintain your personal discipline. You cannot become lax and check out anytime a major deadline comes up. You have to continue to train in order to be ready at all times. It starts with numero uno. That is you, and it is me.

Would you have a great empire? Rule over yourself. –Publius Syrus

A New Day

Temperance 9/10/19

Whatever happened yesterday cannot be changed. Too many times the sun has gone down, and I was left wondering what happened. Or more often than not, what didn’t happen. The day got away from me. Time was squandered, and I would go to bed in disgust having wasted another opportunity.

But as a new day dawns, optimism abounds. We are given another chance to make progress. Yesterday is gone, but today, bright with its hopes and dreams, is here now. We can choose to make the most of it. We can redeem ourselves from our past carelessness, or we can let another day be lost forever. We will only get so many of these opportunities. What will you do?

With the new day comes new strengths and new thoughts. –Eleanor Roosevelt

11 Tips for Banking Your Time

Time is the coin of life. Only you can determine how it is to be spent. -Carl Sandberg

You only have so much in the bank. The sad truth is that there is no making deposits into this account to garner more time. Maybe with diet and exercise you can maximize your allotment, but even that is no guarantee.

Photo by Dmitry Moraine (@wildbook) on Unsplash

You will never know when the Banker closes your account permanently, but until then you can:

 Spend it wisely: “A man who dares to waste one hour of time has not discovered the value of life.” –Charles Darwin
 Keep it in perspective: “Today is the oldest you’ve ever been and the youngest you’ll ever be.” –Eleanor Roosevelt
 Balance as you go: “Lost! Somewhere between sunrise and sunset, two golden hours, each set with sixty diamond minutes. No reward is offered, for they are gone forever.” –Horace Mann
 No credit solution: “Of all losses, time is the most irrecuperable for it can never be redeemed.” –King Henry VIII
 Find the value: “Believe me when I tell you that thrift of time will repay you in after life with usury of profit beyond your most sanguine dreams, and that waste of it will make you dwindle alike in intellectual and moral stature beyond your darkest reckoning.” –William Gladstone
 Get a return on your investment: “I say, let no one rob me of a single day who isn’t going to make a full return on the loss.” Seneca
 Work on the micro: “Don’t count the days, make the days count.” –Muhammad Ali
 Remember you are the authorized user: “The bad news is time flies. The good news is you are the pilot.” –Michael Althsuler
 Settle up every night: “Finish each day and be done with it. You have done what you could. Some blunders and absurdities no doubt crept in; forget them as soon as you can. Tomorrow is a new day. You shall begin it serenely and with too high a spirit to be encumbered with your old nonsense.” –Ralph Waldo Emerson
 Everybody else is at the bank too, so don’t be a turd: “Start every day off with a smile and get over it.” –W.C. Fields
 Savor every bit of it: “Do not spoil the wonder with haste.” –J.R.R. Tolkien

The sand is running. Cherish each grain.

Temperance 2/26/2019

If a man does not discipline himself, he cannot bring order into the home. -Confucius

You have only yourself to be blame if your house is in disarray. If you made this mess, then get some discipline and fix it.


The Virtue of Temperance

Control. Discipline. Restraint. Call it what you will. But if you don’t have it, then life will be much harder. Rather than automating your life for success, your habits will be weak and detrimental. Temper your desires of excess. There is joy in moderation.


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Temperance 2/19/2019

True power. True wisdom. If you want it, Lao Tzu has the key…

Knowing others is intelligent. Knowing yourself is true wisdom. Mastering others is strength. Mastering yourself is true power.


The Virtue of Temperance

Control. Discipline. Restraint. Call it what you will. But if you don’t have it, then life will be much harder. Rather than automating your life for success, your habits will be weak and detrimental. Temper your desires of excess. There is joy in moderation.


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Choosing to Create More and Consume Less

Oliver Roos
Photo by Oliver Roos on Unsplash

Yesterday, I read the Medium article: Are You a Consumer or a Creator? by Melissa Chu. Ms. Chu writes about the prolific life of Pablo Picasso, who in his lifetime created 147,800 works of art. Imagine what it would take to produce that much content. As Ms. Chu writes, “He wasn’t reading about painting, thinking about painting, or watching someone else paint. Picasso was painting. He was creating, on average, over five works every single day of the year.”

The article had its intended effect on me. What am I doing in life? Am I a consumer or a creator? I was almost unable to finish the article, because it was a form of consumption. After I read it, I sat there and considered for a moment what I should do next. Typically, I would move on to the next article or open my Kindle app and start reading. I would consume.

I love to read. On average, I spend 3-4 hours every day reading. I want to write more. I would love to say one day that I’m a professional writer, but I do not spend 3-4 hours every day writing. As Epictetus says, “If you want to be a writer, write.” Right now, I am a reader. I am a consumer.

When I have time to myself, when I am not working, exercising,or spending time with family, what am I doing? If I’m not reading, I’m watching instructional videos on YouTube or playing a word game on my phone. Like reading, these activities may make me smarter. Is being smarter improving my life? Once again, I am consuming and not creating.

The purpose of knowledge is action, not knowledge. –Aristotle

Is all consumption bad? Of course not. But if I want to go where I hope to go in life, I need to practice more moderation in the amount of content that I consume. I need to focus more time on the activities that will get me to where I want to go. Knowing the theories on how to navigate the path will never be an adequate substitute for walking the path.

When you sit too long at one thing, you get stiff. The simple act of getting up and moving becomes difficult. But once you are up and moving, you have momentum on your side. Once you stop consuming and start creating on a regular basis, the ability to continue creating gets easier. If you do this, there will be no regret at the end of the day. There will be no regret of wasted time. 

We must all either wear out or rust out, every one of us. My choice is to wear out. –Theodore Roosevelt

Every night before I go to bed, I try to read a little fiction to relax my mind and eyes. I am currently on the Ninth Stage of John Bunyan’s Christian classic, The Pilgrim’s Progress. In this stage, the two pilgrims are walking the straight and narrow path to the Celestial City when they come to a fork in the road. Both ways seem straight, yet they have to make a choice. They end up choosing the wrong path which leads them away from their destination. Soon they find themselves trapped in a net and in need of rescue. How did they go wrong? They failed to consult their map and review their written instructions.

As I think about consuming versus creating, I am reminded of this fork in the road. Both ways seem straight. They appear tolead in the same direction, but only one way will end at the intended destination. By choosing to consume rather than create, the hunger will grow to consume more. How long can you keep going before you become trapped like the pilgrims on their journey?

Having conceived of his purpose, a man should mentally mark out a straight pathway to its achievement, looking neither to the right nor left. –James Allen

Temperance 2/5/2019

If you don’t find the time, if you don’t do the work, you don’t get the results. -Arnold Schwarzenegger

Make the time. Do the work. Reap the rewards.


The Virtue of Temperance

Control. Discipline. Restraint. Call it what you will. But if you don’t have it, then life will be much harder. Rather than automating your life for success, your habits will be weak and detrimental. Temper your desires of excess. There is joy in moderation.


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All the Small Things

Imagine getting in your car and going from 0 to 60. What seems like a simple process to the driver is really a series of many other small processes. You don’t all of a sudden show up at 60. You have to get there. You have to build up the momentum. You have to trust that all the small processes were done properly.

An unexpected package arrived in the mail. Amazon. It was a Christmas gift. Inside, a book sent to me from my aunt. It was a small book with a nice well-designed cover. Mini Habits by Stephen Guise. It looked familiar. It looked interesting.

I opened the book that day and began reading. The book fit well in my preferred genre. It was the type of content I like to write and read about. The perfect gift.

What is a mini habit? It is a small action done every day. It is such a small act that it requires little time and willpower. The author developed this method when he started a one push-up a day challenge. He wanted to get into shape but didn’t have the motivation to do it. So he did a push-up every day. If he didn’t do his push-up before he went to bed, he would get out of bed, get on the floor, and do one. It didn’t take much effort. It didn’t take much time. There was no motivation involved to do one push-up. There was no drive to the gym and no changing clothes. There was only the one small simple act of doing a single push-up.

When you are on the floor having completed your push-up, there is a temptation to do more. Why not? You are already there in the position. If you do one, you might as well do more. Everything above the one is a bonus that will contribute to your goal of getting in shape.

The push-up was a small act towards a larger goal. The larger goal was to get physically fit. But like a car getting up to 60, you don’t all of a sudden show up in shape. It takes momentum and many smaller processes operating together. It takes discipline, consistency, and time. When it is all lumped together, it seems overwhelming and impossible to achieve. When it is broken down into many smaller habits, it becomes possible. It becomes a way of life.

What are the large goals in your life that you are wanting to accomplish? How will you accomplish them? How will you turn that goal into a reality? Break it down into smaller chunks. Break it down into small habits that are so low in motivation and willpower that you can’t help but do them. Like a large snowball that continues to accumulate smaller pieces of snow, let your mini habits accumulate and gain momentum until it is one large habit propelling you toward success. 

We first make our habits, and then our habits make us. –John Dryden

There are a whole host of habits I would like to incorporate into my life. I imagine what my future would be like if I could achieve them. Some I have started and never made it past the first few days. Bet even with these failures, I have not given up hope. The habits were not impossible to achieve. The issue was that I had not built the proper foundation. Now that I have the tools, it is time to start building.

Great things are done by a series of small things brought together. –Vincent Van Gogh