Boastful Pride

Sometimes those of us who are working hard to win with money get so excited about what God is doing in our life we are genuinely overflowing with joy.  But sometimes we notice those around us are not so enthusiastic about our success as we’d hoped they’d be.  It could be that they’re jealous, but it could also be that our genuine excitement is overflowing in a way that is perceived as less than Godly.

Consider the following statements that someone winning with money could say and notice the difference between the first one and the second one in each pair of statements:

I’m blessed.
I’ve never had more money in the bank.

Debt freedom is worth every sacrifice.
I own this and that and I’m looking to buy that over there.

God has given me the resources to bless others.
My business is growing so fast I’ve hired employees to handle everything.

Do you see how the second statement in each pair could easily be taken as prideful or arrogant, especially in certain settings or situations?  Notice the prideful statements are all longer than the more modest alternatives.  That could be a sign to those who just need to shut up and say less.  Sometimes less is more.

I know many families that have had amazing financial success in their life.  They have truly been blessed and there is a lot to learn from all of the hard work and sacrifice that seems to be common among them all.  But one of those families stands out like a sore thumb among the rest because of how they’ve handled the success.  I have to believe deep down inside they remember their humble beginning and I have to believe their hearts are right.  But I can’t help but wonder what they’re thinking when they host parties or events at their beautiful home and the highlight of their hospitality is the tour they give to spotlight all the awesome features of the house.

Why do they do that?  Are they just that naive about how weird that is?  Maybe they’ve allowed pride to creep in and they want to show off so much that as soon as someone arrives a new tour begins.  It just seems the attitude about their success is so different than others with similar success.  None of my other wealthy friends or acquaintances have ever done house tours, unless asked of course.  It certainly wasn’t the main event except for this one place – and it’s every time you go there.

I’ve challenged myself – am I envious of what they have?  Not so much.  I don’t really want anything they have.  Anytime I notice someone else not so happy about my success I think of what I might have said or done that might have given them a poor perception, or I wonder if they’re envious.  It’s easy for us to never challenge our own attitudes and actions by simply dismissing everyone else as jealous (this screams prideful).  The old saying “perception is reality” is quite often literally true and we should keep ourselves in check.

This is something I sometimes feel self conscious about (not that I’ve arrived at some prestigious level of success or anything, but I’ve learned a lot about how to win with money and pray for continued blessings).  I want my excitement for winning with money to encourage others, even challenge others sometimes, but I don’t want that excitement or inspiration to get lost in translation by being prideful – with words, attitudes, or actions.

Is this something you think about too?  How do you keep pride in check?

My Thoughts on Catalyst Conference 2011

Unfortunately and quite sadly I am not attending Catalyst this year.  Life has been crazy lately and I have family visiting from out of town, so it just made sense to skip the conference this time.  However, that does not mean I haven’t been thinking about what I’m going to miss.

Since this post doesn’t closely relate to my normal subjects I should offer an explanation of what Catalyst  Conference is and maybe a dictionary reference to the word catalyst for anyone who only thinks of the chemistry definition.  As people/leaders a catalyst is a high energy status quo challenging game changing person or event.  The conference is geared toward encouraging young leaders to be the next generation game changers.

The problem I see for true young catalysts though is not their willingness to question the status quo and try new things.  The problem they face is older or more senior level leaders ahead of them being unwilling to listen and give new ideas a shot.  I believe one of the reasons for this is young leaders aren’t proving themselves valuable enough to challenge the status quo.

Catalyst conference is geared toward church world, which I understand pretty thoroughly from being a pastors kid growing up in church and to this day very involved in my local church, but I tend to think of the principles taught as they would apply in business world as well. Based on my experience in corporate world I know first-hand what it is like to be considered the young punk full of crazy ideas nobody wants to try…until I’ve proven myself.

For any catalyst out there who wants their ideas to be heard here are a few suggestions for how to prove yourself that I’ve learned along the way.

  • Work harder than anyone else. Smarter? Yes, that too. But just because someone finds a way to be more productive personally doesn’t prove anything about their value to the team. Work smarter to be personally productive and use the spare time gained to go above and beyond.  It certianly helps, no matter how efficient someone is,  to show demonstrate a work ethic that starts earlier than anyone else and finishes later than anyone else.  Even when we think no one is watching, someone is noticing.
  • Become the best within the status quo.  Whatever the process is there is always a way to become the best at it.  Anytime I’ve become great at something just the way it is I’ve had no problem getting support to do it differently because everyone trusts that if I’m already good at it the way it is then I’m not going to make a permanent change that would make me not as good at it.
  • Get Results! Do work that affects the bottom line either through increased sales or decreased cost, and prove it by measuring (this is the has-been wanna-be engineer in me coming out).

No matter what there is always the chance that people will despise change.  The key to determining when to be a catalyst is balancing how valuable we are vs how replacable we are.

On another note, here’s what I’m going to miss most by missing Catalyst this year.

  • These speakers: (not because I don’t like some of the others, these are just the ones I know I like)
    • Jon Acuff
    • Dave Ramsey
    • Andy Stanley
    • Mark Driscoll
    • Michael Hyatt
  • The fun and funny stuff.  There is non stop fun and humor between every speaker, and during the speaking too every now and then.
  • The free stuff.  The event comes with lots of great resources and the sponsors are very generous, all making the experience a bit more excellent.
  • The learning and encouragement.  I’ve never left a Catalyst sorry that I went.  There is always something new or refreshing to take away and apply to my life.
I’m regretting I won’t be there now.  This might need to be one of those things that gets on my calendar for next year NOW and becomes off limits to any other scheduling.

What If Your Employer Burned Down?

SGP Warehouse Fire

Wednesday morning at 6:45 AM I received a text informing me that my employer’s facility was on fire.  I immediately began praying, “God help us.  Is everyone ok?  How is this going to affect all our jobs?  What are we going to do about all our customers deliveries? etc etc.”  I was scared.  So I called one of our managers who had been up since 3:00 AM to find out more details.  Much to our relief it wasn’t the main facility.  It was a warehouse that is very unfortunate to lose but thankfully doesn’t devastate the whole operation.  Here is the report by a local news channel.

This got me thinking…  What would I have done if it had been the main facility and, worst case scenario, our income ceased immediately?  I’m very thankful and blessed to be in a position to have some margin that would allow me to provide for our family for a few months in order to find new income.  That would be very difficult but it would be better than not having any margin at all.

So many people are living paycheck to paycheck with no savings whatsoever.  So many people are so confident in job security or company stability and never consider the possibility of being laid off or terminated.  But what if your employer burned down?  It wouldn’t matter how important your job is or how good you are at it if the employer is no longer able to employ you.  Yeah – there’s unemployment and other things that would help, but as far as I know it doesn’t cover full compensation and it doesn’t last forever.  What would someone do if it was difficult to find another job, unemployment wasn’t enough, and they had no savings to help during the difficult time?

What are you doing to make sure you have some margin in your finances?


Problem Solving or Creatively Wasting Time

It is easy to come up with ideas for creating new products or services or business processes because we simply think they are great ideas.  But how many of them solve problems that truly need solving?  So many organizations need to look more closely at what they’re already doing and realize the biggest problem they could solve is becoming better at what they already do. 

 Too often we do too many things too quickly to become good at any of them, and before we know it we’re drowning in details and falling behind.  Next thing we know we’re in a rut of mediocrity and can’t figure out why because we’re too busy to stop and think.

Is it possible that in all our creating and developing we failed to recognize the potential we already had that we weren’t taking advantage of?  What if we got a lot better at what we already do to increase our sales?  Would we have been more prepared for the next big thing?  Would we have identified other opportunities that would have been better to pursue than the ones we rushed in to?  All that time we probably thought we were solving problems and becoming great with all our creative ideas.  But couldn’t we argue that we might have just been creatively wasting time?   

My dad always told us “if you’re going to do it (anything), do it right the first time”.  The implication is that if we do it right the first time it won’t have to be re-done.  I really agree with that mentality.  Almost nothing is perfect when first created, but the point is get it right before calling it done and moving on to the next thing. 

Catalyst 2008

Last week I had the opportunity to go to this conference. It was excellent – there is no other word for it. Here are some quick highlights:
  • The biggest floam ball you’ve ever seen. 12,000 people were there, everyone had a piece of floam. Put them all together and it had to be the largest ball of floam ever formed.
  • One of the MC’s, Lanny Donoho, was crazy. At different times throughout the event he did lots of crazy stuff, including bringing in a pig, a donkey, an elephant, a bus, and he did a hilarious video with Jeff Foxworthy.
  • Jeff Foxworthy was there talking about ministry he’s been a part of – thought that was really cool.
  • They had a group of those guys who do slam dunks off the trampolene and they did high-flying dunks to raise $10,000 for Hoops of Hope

My Old Plant Closed

Recently I got word that the Milliken plant (called the Defore plant in Clemson, SC) where I used to be Supply Chain Manager before I started my current job HAS BEEN CLOSED. They called it a consolidation according to my source which just means they still had some business and it was moved to other Milliken plants in other cities. This is sorta sad news because I feel bad for all the folks I worked with there who were still there, but I’m really not surprised. In fact one of the reasons I left was because I suspected the plant would be closed and I didn’t want to be there when it did because I’ve known other people who experienced plant closings and were either forced to relocate or just plain given the shaft. I didn’t know it would take a few more years before it happened but I was pretty confident it would indeed happen. I just pray the people who were affected are being taken care of or finding other work so they can provide for their families. 

Upgraded Luxurious Office

I upgraded my office!

Anybody who has known me for more than two seconds probably knows I work from home, and we have a small house with three children so space is limited. Therefore my office is set up in a corner of the garage. Very plush except for when it’s so hot outside that it’s 95 degrees in the garage.

For 4 summers now I’ve managed to survive by running a fan in the garage until the temperature got to 85 degrees and once it got to 85 I would go inside and work in our bedroom. It was that or stay out in the garage and literally bake as the temperature continued to rise.

BUT now, in my 5th summer of working at home (in the garage) I have upgraded my luxurious office to make it more plush than ever. I got a portable air conditioner unit!!! That combined with my faithful fan allows me to beat the heat to at least a tolerable temperature.

One of these days my goal is to have a space that is mine and mine alone (I won’t have to share it with the cars, lawn equipment, tools, kids toys, and miscellaneous other junk). The options for how to achieve that are endless and all cost money that I’m not ready to spend, so as for now I’m just as productive in my little corner with A/C. 

Bringing Home The Bacon

My job has been very rewarding lately. I’ve got steady clients giving me plenty to do (I enjoy serving my clients) and new clients bringing excitement for the future.
 The relationship with my boss is as good as it’s ever been. I think it took quite some time for us to understand each other and learn to work through the daily grind without always rubbing each other the wrong way. I think it also took some time out on the road traveling together and sharing a hotel room to get to know each other on a more personal level. It’s amazing what having a good relationship with your employer can do for your morale. I see it not only in my work but in my home life too, because when I’m in the dumps about work no matter how hard I try to prevent it my family can tell.
 It doesn’t hurt that my numbers have been really good lately (I work on straight commission – scary). It is great having the peace of mind to know that there won’t be a struggle to stay in the budget next month or the next (I know 2-3 months in advance what my pay will be). We’re no where near where I want us to be, but having a little peace of mind from month to month sure makes me feel like I’m bringing home the bacon and not just the bacon bits.
 Finances is a sensitive subject for me because I’ve been almost to hell and back learning the hard way with money, but I hope to muster up the transparency to share some of where we’ve been, where we are, and what our goals are for the future. 

Dirty Little Secrets

This writing is a great verbalization of a perspective I learned to adopt at a very early age growing up in church.  If I were writing it I would have said more critical stuff like – I don’t care who a person is, who they know, what their position is, what they’ve done, what they’ve won, or what picture is painted of them (by them or by their friends, family, or media, or whatever) – I’m looking at whatever I see and questioning the possibility that the exact opposite is true.  I really do have doubting thoughts like “I wonder if the Pope is really pure or if he has an entourage of people protecting that image while they know there is a woman in his hotel room?”  Fill in whoever you want in the place of ‘Pope’ – Pastor, Boss, Friend, and think of infinite scenarios I question in my mind other than the ‘woman in the hotel room’ example.  Maybe I think too much…  Just read this good article. 
Behind Closed Doors
By Robert Ringer
There is much truth to the axiom “No one knows what goes on behind closed doors.” Why do we assume that people in high positions don’t have realproblems? Lacking perfection ourselves, I believe we have a psychic need for perfection in important people.
From OJ to Robert Blake… from Britney to Lindsay… from Rep. Mark Foley to Senator Larry Craig… it’s amazing the things we plebians are discovering about what goes on behind the closed doors of the rich and famous.
The topper for me in this regard was the revelation that Tom Wolfe’s “right stuff” people – our astronauts – aren’t perfect after all. That door opened to the whole world when astronaut Lisa Nowak was arrested last February and charged with the attempted kidnapping of U.S. Air Force Captain Colleen Shipman, the girlfriend of astronaut William Oefelein.
When Tom Wolfe wrote The Right Stuff, I don’t think he had valedictorian/astronaut-turned-stalker Lisa Nowak in mind. And he certainly didn’t have wigs, diapers, rubber tubing, and serrated knives in mind.
What would cause such an all-American woman to flip her wig? (Pun intended.) The first thing that comes to mind is Buddha’s admonition that “all unhappiness is caused by attachment.”
It’s healthy and wonderful to fall in love… no argument on that point. But when a person’s love is so desperate – so irrationally based – that she is willing to commit acts of violence in order to keep the object of her affection in her clutches (which, of course, wouldn’t work anyway), her psyche is definitely in outer space.
It is somewhat self-evident that anyone who would go to such extremes is lacking in self-confidence and self-esteem. Again, love is wonderful. But when it becomes a life-or-death matter, I believe it reveals a neurotic – and possibly psychotic – insecurity.
Your happiness should never depend on how another person feels about you. Happiness results from feeling good about yourself. You cannot hold anyone emotionally captive, and you should never allow anyone to do it to you.
But, lack of self-confidence and self-esteem aside, Lisa Nowak’s antics should again remind us how true it is that “no one knows what goes on behind closed doors.” In this vein, I recall being on a national talk show in the late seventies, hosted by a well-known television personality (“Mike”). We subsequently became good friends, and often socialized together.
Mike and his wife (“Barbara”) were portrayed as the ultimate glamour couple, often appearing on magazine covers together. They were the poster couple for the media’s idea of “beautiful people,” and were frequent guests themselves on other major television shows. Their specialty? Giving advice on how to sustain a healthy marriage.
On one occasion, my wife and I went with Mike and Barbara to a concert at the Greek Theater. I remember the evening vividly. After getting out of the car, Barbara and my wife walked ahead of Mike and me, giving us an opportunity to chat privately.
At one point, I made a comment about what a lucky guy he was to be married to such a beautiful and nice woman as Barbara, and how happy they seemed to be. I was stunned when he replied, “Robert, I’m not happy at all. In fact, I’m miserable. I thought when I built the house for her (a little $5 million+ extravaganza in Beverly Hills), it would improve our marriage. But, instead, things are totally unraveling.”
Soon after that evening, rumors began flying around Tinseltown about Mike’s catching Barbara in bed with a ski instructor on a vacation in Aspen – followed shortly thereafter by his finding her in bed with their gardener! Pretty ugly stuff.
Mike and Barbara have been divorced for many years now, but their sad situation still has an impact on my thinking. I’ve long taken media hype with a grain of salt, and I’m not overly impressed with titles, awards, commendations, and the like. (Remember, the Nobel Peace Prize has been awarded to Yasser Arafat and Kofi Annan!)
But it’s not just famous people whose personal realities are often far different from the perceptions they convey. There are many people in everyone’s micro-world who are perceived to be important – civic leaders, church bigwigs, school officials, wealthy individuals, and those with impressive titles (e.g., “doctor,” “lawyer,” “judge,” “director”).
It’s fine to show respect to those who have earned their way to top positions in society, but it’s a mistake to assume that they live pristine, automaton-like lives when out of public view.
Whenever I hear a sordid tale – like that of an astronaut’s psyche being stranded in outer space – it confirms my long-held belief that many people in the highest stations (e.g., those who have the authority to press the nuclear button!) may very possibly have less emotional stability than you or I.
Not much you can do about that. But you can do a lot about your own psyche by not being overly impressed with the elites around you. And by never losing sight of the reality that no one knows what goes on behind closed doors.

Are You Interested in ‘Green’?

In the line of work I do I deal with large companies who are targeted for environmental awareness or save the planet or reduce global warming or whatever it’s being called at the moment.  Currently ‘Green’ seems to be the major buzz word along with ‘sustainability’ etc etc. 

Last week we talked about ‘green’ in every meeting we had with clients.  It seems some are being pushed more than others to become green in terms of materials they use or recycling initiatives they promote.  Everyone is aware of it though – whether they’re being pushed now or not – because they know it is coming.  It’s a big initiative right now.  I noticed the TV networks are even encouraging ‘green’ by coloring their emblem’s green and including ‘green’ content in programs such as The Biggest Loser. 

What is surprising to me though is how little recycling is promoted in the south.  It’s been 7 years since I lived in Atlanta so I don’t know if it is being promoted more down there (Atlanta is usually how I gauge where the south is on the learning curve of a lot of things – so southerners don’t look completely stupid all the time).  If it is being promoted more in ATL I’m not hearing it.  I just know that here in the great city of Anderson, SC I don’t see any push for recycling – except for two couples out of all the people we know here who actually recycle, but one of those admits that it is so much trouble sometimes their garbage ends up un-recycled anyway. 

ON THE OTHER HAND, or coast, I’ve heard through the grapevine that the more westerly (‘tree huggers’) states are doing a much better job encouraging recycling and making it easier to participate in recycling.  I don’t know any of the real details firsthand that make these other places so much better at recycling but I’m certainly curious about it. 

Why isn’t recycling going on here like it is in other places?  What would it take to make recycling a successful initiative in places that aren’t pushing it?