The Power of Thankfulness

Being thankful can be one of the most rewarding things you will ever do. It may be hard to get started, but once you do get started and it becomes a part of your daily life, you will find that for the most part you will have a new outlook on life. You see, when we are truly thankful for something, we are instinctively placing value on the very thing we are being thankful for; which allows that very thing to become more important to us. And it is hard to be disappointed in something we value. Thankfulness also shows our maker that we can see a blessing, even in the midst of problems and concerns.

When I wake up, I am thankful to start a brand new day that no one has ever lived in before; in the entire history of mankind. It is something liken to a blank canvass, that has never been painted on, no matter what yesterday’s canvass looked like. I am not necessarily a morning person, but because I wake up thankful, I become optimistic for what the day will bring. One benefit is that I am starting the day with a greater outlook than most, all because my outlook matches my gratitude.

As I was leaving work the other night, I could smell garlic from a restaurant across the street from where I work. It smelled amazing! I instantly found myself hungry and thanking God that I could smell this amazing aroma.

When I see the sunrise in the morning I am thankful that God is faithful and on-time every day! Even when it is raining and I cannot see the sunrise, I am reminded that it is still faithfully there each day — even though the storm is in the way. The storm does not mean the sun is absent: it just means that I cannot see the sun visually.

It is hard to complain about your country when you are thankful for the freedoms and opportunity it provides. It is easy to have gratitude in seemingly mundane situations, when we come to the realization that it can always be worse. It just takes a conscience decision to do so.

My daughter took time to smell the roses and took this lovely picture of a butterfly on a beautiful flower. I was thankful for her eye and thankful that we still have people in this world who are willing to put the selfies away and focus on something that adds value to their life.

Do you want to see your boss/pastor/priest/spouse/children/neighbor/job/house/career/town/country in a different light? Are you interested in how to feel differently about these specific things? Are you wondering how you can draw closer to God? How can you get through another day? It might not be easy but it sure is simple; BE THANKFUL.

In order to be thankful, we MUST take our eyes off of ourselves and put them on the very things we are thankful for. And this is the hardest part as we are naturally self-centered. For without the little things that add value to our life that we should be thankful for, we can become pitiful and poor in attitude and spirit. But because of them, we can become more at peace and richer, far more rich than silver and gold can provide.

Actions Have Consequences

Hit your thumb with the hammer, and it will surely hurt. Eat well and exercise, and you are likely to be healthy. Cheat on your taxes, and you will likely be prosecuted. Sir Isaac Newton stated; “For every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction.” Being in the automotive business, I hear thing like “it wasn’t meant to be . . .” or “the interest rate is not fair” or “I expect top dollar for my (beat up) trade-in.” The truth is, actions, words, and decisions have consequences.

The person who thinks that they can wait to make a decision to buy something, whether a vehicle or a roll of toilet paper: and then due to their inaction the item gets sold to someone else, then states “it wasn’t meant to be”–  is flat out wrong. Their decision to wait caused the desired item to still be available for others to buy. Their indecision is the reason that they did not get the opportunity, and this indecision has nothing to do with — “meant to be.”

The person who is irresponsible financially with high credit card balances and late payments, and spending more than they make is directly responsible for their credit score and the interest rate that a bank will extend. This rate is completely fair considering the individual has proven to possibly default on payments, overextend themselves financially, and overall not be a good steward of their personal finances. The bank is required by law to treat the customer fairly based on their personal credit history, which is direct reflection of either good decisions or bad decisions from the consumer, not the bank.

When a person does not take care of their current vehicle (physical body, home, or otherwise) and allows it to be damaged, smoked in, windshield cracked, rims scuffed, maintenance neglected, excessive miles, and worth MUCH less than they owe because they rolled negative equity from a previous bad decision, their actions create the value of the car, not the person presenting the information.

We have become very comfortable not taking personal responsibility for much of anything in our current society. Personal responsibility breeds good decisions and good decisions will ultimately give birth to good results. Conversely, neglecting personal responsibility breeds poor decisions and poor decisions give birth to poor results. Actions have consequences and the only one to blame is the one looking back at us in the mirror.

Forged in the Fire

The same metal that is forged into a tool, can also be forged into a weapon, or a bowl, or a hammer. Without the fire, there is no possibility of reshaping the hunk of metal into the desired result. Men & women, are also shaped in the “fire” of life. There is no way around it and no possible substitute.

The success we enjoy, is a direct result of the challenges that we have gone through in life and likely persevered; due to a deep rooted commitment and resolve. Likewise, the failures in our life are usually the lack of a deep rooted commitment to succeed and ultimately an unwillingness to go through “the fire”. Why? Because it hurts, and too many people don’t like it when it it hurts.

Commitment and involvement are two totally different things. It has been said that you can clearly see the difference between commitment and involvement on a bacon and eggs breakfast platter — The chicken was involved but the pig was committed.

Everyone wants to lose weight, but few are committed. Most people want a strong marriage, but it is only the ones who are committed to see it through, that endure for decades. Some want to have a successful career, but many are simply not willing to sacrifice to the extent that is needed to rise in the ranks. Religious people want to stand strong but seemingly fade away when persecution arises.

Spoiler alert: the sacrifice, pain, sleepless nights, disappointment, tears, set backs, persecution, and more, will always hurt and always be harder than we could ever imagine. But in the midst of these battles, our character is built. Most importantly, after the battle has been fought, the victory is sweet: and nothing can take the place of the feeling you get when you have overcome adversity due to your resolve and commitment to to your core beliefs. Some of the battles we lose BUT we do not quit. Instead we learn and this helps us immensely in winning our next battle.

So, make a decision to stand your ground and to be all-in in your commitment. When you do, some will call you “lucky” or “blessed”. Truth be told it will be because you were forged in the fire.

Light at the End of the Tunnel

The economy is finally getting restarted with restrictions lightening more each week. In a very short amount of time, we will be back to normal; or at least the new normal. Many people have been furloughed for weeks. For some, they have never been furloughed, and have been at it each and every day. At the very least, all will be forced to take an inventory of their life.

Some have spent the last several weeks desperately afraid of catching the virus, and by stopping in their tracks, they have not been able to really live. Assuming they would catch the virus —  after two months of fear driven isolation and hibernation, they would actually be sick for up to fourteen days PLUS the two months they spent in fear.

This is not the end of humanity with some kind of end-all virus. I am not making light of those who have been sick or have died; I am simply stating a point. The point is this; Whatever holds your focus and full attention will grow roots and bear fruit.

Focus on good health and every habit changes to support that focus. Focus on relaxing on vacation, and you will find yourself melting away in paradise without a care in the world. Focus on catching a virus and you will find yourself immersed in masks, social distancing and surfing the internet to find anything that backs up your stance.

For me, I choose to see the light at the end of tunnel. In fact, I saw this massive Corona undertaking as an opportunity to choose what I focus on. It has allowed me the opportunity to zero in on that which has become blurry. I have also intentionally ignored the very things that take my attention away from these important things. I have found a new spiritual focus, a new business focus, a new family focus, and more.

I have been reminded of a time when businesses were closed on Sunday and nothing was open in the evenings. I believe life is more rich with these businesses closed. I have been reminded of a time when families ate at the kitchen table every night and on occasion ate at a restaurant as a treat. I believe family relationships are better off for it. I recollect a time when Sunday was centered on God. Going to church and spending time with family and sometimes friends — and nothing else. No sports, no shopping, no sleep overs, no work, no errands, no appointments, no nothing. I believe life is much more rich because of it.

So as we come out of this dark time, I will be focused at the light at the end of the tunnel and allow my spirit to feel a sense of gratitude for this time we have come through and are still coming through. I have been able to be richer because of it.

All Play and No Work . . .

Okay, let’s face it; the first day back at the office after a nice relaxing vacation can be very challenging. After all, while we were on vacation, we would have taken some time to unwind and refresh and probably slept in and overall we would not have exerted ourselves. Then, the first Monday back to work seems surreal. We are expected to go from a leisurely stroll to a full sprint.

COVID-19 has changed many things but probably the most important thing to notice is our pace at the office. For those of us working in a variable pay environment, we have been forced into a leisurely stroll. Those of us that were not furloughed have had reduced hours, reduced traffic, reduced tasks to be completed and an overall reduction in job related stress. The real danger is settling in and getting used to the results that we are now producing in the slowdown.

Most economists will agree that April was the low point in this economic stand still. Most believe that May will mirror March, and June and July will have a sharp increase, however, even with a sharp increase in June and July, we will be in a recession environment. Not all people furloughed will be asked back to their positions, not all businesses will open back up, and the reality of a long recovery is at hand.

With this said, it is vitally important not to become complacent with reduced hours and production. We live in a capitalistic society that rewards bigger results based on our efforts. It is important to set bigger goals for May than you think are possible and plan for an even bigger June. Do not get lulled to sleep by the March/April business climate. It will only be the new norm if you choose it to be. If you choose it to be, you will be left behind. In fact, for those of us still working, we have people who are depending on us to grow our business back to a resemblance of where it was when they left — and in a short amount of time, so that they can get back to work.

So look back on March and April with gratitude to have been able to hit the pause button in life, which afforded you to be able to smell the roses. But it is now May and we have work to do. All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy. Conversely, all play and no work makes Jack an undisciplined, unproductive member of society. Set your sights high for May and beyond. Reach higher; work harder; FOCUS; stretch; and grow. Learn to have a balance of smelling the roses and being more productive with your time when you are back to work.

All I Can See

I recently saw a documentary about our plastic epidemic and the effects on the planet. Thanks to that one hour documentary, all I can see is plastic, plastic, and more plastic — EVERYWHERE. It is like a cruel game of Eye Spy.

We are currently dealing with COVID-19 and that is all that people can see. On the news or in person, the average human is inundated with stories, facts, news, or otherwise. So, it goes without saying that the coronavirus is all they can see.

Truth be told, all I can see or you can see is what we fill our thoughts and imaginations with. I suggest we fill our thoughts on love and not hate. On faith and not fear. On hope and not despair. We are in complete control of what we think about but what we fill our minds with will either propel the thought or starve the thought to the point of filling it with something else.

So, maybe you need to starve your thoughts that fan into flames a negative overall mindset, and replace them with something productive; such as thoughts and words of faith, attitudes of hope, and actions of love. Let’s share good news and an overall message that lifts us and others to a better place. After all, if we focus on these things, it will become all we can see.

An Inside Job

Personally, I have peace and joy during this very trying time. I am continually sharing with my staff and my family that joy is an inside job and not dependent on, or slave to our circumstances.

If we take action through a lens of fear, it is bound to increase the feelings of anxiety. It is usually an act of defense if we act at all. Survival mode if you will. When we act out of faith, it is driven through hope and thanksgiving and most always proactive.

Our inner circle needs leadership, not pandemonium. Our communities, co-workers, family, and staff need leadership and vision, not more fuel to a wild fire.

Leadership is the ability to influence others. So in essence, we carry around two buckets at all times. In one hand, a bucket of water and the other a bucket of gasoline. Wisdom and leadership teaches us when to use each one. One puts a fire out and one makes even a small ember a huge flame. In a situation like what we are currently living in, leaders must asses the facts and lead from a position of strength. Those who are throwing fuel on a fire in a time of crisis are not leading at all. This is the time to use the bucket of water to calm the fears of those around us.

This does not mean that we need to like our circumstances or ignore them. In fact, we can down right hate our current circumstances. But rest assured this too shall pass. With the exception of death and taxes (and Tom Brady going to another Super Bowl with Tampa Bay), everything passes. So, use this time as a time of reflection; as a time of goal setting; for being more prepared when we go back to “normal”; for smelling the roses; for more quality time with those we love; to maybe facetime those whom we do not see or speak to often; as a time to reconnect with friends once close; an perhaps more important than all, a time to pour the bucket of gas on our spiritual life.

Last night my daughter made her very own home-made hibachi grill for our family. The fried rice was super! Her recipe included rice, and egg or two, salt, pepper, and stir fry sauce. The chicken was outstanding and so were the veggies. She even had a water bottle to squirt in everyone’s mouth and she tossed veggies into our mouths from her spatula. She is refusing to bow to the fear, because joy is an inside job.

Cake, Less Eggs, Ain’t Cake

You have to excuse the grammar; I heard this saying once and it jumped out at me. Building a team in business is like making a cake . . . so to speak. Just the right ingredients mixed just the right way will produce an outstanding cake.

I recently have been interviewing for an open management position I have available, and all of the candidates are good at some things but not good at all things. Some have 20 years worth of experience but their overall automotive IQ doesn’t support it. Others have only a year of experience but have quickly seasoned and have a very high automotive IQ.

Picking the right person for the position can be a challenge as it relates to overall  experience. However, I feel it is even more important is how they fit in with the overall recipe of the store’s culture. Think about it; when you make a cake, you have eggs, flour, sugar, flavoring, butter, and salt. If you put too many eggs in, or not enough sugar, or only use a bowl of flour alone, it will be a cake to forget — if a cake at all. Eggs in and of themselves are not bad at all. But a bowl full of eggs alone will never get you the end result you are looking for, if the end result is a tasty cake.

When I interview, I am asking myself if the candidate will compliment the overall feel (or recipe) of the existing team. I wonder if they will be what we are looking for as we move into the future. I wonder if they will challenge and nudge the team members to be better or will they be argumentative and hostile in general. I am probing to see if I actually like the person, as in, are they kind/well groomed/well spoken/professional/humble/confident. It is even more vital that my existing management team will be assisted to even greater heights by the new hire and not fall into discouragement or worse; discontentment with their position based on the new recruit. It is not always about how many mountains you have moved on your resume or how many awards you have collected. It is also important that the fit is right interpersonally, because when putting a recipe together; cake, less eggs, ain’t cake.

Tune in Tokyo!

In business there is a chain of command and a way for managers to share a message that has been communicated behind closed doors to everyone on the staff.

It is interesting when the message that has been communicated is not the message that gets passed down. The antenna’s job is not to change the channel or change the message. Its job is to make the message more clearer.

Middle management is hard enough to handle in and of itself, but when the message gets distorted from its original intent, I assure you that the middle manager will have even more to handle, especially after the leader discovers the intentional communication faux pas.

The leader depends on the middle managers in the organization to communicate the vision or message clearly, and trusts the managers to waive the banner and plant the flag so to speak. The leader does not expect to find the team they have invested in, twisted and in poor spirits because a middle manager flakes out. Actually, the leader is trusting the manager to be a good steward of the business and a good steward of his or her vision.

If the antenna doesn’t do its job and make the content clearer for all to see, sometimes the leader throws it away and invests in a better product — like cable or streaming.

Saints Wanted?

How can we shine the light brightly then, if we are placing objects in the way that diminish it?

The notion that nothing good can be learned from a human being unless they have an impeccable and uncheckered past, is preposterous. It is just as crazy to assume that everything they have to say, or do, is now somehow void due to a checkered past. I recently had a friend challenge a quote I posted of MLKj – “the time is always right to do what is right.” He mentioned MLKj’s numerous affairs as if it somehow voids the wisdom of the quote or makes his efforts, vision, and life mission and empty endeavor.

I understand the overall concern, and recognize he was not perfect. But do his shortcomings need to be restated in an attempt to nullify the wisdom of the statement? I certainly don’t agree with some of his actions, but if we threw away wisdom based on the sin of the person, we would be left with nothing. Heck, even Solomon had 300 concubines, which is much more than Dr. King; presumably. We wouldn’t discount his wisdom based on his sin.

The Word of God states in Romans that all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and all are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus.

How can we shine the light brightly then, if we are placing objects in the way that diminish it? Therefore, I recommend edifying the wisdom, the mission, the cause, or the character (if possible), and staying away from finding the shortcomings of something that has already been discovered – because the time is always right to do what is right.