The Wisdom of the Ages: My Grandfather’s Example

The Wisdom of the Ages: My Grandfather’s Example

It was early 1943.  The war in Europe and Asia waged on.  The nations of the world were embroiled in an epic battle of good versus evil.  Tens of millions of lives were being lost and hundreds of millions more were grieving those losses.  Hell had unleashed its fury in a manner that had never previously been experienced.  The utter depravity of man was center stage and no human soul remained untouched.

As the victory by allied forces at Guadalcanal against Japan had just been realized, half way around the world, General Dwight D. Eisenhower was selected to command the Allied armies in Europe.  

At the same time in March 1943, thousands of miles from both Guadalcanal and Germany, a German immigrant was marking his 50th birthday in Chicago.  As a teen, Oscar Werner, son of German parents, had immigrated to America from Ukraine.  In the years since he immigrated, my grandfather had established himself as a professional musician, a concert flutist and a member of several area orchestras.  He was also a successful entrepreneur, owning a music store in Chicago.

On this day though, as Oscar was reaching a half-century, he recognized the utter turmoil the world was enduring.  But rather than despair, he looked upward for help and within the pages of a Book that had become his regular companion.

In keeping with his custom, Oscar boarded the Chicago El, the elevated train that he rode to work each morning.  His routine was to move to his favorite seat, pull out his worn and tattered Bible, and continue reading through his favorite book.  This day was different though.  Halfway to 100, Oscar began to consider what the next 25 years of his life might hold.  He had accomplished a lot since he first set foot on Ellis Island.  But he knew that there would be more challenges in the years to follow. More battles to wage.  And he would need God’s wisdom and counsel to prevail.

He opened his Bible, and began to read from the very first words of the book he so loved.  

“In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth.  And the earth was without form and void; and darkness was upon the face of the deep.   And the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters.  And God said, ‘Let there be light’ and there was light…”

As he read that last word, the jolt of the El train startled him.  He looked up as the train rounded the bend.  The brilliant rays of the rising sun flashed in his eyes.  

Light…  

Spirit of God…

Oscar stopped.  He had read that verse so many times before.  But all of a sudden those words brought another verse to his memory:

“Thy word is a lamp unto my feet and a light unto my path.”

Oh, how he desired the wisdom of the ages to light his path and give him the understanding he would need to navigate the next 25 years.  And then, the idea that would come to dominate the remainder of Oscar’s life surfaced within his mind, as if the Spirit of God planted it there. 

He would read through the Bible on average four times per year over the next 25 years so that in 1968, on his 75th birthday, he would complete reading through God’s Word a total of 100 times.  His pulse quickened.  He knew that this would be an immense commitment to God.  He realized that he would have to sacrifice so many other “good” things in his life.  But he also believed that the wisdom and direction he longed for in his life would be forthcoming.  Saturating his mind with the counsel of God could only mean that. 

And so on that day in 1943, as the rest of the world was in an epic battle for its very existence, Oscar experienced the peace that can only come from God.  He knew that no matter what happened in the years to come, he would always have his Bible with him.  The words he would read over and over again would permeate his life in such a way that they would transform him.  And by doing so, they would direct him on a path that would honor God and bring blessing to Oscar and the rest of his family.

The El train came to a stop.  Oscar disembarked and made his way to his business.  But there was a confidence in his step that he had not known the day before.  

Oscar Werner reading his Bible

Twenty five years later, Oscar sat on his sofa, where he had positioned himself every evening.  As he did so, he read these final verses in Revelation 22, the last book of the Bible:

“And if any man shall take away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God shall take away his part out of the book of life, and out of the holy city, and from the things which are written in this book.  He which testifieth these things saith, Surely I come quickly. Amen. Even so, come, Lord Jesus.  The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you all. Amen.”

Oscar clasped the tattered and worn Bible to his chest.  He smiled as he remembered he had purchased several copies of the Bible over the last twenty-five years.  His constant use of the Book took its toll on each of the previous copies.

Oscar had done it.  His one hundredth time reading through the Bible.  Of course there was great satisfaction in having completed the goal he had set twenty-five years earlier.  But greater than any feeling of success, he was reminiscing over the many times in his life when a verse he had read jumped off the pages and offered him the answer he needed to the challenge, struggle or battle at hand.  He remembered Isaiah 55:11 at that moment:

“So shall My word be that goes forth from my mouth; it shall not return to Me void. But it shall accomplish what I please. And it will prosper in the thing for which I sent it.”

Oscar Werner’s Bible Tallying His Readings

That verse had been proven true so many times over the last twenty-five years.  As Oscar had committed God’s Word to his heart, he realized that it had not been for naught.  It had not returned void.  Rather, there had been exponential return for the time he had invested in reading his dearest treasure. 

As I think back to the years my grandfather was with us, one of the memories I have is of him sitting on his favorite sofa with his Bible on his lap.  And while he read his Bible over 130 times in his life, he did have other past times.  In front of his sofa was his black and white TV where he would watch his favorite baseball team, the Chicago Cubs.  (While I’m no great baseball fan, I had to watch this year’s World Series in honor of my grandpa, knowing that he would be ecstatic to see his Cubs finally win!)

Grandpa Werner was an incredible example to me and so many others — of the commitment to a goal, the power of discipline, and the priority of God’s Word.  The Bible was Oscar’s constant companion.  It was his most powerful ally in every battle; his wisest counselor when facing difficult decisions; his most understanding comforter in times of sorrow. And my grandpa’s commitment to reading it has been an encouragement to me to do the same.  

I share all of this not to simply highlight Oscar Werner, although he is a great man who I will meet again someday.  But more importantly, my goal is to challenge you and me to consider, who are our counselors?  Does your list include God’s Word?  Are you regularly ingesting the Wisdom of the Ages into your life?

Whether you are a Christian, atheist, agnostic, Muslim, or unsure, I encourage to commit to reading through the Book that has traversed thousands of years and offers hope and peace to anyone who is willing to seek them. 

In this era of technology I would encourage you to select an app to begin reading the Bible or even listening to it audibly.  My app of choice is at bible.com where you can find several Plans that enable you to read through the Bible in a year.  Last year I completed the “As it Happened” Plan which daily takes you through the Bible over the course of a year, in the chronological order in which the Bible was written.  My preferred version for reading or listening is the New Living Translation (NLT) as it is in modern, easy to understand English.  

I trust you will join me in reading through the Bible in 2017.  If you will, I’m confident that your investment will not return void and you will find it to illuminate your path in this new year.

Footnote:  While the specifics of the train ride, what Oscar was thinking and and how he came to his decision, stem from my own creativity, the decision to read through the Bible 100 times in 25 years is not.  As reflected in the photos above, my grandfather kept meticulous records of when he completed each reading.  He daily read the Bible, both on the El train on the ride to work as well as on his favorite sofa.  When Oscar passed away at age 84, he was working his way through his favorite Book for the 132nd time, with his wife Esther reading it to him in those final days.

Time: Best Friend or Worst Enemy?

Time: Best Friend or Worst Enemy?

time-best-friend-worst-enemy

1… 24… 168… 8,760

You might be wondering what the above numbers have in common?  Or perhaps what they even have to do with you?  Of course, you may have also already figured them out.

The truth is, the above numbers apply to all of us equally.  Over the next 60 minutes, 1 hour will tick away.  This time tomorrow, 24 hours will have passed.  One week from now, 168 hours will have come and gone.  And this time next year, 8,760 hours will be in the books.  

So big deal, right?  The same has held true since the beginning of Time.  

Some might say time is neutral.  That it is neither good or bad.  Neither friend or foe.  

I say differently.

Time is either your best friend or worst enemy.  

And you get to decide which it is.  If a friend, you are using it.  If an enemy, it is using you.

Let me illustrate.

Have you ever slept in, and when you finally got up the gumption to get up, you just kind of rolled out of bed, spent your morning meandering around the house, and never really got around to doing much?  You were just kind of lazy but you justified it by saying you deserved it.  Before you knew it, it was mid-afternoon and you really hadn’t accomplished much of anything.  By then though, you felt you needed a nap, because you were just tired from not doing much.  So you snoozed a little more, and it was soon supper time.  The day was nearly spent, and if you even bothered to think back, you’d have to admit you did absolutely nothing.  Nada!  Zip!

Now that may be an extreme example, and if you’re like me, you cannot think back to a time when you had a day that went like that.  But you, like I, might be willing to admit instances in your life where an hour here or an hour there was “spent” on meaningless or non-productive activities.  Sure, they may not have been “lazy” things, but they accomplished nothing of substance nonetheless.  Can someone say Facebook?  Or the 2nd or 3rd football game in a day?  Or the fourth episode of your favorite sitcom?  Watching Dancing with Stars?  Or surfing eBay on the web?  Or…

Of course, in and of themselves, none of the activities described above, or similar ones that might come to your mind, are evil, bad or hurtful.  Well, maybe not…  But here’s the point.  Each time I’m engaged in one of them, an hour or two will pass.  And the question is:  Did I use time, or did it use me?  Were you in control of that four letter word?  

That is the key.  Are you controlling time or is it just happening to you?  When you find yourself in a scenario where stuff happens, things just seem to occur with no proactive control or input into what is happening, especially as it relates to your schedule, then time is controlling you.  But when you and I are deliberate, scheduled, and focused on a definitive timetable for our day and week, then we are in control of time.  And rather than time being our worst enemy, it becomes our best friend, our ally.

Time is what enables us to complete tasks, goals and projects.  Time enables you to build your dream home, deploy a detailed business plan, raise a loving family, deepen relationships with loved ones, redevelop a failed inner city, restore a failing nation to its once admired status and more.  It matters not the size of the task.  Time can and will be your friend and ally if you harness it to bend to your plans versus allowing it to choke us as we remain mired in mediocrity, laziness or simply poor planning and stewardship.  

Time is neutral.  So you will decide how it plays out in your life.  Friend or Foe?  Asset or Liability?  

You decide.  Don’t delay.  1, 24, 168 or 8,760 hours from now, will tell the story.

Mark

Photo Copyright: <a href=’http://www.123rf.com/profile_flynt’>flynt / 123RF Stock Photo</a>
Are You a Sheep or a Wolf?

Are You a Sheep or a Wolf?

Are you a Sheep or Wolf-

 

“The world is full of sheep and wolves.  To protect the sheep you need to learn to fight like a wolf.”

This last week I had the opportunity to participate in a unique four day survival course that my wife and I hosted at our property, Liberty Ridge Ranch.  The course was instructed by some of our military’s finest from the US Special Forces, Navy Seals, and Delta Force.  My good friend Omar Hamada, MD, a veteran Major of the US Army Special Forces, developed the unique survival course along with several other elite US military professionals. 

Having just completed the construction of our new 2A Shooting Range, designed by one of the Special Forces operators, I was personally excited to not only host the program, but to also participate in it.  Who wouldn’t enjoy a prolonged period of firing a 9mm Glock 19, learning many other basic survival skills and spending four days with our nation’s finest?  So many things stood out from the course and perhaps I’ll take some time in another post to share them, but the opening statement above made a deep impression on me.  I’ll reiterate it here again:

“The world is full of sheep and wolves.  To protect the sheep you need to learn to fight like a wolf.”

To understand this quote, it’s important to identify some of the traits of sheep:

Sheep tend to follow other sheep.
Sheep are instinctively fearful.
Sheep like the familiar and resist change.
Sheep are not very intelligent.
Sheep have no sense of direction.
Sheep are defenseless.
Sheep are weak.
Sheep walk ignorantly to their death.

While sheep certainly have some positive qualities as well, for purposes of this post I’m focused on the traits above.   

On the other hand, wolves have the following characteristics:

Wolves are swift runners, reaching speeds of up to 25 mph.
Wolves are well equipped for hunting.
Wolves have a keen sense of smell, able to track their prey up to 300 yards away.
Wolves are not intimidated by animals larger than themselves and regularly hunt and kill animals many times their size.
Wolves are well equipped for the harshest of environments.
Wolves have a good sense of direction and maintain control over their territories.

As I consider the various characteristics of both these animals, I think there is a lot we can learn from them for many different areas of our life.

Personal

I think it’s safe to say that most Americans are closer to sheep than wolves.  Many people are quite comfortable following others.  They are seldom critical thinkers and are normally unwilling to contradict the popular beliefs, attitudes or accepted norms.  Fear is a common quality amongst most people resulting in them being unwilling to speak up or stand for unpopular beliefs.  They are quite comfortable with the status quo.  And truthfully, many folks are unwilling to continue to grow intellectually.  It’s not that they are incapable.  They just settle into the rut of living and don’t seek to grow beyond that rut.  All too often people wander through life, unsure where they are going, and unwilling to set goals and strive for them.  And sadly, so many folks are unable or unwilling to defend themselves from real or potential threats, if they are confronted with them.  

While all of these traits don’t apply uniformly or completely to all, I believe that too many Americans today reflect a disproportionate number of these traits.  Because of this reality, it’s incumbent that some learn to develop the qualities of wolves, including the ability to fight as them.  Equipping ourselves for the variety of threats that could surface at any given moment is a critical trait of a wolf.  Alertness to either our present surroundings, or trends that are developing, are a way that we can detect what may be over the figurative horizon.  By doing so we will not only mitigate the threat to us personally but also to those we love and care for, who embrace sheep-like qualities.

Business

In business, we find many sheep-like folks as well.  Too often employees, managers and even owners can settle into the rut.  Their aspirations falter.  Their dreams die.  And they fear change, risk and what others might think.  As a result, what they might have achieved falls by the way side. 

Meanwhile, the wolves in business, are all too willing and eager to pursue their symbolic prey, the goals they have set for themselves, their career or their business.  They understand that the hunt will be difficult, tiring and even fraught with instances of failure.  But they continue to press on, knowing that the one who doesn’t win is the one who never starts or simply gives up.  For wolves, failure is merely one step closer to success.  And through it all, the “wolf” style business person maintains a keen sense of direction and focus.  He is not overcome by the size of the struggles but rather he rallies his “pack” to help him in defeating the struggles.   

So while the sheep are easy prey and too often lose in business, the wolf is smart, keen, strategic and unstoppable, resulting in the business success he seeks.

Preparedness

In my recent article entitled “The Wildly Profitable Gift Shop on the Titanic: Our Response” I addressed the coming collapse and disaster that is front and center for America.  While the facts seem incontrovertible, the vast majority of Americans are behaving as sheep.  Sadly, just a few of our citizens exhibit the traits of a wolf.  If there is ever a time when America needs wolves it is now.  Yet, human nature exudes sheep-like qualities. Thus while the wolves prepare, the sheep will not. 

So when that day arrives you and your family can be prepared, to not only weather the storm, but to also reach out to the sheep in your life who were too fearful to acknowledge, too oblivious to discern, or too weak to prepare.  And in so doing, you can be a wolf that will ultimately protect those sheep around you who might have been providentially placed in your care.

So, I encourage you to regularly analyze your thoughts and behavior through the question “Are you a sheep or wolf?” and to seek to embrace the traits of a wolf, in your personal and business life.

Mark

References:
schoolworkhelper.net/wolves-habitat-characteristics-behaviors/
www.heraldmag.org/2004/04ja_8.htm
www.preacherscorner.org/sheep2.htm
Photo credits:
Wolf: Copyright: <a href=’http://www.123rf.com/profile_erika8213′>erika8213 / 123RF Stock Photo</a>
Sheep: Copyright: <a href=’http://www.123rf.com/profile_mihaitamasila’>mihaitamasila / 123RF Stock Photo</a>
The Wildly Profitable Gift Shop on the Titanic: The Dilemma

The Wildly Profitable Gift Shop on the Titanic: The Dilemma

The Wildly Profitable Gift Shop on The Titanic-Part 1

“A prudent person foresees danger and takes precautions. The simpleton goes blindly on and suffers the consequences.”  Proverbs 27:12 NLT  

It was April 14, 1912, day 4 of Margaret Fuller’s virgin voyage on board the Titanic. Things could not be better. Her bid to open the only gift shop on the new mega-ship had been accepted three months earlier. She had operated other shops on several ocean liners during the past decade.  As a result, she had achieved some degree of success and affluence from those years of hard work, sacrifice and optimism. 

RMS_Titanic_3 (1)But none of those other shops had begun with such a burst of passenger excitement, which directly translated to record setting sales. In the first three days of the voyage, her shop’s revenue had already surpassed the sales of the last two transatlantic voyages combined. Margaret could not be more pleased. 

As she rose early to head up for a quick breakfast before opening her shop, Margaret walked by one of the twenty lifeboats that were stowed securely on the boat’s deck.  For a brief moment her mind flashed back to some reports she had read prior to their departure.  Some had expressed concern that there were more passengers on board than the lifeboats could carry.  But Margaret quickly pushed the thought from her mind, fully confident that a ship the size of the Titanic, with all its safety systems, was completely secure.  It was certainly too big to falter along the 3000 mile journey.  

Sales were strong again on that fourth day of the voyage.  The passengers seemed eager to spend.  Their excitement and mood could not be more upbeat.  There were other small business owners and entrepreneurs on board who all seemed to be experiencing the same results that Margaret was realizing. 

That evening, Margaret sat down to write down her thoughts in her journal, as she had been doing for several years now:

Day 4:  Life is great.  Another record day.  Sales are phenomenal.  People are happy.  The only concern I have is whether I will run out of inventory on our return trip to England.  Not that such a problem would be bad.  Who would have ever imagined I would sell out my entire inventory?  This new venture on board one of the greatest sea-going vessels of our time is something I could have never imagined.  And the likelihood that anything could go wrong at this point is beyond my wildest imagination.  Well, I better get some sleep.  Tomorrow will be another busy day, no doubt.  Good night diary…

Margaret readied herself for bed, said a quick prayer, and was soon in a deep sleep.

As Margaret slept, she began dreaming that she was hearing sirens going off.  The more she tried to ignore the sirens, the louder they seemed to get.  Soon the sirens were accompanied by a jolting and lurching and she then realized: This isn’t a dream!  The sirens were really going off.  The articles on her dresser had just been thrown across the room onto the floor.  She heard glass breaking in her bathroom as the mirror fell off the wall.  Down the hall, outside her door, she could hear people screaming. 

Margaret was now wide awake.  This was no dream.  Rather, it was a real nightmare. As she grabbed her housecoat, and dashed out her cabin door, Margaret’s mind flashed back to the lifeboat she had walked by the day before.  She tried to control a panicked and sinking feeling as she considered the fact that if the lifeboats were needed, she might not make it onto one of them. 

Leaving_the_sinking_linerAs she shot up the stairs to the main deck, her panic suddenly turned to terror.  Crew members were yelling to everyone to head for the lifeboats, screaming to them that the ship had struck an object of some sort. There was little time before the unthinkable would happen, they were warning.  It was clear the unsinkable ship was going down, and only those who were fortunate enough to scramble onto one of the lifeboats would survive.  

As she ran towards one of the lifeboats, the ship suddenly lurched violently, and Margaret was thrown several yards into the air before she  slammed back down onto the deck.  She was dazed and shaken.  Her entire body ached.  But she had enough presence of mind to realize she had to make it to a lifeboat. 

Margaret half crawled and half ran to the nearest lifeboat and began to fight her way through the others who were all trying to board it.  She was ashamed of her actions as she clawed her way past other screaming and terrorized passengers.  But Margaret knew that if she were courteous, she would not make it.   As the lifeboat began to swing over the side and above the freezing dark waters below, Margaret lunged for it, barely grasping the edge of the small boat, as a strong arm dragged her aboard.   And then, everything grew pitch black as they descended into the ocean below.

Margaret could hear screams from above.  It was sheer terror and no doubt they were the last sounds that many who were still on board would make.  She was told that the lifeboat they were on was the last one.  There were no more.  Those left behind were no doubt destined for a horrendous fate.  

Briefly, Margaret thought about her gift shop, her livelihood, her fortune and her dreams.  They were all going down with the ship.  Just hours earlier she couldn’t have been more upbeat, more optimistic, more confident of the profitable future that was in store for her.  Now, it all seemed so meaningless, so short-sighted, and so mundane.  She hauntingly remembered the warnings some had made prior to the Titanic’s departure about the inadequate number of lifeboats.  She thought about the hundreds of poor souls who were even then sinking to the depths of the Atlantic.  And then she realized the truth. 

The Titanic was not too big to falter. It was not too big too fail.  And yet, it took a catastrophic loss of life for that reality to set in.

It was 130 years earlier, during the Revolutionary War, that George Washington commented, in strong disapproval, about how many of our early countrymen put private gain before “the essential rights and liberties of the present generation, and of millions yet unborn.”   Our first President was concerned that a short-sighted focus by citizens could lead to a long-term loss of our most sacred values: Life, Liberty and more.  

Like Margaret on board the Titanic, in my fictional story, today’s entrepreneurs, corporate executives and managers are busy about the business of making money, turning a profit and increasing their own personal fortunes.  Obviously, in and of itself, this is not a bad thing.  But as our first President noted, we can often pursue our own private gain at the expense of our “essential rights and liberties.”  Sadly, because of this tendency by too many today, our nation is bearing down on its own iceberg.

In our hearts we all know this.  The sirens are going off.  The warnings are everywhere.   

$150 trillion in debt

a collapsing political system

extreme societal polarization and division

rampant corruption in Washington and our state houses

greed has infected our populace

unrest and violence is growing

ethics and morals have all but disintegrated

religion has little influence in our society

terrorism is rising

And there are innumerable more warning signs.  And yet, it appears that so many of us are so disengaged.  We ignore the obvious. We are more focused on seeking the profit of our “gift shops” than heeding the perilous warnings.

But unless we wake up before it’s too late, there will be a catastrophic event that will make that last sale, that last promotion, that last quarter’s results, seem so mundane, so futile, so meaningless.  

Have we reached the point of no return?  I do not know.  

I pray that we can avert the iceberg that appears to be directly in our path.  But you and I will determine whether or not we do. Will we prioritize our private gain?  Or will we, like our founding fathers, prioritize the “essential rights and liberties of the present generation and of the millions yet unborn?”  Our actions today and tomorrow will reveal our priorities, and the destiny of America.

Next week, in Part 2, we’ll explore some practical steps that we can take to avert the iceberg, or, if the worst should happen, what we can do to prepare for such a disastrous event.  But I’d love to hear your thought before then as well so shoot me an email and post a comment and let me know what you’re thinking.  Until then…

Mark

Your Business and Marriage: The Urgent vs Important

Your Business and Marriage: The Urgent vs Important

Your Business & Marriage

 

Last year I wrote about the importance of marriage in “An Entrepreneur’s #1 Partnership,” emphasizing the need to prioritize your marital relationship above your business.  But it’s easy to write about doing so, and quite another thing to actually live it out on a daily basis.

Entrepreneurs and employees are often tempted to focus more of their attention and energies on their business or job than the relationship with their spouse.  As an entrepreneur, I can affirm the struggle this dilemma often presents.  And if you’ve spent any amount of time in business, you know exactly why this is. 

Our businesses present a constant set of opportunities, challenges, and other “urgent” matters, that demand our immediate attention.  If you’re like me, it’s all too easy to allow these demands to overshadow everything else in life.  Whether it’s our relationship with our spouse, our kids, our personal health, or perhaps even our spiritual walk with God, it seems that all too often, the urgency of the immediate drowns out the preeminence of the important.  

Granted, there are instances when a scenario is truly urgent in nature, requiring our immediate focus or else catastrophic consequences could ensue.  These rare instances are not what I am referring to.  Rather, the “urgent” issues I am referring to are the unlimited number of lesser demands that present themselves on an all too frequent basis.

If we’re honest with ourselves, we can see this reality clearly, both in our own lives and sadly in the lives of others.  But in the heat of the battle, it’s easy to ignore that internal nagging voice that continues to remind us that the urgent is once again supplanting the important.  And when it does, it can result in our cancelling that special dinner with our spouse, or missing our child’s ball game, because a last minute “deal” demands we do so.  

So how do we overcome this temptation so that we properly address the urgent without sacrificing the important?  There are at least three truths we can embrace to overcome this “urgent versus important” dilemma:

  1. Involve yourself in an accountability relationship with someone you trust implicitly, whether individually or in a small group. Be honest and transparent with this individual in a manner that allows him to provide honest feedback.  It is a rare person who can critique his own actions and choices in such a manner that he will self-correct and recalibrate his life when he veers off course.  An accountability partner will provide that much needed correction to help us bring the important back to a priority over the urgent.  The book of Proverbs affirms this truth when it reminds us that “…in the multitude of counselors there is safety.

  2. The urgent will always be clamoring for immediate attention.  The unexpected and unplanned seem to show up on a regular basis, and too often at the most inopportune times.  And when the urgent rears it’s head, it seems all else pales in significance.  You can likely identify this reality playing itself out over and over in your own life, if you think about it.  So it’s critical that we begin to identify when the urgent has arrived and that we be prepared to counter this temptation with a predetermined course of action.  Whether it’s one that you’ve devised on your own, with your accountability partner, or perhaps one such as the Eisenhower Decision Principle (named after President Dwight Eisenhower), have a plan ready to deploy when the urgent shows up and seeks to derail the important.

  3. As hard as we try, there will be times when we succumb to the urgent despite our best intentions.  One truth that we know about ourselves is that we often fail to live up to our own standards and expectations.  It may not be that we intended to, but old habits die hard and we frequently revert back to our old self.  But this is just another instance when we must simply acknowledge our frailty, both to ourselves and our spouse and/or family, and then recommit ourselves to steps 1 and 2 above.  Meet with your accountability partner, evaluate your actions, and then learn from your mistakes.  

I trust that you and I will continually remember these truths and we’ll take whatever steps we need to take in order to insure that we don’t wake up someday and realize that, while we were successful at accomplishing the urgent, we failed in the truly important areas of our life. including that most important relationship, our marriage.   

Mark

Christmas: The Gift of You

Christmas: The Gift of You

Christmas-The-Gift-of-You

It’s that time of year again, when we all scurry around doing our last minute shopping for that person who seems to have everything already. And as so many of us rush around to make sure that our final purchases can be delivered in time for Christmas by UPS or USPS, it’s easy to forget just what Christmas is all about.

It’s become politically correct these days to greet others with the words “Happy Holidays.” But these two words don’t begin to touch the reason for the season. One hopes to have a happy holiday on every one of the holidays that we enjoy throughout the entire year, regardless of which one it is.

Christmas, though, is different. Sure there are snowmen, ornaments, and Santa Claus. But let’s not forget that the very first Christmas was about God entering this world in the form of a babe, in the most vulnerable manner He could come. The angels announced The Gift to all mankind to the lowly shepherds on that first Christmas night.

Jesus, as God incarnate, was the ultimate Gift of God to us. God gave Himself in the form of His Son to us and His act should serve as an example to us, in both our personal and professional lives.

If you’re an entrepreneur you know all too well the demands upon you. There’s not a day that passes, including holidays, when you are not thinking of your business and are not pulled in that direction. While you can shut down your computer, lock the door of your office and be physically present with your family and friends, it can be very difficult to unplug from your business mentally and emotionally. I know this all too well from personal experience.

But this Christmas let’s commit to making it different. As business owners, or simply husbands or wives, or fathers or mothers, let’s truly give of ourselves to those we love the most. Let’s resist the urge to check our email, work on that report, or simply worry about next week’s payroll. Those closest to you desire the gift of you. They desire your undivided attention, not merely your presence, or presents.

As we celebrate The Gift that God offered to us 2,000 years ago, let’s follow His example and give others the gift of us: our time, our attention and ultimately our love.

I trust you will have a blessed Christmas, and I pray that the Joy the angels promised will be yours this season. Merry Christmas!

Then the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid, for behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy which will be to all people. For there is born to you this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. Luke 2:10-11

Mark