REAL MONEY!

I am thankful for 3 children who both amaze and amuse me on a daily basis.  They have all demonstrated an entrepreneurial spirit with no shortage of talents.  A recent interaction with my son proved insightful.

 

Let’s start with the premise that a good business owner needs to sell a product or service in exchange for capital.  Those who do not plan for sufficient profit go broke and set themselves up for ridicule.  Jesus taught something of this, “For which of you, intending to build a tower, sitteth not down first, and counteth the cost, whether he have sufficient to finish it?  Lest haply, after he hath laid the foundation, and is not able to finish it, all that behold it begin to mock him.” Luke 14:28-29

 

My son, in exchange for his service said, “Dad, that will be five cents please.”  He held out his hand while I reached in my pocket.  I watched a delightful expression turn sour as I extended my arm and dropped an imaginary coin into his palm.  A quick demand revealed that he wasn’t having it.  “NO DAD!  REAL MONEY!”

 

THE CHALLENGE:  One of the best ways to rid yourself of poverty and increase financial independence is to shift your mindset from “more money” to “real money.”  Serve people when it’s time serve.  Be generous when it’s time be generous.  But when it’s time to earn, don’t give away your product or service at a steep discount, and certainly not for free.  Don’t buy what you want and then beg for what you need.  Be smart.  Count the cost, get to work, and demand real money in exchange.

All playground, no principle.

Back in the 80’s and early 90’s most young jocks enjoyed Samuel Slater Junior High School (Pawtucket RI) for one reason and one reason only – the gym teacher!  He was as down to earth as any man can be.  We all looked at him as a mentor, NOT a school employee.  His office was always clouded in cigar smoke and that just made him more believable.  More approachable.  More real.  More human.  And for most kids – more cool.  There’s only one problem, as cool as he was, he was still “just” a gym teacher.

When I think of all the ways my life has been shaped, the gym teacher has never once made the list.  Sure I have some good memories of slinging dodge balls and stealing bases.  I often think of the most athletic kids and wonder why they never turned pro.  Gym class provided a chance to form friendships, laughter, and a few scrapes and bruises.  At the end of the day, you either loved or hated physical education – REGARDLESS of the teacher.

Gym class, like recess, mostly takes care of itself.  Kids love to run around and are able to find something active to engage in.  But what happens next?  Eventually, we all become adults.  Our taste buds enjoy the onslaught of flavors a prosperous country affords, and, if we aren’t careful, slowly expand our belt size to the circumference of a small planet. 

To sum it up: the gym teacher only provided a playground, not the principles!

Next time you encounter “eye candy” pay attention to your thoughts.  If you have graduated beyond the level of carnal appetites and passions – congratulations – but now what are you thinking?  Maybe you ponder something along these lines:

“I wish I looked like that!”

“They must have a lot of discipline.”

“I wonder how much time they spend in the gym.”

“I would like to know what kind of diet they are on.”

“I wonder how they stay motivated.”

“How long did it take to get a physique like that?”

You get the idea.  Not once in the history of mankind has anyone said in a fit of jealousy, “I wish I had their Junior High School gym teacher!”

THE CHALLENGE:  Get off your butt.  YOU ARE the gym teacher now.  YOU are the one who must dig deep and search from within to find the motivation necessary to master your pursuit.  YOU are responsible for your own destiny.  YOU, YOU, YOU… get out of your comfort zone and BE the thing you are thinking about.  Yes YOU!

4 LESSONS FROM 4 AM

My first exposure to sleep deprivation came as a young boy.  Whenever my dad told me we were going fishing the next day, it was game on.  I would toss and turn for hours just imagining the fish I would catch.  I couldn’t wait until my dad’s alarm clock would sound its awful screech at 4:00am.  Those nights stirred my mind far greater than Christmas Eve ever did.  To this day, I would chose nature over Santa.  Sadly, I’m about 15 years removed since I last snagged a native rainbow from a mountain stream.  Now that I’m raising kids of my own, maybe it’s a good thing that there are no trout waters within a day’s trip.  My family might wonder if I had gone missing.

Listed below are 4 of the many fishing lessons that have “stuck” with me through the years.  I think these can easily be applied to mastering the craft of your choice.

First, FISHERMEN ARE THE FISH.  Look at any tackle box, there is often more tackle than there are fish!  Put a fisherman in a bait shop and all of a sudden he discovers that he needs an assortment for every variety.  Will the red lure satisfy?  Nope, he needs the yellow, blue, silver, black, green, purple, neon, rainbow, small, medium, and large version of each.

THE CHALLENGE:  Take a step back.  Master what you have.  Can you make a masterpiece with a limited pallet?  Maybe 3 colors instead of 30?  Can you craft something with hand tools instead of power tools?  Can you use scraps, leftovers, or second hand?  Can you make a hit song with one or two instruments, or limited chords?  In other words, look at your “tackle box” and tell yourself you won’t stop until you catch a record size fish on a “rubber worm” the most basic of all lures.  After all, it can – and has been done.

Second, HOOKS DON’T JUST HOOK FISH.  My wife recently called with elevated distress in her voice.  She informed me that one of the kids had a fishing hook wedged in the knee and that she couldn’t get it out.  No problem, I thought, this guy – yours truly, has lots of experience.  My brother once buried a size 6 hook in my scalp and a short time later his friend wrapped one around my eyelid.  Whether in a tree limb above, a muddy boot below, or a puncture to the flesh, no fishing trip is ever complete without some type of snag.  Hooks are designed to hook, and they don’t discriminate.

THE CHALLENGE:  Are there some pricks in your life worth avoiding?  What about the hooks that can’t be avoided?  Can you use additional caution while handling?  Anyone who gets hooked knows that it hastily puts a halt to your plans.  When it comes to your craft, your habits, your mental and physical health, etc. identify the hooks and then stay on guard.  Remember, hooks hook, and they don’t feel good.

Third, there is a difference between an “angler” and a “fisherman.”  Anglers catch more fish because they understand – you guessed it – angles.  They use principles of geometry to cast with far less effort.  They use geometry to set the hook and fight the fish while maintaining a good hook to mouth purchase.  They also use angles that are far less geometric and much more strategic such as sight fishing, matching the hatch, weather conditions, spawning cycles, GPS and fish locaters.

THE CHALLENGE:  What angle can you more efficiently employ to master your craft?  Without a doubt, there is something in your process that is causing you to take the “long way” home.  Find the best ways to increase efficiency.  The more time you save, the more time you have to practice.    I repeat, good angles cut costs and save time – be an angler!

Finally, consider the following quote:  “Fisherman, take your cue from the great blue heron, which makes its living as a fisherman.  Do herons strut about with wings flapping?  Do they splash with Zeal as they hunt for a meal?  No, they slowly tiptoe to the streams edge, blending into the background while they carefully scan the water at their feet.  When they move to another spot, it’s invariably upstream.  Each step is cautious and deliberate, causing barely ripple.”

Heron’s don’t keep their bellies full by being anything short of deliberate.  Big fish don’t get big by being careless.  Can you catch fish while being loud and obnoxious?  Sure.  But the smartest of the bunch, the most adept at survival (and nature always produces a few) will find somewhere else to feed, especially with a species as easily spooked as trout.

THE CHALLENGE:  How can you be more deliberate like the heron?  Novelist Stephen King advises that writers put their desk in the corner of the room. Life isn’t a support system for art; it’s the other way around.  Examine the most accomplished people in the field or craft that you wish to master.  What are they doing that you don’t?  How is their focus different than yours?  Do they fish like a casual fisherman, are they an angler, or are they next level like a heron?  Forget the tackle in your box, the bait you should be focused on are the clues left behind by the masters.

FOR A GOOD TIME CALL 866-468-7826

What did you learn in elementary school? 

I learned that restroom stalls are where people write messages to one another.  Nothing worth reading – just some crude jokes.  There was never a shortage of invitations to make a phone call to someone’s mom for a good time.  I never dropped a deuce in those stalls, far worse; I allowed my head to poke around the door (albeit to your benefit some 36 years later).

What did you learn serving with the Marine Corps?

Funny you should ask.  I learned that people still write on stall doors.  I guess every elementary school must teach this tribal knowledge because Marines from all walks of life still participate.  I’ve been obliged to employ a Porta-John a time or two during field exercises.  Reading material was conveniently etched in black marker all over the walls to include phallic sketches and phone numbers posted for a “good time.”  I recall one list that stretched from floor to ceiling asking participants to describe their poo with a movie title.  Some of the answers were downright funny.  But at the end of the day was still just kids writing on a wall.

How does that apply today in 2020?

Our stalls are no longer limited to enclosures around commodes; nevertheless, the comments can be just as grotesque as the putrid smell at a truck stop.  Think of the last time you scrolled through the comments section of controversial topic.  Did it feel rewarding, educational, and thought provoking?  Or, did it feel depressing, divisive, and dehumanizing?

THE CHALLENGE:  Every day we are being nickel and dimed for our time.  So, before your hourglass gets pick pocketed by a few comments here, some click bait there, trendy advertisements and subtle spam, ask yourself, “Is it worth it?”  Consider how much time adds up in this futile effort day after day, year after year.  If you don’t have to go, stay out of the stall!  After all, it’s just a bunch of kids writing on the wall.  (I apologize in advance if you identify as an adult and got offended.) 

SOUND OF THE POLICE

One of my mentors, a truly remarkable man, is a retired LAPD detective – read his book and you will see how that career shaped him (and many others like him) as he faced the forces of good and evil.

While many of society’s slugabeds are popularizing not so thoughtful agenda’s with catchy phrases like “defund (Is that even a word?) the police” I am left to reflect on my own encounters with the boys in blue. Crazy to say, but yes (in my misguided youth), I found myself in the back of squad car on more than one occasion. I have been pulled over in cars and on bicycle. I have been let off the hook, ticketed, sent to court and done community service. I’ve been treated fairly just as I have been ridiculed and mocked. Such is life, there are good and bad people in every profession and that leads to both good and bad encounters. After all that, I personally am grateful for the police.

Porsche 911T
Photo by Thomas Hawk

I learned a lesson from my beloved aunt long ago. Driving down the road I noticed that she rapidly flashed the vehicle’s headlights at the oncoming traffic. “Aunty Elaine, why did you do that?” She went on to explain that it was a way of notifying the other driver that there was a speed trap up ahead and that they should slow down if necessary. Ah, no wonder the other other car would flash back as if to say “thanks!”

Don’t want police? Try this, don’t give them employment! (I’m afraid our education system skipped the lessons on supply and demand.) Not everyone will be a law abiding citizen, it’s not realistic, I get it. But can you be one? What about your friends? Can you influence them? What if we “flashed our lights” every time we saw someone “speeding“?

For everyone getting smashed with a baton, squirt with pepper spray, or dodging bullets (albeit mostly without success) – there was probably a friend or family member that could have said something along the way, but didn’t.

THE CHALLENGE: Guide our youth. Teach right from wrong along with the associated consequences. In other words, flash your headlights! Click this link to find out how a neighbor flashed his lights at me.

FILE FOR UMM…EMPLOYMENT

Have you ever seen this sign? “WILL WORK FOR FOOD”

What you did do:
(1)  Rolled up your car window and looked straight ahead.
(2)  Handed over some loose change – maybe a buck or two.
(3)  Said, “I would help, but I don’t have any money right now.”

What you didn’t do:
(1)  Said, “You know what, there is an opening at my company and I can get you started right away.  Hop in!”
(2)  Said, “There are a bunch of projects I need done at my house and you look like the perfect candidate.  I can pay you $25 per hour.”

man sitting on street
Photo by malcolm garret on Pexels.com

Over 30 million Americans currently filed for unemployment claims. That means there are close to 30 million Americans performing the exact same behavior they once scoffed at.  Saying they would work for food “if they could only get a job” but taking whatever loose change the government extends out of the car window.

THE CHALLENGE: Rewind the clock, if you just stepped off the Mayflower you’d be faced with challenges much more severe than you are currently experiencing.  You’d breath the same air, work with the same soil, and utilize the same natural resources in order to get on with your life.  Did you know in 2020 you still have a MAJOR advantage!
(1)  You can access milk and cookies
(2)  You have access to toilet paper (maybe)
(3)  You probably have access to a device in your pocket with this thing called the internet.

If you spent the last few years of your life stuck in a candy crush coma or trying to find out what the fox says – it’s time to wake up and go do something important. Go choose you.  Here’s a tip, add value to society and your bank account will increase (even if you have to wear a cloth face mask).  So what do you say… time to file for employment?

THE 90/10 “START” RULE

We have something in common, we all do. We started as babies.  I know, I know…too obvious right? And just as obvious is the fact that we soiled diapers, cried when we were hungry and laughed at funny faces.  But more importantly…we ate cupcakes – yes, cupcakes.  You probably don’t remember this, but we even ate them the exact same way.  We sat in a highchair, reached for our favorite frosty flavor, and consumed about 10% of it.  So what happened to the other 90% you ask?  The breakdown goes something like this:

30% Covered our nose, cheeks, lips, hair, hands, shoulders, arms and hands.
30% Ended up in the dog’s belly
20% Landed on our bib
10% Never made it off the high chair

bottle container high chair macro
Photo by Burst on Pexels.com

We never once, (I repeat) – NEVER – thought twice about the 90% we couldn’t get off the runway and into our pie hole. What mattered is that we managed to get a whopping 10% in contact with our taste buds.  What mattered is that we had fun doing it.  What mattered is that we lived in the moment.  What mattered is that we somehow knew we’d eventually be able to consume an entire cupcake…or at least 98% – just like an adult.

This week, I invited a few coworkers to eat a cupcake as if they were still in a highchair. They all wholeheartedly refused.  (And that’s even before I said I would be filming the adventure.)

THE CHALLENGE: Try something new, anything.  Just try 10% of something.  Forget that you will be the laughing stock of all your fake friends on social media.  Forget that you will glue all ten fingers together the first time you try to construct a paper airplane or that you will burn the house down trying to invent your own gluten free gingerbread soldiers.  Have fun wasting 90% of your efforts!  If you enjoy 10% of your new adventure, keep it up…eventually you might even be ninety-something percent good at it.

MONKEY TRAPS

Want to trap a monkey? Put a banana in a cage with a hole large enough to fit an outstretched hand but too small to fit a closed fist.   Donkey Kong will grab the tasty treat and refuse to let go.  BAM!  You’ve got yourself a monkey….and you didn’t even have to climb a tree.  Easy right?

yellow banana on hand
Photo by Kimona on Pexels.com

 

 

Now, how in the world would you catch a human? The exact same way!  Have you ever heard of car dealers offering a free vehicle by way of stick-to-itiveness?  It looks like this:
(1)  A group of contestants place their hand on a coveted vehicle for as long as they can stand it.
(2)  Short 10 minute breaks are provided periodically – leaving insufficient time to accomplish bathroom breaks, eating, sleeping, stretching, etc.
(3)  The last “man” standing wins.

Sounds easy, but most people will tell you it wasn’t worth it. And why would they?  It’s a monkey trap.  It’s not like they competed for a few minutes, not even a few hours, try keeping your hand planted in one spot for a FEW DAYS!

Do contestants get a few moments of fame? Yup.  But who’s the real winner here?  Sure, the attention goes to the contestants, but the SPOTLIGHT is on
(1) The car dealer
(2) The sponsors
(3) The media outlets

Many of the so called “winners” don’t even get to keep the car; they just get to ride it around until the lease runs out. My point?  Just like the monkey – we REFUSE to let go, even if we get the short end of the stick…or should I say banana?

We aren’t far removed from President Trump’s campaign trail. What was his strategy?  To let roll off his tongue whatever words were necessary to dominate the press.  He in turn got lots of free marketing.  He made it very noisy for competing voices to break through and deliver an alternate message (you know…the stable kind).  The media became the monkey and it couldn’t let go.  Voters only knew one title, “Crooked Hillary” – so they voted Trump.  The media loved all the ratings during the campaign, but they didn’t get to keep the car.

Enter the perfect storm. Coronavirus + Donald Trump.  This here is the ultimate monkey trap, and MOST hands are stuck inside.  Turn to the media outlet of your choice and you will undoubtedly find a headline or two, or five, or twenty-five about the virus and or how the president is reacting to said virus.

You know what’s crazy? We can turn it off and tune it out.  Really!  The ENTIRE globe is thinking about this math problem.  Unless you are the one coming up with the cure, maybe consider letting everyone else do the thinking on this one.  You can go solve other problems.  Be of service.  Educate yourself.  Organize your garage.  Do some spring cleaning.  But DO NOT live in fear.  I’m not saying be reckless or clueless – but you can pull through just by following the CDC guidelines and recommendations from local leaders.  Or maybe that won’t be enough.  MAYBE YOU WILL DIE – in which case you can revisit this post.  But, either way, you will die, so holding onto this banana is no way to live.

THE CHALLENGE: Let go.  Get your hand out of the cage.  Stop giving attention to the car dealership.  You could be mastering your craft in order to buy your own car in cash and while you’re at it, fill it to the brim with bananas.

 

TWO-BEE-CONTINUED

Awhile back I wrote a few words about bees. You can read my encounter here.  I would like to share two quick lessons from bees.

macro photography of bee on flower
Photo by Thijs van der Weide on Pexels.com

LESSON #1) Bees sting. If you are old enough to read this, chances are you’re a victim.  Remember that first bee you ticked off?  Remember the buzzing dagger catapulting towards you from a striped kamikaze Hymenoptera?  Remember the inflamed pulsating welt it left behind?  Remember your inability to catch your breath from crying too hard?  Remember grandma pulling out her home remedy book suggesting a treatment of mud, honey, baking soda, apple cider vinegar, toothpaste and a wet aspirin tablet…none of which seemed to work?

It didn’t take long for you to realize that you hated bees – rather passionately too. You warned everyone that came near a bee to get in a defensive posture, saying “Watch out, you’ll get stung!”

But, we all know bees aren’t bad. We know the war we waged against the fuzzy buzzy pollen packer was unwarranted.

“Just because you are allergic to bees doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy the honey.”

Consider EVERYTHING you encounter in life as a proverbial bee. It has some pros and cons.  It might buzz around your head, it might sting, and it might even bring an army after you.  On the other hand, it might pollinate your plants and provide an abundant harvest.  It might bring you honey.  It might show you its waggle dance, and quite possibly sting that annoying dog next door.  Now, whether or not you wage war on a particular “bee,” that is up to you.

LESSON #2) Bees don’t fly in a straight line. Okay, technically they do when they head back to the hive – they “beeline” home.  But when they forage, they fly around in an erratic pattern that looks similar to a bathtub scribbled on by a two-year-old.  Why?  I don’t know.  Maybe it’s a defense mechanism against predators.  Maybe it’s because their brains are similar in size to a housefly… (the same thing that bounces itself into your window for several hours at a time).

Looking back at my individual journal entries, I see that I’m similarly erratic in a number of areas. For example, there have been several times that I thought I knew FOR SURE what career path I wanted to follow.  In no particular order, I wanted to be a Disney animator, a website developer, a journalist, an author, a nurse, a cop, a cook, an entrepreneur, a salesman, a carpenter, a rapper, an Independent Duty Corpsman, and an arborist. I have even considered jobs such as a tattoo artist or bartender (both completely incongruent with my values and beliefs).  Then again, bees don’t always land on flowers.  Sometimes they land on moving windshields, or get stung by a cactus.  I think we can all admit to perching on a “cactus” or two throughout our lives.

THE CHALLENGE: It’s okay to meander your way through life.  Try new things!  Explore!  Plan your life in pencil – not permanent marker.  30 years ago I had no idea that I’d be where I am today.  I imagine the same will hold true 30 years from now.  So just focus on gathering pollen, staying dry and getting back to the hive – i.e. Stay close to your family and serve them.  And while you’re at it, try not to sting anyone…it will probably hurt you more than it will hurt them.

CUSTARD CURES

Imagine with me for a moment that the world was coming to an end, or that society was saaaay….upside down.  Envision people running to and fro crying out that nobody could tell them what to do or how to live, not the government, not a prophet, not God himself, that all that stuff is just madness. 

Image that all the while, people failed to stock their shelves with the necessities of life and failed to plan ahead.  Imagine they purchased the fruit, but not the fruit tree (and only after the Fudge Rounds were sold out).  They bought the bread, but not the flour to make the bread.  Imagine that it was like Black Friday every… single… day…, but instead of toys, people were buying toilet paper…and LOTS of it.  Not for friends and neighbors,  but for themselves.  Imagine there was no toilet paper left on earth, as if there were a deadly plague going around.  Surely the children of Israel cried out, “Who needs Moses when there is all this toilet paper?!”  Not that the world is coming to end or anything.  But, lets face it, your life is (sorry fam)…and probably not from the virus that’s making you scoop up all the Scott and Charmin anyway – so stop dwelling on it.

Besides, I’d rather have dish soap.  Yeah, yeah, TP can wipe the brown custard like substance off your crack (as well as being a useful fire starter).  But dish soap is much easier to store, can wash a virus off my hands, can wash my clothes (not to mention dishes), can ALSO remove the custard like substance from off my crack – and even BETTER than tripple ply Cottonelle (it’s called a shower people), and Dawn does a darned fine job at shining my jewelry… in case the virus DOES kill me (Who doesn’t want to look their best in a casket anyway?)

Today my beloved wife scraped her knees when my lazy dog played dead between her 8.5 minute per mile feet.  My thoughts in order were:
1)  I hope she’s okay
2)  That was embarrassing
3)  Life goes on

(Sorry if my stoicism offends you.)

Yes, people are dying all around you from COVID-19, but it doesn’t mean you won’t scrape your knees today. People are dying all around you for a plethora of other reasons too (and having birthdays ruined).

Today, someone is likely to die from a vehicle collision, cancer, heart failure, snake bite, spider bite, shark bite, and even choking on a bagel bite.  Someone will fall off a ladder, slam their finger in the car door, loose a finger at the saw mill, and accidentally poop their pants while searching for toilet paper on an empty Walmart shelf.  You are not immune from any of them

THE CHALLENGE:  Worry about the stuff that matters!  Be a responsible citizen, Coronavirus is indeed the “F” word, but don’t stop living your life because others are dying. While you are on lock down, put the Fudge Rounds away and try learning something new – like how to be self sufficient. Maybe try baking a loaf of bread or learn how to grow something edible. Just in case, you know, the world decides to come to an end.