All We Need is a Little Patience … And A Good Idea of the What

With a wonderful business, you can figure out what will happen; you can’t figure out when it will happen. You don’t want to focus on when, you want to focus on what. If you’re right about what, you don’t have to worry about when ~ Warren Buffet

by Pete Ferguson

As I look at where I am today with work, with my personal finances, and with family, I can’t help but appreciate the importance of patience.

Five years ago I wanted to sell our current house to move into a larger one. I wanted to find a new career. I wanted a lot of stuff.

And I had plenty of people willing to take my money to give me what I thought I wanted at the time. But nothing felt right except to stay where I was and dig in deeper.

Years later, that is paying off well. Our house will be paid off early next year which means the only interest in my life will be what I receive from the bank and investments. The only bills we will receive are the usual water, electricity, gas, phone, and Internet.

Most of the stuff I owned five years ago has been replaced. And the stuff I thought I wanted would now be mostly obsolete.

As we await our sixth child, I can’t help but think how much better it is to live in the now, invest in quality in all areas of my life, and enjoy the ride instead of staring at the rear-view mirror or trying to imagine what is over the next horizon. Sure I’m putting long-term plans into place in anticipation of the future, but I’m not spending the majority of my time dreaming of mansions above when I have such a great existence in the here and now.

With a wonderful life, you can figure out what will happen; you can’t figure out when it will happen. You don’t want to focus on when, you want to focus on what. If you’re right about what, you don’t have to worry about when ~ adapted from Warren Buffet

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Death, Disease, and Trials – Endure Them Well

I’m not afraid of death; I just don’t want to be there when it happens. ~ Woody Allen

WinterSpring_Copyright Pete Ferguson 2010

by Pete Ferguson

‘Tis the Season to be Jolly – so why such a seemingly dark subject within a dozen days of the Celebration of Light and of Christ?

Yesterday afternoon my wife and her friends went to lunch at the local Del Taco where  our children play together and the moms get to unwind and revel in friendship. They were not prepared for what they encountered, however. A young family – just returned from the hospital – were now deprived of their mother after what was supposed to be a routine surgery.

Four young children never to see the face of their mother in physical form within mortality again. A grieving father. Distraught grandparents who felt to approach my wife and give her a heads up that the children within the play area would be talking of the death of their mother amongst our children.

As I contemplate, I internalize the situation. I put on the shoes of the husband. I apply the consequences of this news to my children. I feel the pain and loss of my hero, my strength, my confidant. My Stephanie.

The act of dying is one of the acts of life. ~ Marcus Aurelius

But birth and death are the only 100% guarantee in life (and taxes of course).

Fame, fortune, success, peace – all are conditional and seemingly spread out to strange people. We may experience any of these fleeting emotional states. The media seems to unjustly don these appellations upon the unworthy.

But death we will share with trillions of the earths inhabitants. And we will all equally be emotionally and physically connected with a physical body in one moment – only to be disconnected with it the next.

So why is there so much sting and pain associated with the concept? Perhaps it is the seeming theft of opportunity in this case. A mother robbed of seeing her children grow, experience new things, get married and have children of their own. We infer that she has been taken in her prime and robbed of its potential?

Or is it the seemingly hopelessness of a father which I can attach to and thankfully only imagine the grief, loneliness, and abandonment he must feel?

I have really only lost two grandfathers as a reference.

Others I’ve known have died, but they did not have an ongoing involvement in my life. I grieved for their families. I miss seeing them at certain times.

But my grandfathers were both influential in my life and an example to me of how to live life and both taken before my 20th birthday. And I did feel robbed – yet I’ve been paid back in spades as I look to their examples in difficult moments of my life and have felt strengthened by the legacy they left behind.

Three years ago my wife lost her father. He was not in a good mental or physical state. It was odd because there was a sense of relief, while at the same time a mourning that he never really lived up to what we supposed was his potential. That winter felt as though it would never end. Yet Spring came and then Summer.

And once the “firsts” (first Christmas, first birthday parties, first Father’s Day) turned into seconds, the sadness and loss faded away and what remained were the lessons to be learned of his life.

The submissive soul will be led aright, enduring some things well while being anxiously engaged in setting other things right—all the time discerning the difference. ~ Neal A. Maxwell

When examining life and death, I can only lean on my beliefs. The big lie of life is that we are all supposed to be in bliss, living the “American Dream.” Equal in all things. And never oppressed.

And what a lie this is! It robs us of all growth and ability to learn to endure it well as we subjugate our desires to a greater good and power. To become more than just self-centered and focused on immediate gratification.

Enduring well is not to brush over trials and tribulations as though they are just words. Quite the contrary – it is to lean into them, accept them. Play them out and realize we have the power to get through the darkest night, especially when we reach out and above to Him whose birth should be celebrated and relished more than a new television, x-box, or other fleeting and soon to be obsolete items on a gift list.

Ignorance and fear of death overshadow life, while knowing and accepting death erases this shadow. ~ Lily Pincus

This Christmas will be a very lonely and sad time for many families. Unfortunately this is the second death of parent taken before their time in our little community. Last week, however, quite the juxtaposition, a father and police officer took his own life within his home, leaving behind a family now with more questions than answers.

And so I am even more grateful for the blessings in my life. Five healthy and talented, well-adjusted children with a sixth on her way (or his). A good job and a home we love to be in. And a desire to help others also achieve happiness.

I have my own trials and tribulations to own up to and to lean in to. And in so doing, the pain is not welcomed, but when reflecting back, I am grateful for the pain because it stimulates growth, wisdom, and experience. It provides me with a greater abundance of empathy towards others and allows me to focus on the success of others rather than be discontent with a perceived lack of success of my own. And I see all of this as a great investment which will pay dividends when I will need it the most as I experience heartache of my own or am called to be in support of those close to me seeking comfort.

Perhaps the realization of being in God’s hands comes fully only as we ponder the significance of the prints in the hands of our submissive Savior. ~ Maxwell

As we ponder the meaning of this time of year, we must accept that He who is greatest of all suffered greatest of all, and in so doing, is able to understand any pain or affliction through which we must endure. And in so doing, He is able to lift the seemingly impossible burdens which we may feel trapped beneath and help us see the sunset after living through the darkest night.

As we endure our trials and tribulations well, we receive the ultimate gift. The gift of additional strength, wisdom and knowledge. And with that I wish you an early very, Merry Christmas.

Time to Be Unreasonable

“The Reasonable Man Adapts to the World; The Unreasonable One Persists in Trying to Adapt the World to Himself; Therefore, All Progress Depends on the Unreasonable Man.” ~ George Bernard Shaw

by Pete Ferguson

I was reading about Spotify (the best, highest-quality audio streaming service by far) founders’ vision of changing the world’s #1 hotbed of pirated music – Sweden.

“Naive” – Daniel Ek invited all of the top music labels to meet with him – at the same time. They weren’t sure if they were “allowed” to all discuss the “Biz” at the same time, in the same room. But he persisted and they remained, took a bet, and now Spotify is rewriting the way I ingest music – and happily pay for the higher quality, instant access to exact songs – not stations based on a song I kinda like.

Ek is a pirate in another sense – he refused to go with the status queue and is convincing Swedes that paying for music is a good thing.

All the greats who are shaping our future world aren’t ones to go with the flow of traffic. They are the outliers. The rebels with a cause. The passionate. The visionary.

I’m coming to realize my voice, and it is not pacifist. I used to think something was wrong with me because I didn’t fit in. I didn’t like to go with the flow, but felt guilty about it. Now I just realize it is a God-given gift, and one that has been engendered by my father (a library administer who convinced Columbia University and Hong Kong University to invest a lot more in “non-paper books” and instead sink considerable investments into e-literature.)

About 13 years ago I walked into a Security Mangers’ meeting and wasn’t impressed. I only got into the business for one reason: to change the perception of the Industry. Move from “guards and cards” to something much greater. If you complain long enough, eventually someone gives you the keys and tells you it is your turn to drive. And so now I’m going to be the Chair of that meeting group in 2014 and I’ve got big plans for taking us to the next level. Yet I fear I may be the only one running with the mast flowing in the wind. Time will tell.

Col. Sanders didn’t get his recipe to go global until he was in his 90’s. And I’ve now seen Kentucky Fried Chicken on every continent where I’ve stepped foot.

What recipe is in inside of you?

It’s time to be unreasonable.

Something for Nothing

When you get something for nothing, you just haven’t been billed for it yet. ~ Franklin P. Jones

"Hoarding Man" by Gary Locke

“Hoarding Man” by Gary Locke  – Visit TheGaryArtGood.blogspot.com 

by Pete Ferguson

Hi, I’m Pete, and I’m a recovering addict.

“Hi Pete.”

I’m not addicted to drugs or booze (or smoking crack cocaine while I was in a drunken stupor in Toronto). I’m addicted to something much worse and more spiritually toxic.

I’m addicted to wanting something for nothing.

I’m inpatient at heart. I want everything. Now.

I understand hard work pays off, and that’s great. I just want it to pay off immediately.

But when it does, I’m not happy with the results. In fact I’m empty inside and I want more.

I heard a great quote this week about addiction:

Addicts love things and use people.

And ain’t that the truth? Because I can never get enough stuff to be happy. And lots of stuff without meaningful relationships is really an unhappy place for me to be. And so I go after more stuff, only to find that I only feel less happy – so of course I self-prescribe the need for more stuff.

But I did say I’m a recovering addict. And Step 1 is to admit to my problem – and to admit I am powerless over it. And so I’m declaring to the world that I’m recovering from stuff-itis (the desire of too much stuff).

In 2007 we had $178,000 in consumer debt plus another $140,000 on our house. Student loans, a travel trailer, a nice big truck to pull the trailer (which we never could afford to fill with gas), and our former mortgaged condo that was supposed to be a profitable rental along with the “miscellaneous” second mortgage, credit cards, and other nonsense.

Pride was of course the root of my problem. Trying to keep up with friends who were doctors and hedge fund administrators. In the end, none of us won the race. I just about lost my marriage because of over spending though. Divorce isn’t the trophy I wanted, however.

Then one night in August I was sitting on the back bumper of my financed $30,000 truck parked next to our $15,000 trailer feeling pretty smug as I talked to our neighbor Tony.

Tony was the guy with the two beater cars that he was always fixing and whom we’d all make funny remarks to as we’d walk by. “Broken again, eh Tony?” or “nice ride.”

That was until on that August night I found out Tony was getting his Masters’ degree in pharmacology and that his house would be paid off in several years and he would be completely debt free.

Suddenly I didn’t feel so smug. But I did suddenly fell like a real phony.

Tony had overcome his addiction to stuff. And he enjoyed two beater cars because he liked the fact that there was no monthly car payment more than what others thought of him driving two beat up cars.

Tony was focused on the here and now with a hope for the future. And that is how I started my recovery. I started to focus on enjoying today and being thankful for what I already had.

The reason people find it so hard to be happy is that they always see the past better than it was, the present worse than it is, and the future less resolved than it will be. ~ Marcel Pagnol

As I began to focus on the here and now, I started to see how my addictions were robbing my future.

More debt now means less financial opportunity later.

A compliment on stuff only lasts a second, leaving me to want to have more stuff to get more compliments later.

More food today means twice as much exercise or a few additional pounds in the coming weeks (still working on this one …)

Three hours of TV today means I and my kids will want four more tomorrow.

Gossiping about others leaves me feeling worse about myself. And so I want to gossip more about others.

The cycle is a bad one. Because to get a “high” I have to overdo what was done yesterday. And the “high” doesn’t get me moving towards good long-term goals. It paralyzes me and robs my future.

You may have thought this post was going to be about current political events. And it could be. But the reality is that until we are a united nation where everyone is working out their own addiction to wanting something for nothing, Washington won’t hold any hope regardless of campaign posters.

America’s greatness comes from people working hard to fulfill their dreams. But today that greatness is being undermined by people using the government to steal other people’s dreams (and money). Rather than participate and innovate in the marketplace, generating goods and services that benefit society, people are increasingly vying for political advantage to live at the expense of others. – Excerpt from Something for Nothing by Brian Tracy

Speaking from experience, shutting off radio talk hosts and turning inward is extremely difficult. And it is painful because what I find each time I go digging into my own junk isn’t pleasant. There are many skeletons of pride and regret of using people and becoming a slave to way too much stuff that needs to be cleaned out, resolved, confessed and repented of before I can move forward.

But turning inward allows me to focus on the now. And living in the now is extremely rewarding. I become empowered to make today the best day it can possibly be. And at night as I look back over a good day, I’m content and at peace. And I’m excited about tomorrow. Ten years from now will take care of itself.

Self-analyzation isn’t fun – Self-Portriat by Martin Gommel

Consumer debt was only the most publicly glaring addiction. It took a lot of work, but we finally sold the truck, trailer, condo, and anything else we could and dug in deep. Several years later we were able to declare we were debt free except for the house. In a year from today our goal is to be rid of that monkey on our backs as well.

Television was (and still can be – thanks to Netflix) a serious addiction and robs time at the expense of opportunity. So we pulled the plug and haven’t had cable or satellite for many years. Reinvesting the $80 a month into music lessons is paving the way for future scholarships.

Dumping TV has had weird side affects though. Our kids have a hard time coming up with many items for their Christmas list when they aren’t at the mercy of advertisers. I never had that problem as a kid …

But I’m not here to pat myself on the back – although I’m very content and at peace with the progress I have made – I’m still addicted to wanting something for nothing.

It just moves around into different forms. Which gives me plenty to work on and strengthens my faith and reliance on my Heavenly Father.

What’s your addiction?

 

Allowing Room for Time

You have to take risks. We will only understand the miracle of life fully when we allow the unexpected to happen.

Paulo Coelho

LesleyCarter_OldManFrance

by Pete Ferguson

Many years back I hired a neighbor to do some work on our home. I could tell on the second or third day that there was a substance abuse problem. He finished the job – and actually did a pretty good job of it. Six months later I was served with a lien on our home as he had not paid one of the contractors.

We were angry and upset. The lien couldn’t have come at a worse time and I felt my integrity was in question. Many attempts to contact him to have it paid were unsuccessful. We thought of all kinds of revenge. We also saw his home go into great disrepair and finally one night, many police cars arrived and he disappeared for a long time.

Tired of the poison of hatred – and of seeing his once meticulous yard now very degraded, my wife and kids went and cut out the weeds on his grass and trimmed back his trees. Another neighbor jumped in and helped. During the winter I made sure the snow was cleared on their sidewalks. In service we found peace and forgiveness.

About four years later my neighbor approached me in humility and begged for my forgiveness. He had paid back what he could, but I suspected he probably had expenses much larger than ours and told him we had long since forgiven him and wished he and his family well.

It was I who needed the forgiveness from him. I can’t imagine what he had been going through and the last thing he needed was for us to be an enemy in a time when he needed more friends.

Other neighbors tried unsuccessfully to have children for many years. Tens of thousands of dollars in doctors and specialists were fruitlessly spent. Many Mother’s Days and Father’s Days were spent in depression and tears. When all hope seemed lost in their forties, a family member offered to give a gift for one more try with a new specialist. Surprisingly the fix was relatively simple, but involved a great investment in time and money and many months of bed rest and hospitalization.

Last night – and every night – I smiled as I watched them playing with their twins on their front porch. I laugh when I see the mischief these two concoct as they explore their world. The definition of a miracle twice illustrated.

About two years ago another friend lost his job. He had invested just about everything to help a company survive and they repaid him by never paying him and the company finally went under. They left their dream house – and dreams – behind. He is one of the hardest workers I know and someone I admire and look up to greatly. He pounded the pavement, he did all the right things. Yet he remained unemployed.

You can clutch the past so tightly to your chest that
it leaves your arms too full to embrace the present.
Jan Glidewell

Over a year later he still was unsuccessful. A grant was acquired and he was able to go back to school and then found a temp-to-hire agency and now has an offer for employment in a good position and I’m sure it won’t be too long until he is further ahead of where he was financially years ago.

I was contemplating all of these and other accounts – coupled with my own accounts of frustration and my path to discover who I am – when I was reacquainted with neighbors from over a decade ago.

They had also suffered through infertility but were able to adopt two great kids when we last knew them. I was surprised to see they now had a little girl who looked strikingly like the wife. On further inquiry I found she had awoken four years ago not feeling well and on a whim took a pregnancy test. Then took another, and a blood test to confirm. After a decade and a half of all the doctors, drugs, and specialized methods, she was pregnant without any of the aids.

And all of these lessons remind me that Time can – and does – take care of things. I’m becoming a big believer that wisdom is simply a study and understanding of Time.

Having spent the better part of my life trying either to relive
the past or experience the future before it arrives, I have
come to believe that in between these two extremes is peace.
Author Unknown

As a child, scraping a knee seemed to have eternal consequences of pain. Later in life a much bigger blow may affect our lives for a decade. But as I look at three grandparents in their 90’s, from their perspective – World War II, The Great Depression, the Dust Bowl, recessions, 9/11, the deaths of many friends and loved ones and other great trials have all been endured. And yet they still stand, strengthened in their beliefs and by the love of scores of family members who are a direct result of the lives they have lived.

Any great trial will eventually be conquered – by Time. Our trial is to simply have the patience and humility to wait out the pain to be able to bask in the warmth and personal growth which eventually comes after the pain.

 

Should You Go to University?

I have a bachelors degree in Communications, Public Relations & Marketing. I’m also a “Certified Protection Professional” with the American Society for Industrial Security.

In and of themselves, these two certificates I have in my office do not open doors for me. What each did, however, is unlock critical thinking.

by Pete Ferguson

I also have a bookshelf full of great books – which also got me thinking outside of the box. And despite being in the security industry, I regularly read Fast Company, Inc, HR Manager, CIO, and ComputerWorld magazines and attend webinars and other learning opportunities not directly related to my field.

Barry Schwartz on LinkedIn writes:

In my view, higher education should be equipping students to answer these four questions:

  1. What is worth knowing?
  2. What is worth doing?
  3. What makes for a good human life?
  4. What are my responsibilities to other people?

College is not the only place in which answers to these questions can develop, but it is an important place. And siloed, specialized training in a discipline—any discipline—will answer none of them.

I’m grateful for all of my learning experiences. I would like to get a Master’s degree when Miles (my youngest, now 3) is settled in school. I do better in a structured environment and I liked attending classes and having debates with people not in my line of profession when I started a few years back. But with family, civic, work, travel and other things occupying my time, it wasn’t a good fit.

My father has a PhD and it has served him well. My mentor and career coach Dan Miller did everything required for a PhD except his dissertation when he decided he could spend a year writing a paper that four old men would critique and then it would sit in an archive at the library, or sell a few million dollars in books and seminars on “48 Days to the Work You Love.”

We had a mid-level position open last month – three PhDs applied. The salary I can offer would maybe pay for one semester of school. That blows my mind that someone would invest over $200k on a degree to make $50-60k a year. You may break even the day you die.

Whatever you do, always be learning – advice I received multiple times from good professors and my father – and have tried to apply.

Other great advice I received often is to always be writing. And having written over 240 blog entries here – and commented on countless others – I can attest that it has been very educational and helped me see new perspectives.

Finally, network! Not talking FaceBook here – LinkedIn is better – but make sure you are setting up lunch and coffee appointments to pick people’s brains.

I recently sat down with a very successful CEO and asked him what advice he has for someone my age to get more mentors. His answer – ask, and show value. He says many of his C-level executive friends and peers often talk about wanting to have a mentee, but seldom get asked. He recommends I select ten people and invite them to lunch on my expense. Be very specific on time requirements (and stick to what you commit to) and actively follow up on everything discussed.

What are you doing to continue your education?

Forty – One

In your 30s, you’re having a lot of varied experiences. You’re scrambling. You’re putting pieces in place. In your 40s, those pieces start to coalesce into knowledge about who you are and how life works. ~ Suzy Welch

by Pete Ferguson

This past year has been a great year. I left 30s behind and embarked on 40.

Always the over achiever, I had scheduled my mid-life crisis early so as to get it out of the way. I went through the whole job/career/following my passion thing around 37 – so when I finally hit 40, I was in a good place.

A year ago today I was in top physical shape, and I’ve greatly enjoyed it. Rock climbing, rappelling, mountain biking, jogging, canoeing, white water rafting, hiking, and getting back into honing my skills on the gun range all fell within about 14 months.

I allowed weight to come back on – and I’m finding that it doesn’t peel off so easily now. But overall I wake up feeling good and can tackle just about anything I want to.

I’ve read great books, chased my dreams, dreamt some more.

People in their forties have a greater sense of self, for better or worse. Superficial people are more clear that that is what they are and deep people are easier to spot too. ~ Naomi Wolf

In my 30’s I had two years where I racked over 100,000 miles in the air, stepping foot on many countries in Asia and throughout Europe. I was checking off bucket list items monthly.

And the grand conclusion to all of this searching is that I love being at home, with my family, reading, writing, and hanging out all the while planning new adventures together.

Thankfully this knowledge didn’t cost me a divorce as many of my friends have endured. Or a heart attack or anything else serious.

A good therapist is always recommended to understand why one does as they do. We have a great one who’s goal was for us to become each other’s therapists. Much cheaper and more rewarding. Also takes trust and intimacy to a whole new level.

I absolutely loved turning 40– it didn’t feel awful to me- it felt like coming into my own … I felt as if 40 meant I was finally wise enough to give advice and be taken seriously but still young enough that the world offered the upward trajectory of possibility. ~ Lee Woodruff

I’ve always been of the mind that life should not have regrets. Take your lumps, learn from them – but never regret them. Just do your best to not make the same mistakes twice. Something I’m still working on.

Forty-one is a good number.

For Noah’s family – it rained for 40 days and 40 nights. But then it stopped on the 41st day.

On the 41st year, after many years of wandering lost, the Israelites entered the promised land.

In astrology, apparently 41 is very significant … maybe you can read this post and tell me why :-). It’s all over my head, but I’ll take what I can get.

[Another way of interpreting 41 is to separate the 4 from the 1. The numeral 4 equates to a brick, which has four sides. Bricks are used to withstand a lot of pressure and stress; The numeral 1 represents new beginnings, new steps.] ~ English, B. (2006, May 17). Seeking meaning behind 41. The Boston Globe.

No matter how you look at a number, the most important number is representative of where you are today. That’s your number. Your opportunity to make a difference. Your new beginning.

But I’m waxing too poetic. I’m not really 41 until 12:49 pm. So I’ll go back to bed and enjoy my nine hours of being 40!