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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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?

 

Is Your Plate Too Full? Get a Bigger Plate

It can be as important to say “no” as it is to say “yes” when people are demanding your time – but sometimes you just need a new perspective – you need a larger plate.

by Pete Ferguson

A month or so ago I was talking to my boss about all we had going on and he introduced another item – to which I responded that our plate was already pretty full. In his usual calm fashion he recommended I “get a bigger plate.”

At first that felt a little overwhelming – but as it sunk in, I understood what he was saying. It was a coaching moment, it wasn’t a task master assignment. He was helping me see the bigger opportunities that would be available if we took on this new important responsibility.

There are times when too much is going on for us to be productive without stopping some things in order to start doing more important things.

And then there are times where our limited perspective sells us short of greater opportunity.

I don’t claim to have the answers – but I’ve found that surrounding myself with others who think differently and can add a fresh perspective is very helpful in evaluating what opportunities have the greatest potential and are worth pursuing – despite the fact that I may feel I’ve taken on a lot already.

I was looking for a previous post this morning about a new way of rock climbing – but couldn’t find it. Basically, the traditional rock climbers spent a lot of time on each hold, not moving forward until they felt very confident. Then along came a new way of thinking – you are only going to be on a good hold for a few seconds, concentrate instead on getting to the top.

A bird sitting on a tree is never afraid of the branch breaking because her trust is not on the branch but on it’s own wings.  Always believe in yourself!  ~(Anonymous – found on Neissa Springmann’s website)

In other words, instead of waiting for perfection to take action, climbers are scampering up difficult climbs quickly and enjoying the view from the top long before others make it there.

I witnessed this during our summer vacation to Zion’s National Park where we hired a guide and climbed. She very quickly crawled up the rock, attached our ropes and then rappelled down. Then we each took 2-3 times as long to get up – with ropes. Her experience gave her confidence that she could get to the top, so she was not slowed down by the process.

When we awaken from our preconceived ideas of what something should be, we can start enjoying what can be and get to work.

How big is your plate? Can you handle a larger one? What will you stop doing to start doing greater things?

Do Your Best

Every job is good if you do your best and work hard. A man who works hard stinks only to the ones that have nothing to do but smell. ~ Laura Ingalls Wilder

by Pete Ferguson

So often we get hung up in a search for perfection that we forget to take action today – and do our best with what we have in front of us at the moment.

Always Do Your Best. Your best is going to change from moment to moment; it will be different when you are healthy as opposed to sick. Under any circumstance, simply do your best, and you will avoid self-judgment, self-abuse and regret.~ Miguel Angel Ruiz

In 2007 I found myself on a plane headed to India. I had just been thrown into an investigation of major loss of equipment and the team I was about to manage was in complete disarray. Employee sentiment towards our services was as negative as I have encountered, and my experience in working in Asia was limited to setting up an office in Shanghai two years earlier.

The previous few months were grueling as I was redefining my value within our team and now I was heading into a culture I knew nothing about only armed with my love for people and faith that things were going to work out.

To say that I felt a bit overwhelmed is an understatement.

I had two options – quit, or man up and take action. I’m very glad I chose the latter, because that has made all of the difference.

It’s fun to be on the edge. I think you do your best work when you take chances, when you’re not safe, when you’re not in the middle of the road, at least for me, anyway. ~ Danny DeVito

The self-doubt which evolves from thinking our best today is too far from perfect to try -paralyzes us into inaction.

It keeps us from moving forward – ironically, because we think if we stay still right now, we can wait for a shot at perfection to leap-frog us forward. But what we do not realize is that in staying still we are not frozen in time, we are moving backwards as life moves forward.

Forward movement – no matter how small or imperfect – is still forward movement. Taking immediate action is what saved me in India – and throughout Asia – and throughout my whole life. The  VP of Asia saw my action, believed in me, and made investments towards my recommendations and in the end we stopped the thefts and employees ranked our services as one of the top reasons they enjoyed coming to work.

Being forced to work, and forced to do your best, will breed in you temperance and self-control, diligence and strength of will, cheerfulness and content, and a hundred virtues which the idle will never know. ~ Charles Kingsley

Build up your confidence by taking action – no matter how small – in a new area today. Music, writing, dancing, drawing, painting, poetry – wherever your passion lies hidden. Break out, man! Dare to overcome the fear of inaction and move forward with conviction!

When confronted with a roadblock, march forward. To hell with any obstacles that get into your way!

Photo Credit: The World of ElleSee 

If you have a defined passion, then it should not be stopped. You need to fight your way with, over, around, or through the opposition.

A problem is your chance to do your best. ~ Duke Ellington

Take on the impossible. Don’t fret the small stuff just yet. The answers will come through action. Get started quickly and make a mess. The first 19 failures will each school you on how to do it better the next time. And then the 20th time it clicks, and you are wiser and better educated on the process.

Photo Credit: Foodspotting.com

God luck and God Speed!

Resiliency – Bounce Back!

Courage is not the absence of fear,
but rather the judgement that something
else is more important than fear.
~ Ambrose Redmoon

by Pete Ferguson

I know many who live their lives in fear. Of course at times I also allow fear to impede my ability to succeed.

I’ve studied fear well – I’m certainly not an authoritative expert – but what I’ve learned is that when I allow fear to control me it is because I am more focused on something bad I want to move away from.

Courage takes focusing on something great to move towards. It is a visionary faith that a course of direction is the right one and that the end result has to be better than the current “reality.”

The timid presume it is lack of fear that allows the brave to act when the timid do not. But to take action when one is not afraid is easy. To refrain when afraid is also easy. To take action regardless of fear is brave. ~ Redmoon

There are things you likely set out to accomplish this year which have not materialized and likely are not going to occur in the next 18 days.

What holds most people back is fear of failure, but if I don’t take action, I’ll fail by default, so what have I got to lose?

Geoffrey James

Screen Shot 2012-12-13 at 7.15.02 AMI would hope that there are also things which have gone better than expected which give you a great sense of pride and gratitude as you look back over the year.

As you examine both, remember that success leaves clues – as does failure. Regardless of the balance between success and “failure” this year, do not fail to be a student of the clues!

“Negative results are just what I want. They’re just as valuable to me as positive results. I can never find the thing that does the job best until I find the ones that don’t.”
~Thomas A. Edison

As I type here, I am not at the weight I had hoped to be this time of year. There are many reasons for it, all of which I examine and must make a conscious decision to defeat in the coming year as I establish my goals.

As a perfectionist, I could beat myself up, consider myself “lazy,” but I’m not lazy. I’ve awakened at 4:40 am to go to the gym 2-3 days a week with my wife and our trainer for many months. Earlier in the year we worked out 6 days a week. I am lifting greater weight than I’ve ever lifted in my life and I am able to keep up with my children better than ever.

So to feel lazy and think that I just need to work harder is a false positive result.

To be successful at this goal, I must be more intentional. Food consumption is the core issue and the vice. I medicate with food. I know I do. I know many of the triggers which cause it to happen.

Addition comes in many forms, eating just happens to be one of the most socially acceptable vices in America.

Now I just have to have courage – and the faith that I am resilient – to overcome. I must place more joy in what I want to move towards than joy in suffering what I want to move away from.

Between stimulus and response there is a space. In that space is our power to choose our response. In our response lies our growth and our freedom. ~ Viktor E. Frankl

Resiliency allows me to look forward instead of over my shoulder. I have 18 days to get a head start on the successes I am looking forward to in 2013.

What great dreams do you have for the coming year? Damn the fiscal cliff – the sun will still rise and set, the birds will still sing, and you will still be you, waiting for the best YOU to be introduced to the world!

I’m sick of following my dreams. I’m just going to ask them where they’re goin’, and hook up with them later. ~ Mitch Hedberg