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


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


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.


But That’s The Perfect Job for Me! …

Whatever your life’s work is, do it well. A man should do his job so well that the living, the dead, and the unborn could do it no better. ~ Martin Luther King, Jr.

by Pete Ferguson

Recently my brother-in-law applied for a job with great promise and increased salary. He did his research and was convinced that it would be the perfect opportunity.

Unfortunately he didn’t get it.

Recession is when a neighbor loses his job. Depression is when you lose yours. ~ Ronald Reagan

Today I worked out with friend with whom I’d worked a year or so ago to fix up his resume, identify his passion, and put together a plan of action.

He also applied for a job that he thought would be perfect for him – but didn’t get it. Now he is back in school and working towards a much more promising future.

At the time he was applying for the job I discussed with him the bureaucracy and politics he would have to face. At the time he just wanted a steady salary and sense of purpose and the ability to go from unemployed to gainfully employed.

Choose a job you love, and you will never have to work a day in your life. ~ Confucius

I’ve had several opportunities over the years to apply for what I also thought would be the perfect job. I got into the final interviews and thankfully the other party decided I wasn’t the best fit for the position.

At the time I was disappointed, discouraged, and dismayed. But I’ve since had the chance to go back and visit the person who did take on the job or talk to others who worked (and now no longer work) for those companies and I can very clearly see how I would not have been happy for very long.

This month I commence my 15th year at eBay. That’s a really long time. If I was in Law Enforcement or the military, I’d be five years from retirement.

Throughout the journey I’ve been blessed to make of my job what I want to make of it. There are many times I feel it is the perfect job for me. There have been times when I have felt stuck and needed to get out.

Thankfully each time I’ve been able to change direction and create the perfect job for me.

There was a time I loved to travel. And I did 180,000 miles in a year going to Asia and Europe.

There was a time I loved to manage large teams and I was privileged to have over 100  reports across multiple continents.

I burned out, however, spent a few years getting back in touch with what I love to do most – build. And now I’m in a position that was not a position two years ago and I’m having the time of my life.

The very existence of flame-throwers proves that some time, somewhere, someone said to themselves, You know, I want to set those people over there on fire, but I’m just not close enough to get the job done. ~ George Carlin

Being out of work sucks. But for me and the friends I’ve seen go through it, it has also been a very powerful shift in understanding oneself – getting in touch with one’s true inner passion for work and making dramatic changes to move in a different direction.

If you are currently in the job search – all the best luck to you. It is hard to understand now, but many of the “right” jobs will not feel like the right job after a few weeks. You not getting that position now sucks – but in the longer run I hope you can look back and see why. I’m grateful that I’ve been blessed to see the 20/20 hindsight.

It is a hard transition to go from expecting others to make you happy (with salary, benefits, promotions, etc.) and turn inward and realize the only person capable of these things is yourself.

A lot of people quit looking for work as soon as they find a job.- Zig Ziglar

Yo – Yo – Moe?

Many will say … “if only I could go back and …” But I’m finding that one of the blessing of children and teaching is that you do get to go back.

yoyomachildby Pete Ferguson

If you really could go back in time, same set of circumstances, same knowledge, do you really think you would change things?

I guess there is the possibility, but the reality of life is  that we can’t.

coach-own-child-2And that is why coaching, mentoring, teaching and parenting is so rewarding. We can go back to our set of circumstances – through another individual – and provide the resources for them to launch into success we would liked to have had.

I’m learning that it is much like the saying of “you can lead a horse to water, but you can’t force it to take a drink.” Which is why teaching and parenting is a constant and continual process.

It is as if Life is testing our resolve – if we really could go back would we change?

Yesterday I had two experiences that got me thinking about how we cannot judge success until we look at a very long span of time.

First, I spoke to the wife of one of my first attempts at career coaching. I had felt I had utterly failed because I didn’t have a Tony Robbins moment with my client turning his life around in six weeks and launching into a million dollar business. But after two years, his wife is thanking me for giving him hope, believing in him and investing in him when he was at his darkest hour.

20120219-onc-tony-robbins-11-600x411What Tony Robbins obviously does not talk about in infomercials are the millions who have listened to his products – like me – and haven’t yet taken off like a rocket out of orbit. It is a commercial, he of course highlights the 1% who already had a lot going for them and needed that last massive nudge to clear their own gravity.

Coaching and parenting is like planting a garden. You put in a seed, and it takes many months of constant feeding and care before the end result. When it comes to a tree, it takes many years if not decades. And so it goes.

The second event happened last night watching my son Mark, nick-named “Moe,” 14 and a freshman, play first chair cello at their Winter Concert. He is the youngest first chair anything for his high school orchestra. While I was taking video for his scholarship resume, I scanned all of the chairs for violin and cello.

On the front row, Mark was keeping up with a violinist who is a Junior but already accepted to Juilliard. Mark is not at her level, but he fights to keep with her. I was amazed that this is my flesh and blood (mostly Steph’s when it comes to the musical gene).

passion_rules1In contrast, however, the back row of instruments were not even moving their bows or fingers! At first I was shocked, but then I had a painful flashback of me in 8th Grade Orchestra.

I had known enough to not be in basic orchestra, but then I didn’t apply myself enough to do much in the advanced orchestra, and I was always in the very back row. And I remember well sitting there trying to pretend to fit in but not playing loud enough to be heard because I had chosen to hang out with friends and chase down girls over practicing.

And that is how time heals wounds if we take action – we are given a second, third, fourth, etc. opportunity to rewrite history through paving the path for the future!

And it is one of the most rewarding experiences ever!

At work I am thankful to have the same opportunity. We are putting together programs to take brand new employees and accelerate their ability to learn, develop and grow in a very compressed time period. Those willing and able will not have to take 15 years like me to learn what I have learned. They will get the knowledge in 2-3 years and then apply it in real situations.

Mark’s email address is YoYoMoe@ … and if he is persistent, he has a good shot at becoming his own version of Yo Yo Ma.

What talents are you hiding under a bushel that you could be helping out another with instead?