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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Unity

“When there is no enemy within, the enemies outside cannot hurt you.” ~ Winston Churchill

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by Pete Ferguson

There is a story of an early migrant to the US who attends a competition to watch a number of different ox teams to see which team can out pull the rest.

As the migrant walks around surveying the various teams, he settles in on the two largest ox as the likely winners.

He places his bet and then watches each team yoke up to the heavy load. He is a bit amused when he sees the two smallest ox yoke up. Their owner is gently speaking into their ears, they work in perfect unison and to everyone’s surprise, out pull all of the competition.

Bewildered, and now out hard-earned cash, the migrant asks a bystander how it is possible to which he gets the reply: “it isn’t about size, it is about working in unison.”

Where there is unity there is always victory.

~ Publilius Syrus

It isn’t about who is largest, fastest, or the best that defines a winner – it is the person who can unify others to the common cause who moves mountains.

Consider Gandhi, Martin Luther King, or Nelson Mandela. They each inspired others around them towards a common goal of human decency and equality. And they each did what seemed impossible creating social change with only the thoughts and bodies of those who followed.

As you look at your team, coworkers, family and company – are you all headed in the same direction with the same unity? If not, the fighting within will tear you apart long before the competition will.

It takes courage to not gossip, backbite or fixate on the flaws of others. It takes courage to set aside personal differences, ask for an apology and work together while checking your pride at the door.

Great civilizations have only endured when they were able to unite internally and fight against the external oppressor.

The reason why the world lacks unity, and lies broken and in heaps, is, because man is disunited with himself.

~ Ralph Waldo Emerson

Forcing the Fit

If a square peg doesn’t fit a round hole, neither the peg nor the hole is to blame. ~ Jeffrey Bryant

by Pete Ferguson

Last night I came home to a very tearful and broken seven-year-old daughter.

Recently we needed to find a new piano teacher for my kids, so we did our research and identified the “best” teacher in the area. Her resume of experience and education was excellent. We were convinced that this is what our family needed and scheduled an interview.

She met with each of our children and it seemed like a good fit – except that she warned her style works better for older children. Wanting to keep everyone together, we forced the fit.

Now my daughter, Ashley, was beginning to question her self-worth because she was clashing with the strict personality of this expert teacher. She let her emotions go at her lesson yesterday and it didn’t end well, and as a result we are now in search of a better teacher/student personality fit.

How many times have you heard “grin and bear it?”

“Suck it up?”

Sometimes that is needed to get through a rough patch, but I’m learning that upon hearing these phrases in my mind or coming out of other people’s mouths that it is also a potential indicator that there is not a good fit and something needs to change.

… the problem with pounding a square peg into a round hole is not that the hammering is hard work. It’s that you’re destroying the peg. ~ Paul Collins

At work I’ve similarly witnessed a bad fit – and at very senior levels. I recall years ago being asked to organize a vehicle to pick up a new VP and entourage. My company is known for the CEO sitting in a cubicle and leadership who are approachable.

The new guy was supposed to be “the guy” to take our company to the next level. He was cold and standoffish. He treated me like the hired help while every other senior leader I’ve worked around has always taken time to ask my name and a little about me.

I recall at the time thinking – the startup ride is finally over, we are now going to be like everybody else and our culture of friendly people would be going away.

Thankfully he didn’t last very long. Despite his resume and experience, his personality wasn’t a good fit and he moved on to another opportunity.

The same has happened for people on my team over the years. Great experience. Great education. Great references. But in the end, it hasn’t been a good fit and no one was happy.

I’ve found that I’m a square peg and I need to avoid trying to slip into circular holes where a lot of pressure and change must be applied for me to “fit.”

Within the many civic, religious, business, and personal responsibilities you have, there are likely situations that are not a great fit. Today is the day to identify it and search for where you will fit in better.

It is different than just quitting – it is providing an opportunity for you and the organization to soar to new heights by removing a roadblock.

What relationships are you trying to force? Maybe it is time for a different approach.

Overcoming Fear

Only fear can defeat life. It is a clever, treacherous adversary, how well I know. It has no decency, respects no law or convention, shows no mercy. It goes for your weakest spot, which it finds with unerring ease. ~ Yann Martel, “The Life of Pi”

by Pete Ferguson

Bound by an inexplicable fear, I could not sleep. I could not concentrate. I had no self-esteem.

Physically ill, I had to work for several hours each morning to gain enough self-confidence to get through the day. Each evening, I had to rebuild the confidence to be able to sleep.

My self-esteem was at an all time low. I was not me.

This explained where I was several years ago. In the middle of a “mid-life crisis,” I was paralyzed by fear on a regular basis.

It was like an out-of-body experience for me. I knew better. Yet there I was, stuck in a personal Hell.

Down and out, I knew I was in trouble. So I spent hours listening to wise advice and learned that the answers to a happier life lay within. When I was true to myself, I gained the confidence to know that I had the answers, that I was a good person, and that I deserved to be happy – and to be more successful than my wildest dreams.

I began my path by taking a sincere personal inventory of my talents.

I wrote down every blessing I could think of ever achieving. At first it was difficult to see past my self-indulged pity party, but then the memories of everything I’ve been blessed with flowed onto several pages.

As the memories flowed, my confidence began to build. I reached out to trusted mentors, who reached back and built me up. I listened to many hours of podcasts, talks, and instructional and inspirational material to help me understand the source of my fears.

I found that when I am not true to myself and live for others, I kid no one.

No fear. Not anymore. Not one ounce. I am done being scared. I am done making decisions with fear. I am finished half-committing to my goals. I am done fooling around with my dreams…

Failure taught me whom to trust. Failure has shown me the true colors of my friends. Failure has whispered to me the things I am not willing to give up for a job or a promotion or a raise. Failure brought my values to light. Failure opened doors which always led to better success … failure has been good to me.

Fear of failure on the other hand has been nothing but a waste of precious time.

~ Farnoosh Brock

One aspect that lead to my panic and fear was finding a journal where I had written down goals ten years previous – and realized I had made little to no progress in achieving what I had committed to.

But when I chose to move to my future, and away from my past, I felt real power. I knew that I was solely responsible for my success. I couldn’t blame my failures of the past on anyone but me.

It is a long process, but every day it is worth the journey forward. I had a lot of help from family, friends, mentors, and a fantastic counselor.

If you are feeling down and out – if you are feeling like a lamb instead of a tiger – it is time to take charge of your life. You deserve much better. You are capable of much better. You will be successful. At first the climb will be hard, slow, and steep. But then the miles begin to amass and you will begin to move forward with increasing speed.

If you’ve already made the climb, what was the turning point for you? What made the difference? What gave you the power to overcome?

[Graphic: Farnoosh Brock’s Confidence Building Series on ProlificLiving.com]

More from the “Life of Pi” by Yann Matel:

“I must say a word about fear. It is life’s only true opponent. Only fear can defeat life. It is a clever, treacherous adversary, how well I know. It has no decency, respects no law or convention, shows no mercy. It goes for your weakest spot, which it finds with unerring ease. It begins in your mind, always. One moment you are feeling calm, self-possessed, happy. Then fear, disguised in the garb of mild-mannered doubt, slips into your mind like a spy. Doubt meets disbelief and disbelief tries to push it out. But disbelief is a poorly armed foot soldier. Doubt does away with it with little trouble. You become anxious. Reason comes to do battle for you. You are reassured. Reason is fully equipped with the latest weapons technology. But, to your amazement, despite superior tactics and a number of undeniable victories, reason is laid low. You feel yourself weakening, wavering. Your anxiety becomes dread.

Fear next turns fully to your body, which is already aware that something terribly wrong is going on. Already your lungs have flown away like a bird and your guts have slithered away like a snake. Now your tongue drops dead like an opossum, while your jaw begins to gallop on the spot. Your ears go deaf. Your muscles begin to shiver as if they had malaria and your knees to shake as though they were dancing. Your heart strains too hard, while your sphincter relaxes too much. And so with the rest of your body. Every part of you, in the manner most suited to it, falls apart. Only your eyes work well. They always pay proper attention to fear.

Quickly you make rash decisions. You dismiss your last allies: hope and trust. There, you’ve defeated yourself. Fear, which is but an impression, has triumphed over you.

The matter is difficult to put into words. For fear, real fear, such as shakes you to your foundation, such as you feel when you are brought face to face with your mortal end, nestles in your memory like a gangrene: it seeks to rot everything, even the words with which to speak of it. So you must fight hard to express it. You must fight hard to shine the light of words upon it. Because if you don’t, if your fear becomes a wordless darkness that you avoid, perhaps even manage to forget, you open yourself to further attacks of fear because you never truly fought the opponent who defeated you.

Say “Yes” to Life!

Life will give you that what you ask of it. If you choose to be positive, life will provide you abundance. If you choose to be negative, life will reveal despair and doubt.

by Pete Ferguson

Each day we get to choose what we want. Each day we actively choose what we desire.

Inactivity leads to a life of regrets.

Being actively engaged in a good cause produces a life of abundant joy, peace and happiness.

It is not what happens to us that defines us. It is how we react between stimulus and response that defines us.

Learn to say ‘no’ to the good so you can say ‘yes’ to the best.
John C. Maxwell

I Am A Work In Progress …

I am a work in progress. I’m not perfect. I don’t know that I’ll ever be. But I have a path towards continual improvement, and I am 100% Authentically Me!

by Pete Ferguson

As I rode home from a 25-mile bike ride with my son Mark, I saw the setting sun drape across the mountains, now colored red, yellow, orange, and green.

And it struck me that like Nature, I am constantly changing.

Parts of my personality die off to give way to new and exciting opportunities.

And I too am a work in progress. An eternal cycle of life, death, and rebirth.

And while I’ll not likely ever be “perfect,” perfection is in the process of continual change.

There are many things I’d like to change. There are many things I’m constantly working on to change. And there are many things I have changed.

And then there are many parts of me I like just how I am.

I am a loving father. Good spouse and friend. I like to work hard. I like to have a vision. I like to work towards that vision.

I like to help others recognize their vision and help them move towards that end.

I am a work in progress.

 

What are you working on? Are you feeling progress? What would your ten-year-old self say to you today if you were to meet him or her?

Give back to yourself today. Count your blessings. Be grateful for what you do you have control over, for what possessions you temporarily have, and that you live a life that allows you the time and ability to briefly read this blog, contemplate your larger goals, and take action toward achievement.

Happy Monday!

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The Power of Silence – Just Be

by Pete Ferguson

Fridays I am going to reserve for less formal posts which will be of a more personal, or humorous, or off-the-wall approach. I hope you come along for the ride and get something out of it for you.

Sunrise at Walden Pond

Do you ever have those times or days when life is happening all around you and you hit the proverbial 100% overload? Ironic that all of the technology which was supposed to consolidate tasks, free up our lives, simplify tasks and allow us more time to “just be” seems to instead – at times when we allow it – consume us entirely.

I was given wise counsel a long time ago to make time for relaxation. At the time I was 19, I wanted to conquer the word. I didn’t see meditation as a means to that end. But the counsel was written down and has stuck with me. It caused me to take up yoga and inspires me from time to time to turn off the radio on the way to work, roll down the windows, and just be.

This morning I took the opportunity to allow for silence. Now understand that I am a bit ADHD. I don’t do well just sitting still, and that is probably the reasoning behind the counsel I received by a very wise and trusted individual in my late teens.

So it is painful to be silent.

To be calm.

To just breath in fresh air.

To hear the birds chirping. The sprinker system sustaining life. The cars. The joggers talking.

But eventually, when I stop looking for a point, I find the point. That blessed moment of enlightenment when the subconscious is able to bring forward the stuff that sits on the back burner and needs to be attended to from time to time. As Covey describes it, the “important, but not urgent.”

I know I’ve arrived as the muscles on my face begin to relax and my eyes turn upwards. The muscles in my chest relax and I am now a human. And I’m just “being.”

One of my favorite passages found in scripture is the following:

Be Still, and know that I am God

~ Psalms 46:10

Its simplicity speaks volumes. It ceases all the “but …” statements. It’s power is understated yet massive.

When life gets overwhelming, and the “to do” list seems too much, this simple statement: “be still” – and of course the required work to actually just stop, breath, and be – have yet to fail me.

And when the calm finally rests down upon me, my mind opens and peace settles in. And I feel whole again. And I am able to review the “to do” list and quickly prioritize, or just choose to let it sit for some time while I do something that I will remember when I’m 95 and reflecting on life.

The eternal memories. Play with my children. Sit and relax. Write. Read. Invest in myself. Invest in others.

I love this time of year because the weather is perfect. There is no school and the neighborhood is quiet. It is a renewal time for me to enjoy and love life. To renew and replenish.

I have a great deal of company in my house;
especially in the morning, when nobody calls.

~ David Thoreau, Solitude

Have a great weekend, and just be.

P.S. I’ve attached the words to a song that hit me as I was traveling the world and missing out on what was really important at home. It has been a bit of a theme song for me really, I hope you enjoy it.

Lyrics to Just Be, Tiesto:

You can travel the world but you can’t run away
from the person you are in your heart
you can be who you want to be
make us believe in you
keep all your light in the dark
if your searching for truth
you must look in the mirror
and make sense of what you can seejust be
just be

they say learning to love yourself
is the first step
that you take when you want to be real
and flying on planes to exotic locations
won’t teach you how you really feel
face up to the fact that you are who you are
and nothing can change that belief

just be
just be

cause now i know it’s not so far to where i go
the hardest part
is inside me
i need to just be

i was lost and i’m still lost but i feel so much better