If your have been around construction of any kind you most likely know that the foundation is the MOST IMPORTANT part of a structure. For many years I have worked on properties that are built on mountains. Believe me when I say that a good foundation is paramount if you want the building it supports to be worth anything. To illustrate, at one point there was a beautiful cabin that cost over $300,000. to build setting on the side of a mountain. A sign on the property said that you could have the cabin if you dismantled it. Upon further investigation it became clear that the foundation, some 80 feet tall, was unstable and no one was allowed to be in the cabin. The only way I could see to safely dismantle the structure was to pick it up with a crane or helicopter and move it to another location. They were giving away a property that cost over a quarter million dollars to build because the foundation was bad. Along those lines, here is a question you may not know the answer for. Do you know where the mistakes in the foundation become most evident? In other words, where is it easiest to see the mistakes that were made in the foundation construction? Keep reading and you will find out.
It has been said that the KEY to life is BALANCE. Indeed figuring out how to balance through life as well as finding the ways to find balance in life are of the utmost importance. So then, if striking balance is the key then how do we obtain it? It seems so simple, just keep everything balanced.
When you are young this is a fairly simple task. Get your school work done, do your homework, keep your extra curricular obligations, clean your room and make sure you eat. Experience brings a hunger for more. The more you add the more you have to juggle. Soon, you have taken on to much to handle, and the sad part is when you get there you have an insatiable desire to add to your load. This brings us to the second KEY…
Growing, building, acquiring, creating and having competence comes by learning how to balance what you carry better. To better explain competence (or being competent) let me share with you a story:
Once upon a time, I was an arrogant self absorbed fool. I felt that my intelligence was unequaled and that I could handle any situation life threw at me. On top of my self assuredness, I went so far as to look down upon people that were what I considered unsuccessful, which was pretty much anyone on earth that did not have superpowers or at least a half a Vigintillion dollars in disposable income. I was certain I would have my first million dollars by the time I was 25 and my “Bat Cave” would be under construction by my 28th birthday. I actually used to go around asking builders what would be the best materials and the best construction processes for building a secret superhero hideout. I was the most competent person in the world and I was certain my presence would be requested at the Pentagon, the United Nations, in Moscow, the U.S. Capital and they would designate the Lincoln Bedroom for my own personal use.
Then I failed my High School Typing Class and graduated with a less than stellar GPA. To be perfectly honest, I graduated in the half of my class that made the top half possible. I did manage to secure a Scholarship to College and make the football team, but injuries sustained in practice forced me to be moved to a Kicker position. I had never punted before in my life but the Coaches put me in the rotation and I became the 8th String Punter… Think about that for a second. At the end of the season the Coaches informed me that my Scholarship had been stripped and given to another Athlete. The kicker (pun) is… it was an Academic Scholarship. I was forced consider that perhaps my self esteem was over estimated.
I moved to another School, one that I could afford, and started over. I worked several jobs and paid for College as I went and finished not owing the School any money. I had a good job, a great Wife, a promising future with several high profile job offers in my arena and I felt like I had made myself more competent. So naturally, the old ideas came creeping back and this time I would be a winner. Except it did not work out that way. 5 years later My Wife and I and two small children moved into a small bedroom in my Mamaw’s house. The Private school that I taught at had gone belly up and my Real Estate job had disappeared along with the burst Real Estate bubble. We lost EVERYTHING!
The process continues to repeat. With each cycle comes more competence, more experience and more humility. What have I learned? That life is destined to throw us off balance.
You grow your competence by finding better ways to do things, better ways to handle things, learning how to use tools that are available to you as well as creating and implementing systems to help you and those around you interact with life and each in a desirable fashion. This makes being Competent so vitally important. Competence is the factor that makes balance possible… IF…
You have your PRIORITIES in order. One of the hardest things you will have to do in life is to decide what you want. On so many levels this is vitally important. In fact, this is so important that it truly dictates the course of your life.
Allow me to take a step back and explain this truth further. The course of your life is in direct correlation to your Priorities. Not what you say your priorities are or what you wish they were or even what you try to convince yourself of, but what you choose or do not choose as a priority in your decision making processes changes the course of your life.
When you decide what your priorities are you set a direction for your life. Liken this to setting out on a road trip. You have to decide where you want to go before you can really make any definite plans. If you want to drive to the beautiful Great Smoky Mountain National Park and watch the sunrise at Newfound Gap then you will need to make a plan that will allow you to get to your desired destination by a set time. It takes work to research and find the course you will take and note what directions you will need to follow. You will then need to schedule your route so you get to the destination at the appointed time. At this point you will need to plan all of the preparations you will need to make and muster the character to keep your actions in line with your plan to reach your goal.
If your goal is to drive around aimlessly and see the country then you have made the decision that you do not care where you end up; so stop whining when you end up in a place you do not like. This is where most folks mess up. They blame others or circumstances or the Universe for their misfortune. In truth, they are getting exactly what they worked up a plan for- NOTHING.
Now for the caveat, Your Priorities will change as life evolves. Just like our road trip analogy, reaching New Found Gap is not the end. You will eventually want to go somewhere else. In fact, you may never reach New Found Gap. It is possible, while on your way, life may present you with an opportunity which changes your priorities and alters your course. Setbacks, timing, major events, life changes and other factors can all cause us to amend or alter our course and even change our Priorities but these should be accounted for on purpose and given due diligence by being compared to your guiding principles before the decision is made to change.
Whoa! You may have missed that. Stop and look at that again.
It is possible, while on your way, life may present you with an opportunity which changes your priorities and alters your course. Setbacks, timing, major events, life changes and other factors can all cause us to amend or alter our course and even change our Priorities but these should be accounted for on purpose and given due diligence by being compared to your guiding principles before the decision is made to change.
This is where it gets tough to describe in detail what to do. There are unlimited possibilities and many points of view to take on each possibility. Writing out WHAT you should do is impossible so consider this a HOW TO CHOOSE guide instead of a WHAT TO DO statement.
(By the way, if anyone tells you “what to do” when you are trying to make a decision instead of “how to choose” they are making the decision instead of you.)
Let us feature a simple decision that we each face. Breakfast. Assuming you have been blessed enough to have breakfast available, and assuming you are doubly blessed and have options. This morning you are staying at a motel that serves breakfast and has an Omelet bar. This is an easy decision as your stomach and nose are in cahoots and have convinced you to sample the fare. You walk up to the line and place your order. Stepping over to the side to wait you spy a child choking at a table. The Parents are evidently in line and are unaware of the issue.
At this point you have a decision to make. Do you stay in line and wait until your Omelet is served to go and help?
Certainly not! Breakfast, as healthy as it is, and as delicious as your Omelet may be, is set aside for the priority of helping save a human life.
You may think this is a ridiculous example, of course everyone would help. You would be wrong. A friend off mine is a missionary to another country. He went fishing with a friend one morning and his friend fell in the water and was drowning. Unable to help the man by himself he called to a nearby boat to help. The two men in the other boat were trying to negotiate a price to help the dying man. The poor soul ended up drowning because the Missionary did not have enough money on him to pay for the help.
Back to Breakfast. So now the Child is saved because you stepped in. You go to get your Omelet and the line is closed. Congratulations! Your prize for being a superhero is a stale bowl of Cereal with water, no milk. Walking away you question your priorities. Assuredly, making decisions based on priorities does not always work out in your favor. If making choices based on what is best for you right now is your only priority, you need to reevaluate your priorities!
To examine the situation and explain HOW to choose:
Priorities should be accounted for- Every decision is a choice to select something. This means that other things have to be neglected. In essence, what you choose tells what your priorities are. If several priorities seem to conflict it is because your priorities are not clear.
On purpose- Choose based on your priorities, not based on emotion or some other external stimuli. It does not matter what your friends want or what your family wants or what your teacher wants you to do. They do not live your life. They are not responsible for your life. HOWEVER those sweet folks may love you very much and you NEED to find people you can trust to help you set your priorities and keep you accountable. All of this comes from doing things on purpose. We will discuss this further in a little while.
Given due diligence- Making a decision should not be done flippantly. The bigger the decision the more diligence should be employed. Choosing a Mate, Selecting a school and a career, etcetera are MAJOR decisions, they should not be made by shooting from the hip. All decisions are life altering to some extent and therefore should not be made lightly, but some are certainly more important than others and too many times we leave these up to chance or emotion or worse- someone else.
By being compared to your guiding principles- Here is THE biggest secret that people do not know about how to make good choices…Don’t make a decision when you have to- Make the choice BEFORE it becomes an issue. The Chancellor of the College I graduated from made it a point to teach this principle. Given the option to make a choice you have at least a 50/50 chance of getting it wrong. When emotions are flaring and pressure is applied that number changes drastically. However, if you choose to make a small set of guiding principles that will outline your priorities and thereby make your decisions for you, then you are back up to giving yourself at least a 50/50 shot.
For instance, Look at a young Woman that desires to be married. There are plenty of choices a few good, some not so good for her. How does she decide which Husband she will choose? Without going into great detail on the principles of spouse selection, let it suffice to say that there needs to be a set of principles on spouse selection that she writes down. Why? it is a simple fact that humans can love each other, therefore if she uses love as her only guide it can end disastrously. Ideas like compatibility and life direction are dangerous foundations to build a marriage on because no one is completely compatible with anyone else and life directions will almost always be altered. As cold hearted and calculating as it may sound, marriage is a promise, a contract if you will, where people invest their time energy and lifeblood into a union. She should choose principles like communication style, personality type, manners, how he deals with hardship, maturity level, which direction his life is going (think line graph) and character. IF she sets these up as priorities and settles on an acceptable level risk THEN she can move forward with confidence knowing that her decisions are sound and she can give her heart away. BUT this list and levels must be selected BEFORE Prince Charming comes along. If not, the sparkle in his eye and his brilliant smile will carry her heart so far away from reality that no voice of reason can be heard.
Therefore, hammering out a simple set of guiding principles for life that becomes the standard by which every decision you make is measured by is a cornerstone in the foundation of your life. This is a difficult task that requires work, and purpose.
Finding purpose, having purpose, living with purpose and doing things on purpose are all necessary to setting and keeping the Priorities you have set. Just like almost everything else in life, Purpose is built from the ground up. You start by creating a plan. Next comes installing a strong foundation. After that the structure is erected at which point you can start to see your plan coming together. Do not be deceived, the work is not finished, now comes the detail work that eats up tons of resources and hours with little progress to show for it. As the old saying goes, the Devil is in the details; meaning you have to work him out of the project by hashing out all of the details. Finally comes the big day when the plan is realized as the project is completed. Celebration time, come on!
Only, it is not over. Now comes the maintenance and the task of keeping the project viable and up to date. The whole cycle begins again at another stage.
Let us take a look then at the foundation. First we must answer some questions. Is FINDING purpose the foundation? Is HAVING purpose the foundation? Is LIVING WITH purpose the foundation or is DOING things on purpose the foundation? We will get to that in a little while. For now,Remember when we discussed WHAT vs HOW earlier? If not, then take a look at the previous section on Priorities.
Doing things on Purpose
This typically involves training yourself to think differently. The amount of information in the world today that advocates idiotic ideals such as, “follow your heart” or thinking playing the lottery will “make you rich” is mind boggling or perhaps mind numbing. The goal is to learn the process. If you know the process and how it works it is easy to calculate the outcome. This is important because if you know the process you can then analyze it and turn it into a RECIPE. When the recipe is written down and used enough times to prove that it works it has proven to be repeatable. If the process or recipe is repeatable it can be used when the situation dictates. Now you are doing things on purpose, not following your heart.
You may not see the implications of doing things on purpose just yet. Below are a couple of common decision making process explained. Both are very important but attach to different levels of your life. Understand that what is being explained in both scenarios is the same lesson taught from differing angles:
Here is a simple formula for judging the outcome of a decision you are presented with- Research as many other people that made a similar decision as possible, if 85% of the time the decision turned out in their favor then it may be a safe bet. If 85% of the time it turned out not in their favor then it is probably not a safe bet. A simple illustration- Driving too fast. You say, I know someone (else) that drives too fast and they have not had a citation or accident yet. Therefore driving too fast seems to be a safe bet since it works out well 85% of the time. That is a misrepresentation of the principle. Here is the correct way to look at the information: Do 85% of the people that ignore the speed limit as a general practice have a better driving record than 85% of the people that obey the traffic laws as a general practice. In case you have any doubts about the outcome of this question, research the process as to how speed limits are determined. (hint- there is a formula that is used)
The next illustration for doing things on purpose also includes formulas and since we are talking percentages, I will stroll into a subject that makes at least 85% of High School math students (and everyone else) cringe- Multiplying Fractions. No, you are not going to get a math lesson, We are going to discuss something else that is much more useful in life; formulas.
For the broad purpose we are applying the word formula to explain a thought process, we will take this definition: A formula is a generally accepted course of action that is used to satisfy a particular type of problem.
For instance there are multiple ways fractions can be multiplied. My kids prefer to use factoring because it is the formula they can most identify with. Factoring the Numerators and Denominators into prime numbers, called factors, and following a process to narrow or cancel those prime numbers down to provide the answer is A WAY or FORMULA by which an answer is derived.
Did you know that just looking at fractions and writing down the answer that your heart tells you to give is not a proven formula? OK, it is a formula for disaster. Hoping for the right answer, praying for the right answer, listening to your favorite song for the right answer, following the advice of the newest POP sensation for the right answer, even asking your Teacher for the right answer are not time tested and proven ways for YOU to KNOW the information well enough to USE THE FORMULA FOR YOURSELF and derive a right answer repeatably. The only way to do that is for you to put in the work and do things in order. Hash out the details and arrive at the correct answer. This IS doing things on PURPOSE; and it pervades every aspect of your life.
When you get up, what you do after you get up, what you eat, where you go, what you do and whom you do it with; all the way down to were and when you lay your head down at night. You either do it on purpose or you do not. Which brings up…
Living with Purpose
What wakes you up in the morning? What determines when you go to bed at night? What guides you between those points? You may not know it yet, but something determines what you do. Something drives you. Speaking of driving, that is a great analogy to illustrate this point.
You walk out of your house one day and a Celebrity approaches you asking your name. With much fanfare the Celebrity announces, “Congratulation! You have won a trip to the mountains in this Humvee! Take it four wheeling, mudding, rock climbing or whatever else you want.”
Two weeks later when the crew comes to pick up the vehicle they find it unmoved. Why did you not take this Humvee and go exploring; this is an amazing off roading vehicle! You finally admit that even though you had means, you had no motive.
Not trying to be mean, but this is possibly what your life really looks like; tons of potential, no discernible drive, but wait! Before you dismiss this idea, note that I said no discernible drive. What this means is that you have a ton of drive but it is too scatterbrained to be useful to you.
A short story for illustration. At one point I was working in a kitchen as an Assistant Manager. We had a great crew working there and the team pulled together nicely. One of the guys was a serious go getter. His pace and pulse were always elevated. Moving here, running there, helping out whomever he could. I had just taken a class on productivity improvement and I recognized that this guy was running himself to death but was not accomplishing anything. The class I had taken said, “Movement and Improvement are two separate things.”
I pulled this guy out side to help me throw out the trash where I presented him with the idea. To my surprise, he got mad at me. He could not believe that I was not appreciative of his hustle. I explained that his hustle was never in question, it was his production I was trying to help with. He was so mad that I really thought he was going to quit. “Tell ya what, make a list of all the things you get done for the rest of the night and prove me wrong.” I really liked the guy and wanted to help him. He did make a list of the things he accomplished the rest of the night. He showed it to me the next day, it read: Empty the trash
He realized that the only task he accomplished completely was the task he had been helping me with. He then asked me to explain to him how to get more out of his effort. This guy worked at the kitchen for another month and his effort turned into efficiency making his life and all of the rest of our lives better. He then moved on in another career bettering himself. He learned that Effort and Efficient are not equal but when you combine effort with efficiency in a planned direction, you are doing things with purpose.
Can you see it now?
Living with purpose is choosing to live your life on purpose. This is not intended to insult your intelligence. It really is that simple, it is just hard to explain because there are so many things that cloud the way. Take our first example, the Humvee. Maybe you like four wheeling and maybe you don’t but being given a Humvee to use as you wish would be amazing. Excuses like, I have to work, I have school, I have to go to the mall, I am busy gaming, I have a hair appointment, whatever!
Here is a secret- You are allowing too many things to influence you and because there is too much going on in your head and heart it is conflicting and keeping you from setting your priorities straight. You have to cut through the crud and make your choices. This is Living with Purpose. It is not complicated, just REALLY hard work!
You are responsible for your life. Which brings us to the next item… Having purpose
It may seem odd to you that Having Purpose is listed here prior to Finding Purpose. Would it not stand to reason that you would want to find something before you have it. Perhaps, but you are missing the point. Do you recall earlier when we asked which part of purpose was the foundation? Finding, Having, Living With and Doing Things On Purpose; Having purpose is, in my opinion, the foundation because it is what drives you to Do Things On Purpose which moves you to Live With Purpose which helps you Find Your Purpose.
Having Purpose is the hardest set of decisions I have ever had to make. It is taking responsibility for your own life, your own choices, your own short comings and your own end. It takes a tremendous amount of courage because for almost all of us it requires reprogramming our thought processes by accepting responsibility.
But the good news is, Once you accept responsibility, your life becomes your own! You are the Captain of your own ship. You are your own person. Obstacles like oppression, racism and sexism are no longer holding you down because it does not matter what anyone else does or thinks, YOU run you! You are free to move where you want, earn what you want, do what you want and be what you want; You are your limiting factor. You have purpose!
Yes, This sword is double edged. Now that you know you are your own limiting factor there is no one else to blame. You run you! The responsibility falls squarely on your shoulders. Do not let that get you down, it is the next step. A big step! You are accepting responsibility for yourself. Now you can be proud of who you are and what you are making of yourself.
This is a big deal. So many people talk about finding their purpose in life and the struggle to find it. If I am being honest, I have to tell you that it has taken me WAY TOO long to find my purpose. I wrestled with my “Why” for a long time. Partly because I did not have the courage to accept it and partly because my eyes were so blind that they could not see. I worked the better part of 15 years looking for it and spent almost 40 hours per week for 3 years researching myself to find it. When I finally found it, I realized that it had been there all along but I refused to see it. So how did I find it? Here is the formula I used to find my purpose, I hope this helps you simplify your search:
- Look for it- I will touch on this truth later on, but for now suffice it to say that you will find what you are looking for in life… So be careful what you look for!
- It is inside but manifests itself outside- Yeah, I know this sounds like a riddle but it’s not. My big mistake was thinking that my purpose would be found in other people. I finally realized that my purpose does help other people but it flows from me finding out how to make my life better. I know this sounds elementary, but you cannot give what you do not have. You can not give something valuable if you have not made yourself valuable.
- Start Doing Things on Purpose- The journey of a thousand miles begins with the first step. Doing Things on Purpose is the first step.
- Start Living With Purpose- I read books, I listed to great Speakers, I went to seminars, I bought materials, I hired consultants, I got around special people, I wrote things down, I made lists, I even drew a map of my life; I did it all but still had no purpose. Then one day I was reading a book by John Maxwell and he called me out. His book said something similar to this, “It does not matter what I tell you to do, if you don’t put the book down and do it then it is not going to make a difference in your life.” I put the book down and decided no matter how hard it was, If I read something that came through my decision making paradigm and I knew I needed to do it, That I would do it. No more waiting around. No more, that is a good idea… no more. I was going to do something about it. It took me 15 years to find my purpose after that decision, but that is where the journey really started.
- Having Purpose- Funny thing was, when I started doing things on purpose and living with purpose I soon found myself growing more valuable because I was learning how to be more valuable. After several years people began to mention things to me about my talents, but I was so blind that I could not see what they were talking about. Several years later I started being able to see THROUGH problems, I had been working on the subject so long that I was learning the reasons beneath the issues. It annoyed me to listen to people jabber on and on about there theory when I KNEW what the issue was. That brought out an arrogance which blinded me further. It does not seem possible to actually help someone while you are being arrogant. Well, maybe it can help them see what they do not want to act like. Arrogance only fixes one thing- Stupid; and it usually does it in a spectacular melt down. Hopefully the arrogant one learns from the melt down! Then one day, It all started coming together. I had the experience, I had the courage, I had the foundation, I had the humility, I even had a track record. I looked up and there I was, Having Purpose!
- Finding My Purpose- was the natural progression that came from keeping doing what I knew I was supposed to be doing. It took way longer then I hoped, I had gone through so many battles and changes that it seemed like I was a completely different person. In truth, I was. I had earned the right to Find My Purpose.
- Patience- Oh my, patience! Quite possibly the most annoying, irritating and hated word in the English language! You can never have enough and earning more is no fun, but having it is priceless. We will discuss patience in more detail later on.
So there it is, How to find YOUR PURPOSE. I hope you enjoy the ride!
( this is where I make a wise crack- GET IN, SIT DOWN, SHUT UP AND HOLD ON!)
Both external and self imposed
My Family ran an Autobody shop while I was growing up. The shop was located a short drive from the Parkway in Pigeon Forge, Tennessee. Pigeon Forge hosts several auto shows annually and our shop was privileged to work on some of the show cars. I developed a very strong affinity to beautiful automobiles. As I grew older my affinity turned into a mild gear head obsession. I remember thumbing through an auto magazine and happening upon a Pirelli Tires advertisement that pictured the knuckle side of a clinched fist driving glove and the four fingers of the black driving glove morphed into four Pirelli Tires. The caption read, “Power is nothing without control.” That advertisement had a profound impact on me as I associated it with one of my other life love at the time, Football. My Coaches were pounding discipline into my head. Looking back, it amazes me at how much discipline was instilled in my upbringing. What really shocks me is the lack of discipline and the lack of understanding discipline in or modern society.
Webster’s 1828 American Dictionary of the English Language has the first definition of Discipline listed as:
1. Education; instruction; cultivation and improvement, comprehending instruction in arts, sciences, correct sentiments, morals and manners, and due subordination to authority.
Education, comprehending instruction in arts and sciences- Sure those are taught in school.
What about Instruction, cultivation and improvement, correct sentiments, morals and manners or due subordination to authority? Where are those taught?
If you were lucky, you lived in a home where those were taught and practiced. However, our society has taken the stance that Education is the key to knowledge. This is a false assumption. Most of your Education has been aimed at your head, Society as a whole has left you to discipline your heart on your own. Don’t worry, now that you what needs to be done, you can find the means to do it! Life will also be your teacher. My suggestion though is that you find a Mentor to help. We will discus that in another section.
Back to Discipline. My son was 3 years old. We went to Church on Mother’s day, the decorations were set up to take photographs for Mothers and their families. My son, is too much like his father, and he proceeded to wreak havoc with the decorations. I pulled him off to the side, looked him straight in the eye and wagging my finger at his nose said, “You be good!”
A question came across his honest little face, “But Dad, I don’t know how to be good.”
That stuck like a knife in my chest. I tried to answer but had nothing.
I put my analytical skills to work and started distilling , how to be good, down to a dose I could give to my 3 year old. Two years later, I had a list of 6 rules and those became our house rules.
I learned along the way that “being good” is impossible because good and bad are not things, but that is a different discussion I tackle in another lesson. The 6 rules though, govern not only the actions of those in our house, but they teach a thought process as well. Here they are:
- Keep your mouth shut
- Don’t bother other people or their stuff
- Obey right away with a smile
- Tell the truth
- Whiners will be shot and left for dead
- Treat other people the way you would want to be treated
You chafe at some or all of these rules, but before you discredit them allow me to explain how they work.
1. Keep your mouth shut
Obviously we do not make everyone in our house walk around with a muzzle.
Remember, these rules are designed to govern actions and teach thought processes. What actions does this govern and what thought processes does it teach?
first of all, Rule number 1 is rule number 1 because it is the most important. If you keep it there will not be very many problems. Doing my research I found that most of the time when we get into trouble it is because we do not control our mouth. We open it when we should keep it closed and we keep it closed when we should open it. If I were writing these rules out for teens or adults I would change the rule to Control your tongue because that more accurately describes the rule. However, for a Mother that had 3 kids under 6 years old, Keep your mouth shut, was really implemented to help her sanity. The rule was designed to make us think before we say anything. What You are saying, Whom you say it to, How you say it, When you say it and Where you say it are all VERY IMPORTANT. When someone wanted to tattle or argue over a toy, the question statement was, “What is rule #1” The teaching opportunity was then taken to address the subject and explain Who, What, When, Where, How and IF anything should be said. If there is chaos from the wake of a statement, then teaching is complicated by having to do damage control.
2. Don’t bother other people or their stuff
This one is pretty straight forward, If it is not yours then do not touch it and if you are doing something bothersome then someone needs to move. If your Sister’s violin practice is irritating you then you need to go somewhere else.
3. Obey right away with a smile
I could talk about this one for decades because it ties directly into Authority which is an entire science in itself. Therefore I will simplify it and say that it governs the action of disobedience and delayed obedience; Not obeying and obeying later on. It teaches the thought processes of working together as a team, being responsible for your actions and areas, seeing and working toward a bigger goal and understanding the complexities of Authority and how it works… with a smile. That is a whole other lesson that goes back to rule #1(see how that works!)
4. Tell the truth
If you cannot face the truth you cannot be taught, no matter how smart you are. Once that sinks in and you see how deeply it penetrates your soul you will understand rule #4
5. Whiners will be shot and left for dead
In honesty, rule #5 started life as “No whining.” As our children aged the whining grew more intense. One day, driving down the road enduring the whining onslaught, I had an epiphany. We were going to combat the negative by creating a positive. I turned the whining on its ear by making a joke about it. Invoking Rule #1, I then explained that whining was now punishable by death. The Car went completely silent. Whiners will now be shot and left for dead. The kids and my Wife sat stunned in silence. I glanced in the rear view mirror and smiled. My Daughter, catching the joke, “Dad, you are just kidding!” We all laughed and from that time on Rule # 5 carries a lighthearted yet stern reminder against whining. The governing action is to stop whining. The Thought process it teaches on the other hand goes much deeper. Whining is complaining, but more than that it is giving up control. NEVER give up control! You control you. Body, Soul and Spirit. We are not gods and can control the Universe, but we do get to choose how we control ourselves while we interact with the world around us. this power is both freeing and frightening. That is the point of teaching the rule. It helps prepare and remind us that we are only in control of us and nothing more.
On a satirical note, I can hear modern society screaming at the thought of mentioning violence, to them I suggest they refer to rule #1.
6. Treat other people the way you would want to be treated
This is my rule. I added this one a year or so after the others were implemented. I make the decisions that affect everyone in the house. I set the rules, I enforce the rules, I teach the rules, I keep the rules. One day I was lording the rules over the kids when I realized they had no voice. It broke me down. Had I spent all of this time working on and implementing rules only to see that I had been wrong all along. I knew my research was not perfect but I had analyzed every detail of life from the cradle to the grave and had disseminated all of the information down to be able to give my children a foundation for a successful life. I was missing something. Do this, do that, don’t do this, don’t do that, here is how, here is why, it was the whole package. What could I have missed?
Then one day I was teaching a lesson at church on what is commonly referred to as “The LORDS Prayer.” In the Book of Matthew chapter 6 it reads, “Our Father which art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name. Thy Kingdom come. Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread. And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil: for thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, for ever. Amen”
The very next words spoken are these: Matthew 6:14-15 “For if you forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly father will also forgive you: but if ye forgive not men their trespasses neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.”
Beautiful, powerful, scary words.
That was it, I had missed the most important part, Love.
I mended my ways and amended my rules. I borrowed an adaptation of the Golden Rule and set it there for myself but found that it worked nicely for everyone else; imagine that. The governing action was also a thought process, Put yourself in the other persons place and treat them how you would wish to be treated, keeping in mind that all the other rules still apply. This rule works up the Authority levels as well as down. When a Subordinate places themselves in the position of the Authority they better understand the situations. When an Authority stands in the place of the subordinate actions and feelings are more clear. The Golden rule opens up communication and understanding facilitating a relationship.
I started listening to my kids more and even having them teach me how they viewed the rules. We now have open conversations about some of life’s most complex issues. That was the goal all along.
Back to Discipline.
The definition that I can best apply to discipline is this:
Training applied in such a way that the training gradually and then, one day, completely will be taken over by the pupil and the Trainer becomes a reference guide.
A more simple way to describe this is to say that a child should be trained to be an adult, not a child. As the child ages it is given more freedom to choose for itself but is trained (not taught) with each decision how to improve the decision making process and better itself. When the child then becomes an adult it is well equipped to handle life.
By the way, If you want a test to see how well disciplined someone is, watch them go through a strenuous situation and see if they take responsibility for themselves. The level at which you take responsibility for your self and your actions holds a direct correlation to how disciplined and mature you are.
Balance is the key to life.
Competence is the factor that makes balance possible.
Setting Priorities gives your life direction and makes you competent.
Purpose powers your Priorities
Discipline gives you control over your power.
These are the major factors that make up the foundation for finding the Secrets to Life. As we started this section discussing foundations and how important they are to constructing a valuable lasting structure, apply these lessons in the construction of the foundations of your life. Yes, foundations, plural. Each of us has many facets that make up us. You have to learn each facet, how it affects you and how to properly build a strong, valuable, lasting structure that serves you for the rest of your life.
At this point I will borrow information that I learned as a teen reading books like The Encyclopedia Britannica. Sadly, I cannot recall the information and when I tried to find it online it appears to have been altered from what I remember. However, Wikipedia came to the rescue and even though this is not the same information, it is close enough to illustrate.
The Egyptians held that a person is made up of several parts, Wikipedia lists them as:
Khet- the Physical
Sah- the Spiritual
Ib- the Heart
Ka- the Vital Essence
Ba- the Personality
Shut- the Shadow
Sekhem- the Form
Ren- the Name
Akh- the Intellect
In modern terms we may suggest that the Body, Spirit, Mind, Soul and Heart would round out our list with various others being added here and there. Some only find three parts the Body, Soul and Spirit suggesting that the Mind is tied to the Spirit and the Heart to the Soul. However you want to slice us up, it does not matter to me, just as long as you know that we are made up of pieces that fit together. This is important because you need to know how to deal with yourself.
For instance. For many years I neglected my health. There came a point when my health broke and it took me years to get it back. I had to reprogram my habits (mental, physical and intellect), my cravings (mental, physical and emotional), my work (mental, physical and heart), my expectations (mental and emotional), my thought processes (mental, emotional, spiritual) my view of life (body, soul, mind, spirit, heart) my life goals (body, soul, mind, spirit and heart) my outward expression (body, mind, spirit, soul, heart , relationships, the vital essence, personality and the shadow- according to some). The list goes on but you get the point. Our lives are built upon multiple foundations. We cannot allow one foundation to be more important than the rest. When we do, and that foundation crumbles our whole world falls apart. Instead, we should shift our weight to another foundation and start rebuilding. This is Balance.
Having played football in High School, I received a scholarship from a school inviting me to play for their team. It was a great honor to do so but unfortunately damaged my shoulder my freshman year and they moved me from third string linebacker to eighth string punter. If you know anything about sports you will probably realize that 8th String is REALLY far down the list and an 8th string Punter is just laughable. The point here, is I held a great deal of my self esteem in my athletic abilities (now I know how stupid that was). If I did not have another foundation in my life to lean on when my dreams were dashed, where would I have turned? Unfortunately this is where Suicide rears its ugly head. As Humans we are so often convinced that the way things are is the way they will always be. We get so focused on one aspect that reality disappears into the abyss of the background. If you feel that when one foundation falls apart and there is no where left to turn, take heart and a step back to look around, you will find there is more to reality than what readily meets the eye. This happened to a very dear friend of mine. He dealt with an issue and finally allowed it to consume his focus. His actions had a profound impact on me, for years I felt responsible for his decision. One day I realized that no matter how hard I tried I could not fix what had happened. It also became clear during my search for life’s secrets that I can never be responsible for someone else’s decision, only my own. I could however build a stronger foundation for myself and others in the future. Now I find strength in that area where once there was only brokenness.
We build all of these foundations by employing the same 5 principles in different directions.
There you have it, the foundations of life. Now you are ready to start exploring the secrets.