Archive for March, 2010


Production to Perfection

Albert E.N. Gray wrote in his classic The New Common Denominator of Success, that to be a success you simply have to form the habit of doing things that others don’t like to do.  While decision making is the soil for success, the water that makes the seeds of greatness grow is action. For all my years in the military and sitting under the tutelage of powerful speakers, I still have a deep procrastination streak running through me.

To combat this I have to constantly utilize the Law of Leadership titled Production to Perfection. This law states that if I do something today, while it might have been better had I waited a day, many of the things I did today might not ever have happened. In other words, don’t wait to make a decision, make it and make it yours!

Sometimes we have to make decisions that we know will have strong repercussions. We have to go ahead and make them regardless because we know they are the right thing to do to uphold policies and promote morale. I remember seeing a magnet in a store that read, “It’s not the people you fire that cause you the most grief, it’s the ones you don’t.”  Anyone who has worked alongside or interacted with a toxic employee or dealt with ending their employment knows exactly what this means.

Gen George S Patton said, “There is no perfect time for anything. We will do what has to be done, and we will do it now! Prompt action immediately on a wrong decision may be far better than the right decision made days later.” Inactivity is based on fear and laziness, neither of which has a place in the leader’s arsenal.

Do I act, live and lead like I truly believe I’ve only got a finite time on the earth? Or am I content to let my dislike of activity deny me all the greatness which could be mine?


The Law of Leadership: Unlike Matter, Success Can Be Created or Destroyed

The Law of Conservation of Matter and Energy states that matter can neither be created nor destroyed; it can only change forms in which its energy is redistributed. But this basic Law of Physics, although integral in understanding all things in the physical realm, has little to do with anything that makes us distinctly human. Those mechanics are far more nebulous and fall under the Law of Leadership.

Take a look at your natural born attributes or talents. Why is it at times in your career you are a hot tamale, while other times you are a cold fish? It’s because of the Use or Lose Law of Leadership. This is not far-fetched. We hear this all the time from doctors. If you don’t use your mental faculties or muscles, they will atrophy. If you’re not using what you have, you’re losing it. It is not converting to another form; it is gone. The great thing about the Law of Leadership, however, is that if you use what you have, you get more of it! If you don’t share it, it’s a waste. Hence, success, happiness, love and wealth can indeed be created and, in fact, must be in order to survive.

This simple Law of Leadership affects all areas of our lives. For example, do you believe there is a finite amount of wealth in the world that subsequently must be redistributed? Or do you believe that wealth can be created and its supply unlimited? Do you believe that you only have a certain amount of days of hard work or acts of good will in you? Or do you believe that the harder you work and the more you do for others actually creates more goodwill and opportunity?

When you really consider what the Law of Leadership means for you, it can revolutionize your approach to life.


Make “Now” the “Next” Great Thing

We hear a lot about employees lamenting how they could really be successful if they were just in the right job. They yearn for the elusive greener professional pastures. I know because I’ve been guilty of this self defeating behavior many times throughout my career.

We waste so much time worrying about whether or not we are in the right position, the right company, and the right career. The reality is you don’t have to know if this is the perfect job, you just have to act. Action not only cures fear, but it is a sure fire catalyst towards covering new ground.  Display an attitude reflecting that this is in fact your dream job. Work as if you were the owner. And I guarantee you this will become your perfect job. At least until someone notices your initiative and promotes you to another company or higher position!

One of the keys to success is learning to get excited about your work; and that means the work you are doing right now. Remember, your job is a circumstance and amounts to 10 percent of the equation. What you do with that job is the other 90 percent and is wholly under your control. Besides, life isn’t about doing what you like to do; real life is about doing what you ought to do! If you cannot fully and honestly support the company that signs your paycheck, then you need to move on immediately.

I’ve been in professional burnout mode before and nothing cured it faster that the continuous realization that I have got to have a sense of urgency and importance for the job I have right now. Charlie “Tremendous” Jones used to say, “If you ain’t happy where you are, it’s a sure thing you won’t be happy where you ain’t!” I found this to be some of the sagest professional advice I’ve received throughout my career.


You Can Lead a Horse to Water, But You Can’t Make Him Drink….Or Can You?

Charlie “Tremendous” Jones used to say, “You may not be able to make a horse drink, but you can put salt in his oats and make him thirsty!”  A large percentage of his parenting time was spent on developing an appetite for reading in his children. He tried various methods of making us thirsty; from paying money for book reports to locking all the TVs up in the attic so we “had” to read. As any parent knows, his time would have been better spent telling us not to read, or placing a book strategically where we would see it, in order to salt our oats.

What makes some people naturally hungry and consumptive readers? I’ve always known folks that had a tremendous appetite for reading. I admired them greatly. They seemed worldly, educated, and thirsty for knowledge. I was not one of these. In fact, I was a late bloomer when it came to reading. I really didn’t grasp the transforming power of books until well into my 40’s. Well I’m here to tell you that readers aren’t born. Just like leaders, they can be made. Thank goodness for that!

Charlie “Tremendous” Jones used to say “You will be the same person in five years as you are today except for the people you meet and the books you read.” I always did well on developing as a result of the people I met. I enjoyed military and corporate jobs where there was a plethora of new individuals and challenges. Everyone I met had an imprint on me in some fashion. But I did not make reading for personal growth or development a priority. My reading was centered on advanced degrees and work related documents. I did not see how the reading aspect was just as important as the human aspect and therefore missed out on a tremendous opportunity for growth.

About a year ago I moved back home to run the family publishing business. It was a scary time to leave a known job and put a house on the market during the gloomy economic outlook. But I learned a valuable lesson. Regardless of external circumstances, I will always remember that the focus must be on improving myself so that I can be of greater use to others. I now have the opportunity to spend my days meeting fabulous people intent on helping others achieve all they can out of life, as well as read a seemingly endless cycle of tremendous manuscripts for potential publication.

I look back at different stages and decades of my life to see how I have changed in my priorities and attitudes. But I did not expect the dramatic change in myself over the course of this singular, past year. I did not intend for it to happen, it just did. It was a byproduct of all the people I met and the books I read. This is a tremendous message for all times, but especially these times, when optimism is at an all time low. Two of the greatest investments you can make in yourself do not involve money. Meeting people is free, and I mean the right kind of people at church, volunteering, or at social gatherings.  Reading books can also be free. You can go online, to the library, or my favorite, ask someone if you can borrow a book!

What made this horse decide it was time to drink at this particular time? Circumstances, as well as being obedient and open. I was placed in a new job, continuing a family legacy, and decided it was high time to embrace the transformational power of books. When I look back at the things I now read and what they could have saved me from throughout the years, I could kick myself! But the good news is that that’s all a part of the learning experience as well. And now…I know better!


A Tale of Two Rabbits

I once heard it said, “If you chase two rabbits, both of them will get away.” I agree with this statement wholeheartedly. It says a great deal about the importance of being “all in” and focused on a singular goal. But this time last year, I was faced with a situation where I was struggling with honing in on one proverbial rabbit. I lived in Saint Louis, Missouri one-and-off for nine years of my life. I consider it a second home. I love my historic house downtown, the warmth of the people and the diversity of the city. When I moved back to Harrisburg, Pennsylvania in January of last year, it was a big adjustment. I hadn’t lived in my birth city since 1981. A lot had changed since them, most of all with me. The last time I was there I was an insecure, confused teen, not sure about what my life’s purpose was going to be.

When it came time to make the change, I was torn. No matter how much I prayed for direction or clarity, I had both cities on my radar. I knew the change I had to make. I had already promised my earthly and spiritual father I would do that and I intended to keep that promise. Was I chasing two rabbits? Was I worshipping two masters? Was I being disobedient? But I dared to pray a bold prayer. I prayed that somehow, someway, I could still be allowed to enjoy and work in both towns.

And God granted that prayer. It was so obvious once I focused on the fact that God does want to give us the delights of our hearts. Psalm 37:4 says, “Delight yourself in the Lord; and He will give you the desires of your heart.” And this was my delight; to be able to be close to my biological family and grow the tremendous legacy my father left us, as well as to spend time with my second family in the Midwest enjoying the marvelous relationships and connections we had started.

I just got back from a weekend in Saint Louis and it was such a time of blessing and renewal. A lot has changed in the past year. Despite the tough economic times, I have several close friends who have moved up into better positions. I have one that is finally enjoying fulfilling her full time passion of pastorship. I have another that opened her own business and I got to patronize her gorgeous establishment. I saw old neighbors pass by while I was working in my city garden and waved at cars driving by. As I write this, I am back in Pennsylvania and am tired, but truly happy. In fact, I could say I am actually so tired of being happy, it’s wearing me out!


Why Can’t I Be More Like (Insert Name Here)

I like working my way up the ladder. It’s fair and egalitarian. I never accepted a favor or a bump up because of who I knew or what my last name was and I shuddered when I saw it happen to others. I would interview for a position and then work to make it mine. But when my father passed away all that changed and I was brought back into the fold to run the family business. I imagined this could happen, so I made a mad dash during my college and first twenty years working all over this planet to learn as much as I could, from as many as I could. My proverbial “experience bag” runneth over.

When I moved back home to run the family business, I began getting amazing input from great folks who were genuinely eager to see me succeed! I came across many new acquaintances as I got entrenched back in town and the in the new business, all of whom were doing amazing things, networking with numerous organizations, and appearing to be über productive every single second of the day. I read so many amazing blogs, viewed so many gorgeous websites, and listened to so many wonderful speeches that I began to get intimidated. They must be gifted motivational and inspirational superheroes to continuously churn out such amazing amounts of written and spoken material! I began to feel insecure and wondered if I could ever get “there”.

Now I know why my Dad would only give people 15 seconds to introduce him as a speaker! You can really intimidate people quite easily. Everyone instinctively measures up their lives according to those they meet, read or hear about. Where’d you go to school? How many kids do you have? How long have you been married? What do you do and most importantly, what have you done? My Dad taught me early on that the only person I should be competing with is me. Robert Browning said it beautifully: “My business is not to remake myself, but to make the absolute best of what God made.”


My Parents took my TV away!!!

A not so funny thing happened to me in the 9th grade. My parents took all the TV’s in the house and locked them upstairs in the attic. Now this was in the mid to late 70’s so there were no iPods, no computers, no other options! Can you imagine the horror!! They said that “leaders are readers” and that my little sister and I needed to spend our time learning from great books versus sitting in front of a TV. I can remember having to go down the street to my friend’s house when “Buck Rogers in the 25th Century” was on just so I could watch it.

My Dad picked books for me to read. These included Dale Carnegie’s, “How to Win Friends and Influence People”, William Danforth’s, “I Dare You”, Hannah Hurnard’s, “Hinds’ Feet on High Places”, and anything CS Lewis wrote. I hated it because it made me feel ostracized from my friends. It was just another instance of how I, and my crazy upbringing, was different from them. But that was the whole point of my Dad’s “experiment”. He didn’t want me to be like the masses. He had risen from below what would be considered mediocre and shot to successful heights experienced by few. He wanted that for me and knew filling my mind with hours of idle time in front of the TV would not aid me in becoming a better person.

When I lived on my own I figured I’d watch as much TV as I wanted. It was sheer bliss. As the technology and sheer volume of channels blossomed, so did my ability to vegetate in front of the TV for hours on end. I was especially vulnerable to all day marathons such as “Law and Order: SVU”, and “The Three Stooges” on AMC. Then came HGTV, Lifetime, Animal Planet, and so many others! Now I am not saying that TV is bad, but just like anything else, everything in moderation. And I, like I’m sure many others do, have a problem with turning off the boob tube and engaging my mind and body in something else.

Somebody gave me a copy of “The Kneeling Christian” last month. I have never read a book that presented the unlimited power and intimacy of prayer.  Nor have I ever read a book where they consider how much time you spend in prayer and what effect it has on every aspect of your life. For instance, the devil doesn’t shudder if I spend 24 hours a day watching Joel Osteen or Charles Stanley on TV. He doesn’t think twice if I do great deeds or spend many hours volunteering at the church. The only time the devil trembles is when I’m in prayer.  There’s a quote in the book that says, “Prayer is the moment when heaven and earth kiss each other.” Now what on TV could possibly be better than that??

Tremendous Tracey

CEO Tremendous Life Books. Book Evangelist

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March 2010

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