Archive for May, 2010


Everyday is Memorial Day

Memorial Day ranks as one of the most important days of the year for Americans. It stands as a reminder of those who have paid the ultimate price in securing the freedoms that we enjoy in our great country. My father used to say that he could write a book about what was wrong with America, but he could write a library about what was right with it. On Memorial Day Sunday, I get to stand up in church when they recognize all the veterans in attendance. I feel great pride. I also feel great sorrow and gratitude when they ask those that have lost a loved one in a military conflict to also stand.

We have a need for memorials. They teach our children about the sacrifice so many have made for their way of life, of unending opportunities and freedoms. The nature of memorials is that they are enduring and unmistakable. When we stand at the memorials to our departed veterans all across the country there is no doubt what they represent. When we visit a grave site of a departed family member, we pay respects to their memory and legacy. Christians celebrate Christmas and Easter in remembrance of God’s love for us and Christ’s obedience in paying the price for our sins. In reality, everyday of our lives can be some type of memorial to those that have influenced and even saved us.

So on this Memorial Day we remember the true American Idols; those that left their lives voluntarily to defend us again all enemies, foreign and domestic and never returned home. And in remembering them we continue to honor them. A nation that forgets its past will have no idea where it is and where it is going. General George S. Patton said, “Every American solider is a Four-Star Army.” And on this day in particular, we take time to pay a special tribute to those that were completely obedient to the oath they took to defend the Constitution and make the ultimate sacrifice.


Are You Scared of Being Alone?

Last week I mentioned a mastermind panel that I was privileged to be a part of. The two most prevalent questions were, “how do I find my passion?” and “how do I deal with others’ lack of support?” We covered the first question in our previous blog and this week I’d like to discuss a bit about how to handle the “alone” factor when pursuing your passion. I listened as many people took the microphone to question us about how we handle it when those closest to us do not support us in the pursuit of our goals and dreams.

First let’s discuss some ground rules. I’ve known people who hadn’t settled their own personal debt yet had a goal of starting their own business by borrowing money from others. I’ve worked for individuals who resorted to unethical means to get the inside edge and acquire more business. If you are pursing something via means that are immoral, illegal or unethical you will be alone, but not for the right reasons.

This blog is about the loneliness that finds those obedient to their inner calling. First of all, if you do find yourself alone you are doing the right thing. In his speech, The Price of Leadership, Charlie “Tremendous” Jones details the cost of being a leader. The first price you must pay is loneliness. Secondly, don’t expect anyone other than you to truly grasp your passion. Living your life to its greatest potential is a role that has been fashioned for you and you alone. So there really is no other human being who will truly get all that you are trying to do.

The other big thing that can be the source of loneliness for all the wrong reasons is that you personally cannot be the center of your passion. If your drive is all about bringing power or prestige to you, you’ll fight your true passion and you’ll fail. It’s a constant struggle with ego and pride. Bringing your passion to fruition is about being obedient to painting something bigger than yourself. You are not the center of the picture, but rather the frame. If your closest allies are not supportive of your goals, have you considered that it might be because your goals are all about you?

So if you are noble in your goal and pure of heart, please know that you will still encounter loneliness; but it will be for all the right reasons. Many times throughout my career my closest allies and even my family members shook their heads in disagreement over a decision. But I knew in my heart it was a decision I had to make. And I don’t deal well with the regret of not having made a decision, even if I make the wrong one. I consider regretting what I’ve done infinitely easier to swallow that regretting what I haven’t done.

One of the best stories I’ve read recently on following your vision despite lack of support is the story of Walt Disney as he prepared for the release of his first feature length animated film. Everybody, including his own wife and brother, told him he was crazy and that nobody would sit through a full length animated movie. But Walt’s vision and willingness to endure the loneliness turned “Disney’s Folly” into the highest grossing film of all time.

Reading stories like this encourages me. We assume successful people were always successful and always had the support of coworkers and family. We always assume that the overnight success didn’t have to work day and night for the previous 20 years. But that is the price great leaders must pay for achieving their vision and they are not scared of being alone.


Are You There Passion? It’s Me, Tracey!

I was at an event this past weekend where I was part of a mastermind panel discussion. The discussion revolved around two main issues; how do you find your passion and what do you do when those closest to you don’t support your passion. I’ll deal with the first issue in this blog. I was intrigued by the number of participants and the wide range of demographics that posed this question to the panel. We were asked this, presumably, because we had all found our passion and were successfully pursing it, i.e. making a good living off of it and enjoying life. I can remember growing up and going to countless meetings with my father, himself a successful man who had found his passion in motivational speaking, and wondering if I would ever be as good as he was in a singular task. In short, would I ever find my passion? This haunted me throughout most of my life until I began considering it in a new light.

When I entered the Air Force Academy in 1984, it was largely due to the relentless work of my amazing Liaison Officer, Major Schaeffer (If he is reading this today, I owe you a tremendous debt of gratitude). He saw something in me and worked to secure an appointment to the service academy.  I remember when I arrived in Colorado Springs I heard several comments from incoming cadets stating how this had been their dream since they were preschoolers. I spent the next four years wondering if my lack of early passion would be discovered and I would be asked to leave. I worked hard and had some of the best years of my life before graduating and getting a commission. I may not have known without a shadow a doubt early in my life that this was the route to go, but it was definitely one of the smartest doors I have ever walked through.

This lack of definitive purpose or direction haunted me throughout much of my professional life. I didn’t know what I wanted to be when I grew up. I’m still not sure I’ve found my life’s passion. And yet with every door that presented itself, I walked through. Let’s just say that courage can definitely compensate for an undefined end goal. So here’s my answer about how to know/find your passion. There are those who know from their first breath what they are destined for. Their father takes them to see something or someone, or they witness something monumental, that inspires them for life. I was not one of those people. Most of the folks I talk with are not this type of person either. They go through a series of experiences until they work it out and act to make it a reality.

However, I found just as effective a means to finding your passion: Movement, Action, Decision Making. Passion is a journey. It’s not an end state but rather a constant source of activity, response and change.  While my past professional experiences ultimately did not become my end passion, they each gave me a piece of the puzzle to putting together the picture of my life. Even if I took a particular fork in the road and it turned out not to be a success, I still learned from it. And if you believe the writings of Napoleon Hill, you truly believe that the quickest way to success is through failure.

So stay positive if you get the urge to change your college major three times. Stay true to yourself if you decide to change career fields completely at various stages of your life. I’ve done both of these and lived well to tell about it! Change can be a very productive way of actively searching out and identifying your passion. As long as you are stepping onto another path, and not quitting for the sake of quitting, you will indeed find your destiny.


If business is war, then why don’t we train for it?

The month of May always brings to my mind thoughts of my time in the military. There’s Armed Forces Day and Memorial Day, two times when we as a nation reflect on the service of our military members past and present. The military taught me many things: how to eat square meals, how to make a bed so tight you could flip a quarter on it, and how to roll my socks into little balls with smiley faces. But the greatest discipline they taught me was reading about the military greats that made our country, and the entire world, what it is today.

My military regimen was as mental as it was physical. Reading, studying and memorizing the historical greats was an integral part of this ongoing education. I can still remember reciting Gen. Patton’s quotes and reading Sun Tzu’s classic, The Art of War.

Did you know that in the military there are three major milestones throughout a soldier’s career where they are dedicated to the tasks of reading, studying and writing? It’s called Professional Military Education, completion of which is a requirement for promotion. Wouldn’t it be great if this trend—­training leaders by making them readers—was embraced across the civilian workplace as well?

What if, before an individual contributor moved into the role of lead or assistant manager, they got sent away for six weeks to engage in team building activities and to study the successes and mistakes of leaders in their particular industry? What if, before an individual got promoted to the role of General Manager, they had to do the same only this time the program would be longer and more intensive? What if before an individual became a CEO, they had to go away for a year to get a degree in leadership and mentoring? 

If leaders really are a dying breed, why aren’t we in the corporate side as focused on growing them as our military counterparts are? They say character, integrity, compassion and vision are needed to turn good businesses to great. If we really want America to be great again, why don’t we invest in grooming our next generation?


What to Feed Your Mind, Heart and Soul

There’s an old adage that says for science and technology read the newest, but for literature read the oldest. The classics are always modern. I have always found this to be true. John Lubbock said, “The choice of books, like that of friends, is a serious duty. We are as responsible for what we read as what we do.” Deciding what books to buy to read is a very personal decision. But just like with buying clothing, if you value quality and longevity, buy and read the best.

While I am delighted every single day at the amount of tremendous material being published, it can be overwhelming. Everyone asks me if I’ve read this or that. I am barely getting through our own manuscripts and publications!! Dr. Orison S. Marden offered a piece of advice that helped me quell my anxiety and manage the task. He stated that by spending just 15 minutes of concentrated reading every day, you could get through the great authors in about five years!

There are three main types of books that I love to read: biographies/autobiographies; inspirational stores; and allegories. The first, bios and autobios, combine the charm of fiction with the satisfaction of being real. How many times, after viewing a movie or TV program, does it resonate more strongly if it based on a true story? When I get input from consultants or experts, my very first question is, have you been where I am and done what I’m trying to do successfully? My very favorite Napoleon Hill quote is, “Who said it could not be done? And, what great victories does he have to his credit which qualifies him to judge others accurately.” With a book, I can pick a leader who’s lived through my problems and watch someone who has applied practical knowledge and hard work, and doesn’t just offer theory. One of my favorite historical figures is Gen. George S. Patton. I can read his comments on leadership and decision making every single day for the rest of my life and still get something fresh every time.

I also love books about people who have overcome tremendous odds. One of my recent favorites is titled 8 Attributes of Great Achievers by Cameron Taylor. Here I can learn about how Walt Disney’s own family begged him not to make the first animated feature movie, Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, fearing they’d be the laughing stock of the film industry and lose everything. I can learn why George Washington carried a bloody sash with him throughout his life. How Winston Churchill’s optimism enabled England to withstand the attack of Hitler and eventually win the war. How Gandhi’s “experiment with truth” enabled him to go from a shy boy and an average man to the leader of 500 million people who called him “The Great Soul.”

The last flavor of books I enjoy reading is parables or allegories. One of my childhood favorites was Hinds’ Feet on High Places by Hannah Hunard. Two more recent favorites are Journal of a Climber by Chuck Reaves and The Sheep Thief by Al Walker. The beauty of these books is that they capture what each of us goes through by using the allegory of a mountain climber and a middle aged business executive. There are momentous successes in our lives, as well as deep despair. Anyone pushing to grow will see each phase of their lives reflected in these books and I have personally used them to map out my continuing life journey. Theodore Parker said, “The hardest way of learning is by easy reading.” So let’s make life’s learning path easier by choosing material to feed our mind, heart and soul the greatest amount of nourishment possible.

Tremendous Tracey

CEO Tremendous Life Books. Book Evangelist

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May 2010

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