Archive for March, 2012


the greatest compliment in the world

My mother recently made a comment about my father who had passed away in October 2008. She said, “It’s as if he’s still here.” And for all impactful purposes, she is right. The toughest challenge we’ll ever face is filling the shoes of those who have influenced or changed our lives; of continuing to touch and inspire others the way they did us. We all pick up various legacy mantles in our lives; our heroes, our mentors, our parents, our teachers, the list goes on and on.

Continuing a legacy is not about perpetuating a persona, but rather the ideals and principles they inspired in you. As a leader in the workplace our goal is to always strive to leave an organization better than when we entered, able to continue its upward trajectory long after we’ve left the building.  As a parental role model our goal is to teach lessons and instill confidence so when our children leave the nest they can soar with the eagles and live a life that surpasses the one we lived.

None of us is around forever but the impact of what we believed in and stood for will be.  A family friend stopped by the office last week. He had just started a new job and his predecessor had “warned” the staff that the firing would commence as soon as he started. Needless to say he was set up to fail. As he decorated his office, he placed a picture on his desk of himself and my father.

The worker who most feared him immediately noticed and said that my father had made a significant impact on her life and was one of her heroes. At that moment my friend became the greatest boss in the world in her eyes. After all, anyone who loved one of her heroes was most definitely a-ok in her book. And this woman went on to become one of my friend’s strongest workers and allies.

Will we be able to instill change from the great beyond? If we inspire enough people in the most tremendous of ways we most certainly will and people will be paying us the greatest compliment in the world long after we’re gone.


why i love to fail

A young salesman asked an old-timer how he had managed to be so successful. The old timer replied “Good Judgment.” The young man then asked, “Well how do you get good judgment?” The old timer replied, “Experience.” The young man, eager to learn all he could, pressed on. “Well how do you get experience?” To which the old man replied, “Poor judgment.”

When a person begins to grow, the obstacles become bigger and better! And so do the failures. In his bestselling book, Life Is Tremendous, author Charlie “Tremendous” Jones states that we are all born with an empty psychological key ring by our side. Every experience we have in life gives us another key which we can use to move forward. Of note, failures give you double the amount of keys as successes do.

Life is tough even for the wealthiest, healthiest and smartest of us. It just is. I love Sydney J. Harris’ quote, “When I hear somebody sigh that life is hard, I am always tempted to ask, “Compared to what?” Most people are miserable because they expect everything to go right. Plan on your plan going wrong and you’ll have a successful plan! God never breaks us down with problems except to build us up. Life isn’t to be happy—life is to be growing. And we all know there is no such thing as growth without pain.

My father always said that a sure-fire growth formula was to cram fifty years of failure into fifteen. He was right; boy was he right. In the end, it’ll all be okay; if it’s not okay, it’s not the end. So next time you fail, remember: you are in the company of the greatest individuals who have ever lived because you have stepped outside your comfort zone and become more tremendous than you were before.



sticks and stones may break my bones and words can always hurt me

I’ve spent the last two months teaching leadership principles to elementary school students with my dog, Mr. Blue. It’s the closest thing to being a rock star I’ll ever experience. If you don’t know what I’m talking about, try walking the halls of an elementary school with a dog at your side. The seas part, everyone falls down for a hug, and your “coolness” status as an adult is off the charts.

I have spent my life learning and sharing leadership principles with adults. The harsh reality is most don’t have the desire to discover these for themselves, so I decided to focus on a more accepting group: children. Children are so open-minded, impressionable, and creative. The sooner these principles are imprinted upon them, the more productive and successful they will be throughout their entire lives and in the lives of others.

One of the discussions we have is called “Herding isn’t leading.” It’s about being kind and respectful to others and that bullies who bark and bite are not to be tolerated. It’s a very important point that the teachers often ask me to emphasize. The sad reality is that this point was inspired by something that happened to me as an adult. I had a boss that actually got in my face, yelling and frothing at the mouth and snapped his teeth one inch away from my nose.

Unfortuately there is a plethora of adult bullies out in the world ready to bark at anyone any chance they get. Look at the trash that’s on TV with the reality shows. Is this really how we want our youth to behave? We tell them not to post mean comments on Facebook yet look at the hateful language strewn all across the Internet in response to articles and blogs. No one even discusses the issues or has a healthy debate; it’s just attack the individual and if their beliefs differ from yours, call them a name, any name, the viler the better.

So why do we keep harping on our children to behave in a civil manner when we don’t and we expose them to it via TV, movies, and the Internet?  Children see it all and are imprinted by everything they take in from zero to ten years old. If we want them to be kind and compassionate, we’ve got to show them what that means. And this means fervently guarding what they watch, with whom they interact, and what they observe from us.

I never saw my father or mother lash out or bully another person. In fact there were times when I thought they were too kind or passive. But I knew if I ever resorted to being disrespectful or a bully I would be in trouble like I had never even imagined. Adults need to stop being hypocrites. If we want children to be respectful, we must set the standard, every time, all the time. Until then, all this talk about anti-bullying crusades aimed at children is just barking up the wrong tree.


To Deny or to Die: That is the Question

Pastor Youcef Nadarkhani has been sentenced to death by the Iranian government for converting to Christianity. He became a pastor in the Iranian city of Rasht and was convicted of apostasy in 2010. He would not recant his Christian faith and was thereby condemned to death. Numerous world leaders have expressed their concern and outrage while others retort that Iran has complete sovereignty over who they put to death and Christians have killed many in their time, turnabout is fair play.

But let’s take the high road in this event because that is certainly what this husband, father, pastor, and yes, Christian is doing. The Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. said, “A man who hasn’t found something he is willing to die for is not fit to live.” If you consider Pastor Nadarkhani’s predicament, he chose to die rather than deny. He is truly fit to live, like a mother willing to die in childbirth to give life, a soldier willing to pay the ultimate sacrifice on the battlefield for the freedom of generations to come, a youngster who goes out on an icy lake to save a beloved, flailing pet only to drown.

No one who persecutes anyone for their beliefs is capable of living a tremendous life. In fact, the gospel of Christ declares that His sacrificial death was an unconditional act of obedience to God’s ultimate love and is a gift we are all free to accept or reject. The heart of Christianity is about unconditional love and sharing the gift. If I kill you because you don’t accept my gift, what does that say about me? But if I love the gift you gave me so much that I am willing to die for it rather than deny it, what does that say about the giver and the gift?

The Holy Bible states, Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.” In the case of this pastor, I would say he has found the true meaning of life; a love that transcends everything, to include bowing to the demands of those who seek to take his life. We live life for a time and then face death.  How much more tremendous can our lives become when we discover that the true meaning of “a life worth living” is intricately linked to “something worth dying for?”


where’s my unfair share?

When a man tells you that he got rich through hard work, ask him: ‘Whose?’ – Don Marquis

All this discussion of “fair share” in today’s political arena got me thinking about the Parable of Talents found in the Bible’s book of Matthew, Chapter 25. In this parable, a man gives each of his three servants a bag of property, some say gold coins. The number of bags given was based on each of the servant’s ability. The owner then went on a journey and later returned to see what his three servants had done with what he’d entrusted to them.

 The first servant, who was given five bags, used his talents to gain five more. The second, who was given two bags, used his talents to also double the owner’s initial investment. The third was given one bag. He was afraid and hid his bag in the earth and returned it to his master crying, “See, you still have what is yours.” The owner cursed him as slothful and even wicked, for not working with what he was given. The third servant’s rationale was, “I kept exactly what was given to me secure. Hence, there was no loss, so what’s the problem?”

The trouble with defining fair share is that everyone has a different definition. But this parable clearly illustrates the importance of hard work and investment for each individual. The owner did not take bags from the first and second servant and redistribute them to the third. In fact the owner did just the opposite and threw the third servant out into the darkness! The mentality of the third servant is what’s getting us into trouble. So many are content to take what is given them and not seek to render anything in return. As Arnold H. Glasgow said, “All some folks want is their fair share and yours.”

The third servant didn’t fail because he did not multiply what was left in his care; he failed because he was too afraid or too lazy to even try. The path to a tremendous life is not measured in end results or final numbers or bags of money, or titles, or even speaking trophies won, but in our commitment to living life’s continuous journey to its fullest.

The rewards reaped on the path to living tremendously can never be found on the streets of status quo. Whenever you feel that you’ve done enough and it’s time to rest on your laurels for a bit, remember, there is no such thing as status quo. Time can never be recovered, inflation defeats the worth of currency, and most truly great opportunities happen only once. Nothing static or dormant retains its original value. Decay and depreciation is a fact of life as evidenced in death and taxes.

Equal opportunity does not mean equal outcome. Having lived all over the world, I am amazed at how out of touch many of my countrymen have become. America offers all of its citizens, and even non-citizens, an abundance of opportunities in the form of schools, roads, parks, hospitals, and civic amenities. I am thankful for those more successful than me because they have given me the opportunity to rise up to their level. And I will never take what’s been given to me and not work hard to put it to use and multiply it. That’s my definition of fair share. Robin Hood was wrong.

Tremendous Tracey

CEO Tremendous Life Books. Book Evangelist

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March 2012

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