Archive for May, 2012

30
May
12

please stop praying for me, i need all the problems i can get!

My father, Charlie “Tremendous” Jones, liked to shock people who asked him to pray for their problems. He would bow his head with them and pray that their problems got worse! After all, why should he pray someone out of something that God put them in to break them down and ultimately make them a better person? He joked that he was the only man in America who got cards and letters from people across the country writing and saying, “Dear Mr. Jones, please quit praying for me, I’ve had all I can take!”

Many would consider me a very happy and successful person. Yet you won’t know the challenges and struggles that made me that way. You only see how I have chosen to deal with these situations. My father used to jokingly call this “happy miserable” but he was dead serious.

If challenges are opportunities, if the path to success is through failure, then why do we wallow in self pity or run away? It takes maturity and accountability. There were times when I recounted my “poor me” situations for years to anyone who would listen.  What a terrible waste of time and energy.

At least half of the failures and heartaches I went through were due to my own lack of strength, discipline, or willingness to follow my conscience. The other half were situations meant to teach me some vital lessons about life here on earth.  As Charlie “Tremendous” Jones used to say, “Things don’t go wrong and break your heart so you can become bitter and give up. They happen to break you down and build you up so that you can be all that you were intended to be.” And yes, even things that go wrong due to my own shortcomings can teach tremendous life lessons.

Embrace your problems because sometime in the future, you’re going to cross paths with someone going through the exact same thing and you just might be able to impart some compassion or insights to them. It’s not about you; it’s about using what you’ve been through to help others and to grow as an individual. No one is ever successful being a victim. But if you look at your trials as a godsend, I guarantee you sometime in the future you’ll be a positive impact to someone who desperately needs it, including yourself.

15
May
12

passion makes perfect

Too much practice makes a speech sound canned, an emotion fall flat, an activity seem routine. Don’t practice until you get it right, practice until you can’t get it wrong. You may be wondering if there truly is something you couldn’t get wrong. There sure is: the decisions you make. You say, “I’ve made plenty of wrong decisions!” That’s not exactly true. Once you make a decision you make it yours, you die by it; you stick by it regardless of the odds or outcome. The decision isn’t what’s failed; it’s your commitment to making it work.

Once it’s in your heart, that’s when the decision is complete.  You have the know why, which is the engine that drives the know how.  A dear friend of mine recently shared a story about the time, years ago, when my father had hired him to speak at the close of an insurance company’s day-long program. My friend was not a professional speaker per se, but a lawyer. He accepted the offer since he was not about to tell his mentor “no”. Several days before the speech, my father asked about the upcoming event. My friend replied that he was ready but that he would need to review the presentation one more time. My father looked at him and said there was no need to review, “Either the words are in your heart, or you are not ready.”

When my father was in his final stages of cancer in 2008, he was confined to his hospice bed barely able to speak above a whisper. I made the trek to Pennsylvania from Missouri every weekend during those last three months. I waited patiently for him to discuss the future of the business with me. He never did. He never even asked me if I had thought about coming back and running the company. I could not understand why he didn’t ask.

But then it hit me. If it wasn’t in my heart to come home of my own volition, it wouldn’t be my decision. He knew if he asked I couldn’t say no. But he also knew that when the going got tough, I would be the first to suck my thumb and complain that I had left everything behind and come back at the behest of someone else. You see, when it’s your decision, you’ve got no one else to blame. When it’s your decision, you live and die by it. When it’s your decision, the end result doesn’t matter; it’s your commitment to the decision that matters. Passion is all about the journey, not the destination.

Final results have a funny way of always working out for those who stay the course. Maybe there are some detours along the way, but that’s what adds an element of surprise to all of life’s experiments. If it’s in my heart, it doesn’t matter if it doesn’t work out because I know I did everything within my power to make it work. And if it doesn’t work out, there’s something greater looming on the horizon that I had better get ready for. In the end, it’ll all work out. If it hasn’t worked out yet, it’s not the end.

So keep on living life tremendously. If there is passion in your heart, you can’t possibly get it wrong.

08
May
12

livin la vida laissez

The phrase laissez-faire is French and broadly implies “let it be”, or “leave it alone.” Helen Keller put it perfectly, “Science may have found a cure for most evils; but it has found no remedy for the worst of them all – the apathy of human beings.” Death by neglect is the most painful death of all. It is like dying as a result of one million paper cuts versus one swift, fatal stab to the heart. It’s irritating, agonizingly slow, and open to septic infections every step of the way.

I’ve worked for some laissez-faire companies, the ones that refuse to get involved even when they’ve been alerted something is wrong. I once wrote a letter to a CEO describing some very real issues going on in his organization after the chain dismissed my concerns. The only response he had for me was, “What do you want me to do about it?” The apathy is obvious. If the bosses don’t care, why should the employees?

The laissez-faire mentality can extend to matters of the heart as well. Are you a laissez-faire lover, meaning your relationship isn’t worth investing in? You just let it spiral down the drain until somebody files divorce paperwork or you just lead separate lives under the same roof. You can lead a laissez-faire home life as well, where you just go with the flow and refuse to deal with any of the issues in your life. Maybe as a parent you choose not to exert a strong parental influence; or maybe you allow a bad habit to form and grow into an addiction than slowly takes your life.

The greatest leaders of all time provoke one of two reactions: you either love them so much you’re willing to die for their cause or you hate them so much you wish them non-existent. As Napoleon Bonaparte so eloquently said, “Glory is fleeting, but obscurity is forever.” When you chose the laissez-faire lifestyle you’re like the fig tree in the Parable from Luke’s Gospel, all leaf and no fruit. The end result is destruction.

There is a sure-fire way to cure this malaise. In his motivational classic, Life Is Tremendous, Charlie “Tremendous” Jones says there are only three decisions we make in our entire lifetime. They are: who am I going to live my life with; what am I going to live my life in; and who am I going to live my life for. Once you commit to your life partner (and for us single gals it sure can be to ourselves) you are no longer a laissez-faire lover. You will work and fight to honor the vow you took. Once you decide what you are going to live your life in, your job becomes a passion and you realize that every workplace act is a reflection of your character and a chance to serve others. Once you decide who you are going to live your life for, you become full of passion for that goal, idea, or entity. And passion is the antithesis of laissez-faire.

So quit sitting there watching the seconds tick by. This is your one shot at life so make every aspect of it count. My father used to joke that a lot of people are walking around this planet dead long before they’re buried, but thank God he made it so we don’t stink until we’re put in the ground. Hang around great people and read great books to get you out of the laissez-faire lifestyle and soon you’ll be marveling at the newfound taste of living a fruitful and committed life.

02
May
12

don’t fear the reaper

Every negative thought that we think is rooted in the perception that we do not have what we want or what we think we should have. It’s tough to break this kind of stinkin’ thinkin’ when we are so bred to compare and compete across every aspect of our lives. It’s all about results, results, results. Those who get results receive the best salaries, the biggest offices, the most accolades. They deliver repeatedly and consistently and if they don’t, there is something wrong with them.

But when results become the sole focus of our lives, things can become quite scary and fearful. We find ourselves asking questions such as: Am I good enough that people will like me? Will I say the right words when I speak? What if nobody buys the books I publish? Am I qualified enough for that promotion, or so bad I’ll get laid off? Why, people are even getting so delusional they are clamoring in the streets over why they aren’t reaping something someone else has sown. We’ve come so far from Hartmann von Aue’s quote, “He who helps in the saving of others, saves himself as well”, that we have turned our own sense of humanity upside down.

This stinkin’ thinkin’ is going to get exponentially worse unless everyone turns their focus on the seeds they need to sow. As Robert Louis Stevenson said, “Don’t judge each day by the harvest you reap but by the seeds that you plant.” As a business owner, if I went to bed thinking of the day’s results, I would never have the peace of mind to get a minute’s sleep or the courage to get out of bed in the morning. Whenever folks ask me how it’s going I say, “We are sowing a lot of seeds!” And I know there is no guarantee I’ll ever get to reap any of them, but that’s not the point.

We are put on this earth to sow, not to reap. The results that really matter won’t be measured in retirement accounts, entitlements, or even buildings, airports, or highways dedicated in our names, but in the number of lives we’ve touched, smiles we’ve shared, and totally selfless acts we’ve completed. What if everyone stopped saying, “I WANT”, and instead said, “I PLANT” and we all stopped fearing the reaper? We might actually return this planet to a semblance of its original state of Eden and become master gardeners of our own souls.




Tremendous Tracey


CEO Tremendous Life Books. Book Evangelist

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