Archive for November, 2013


Praxically Speaking

JetPraxis is a Medieval Latin word, from Greek, which means the application or use of a knowledge or skill. In short, it’s the moment where the ideal become the real.

Let’s face it, hope is not a strategy and theory is for chumps. It reminds me of an old joke: a consultant is someone who knows 365 ways to make love but doesn’t know any women. Head smarts versus street smarts is a battle as old as time. The optimal life will have both.

My father said, “You’ll be the same person five years from now except for two things: the people you meet and the books you read.” Although he was an 8th-grade dropout, he understood the importance of knowledge and study as well as its application as you meet and interact with people in a myriad of situations.

During my time in the Air Force I was a Fighter Aircraft Maintenance Officer. Aeronautical theory states that an object many times heavier than air can nonetheless become airborne through a force known as lift. As the aircraft accelerates down the runway, gravity is still doing its thing. It isn’t until the “wheels up” moment when the object literally sails into the air and flies. That’s where theory becomes reality.

Technology, money, degrees, patents, and titles mean nothing. It’s all about what you do with these things that count. Those items are just a means to an end, neither good nor bad in and of themselves. Experience is only real when you’ve personally gone through it, when you’ve paid the price. Until you’ve done that, you’re just talking theory, and that’s the equivalent of talking jive. And it ain’t good to be talkin’ like a turkey so close to Thanksgiving! That’s why it is so important to only take counsel from people who have paid the price to get where you want to go.

When I first came back to run Tremendous Life Books, a prospective author presented me with a manuscript. It was a good fit for our company, so we discussed its publication. Several weeks later, the author told me that they had spoken with several advisors who recommended other avenues. Now I certainly know there are hundreds of wonderful publishing companies out there who can do just as good a job as we can and even better, but when I asked the author with which companies these advisors had been published she replied that they hadn’t actually ever been published. She was an aspiring author taking advice from people who had never taken flight as authors.

Now everyone is free to take whatever advice and course of action they want, but I certainly would not take counsel from someone who has not successfully done what I am trying to do.

I can spot a theorist a mile away. They say silly things like, “People are basically good; you just have to find out how to motivate them.” And “Companies/Leaders that don’t do the right thing won’t survive.” I can tell they’ve never dipped their toe into the reality-pool of life and their wheels are still on the ground.

This simple truth was the backdrop to one of my father’s most memorable lines in his 50-year career as a speaker. When asked the greatest thing he’d been learning in all his years of business, he’d exclaim, “NOTHING WORKS!!” to peals of laughter from the audience.

You see those people had swum deep into the praxicality of life. Those who hadn’t were absolutely horrified and wondered if they hadn’t signed up for the wrong seminar!

So next time you search for or give advice, make sure you are Praxically Speaking. Forget the ideal and just keep it real. We are nothing but the sum of our experiences, so make sure yours are rich and reflective of the tremendous journey of your life and that they give you the clearance to take flight!



Curiosity killed more than the cat

Curiosity+killed+the+cat.+source+smosh+facebook+page_06d5f5_3980829I just read one of my favorite books, You and Your Network, by Fred Smith.  Chapter 7, “Your Friends”, includes a fascinating insight. Mr. Smith clearly outlines the difference between interest and curiosity, and it’s an important distinction we need to factor into all of our relationships, personal and professional.

I recently spoke at a networking event and shared with the group how it drove me crazy when I’d get a call from someone who would ask me what I do in my business or what they could do to “help” me. I could tell from several of the attendees that they did not understand why that bothers me. Isn’t it good to hear about the prospective client so you can meet their needs? Well, if you haven’t established a relationship with them or at least done your homework, no, it’s not.

When you have a deep, sincere interest in someone you ask questions in order to truly help them. When you are curious about someone, you ask the question because you are looking to serve yourself. So there’s a big difference between asking interested questions and asking curious questions.

Here are the top three curious questions that will not just kill the cat, but any chance of a deal or relationship as well.

The Time Suck: These are sales calls from someone asking how they can help your business, or worse, asking you to tell them about your business. The reality is that they are looking for ways to help their business.  It’s like asking the teacher for the answers to the test so you don’t have to study.

Stump the Chump: These are calls where the salesperson asks you a question when they already know the answer. They are already smarter than you and are waiting for you to give the “wrong” reply so they can correct you.  It’s like someone pulling the rug out from under you and then wondering why you don’t take their hand to get up.

The National Enquirer: These are questions that ask for too much information (TMI). These people are simply looking for gossip fodder and are fishing for information so they can get the inside scoop. The behavior of these “Nosey Mrs. Rats” can best be summed up by the colloquialism, “I don’t repeat gossip, so listen up the first time.”

Always be careful what you say and to whom. Not all questions are meant to be answered. Not everyone who claims to be interested in you really is. Curiosity killed the cat. Be careful it doesn’t do the same to you!


Are there atheists in foxholes?

Jones Scans1 614In God we trust. It’s the basis of all of our legal systems, our church doctrines, our charitable organizations, even the basis for a family. If you don’t believe in a higher power, than why on earth would you even want to live in a cultural or ordered society? Go ahead and be an anarchist, nihilist, atheist, and deal with your own chaos and lawlessness. I respect the fact that you don’t believe, respect the fact that I do. But why on earth would you want people in the military who think there is nothing worth dying for? That just does not compute!

Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends. And that kind of sacrifice doesn’t come from an evolved amoeba that formed as the result of space dust; it comes from the help of a higher power, hence the “so help me God” reference in many of our sworn oaths and affirmations.

CS Lewis said if we don’t give our lives to something, we are already dead. In our nation’s military academies, our cadets adhere to an honor code, a willingness to give everything to something bigger than themselves. It is not a religious endorsement or even a violation of the constitution. It’s an indication of the magnitude of the mantle of leadership and sacrifice the soldier is about to bear.

If you’re an atheist, you know that man is just an evolved cell. And how on earth can an evolved cell want to pay the ultimate sacrifice? A basic drive for self-preservation may make the atheist a fierce fighter on the battlefield (after all, he isn’t going anywhere when he dies!), but he lacks the spiritual calling that inspires the person of faith to set aside earthly life and risk everything for a cause greater than himself.

Are there atheists in foxholes? I’m sure there are, but I’m not sure what they’re fighting for.

Tremendous Tracey

CEO Tremendous Life Books. Book Evangelist

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November 2013

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