Author Archive for Tracey Jones

21
Jul
15

We’re Moving!

Just a reminder, hope to see you all at our new location!

Tremendous Life Books

movingWe’ve been tinkering under the hood here at Tremendous Life Books and the time has come to pack up the blog and move it to newer, swankier digs. From now on, my new posts will appear at http://www.tremendoustracey.com/blog/ so adjust your set accordingly.

All of my old posts are there too, so instead of binge watching Star Trek you can binge read Tremendous Tracey!

Thanks to all of my readers for sticking with me over the past five and a half years. Keep reading: the best is yet to come!

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30
Jun
15

We’re Moving!

movingWe’ve been tinkering under the hood here at Tremendous Life Books and the time has come to pack up the blog and move it to newer, swankier digs. From now on, my new posts will appear at http://www.tremendoustracey.com/blog/ so adjust your set accordingly.

All of my old posts are there too, so instead of binge watching Star Trek you can binge read Tremendous Tracey!

Thanks to all of my readers for sticking with me over the past five and a half years. Keep reading: the best is yet to come!

29
Jun
15

Are you Slacktose Intolerant?

dilbert-slackerOffer the lazy an egg, and they’ll want you to peel it for them.

– A Proverb

Slacktose intolerance, also called loser phobia and hypomalaisa, is the inability to digest poor performance, lack of initiative, and failure to accept responsibility. Slacktose-intolerant individuals have insufficient levels of desire to digest those who display repeated bouts of negativity, an inability to digest any amount of responsibility avoidance, and suffer from chronic aversion to thumb-sucking. Symptoms include disgust, irritable bowel syndrome, and, in those with a heightened sensitivity, even the primal fight-or-flight instinct

Recommended treatments include speaking to the infected individual regarding their condition. If they do not seek immediate aid they are to be removed from your world. The Centers for Disease Control should start including laziness in their list of highly-infectious diseases due to the amount of damage slackers can do to an entire organization. The good news is, once the affected area has been cut out, recovery rates are 100 percent!

I can remember hearing the late, great Zig Ziglar say, “Are you a SNIOP? Someone who is Sensitive to the Negative Influence of Others?” Why, yes I am!! That describes me to a “T”! I am a flexible, easy-going person, but when faced with lazy or indecisive individuals my righteous-indignation meter gets pegged! I am sensitive to the influence of negative and lazy people. In fact, I am so highly allergic that I suffer violent reactions. Charles Horace Mayo, co-founder of the Mayo clinic, said, “You must avoid sloth, that wicked siren.” Amen brother, even the medical field recognized that laziness is a horrible disease!

It’s a universal truth: if you are unwilling to learn to help yourself, how on earth am I going to help you? In the world of psychology, it’s called “enabling”, i.e., doing things for people that they could or should do for themselves. This can happen in both our professional and personal worlds and is a recipe for disaster. Nothing good ever comes of this, but once you accept there is no cure for the afflicted you can lay off taking guilt trips and making repetitive rationalizations. They simply must heal themselves.

An organization that is slacktose tolerant suffers from weak management. A relationship that is slacktose tolerant suffers from enabling behavior. In each case, someone provides excuses or otherwise makes it possible to avoid the consequences of such behavior through indifference.

The greatest battle is the one within ourselves, so stop trying to “fix” other people’s issues by allowing their behavior to continue to manifest itself. Don’t let the fear of an angry response stop you from taking action. And be proud when they call you intolerant and self-righteous because that’s exactly what you are: slacktose intolerant with a supreme respect for the power of the individual to control its own destiny. Saint-John Perse said, “The only menace is inertia” and that’s one menace we can all take immediate action to avoid.

For more tremendous insights click here! Or you can listen here!

11
Jun
15

Snarknado

Dick from the InternetLast week I posted a picture that launched an F-category Snarknado. I shared the life-altering tale of how my father sequestered all the televisions in our house during my teen years. His reasoning was that if we had time to sit on our butts and veg out, we had time to go out in the yard and work, play sports, do chores, or his all-time favorite, read!

When I posted this picture I got quite a few favorable comments saying that yes, they had cut the cord and yes, TV had a lot of crap on it. Others said that there were many good programs but you did need to monitor what you ingested.

But there was one person who took great offense at the concept of an adult sanctioning the use of a gadget by their child. According to this individual, technology, computers in particular, had actually saved the world and we all lived an ignorant existence before their advent. On social media it ain’t so much what you say, it’s the way that you say it. Some can’t express a dissenting opinion without resorting to nastiness or condescension. This was especially true of this commentator’s posts.

Now I’m the kind of girl who likes to put the social in social media. The best way to handle uncivil discourse is to put it on mute. Not happy to be deterred, the individual proceeded to email me the F-bomb and yes, it has an email and a name.

The advent of non-personal communication has empowered technologically-savvy yet socially-Dick from the Internetobtuse people. Couple that with zero ramifications for cyberspace wretch, and you’ve got the perfect shite storm. And no, the fact that our online activities leave a trail and last forever does not serve as a deterrent.

Computers don’t autocorrect for manners. Decorum, civility, and tact are learned from human interaction. If the Dark Ages were a time in history marked by cultural decline and intellectual darkness, we should call our modern-day era The Snark Ages, a time when people feel free to broadcast their inner primordial chump.

Winston Churchill said, “A fanatic is one who won’t change his mind, and can’t change the subject.”  And today, technology breeds them faster than Moore’s Law.

04
Jun
15

We’re All Doing Time Just in Different Places

the-broken-chain1Every speaker dreams of a captive audience, but this past Tuesday I got the experience of a lifetime. I spoke to a group of prison inmates who were graduating from a LIFE course which is a prison ministry started years ago by Pennsylvania Governor George Leader. And while they may not be moving anywhere physically, they desired to move spiritually, which is the only journey in life that truly matters.

When I found out that they were “lifers” I was immediately perplexed by the juxtaposition before me. Here were bright, smiling faces looking at me ready to learn and grow, yet the reality was they were sentenced to a life behind bars as a consequence of their actions.  Being a good publisher, I brought them a book as a graduation gift: It’s All About Jesus: Three Bestselling Authors, One Dynamic Savior. The lead volunteer asked me to talk a little about the book and for the next five minutes I emotionally shared the content. Now I’ve had to take a moment behind the microphone before, but this was different. There was no way I was going to regain composure nor did I want to. Composure was not what was appropriate; vulnerability was.

I assured them my tears came from a place of extreme gratitude and that I was profoundly humbled to share the book my father and I worked on just before his passing in 2008. My father had spent his life sharing with so many disadvantaged people from all walks of life that their lives truly had a purpose, that they were special and loved, and that all their past mistakes and pain could be washed away. I imagined him beside me as each of the inmates proudly came forward to accept their certificate and be recognized.

Someone once asked my father how he could adjust from speaking to pastors in the morning to prisons in the afternoon to sales executives at night. His reply: “It’s easy; we’re all doing time just in different places.” The truth of this was never more clear to me than it was that night. I saw with my own eyes the redemptive power of the blood of Christ. I have seen many people come to the Lord, but never those who had made such radical, life-altering decisions. I never had a group that was so confined and shackled physically yet so unrestrained and alive spiritually.

I shared with them that life on the other side of the fence was not all that rosy for many of us; that we as a nation are becoming increasingly divided and hostile towards one another; that the desire for one man to enslave another was rampant across the globe and that evil revealed itself in all nations; that so many who had every opportunity in the world chose instead to exist in the prisons of their closed minds and hardened hearts, not willing to evolve and learn and live a life of service.

The individuals before me realized they were responsible for their actions. There was no vocalization of blame or hostility. They seemed at peace with what had transpired yet strove to find meaning in their lifetime behind bars. So who’s living a richer life? The “free” man who has every opportunity in the world but sees himself as either a victim to avoid responsibility for his own path, or so entitled that he does not have to be of service to others? Or the one who made a life-altering mistake yet chose to not let it define him?

The parable of The Sheep Thief tells the story of two young men several hundred years ago who were caught stealing sheep in a small Italian Village. Justice was swift and included branding the letter “ST” on each of their foreheads so all would know that they were in the presence of a “Sheep Thief.” One young man was determined to run from his past, moving from village to village, lying, hiding from his past. He died years later, broke and alone. The second young man sought to make amends for his transgressions and stayed in the village where the crime had been committed. He worked hard and earned enough money to pay back the man whose sheep he had stolen. He lived a life of service to the community. Many years later a visitor asked the shopkeeper why the old man had “ST” tattooed on his forehead.  The shopkeeper replied, “It stands for Saint.”

dead-peopleMy father used to quip that many of us are walking around dead long before we’re buried; but thank God he made it so we don’t stink ‘til we’re put in the ground. Truer words were never spoken. Never, ever forget: life’s not about where you start; it’s about where you finish.  It’s one long journey of going from jammed to justified, from limbo to liberated, and from restrained to resurrected. Our actions may imprison us physically, but the redemptive blood of Christ can truly set us free.

01
Jun
15

The Mind Is a Terrible Thing to Replace

blogrobotsWhat’s telling is that the fears expressed in these films are not of how our technology will deviate from our basic human nature. The fear is of what happens if it doesn’t.—Arthur Chu

Steve Wozniak, Stephen Hawking, and Elon Musk all predict a future in which human beings will be replaced by computers. It’s happening now and many of us have already witnessed parts of it in varying degrees. For example, I haven’t set foot in a financial institution in 25 years. All of my banking is automated. Is the computer takeover really such bad news and will it really ever become a reality?

I’ve been a science fiction nerd from birth, raised on movies like The Stepford Wives, Tron, Westworld, and 2001: A Space Odyssey. In these films, computers could and would take over our lives the minute we turned our backs on them. Gee, that sounds like some people I’ve known. But as I grew up I looked at this in a different light. For example, in A.I. Artificial Intelligence, Jude Law’s character is an artificial Romeo named Gigolo Joe. As a single woman burned out on dating I remember thinking, “You mean I could have the computerized man of my dreams with none of the relationship hassles? Where do I get me one of them??”

Now fast forward to me as a professional working woman. Anyone who’s been in any kind of management or leadership position for more than one nanosecond knows that much of what’s done at the intermediary level can best be described as adult babysitting. If someone asked me if I had any kids I’d say, “You betcha! I’ve got hundreds of them!” And I meant it.

Humans are flawed, emotional, lazy, jealous, and often incapable of exhibiting higher-order thinking. Each of the Seven Deadly Sins reflects a distinctly human trait. With A.I. I won’t have to shell out big bucks for frivolous lawsuits, worry about infighting, hurt feelings, sick days, or burgeoning health-care costs. I know what I’d get each and every day and could just focus on getting the job done. Hallelujah!

But is that how life is to be lived? Isn’t the very definition of evolution the constant adaptation to future scenarios? Creation, epiphany, and initiative are the catalysts for all change. And if you believe we evolved from space dust, which came from who knows where, you better believe that humans are a requirement for any type of future.

Even a movie like Prometheus, which utilizes the “alien gospel doctrine,” presents a dialogue between David, an A.I. being, and Elizabeth Shaw, a human scientist. When they finally discover who created mankind, David is satisfied, Shaw is not. At the end of the film the question still remains: who created the alien race that created man? Shaw must now find who created the aliens who created us and so on, and so on, and so on. The Law of Conservation of Mass says that matter remains constant in a closed system. Although some would argue that our universe is not closed, everything still has a beginning. There has to be a creative force at the beginning of anything.

Life is all about the search for truth, at least from the human perspective. And as long as humans are creating what replaces them, our genetic coding will end up in a new binary form. How can the creator not leave an imprint of himself on his creation? I just saw Ex Machina in which a brilliant but sadistic computer genius, Nathan, creates a brilliant but sadistic A.I., Ava. Thus proveth my point. Just as in Blade Runner, (spoiler alert) the creation kills its creator. Glad to see karma extends to A.I.

In today’s world, more than at any other time in the history of mankind, we erroneously focus our future purely on science. We act as if science trumps all and exist in intellectual solitude. Anyone who injects anything else is a denier or a nut-job, despite the fact that throughout all of mankind’s history, faith and science have walked hand in hand. As Michael Crichton so brilliantly said, “Historically, the claim of consensus has been the first refuge of scoundrels; it is a way to avoid debate by claiming the matter is already settled.” In his book All Truth Is God’s Truth, Arthur F. Holmes explains that at least three major perspectives run through the history of thought: naturalistic, idealistic, and theistic. Science and faith are all wrapped up in each other. Neither can exist in isolation.

Life’s ultimate mystery is bound up in carbon-based units and that, my friends, is why we’ll never ever be replaced. The human condition is one of errors which in turn offers the capacity for growth. We sharpen our tools, go back to the drawing board, and try again. We evolve. We show initiative and insights. We do things that are illogical because we see because we have conviction.Our minds lead us to see things that science cannot see, our souls lead us to do things before the evidence demands action, and our hearts drive us to fulfill our greatest purpose.

a-collection-of-quotes-in-operational-excellence-quality-and-change-35-638I agree that robots should replace the majority of people consuming resources on this planet. After all, if you’re not helping, you’re hurting, and you should be replaced immediately. Robots are far better at “doing” human, but life is all about “being” human. So for those of us who strive to make the world a better place through our manmade talents, our God-given gifts, and the wholeness of our humanity: Relax and embrace the future, because it’s going to be a glorious one!

28
May
15

Enraptured or Enraptored?

dinospeakerHave you ever been listening to someone and wondered, “Who’s this bird and why, exactly, am I listening to him?” Truth be told, this thought constantly reverberates through my brain. And unfortunately, in today’s world of infinite inputs, there’s so much jibber-jabber taking place I actually have to make an effort to keep this question a part of my inner dialogue instead of blurting it right out in the open.

But there’s a reason for this. It’s not that I’m judgmental or elitist; it’s that I’m so experiential and pragmatic that I refuse to go on words alone. The old trust-but-verify is tattooed on my brain. In fact, whenever someone talks theory or hypotheticals with me, it does not compute. So in today’s world where we can’t swing a cat without hitting a consultant, speaker, trainer, leader, manager, entrepreneur, healer, dealer, free-wheeler, expert, or  some other self-proclaimed wizard, it pays to pay attention. No one can lead you further than they themselves have gone so it is absolutely critical, if you want to grow, that you follow the trail and guidance of a Sherpa who’s actually made it to the summit.

Back in the 90s there was a great book called Dinosaur Brains: Dealing with All THOSE Impossible People at Work that was all about the Jurassic Jerks that many of us have to cope with every day. So how can you tell if a person is premier or primeval and whether you should stick around to hear what they have to say? Let’s take a trip back in time and retrace the evolution of some modern-day birds of prey to learn if they want to help you take flight or make you crash and burn.

Velociraptor: The name means “swift seizer” and this is the predatory predecessor to the vulture. Quick to take the words right out of your mouth, and the dollars out of your pocket, this one has made it to the top by using others. You are nothing but a means to an end. Relentless and unscrupulous, they draw you into their lush nest proclaiming that this too can all be yours, if you just become one of them. The problem with these birds is that they have to accumulate ever more naïve fledglings in order to fluff their own domain. Their power derives not from what they’ve accomplished but from how many people are beneath them supporting their roost.

Velocicraptor:  This bird is the predecessor of the seagull. It typically enters the arena touted as an outside expert sent into the bowels of your organization to fix whatever the managers inside could not take care of. Not to be confused with outside input, which can allow you to see things previously hidden to you, this bird comes in, makes a bunch of noise, craps all over everyone, and then leaves with a big fat check clutched firmly in its talons. If you take input from someone who’s changed jobs/industries/partners/spouses, etc. in a repetitive or abrupt fashion, be forewarned. Their flight path is most likely marked by a path of poop and destruction. If someone seems too good to be true, they are. So don’t buy it.

Velociyaktor: If you find yourself in the presence of someone who won’t stop mimicking the actions, words, or thoughts of others, you have just encountered the original myna bird. They recite whatever junk du jour they can find because they have nothing in their own repertoire to sing. Just like all great actors, they create a scene on life’s stage so real you’d swear it was actually happening. But life isn’t a play, it’s reality, so don’t take council from a parrot-like, pull-string puppet. Living vicariously through others only counts in science fiction.

So you’re probably thinking, “Why so snarky, Tracey? Everybody’s got to make a buck, right? And if a person is too stupid to spot a phony, it’s on them!” Wrong. Representing yourself as possessing wisdom worth sharing with others is an incredibly serious thing. And you MUST be on the up and up about who you are and just why you are qualified to speak on any topic and what action you are requesting others to take.  Otherwise you are a huckster, a fraud, or my all-time favorite old-timey word, a charlatan. Being disingenuous is not just about lying and letting the buyer beware. It’s about the less evolved getting caught up in a quagmire of ego and deceit. So don’t listen to these primordial birds; after all, they’re headed for extinction just like their famous ancestors.

31
Mar
15

x marks the spot

Why do so many people try to hold us back from moving forward in our lives? Didn’t we all learn early in life that we should celebrate the successes of others and strive to emulate them? According to Theory Y believers everyone wants to live a life of purpose and reach their greater levels of joy, peace, energy, and prosperity. Yet how can they possibly do that if their every waking moment is spent obstructing, impeding, slowing, slandering, or demotivating others? Their cup of hostility and insecurity runneth over and they work to slather and sling it on as many as people possible.

Chuck Reeves, author of Journal of a Climberhaters, stated, “Successful people do not resent successful people. Unsuccessful people do.” Boom! There it is. In today’s technologically superior yet higher-order-thinking deficient society, we are obsessed by spewing out judgments and pious pontifications. It’s always been there since the dawn of mankind, but the sheer volume and saturation of it in today’s world does not bode well for the up and coming would be leaders. By disparaging when we should be debating and turning teachable moments into bloody massacres, we are encouraging people to kill rather than to query.

We’re so busy hating the oppressor du jour that we forget life’s what we make it. Who cares who gets the credit? Miserable, thumb-sucking, complaining, griping boneheads, that’s who. As Zig Ziglar said, “You will get all you want in life if you help enough other people get what they want.” So why is it so hard to see that, ipso facto, the opposite is true? “You will get nothing you want in life if you impede other people getting what they want.” Of noticeable absence is the presence of any higher-order thinking skills. Resentment, jealousy, envy; whatever you call it it’s one of the seven deadly sins. Yet somehow we feed ourselves a steady diet of it in today’s society.

Thus proveth the Theory X that people are lazy, cynical and would rather complain than attain. What to do about it? Model a more proactive approach. In all your communications, be proclamatory, not accusatory. Be an extorter, not a retorter; and finally, be a relater, not a hater. I worry about those whose existence is spent seething at the successes of others. Successful people should always inspire us to greater heights, and if that is not the response you have in your heart when others tell you of their good fortune, you might want to take a tough, long look at what’s going on inside of you. There is no suck in success!

15
Jan
15

Do Unto Somebody What Somebody Did For You

mentoringToday is Thank Your Mentor Day! Without mentors, this world would have ceased to exist a long time ago. Indeed, mentoring gives you the chance to live your life over and over again, well into eternity.  And to honor those who shaped my world in ways I never could have done alone, I salute you and share three ways you can pay it forward so someone else can have a tremendous life!

Feel My Pain: Life is too short to make every mistake there is to make. This is where a mentor can save you years of anguish and unspeakable pain. We like to think that to be a mentor we have to constantly be dispensing all kinds of crazy wisdom and dazzling brilliance. But did you know that one of the best ways you can mentor others is by sharing your mistakes? There is something inherently redemptive about bearing witness to your own pain in an effort to lessen the pain of others. Thank you Cumberland Valley School District for showing me numerous classroom films that vividly displayed the effects of drinking and driving, chewing my food too quickly, contracting STDs and other horrors of becoming sexually active,  and frying your brain on drugs. You saved me from some of life’s biggest mistakes!

The Door of Opportunity: Many of us feel that mentors are supposed to be these unbelievably well-connected individuals who, with one call or nod of the head, can make the impossible happen.  While it’s really great if you have such a person among your contacts, being a mentor is as simple as providing developmental opportunities for your mentee and taking an interest in developing them. In other words, by making a simple recommendation or submitting someone for an award, you create a favorable circumstance for them. Case in point: in 1984 I was a cadet at New Mexico Military Institute preparing to graduate. I was uncertain what I should do next academically when my Air Liaison Officer, Major John Schaeffer, nominated me for admission to the US Air Force Academy. I didn’t realize this was going on behind the scenes until he handed me my acceptance letter. The fact that he took the time and effort to put my name in the hat for such an incredible opportunity is still one of the most defining moments of my life.

A Few Good Words: All great mentors are able to get right to the point with the fewest of words. Too often we erroneously assume that we have to invest years and countless interactions before we can make a difference in someone’s life. This is just not true. A few words said at just the right time may be all someone needs to launch them into orbit. When my father was on his last breath, he squeezed my hand and told me he knew I would take his business to levels he never could. That was the sum total of our succession planning and the only thing I needed to propel me forward. Even years later, I still feel the squeeze of his hand and the whisper of his voice as I put my nose to the grindstone and go about the challenges of running a business.

So go out there and do for others what somebody did for you! Share some insights, submit an award, make a phone call, or utter a word of encouragement. You never know what these small, yet incredibly impactful, events might make on someone’s life. I know what a difference it made in mine, and I will continue to live the Golden Rule of Mentoring until my last breath and then spend an eternity watching the legacy unfold.

22
Dec
14

What Difference Do I Make?

You've got the whole world in your hands.

You’ve got the whole world in your hands.

Throughout the many different roles in which I’ve served, there has always come a time when I had to wonder if I was actually making a difference in the world. This type of reflection is a healthy one if you use it to grow yourself into new directions of service.

I recently shared with a group of students at a social-responsibility class at Central Penn College three things they are likely to encounter as they go about a life spent making a difference:

Bigger is not better:  Laurence J. Peter said, “Bureaucracy defends the status quo long past the time when the quo has lost its status.” I used to think that the bigger the company, the smarter and more ethical is was. This is not necessarily true. High walls can be a haven for low morals and the more bureaucratic an organization is the more likely it is to tolerate incompetence. It’s in the nature of bureaucracies to be bloated, full of bull, and to ensure the beneficiary is beholden to their interests.

Size does matter; the smaller the better. In 2011, according to U.S. Census Bureau data, there were 5.68 million employer firms in the United States. Firms with fewer than 500 workers accounted for 99.7 percent of those businesses, and businesses with less than twenty workers made up 89.8 percent. In short, small business is what actually makes the world go round and packs the most economic punch.

Only you can make a difference: Nations, industries, companies, religions, races, etc., etc., etc., are not good or evil. The only thing inherently built to do good or bad on this planet is man. And we are only held accountable for our own actions. Never, ever underestimate the power of the person as you go up against those who couldn’t care less about doing what’s moral, ethical or legal. As my father, Charlie “Tremendous” Jones, so famously said, “Have you ever seen a monument dedicated to a committee?”

What continues to shape the world of social responsibility is the gift of the individual. The power of the purse is felt most when the hands that hold it are freely and selflessly giving. Giving by individuals makes up the vast majority of contributions received by nonprofit organizations. Giving USA 2013 estimates that individual giving amounted to $228.93 billion in 2012, an increase of 3.9 percent in current dollars (1.9%, adjusted for inflation) from 2011. This accounts for 72 percent of all contributions received in 2012.

Cause and Effect: According to the laws of physics, the effect can never be greater than the cause, so you need to have a burning commitment to the mission at the heart of all you do. If you work for a company, that’s slavery. If you work for yourself, that’s selfish. If you work for others, that’s worship! Your role in making the world a better place should be a blessing, not a curse. If social responsibility is a J.O.B. you’re doing it wrong.

Every living thing on this planet has an obligation to give back something—anything! It may be time, talents, or other resources. It may be connections, or just a warm body needed to complete a task. Wherever we are in life, it is our sole purpose to be doing unto others as we would have them do unto us. And if we need help, we need to be willing to help others. John D. Rockefeller said, “Charity is injurious unless it helps the recipient to become independent of it.” If you need help, get it, and then go about the business of helping others.

May your 2015 be filled with countless tremendous opportunities to serve and bless others!




Tremendous Tracey


CEO Tremendous Life Books. Book Evangelist

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