Posts Tagged ‘adversity

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.

18
Nov
14

the kids are alright

With so much lamentation about the youth of today, it was encouraging to experience a fresh perspective on our future leaders, one that will restore your faith in humanity. I sat on a panel for our Congressional District where we interviewed candidates for the United States Service Academy nominations.

I reviewed each of the applicant’s resumes two weeks prior and was astounded by their many accomplishments. The panel took twenty minutes to speak with each candidate, asking a series of questions, and I took note of the recurring themes that defined these future leaders…

Adversity: When asked if they thought they learned more from success or adversity, 9 out of 10 of them replied adversity. I’m that I had figured that out by age 18. They all realized the role of struggle and challenge in making them better individuals. This was not a group of babies with the silver spoons still in their mouths. Some came from single-parent homes, blue-collar backgrounds, working as hard as they could in the public school system. As one candidate so aptly said, “Success could be just luck. Adversity motivates me to improve.”

Mentoring: They each had someone in their lives who guided them when they were younger. For some it was an uncle who served, for others it was a school counselor who praised them for their leadership potential. Never underestimate the role you can have in developing a future leader. Robert Frost said, “I am not a teacher, but an awakener.” Somewhere along the line, someone awakened the seeds of greatness in these individuals, giving them a desire to develop themselves to the fullest.

Discipline: Show me what a person does with their idle time and I’ll show you where they’ll be in twenty years. Each of these candidates had a resume more robust than most adults. They served on sport teams, in academic societies, in community activities. They ran fund raisers, mentored younger students, and worked a variety of jobs. To say these young people were hard workers would be an understatement. If idle hands are the tools of the devil, this group is nothing but divine. As one commented, “I try to keep my schedule full in all areas of my life.”

The closing question was, “why should we chose you over the other candidates?” My favorite answer was this: “I can’t speak for the others; I’m sure they’re all very highly qualified. All I can speak for is myself and tell you that I have done the very best I can and am ready to serve.” So next time you lament the millennials, remember this next batch of leaders on the horizon. The one thing we can all do for them is to take the time to encourage their greatness and model the discipline they’ll need to be the best of the best. And if we do just this, I can assure you the kids will be more than alright; they’ll be tremendous!

 

29
Oct
12

Berks Technical Institute Commencement Speech

Good evening graduating class of Berks Technical Institute. Thank you to President Reichard for allowing me to share this evening’s remarks. I want to welcome the family, friends and other supporters who are here to celebrate the remarkable achievement of these graduates.  Growing up, my father always taught me the importance of a continuing education and embracing a lifetime of learning. You see, he grew up in the Depression and only made it through the 8th grade. He used to tell me that whenever he graduated from anything it wasn’t magna cum laude, it was laude how cum.

Mark Twain said, “The two most important days in your life are the day you were born and the day you find out why.” You are now about to put to use the innate talents you were born with and the learned skills you have acquired as you embark on the literal journey of a lifetime; the quest to find out why you were born.

And as you enter the workforce I have these words of encouragement for you. Yes, encouragement. Don’t fixate on the doom and gloom about the economy. Yes, this nation has a tough economic road ahead of it, but for workers who are not just able, but willing to give a job their all, the future will always be bright. The greatest employers hire for attitude and train for aptitude because you can’t teach someone responsibility, accountability, and integrity. By this stage in life, you either have it or you don’t.

The beauty of this graduating class is that you obviously have the aptitude, as evidenced by the technical classes you completed, as well as the certifications you earned. You are able. Now as you enter the work force of life, the key will be whether you are willing. Never, ever forget that your “I can” is infinitely more important than your IQ.

Back in 2006 I was approached about a project management position running a very large and diverse operations service contract on a classified facility in the Midwest. The problem was I did not possess the particular two years of contracting experience outlined in the job description.  But if there is one thing I had learned in working in four major,  yet very different, industries, it’s that the keys to success fit all doors regardless of the industry, so I applied.

I was brought into an interim position as a subcontracts manager and told to begin working on that two year requirement. I dug in with a vengeance. As I suspected, the acronyms were different, but the requirement for outstanding customer service, efficient use of resources, and ability to interact with a top-notch team was the same as when I served in the Air Force as well as the semiconductor field.

Six weeks into the job, the top government contracting officer called me in their office and said I was approved to fill the position as the project manager. When I asked about the two year requirement they said that due to my demonstrated energy and enthusiasm to get the job done, they felt comfortable waiving it. It was then I learned firsthand the power of enthusiasm and a “can do” attitude in the workplace.

The second lesson I want to share with you is that the people who do what needs to be done without being told draw the most wages. You determine your worth in the work place. In each of the jobs for which I was selected, no one inside the organization was willing to step up. Sure, some were able, but they were not willing. If you are willing to do the things that the majority of people do not want to do, I can guarantee your continued professional success. In fact, the common denominator of success is that a success does the things that failures don’t like to do. That’s it. It’s that simple. You don’t have to be a visionary, or a genius. You just have to be committed to getting the job done because so few people are. Elbert Hubbard said, “Do your work with all your heart and you will succeed—there’s so little competition.”

My father used to call these types of people thumb-suckers and he told me to steer clear of them. In fact he told me, “Hang around great people and you’ll be a greater person; hang around givers and you’ll be a better giver; hang around a bunch of thumb-sucking, complaining, griping, boneheads and you’ll be a better thumb-sucking, complaining, griping bonehead!”

When you enter the workforce you will function as a thermometer or a thermostat. A thermometer is stationary and only reflects what is happening around it. A thermostat, on the other hand, measures what the temperature is and then responds by changing the temperature to the conditions it desires. Some people are like a thermometer. If their environment is negative, they are negative. If bad things happen, they are sad. If good things happen, they are happy. Successful people, on the other hand, are more like a thermostat. Even if their environment is negative, they choose to be positive. In fact, these people are the ones that end up setting the atmosphere for the entire organization.

And lastly, I want to encourage you to make mistakes. A young accountant and recent graduate of Berks Technical Institute asked his seasoned CEO how he got so successful. The CEO replied, “Good judgment”. The young accountant then asked the CEO how he got good judgment, to which the CEO replied, “Experience”. The young accountant pressed on asking the CEO how he got experience, to which the CEO replied, “Poor Judgment”.

We are all born with an empty psychological key ring. Every experience, good, bad or ugly, gives us a key with which to open future doors. The more exposure to experience, the more keys we get to unlock life’s vast array of doors.

There is no greater teacher than adversity. And if you are stepping up to the plate while others are content to sit in the dugout, there is a chance you will strike out. But at least you made it to the plate and took a swing. My father told me that the secret to success is to cram 50 years of failure into 15. He was right. We learn from our mistakes, so don’t be afraid to make them.

And I wouldn’t be a publisher worth my salt if I didn’t bring you some tremendous reading material as a graduation gift. These two little pamphlets are the most powerful booklets I have ever read. If you can commit to the actions in these two books, I can guarantee you will live life at the 99th percentile.  The first, is Message to Garcia, the fourth most read writing in the history of mankind. It will take you ten minutes to read. The second, The New Common Denominator of Success, contains the principle we covered earlier that in order to be a success, you simply have to do the things that failures don’t like to do.

You’re going to be reading and studying material to teach you the know how for years to come. But don’t ever forget to read things that teach you the know why. Knowing how to do something let’s you drive it; Knowing why you are doing something lets it drive you. The greatest communicators, whether they are in the home, church, or work place, know how to speak not just to your ears, but to your heart as well.

In closing, I hope and pray for wisdom and strength for this graduating class to meet and surpass the challenges that will come its way. Always remember, life happens just outside your comfort zone so if things are scary and seem, at times, chaotic, you’re doing it right. Thank you for listening to my comments and for allowing me to share in this amazing milestone in your lives.

22
Feb
11

i fought the law and the law won

Failure brings greater notoriety and legacy than success ever could. General Robert E. Lee led a failed revolt and yet is held as one of America’s greatest icons. We honor soldiers with the Medal of Honor in some cases posthumously, for their ultimate sacrifice, despite the fact that it is every parent’s dream they return home alive.

I’ve locked horns with the best of them and gotten whooped time and time again. I’ve dealt with character assassination, insubordination, corrupt individuals promoted above me, and HR directors that refused to enforce standards. But they are still talking about me despite the fact I left the organization years ago.

Mahatma Gandhi said, “Joy lies in the fight, in the attempt, in the suffering involved, not in the victory itself”. And that’s why they remember me, because I brought joy. Whatever the end result was, everyone knew that we had done our best, that we had pushed the envelope, and had no regrets.

Poor judgment born from human frailties is what leads us to good judgment. I can’t say that all the times I fought the “law” I was right in my assumptions. Sometimes I let my emotions get in the way, sometimes I expected things to change too rapidly, but until you do it the “wrong” way, you’ll never know how to do it the “right” way.

So be thankful for the times you get kicked to the curb. If your actions were motivated by a sense of increasing the value of the people in the organization, you should wear your battle scars with pride. If you’re one of the few who fights for what’s right, you’ll be the stuff of water cooler talk long after you’re gone.




Tremendous Tracey


CEO Tremendous Life Books. Book Evangelist

Join Me On:

October 2017
M T W T F S S
« Jul    
 1
2345678
9101112131415
16171819202122
23242526272829
3031  

%d bloggers like this: