Posts Tagged ‘knowledge


full of knowledge or just full of it?

10347643_10154390695845296_5449585575170190089_nAs a publisher and personal-development enthusiast, I hear varied opinions about the influence of reading such material. Much to my surprise, I had two highly-successful individuals tell me on two separate occasions that they don’t read it. Their reasoning? They already know it.

While I agree there is nothing new under the sun, it’s also true that the facts don’t change; we change. When we deafen our ears and hearts at one time, at another we have the capacity to see through the glass darkly and be transformed.

Clifton Fadiman said, “When you re-read a classic, you do not see more in the book than you did before; you see more in yourself than there was before.” But if you already think you know it all, this continuous self-awareness is not an option.

If you have any issue going on in your life right now I implore you to open a book on the subject matter. Pain, like pleasure, has the capacity to get us to listen and to seek out the truth, to find a way to either eliminate the negative or accentuate the positive.

We are not programmed robots who perform based on a singular input. We are not “one and done.” It takes some of us a lifetime of hearing and re-hearing, reading and re-reading the same basic principles before they finally take hold. And even then it’s a constant discipline to make sure the transformation sticks.

Those who are genuinely high achievers know all too well how much they still have to learn. Muhammad Ali said, “A man who views the world the same at fifty as he did at twenty has wasted thirty years of his life”, and the legendary cellist Pablo Casals, when asked why he continued to practice at ninety years of age, replied, “I’m beginning to notice some improvement.” Don’t turn a blind eye to self-improvement. Chances are the more you think you know the more you have to learn.


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!



exposure to experience

ImageA bird left the safety of its home to fly and perch on the branch of a different tree. It doesn’t fear leaving the old and taking up residence in the new because it doesn’t put its faith in the strength of the branch upon which it roosts. If the branch should break, the strength of its own wings will keep it aloft.

I’ve had some major limbs break out from under me, both personally and professionally. In each case I had left the old to live in the new with great optimism and hope. Sometimes I felt the branch beginning to give way soon after I arrived. Other times I had no idea I was truly out on a limb until the bottom fell out. In either case, I not only survived but flew off to the next branch as a result of the wings of my experiences.

One of leadership’s most powerful laws is Exposure to Experience: the more356 you know, the more you grow. The more you go down, the more you grow up. The more beaten down you are, the stronger you become. My father, the late, great Charlie “Tremendous” Jones, wrote about this in his motivational classic, Life Is Tremendous. He used to tell me when I was younger that I need to “earn my stripes” and that good judgment came from experience which was the direct result of poor judgment.

He also said that we are all born with an empty psychological key ring attached to our side and every experience, good, bad, or indifferent, gave us another key with which to unlock the doors of life’s journey. The more keys the better. So believe in yourself enough to truly know that any experience in which you give your all will enable you to reach heights you never thought you could.


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.

Tremendous Tracey

CEO Tremendous Life Books. Book Evangelist

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February 2020
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