Posts Tagged ‘learning


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!



will you autograph my kindle?

As a publisher the number one question I get asked is, when books go the way of the dinosaur will I have to live in a van down by the river? What will I do with myself when books are no longer relevant; that if I don’t change my antiquated ways, I’ll wind up left on the floor like an overexposed negative, like the Kodak Corporation.

The publishing industry, like everything else on the planet, is in a constant state of flux.  But adapting to change does not mean you abandon what’s been a mainstay of civilization alongside other great inventions like fire and the wheel. The written word isn’t here just to entertain us; it’s what makes us human.

As a purveyor and publisher of the written word, I went with great anticipation, and a little bit of trepidation, to Book Expo America (BEA) held annually in NYC. If you’re a book lover, this is the closest thing to heaven on earth. Every publisher was on site along with their newest releases, their best and bestselling authors, winding lines of ecstatic fans, a kaleidoscope of colors, tons of touchable textures, tremendous and tantalizing topics; it was like a candy store for your brain!!

There were books everywhere!! And yes, I mean physical books, not virtual books. There were even hardcovers, which I had been told where a dying breed due to their size and shipping cost. But here they stood in their brilliant and gleaming dust jackets, drawing me closer and closer until I had no choice but to pick them up and look inside! There’s something about meeting the real thing in person….just ask anyone who’s ever done any Internet dating.

I publish physical books. I also have everything we publish converted to an electronic format. But the fish aren’t biting the virtual food. Our clientele like to give books away as much as they like to read them. How would you feel about parting with your Kindle or Nook after reading a book that changed your life so someone else could do the same? Don’t think that’s going to happen.

There were some digital publishers represented, the vast majority of floor space, by far, was devoted to traditional publishing houses where there were scores of people picking up the physical product. The children’s section was the most fun. Can a child get the same excitement by holding a Kindle in bed with their parent? There just aren’t enough sides to it to share, are there?

I got to read a book about sharks that had real shark teeth in it! I got to hold a book that had science fiction pop-up pictures! I even got to hold a stuffed animal that represented the main character in the book I had picked up! You see, books aren’t just for the eye to behold. There’s a whole other plethora of senses that are stimulated when you read a physical book. You can hear sounds, smell scents, touch fabric, and the coolest of all, see lenticular 3-D pictures!

And then I turned the corner and saw the beloved coffee table books, huge, glossy, gorgeous collections of galaxies, art, castles, dogs, everything under sun; the perfect accessory to any room and able to match any décor.

Think of reading a book like ordering a bowl of delicious, nutritious soup. I don’t care if you slurp it from a spoon, suck it through a straw, or gulp straight from the bowl itself. As long as you are getting fed, it’s all good, the delivery method matters not.

Books are here to stay. And book lovers are the ones who will shape and change the world as long as time exists. So let’s not argue over whether we are Kindle spirits when all that matters is that we are kindred spirits. We share a common love, a passion for reading and thinking. So if you don’t see me in a van down by the river, I’ll be poring over some transformational manuscript and evolving into a more tremendous version of me!


mind the gap

“Mind the gap” is a warning to train passengers of the London Underground to take caution while crossing the gap between the station platform and the train door. But no matter what side of the Atlantic we find ourselves on, the real gaps we have to be wary of are the ones located within ourselves. The gap between knowing the right thing and doing the right thing; between knowing how to do something and knowing why you do it; the skill to do a good job and the will to do a good job; between wishing for something and actually doing something to achieve it.

Thankfully there are many tremendous things that can aid us in taking the leap across the chasm that lies within all of us to become the best version of ourselves. Mentors, teachers, coaches, parents, role models, books, music, and even animals can all have a positive impact in helping us not only mind but bridge the gap. But we alone are the only ones who can forge the great divide so that we, of our own volition, may stand on the other side. Galileo Galilei said it best: “You cannot teach a man anything; you can only help him find it within himself.”

There’s a Japanese proverb that says, “Fall seven times, get up eight.” Humpty Dumpty had a great fall and I’ve had quite a few myself. At least Mr. Dumpty had a traumatic event where he lost it all. As Norman Vincent Peale said, “any action is better than no action at all.” Many people sit at the edge of the abyss wondering what’s on the other side without ever putting one toe into the deep. But even all the king’s horses and all the king’s men couldn’t put Humpty together again. The only person or thing that can piece together the fragile bits of our innermost being is us.

Sometimes we ignore the gaps in ourselves so successfully that we never even think about them. Our lives are what they are and there is nothing we are going to do about it. Other times we are clawing to the sides of the gaps fighting for our lives, determined to succeed and hoist ourselves to the other side no matter the cost. Whatever the case, we all face the same gaps in our lives. It is an integral part of the human condition. And the sooner we mind them, the more habitually driven we can be in navigating them as many times in life as we need or desire.


talk may be cheap, but the written word is priceless

As a leader, everything is a reflection of who you are, even the pictures on your desk and the books on your shelf. Keep yours stocked with tremendous reading material and let your team know they are free to take them, read them, and share them.

Haines and Yaggy said, “You may judge a man more truly by the books and papers which he reads than by the company which he keeps.”

Books on the shelf give a sense of humility about the leader. They let the employee know that the boss is humble enough to read what others have to say about leadership so that they can be better themselves.

When people came to my father, Charlie “Tremendous” Jones, for answers, he’d pull a chosen book of the shelf and have the individual read a passage to him. He knew that allowing them to discover the answer themselves was far more powerful than spoon feeding the information.

As Brian Tracy said, “Difficulties are not to obstruct, but to instruct.” Be sensitive about getting in the way of the person’s learning journey. Simply open a book and let the words speak to each individual’s ears and hearts. They’ll find exactly what they need to know.

It’s tough to keep your mouth shut when people come to you with problems. It’s in our nature to want to help solve everyone’s issues with our own clever solutions. But if we deny someone the struggle of finding their own true answer, we deny them their victory. The path we forged may not be the best one for them.

Tremendous Tracey

CEO Tremendous Life Books. Book Evangelist

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February 2020
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