Finest of Friends, Maxwell

The finest of friends must sometimes be stern sentinels, who will insist that we become what we have power to become” – Neal A. Maxwell

I was cleaning out some boxes this weekend and came across this 3×5 card with this quote. I am reminded of my best friend from high school, we still keep in touch. I am reminded of college friends and several others I have met along the way. Men and women that have and will call me when I forget my place. They hold me accountable to our shared standards and the ones that I hold for myself. These friends also continue to build me up and encourage me to improve; to continue the quest of personal improvement.

True, it isn’t something that everyone undertakes and can seem to be a daunting task. I would say that those first few weeks and sometimes months it can seem like it. That is why it is so important to focus on the future and have your goals set and firmly placed in your minds eye.

Jim Rohn says, “That you are the average of the 5 people you spend the most time with.” So, who are your sentinels? Who do you spend time with? What books (audio, paper, or electronic) are you reading? What lectures or workshops are you attending? Who do you follow on YouTube, Facebook, and Twitter? What are the people at work you are spending time with?

These are all things that have an effect or impact on us. These quotes that I write about have been my companions for a very long time … some for over 20 years. They each have had the desired affect on me that I wanted them to have. Pick your friends and influences, be mindful of who you associate with, and above that read non-ficton business and personal development books!

iron wil

The Bells

I heard the bells on Christmas Day

Their old, familiar carols play,
and wild and sweet

The words repeat

Of peace on earth, good-will to men!
And thought how, as the day had come,

The belfries of all Christendom
Had rolled along

The unbroken song

Of peace on earth, good-will to men!
Till ringing, singing on its way,

The world revolved from night to day,
A voice, a chime,

A chant sublime

Of peace on earth, good-will to men!
Then from each black, accursed mouth

The cannon thundered in the South,
And with the sound

The carols drowned

Of peace on earth, good-will to men!
It was as if an earthquake rent

The hearth-stones of a continent,

And made forlorn

The households born

Of peace on earth, good-will to men!
And in despair I bowed my head;

“There is no peace on earth,” I said;
“For hate is strong, And mocks the song

Of peace on earth, good-will to men!”
Then pealed the bells more loud and deep:

“God is not dead, nor doth He sleep;
The Wrong shall fail,

The Right prevail,

With peace on earth, good-will to men.”

by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

I don’t’ know when this song first had an impact on me, it’s meaning has changed over time as I have heard it year after year. In the last few years, it has changed from a song of dispare to a song of great hope and joy! I love to hear it and in my church, the organist really makes it wonderful and uplifting!

In my own life, I have moved through this opinion of the world and mankind in it. I remember a time when I was not interested in the affairs of those around me. It was typical of me to avoid others and not care what happened to those around me. At one point I didn’t even care about my siblings. Over the course of several years, my life took me into hard times and an actual and spiritual all desert.

It took a a few small acts from friends and family to soften my heart. Then I was presented with a choice … the choice between dark and light. The choice between walking the path of faith of the path of rebellion.

I was attending church with a very dear friend of mine, a guy who was and is an example to me. During the sermon, the pastor spoke about making New Year’s Resolutions. I don’t remember most of his sermon, at the very end, he said; “If there is only. one resolution that you make this year, make it to become more like Christ.” It was in that moment a decision had to be make. I was acting like the Israelites and halting between 2 decisions. It took me 3 days to make a decision about what path I would take.

As this year comes to a close, the twentieth year since that day, I have reflected upon the path my life has taken. I have often reflected on the decision I made and all the good things that have come from that day. I am ever so grateful for my wife – Lauren, my 4 boys, the faith that has developed, my education, the experiences, the books, the friends, my home, and job. All the good things that have come into my life, have come from that day.

The relationships with my siblings and parents have improved, my friendships have grown and more friends have come into my life. My gratitude abounds and my desire to share that gratitude and abundance continues to grow the more abundance and blessing flow into my life!

My hope and desire for this New Year is that you will be able to see and experience the blessing and abundance that is there for each and every one of us!

iron wil

Living Forward!

Living-ForwardI have talked about Michael Hyatt and his This Is Your Life Podcast before, I recently picked up his book “Living Forward“. In short, it was all about visualization. Planning your future and living into it. If you have read “7 Habits of Highly Effective People” and “The Secret” or even if you haven’t; you will find value from this book IF you put it’s concepts into practice.

I also should admit that I got the book on Sunday and read it completely on Monday. I have already started working on myself with what I learned.

iron wil

The Lost Fleet

By Source (WP:NFCC#4), Fair use, https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?curid=35981167

By Source (WP:NFCC#4), Fair use, http://bit.ly/1VilHJs

I have been re-reading Jack Campbell‘s The Lost Fleet Series. I really enjoy these books a great deal! The story is compelling and action packed! It became a subject for this blog because one of the things the hero imparts to his fleet are values. Values that got left behind over the course of a century.

When Black Jack is revived from survival sleep a century of warfare has passed, a war that started with an attack on the convoy he was protecting. By a turn of events, Black Jack is made the fleet commander and despite his reluctance … he takes command.

As he leads the fleet, he leads it as if it was 100 years ago. While this causes consternation and frustration amongst some of his captains; while others take him as a living miracle. Black Jack, cancels unofficial orders, like the killing of POWs and civilians. He reminds the sailors and Marines of the Alliance fleet that they are supposed to be living a moral life. They should be treating their enemies according to their laws of war and fleet regulation. Black Jack finds some of those in his command relieved to be serving in accordance to the “old way” of doing things. As the story continues, the fleet reverts back to the moral way of doing things. We see how those we see most often are changed by the association with Black Jack and his leadership.

This resonated strongly this time around, because I have been writing and talking to you guys about values, morals, ethics, … etc. If you don’t know already, I strongly agree with living a life guided by the principles that have withstood the tests of time. Only since the 1960’s has the world really started to question those values and today it is even worse. I know what my life was like before December 1996 and I know what my life has been like since then.

No, my life isn’t perfect (if you could ask my wife) and I am still full of flaws. I make mistakes every day … however, I am still in pursuit of perfection.

iron wil

Life’s a Dance

This song was popular many years ago when I was a teen. I am not sure where I heard it first … which doesn’t matter really. It is however part of my personal playlist, songs that are attached to personal and poignant times.

The lesson that I take from this song, is that life is learned as one goes along. If we are lucky, we might have someone that acts as a mentor and can help us learn and avoid mistakes. Sometimes that person is a parent, teacher, church leader, or neighbor. He could be a coworker or even a boss. The concept is that if we are willing to be humble and teachable, we can find mentors and enlist them to our cause. I have been able to find mentors that have helped me through tough personal times and that have helped me navigate difficult office politics. My college advisor was also a mentor, he constantly encouraged us (there were 3 of us friends) to reach for high goals, he also encouraged us to start a student organization on our campus. While we left because of another professor, the organization we put in place was strong and thriving when I last checked on it.

I have found mentors in good books and holy scripture, while they couldn’t always speak to me and offer me words of encouragement; I was able to learn from them and overcome personal and professional challenges. The dancing is life, which needs to be negotiated like a dance floor. We should be aware of our surroundings and the “lay of the land”; always “reading” those around us and working to make personal improvements. One of the hardest aspects of changing is that those we are closest to may not understand or accept our metamorphosis. In some instances that means we have to let go of that partner and move on. They may still be part of our lives (especially family) and it doesn’t mean that we have to cast them off; it may mean we have to spend less time with them until they can accept the path that we have chosen.

iron wil