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

How I got turned onto Great Quotes

It was 1988 and I was struggling with the turmoil in my family and life. My mom, when she noticed that something was wrong, would pull us aside and make us talk to her. You may laugh, you don’t know my mom. That morning she chased me around the house locking doors to corner me in the laundry room adjacent to the kitchen in our home on Ft. Meade. I remember trying to wrestle with her so that I could get past her and go to school. I loved going to school because I love learning! I think that was the I could read whatever scientific magazine Ms. Ware had in the classroom. I was just starting the battle with depression that would be part of early teen years. It was mom cornering me and getting me to look in on myself that was the beginning of my long-term growth.

I couldn’t tell you everything that was said. What I remember is this: Your father and I aren’t perfect and we have our flaws; but that doesn’t mean that you have to learn those and be the same kind of person that we are. You should look for others with the character, talent, and skills that you want and then learn from them. Model their behavior and adopt those items you want and then move on to the next person and character you want to develop.

It still took me several years to actually understand and put into practice what she was trying to tell me. Once I figured that out, it changed my life. I started collecting quotes that embodied the characteristic, skill, or ability that I wanted.

Years later, I would receive the harshest criticism and highest praise from her and it was all in one sentence. She said, “Not even Superman can keep your standards!” Initially, I was proud and arrogant about it. Then I realized that, within a few moments, that it was meant as a criticism over my choices and standards. She said it in complete frustration over something I was not willing to budge on. I can’t say anymore, how I felt about that, today I keep it as a reminder that I am different from others and I have to be more understanding. I don’t have to lower my own standards or expectations; I need to remember that I am harder on myself and expect more of myself than anyone else in my circles. My wife has helped me to realize that I needed to work on some additional areas of my life. She also has to continually remind me that I am not like others and should not expect them to be or think like me.

The starting point for my personal development came in that little laundry room trapped between a locked door and a mother that loves me enough to fight with me to get what she wanted. Mom’s love gave me the guidance to launched my life with confidence and abilities that I would never have gained if not for her advice.

I started with a quote by John Dillinger, “Never let them make you crawl.” I would add up about 100 quotes that would shape and mold my heart, mind, and will! I posted these quotes on my wall through my teen years and then by the time I was in college they took up a significant portion of my bedroom wall. I wrote them all out by hand on 3×5 cards. I got to the point that I could just touch a card and know what was on it. On certain days, some of them would stand out and I would read them and think about those throughout the day. I didn’t become a new person overnight; I spent years memorizing quotes and thinking about them so I could internalize them. I know that this process is slower for some and faster for others. It depends on your own dedication and focus. Taking the time to reflect or meditate allow us to apply these quotes to ourselves and make the character improvements needed to grow and become the best version or ourselves. We are rewriting our own software when we internalize inspiring and uplifting material; yeah, I don’t just mean these quotes!

iron wil


Well, for starters, there are only 3 Superman movies for me. Superman: The Movie, Superman II, and Man of Steel. Now, that I got that out of the way, let’s get down to business.

Superman was created by 2 Jewish kids in Cleveland in 1933. It wasn’t until 1938 that he was published in Action Comics, from there his popularity and followers grew. I was introduced to Superman via Superman: The Movie … at least that is the first recollection of Superman in my life. I became a comic book reader in the early 90’s when I started reading Iron Man after my dad had finished with it. From there I picked up a lot of different comic books and really finding the characters that resonated with me. Superman was one of those heroes. His impeccable character and clean language became a roll model for me; not that I was great at it. I mean really what kid can be like Superman? However, one standard that he set for himself became ingrained in me. The importance of high standards; my mother, in frustration, told me once that my standards were so high Superman couldn’t keep them. I was of course proud of myself … and then I realized that my mistake was expecting everyone else to have the same standards. It caused me some pain and frustration until I learned to not push my standards on others. They are mine and I own them 100%.

Superman really did set a high standard for superheroes and for those who would live after his creation. His example of truth, justice, and the American way influenced generations. These ideals still stir my heart and cause me to be a little nostalgic. Now, because of Superman’s high standards, I posit those superheroes that followed in the comic books also came with high standards. They all had different powers and abilities; however, they were all law abiding citizens.

One of my favorite things about Superman, is his restraint. This can be seen most recently in Man of Steel; as the movie wraps Zod and Superman are fighting. They end up in a metro or train station underground. Zod tells Superman,”If you love these people so much you can morn for them”. then Zod fires up his heat vision and starts tracking the family. Superman pleaded with him to stop and of course he doesn’t. Superman then tells him to stop and Zod responds, “never”. Superman then closes his eyes and makes a decision. he breaks Zod’s neck and the cries out in anguish for he has killed the only other living Kryptonian. Throughout his career as a superhero, Superman has always tried to hold of on killing his enemies. He has held it as the tactic of last resort because of his moral grounding. Lex Luther calls him the Big Blue Boy Scout because of the traits and values that Superman holds and displays. I will admit that this is one of my favorite monikers for him by one of his enemies.

Superman is the greatest superhero of all time and if you are looking for a storyline that really features this, you should check out Kingdom Come.

My life has been influenced by the comics that I read and grew to love. They taught me that sometimes the pain is worth it. They taught me to never give up. They also taught me that my parents had started me on a path to being a good person. I made mistakes and when I decided to start living a christian life, I needed their inspiration and stories to help me have the courage to do what was right and change myself. Today my kids are learning about superheroes and they have started to learn how wonderful these stories can me. They also are held to high standards because I learned that we have to have something to reach for. I know that I expect more from them than they can consistently deliver. I have been rewarded with their successes. More importantly they are reaping the rewards of reaching for goals that are set just a little out of their reach. I am proud of them and one day, they will know their own success and be better men for it.

 iron wil