View From The Top

If we climb with the intent to bring along others, we will find ourselves in the company of kindred spirits. A worthy endeavor, indeed, for all of us to enjoy the view from the top!

View From The Top

Early in the treacherous course of managing my fledgling business as a twenty-something CPA entrepreneur, the counsel of an older client friend cut short my whining as he said, “Kim, your problem is not that you were born poor. Your problem is that you were born with ambition. Many are born poor and stay that way. You want something else.”

About that same time, the message was being broadcast in stereo. Zig Ziglar pierced my consciousness with, “You can have everything in life you want if you will just help enough other people get what they want.” It was the era of cassette tapes and I was enamored with his stories. They all contained this consistent theme of inherent goodness. Then, I discovered Zig had captured his encouragements into a book titled, See You At The Top.

Thirty years after reading that book, I can still picture the Stairway to Tomorrow in my mind. To give honor where credit is due, I just now purchased the Kindle 25th Anniversary Edition to properly reference one of the greatest motivational books of all time. Those six Steps on the staircase are defined as: Image of Self, Relationship with Others, Goals, Attitude, Work, and Desire.

In Zig’s words:

As you start on your stairway to the top, your first step will be the development of a healthy self-image. The second step is the recognition of the worth and ability of other people, as well as the necessity of effectively living and working with them. The third step is a strong goal orientation. You need a plan to build a house. To build a life, it is even more important to have a plan or goal. The fourth and fifth steps are that you must have the right mental attitude and be willing to work. The sixth step is that you must also have a burning desire to excel.

If possible to summarize a book into one sentence, the Mission and Value might be captured in this statement from Zig Ziglar, “The foundation stones of honesty, character, faith, integrity, love, and loyalty are necessary for a balanced success that includes health, wealth, and happiness.

In other words, the Intangibles matter far more than the Tangibles. In fact, the latter flow from the former. Success is, simply, the abundant harvest enjoyed as a result of planting and nurturing little seeds of goodness, daily.

The day was August 1, 1981, when I stopped at the little Post Office at Lavina, Montana, and received the letter announcing that I had, finally, passed the CPA exam.

The day was August 1, 2011, when I was driving in the desert north of Cheyenne, Wyoming, and received a phone call from a new client, with an old problem.

The tumblers of a lock had not, yet, fallen into place to open the door in his mind to an understanding of what it takes to “Wow!” customers. Sitting there on a wide spot in the road, under an itty bitty shade tree, 5 Steps to Success poured from my heart into the microphone of the Motorola Droid to encourage my friend to Build Something, special.

After thirty years of preaching and practicing the individual Universal Principles, that was a first to capture them all in one place, at the same time, for the benefit of another person. Even more surprising was the realization that each and every Step is important. They must be done in order: Step 1 ~ Establish a Fair Price; Step 2 ~ Ask for Acceptance; Step 3 ~ Plan the Work; Step 4 ~ Deliver on the Promises; and, Step 5 ~ Enjoy the Celebration.  All of them are necessary for a successful journey!

Last week, as I was enjoying a favorite salad at a favorite place for lunch, a Blast from the Past pushed into my life, once again.

He was a young Entrepreneur and I was the young CPA with the ambition problem. Regardless of the semantics, I was a young man on a mission, to serve. My intent was to help others get everything they wanted so I could get what was important to me. (Note to Everyone: many mistakes have been made and lessons learned!)

At one time, the young Entrepreneur and I held a similar worldview: Implement the Intangibles for the benefit of receiving the Tangibles of health, wealth, and happiness. In essence, we each understood the need to take all of the steps on Zig’s Stairway to Tomorrow. After a few years, the Entrepreneur arrived.

He won a national award from the Small Business Administration. Politicians wanted their picture taken with him. In fact, he became a media darling and the poster boy for minority businesses.

Through the years, I always celebrated each of his successes and felt honored to believe that I was an integral part of his team. At the pinnacle of his newly anointed recognition, this old accountant wasn’t good enough to associate with his new crowd of friends. He wanted a real CPA firm worthy of his eminence.

After a few years of that and upon hearing about the misfortune of my divorce, he approached with an idea: I could be his Chief Financial Officer. Because of my funky attitude at the time and (as Zig teases) “Stinkin’ Thinkin’, rumors were rampant that I was considering a departure from the service of Public accounting, for something else.

The “something else” idea and offer was interesting; so, we negotiated mutually beneficial terms for a hired-gun CFO position and I accepted. That lasted about a month and we both knew I needed to go, away. Our worldviews were different and, as a result, the paths of our journeys were diverging. Two can walk together, only, if they agree.

In the course of making pleasantries, the (now) older Entrepreneur sat down at his lunch table a few feet away from mine. Sincerely interested, I asked about him and his Company. He proudly announced the expanding influence of his business activities in Montana and the projects they were doing in multiple other States. Once again, I congratulated him and celebrated his largess.

To return the favor, I shared information about the new location of my office in the heart of the Wall Street of the Rockies. Since that bit of news was received without notice, or response, I went on to mention, “It’s true what they say. The view is better from the top!”

Out of the abundance of the heart, the mouth speaks. This is what I heard in retort, “Well, watch out, because there will be someone trying to knock you off!”

The eyes are the window to the soul. Ours were speaking volumes to the other about the core of our beliefs. After a few moments of this silent conversation, I just smiled, bowed my head, and resumed the enjoyment of my salad.

My belief is that The Top is a spiritual level, physically unobtainable, encapsulated in the exhortation, “You are to be perfect, even as your Father in heaven is perfect.” Great idea. Ain’t gonna happen in this life, folks!

Yet, the joy of Life is discovered within the journey, not the destination. When we actually arrive, friends and family will be digging a hole to plant our physical remains. The ripple from the wake of our deeds and how we touched others will be our legacy.

Some people are willing to scratch and claw their way to the top of the heap, using the dead and injured for their next step. It is true — once they arrive, there will be a bigger, meaner, and tougher gorilla coming along behind to use them as the next step in becoming the new king of the hill.

This difference in worldviews can be fully understood by imagining a finite and very small pointed space at the top of a pyramid and then comparing that to an infinite mountain of opportunity.

At the top of a pyramid is room for one. The rugged face of the mountain before us, which ascends into the clouds of heaven, provides many routes of accession. The Tops visible to us, as mere mortals, are really just plateaus for many to rest before beginning the next climb.

If we will climb with the intent to bring along others, we will find ourselves in the company of kindred spirits. We will enjoy lifting them past the seemingly insurmountable obstacles. When we slip and are dangling in the nothingness of our despair, our climbing friends will be there to shout words of encouragement and pull us back to the face of our Rock.

Indeed, I believe it is a worthy endeavor, for all of us, to enjoy the view from the top!

www.kimfoard.com

Tailhook Episode

When given the opportunity to take a leap of faith, look both ways and then jump head-first into the Playground of life!

Hooks and FlowersEach spring, a pair of love birds prepare for the adventure of a lifetime: Children.

They give new meaning to the expression, “Birds of a feather flock together.”

More than just the two of them, the whole family joins in to celebrate the beginning of new life.

Actually, the bird type is Tree Swallow and a couple of them nest in a birdhouse on a pillar outside my kitchen window. Excitement reigns supreme as Mom and Dad take turns tossing out last year’s old furnishings and, then, gathering in the new grasses and feathers for their love nest.

All is relatively quiet for a couple of weeks as Mom keeps all warm at home and Dad stays busy with a modest fetch-and-carry routine. They seem to enjoy this time of peace and tranquility, abundant conversations, and visits from the rest of the family, who sometimes acknowledge the happiness with quick fly-bys.

All Is WellThen, everything changes! Quiet morphs into Rock-and-Roll. As quickly as Dad can leave the portal of open mouths, Mom is right there on deck with the next tender morsel. Bits and pieces of each meal are scattered around the house and, at the end of the day, Mom and Dad look frazzled.

As several weeks pass, those open mouths waiting patiently for food become voices screaming for attention: More, more, more! Hurry up, already! Yuk, another worm?! Mom and Dad, with the wisdom of experience, just wink at each other. Just a little bit more time and a big world will welcome all that chatter.

Leap of FaithOne morning, as I poured the first cup of coffee, there he was, Junior, standing on the hook of a hanging flower basket preparing for flight. Up and down the hook he wiggled, to find the perfect spot. Then, he stretched his wings several times, as he looked tip to tip. Tail feathers wiggled, he glanced down at the ground. Then, he seemed to focus on a spot in the distance just before he jumped … into nothingness.

He was airborne! Little bit wobbly; yet, he was definitely flying. The maiden voyage was a fairly small circle as he banked to the left to climb a little and then glide back down into cruising altitude. As he approached home, I found myself thinking, “Pull up, you’re coming in a little too fast!” Since, as a dad, I’m accustomed to talking to myself, I knew to keep quiet and just watch.

Sure enough, it was just like the Saturday morning cartoons. As Junior grabbed the hook with his little landing gear, the momentum almost swiveled him all the way around the hook. He struggled to keep his composure and, finally, regained his balance. Quickly, he looked around as if to say, “Boy, I sure hope nobody saw that!”

Then, an aura of accomplishment seemed to envelope his persona. He boldly stepped to the center of that hook, fluffed his wings, puffed out his chest, raised his sights a little higher, and leaped into his next flight.

Are we as brave? Do we learn from our children as much as (or, maybe even more than) we teach them? As we grow older, do we retain a youthful fascination for life?

The Cape

Kathy Mattea

(Guy Clark/Susanna Clark/Jim Janosky)

Eight years old with a floursack cape
Tied all around his neck
He climbed up on the garage
He’s figurin’ what the heck
Well, he screwed his courage up so tight
That the whole thing come unwound
He got a runnin’ start and bless his heart
He’s headed for the ground

Well he’s one of those who knows that life
Is just a leap of faith
Spread your arms and hold your breath
And always trust your cape

Now he’s all grown up with a floursack cape
Tied all around his dreams
And he’s full of spit and vinegar
And he’s bustin’ at the seams
Well, he licked his finger and he checked the wind
It’s gonna be do or die
He wasn’t scared of nothin’ boys
He was pretty sure he could fly

Well he’s one of those who knows that life
Is just a leap of faith
Spread your arms and hold your breath
And always trust your cape

Now he’s old and gray with a floursack cape
Tied all around his head
He’s still jumpin’ off the garage
And will be till he’s dead
All these years the people said
He was actin’ like a kid
He did not know he could not fly
So he did

Well he’s one of those who knows that life
Is just a leap of faith
Spread your arms and hold your breath
And always trust your cape

Yes, he’s one of those who knows that life
Is just a leap of faith
Spread your arms and hold your breath
And always trust your cape

While acknowledging that “discretion is the better part of valor”, when given the opportunity to take a leap of faith: Look both ways and then jump head-first into the Play-ground of life!

www.kimfoard.com

Three Little Words

Men are invigorated by knowing they are Respected. Women are nourished by knowing they are Cherished

Listen to your Heart

When my twenty-four year old daughter takes time to draft an email reply for the sole purpose of teasing me, I know my efforts to tickle the keyboard in hopes of reaching her funny-bone have been successful.

Hey Dad!  Thanks for the note. My first question would have to be: What’s this about me being in a cylinder practicing the “3×5” with a Roman soldier?!  LOL!  …Sorry! Couldn’t resist!!!  haha..!  The vines were kinda swingin’ and swayin’ there for a while, but I’m pretty sure I read between em! 🙂 Thanks, Dad. Love you too!

My daughter has grown up in an era where “equality” has been the mantra.

A quote attributed to William Wrigley, Jr. gives pause to this notion of equality of the sexes: “When two men in business always agree, one of them is unnecessary.”

If we have come so far in our “evolution” that there is no difference between men and women, “Which gender will volunteer to disappear?” Or, “Which gender thinks the other is unnecessary?”

The introduction of the email to my daughter contained this observation from, and about, me:

For some crazy reason, tough guys struggle with expressing their love. Words don’t seem to do it. So, we swing through the jungle to show you how much we care.

As a student of relationship strategies, I’ve discovered many models present theorems based on quadrants. The DISC profile uses descriptors of Dominance, Influence, Steadiness and Conscientious. The KWML profile uses descriptors of King, Warrior, Magician and Lover.

In the course of “doing the parent thing” to my daughter, and her twenty-one year old brother, they have both been exposed to KWML, as an introduction to the notion that we are, all, unique and different – hard-wired at birth into one of the four quadrants. The fun is growing towards the other three and maturing to the point where we are “centered” and balanced.

Since I’ve incorporated the spectrum opposites of logic and emotion into my “Cowboy Poet & Philadelphia Lawyer” shtick, the stage was set for the email communication to my “little girl.” Rather than do the parent thing to her, one more time, the presentation was as if she had joined a conversation that I was having with a friend:

The Poet speaks of the feelings of an ever expanding heart, purpose and fate. The Warrior thinks in terms of logistics.

Remember that sea of umbrella toting singles? If you look closely, you will also see two other groups. There are those waifs, who have no umbrella and wait to be rescued from the consequences of their choices. And, there are those poor souls, who are hermetically sealed inside their bubble of bitterness. If you look even closer, what at first glance appeared to be umbrellas are actually shields held by the Warriors.

They are fully equipped to Serve, Share and Smile (The 3×5). Their gear includes the belt of truth, breastplate of righteousness, shoes ready to pursue peace, shield of faith, helmet of insight, and the light saber of the Spirit. Giving the lead role to Kings, the stage to Magicians, and the sanctuary to Poets, these Warriors can be found on the fringes of the crowd thinking, “You are all safe on my watch.”

This one does it all believing, someday, a woman will choose to fold her umbrella, step close, wrap feminine arms around her man and express from the bottom of her soul, “Oh, my hero!”

My daughter will turn 24 in September. Her moniker is Foard Tuff, a word play on the original Ford Tough displayed at the Dealership where she works. In fact, the local community refers to her as the Ford Girl. Little do they know that she is a one-of-a-kind Foard Girl. She thinks it’s funnier than heck.

Dads have been known to be prejudicial. This one confesses in full. I’m very proud of my daughter. As her high school math teacher gushed in a Parent-Teacher Conference, “Your daughter is the perfect student. She does everything asked of her and does some things just for herself.” From high school and the extra-curricular activities within the community, she worked her way through college and a couple of relationships, enjoyed a bidding war for her talents in December of her senior year of college between the Ford Dealership (where she had worked for the last two years of college) and a Website Design firm (where she had worked the year before that) until she finally said, “Dad, it’s not about the money. I love my job!”

Gifted in all things creative, her umbrella is quite colorful. She holds it with a strong arm and a gracious spirit. Do I want some beast of a fellow to “trample her bloom”? We, both, know the answer to that silly question.

What I believe, and hope, is that someday there will be a gentle bear of a man dressed in his Roman Soldier finest, who is ready to practice the “3×5” with my daughter. At that time she can fold her umbrella and join him in the cylinder of protection he offers.

Should she pretend her umbrella no longer exists, destroy it, or have it locked away to atrophy? Again, the answer is, “No.”; “No, thanks and no way …”; to the definitive, “Heck, no!”

As much as that hero of hers will become a better man with her arms around him, he is only human. There will be times when his arms become tired and, as hard as it is for a guy to do, he will need to ask for her help in shielding them. Other times, the wind of fate will rip his shield to pieces and enemies will slash it to ribbons. While he repairs the damage, it will be my daughter’s umbrella protecting them.

On a daily basis, she will need her umbrella to journey through the day, just as he will need his shield in the daily course of battle. The secret to all of this is that as he drags home the trophy dragon at the end of his day, his life has purpose and that shield has real meaning because of a woman who chooses to fold her umbrella at the end of her day and wrap her arms around him – one more time.

The moral of this story:

Men are invigorated by knowing they are Respected. They need to hear and experience the actions that flow from these three little words,

“Oh, my hero!”

Women are nourished by knowing they are Cherished. They need to hear and experience the actions that flow from these three little words,

“I love you!”

www.kimfoard.com

Greatest of These

When our faith is shaken and our hope is tattered, the road back to both is paved with love.

Faith, Hope, and Love

Some days we’re the windshield; some days we’re the bug. The roller-coaster of life can take its toll on our psyches. As a CPA, for the last thirty years, I’ve enjoyed the opportunity, and privilege, of guiding others toward the destinations of their choice. My focus has always been on that word in the center of Certified Public Accountant; I believe “It’s all about the people.”

The “it” is life itself; abundant, fruitful, rich and vibrant life.

Faith is “The substance of things hoped for; the evidence of things not seen.” Gravity is a prime example for us to consider. Each morning, we awake to find ourselves firmly anchored to the bed; some mornings more so than others. As we roll ourselves out, our feet touch the floor with complete confidence that we can journey successfully through the day.

Hope is “The feeling that what is wanted can be had or that events will turn out for the best.” Many tease that accountants have no feelings. While words can express logic, they are inadequate in the expression of feelings. As children, we all made wishes. Many times, adults tempered our hopes with, “If wishes were horses, we’d all have a ride.”

Love is “The greatest gift; and, is a chosen, purposeful effort, often done in the face of fear, to nurture our own growth and the growth of others.”

Since faith and hope are intangibles outside of our control, let’s focus on what is within our sphere of influence. While we can think Faith, and feel Hope; we can do Love.

Love is patient, Love is kind, Rejoices with the truth, Always protects, Always trusts, Always hopes, Always perseveres.

Question: Can we be patient, kind, happy, truthful, protective, trusting, hopeful and perseverant? Answer: Yes. Even beyond the simple affirmative, we can do that for ourselves, if all alone; and, for others, when given the opportunity. The secret is in the four-letter word: give.

When our faith is shaken and our hope is tattered, the road back to both is paved with love. We can begin immediately to offer it to ourselves, first; and, then, to others. As we do, we will find that love “Always hopes” and through that discovery, our hope is restored. Then, because of that hope, we find the substance of faith making it, all, possible!

Since perfect love casts out fear, we can boldly proclaim, “Now, these three remain: faith, hope and love; the greatest of these is Love.”

www.kimfoard.com