Free Advice

A price is paid for everything. To choose This, we forego That. Every thought and every action involves some measure of time, or money.

FreeThrough the years, I’ve given lots of free advice. I’m beginning to realize that’s been a very bad character trait.

Advice — the wise don’t need it and the fools won’t heed it.

Free — the perception of something worth nothing.

So, this week, when I said “No, thanks,” to an opportunity of continuing in my tradition of offering free advice, the response was enlightening. Well, I was enlightened. The person making the request was shocked. They were shocked that I would, could, should, and did say, “No.”

Engaging in a mutually beneficial relationship (two-way street of offering and receiving) is different from demanding a response (one-way street of taking).

We get what we allow. For years, my immaturity was assuaged by giving free advice. The act of giving appeared noble and it made me feel like a hero. After all, Trusted Business Advisor, at one time, was the moniker of the CPA profession.

There is a very fine line, though, between an act of commerce and codependency. Commerce recognizes “Yes and No” as the two sides of the same coin. Codependency is defined as doing for others what they could, should, and would do for themselves, if we simply said “No.”

In fact, this most recent request for free advice was related to purely business matters. The resources for the answers to this new series of questions had already been given in response to an earlier request.

While my earlier gift of free advice was taken with no expression of appreciation, my offer to provide Advisory Services for a fee was berated and ignored.

Never give Advice — The wise don’t need it and the fools won’t heed it.

The individual asking for advice has every right to express their choice to do nothing by saying, “No, thanks.” Freely offered and freely rejected. That’s the way commerce works. Change nothing — Nothing changes.

However, a price is paid for everything. To choose This, we forego That. Every thought and every action involves some measure of time or money. Asking anything of anybody involves either an act of commerce (exchange of money) or sacrifice (offering of time).

Regardless of the relationship, giving respect to the person responding to our request is a valuable courtesy and currency.

Asking is more than OK — It is our responsibility to ASK.

The issue is — There is a price to be paid. Are we willing to participate in the payment of the price (commerce), or do we expect something for nothing (sacrifice)?

As for me, I’ll continue to engage in commerce and sacrifice.

I will choose, though, which it is.

www.kimfoard.com

Lead Dog

Those of humble beginnings know that leadership is a fiduciary responsibility to bring out the best in others.

Lead DogWhy do the greatest leaders come from the humblest of beginnings? Why do they encourage others to follow them, even as they are quick to bend a knee in service to everyone else? Why is their end better than their beginning?

Unless you’re lead dog, the view never changes.

The arrogant read that simple phrase with the belief that leadership is a title bestowed. Those of humble beginnings know that leadership is a fiduciary responsibility to bring out the best in others. It is impossible to lead without first following the lead of others greater.

Leadership is a progression through levels of emotion.

At the level of peers, envy and jealously run rampant. At levels above are those who have either become comfortable and lazy, or those who have reached a level of incompetency. At levels below are those with imaginations bigger than their ability and willingness to grow into larger responsibilities.

Up, down, and sideways there is resistance to leadership.

If leadership was easy, everyone would be doing it. No pain, no gain. Resistance is, always, noisy; the detractors have plenty to say. Yet; the majority in rank above are silently encouraging, “You can do it.” Below are those desperately clinging to hope and thinking, “Please, show me the way.”

There is a reason for every season.

Strips of cloth and a barn manger is a humble beginning for The One who is King of Kings. In the same Book announcing His arrival is the story of His life and departure.

These are the experiences of leadership.

He gave them power and authority.
He promised them rejection.
He offered them a relationship.
He settled arguments among them.
He encouraged them to follow.

Why?

He walks ahead of them.
They follow him because they know his voice.
His purpose is to give them a rich and satisfying life.
He sacrifices his life for a higher purpose.
A relationship connects Father and Son.
Giving is the way to receive.
Life is a voluntary offering.

Unless you’re lead dog, in the harness of the Master, the view never changes.

www.kimfoard.com

Tough Love

Love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you.

Ribbon of LoveIn this season of Peace on Earth and Goodwill to All, why is that so hard to find?

Recently, this observation registered on my consciousness:
When someone loves you,
They don’t have to say it;
You can tell by the way they treat you.

Actions speak louder than words.

Accepting that LOVE is an action verb, what exactly are we to be doing?

Gifts galore with no end in sight,
How mighty we’ve become
To think affection we can buy.

Harm is caused to those we slight,
Because they simply desire a welcome,
A pleasant greeting and a “Hi!”

Stuff is an accumulation of an ending never.
Kindness is an opportunity of a beginning forever.

Love is patient. Love is kind. Love rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, and always perseveres.

I can read that paragraph over and over, again and again. What I see is: all action — and, no stuff.

At this time of year, many are adamant in declaring, “Christ is the reason for the season.”

OK. Let’s take a look at what He has to say.

So if you are presenting a sacrifice at the altar in the Temple and you suddenly remember that someone has something against you, leave your sacrifice there at the altar. Go and be reconciled to that person. Then come and offer your sacrifice to God.

Again, what I see is: the action to reconcile — then, the stuff of sacrifice.

For the pack-rats among us, there is a subtlety worthy of note. The stuff is temporarily ours — right up to the moment, we offer it in sacrifice.

For the recipients (who might be the individuals of our family and friends — or, our heavenly Father) of these sacrificial gifts, what is more important: action, or stuff?

The Lord is more pleased when we do what is right and just than when we offer him sacrifices.

Oh, how the chorus continues: Thank you for the stuff. Please, do what is right.

For the modernists among us, there is a Right and Wrong. In fact, there are very few Maybes. Yes and No are as definitive as Left and Right.

This is Right.

You have heard that it was said, “You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.” But I say to you, love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you, that you may be children of your Father in heaven.

Now, that’s a definition of Tough Love.

www.kimfoard.com

Sacrifice

One word, sacrifice, is the essence of ‘Giving to Receive’. It is an individual choice executed by the internal will of that person for the benefit of others.

Giving and ReceivingThe answer to the human condition, literally, leaped from the screen into my consciousness. Last week, a Fellow vented his frustration at me by announcing, “I never sacrifice, even for friends because: a) if they are true friends they would not want me to sacrifice, or b) I would be willing to do it and therefore was not a sacrifice.”

First, let me share the rest of the story. As you read through the conversation thread, below — which was the catalyst for the Fellow’s remark — remember to always listen carefully to what people say and you can, vividly, see into the core of who they are.

The topic of discussion — on this professional forum for the exchange of ideas — was about which word is best: Customer, or Client.

(Kim Foard) Much more than a matter of semantics and the focus on our ‘professional‘ command of the English language, the concept is to build a relationship and produce positive results. From experience, I have found some (of those for whom I work) like the word Client, others like the word Customer — and, everyone (who pays me) loves to believe they are my Friend. Let’s raise the bar and think of those we serve as Friends.

(Fellow) Friendship can happen, but the vast majority are business relationships and not friendship, IMHO.

(Kim Foard) One thing I have noticed — My ‘enemies’ respect me. They don’t do business with me as Customer, Client, or any other label.

(Fellow) True, but being friendly is not the same as being a friend.

(Kim Foard) Again, it’s a matter of semantics. Included in my definition are these parameters: “Friends deserve the best in everything. No sacrifice is too big — or, task too small — when friendship is being nurtured.”

(Fellow) I never sacrifice, even for friends because a) if they are true friends they would not want me to sacrifice, or b) I would be willing to do it and therefore was not a sacrifice.

(Kim Foard) You’re right. It’s a spectrum of thought. You and I have clearly identified the ‘Pots of Gold‘ on each side. The real secret is to be passionate about our beliefs — because, we will attract those of like mind.

In my humble opinion (IMHO), he is ‘right’, only, in the context of being entitled to his opinion. What is your belief? As you can see, the conversation morphed from a matter of semantics into one of foundational issues at the core of any relationship. The label choice between Customer vs. Client pales into insignificance, when measured against the word: Sacrifice.

Is sacrifice important? Is it old-fashioned? Is it taken, or given? What do you believe?

Let’s set the stage for our thoughts by considering two simple Proverbs:

When people’s lives please the Lord, even their enemies are at peace with them.

Calloused (social) climbers betray their very own friends — they’d stab their own grandmothers in the back.

Thoughts of the vernacular, which might come to our minds “With friends like those who needs enemies.” — and, “The enemy of my enemy is my friend.”

Yet, we are encouraged to move our thoughts, words, deeds and character to a higher level.

You’re familiar with the old written law, ‘Love your friend,’ and its unwritten companion, ‘Hate your enemy.’ I’m challenging that. I’m telling you to love your enemies. Let them bring out the best in you, not the worst. When someone gives you a hard time, respond with the energies of prayer, for then you are working out of your true selves, your God-created selves. This is what God does. He gives his best — the sun to warm and the rain to nourish — to everyone, regardless of the good and bad, the nice and nasty. If all you do is love the lovable, do you expect a bonus? Anybody can do that. If you simply say hello to those who greet you, do you expect a medal? Any run-of-the-mill sinner does that.

In a word, what I’m saying is, Grow up. You’re kingdom subjects. Now live like it. Live out your God-created identity. Live generously and graciously toward others, the way God lives toward you.

Right about now is when we, all, start squirming and looking for the semantic Exit. With thoughts running wild — great idea, cute concept, life changing — we accept the realization that Knowing and Doing are very different. Yet, we remind ourselves of life’s Universal Principles and move forward through the pain. We remember we’ve been taught the battle cry: Hard is easy — Easy is hard.

And so, dear brothers and sisters, I plead with you to give your bodies to God because of all he has done for you. Let them be a living and holy sacrifice—the kind he will find acceptable. This is truly the way to worship him. Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world — but, let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect.

Because of the privilege and authority God has given me, I give each of you this warning — Don’t think you are better than you really are. Be honest in your evaluation of yourselves, measuring yourselves by the faith God has given us.

The idea that one person can define what sacrifice is to another individual reeks of arrogance and ignorance.

When we ask for anything from another person (as simple as a glass of water — or, as complex as the price for an exchange of goods and services), they make a choice between ‘Yes‘ and ‘No‘. If the request is beyond a boundary of theirs, they will choose: No. If the request is within their will to deliver, they will choose: Yes.

To fulfill our request, another individual might offer a sacrifice.

What is a sacrifice?

Forfeiture of something highly valued for the sake of one considered to have a greater value or claim.

To forfeit (one thing) for another thing considered to be of greater value.

Surrender of something of value as a means of gaining something more desirable or of preventing some evil.

Something of value given away or up in order to gain something more important or to benefit another person.

One word — sacrifice — is the essence of ‘Giving to Receive‘. It is an individual choice executed by the internal will of that person. No managing by committee. No having it all. No maybe in approach. Sacrifice is a committed decision to offer. What another person does with the offering is their choice.

In my closing remarks — in the conversation with the Fellow above — the ‘Pots of Gold‘ on either side of the rainbow are Time and Money. In business, the focus is generally on Money — and, the opportunities it can buy. Of the two, Time is more precious — because, of the priceless relationships it can build.

When my Friends offer money in exchange for the value of my time — plain and simple — they are making a sacrifice. From the blood, sweat, and tears of their effort, they produce value in the marketplace. The money earned — through the sacrifice of their time — has great value to them. They exchange it for something perceived to be of greater value. I acknowledge and appreciate their sacrifice.

As their Friend, I believe in — Going far beyond the call of duty, Doing more than others expect, Striving after and maintaining the highest standards, Looking after the smallest detail, and Traveling the extra mile. Sacrifice means giving my best — in everything and every way.

Beyond the realm of business, the gift of Time is a daily sacrifice we all make. The question becomes — “At which altar do we place it?”

On the altar of Narcissism, humility is sacrificed by those who believe they are the center of the universe.

On the altar of Friendship, pride is sacrificed by those who believe they are, simply, conduits of goodness for the benefit of others.

“There is no greater love than to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.”

www.kimfoard.com

All Gave Some

Whether a shoot-’em-up Western, or the real-life sagas, I’ve noticed that the Good Guys and Gals always win. Each moment, of every day, they win.

Silverado HeroesSome Gave All

As we pause to consider those who serve, the gray of semantics bends a knee, of deference, to the black and white of right and wrong. We will honor those who make the ultimate sacrifice while wearing a uniform — and those who offer themselves as a living sacrifice, to make this world a better place.

In war and peace, there are heroes recognized for their bravery with medals of metal — and, there are those unsung heroes who exhibit their mettle, by always doing the right thing.

Each family has its traditions. With the passage of a quarter century, the movie Silverado is one of ours. The movie was released the summer of 1985, the birth year of my daughter, Lindsey. Superficially, it can be enjoyed as a shoot-’em-up Western. Its deeper themes are what make it a classic.

From the script are these three memorable quotes:

(Stella): The world is what you make of it, friend. If it doesn’t fit, you make alterations.

(Paden): I always figure you might as well approach life like everybody’s your friend or nobody is — don’t make much difference.

(Stella): From what I’ve seen, Paden doesn’t seem to care about money.
(Cobb): Ha! Paden doesn’t seem to care about anything — except, he does. You just can never tell what it’s going to be.

Have you ever noticed how heroes, real and fictional, are always so calm, cool, and collected? Right up to the moment of action. At that instant, all of the thought, planning, training, practice, and preparation is executed in a burst of laser-like focus. There is absolutely no ‘should we – shouldn’t we’ or ‘will we win – will we lose’ to their efforts. Our heroes, simply, do what is right.

Agreed, there are two moral issues at work: Character and Ethics.

Heroes do care, a lot. They care about their core and all of those whom they touch. They believe life is best experienced from the Inside, Out. Heroes can be recognized by what they are: Patient, Kind, Truthful, Protective, Trustworthy, Hopeful, and Perseverant. Those seven qualities are inherent in the Love they offer to all.

Regardless of the religion, or belief system, there is always a stated set of principles. In fact, the principles have existed long before anyone thought to write them down. The short version of all the tomes is this: Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. And the second is like it: Love your neighbor as yourself.

Now, we come to the question for all of us, “Who, or what, is our God?”

For the judgmental types among us, I can boldly assure you that the answer to that question will be different for each of us. Even for those sitting in a church pew, your view of God is different from those on each side of you.

Silverado Risk All

The secret to answering the question, though, is to realize that our choice is singular. There can only be One, whom we serve.

At some point in all of our lives, we will bend, if not break, that rule. We will want to have our cake and to eat it, too. We will burn the candle at both ends. We will high-center on the fork-in-the-road.

Ultimately, we will learn: No one can serve two masters. For you will hate one and love the other; you will be devoted to one and despise the other.

Once we decide to risk all to make things right, then, Teddy Roosevelt eloquently describes the effort — To Do.

Man in the Arena

“It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs and comes up short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but, who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end, the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.”

Citizenship in a Republic
Speech at the Sorbonne
Paris, France
April 23, 1910 (100 years, ago)

The three hyperlinks above are to the text of the full speech. Depending on your reading preference, the first is to the original website, the second is a PDF conversion of that site, and the third is a PDF document — printed in a larger font. Click on the hyperlinks, only if you want to be a better Citizen and of greater service to others. In the time of a thirty minute Sitcom, you can read a fitting tribute to great Citizens of the past, present, and future.

One of my heroes was named after the fellow who provided a home for my grandfather — who, at nine years of age, was already practicing the core principles of the Man in the Arena. My grandfather ran away from home to escape a wicked step-mother. James Burnett, senior, (J. M. Burnett) accepted Charles Arthur Foard, as one of his sons. My grandfather honored him by naming my dad, James Burnett Foard.

Jim Foard expressed his love for life by practicing the words credited to Jim Burnett, “I am bound to live up to the light I have. I must stand with anyone who stands right, stand with him while he is right and part with him when he goes wrong.”

Once again, through the lives of our heroes, the choice becomes obvious. Within our control is the choice of Right, or Wrong. Heroes, by word and deed, provide an example for us to follow — while, we are in their tutelage. In time, the choice will be ours, alone — to make, live, and share with others.

Medal of Honor is the highest military decoration awarded by the United States government. It is bestowed on members of the United States armed forces who distinguish themselves — conspicuously by gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of life, above and beyond the call of duty, while engaged in an action against an enemy of the United States. It is made of Gold.

The poster images, above, of the movie Silverado contain these expressions of inspiration:

Get ready for the ride of your life. Four strangers became friends. Four friends became heroes. On the road to… Silverado.

A dangerous place, in a lawless time… ‘Til four friends risked all to make things right. Ride with them to the adventure of your life!

For all of us, there is a beginning and an end. A tombstone reflects that. It is impossible to change our beginning. At any moment, though, we can write a new ending — to the movie of our life. In the same way that the dash on the marker of those who have fallen is of finite length, so is our time.

While uncertain of the length of our race, we can choose our Exit Strategy. Whether a shoot-’em-up Western, or the real life sagas, I’ve noticed that the Good Guys & Gals always win. Each moment, of every day, they win.

Sometimes their accomplishments are judged to be failures by the critics. Yet, our heroes take the lessons learned into the next battle. When the entire world acknowledges their success, our heroes defer the honor to all of those who were participants in the victory. They rest in the assurance that we have happy memories and will remember them, forever.

While gold medals are reserved to honor those who have sacrificed their life, let’s consider the silver to be a worthy recognition for the living — a reminder to present ourselves as a living sacrifice for the benefit of others. All will give some — and, some will give all.

Within the name is our mantra: Silver-A-Do. Let’s ride!

Silverado Warriors

www.kimfoard.com