GET ME TO THE TOP, AND FAST!

IMG_0946Have you ever tried to rush out of the grocery store when the lines were long? I have and rarely am I successful. My strategy is often to find the shortest line or fastest clerk, jumping from lane to lane. The sad truth I always discover is that if I had simply stayed in the original line I was in I would have been long gone. But instead, because I was impatient I ended up being there longer.

 

The frustration can build when we try to beat the masses in the supermarket, but it is even more frustrating when we try to beat everyone else in our careers by looking for the shortest route there.

 

Trying to find the short line to the top comes in many shapes, forms and fashions, but it is always obvious. Job hopping, being critical or putting down others in an effort to elevate self, undermining, title chasing, sucking up, back-stabbing along with other efforts to get through the checkout faster are signs of one looking for a shortcut up.

 

Through my career I have seen those who are jockeying their way to the top yet rarely have I witnessed a successful maneuver. Most times those who try to manipulate or circumvent the process end up stuck. Much like the Tortoise and the Hare, they end up losing the race. Those who have managed to gain some ground end up losing what was gained at some point, because they missed growth opportunities cutting corners along the way.

 

CHARISMA MIGHT TAKE YOU TO A HIGHER PLACE BUT ITS CHARACTER THAT DETERMINES HOW LONG YOU STAY

 

The men and women I have respected and looked up to most professionally made it because of hard work and doing their best where they were at the time. Opportunity comes to those who are content in making a difference where life has them in the moment. There is a difference in being aware and open to opportunities than it is chasing them. Some people jump at perceived opportunities like a dog trying to catch gnats running around snipping and barking at everything flying around.

 

Work hard, grow and invest in others. That is the formula for success. If you do this it doesn’t matter who passes you for the promotion or who lands the high paying job. The reason is simple, when we focus on these three elements we are getting outside our self. On the flip side, when we are jockeying, manipulating, politicking and other wise looking for the quickest way to the top, we are inward focused. Anytime our focus becomes selfish disappointment and frustration is always there tagging along.

 

The quickest way to the top is right in front of you and I each day. Working hard to be the best we can be, growing as individuals to be better men & women and finally investing our lives into the lives of others.

 

What few understand until much later in life is that success, life at the top, isn’t position. It’s not a title nor is a salary range. Success is knowing at the end of the day you made a difference in someone else’s life. When we understand that truth we will not want to take shortcuts. No longer will we keep running to and fro chasing the shortest line because it is then that our desire will be to savor every relationship making an impact each step of the way changing lives. Success.

THE POWER OF QUESTIONS

In a marriage class many years ago we were taught as men that when the wife comes with a problem they don’t necessarily want you to solve it. All the she is often looking for is a listening ear and an understanding heart.

That truth is applicable in marriage and it also has merit in the workplace.

One of the first and hardest things I learned through my year of coaching certification at UTD was to ask questions and not tell people what they needed to do. I have grown to believe that asking questions is an art. Not only is it an art it also takes patience.

When someone has encountered a problem or looking for a better way asking questions rather than giving answers is the best avenue to take. Even if you feel the answer is obvious, always ask questions. Here are a few reasons why.

QUESTIONS BREAK DEPENDENCY

When we solve the problems of others we are building dependency. The likelihood of them coming back for more answers instead of trying to solve problems themselves increases. When questions are posed it allows the person to think and become more confident in their own ability to find resolve with daily challenges.

Our goal should be to grow a force of problem solvers. We want people who use their brains, not puppets that are danced around on strings. Engage employees in thought-provoking conversations with questions and you’ll have a team that embraces change and welcome challenges.

QUESTIONS EMPOWERS OTHERS

A workforce empowered to make decisions is a workforce that drives a company to success. When leaders ask employees their ideas, insights and depend on them for answers to problems a sense of ownership is created. When employees have ownership they are no longer employees but shift to becoming partners.

QUESTIONS BUILD SUSTAINMENT

Which is more likely to stick: Being told what to do or realizing yourself what should be done and doing it? When a person creates his or her own solutions the odds greatly improve that the improvement will stick around. When someone jumps in to resolve a problem for someone there is a good chance the problem isn’t completely understood; without question no one understands the problem better than the one who has to live with it on s daily basis. Ask thought-provoking questions but allow the person with the problem to discover the way forward and the problem won’t be a problem.

QUESTIONS IMPROVE MORALE

 Trust Thrust Teams To The Terrific!

 When we ask questions a trust is being communicated. When trust is established a connection is made; there is a sense of family. Better stated, there is a feeling of belonging. When we belong, are accepted and respected then there is an inward joy. A feeling of purpose is felt that results in positiveness. Trust, joy, and purpose drives performance. Performance is what takes a winning team across the finish line.

Asking questions does indeed take longer and more patience, but the return on investment is worth it. Start adding questions to your daily work. Make a goal to ask at least five questions a day. When you are told about a problem, pause tot hint how you might ask a question instead of resolving the problem.

The more you ask, the more you learn. Embrace question and not only will your team grow, but you will as well.

 

IS THAT REAL PIRATE BOOTY?

IMG_1835I have been a Pirates of the Caribbean fan since Hollywood rolled out the first one. Captain Jack is brilliantly played by Johnny Depp in each series. One thing that I have noted is there are many leadership and life lessons intertwined throughout the movies if you pay careful attention.

One quote, when Captain Jack is accused of being dishonest, That I find interesting is,

“I’m dishonest, and a dishonest man you can always trust to be dishonest. Honestly, it’s the honest ones you want to watch out for, because you can never predict when they’re going to do something incredibly stupid.” – Jack Sparrow 

Can you capture the wisdom in this! Let me change the words around to help.

 

“I’m flawed, and a flawed man can always be expected to make mistakes.” Honestly, it’s the perfect, those who portray themselves as having no flaws you have to watch, for you can not trust them, it won’t be long before they do something incredibly selfish.”

 

Transparent people are real people. Those who admit their downfalls, take responsibility for their actions and use where they have gone off track as lessons to help others avoid the pain of making the same mistakes are the ones who can be trusted.

The fact is we are all messed up in some way. If our baggage was opened up in the street for all to see we would be embarrassed and overcome with humiliation. No matter how much some people want the world around them to think their family, career, and/or life are without flaws, it’s simply not true. And it is those who live that lie that you and I should always be weary of.

We should not go around airing all of our dirty laundry, but we also should not act like we don’t have any dirty clothes. As Captain Jack says, that is incredibly stupid. That kind of behavior is a self-centered that one feels he or she has to portray a life of flawlessness. It is pride that says we keep wrongs, mistakes, weaknesses and disappointments a secret pretending they do not exist.

I have coached clients whose lives are entangled in trying to portray an image that is not achievable. They are keeping the fact they are in debt, can’t make the bills, are stressed in their careers and overall unhappy all because they are trying to keep up an image that is not real. Their lives are like a drunk squirrel caught in a clothes dryer. Every time they try to get their footing they are turned and flipped in every direction as the heat of a false life overcomes each breath more and more each day.

Truth is freeing, lies take hostages. Test it out. Think of something you have been hiding; trying to keep others from knowing. Maybe it’s a bill you can’t pay. Perhaps you drive a car you can’t afford. Is there a relationship that’s gone bad but you are pretending it’s all good? Maybe something at work is beyond your current skill set but you’ve been too prideful to ask for help. Whatever it is that comes to mind, bring it into the light with someone you trust. I guarantee you the outcome isn’t what you have feared. In fact I will bet a Pirates booty that you’ll feel like a weight has been lifted off your life.

We are all flawed so don’t do something incredibly stupid; be smart and let the riches of truth bless your life.

Hate My Job!

IMG_0305

Job satisfaction is something everyone desires, yet few take time to realize that satisfaction is often a matter of self-satisfaction.

Are we happy with ourselves? Am I in the right field? Am I making a difference? Do my skills match what’s expected? Does the vision of the company match the passion of my heart? What about this job (person) is getting at me? These are all questions we should ask when our frustrations rise.

Blame is easy. It’s easier to complain about the company or leadership for our dissatisfaction than it is to take responsibility for our own choices. No one forces anyone to work for a company. It’s our choice whether each day is a day of appreciation that someone thinks enough of us to pay us a paycheck or to complain about the way things are done yet happily take the money they give us. Attitude is ones own responsibility and choice.

Choice. We all have it. We should either be appreciative or go find a career that pleases our soul. But for the benefit of everyone we work with day in and day out, be a desirable asset. Each day our focus should be to be a positive force in other people’s lives. Encourage, embrace and be thankful.

Above all else remember to look ahead…ones perspective changes when they are standing in the unemployment line hoping to get less than a few percent of what was once made. Appreciation brings a whole new definition at that point which is often summed up in one word. Regret. The things that once got under the skin don’t seem so bad. It’s at this point that the realization that there was actually more good than bad comes to light, but we allowed the negative to rule our mind.

What consumes your mind each day? Do you recognize what your joys are or have you let the cancer of negativity slip in? Take inventory of your conversations and purge out those that don’t reflect appreciation. Recognize the positives of each day and they will multiply while the little annoyances will diminish to a point of not even being noticed. Make every day a great day!

ROCKY ROADS

IMG_1668“I will lead the blind by ways they have not known, along unfamiliar paths I will guide them; I will turn the darkness into light before them and make the rough places smooth. These are the things I will do; I will not forsake them.” Is 42:16

Careers are not always an easy path. We are asked to do things we have not done; go places we have never been; achieve what’s has never been achieved and to go against those who seek to keep us from all that we aspire to do. One sign of weakness and the boss doubt your abilities while adversaries take every opportunity to use it for your destruction. A simple oversight or mistake can be turned into a mountain of loose boulders shifting beneath the feet of each step threatening to crush you beneath a rolling avalanche.

 

When we can’t see what is ahead, are not sure how to approach a new project or are attacked by forces beyond our control we as believers can find comfort in that our destiny has a guide who will help navigate and clear obstacles, some of which we never see.

 

When faced with challenges, whether they are things that exceed your current capabilities/experience or that are beyond your control, one can breathe a sigh of relief in that God has made us a promise to guide and smooth our path of obstacles and debris.

 

When things at work get rough, when you have no idea how you are going to achieve the task that is set before you, when that person who wants to taint your reputation and undermine your achievements comes along, have peace that God is in control. He sees what is ahead and has already fought the battle. All we have to do is trust and watch Him work in our lives.

what challenges do you face that need to be handed over to Him?

 

VICTORIES FROM A BAD HEART

HEARTToday marks two years since the day my world was rocked with a full-blown heart attack. Healthy, exercising and eating right did not matter when coming face to face with heredity. Literally seconds from death as skilled physicians worked diligently to get stints in place changed my life forever.

There are several lessons I have taken away from that day. It is not just the experience itself either as I am continually reflecting I discover something new that enlightens me on who I am or how I have been strategically placed in the world to make a difference. Our encounters, experiences, people we meet, challenges, victories and life in general are all for a reason. They prepare us for greater things ahead. The difference is how we respond to what occurs in our life.

Tragic events like mine are not meant for bad, they just happen. If we respond properly they can be eye-openers; life changers. We can be strengthened through adversity. When we are knocked down we have a choice. Either we stay and lay or we fight and reignite.

Since January 17, 2015 I have made a lot of changes as my focus in life shifted. Not all the changes came at once; it is a journey. I learn something or have a new revelation, and I implement it into my life. It is like going through mini-discoveries as I continue to learn about myself and apply new principles and concepts. Some changes come easier than others, but none the less it is important to continue moving forward.

If I were to pass along one concept to share that continues to be a theme in my life, and there are several, it would be to find out what is important to you and make it a priority. Today we have a lot pulling and tugging at us from all sides. Text, emails, media, kids, wife, husband, boss, bills, and the list goes on and on. Unfortunately most will get to the end of their journey only to discover they were never in charge and instead were led here and there without ever discovering their God-given purpose in life. Defining that purpose is critical and then making it center stage of everything else is where life gets traction. Don’t try to fit what you are passionate about around everything else. Take charge of your life; you only have one and it is yours to lead.

What is your purpose? Have you asked yourself that question?

Take out a pen and some paper. Start writing down what comes to mind and then prioritize. After you have done so, look at your calendar. See if your activities embrace your priorities. If not, it is time to delete some things out so you can make room for what truly matters in your life! You may have to say no to some good things so that you can say yes to a few GREAT things! That is okay…that is what you want to do.

Let me hear from you in the section below. It is always nice to learn from my followers and their journey.

SHOUT IT! SHOUT IT OUT LOUD!

Mason KissIf you were a rocker in the 70’s you probably well know the band KISS. I used to rock the house with their songs when my parents were away and when cruising down the road you couldn’t hear my six cylinder car valves tapping, but you could not ignore the screaming guitars coming through the rattling windows. One of my favorite songs by KISS was, “Shout it out loud!” All the kids loved to sing the chorus as loud as they could while waving their hands in the air. Quite honestly though, probably very few of us knew the lyrics or what we were truly shouting out loud about, but the energy of the tunes just drove us young people to shout it out loud even if we didn’t know what “it” was.

In our marriages we should make the KISS chorus Shout It Out Loud our theme. However instead of not knowing why we are shouting, we should be very in tune with why, and what we are shouting. The lyrics that go along with the rocking chorus should be centered on our love and appreciation for our spouse.

Expressing appreciation for our spouse on a regular basis is important. Words of affirmation are needed in order to strengthen and grow the relationship. Confirming our love verbally builds trust that reciprocates even more love between the two individuals. Whether it is paying bills, providing for the house, raising children or simply taking the trash to the street, it is imperative to recognize and express thankfulness for each and everything the other does.

Shouting It Out Loud though takes matters to an entirely new level. It is one thing to tell someone in private they are appreciated, but when those words are expressed in a public forum it is like putting love on steroids! Tell the ladies at church how wonderful your man is, watch his chest swell up and a smile enter his face. Introduce your wife as, “your beautiful lady” to the guys at the shop, you will see her melt. Take to social media to post how great your spouse is, how much you love and appreciate them telling the world how thankful God placed him or her in your life, and see what happens.

There is even a Biblical concept around this in that God tells us that if we don’t profess our love for Christ publicly that we do not truly have a relationship with Him, but it is only if and when we go public that the relationship is sealed and real (Matthew 10:32-33). Since our marriage is an image of our relationship with Christ wouldn’t it stand to reason the same is true of us?

 Yes, buying flowers, writing cards and even face to face expressions of love and appreciation are important and should never be neglected. However if you want to take your relationship deeper, stronger and grow more in love than ever, start going public today. At work, church, with friends, on social media, or wherever you and your spouse interact outside of your private space. Seek every opportunity to tell everyone just how much you love your spouse. Shout It! Shout It Out Loud!

How do you tell the world you love and appreciate your spouse?

If you try it, let me know what you discovered in the comments below.

 

Leaders Look for Greatness

Lake Greatness“Bad leaders excuse away greatness; good leaders look for excuses to recognize greatness.”

 

We have all heard it. “John is a good employee, but…” or, “Yes, Susie does a good job and is productive; it is just that sometimes she…”

You can fill in the end with many things, but the end result is that a leader has put a negative spin on someone who was otherwise a good, perhaps even a great employee. Now they have placed doubt in someone else’s mind about that person needlessly.

Bad leaders have a tendency to want to push their employees down in order to feel important. Insecurity, negativity, and feeling threatened are a few of the reasons these leaders feel the need to respond this way. Employees want to shine and be their best but become discouraged and dismayed when they are constantly placed in the “yea but” category.

Good leaders find ways to find greatness and express it out loud and often. They see things, even the smallest of nuggets and have the ability to put them on a showcase for the world to see. The effective leader is constantly building his or her people up. There are not “yea buts” in their language. Their people are rock stars and as a result each one strives to be even better. The more employees shine the more they want to shine.

“All negative comments leave a sticky residue on the one sending the message”

What leaders who excuse away greatness in their people do not understand is that some of that negativity is left on them as well. People see the leader who constantly belittles or downplays their people, as also being less than adequate. The leader believes that their comments are making themselves seem superior; however the opposite is true. To push someone down they must go down with them…and they do.

Yet the opposite is true for the leader who always has positive words for their employees. They are seen as great leaders; positive people. The more a leader talks their people up, the more opportunities to move up comes their way. Leaders who lead by criticism generally become bitter because when they minimize others they are minimizing themselves. As a result the critical leader does not get promoted and opportunities don’t come their way creating a vicious cycle of continual sourness exuding from every word and action. People don’t want to be around them and certainly are not going to place them in higher positions of influence.

People are looking for positive people who can build good teams. No one builds good teams who can’t see or communicate the greatness within each member.Good teams become great teams when they are built up with a continual battery of encouragement and positiveness.

Practice saying, “(Insert your employee’s or a colleague’s name here) is great!

Find other positive words to describe your employee and look for opportunities to speak publicly and privately. Stop at the end of the adjective that describes them as being wonderful. Don’t add any “buts” to the sentence. Walk off leaving them as being a great employee in the listener’s mind.

How do you bring out greatness in those around you?

 

 

 

 

 

 

LEADERS ARE MINERS

diamond mining

It’s dirty, but a worthy job. Mining for diamonds. Man has been digging into the earth since the fourth century B.C. The beauty and value of the precious diamond are something admired by both men and women across the world.

The diamond in its natural state is not the precious gem that it will eventually become. The miner has an eye for the stones; however it is the jeweler who is able to take the rock in its roughest of form and then chisel, cut and polish it into a sparkling jewel.

Leaders, good leaders, are both miners and jewelers. Each day he or she goes out looking for those diamonds in the rough. They are seeking the work that is done by those who work for them that can be put on display. That work may seem and perhaps even is normal task and responsibilities; however the good leader is able to chisel and polish away the imperfections making the individual(s) under their charge shine for the world to see.

The joy in elevating others is a sign of a true leader.

Leadership Mining

  • Go Looking: As a leader go out daily to look for the good things your people are doing. The good leader knows there is enough negative dirt that their employees have to deal with on a daily basis. Good leadership goes out to find the value their employees bring.

 

  • Have an eye for gems: It takes a special leader with an eye for recognizing the good things their people are doing. It means having a positive attitude; a mentoring approach.

 

  • Collect: It is not enough to notice the good things your people do, but it has to be collected; recorded. Make note of each thing they do no matter how big or small.

 

  • Clean & Cut: This is where the leader becomes an artist. Being able to communicate the work of employees in a positive fashion is a talent, yet essential part of leadership. Whether articulating in words in a memo or putting them in for an award, it is important to be able to make them shine more beautifully than even they could imagine.

 

  • Display: Find ways to showcase your people’s work and work. Send out emails to the team highlighting accomplishments, send messages to senior leaders, give small gifts, or awards. It is important to let your people know on a regular basis that their work is not only valued, but is noticed.

 

  • Go digging for more: Mining is not a one-time event. Going out and digging around in the efforts of your people and placing the special things they do on display is a regular part of leadership. The leader who understands the importance of this can’t settle for just one diamond. They become obsessed with putting the work of their employees on display. The joy in elevating others is a sign of a true leader.

Train Stories: From the Jungle to Blessings

DSC_0056The trains on the TRE going to and from Dallas to Ft. Worth are limited during the middle of the day so when you have to make that trip you have to be ready for some long waits. One day I was on such a journey in the sweltering Texas heat. Even in the shade sweat was running down the back of my shirt as I stood waiting for nearly an hour for the next train.

When I got off the Dart tram to wait for the train a gentleman exited with me and joined me on the long wait. He was a tall black man carrying a white wash cloth that he was constantly wiping the dripping sweat from his head with. He spoke to me briefly at first, obviously from Africa somewhere I assumed from his accent, talking about how he didn’t like to be in the heat on his days off. He expressed that I probably didn’t know what it was like to be outside based on the way I was dressed (coat and tie). I laughed and asked what he did for a living.

I asked him his name, which was Abe, a Project Manager for a large Dallas corporation. He went on to tell me about a few up and coming projects he was working and insisted that I needed to purchase land and buildings in a local suburb of Dallas due to a project that he was working which was going to bring in tons of jobs and people. I could tell he was passionate about what he did as his excitement poured out of every word he spoke.

In the conversation I mentioned that I rode motorcycles, which was probably for no other reason than to at least let him know I wasn’t a total wimp when it comes to being out in the heat. He laughed saying that he didn’t like motorcycles. He had owned one once and had a terrible experience. Abe had been talked into purchasing a bike a few years back to make a road trip from Houston to Canada! He made the entire trip as his initial ride. Yes, his very first time on a motorcycle he drove it from Houston Texas to Canada! Abe was quick to express the event was far from a pleasurable experience. In fact it was so bad that once he got to his destination he sold the motorcycle to a local person, bought a plane ticket with the money and returned home in the comfort of an air-conditioned plane! It was a hilarious story, even more funny listening him tell it in his African accent.

Once the train finally arrived we boarded and sat together so we could continue our conversation. When we sat I asked him about his story. Where was he from in Africa, when did he come to the states and what brought him here?  When Abe smiled and chuckled I somehow knew I was in for a story, so I sat back to soak it all in.

Abe had come to America about 15 years ago. His journey here was one filled with ups, downs, disappointments and dreams come true. It started one day when he and his family were at a soccer game in Northern Africa. They were there enjoying the game when troops came storming in to take over and began killing people. He and his family ran for their lives that day, each in their own direction. In all of the confusion they all lost sight of one another and each were on their own. It wouldn’t be for many years before Abe would find out the fate of his family. From that day forward he was a young boy living alone amongst strangers.

Abe lived with other survivors of that attack on that day in the jungle for six years. He shared how many died from malaria, dehydration, sickness and lack of nutrition. There were times when the weak were killed by the strong members of the group in order to hang their body parts in the trees as a distraction from wild animals such as lions. Abe spoke that he had on more than one occasion looked back as the group ran from lions and saw the animal leaping to get the body parts from the tree. It was their only way to survive an attack.

I inquired more about how he made it from the jungle to where he is now. I could tell from his eyes forming tears that the story was personal and emotional. He simply said, “The Salvation Army.” Abe told me that the Salvation Army we see is different than what they really do. He shared how they go out looking for those in hiding and do everything they can to get them to safety. Abe spent two years on a waiting list to go to a country who would take him. They do not get a choice as to what country they select; it could be USA, Russia, Germany or another country that participates with the Salvation Army’s program of which generally 20 at a time will go. If a person says no to a country, then they go back to the end of the list to wait another two years until their name comes up again. Abe was so glad it was the U.S.A. who opened their doors when his name came up.

When Abe got to the U.S. he had 90 days to become self-sustaining. The Salvation Army provides an apartment and food for just three months, after that all funding ends. Some end up being homeless, which is not the best situation, but when compared to the jungle and lions, is better than their lives before. It is difficult he said because most don’t have an education or a work history. He said, “People ask me for my resume and I would ask, ‘what’s a resume?’” He laughed saying it was not an easy time.

Abe was fortunate in that he had a high-school diploma which allowed him to get a labor job. The story was long, but after a lot of hard work and people recognizing his abilities, he was allowed to get his Project Management Professional (PMP) certification through the company he was working. As time went on they again saw potential in Abe and sent him to college to become an engineer.

As Abe learned skills he also became well versed in utilizing the internet. This is when he began searching for his family. His father didn’t make it out that day when the soccer arena came under attack and was killed.  Abe found his brother in Houston, Texas who just recently wrapped up medical school and has moved to Dallas to work at the Children’s Hospital. He found his sister in Canada who has since gone to law school and is a practicing attorney.

As if Abe’s story wasn’t intriguing enough, he told me more about what his family was doing now for one another. Abe is the oldest so he feels it is his responsibility to take care of his family first, before himself. He had found his mother some years back and brought her to the U.S. but he said she couldn’t handle it. She wanted to go back home so he ended up flying her back not long after she got here.

Abe said he didn’t want his family to ever do without again. His role as the older brother was to help insure his family’s success. Even though Abe himself is living in an apartment he saved his money and bought his sister a house in Canada. He is now saving and his sister is helping, to purchase his younger brother a home in Dallas. After this, they will all pitch in to purchase Abe a home; he is last. He was very passionate about his role as a leader in his family. When he talked about doing these things for his siblings he had a smile on his face. It was obvious it wasn’t a chore and something he had to do, but rather something he wanted to do.

Abe finally came to his stop on the train so it was time to say good-bye. We shook hands and I told him it was one of the best trips from Dallas to Ft. Worth I had ever had. He smiled and walked on off the train.  I gave him my business card in hopes of talking to him again, but if I don’t, Abe had an impact on me that day. The experience left me with some deep thoughts to ponder about myself, family and our society.

Abe’s story was one of thankfulness, selflessness and determination. His appreciation of God’s blessings was obvious as he told his story. Many times he gave thanks to God for reaching down and providing him an opportunity; for saving him from death on many occasions. He was grateful and didn’t take what had been given him for granted. He even told me at one point, “When you see those ‘bell ringers’ at Christmas, you put some money in there. They are saving people’s lives; they saved my life.”

He was so incredibly selfless. Unlike many in our culture today, he didn’t have the attitude of, “I pulled myself up by my own bootstraps; no one helped me, so I’m not helping anyone else.” He wanted to do everything he could to help his family and others with the blessings and opportunities he had been given. Even though his brother and sister had careers that will probably out-pay his own career, he still helped them by purchasing their homes. He didn’t have a scale to measure to determine if or how much he would help. His only measurement system was love and a heart for others with an expectation of nothing in return.

Just before Abe got off the train I had one more question to throw his way. I asked, “Abe, what do you think made you successful when others who came over with you were not? Why did some end up being homeless after three months, yet you made it to getting certifications and degrees. Why?”

He pondered for only a second and then looked me square in the eyes saying, “determination!”

Abe said that when he was in the little apartment that the Salvation Army had provided that he would look up at the condos that were near-by. He would see the people coming home in nice cars, eating at restaurants and living in wonderful environments. Abe said he said to himself, “you are never going to have what they have flipping burgers. You are going to have to work hard, sacrifice and not give up.” And that is exactly what he did.

Just because we live in this great country called the U.S. of A. doesn’t mean that we are deserving of what we have. We are all like Abe to a degree; however we got here we all have a choice of what we do with the opportunities that we encounter each day. Abe recognized every blessing; he was thankful. He wanted to give back; he had heart. He never wanted to go back; he was determined.  Could it be that the joy people spend their whole lives looking for is that simple? Thankfulness, a heart for others and sheer determination; three things that I hope, when I tell my story that others will say about me. What about you? Leave your comments below.