Monday, March 31, 2008

Abraham Lincoln – From Ape to Honored President

Abraham Lincoln’s life exemplified his words, “Always bear in mind that your own resolution to succeed is more important than any other.” Abraham Lincoln was determined to succeed and persisted through many failures. At age 21, he had a business fail. At age 22, he lost a legislative race. At age 24, he again failed in business. At age 27, he spent 6 months in bed with a nervous breakdown. He lost congressional races at age 34 and 36 and lost a senatorial race at age 45. Following his lost in the senate race, Lincoln said, “I recovered and said to myself, ‘It’s a slip and not a fall.’”

Lincoln continued to persist and at age 46, Abraham Lincoln was hired to be a part of the legal team for a large patent infringement case. Lincoln traveled to Cincinnati for the trail. When he arrived, the lead attorney, Edwin M. Stanton, said of Lincoln, “Why did you bring that . . . long armed Ape here . . .; he does not know any thing and can do you no good.” (David Herbert Donald, Lincoln (New York: Simon and Schuster, 1995) p. 185-187) Lincoln went home feeling insulted and roughly handled by Stanton but he continued on.

At age 47, Lincoln sought and failed to receive the Vice-President nomination receiving less than 100 votes. At age 49, Lincoln lost another senate race. At age 52, Lincoln ran for president of the United States, and on November 6, 1860, Lincoln was elected the 16th President of the United States. In 1862, Edwin M. Stanton came to work for Lincoln as a part of the president’s cabinet as the Secretary of War. Stanton came to deeply admire Lincoln and in the final hours of Lincoln’s life on April 15, 1865, Stanton stood by the bed of the dying president and paid tribute to the man he had once called “an ape” saying, “Now, he belongs to the ages.” (David Herbert Donald, Lincoln (New York: Simon and Schuster, 1995) p. 599)

As a result of his determination, persistence and willingness to get up each time he was knocked down, Lincoln was instrumental in ending slavery and saving the Union during the Civil War, and is today honored as one of the United States’ greatest presidents.

Monday, March 24, 2008

What Comes After Death? What is Our Purpose?

I hope you had a wonderful Easter weekend. What a wonderful day to spend time with family and friends to celebrate and focus on the resurrection of Christ. As I thought of what to share in this week’s newsletter, a talk I gave at my Grandma’s funeral many years ago came to my mind as an appropriate Easter message of everlasting life. The following are exerts from my talk at the funeral:

The death of a loved one causes us to reflect on our lives and ask the questions, “Where did I come from? What is our purpose? and What comes after death? These are questions we ought to study day and night.

Without the gospel of Christ, death is one of the gloomiest subjects to contemplate; but just as soon as we obtain the gospel and learn the principle of the resurrection, the gloom, sorrow, and suffering occasioned by death are, in a great measure, taken away. Often our thoughts are filled with gloom when we see a body laid in the grave and covered with earth. But as quick as we obtain the gospel, as soon as we are enlightened by the inspiration of the Almighty, we can exclaim, "O grave, where is thy victory, O death, where is thy sting?. . . Death is swallowed up in victory . . . thanks be to God, which giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.” (1 Corinthians15:55,54,57) The gospel brings life and immortality to light.

What is our greatest potential? Is it not to return to live with God? To achieve “everlasting life.” (John 3:16) Christ has taught of us of our divine potential saying, “. . . all of you are children of the most high” (Psalms 82:3) and “Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect.” (Matthew 5:48)

C. S. Lewis provides additional insight into our divine potential saying, “The command Be ye perfect is not idealistic gas. Nor is it a command to do the impossible. He is going to make us into creatures that can obey that command. . . He will make the feeblest and filthiest of us into a . . . dazzling, radiant, immortal creature, pulsating all through with such energy and joy and wisdom and love as we cannot now imagine, a bright stainless mirror which reflects back to God perfectly (though, of course, on a smaller scale) His own boundless power and delight and goodness. The process will be long and in parts very painful; but that is what we are in for. Nothing less. He meant what He said.” (Lewis, C. S., Mere Christianity, (New York: Simon & Schuster, 1996) p. 176) “There are no ordinary people. You have never talked to a mere mortal . . . it is immortals whom we joke with, work with, marry, snob and exploit . . .” (Lewis, C. S., The Weight of Glory, (New York: Simon & Schuster, 1996) p. 39) We are immortal begins and the resurrection of Christ has made “eternal life” (John 3:15) the design of our existence.

As I have pondered on the death of Grandma Taylor, I have thought do I feel sorry for her? No, she has gone to rest, and all is at peace with her, according to the mind and will of God. Since the organization of the world, billions have passed away but death is not the end of our existence. Death is a transition from one realm of existence to another – from an earthly realm to a spiritual realm. And it is so today. And I suppose while we are mourning the loss of our friend, others are rejoicing to meet her in heaven. Why should we mourn for Grandma Taylor whose body lies before us? She is freed from pain and suffering and the anxieties of life, and is now beyond the power of the enemy of all righteousness; she has opened her eyes among her relatives and friends, whose death caused her grief and pain. Her life has continued in a new world were she will be brought before the Master—even our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ who will say, “Well done, thou good and faithful servant: thou hast been faithful over a few things, I will make thee ruler over many things: enter thou into the joy of the Lord.” (Matthew 25:23)

Still it is hard to part with our friend, Grandma Taylor, but the separation is only temporary. I see a day when I will again be reunited with my Grandma and we shall learn together, play together, sing together and rejoice together. As taught the Savior, “. . . I am the resurrection, and the life; he that believeth in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live;” (John 11:25)

Following His death on the cross, Christ’s body was laid in a tomb and on the third day following his death, Christ rose from the grave. For “. . . now is Christ risen from the dead, and become the firstfruits of them that slept.” (1 Corinthians 15:20) Because Christ lives Grandma Taylor does now live and each of us will live as a result of the power of the resurrection and the life, even Jesus Christ. Amen.
“I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me.” Galatians 2:20

Monday, March 17, 2008

$10,000 Per Month and the Power of a Mentor

As I neared graduation from college, I met with various mentors to decide my next step. I declined the job offers I received and declined my acceptance into one of the top MBA programs and decided to start a business. I was determined to build a multimillion dollar company and seeing the success of my mentors and hearing their stories gave me the hope and confidence to take the risk. I started my entrepreneurial ventures in 1999. Two years later, my business had failed and I had tens of thousands of dollars in debt. I was discouraged. I knew it was possible to build a profitable company, but I began to wonder if I would ever do it. The goal I had set of earing $10,000 per month income seemed to be impossible for me. At this point, one of my mentors who had developed a multimillion dollar business told me this story:

My father became a millionaire through building a business long before I did. I remember when I first started building my business; I had a major set back on a business road trip. As I drove home, I was feeling really down and discouraged. I didn't understand why my business wasn't succeeding. I felt like I was paying the price to be successful. I was working hard and yet it seemed that everyone was succeeding but me. All I had to do was open the success and entrepreneur magazines and see every other business exploding. It seemed everyone was exploding except for me.

A couple of hours outside of my home town, I pulled into a gas station to fill up my gas tank. I had been crying for a couple of hours at that point, so I wasn't paying attention to anything else that was happening around me. I finished filling up my tank, and put my gas cap back on. When I looked up, there stood my father, getting gas at the island across from me. I said, “Dad, what are you doing here?” He replied, “I'm out building my business.” I ran over and hugged him and started crying again. Here I was, six foot three, 210 pounds and crying like a baby on my dad’s shoulder.

“Dad, it’s just not working for me,” I cried. “I go out every day and night and work. I'm doing everything I can, but nothing is working for me.” My dad then asked, “Son, do you believe I will succeed as an entrepreneur?” I replied, “You’re already a multimillionaire, dad. I know being an entrepreneur works for you. What I'm having trouble believing is that I'm ever going to be successful with my business.” My dad replied, “So you believe it will work for me, but you don't believe it can work for you. But if I work with you and we work together, do you believe the business will work for us?” I replied, “Yeah, Dad, I think it will work for us.”

My dad took the lead driving home that night and for the next couple hours I followed his car and watched those two little taillights. I followed those taillights home that night and my heart felt so good to know that I had a dad, a mentor that was leading by example. I followed those taillights all the way home that night and I followed those taillights all the way to where now I am a multimillionaire. I'm so grateful to have had the taillights of mentors to follow.

My mentor then told me that his father had struggles starting his business but he eventually made it and that he had struggles starting his businesses and he made it and if I continued I would make it. He then encouraged me to not give up and that success is often time preceded by failures. In April 2001, I started a new business and in 2002 we did nearly a million dollars in revenue. At age 26, I achieved the goal of $10,000 income in one month for the first time in May 2002 taking home $21,611 that month.

Monday, March 10, 2008

Persistence: Try Until You Succeed

I have read the biographies of scores of great achievers. As you study their lives you find that they did not achieve their success by luck or accident but as a result of work, persistence and learning from their failures. Sometimes we see those who have achieved great success and think they are somehow uniquely gifted or talented and that we could never duplicate their success but great achievers are not simply born, they are developed.

Before Mark Victor Hansen and Jack Canfield became the bestselling authors of the Chicken Soup for the Soul series which has now sold over 100 million copies, they were rejected by 140 publishers and told by their agent, “I can't sell this book - I'm giving it back to you guys.”

Before the Wright brothers became the inventors of modern aviation, they had thousands of failed experiments and glides. Orville Wright wrote, “Our first experiments were rather disappointing. The machine at times seemed to be entirely beyond control.”

Before the author of The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People Stephen R. Covey’s company was one of the largest leadership development companies in the world, he endured 11 straight years of negative cash flow. The company had nothing in the bank, they were totally extended on their accounts payable, and their credit lines were maxed out. Their “debt to tangible net worth” ratio was 223 to 1. Over the next two and a half years, the company value grew to $160 million. (Stephen M.R. Covey, The Speed of Trust, (New York: Free Press, 2006) p. 109)

Before Sam Walton founded Wal-Mart, he lost his first store, a Ben Franklin variety store, after 5 years of hard work. Sam Walton wrote of the experience, “It was the low point of my business life. I felt sick to my stomach. I couldn’t believe it was happening to me. It really was a nightmare. I had built the best variety store in the whole region and worked hard in the community—done everything right—and now I was being kicked out of town. It didn’t seem fair. . . I’ve always thought of problems as challenges, and this one wasn’t any different. . . The challenge at hand was simple enough to figure out: I had to pick myself up and get on with it, do it all over again, only even better this time. . . I had a chance for a brand-new start, and this time I knew what I was doing.” (Sam Walton, Sam Walton, (New York: Doubleday, 1992) p. 30-31)

Walt Disney suffered a devastating setback in 1928, a blow so harsh that his career seemed about to disintegrate. He lost his first successful cartoon creation, “Oswald the Lucky Rabbit,” because he had naively signed away the ownership rights. Emerging empty-handed from the debacle, Disney didn’t quit. He continued to work and his next creation was Mickey Mouse. (Daniel Gross, Forbes Greatest Business Stories of All Times, (New York: John Wiley & Sons, 1996) p. 123)

Before I was a published author, I struggled to write. Prior to my first semester at college, I set a goal to become a published author. I remember receiving my first writing assignment and being so excited to begin my writing career. I worked hard on this paper spending dozens of hours ensuring it was my best effort and an “A” paper. A couple weeks after the papers were turned in, I remember the teacher starting class by putting on the board the grades “A” through “F” and the break down of how the members of the class scored on the paper. I was sure I had turned in one of the “A” papers. I was going to be a published author and I had worked so hard on the paper. Well, I got my paper handed to me and on the top of the paper was not an “A,” “B,” or “C” and it wasn’t even a “D.” On top of my paper was written “F” with the note, “This is not collegiate material. You need help. Get a tutor.” This was the start of my writing career. Writing had been one of my worse subjects in high school, but I was determined to make it one of my best. I went to the teacher and asked if he would give me a list of the students that got an “A” on the paper so I could see what an “A” paper looked like and learn from them. I began to take writing classes and learning from other authors. I worked hard to improve and develop my writing skills and by my senior year, I was a published author. My first book was published by the college for use in one of the university’s leadership courses.

The formula for success is to try until you succeed. There are no failures in life only quitters.

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

The Power of Goals and Dreams

When I am invited to speak and have the ability to choose the topic to present on, I often choose the topic of goal setting. There is great power in goals and dreams. It is something we have all heard numerous times but is something few people actually do. Numerous studies have found that only about 3% of Americans have written goals they review regularly. I hope you are or soon will be one of the 3% with written goal you regularly review.

Quotes on Goal Setting
“If you are bored with life, if you don’t get up every morning with a
burning desire to do things—you don’t have enough goals.”
–Lou Holtz, legendary college football coach

“What man actually needs is not a tensionless state but rather
the striving and struggling for a worthwhile goal.”
–Viktor E. Frankl, author of Man’s Search for Meaning

“Of all the things I’ve done, the most vital is coordinating the
talents of those who work for us and pointing them towards a certain goal.”
–Walt Disney

Our God-Given Missions
We each have been given special gifts and talents from God, which only we possess. There are specific ways in which each of us is to contribute to society. Viktor Frankl wrote, “Everyone has his own specific vocation or mission in life to carry out a concrete assignment which demands fulfillment. Therein he cannot be replaced, nor can his life be repeated. Thus, everyone’s task is as unique as is his specific opportunity to implement it.”

Stephen Covey wrote, “We detect rather than invent our missions in life. . . I think each of us has an internal monitor or sense, a conscience that gives us an awareness of our uniqueness and the singular contributions that we can make.” Discovering our God-given missions begins by asking the question the Apostle Paul asked, “Lord, what wilt thou have me to do?”(Acts 9:6, King James Version)

“Most of us would like to make a positive impact on the lives of others and on our world. If we do not feel that this is in some way happening, we tend to experience a sense of emptiness, low self-worth, futility, and sometimes even depression.”(Herb Miller, Money Is Everything, (Nashville, TN: Discipleship Resources, 1994) p. 19) Everyone is born with a God-given mission they are to perform. We were not sent to earth by God to be born, pay the bills and die. God sent us here for a purpose. However, many people achieve little in life simply because they never decided to achieve something. Mark Victor Hansen wrote, “It grieves me to watch individuals squander their lives because they have neglected the process of writing down their personal goals.”

The process of discovering and creating a mission statement and long-term goals will help you achieve your Divine mission and purpose.

I recently completed my latest book called The Statement of Excellence Workbook which is designed to help you discover, write down, and achieve your inspired goals and mission. This mind-enlarging, life-improving, and entertaining workbook takes you step-by-step through the process of creating a vision statement, mission statement, values statement and long-term goals. It is available at as an E-Book (PDF) for the introductory price of only $2.95 ($12 off the retail price of $14.95).

The content for this post was taken from The Statement of Excellence Workbook.