Resistance will tell you anything to keep you from doing your work. It will perjure, fabricate, falsify; seduce, bully, cajole. Resistance is protean. It will assume any form, if that’s what it takes to deceive you.Resistance will reason with you like a lawyer or jam a nine-millimeter in your face like a stickup man.Resistance has no conscience. It will pledge anything to get a deal, then double-cross you as soon as your back is turned. If you take Resistance at its word, you deserve everything you get. Continue reading “Do the Work. Get off you butt and Go. Do. It.”
Today marks 14 years of marriage for Erin and I. As I sit here listening to Erin crack up over a brand new episode of Duck Dynasty, I figured it was a good time to jot some things down. I mean, just look at that picture? Two twenty-two year olds standing before God and a room of their friends, promising to love each other, no matter what. Continue reading “14 Years of Marital…”
I’ve been in meetings for the last couple of days with a large prospective client that would be a great “innovative first” in an area we are growing into and wanting to further explore. I’ve been courting this prospect for over a year now; last year I got a good referral to a department head while the client was considering doing the project, but it didn’t go very far due to existing relationships they already had in place. That faded into a memory, but I stayed in touch through our nurture marketing plan.
About a month ago, this department head sought us out again. They were once again interested in working with us, albeit on a smaller scale because even if the larger organization couldn’t get everything lined up, they wanted to on their own. Had a good meeting, but then we hit the roadblocks of organizational politics… or so I thought. This time, however, a meeting with the president materialized and everything has been flowing downhill since. My approach to foundational project work is completely different from the (failed) attempt they did last year, and over and over again my prospect is referring back to things I’ve said and how this is “the right way to go about it.” That just makes you feel good, you know?
What I wanted to write about today, though, was one thing he said yesterday that hit home with me. I don’t want to forget it, because often I do. The president was talking to a group of department heads about why this approach would be different than last year. He came out and said something like (in reference to the original department head I met witn), “I asked _____ if Chet was the man for the job, and he said was. We’re doing this right this time. It’s going to cost more. It’s going to take more effort. But in the end it will be done right, and the path we’re going down now is that right way.” (that’s a paraphrase, minus the “man for the job” line)
“The man for the job.” Set apart. Right time, right place, right people. Love it, love it, love it. My love of community and good communication has found a home in this project, and I can’t wait to embark on it. There are shared values all around, even to the point of a shared love of virtual community becoming real such as has been the case at the Daily Audio Bible. God is in this, and when you hear a client about ready to spend a pretty penny on a project say these words, and your gut tells you the same, it’s like nothing can knock you down.
Oh, and I got my tractor running last night. <<Fist Pump>>
I’m easily distracted. Multi-tasking is something I’ve found to be a two-edged sword. I can switch from an intensive project to a blip that must be dealt with and back again, but I can also easily be distracted down a rabbit trail that leads to no-where. I’ve come to understand you really can’t give two things 100% of your attention at the same time.
What I’m also realizing, though, is that not every goal requires 100% attention. Some of them require just enough to accomplish the task. So while you may not be able to DO 2 things at once, you can take steps to accomplish several important goals at once.
Take walking with my kids for an example. Recently I’ve had some knee issues and have not been able to take my dog for runs (another multi-goal exercise, actually). So I took my kids for a walk with the dog. Just look at all the things that helps me accomplish (in some sense of a prioritized list):
- Quality / Quantity time with my kids.
- Quality / Quantity time for my wife WITHOUT the kids (she gets them all day).
- Exercise for me
- Exercise for my dog
Yesterday was a full day. It started off with an 8:00 meeting with the athletic director and booster club leader at my high school alma mater. We were talking about opportutnies for ProtegaText to partner with the boosters in supporting Plainfield athletics while getting our name out there in front of our home-town community. Conversation went great, and this is becoming one of the first “large” pieces of the marketing puzzle of getting into schools and the families that make them up. Not only did it give us a chance to learn of the benefits of sponsorship, but it also turned into a great chance to share our story and even talk about how it might work across ALL of PHS athletics, and even the entire school. That wasn’t my focus or end goal, but it did open the door for future talks. I also really think we caught the attention of the athletic director when we mentioned coming in and doing a workshop for his coaches about safety in communication with athletes. It’s interesting the things you learn by watching people, and this one caused him to really perk up and engage.
What I truly loved about this opportunity was the favor we had, even going into it. We have strong ties to PHS, both me and my business partner. We’re already doing business in the school, we both have history and friends in the school, and come to find out, we even have friends within the leadership of the booster club. What a blessing. And then, beyond all that, we got the extra incentive we were asking for. Who would have thought that no other advertiser had asked to be on the inside of the front cover? Or maybe they did, or had, but we were just the one that had a good fit, being more of a value-driven service than just another ad for real estate or your next family dinner. S.D.G. This was a great meeting.
That meeting was followed by another at 10:00 with a prospect I’ve been working on for over a year. By “working on” I mean sending occasional newsletters, really… he had long since fallen off the “hot list” of potential prospects (higher-ups and elected officials getting in the mix kind of put a damper on things). He called me up last week to get together with the town council president, we did, and they bought into our idea of crafting a new website without even seeing a single SAMPLE of my work… well, my coding work, I guess. We talked at length about building the foundation for a good site with department involvement, community involvement, and great models. It just went great. Walked out the door with consulting work for a few weeks, along with a very good indication of where the whole project will lead as that goes well.
THAT meeting was followed up by a call on my Dixie Chopper that’s for sale. I need to sell it to finish paying for parts for my new Kubota, so I was ready to make a deal. The guy and I chatted for a few minutes, and then he told me he’d be over that very afternoon to pick it up. Fast forward to the evening, and he’s placing a stack of hundred dollar bills in my hand and driving off with a mower that’s been part of our country life for many years. He even offered to send me pictures if I got lonely without it. Good guy (assuming these bills aren’t really counterfeit, like he said some of them might be).
Many other things today… borrowed a camper to go camping this weekend, talked with Joe about the next couple of weeks and months of work, and am thanking God for his blessing and favor.
I remember walking into these meetings in the morning. I had invited Him in. Made Him welcome. Told Him I needed him there with me. And He was. He helped me smile. To laugh. To tell stories. To be comfortable enough, even proud enough, in who I am and who We are to share our story without the need of a bunch of props, gimicks, or sales pitches. He helped me listen. To ask good questions. And to realize that within me is a spark, a flame that only needs to be fanned, of greatness. And that IS Him in my life, I pray. In everything, I hope He shines.
“I am a loving husband and involved father, who places my family above all other relationships in my life.”
So goes one of the key “statement of truth” affirmations I have written on a post it and hung in my bath room mirror. One of at least three that I read each and every day, have now memorized, and am finding out that there are sorts of situations in life where reminding of me of that statement makes a decision much more black and white.
This week in my coaching experience I am exploring my family life development. As I walked through the initial survey, I found more positive things than I presumed I might. I’ve heard over and over and over again that “time” is perhaps the best thing thing you can offer your family, and it seems to be one of the things I have tremendous opportunities to offer my family, either because of “must do” types of things each day (i.e. feed the baby) or “can do” things, such as the rather flexible schedule I have that allows me to work at home a couple days a week and cut out an hour and a half of commuting time each day. What I found myself asking, though, was something along the lines of, “even though I have all these opportunities, am I taking advantage of them to their fullest?” As I explored that, I believe what I’m finding is what I’ve found in many other areas of my life… I have great opportunities, but for the most part, I spuratically take advantage of those opportunities. I don’t have too many established habits, although there are some, and even though they may “seem” small, I think they are probably much greater than I’d allow myself to think. Things like:
- I have gone for 11 years of marriage without a TV in my bedroom. It has provided the opportunity for numerous conversations that could otherwise have been zoned out or cut short by the evening news or weather. While not an end-all solution in itself, I can’t deny the impact this decision, and stick with it, have had.
- I eat dinner with my family every day of the year. Well, not every day. But probably at least 300 – 325 meals a year. Whether it’s gathered around the kitchen table, cramped into the car in a parking lot wolfing down sandwiches, or a special night at the park, spending this time together matters. I don’t think it matters if there is a specified agenda to discuss or a rule that we can or can’t have the TV on… again, it’s the time that matters. What I wonder, though, is how this will “stick” or become more of an effort or forced occasion as our kids grow up. I don’t exactly want a Leave it to Beaver existance, but at the same time, I want my kids and wife to know what is important to me, and to know why. And I suppose that means I should make sure I know that as well.
- I go to bed at the same time as my wife. This one’s caused some headaches… literally. I love opportunities to get my sleep in and start my day before the first hint of dawn, and my wife makes a great night owl. I enjoy the night life too, but there are those days when you know your morning will suffer if you stay up late, and that the only reason your staying up late on that particular day is because of something you’re really not personally invested in. I’ve given my wife a hard time on it, almost forced her to go to bed without me sometimes when she (or I) is sick or something, but again, for the most part, this is an unwritten rule in our home. And I should probably quit fighting it and recognize it for what it is: a blessing. I know many families that don’t even have the opportunity for this type of shared life with their spouse because of work or other obligations. I also know families who consider it quite normal to fall asleep in the chair and wake up in the middle of the night, TV muted, and spouse in the opposite corner of the house, in bed, alone.
- My family has gone on several adventures together. Whether it’s a week long trip to Disney or our first roadtrip with the second child, we’ve done a lot together. There are some freedoms we haven’t achieved or made happen yet, such as a two week vacation or one completely free of the business email check or cell phone… but in all honesty, I think we do a lot together. There’s a lot of room for improvement, but as I look into the future, I don’t want to sell ourselves short. Besides vacations, we’ve ventured into horse ownership and mini-farm / garden adventures together, for example.
- My wife and are committed to our marriage, and we’ve seen that commitment tested. Trials will come. So will tests. Whether they are by outside forces pressing in or personal failures and weaknesses raising their ugly head, all these pictures of a nice little world, including the white picket fence around the front yard, will be put to the test. We’ve been down this road. We’ve seen how close a family can come to falling apart, and the critical decisions at critical moments when it really is do or die, make or break.
All those good things considered… Where are we? Where do we want to go? Having dinner together, going to bed together, or not watching TV in the bedroom are good and dandy, but WHY? What is the bigger story they’re part of? What do I want to accomnplish with my family?
The “Where are we” question is a good one to start with. I think we have a lot of good habits, but we’ve probably got our share of bad ones as well. For myself, things like body language, looks, and sarcasm that I give without consideration to how it will come across can become a big blow to those I love most. The same could be true with plain worn-out-edness from work at the end of the day, and coming home to a wife who is also worn our from her more-than-full-time job of being a mother. As I look into the future, I see how coming up with specific things that I, and we, want to accomplish as a family will help us find the push through those hard times, as well as the motivation for the bigger things in life.
So what are some categories of goals I’d like to accomplish with and through my family? Here are a few, based on what I’ve considered recently, as well as a brief look back through my ever-increasing dream inventory:
- Reach out to kids without a stable home environment through love and hope.
- Develop an intentional use of time together each day so that all recognize it’s value.
- Take a two week vacation to a place far, far away.
- Develop methods to better “leave work at work”, both during the week and on vacation.
- Plan our future together – short and long term – money, time, goals, etc.
- Be a couple known for listening, understanding, and even giving counsel to other couples and/or teens.
- Spend more planned time one-on-one with my wife.
- See my children come to know (and be known by), love (and be loved by), and serve their Creator.
- Develop regular one-on-one activities with my children.
- Encourage my children to find and pursue their dreams, even at an early age.
- Encourage and help my wife find/rediscover and pursue her dreams, no matter how far-fetched they may seem.
- Understand my own need for personal discovery, and recognize that each of us will have to make some journeys on our own.
I believe the next step I’ll be doing here later on this week is coming up with some actual goals and steps to pursue and achieve some of these areas I’d like to see us accomplish as a family. So I’ll probably be coming back to this shortly. But for now, that’s us, where we are, and some of the places I’d love to see us go.
This was originally written in September of 2010, but I’m bubbling it back to the top as it’s still sooo important to me.
Several years ago I wrote up my definition of what I thought an ideal salesman would be like. When I wrote this, I had in my mind mental images of people I remembered who had been there when I made big purchases… new-to-me cars, new windows for the house, even a new house itself. I’ve been sold to, and I’ve been “sold to.” This is my definition of who I want to buy from, and hopefully, who I am setting out to be myself:
The Ideal Salesman, by me.
The ideal salesman is one who, in the end, allows the customer to walk away thinking and knowing they just got a deal on a great product. The salesperson’s job is not to hype the product or service but to show how it can meet the needs of the customer.
He should also be able to perceive deeper questions and intents than those initially verbalized, and be willing to dive deeper to discover them. He should be able to both answer questions about his product and also know when to get answers to questions he can’t address on his own. He doesn’t need to know everything, but should know who or where to go when he doesn’t.
He should know both the benefits and the limitations of what he’s selling, as well as how flexible his company is to accomodating or customizing the product.
He should be confident yet patient.
He should do all he can to walk into an appointment with some fore-knowledge of the prospect.
When it comes time to make a decision and the prospect knows all they need to, he should step away and give them the appropriate space and time, yet still be able to offer a legitimate incentive or drawback that makes making a decision NOW important.
The end result of a meeting with the ideal salesman is a happy customer who walks away KNOWING they just got a great deal on something they really need, and can’t wait to tell their friends all about it.
Is stress from a long drive home with kids yelling in the back seat legit? What do you DO with that when you get home and it’s time for bed? How you you discipline when that’s on your shoulders? How do you love? How do you let go?
God help me. Take my burdens. Even when they are weights I didn’t ask for (God knows I’ve asked for plenty). Help me love in he midst of this. To trust. To believe in the good that’s inside those I love. And even, maybe, to still believe in the good that is within me.
That’s the hardest part. Not hating yourself. Killing your own spirit. Only making matters worse. Dragging your family with you.
Help me forgive me. To learn to rest. To really, really, let what matters GO.
Some passages on focus for me today…
Luke 9:51 – When the days drew near for Jesus to be taken up, He set his face to go to Jerusalem.
Mark 10:45 – For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.
Colossians 3:2 -Set your mind on things that are above, not on things that are on earth.
Proverbs 4:25 – Let your eyes look directly forward, and your gaze be straight before you.
I’m not of the mindset that I must over-spiritualize everything I plan to do today and find the “things above” in each thing. That’s a chore fit for a monk not dealing with marketing, bookkeeping, and writing code to tell a computer to jump through hoops. What I can do, though, is know that I was put here to serve, to honor, and to bless God and His creation. That means doing my best. That means finding and stepping into opportunities to help others – some who pay me with nice checks, and some who may never even know my name.
Focus is right there waiting for me to take it. Yesterday I wrote down burdens I couldn’t carry, today I wrote down how the Lord picked those up and carried them all the way down the road IN STYLE yesterday.
Blessed be the name of the Lord. S.D.G.
Erin and I use a nice little piece of software called You Need A Budget to manage our personal finances. It’s the combination of a check register and budgeting tool that relies on the concept of a zero-based budget to assign every dollar a job, every month. Much along the lines of wha Dave Ramsey teaches, but it allows us a little flexibility to be grownups as well. Because of the way our business works, we don’t totally know what our income is going to be for any given week until about a week and a half into the month, so it’s a day like yesterday where we sit down and nail out the budget to get everything balanced out.
Like anyone doing their finances on this type of budget, you know it’s not as easy as it sounds. On good months, when you think it’d be easy, you still have to tell every dollar where to go, even if it’s saying something like “Mr. Extra One Hundred Dollars, you will go into my retirement fund and not be seen again for 30 years.” Once you tell that money where to go, and send it there, there’s no going back. It’s a promise you must keep, or break your budget. The same is true for lean months, where you may both scrimp on things that aren’t necessities and also pull from accounts with “excess” in order to meet the needs of your “must-do’s” for the month.
This month is a bit of a lean month. We have those. I’ll bet you do too. Anyways, we sat down last night and figured everything out, moved some things around, and got it all to the point where every dollar had a home. Success. We can live with that. It may not be a filet minon month, but a cheeseburger month will do just fine (especially since some of our savings has opened up an opportunity for a road trip).
The one thing that looked wierd was this $500+ in our propane budget. We’re on a “budget” with our propane company as well, so we pay the same price every month, even though we only get our tank filled every quarter or so. It’s good for everyone. But they hadn’t billed us in a few months, and this account had steadily been growing. Not knowing if we were missing the mail or going to get nailed with a big bill because they absentmindely took us off the budget, I made a note to call them the next day (today). Who knows, maybe we’ll free up a little cash for that pair of tennis shoes I need.
So this morning I called the propane company. Yep, we had a credit from the last year’s budget. We hadn’t used as much propane as we’d paid in over the first 9 months, so they gave us the last 3 months free of charge. Exactly how it should work. And that ENTIRE $500 is now “free” to be used elsewhere (like on that dishwasher that just ground [literally] to a halt). But better yet, because the budget is based on previous years, the NEW budget amount, which takes effect next month, is going to be less than HALF of what it used to be.
Prase God! What a blessing! Not only did our financial picture open up just as we hoped, but the next 12 months will also be a little easier when it comes to paying the heating bill.
This is one of those things I just need to write down. An S.D.G. moment that could easily be forgotten, but reminds me tonight (and again anytime I’ll read this) about God’s faithfulness, and also His response to our planning and prayerful use of His resources.
So yeah, we stick ourselves in a box every month with a budget. And every once in a while you get to blow the lid off with great news like this. Sure, other months may come with unexpected emergencies, but that can be anticipated as well. In it all, God is faithful. Never failing. Forever I will trust in Him.