Master Key Week 24 – When Do We Need to be Great?

My last must be my best. ~ Og Mandino, The Greatest Salesman in the World Scroll V

We live in a world where action trumps all, where results count..results are what matter most.  The final score, time, or amount is what we remember..because it is how we mark our progress.  The modern era of baseball pays the best “closers” millions of dollars a year to pitch..about 8-15 pitches a couple of times a week..usually about 5 minutes worth of work.  Runners strive to develop a strong “kick” in order to finish races in peak form.

Businesses look to have a strong 4th quarter to finish the year on a high note and pay a strong dividend to investors.  Heck, we taught Cole the “pick up” game so he that he looks forward to putting his toys away each night before bed..finish strong.

My trainer and coach from my playing days, Sven, taught me that “anyone can start and play a good match, but winning took ‘finishing strong’ and finishing strong was an art form.”  At his urging I developed a three-serve routine specifically for the end of matches, to be used when I was just three points from winning.  I was to pick up the pace and take as little time as possible between points, and it usually had me aiming to hit three “crack aces”, which were unreturnable serves.  The reason for this was to apply as much pressure on my opponent and give him as little time possible to react.  I needed to “shut the door” and finish strong.

What does it take to finish strong?   I guess it depends on the person and circumstances, but as a general rule of thumb, here are a few qualities I believe to be helpful in finishing whatever task we are engaged in on a strong note.  I am coupling them with videos of some of the greatest finishes I have seen in my lifetime, most of them are from sporting events.

Clear Thinking – if you are not thinking clearly, the moment may overtake you and prevent you from taking the actions necessary to see the job through

Grit and Determination and Focus – you may not always be at your best when it is time to finish..but you must.  You must summon whatever “it” is inside of you that enables you to “turn it on” one more time.  No matter the circumstances and your present condition, you will override them and finish strong

Belief – you must believe that you will finish strong, you must have faith that you will finish strong, you must see yourself finishing strong

A Purpose Greater than Yourself – Can’t or won’t do it for yourself?  Fine.  Find a purpose greater than yourself and finish strong for “it.”  No matter who you are..someone or something needs you, right now, to be at your best, even if it is the last thing you do..so do it for them.  Finishing strong may serve as inspiration for someone who is observing you..maybe a spouse or a child.  Be “the” example they want to emulate and do it for them.

Don Juan Matus taught Casteneda that a warrior makes every act his “last battle on Earth”, and being as it is his or her last battle..it must be her/his best.  Why?  Just because, that is why.  We are going to act in any case, and anyone worth his/her salt must take responsibility for being alive in this awesome, sometimes terrifying, world.  How do we take responsibility?  By summoning the absolute best of ourselves at that given time and putting our personal stamp on the life we lead.

Final Thought: making our last effort our best effort and finishing strong also serves to honor those who have come before us and helped us get to this point.  The entire MKMMA staff has invested heavily in each of us with their time, thought, feelings, and intention of helping to make our lives better through this incredible program, which is life-changing if we let it be so.  Giving anything less than our absolute best and finishing strong would be a disservice to them and our fellow MKMMA partners.

Final Thought 1.5: So when exactly do we need to be great?  You don’t have to be great this year..or this month..or this week..or even today..you can start slow and perform with mediocrity.  Not knowing when our “last effort” will be..we can take it one step at a time..so we just need to be great RIGHT NOW.

Keep the wind at your back..and if it ain’t..lean in to it..

SPG

Thank You Mark, Davene, and Trish.  You have made an impact on me that will last more than one lifetime, and I appreciate you for that.

But all I ever settled for is that we’re born to live and then to die, and… we got to do it alone, each in his own way. And I guess that’s why we got to love those people who deserve it like there’s no tomorrow. ‘Cause when you get right down to it – there isn’t. Louden Swain

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Master Key Week 23 – The Great Pyramids

No, we are not talking about the Great Pyramids of Giza this week..we are talking about building what I’d call the “pyramid of one’s life.”  When considering “a life”, every one of us is building our own..day by day..action by action..thought by thought.  Seems like we can build a grand pyramid that stands the test of time or one that is brought down in no time by the elements of life..challenges, aging, outside circumstances..

The pyramid is the strongest most stable form in the universe due a large base that leads upwards to a small, pinpoint top.  We all know that many pyramids that are with us today were constructed over 2000 years ago and have withstood the test of time.  We can use the pyramids as a metaphor for our lives: the more stable our base, the longer we will stand the test of time.

For the past 22 weeks we have been developing a “base” that will enable us to stand the test of time by leading lives in service to others, the effects of which will be felt for generations and to who knows how many people?  By methodically replacing one negative habit with a positive one; by rewiring our subconscious blueprints to create a life of effortlessness and ease; by training our minds to move us closer to every/any desire we want through the magic of progressions..we have been laying the foundation.

John Wooden was called the Wizard of Westwood for his ability to turn out a winning men’s basketball program every single year and for winning 10  championships, 7 of them consecutive.  Wooden created his own pyramid of success comprised of 15 qualities/virtues he believed were necessary to perform at an optimal level and to lead a worthwhile life.

Having listened to numerous interviews with men who played for Wooden at UCLA, now in their 30’s, 40’s, and beyond..they all say the Wooden had a profound effect on their lives.  Not just in athletics, but in “life.”  These men will in turn pass these qualities down to the next generation and teach it wherever they go.  Who knows how far-reaching Wooden’s teachings will go, but suffice to say..what he put into motion has been going on for 50+ and will for many more decades.  What a great legacy to leave behind.

If you are looking for a simple way to begin rewiring your own life more to your liking, you can use Wooden’s pyramid in the same way we use Franklin’s Makeover…pick one quality each week and 1) focus on implementing it into your life, and 2) look for it in others everywhere you go.  This will help you train your mind.

A side-benefit of doing this is that you will eventually become a self-directed person..you will think for yourself, make “gut” decisions, and set the sails for wherever you want to go.

wooden_pyramid

Master Key Week 22a – “I am with the Organization..”

Remember that cool slogan from back in the ’70’s, “I am with the band?”  It was a line people used when they were trying to sneak into a bar or nightclub for free.

This week the virtue I assigned to myself to look for and implement in my daily affairs was “well-organized.”  I thought I was fairly well-organized in all areas of my life, but when I focused on seeing organization everywhere I went..I have a few things to work on.

My son: he is now three (3) and talk about well-organized.  His eyes begin to shut and that little motor of his shuts down like clockwork right around 9:00pm nightly.  He is up like a bolt at 7:00am.  An hour after he eats..you know what happens then, rain or shine.  Watching him play with his trucks and sandbox..it looks like the dig site at one of Donald Trump’s resorts.  The kid, and all humans, are pre-programmed with an amazing inclination towards being well-organized.

Traffic: if you have lived in or spent any time in Atlanta traffic..you know it is not fun.  The major highways and “perimeter” just were not designed or built with much forethought; traffic seems to be log-jammed in the same places daily.  The volume of traffic during peak times is monumental, i.e. – 100,000 cars moving down the 3-lane 575 each morning headed ITP..inside the perimeter.  Yet with all of this seemingly poor planning and chaos..the traffic is surprising well-organized.  People pretty much know how fast each lane moves; they know when to cut over to get off of Windy Hill Road right before the 285 onramp.  For the sheer volume of cars..the number of accidents is relatively very small.

Nature: anyone could write volumes on how well-organized nature is.  In fact we could probably steer the conversation on nature’s organization into science and religion..there must be a God/higher power who had a hand in organizing everything, right?  I mean, how could all of this happen by luck, right?  Let’s debate this another day.  I double-dog dare you to sit outside for an hour one day and just listen to nature..it has a rhythm.  Watch birds build a nest.  Watch the trees sway in the breeze.  Close your eyes and take this all in.

To me now the world is perfectly well-organized; there is nothing that when left to its own devices is not well-organized and efficient.  It really is amazing, inspiring, and comforting to know that as I am a part of nature, I too am perfectly well-organized in every way..I (we) just need to get out of our own way(s) to let it be.

All are but parts of one stupendous whole, Whose body nature is, and God the soul

Master Key Week 22 – Hope Beyond Circumstance

When we finish reading a chapter of Mandino’s The Greatest Salesman in the World (for those unfamiliar with Og Mandino or his timeless classic..it is not just for those in a sales profession..highly recommended reading and “living the book” for everyone, especially teenagers and young adults)..we have to write our favorite sentence from the previous chapter at the top of the new/current chapter.

We read this sentence aloud before each of our three daily readings.  The sentence from Chapter 5 that resonated the most with me is “..my last must be my best.”  It dovetails nicely into Chapter 6, “Today I will be master of my emotions.”  Mastering our emotions goes a long way towards helping ensure we make “today the best day of our lives.”

Complacency has been the force which “approached me with a smile and the hand of friendship” the past two weeks, and Mandino’s antidote to this negative force is “to remember my competition.”  So when thinking about my competition, I immediately think of other professionals in direct sales, and maybe even some other fathers who stay in great shape.  This is of course a scenario where someone wins and another loses; competitive.

I read an article tonight on the Hall of Fame Quarterback Jim Kelly.  After reading it I thought to myself, “this is my competition, but not in a win/lose way.”  If I were to recall Kelly’s story each time complacency attempted to sit in..I could use it to spur myself back into action with renewed vigor.  This is how I now interpret Mandino’s call to “remember my competition.”

With all that Kelly has and currently goes through, all the while keeping his amazing positive attitude..this is a person with whom I would like to “compete” in order to stay sharp.  Read his story..it has all the makings of a country song..but where all of the losing and setbacks serve a purpose in our hero’s mind.

Kelly is someone who has an inner drive to make his last be his best..and if it is not his last.. he falls to his knees and gives thanks..and gets right back up and keeps moving forward.

Enjoy Jim’s story and may you draw inspiration from it as I do, and perhaps think of him when you need to think of competition..striving to keep and attitude and perspective as Kelly does will serve to make you and I better at all we do..including living life.

http://espn.go.com/nfl/story/_/id/10549870/former-buffalo-bills-quarterback-jim-kelly-patiently-endures-cancer-loss

Master Key Week 21 – Politics and Critical Thinking

I was blessed to receive a high-school education taught by the Jesuits.  They taught us how to effectively read, write, speak, and critically think..along with drinking, swearing, and smoking.  It was a great education.

Big Ideas vs Small Ideas – the men and women who founded America were discussing big ideas and were up against the clock on getting things done.  They did their job and created a Republic unlike any that ever existed in human history.  Today’s politicians, and those dating back about 100 years (in my estimation), deal in small, petty ideas.  They attempt to dress them up as Big Ideas..but if they truly were, there would be power imbued in them and some growth would occur…but outside of some isolated instances, this just is not the case.

For a couple of years I make LOTS of political posts on social media, and was caught up in the back-and-forth of defending one side of the aisle that was right in all ways (my side) and in denouncing the “others” (see Lost).  Then, not sure how it happened, I began using the critical-thinking skills I learned in high school and dropped it almost all together.  When I really got in touch with my two personal pivotal needs (autonomy and liberty) it became quite clear to me that getting caught up in political discussion is a complete waste of time.

When stepping back and examining the two major parties in America, and politics in general world-wide…it is so clear that they do not work.  The politicians do not work…the arguing does not work…the defending does not work…it is a waste of valuable time and effort.

We live in the greatest period of humankind: the democratization of technology and the instant sharing of information; the ability to create and amass extreme wealth in an absurdly short amount of time; every bit of knowledge since the dawning of mankind available on a smart-phone..and yet our political parties are unable to balance a budget, end a war, ensure that supplies and aid reach the intended recipients.

In Chapter 21, Hannel cuts right to the chase in showing how we each have the same power, that of the Infinite, within us…no one has more or less, unless willfully ceding it to another.  To me it is a very hopeful chapter because he lays out the natural law of power as well as spells out the two types of people in the world with regards to power, and how the tides are turning.  A few outtakes:

20. The real battle of life is one of ideas; it is being fought out by the few against the many; one the one side is the constructive and creative thought, on the other side the destructive and negative thought….on both sides are men of science, men of letters, and men of affairs.

22. In the last analysis there are but these two classes; all men will have to take their place on one side or the other; they will have to go forward, or go back; there is no standing still in a world where all is motion; it is this attempt to stand still that gives sanction and force to arbitrary and unequal codes of the law.

23. That we are in a period of transition is evidenced by the unrest which is everywhere apparent.  The complaint of humanity is as a roll of heaven’s artillery, commencing with low and threatening notes and increasing until the sound is sent from cloud to cloud, and the lightening splits the air and earth.

25. The issue between the old regime and the new, the crux of the social problem, is entirely a question of conviction in the minds of the people as to the nature of the Universe.  When they realize that the transcendent force of spirit or mind of the Cosmos is within each individual, it will be possible to frame laws that shall consider the liberties and rights of the many instead of the privileges of the few.

Challenge for you: take a good, hard look at the political landscape:  Has anything really changed in the past 50-100 years?  Take a good, hard look at your personal political views: are they really yours or are you borrowing or perhaps learned them from someone else?  Do you views serve you and if so, how?

I would suggest to you that for the past 100-150 years or so there have been two classes in America and most nations worldwide: the political class and the non-political class.  The first is charged with serving the second, but that just does not seem to be the reality.

I wrote this post as Russia began occupying the Ukraine, and the outcry and rhetoric of the political community has begun.  Do we have any critical thinkers left in D.C.?  We are about to find out.  Let’s all put on our critical-thinking caps and adopt what truly serves us and drop what does not.