Friday, May 1, 2009

The History of Our Freedom

I've been watching the HBO mini series John Adams on DVD. What a powerful account of the efforts and sacrifices made by our forefathers to secure the freedom and liberties that our nation enjoys today.

There are likely several inaccuracies in this account compared to the true history of these events. Frankly, that's not going to make me throw out the overall message. The principles, and their basis, are too important to ignore.

I hope that more people study our history - the events, the foundations, the perspectives and the people - to better understand the origins of the freedom that was secured on our behalf. We need to learn from our history and foundational principles rather than discard them out of ignorance.

I would also hope that we would more carefully understand the references that we cite in our political arguments, such as our constitution and the bill of rights, to understand the true language and purpose behind the writings created to both document and preserve our freedom.

As one of my mentors often says, "Know why you believe what you believe."

What made us a free nation will keep us free. What made us strong will keep us strong. What was won on our behalf must be preserved.

"Freedom is never more than one generation away from extinction. We didn't pass it to our children in the bloodstream. It must be fought for, protected, and handed on for them to do the same."

Ronald Reagan

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Success is a Decision

"I found every single successful person I've ever spoken to had a turning point and the turning point was where they made a clear specific unequivocal decision that they were not going to live like this anymore. That they were going to achieve success. And some people make that decision at 15 and some people make it at 50, and most people never make it at all."

Brian Tracy

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

The Incentive to Succeed

One of my network connections sent out a weekly commentary today. Great information to spur thought and conversation.

"Lyndon Johnson declared a War on Poverty, some 40+ years ago. Based on proposals I've seen, it appears that a War on Prosperity is on its way.

Current proposals would increase the top federal income tax rate to 39.6% for those with $200,000 in AGI, or $250,000 in AGI for joint filers.

In addition, about one-third of these earner's deductions would be disallowed, and we can expect payroll (FICA) taxes to be applied to all income over $250,000.

This combination of benefits will increase taxes for taxpayers in this bracket by about half. Finally, capital gains tax rates are expected to increase to 20%.

The beauty of this strategy is that the 2% of taxpayers affected cast only about 4% of the votes."

I was drawn to the final line about "votes" represented by the impacted taxpayers. I recall the recent elections and the campaign platforms, and put the entirety of this commentary in that perspective. It suggests that the slim minority of the voting public, affected by these proposals, lack the power to respond with any force in the ballot box.

I think that a review of history and a comparison of other national economies have both shown, however, that the general prosperity intended by this redistribution would eventually drive the opposite results. The incentive to succeed, to work towards prosperity, becomes a negative incentive when the fruits of those efforts are taken away. Over time, when the rewards diminish, the incentive to prosper fades as well.

I welcome your comments and insights.

Monday, March 16, 2009

The Making of a Champion

Here's a quote that I heard tonight on a conference call. It's an incredible reminder of the activity - the work, the sweat, and often the time - required to reach your victory.

The most concise description I have heard is this:
Dream, Struggle, Victory

Many want to skip right to the end! They have a dream. They expect the victory. You can't just skip a step. If you want the victory, you must endure the struggle. And the greater the victory you desire, the greater your struggle.

Besides, if was that easy, would it really be worth it?

The quote? Enjoy...

"I hated every minute of training, but I said,
'Don't quit. Suffer now and live the rest of your life as a champion.' ''

Muhammad Ali

Sunday, March 15, 2009

History Lesson... or is that an Economy Lesson?

"All the perplexities, confusion and distress in America arise, not from defects in their Constitution or Confederation, not from want of honor or virtue, so much as from the downright ignorance of the nature of coin, credit and circulation."

John Adams

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Attitude is Everything

"Nothing can stop the man with the right mental attitude from achieving his goal; nothing on earth can help the man with the wrong mental attitude."

Thomas Jefferson

Monday, March 9, 2009

A Plan for Financial Success

What if you had a plan for financial success?

Ron Blue recently testified before a Senate subcommittee conducting hearings on “Solutions for a New Era: Jobs and Families.“ Mr. Blue was appearing based on his solid reputation of financial expertise.

A Senator asked him what the average American family should do in the current economy. Ron Blue said that the American family could benefit from following a four-part financial plan:

Think long-term with goals and investing
Spend less than you earn
Maintain liquidity (or emergency savings)
Minimize the use of debt

Think Long Term: The longer term your perspective, the better financial decisions you will make.

Spend Less Than You Earn: You need to know what you are earning, what you are spending, have a plan and monitor it. Over the long term, this will contribute to financial success.

Maintain Emergency Savings: A reserve will help you ride out the surprises of life and avoid debt.

Minimize and Eliminate Debt: Debt may allow you to have more now, but it reduces your ability to have more in the future. Debt is an obligation on your future income, and because of compounding, it may represent the single most important factor influencing your future financial success.

These four principles work in concert. Together, they represent a formula for financial success.

These principles are so timely to today’s economic climate. Perhaps because they are timeless. They are by no means new; they trace back for thousands of years.

The principles have endured the test of time. They are independent of the economy - recession or boom. They are insensitive to oil prices and the real estate market. Many rich people, and likely many more poor people, can attest to them.

Those that have followed this path in recent years are comfortably surviving - some thriving - in the economic concerns of today. If you have been following them, continue. You will continue to thrive.

If you are in crisis, there is no better time to start then now. You can not establish a strong financial foundation without them. They will lead you out of your crisis, and help you prevent them in the future.

Note - reference source “Surviving Financial Meltdown” by Ron Blue and Jeremy White.

Spreading the Wealth

I received this in an e-mail recently. I welcome your comments!

You cannot legislate the poor into freedom by legislating the wealthy out of freedom.

What one person receives without working for, another person must work for without receiving.

The government cannot give to anybody anything that the government does not first take from somebody else.

When half of the people get the idea that they do not have to work because the other half is going to take care of them, and when the other half gets the idea that it does no good to work because somebody else is going to get what they work for, that my dear friend, is about the end of any nation.

You cannot multiply wealth by dividing it.

Thursday, February 26, 2009


"I contend that for a nation to try to tax itself into prosperity is like a man standing in a bucket and trying to lift himself up by the handle."

Winston Churchill

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Never Give Up

Winston Churchill is widely considered one of the greatest leaders in history. The freedoms many nations enjoy today are in large part due to the stand that he and his country took during the second world war.

Researching leadership, I have found Churchill time and time again credited with some of the most thought provoking quotes - sayings that apply today as much or more than they did in the context of their original delivery. Principles are indeed timeless.

One quote for Churchill seems to stand out among all the others. Its about perseverance, a strength that all great leaders and successful people have shown. It is by far one of his most quoted speeches, in part due to distortions about what he actually said. The myth is that he stood before a group of students later in his life and delivered a short, one-line speech and returned to his seat. You may have heard a version similar to this:

"Never, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever, give in. Never give in. Never give in."

If that had been his entire speech, the message and the dramatic effect both would have been sufficiently powerful. That’s likely why it is repeated so often. I find it important to know the full message, in full context. We can appreciate that message, and the principle, more fully.

On October 29, 1941, Winston Churchill visited Harrow School to hear the traditional songs he had sung there as a youth and to speak to the students. The speech was a little less than five minutes in length. The often quoted lines, in full context, are included in the excerpt below.

"You cannot tell from appearances how things will go. Sometimes imagination makes things out far worse than they are; yet without imagination not much can be done. Those people who are imaginative see many more dangers than perhaps exist; certainly many more than will happen; but then they must also pray to be given that extra courage to carry this far-reaching imagination. But for everyone, surely, what we have gone through in this period - I am addressing myself to the School - surely from this period of ten months this is the lesson: never give in, never give in, never, never, never, never-in nothing, great or small, large or petty - never give in except to convictions of honor and good sense. Never yield to force; never yield to the apparently overwhelming might of the enemy. We stood all alone a year ago, and to many countries it seemed that our account was closed, we were finished. All this tradition of ours, our songs, our School history, this part of the history of this country, were gone and finished and liquidated.

"Very different is the mood today. Britain, other nations thought, had drawn a sponge across her slate. But instead our country stood in the gap. There was no flinching and no thought of giving in; and by what seemed almost a miracle to those outside these Islands, though we ourselves never doubted it, we now find ourselves in a position where I say that we can be sure that we have only to persevere to conquer."

This message remains as strong and as true as the day it was spoken. As individuals, and as a nation, we must strive to understand the meaning of and need for perseverance. We must take note of what is at stake, and persevere in the causes, positions and principles that will ensure lasting peace and prosperity.

Friday, January 23, 2009

The Power of Belief

Are we aware of the messages and lessons we pass on to our children? Do we grasp the lasting impact of our messages, spoken and unspoken?

In honor of a new but already dear friend Ruth Adkins and the memory of her father, I am sharing a quote that she passed along today.

"You will because you believe you can"

Twenty years ago, Ruth's father shared this while speaking to her about life challenges she was facing. Little did he realize the power that one simple statement would have.

Ruth has clutched that phrase close to her heart for 20 years, and she pays honor to this incredible man now by passing it on to others. I believe she passes this along as much by example as she does in words.

Ruth has incorporated this in text, spirit and vision within the Inspiring Alliance program she leads for our "Wounded Warriors" - the veterans who have sacrificed for our great country.

Thank you, Ruth, for sharing this message.

For the rest of us, this is a great reminder of the messages and lessons we are sharing in and through our lives - those we hold dear are always watching.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Life Lessons From Gladiator

I love to capture significant thoughts and perspectives. While watching the movie Gladiator, there were two quotes that had me scrambling for my notebook.

Marcus Aurelius: “When a man sees his end, he wants to know there was some purpose to his life. How will the world speak my name in years to come?”

Maximus: “What we do in life echoes in eternity.”

If it all ended today, do you like how your accomplishments and your impact will echo in eternity? Do they even have enough volume, enough significance, to echo at all?

Sadly, many will wait until they see their end to take those questions seriously. When they are finally face to face with their mortal selves, often without the strength, the time or the resources to take action on their answer.

These questions are not reserved for the end. The time to ask is now, today, in this moment. There is no better time to consider your purpose.

Now is the time to know, and now is the time to act.