Saturday, October 26, 2013

A Precious Life - Tony P.

This past Sunday, I delivered the following eulogy to honor my brother's life, and to provide perspective for the rest of us.

We shared a special bond, one that few brothers are blessed to enjoy. Many of you have already shared with me some amazing stories about how he touched your life as well.

Thank you for all of your support, thoughts and prayers.


There are only two naturally innate fears – the fear of falling and the fear of loud noises. The rest are learned. They say the #1 learned fear is public speaking, and #2 is death. Go figure, he gives me the harder one…

I’m actually not afraid of speaking, but I’m afraid that I’m not prepared to talk today. I’m not prepared at all. I should not be standing up here. This day came way too soon. But I am honored to be speaking on my brother’s behalf. He has now faced death head on, ending a long and courageous fight.

You may know him as Tony, or Anthony. I always called him Ant.

This is such a sad day for all of us. We have lost a brother, a husband, a son, a father, a relative, a friend. We have lost a true original. I was not the only person at the visitation last night expecting Ant to open his eyes and flash a smile.

This is such a happy day for Ant. He is in the comforting arms of the Father. He put his faith in Jesus many years ago, providing a beautiful testimony at his baptism. He was a great man, and was always striving to be a better man. Like all of us, he did not live a perfect life – before, or after, that day. But through his faith his sins were washed clean by the blood of Jesus.

If you don’t have that faith, get it.

Anyone who has known Ant for a long time remembers a lively, vibrant man. Whether a joke, a skit, or a comment that no one else would think – or dare – to make, you often found yourself shaking your head in disbelief, but laughing to the point of pain and tears.

He often asked why he was given all the bad breaks when it came to his health. He had a lot of them. But he kept his spirit for a long time, and in that he was an inspiration.

In James 1, it says, “Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.”

My brother is now complete. He is in a glorified body, free of all the sickness he experienced here.

One personal note: Mom – I do get the last word - Anthony broke the Dresden figurine.

On by brother’s tombstone, it will say June 24, 1963, the date of his birth. Then there will be a dash. Then it will say October 16, 2013, the date he left us. That dash represents his life. It represents what we are remembering about him today.

If you’ve attended a funeral service before, you may have heard a challenge about life. A challenge about the value of time, the fact that you are not guaranteed a tomorrow. What did you do when you heard that message?  Anything?

You are faced with that same message today. What are you going to take from Tony’s passing? What are you going to do differently today? What real changes are you going to make in your life?

If there is a dream to chase, I’m going to chase it.

If there is something to say, I’m going to say it.

If there is a friendship to repair, I will make the first move.

Frankly, someday may not come. You may hear that there’s always tomorrow – eventually, there is not.

You see, I think we will experience two very different feelings when we face our Lord. As a believer, the first will be the joy of an eternal relationship in the presence of God. The second? I believe we will be shown everything more that we were capable of doing. For many, that will be a very wide, and very sad, gap.

The older I get, the more I meet people my age who express regret for the way they’ve lived their lives.  Sometimes it’s what they have done; more often, it’s what they haven’t.

D.L. Moody said, "Our greatest fear should not be of failure, but of succeeding at something that doesn't really matter.”

Let me ask you. What is your passion? What is the purpose of your life?

Are you a consumer, or a producer?

Is your life adding value to the lives of others?

Do you have a mission – a passion?  And do you have the courage to chase it?

I’ve seen firsthand the difference living with passion – living out a mission – has made in people’s lives.  When you are in pursuit of a mission, it’s unmistakable to the people around you. It transforms everyone around you. It’s infectious.  It fills them with the same passion, the same energy.

How does your family see you, every night when you return home from the battle? Even in the toughest of days, do you wear a smile knowing you were in pursuit of your passion? Can your family see it in your eyes?  Can you stand in front of your family and say you gave your all?

Turning that around just a bit can be very convicting… Can your children, perhaps your spouse, say they’ve seen you give your all for them?

You are not guaranteed tomorrow – Ant thought he had more tomorrows.

I wish he did. I miss him. I know you do as well.

What will you do with that feeling? Find what drives you, and chase it.

The great men and women of history were not great because of what they earned and owned. They were great because they gave themselves to people and causes that lived beyond them.

When the paratroopers jumped into Normandy in June 1944, did you know that some men refused to jump? Can you imagine what it was like, the rest of these men’s lives, because of their fear, their refusal to jump? They lived on. But it was said that their lives ended the moment they refused to leave the plane.

We all will die in the end – there’s no excuse to die in the middle! Everyone has to pay one way or another.  You can give into your fears and pay with your life; or you can pay the price of overcoming your fears and live.  It’s your choice.

Sometimes, all the inspiration you need falls into one simple question.  When you reach the end, what story do you want to tell?  When you are gone, what story will others be telling?

Please, in honor of my brother, make a commitment today to live each day to the fullest. When you think of him tomorrow, ask yourself if you’re honoring the commitment you made today.

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

A Lesson From The Kid

What did you dream about when you were a kid?

Bruce Willis plays the adult Rusty (Russ) Duritz in the movie, “The Kid”. Giving credit to the Internet Movie Database ( the main premise reads:

"Russ Duritz is a wealthy L.A. image consultant, but as he nears 40, he's cynical, dogless, chickless, estranged from his father, and he has no memories of his childhood. One night he surprises an intruder, who turns out to be a kid named Rusty, almost 8 years old."

That kid is Russ himself. I love his eight year old summary of his 40 year old self.

“So, I'm forty, I'm not married, I don't fly jets, and I don't have a dog? I grow up to be a loser.”

Are you the person you imagined you would be? Are you living the life you dreamed when you were a kid? Would the eight year old “you” say you grew up to be a loser?

What did you dream about back then? Did you have a poster of a minivan (black light poster, of course!) on your bedroom wall? Did they even make posters of cubicles and credit card debt? Did you surround yourself with such images? NO!

Most guys had the Ferrari - or your favorite Italian car ending in a vowel - along with sports heroes, a favorite band, and perhaps a dream girl or two.

The girls rooms? Perhaps posters of the latest teen heart throb, perhaps a hero. Maybe the room was filled with dolls, princesses, cheerleading trinkets and prom bouquets. Perhaps a musical instrument or a favorite sport.

Memories intertwined with dreams for the future. Not to belittle where life led us, but does it match the life we imagined? Is it a life we actively created, or what simply happened? What would you tell the eight year old you?

Looking back doesn’t change anything. Unless we learn something, and it changes our thinking. And if we leverage that new thinking to take different actions.

If you stay on your current course, where will you be in five years? Do you like those results? What does that mean ten years will look like? If you could shape that future self, create your dream life, what would you do?

If the “you” five years from now could speak into your life today, what would you say? What would you tell yourself to do, starting today? What would you beg yourself to stop doing, today?

Do you hear what you are saying?

Monday, February 25, 2013

A Life of Significance – The Rascal

One of the greatest lies you can buy into is that your life, your purpose, is insignificant.  Perhaps you have bought into the lie that you are not equipped for a life of significance, not strong enough, not worthy, or simply not worth anything all that dramatic. 

Nothing could be further from the truth.  There is no one that can replace you in your mission.  No one can fulfill your unique purpose.  If your place is left unattended, your mission will be left undone.  No one else can be who you were meant to be.

You need to allow yourself to become the unique individual you were created to be.  You need to stop worrying about what everyone else thinks.  You need to stop trying to be what everyone else wants you to be.  You need to find the courage and the freedom to be yourself.

Personal development – development to maximize your gifts and your talents, unlocks amazing potential and provides a wealth of opportunity. Oddly, many people instead spend their whole life trying to change how they were made.  They ignore their talents, their gifts and their strengths and actually try to change their natural makeup.  Instead, they should do everything in their power to build on them.

What a shame to deny your purpose and abandon your dreams from a lack of courage to pursue them. What a shame to allow your life to be wasted on a career, or series of occupations, that you accepted as a result of obligation.

You were created so that your life would count, not to count the days of your life. Average people compare themselves with others; extraordinary people always compare themselves with who they have been called to be.

Bottom line, if you have read this far, and this resonates with you, I believe you are called to be a Rascal.  What is a Rascal? Author Chris Brady shares it well, in his “Rascal Manifesto.”

Rascal Manifesto – Chris Brady
  • I was born free and I intend to live like it. 
  • This means that I will live my life while I'm alive.
  • No one owns me except my Creator.
  • No one can put me in a box, a category, a social group, a voting bloc, or a classification.
  • I am fiercely independent, and with those aligned with me in common purpose, interdependent.
  • I know that with my freedom comes responsibility.
  • I take responsibility for my own actions, and I hold the bar high on myself.
  • I am not afraid to struggle, because it's the struggle that makes me great.
  • I know that excellence always lies on the other side of inconvenience.
  • I am a learning machine.
  • I read, I confront brutal reality, I grow.
  • Long term, no one and nothing can defeat me, because I will keep coming back, stronger and better than before.
  • I will educate myself about the true principles of freedom, and I will strive mightily to preserve freedom for the next generation.
  • I rely on no man and no government to provide for me.
  • I will not follow the herd of mediocrity and victim-thinking.
  • I don't follow herds, instead I run with a pack - a pack of Rascals.
  • Let others bask in their privileges, as for me, I will invest them in my purpose.
  • I will defy tyranny.
  • I will charge the hill.
  • I will make a difference. 
  • I'm a Rascal!

I believe I am called to be a Rascal.  As a Rascal, what follows below are my thoughts on the purpose I am called to live.  As I continue down this path, I’m sure this will be refined and an even deeper purpose will be revealed. I share this here as a reminder to myself, to guide my steps and empower my actions…

I believe that everyone is called upon to be a leader sometime during the course of their life, even if only for a season. I believe I am called to be a leader. I believe I am called to develop other leaders as well. I believe that one person can make a difference. I believe that I can, I do, and I will continue to make a difference.

I am thankful for my privileges, and I leverage them for my purpose rather than my pleasures. I choose to step out and lead, and I will serve those I am called to help. I will even polarize, if necessary, to serve my purpose rather than compromise myself to please those who may disagree with me.

I am concerned about the freedoms on which our country was founded, and the principles that serve as that foundation. I am concerned about personal finances, and the individual freedoms or constraints that they drive. I am concerned about healthy relationships, healthy marriages and healthy parenting. I am concerned about the information - the “thinking” - that we are using to guide our decisions.

I refuse to compromise my character in any circumstance or environment, no matter the cost.  I strive to be the same person both in private and in public, in thought and in action, devoted to personal discipline and self-mastery. I never stop learning and growing, always drawing from the best sources of information.  I guard my thoughts from unwholesome information and unhealthy environments.  I seek wise counsel and mentorship.

I am the leader of my family. My life will produce lasting impact through generations. I will impact lives globally and eternally. I am on a mission to change lives, one person and one family at a time if necessary. I am willing to partner with those who have a passion to do the same.

I am ultimately accountable to my Creator, and my life is dedicated to His purpose for me. I am responsible for discovering, and living, that purpose to the fullest.

If you are indeed a Rascal, you may share in some of these thoughts, but this will certainly not define you verbatim. This is my mission, and I am uniquely equipped to live it. I invite you to find out what makes you a Rascal, write it down (and share it if you dare), and set out to live it to the best of your ability. When you unlock the Rascal within, I believe you will be amazed.

Monday, January 28, 2013

Time to Make a Difference

How many days are in the typical person’s life? How many hours? How many minutes?

Think about it. What is the average lifespan, and how far along are you? Is it 70? More than that? Perhaps less? In reality, we’re not even guaranteed tomorrow.

Take away time for sleep. Take away time for work. How much time do you really have left?

The math is important, but perhaps it's based on the wrong timeline. Do you to have children? How many days do you have left with them until they turn 18 and go off to college? How many days until the life and direct interactions you have with them now no longer exist? If you’re busy all week in business, count the weekends where you have more face time with them.

Count the number of days that you have with them to make a difference. You have them - are you using them?

Consider the chances you have to make a mark, to give them the tools, to give them the ability to make choices for themselves. The tools that enable them to handle the freedom of life.

You see, the freedom that our children will enjoy is not the absence of our rules and the limitations from the choices we make for them. Freedom is when they will make those choices themselves.

Will your children be prepared? Have you provided the right influence, the right guidance, so that when they leave you they are equipped to handle life?

Have you consistently invested the time with them before they leave to earn the chance to help guide them after they are gone? You see, the influence forced by dependence when they are children will no longer exist. The influence and involvement thereafter is by invitation only - and you’re not the one sending it.

How are you going to invest the very next hour that you have in your life? How many do you have left?

Thursday, January 17, 2013

A Conversation on Privileges

"Our privileges are not for our pleasure, but rather for our purpose."

A gentleman that I very much admire and respect often shares that very powerful quote.

What does it say to you? What does it mean to you, if anything?

I am first reminded that there is absolutely nothing wrong with enjoying our privileges. Absolutely nothing at all. But are they shared, or are they selfishly consumed? Are they used to enrich the lives of others, or are they used as a tool of self-promotion? Do they reach and improve lives at the extent of one’s circle of influence, perhaps even allow one to grow that circle and touch even more lives?

What do you consider your privileges? For many of us, we immediately think of money, of material riches - our “stuff” if you will. We are all blessed to a different degree. Some are certainly blessed with so much more than others. Many have worked countless hours, perhaps decades, for those riches. There is no doubt that they are hard earned and well deserved. The question remains, to the extent of your own privileges - why… for what purpose?

If we were to take a global perspective, even the poorest of us in this nation are living above the means and enjoying a standard of living far in excess of the rest of the world. I give thanks for such blessings every day, and I’m constantly reminded to consider the responsibilities that come with those blessings. If kept to myself, those privileges are certainly wasted.

I submit that our privileges reach far beyond material gains. What about the information we have in hand that could change lives. What about principles that we’ve learned, concepts that others have shared which have placed us on a better path in life? What about life lessons and experiences? How selfish to waste these only on ourselves.

What about those skills and talents unique to us? If we don’t use them to the fullest, for more than just our own gain, I wonder if we even deserve them.

What about positions of leadership - in our homes, in our community or in our government? If leveraged for personal glory and profit versus service and impact, better that the fall would come more quickly than the ascent.

Our privileges are not for our pleasure, but rather for our purpose. As you consider your life mission, your purpose, examine how your privileges have been provided to help you reach your fullest potential and greatest impact.

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Meaningful Resolutions

Year after year, we make the same resolutions:

I'm going to lose weight.

I'm going to spend more time with my family.

I'm going to work out.

I'm going to quit smoking...

... fall in love, get organized, stop something, start something.

How about this - stop making the same old annual resolutions that don't ever amount to much?

How about one single resolution, "This year, I will transform my life."

In his book "Resolved, 13 Resolutions for LIFE," Orrin Woodward outlines 13 resolutions that can do just that - transform your life. Imagine if you would focus on just one of these every week for the next 13 weeks, and repeat that for three more 13-week cycles the remainder of the year. Where would you be this time next year?

If these resolutions sound like a meaningful challenge for you, and you are serious about pursuing them, let's talk!

Orrin Woodward’s Thirteen Resolutions from RESOLVED

1.) Purpose: I resolve to discover my God-given purpose.

I know that when my potential, passions and profits intersect, my purpose is revealed.

2.) Character: I resolve to choose character over reputation anytime they conflict.

I know that my character is who I am, and my reputation is only what others say that I am.

3.) Attitude: I resolve to have a positive attitude in all situations.

I know that my beliefs determine my attitudes, which lead to my results.

4.) Programming the Elephant: I resolve to align my conscious (ant) with my subconscious (elephant) mind towards my vision.

I know that ending the civil war between them is crucial for all achievement.

5.) Game Plan and Do: I resolve to develop and implement a game plan in each area of my life.

I know that planning and doing are essential parts of the success process.

6.) Keeping Score: I resolve to keep score in the game of life.

I know that the scoreboard forces me to check and confront the results, making the needed adjustments in order to win.

7.) Friendship: I resolve to develop the art and science of friendship.

I know that everyone needs a true friend to lighten the load when life gets heavy.

8.) Financial Management: I resolve to develop financial intelligence.

I know that my wealth is compounded when incomes are higher than expenses over time.

9.) Leadership Resolution: I resolve to develop the art and science of leadership.

I know that everything rises and falls based upon the leadership culture created within my community.

10.) Conflict Resolution: I resolve to develop the art of conflict resolution.

I know that relationship bombs and unresolved conflict destroy a community’s unity and growth.

11.) Systems Thinking: I resolve to develop systems thinking.

I know that by viewing life as interconnected patterns rather than isolated events, I improve my leverage.

12.) Adversity Quotient: I resolve to develop Adversity Quotient.

I know that AQ leads to perseverance in overcoming obstacles and setbacks.

13.) Legacy: I resolve to reverse the current of decline in my field of mastery.

I know that a true legacy leaves the world a better place than I found it.