Archives For Perspective

……….Each year holds the possibility of a new dream.

……..Each month serves as a yardstick to measure our progress.

……Each week offers a game-plan to live intentionally.

….Each day beckons us to realize its gift.

.Each moment crystalizes into meaning as we recognize its worth.

Life, leadership and significance are determined by our reverence of each moment.

The Light of Christmas

December 28, 2013 — Leave a comment

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Another Christmas has come and gone. For me, this holiday is like a mile-marker on the highway of life. Some of my strongest memories come from Christmas’s past. It serves as a grand finale of another year – and it kick-starts my thinking and planning for the next year.

Christmas is one of my favorite times of the year. So much is wrapped up in this holiday – besides gifts. For my family, we have more traditions surrounding this holiday than any other. There is special food that is only prepared during this season. One of my favorites is the spritz cookies that my wife and my mother only bake at Christmas time.

There are movies that we watch every Christmas. Classics like “A Charlie Brown Christmas”, “The Grinch” and “It’s a Wonderful Life”. We pile into the living room, build a fire in the fireplace and enjoy watching these for the umpteenth time.

It’s tradition to go walk through the Fantasy of Lights Christmas light display at the local university. We bundle up and walk past every animated display in the multi-acre wonderland.

Another Beshear family tradition is attending the Christmas Eve candle-light service at our church. The songs of Christmas fill the sanctuary and a peace slowly fills our hearts. We begin to focus our attention on the Christ child – the Christ of Christmas. There’s perhaps no clearer picture of the Light of the World than the silent spread of candlelight passed from person to person. His light, His love, can overcome any darkness.

As you plan for the new year, consider protecting the flame of Christmas. What would happen if we continued to focus on the needs and desires of others? How would we change if we sought, day in and day out, to delight those we serve and love? How much richer would your 2014 be if you kept the flame alive and continued to spread the Light of Christmas?

Unlikely Gifts

December 4, 2013 — Leave a comment

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What we tend to avoid, may indeed be a gift.

The bitter cold creates our love of the crackling fire.

The physical ailment sets the stage for our grateful steps of recovery.

The full schedule leads up to the rejuvenating vacation.

Pronounced thirst precedes the sweetest swigs of water.

The drapes of the darkest night pull back to unveil the brightest dawn.

The very existence of the unpleasant enables the recognition and enjoyment of the good.

If today, in your work or life, you are facing a bitter north wind,

hold on, keep going, your efforts are the kindling for the fire that will warm your tomorrow.

Showing Up

November 14, 2013 — Leave a comment

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All successful people have a habit of showing up.

Sometimes you show up, because you have to.

Sometimes your boss is you.

You realize that the old adage about showing up is half the battle is true.

Showing up is the important first step.

Sizing up, shoring up, boosting up, sprucing up… — all follow showing up.

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I climbed on my bike this weekend and cranked out a hot, sweaty ride. About six miles out, I looked down at my Garmin bike computer, noted my average miles-per-hour and was pleasantly surprised. I’m having a great day, I thought to myself. A few pedal strokes later, I realized that my performance was not the result of the Cliff bar that I had for breakfast, rather, it was built upon the workouts from earlier in the week, and a pretty consistent month of riding.

Today’s success is always preceded by yesterday’s work.

Tomorrow’s success comes only through today’s efforts.

The principle is thousands of years old.
Line upon line…
Precept upon precept…

This is the essence of John Maxwell’s Law of Process.

Start this week knowing that the success to which you aspire will be built upon the solid foundation of today’s work.

Here’s to a great Monday!

Only at High Altitude

September 12, 2013 — Leave a comment

I stood at the base of the steep hill near our house. I had planned to end my early morning walk with three sprints up the hill. Now, standing at the ‘start line’ I waffled a bit. Then I remembered the flowers. On my hike up Pikes Peak this summer, I was struck with the beauty of some tiny flowers that grew beside the trail as we traversed the last barren couple of miles above tree line. (see photo below)

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We didn’t see this particular type of flowers at the lower elevations. Although we started the hike higher than a mile above sea level, it was not until we were over two miles above sea level that nature offered the beauty of these little flowers. I’m no botanist, but there must be something about the thin, oxygen-depleted air at 11,000 feet and beyond that coaxes these brilliant flowers from the hard, rocky soil.

Had we not reached this altitude, we would have missed these tenacious little flowers. Had we not been intentional about our goal to summit this great peak, and planned accordingly, we would have never reached this altitude.

The parallels to our life in the lowlands are clear. There are delightful experiences and rewards for those who focus on a goal, then design and implement the processes to take them there. The high altitude of the Rockies is not for the faint of heart, and neither is the rigor that leads to success in business and life.

Both have their challenges, and both have their rewards. When you struggle today in your life or work, remember that your intentional efforts to create, build and grow something meaningful will, in time, yield results that are extraordinary.

Neither success nor significance are achieved in the valleys of the ordinary. Ahhhh, but the heights reached through the intentional pursuit of our dreams yield splashes of color. It is only through focused effort that we encounter the unexpected rewards of doing something well and tapping our potential.

Back to the hill – I remembered the unanticipated blessings of reaching the top of Pikes Peak and knew my next move; I sprinted up the hill, and again, and again. Our intentional investment in today will pay dividends in the future.

Establish a goal, plan your route to success, take one step at a time. You’ll be glad you did.

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Have you ever become aware of history in the making? Have you pulled up from the activity at hand and realized that something special was happening beneath the surface? Such was last weekend for me.

It all started earlier in the year when our 19-year-old daughter, Emma, mentioned the idea of scaling a 14,000 ft.+ peak (or 14er) this summer. The idea intrigued me and I soon began to realize the impact of such a challenge. What a great way to step out of our comfort zones and stretch into an area of growth. Plus, the idea of bonding with Emma over a shared, conquered goal had the makings of a life-long memory.

Time went on and occasionally one of us would mention the topic. Finally, about three weeks ago, we were in Colorado and visited Emma at Eagle Lake Camp, where she is working this summer. We compared calendars, and picked July 27, 2013 as the date to climb Pikes Peak, our first 14er!

If you’ve driven through Colorado Springs, Colorado, you have noticed the massive peak standing guard over the city and surrounding mountains, imposing its massive height of 14,110 feet on the landscape.

On the Friday before our hike, our 18-year-old son, Zach, and I pulled into town. Pikes Peak and the surrounding mountains formed various shades of gray-green. The overlaid shadows created a beautiful pallet of tones, almost eerie in the mist of afternoon thunderstorms. Pikes Peak seemed to stand in defiance, almost taunting me for even thinking about conquering it.

Saturday morning started with a 4:00 Marimba alarm tone on my iPhone announcing it was showtime. By 5:50 we were starting our hike up the Barr Trail of Pikes Peak. The trail is 13 miles and represents an increase in elevation of 7,500 feet – the largest gain of any mountain trail in Colorado.

Emma, Zach, my nephew Peter, and I began our hike to the top, where we planned to eat a famous Pikes Peak donut, rest, and then ride the Cog Train back down the mountain.

We plodded up the trail, occasionally stopping to still our beating hearts and catch our breaths. We’d take a quick drink and then return to our steady pace – onward and upward!

Pikes Peak is known for dangerous lightening storms that pop up in the afternoon. The threat of early afternoon lightning kept us moving. We needed to summit by mid-day to avoid the more probable lightning strikes that occur in the afternoon. Close to tree-line, we saw multiple trees that had been struck by lightning – somber sentinels warning us of this real threat as we climbed higher.

The first six miles were challenging but unfolded with comparable ease. The last half of the hike proved to be more difficult. The final three miles could be best described as grueling. At one point, Emma turned to me and, between panting breaths said, “I’m going to die”. I replied “Yes, you will, but not today!”

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It became all we could do to walk several yards and then stop to recover, before continuing up the trail and repeating the cycle. The farther we hiked, the less oxygen the atmosphere offered up to our burning lungs.

I love challenges like this because they reward the persistence of those who dare to conquer them. Victory does not require the fleet-of-foot, it simply demands that you persist – that you don’t give up.

Finally, after eight hours of hiking, we reached the summit. Zach and Peter arrived first, then a few minutes later, Emma waited for me to catch up with her so that we could summit together. What a moment! The “Why did we do this?” comments that I heard earlier in the hike turned to grateful exuberance upon reaching the top.

Perhaps most gratifying to this father is hearing two of my children say, “Dad, this was the hardest thing that I have ever done.” WOW, a statement like that makes a dad’s heart leap. You see, we live in a world that so often tries to limit our options and dismiss our true potential. Even worse, we tend to play negative, self-limiting recordings in our minds daily. “You can’t do this”, “You don’t know how to do that”. You know what I am talking about.

I have no doubt that the our experience of hiking up Pikes Peak will echo in our hearts and minds for years to come. Children, grandchildren and great grandchildren will hear the story, and be inspired to write their own. I am already thinking about which 14er to climb next.

The experience was a poignant life lesson, and provided a glimpse of our potential. True growth and discovery always lie just outside our comfort zone. We stepped out of the status quo and reached heights (physically and mentally) that we have never enjoyed before.

What’s your Pikes Peak? What challenge in business or life will you decide to conquer? I know this, that the struggle will create a memorable journey, and the results will take you to a new level of achievement. It all begins with the first step at the trailhead.

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I am writing this post while on vacation in Colorado. Karen and I are enjoying the cool weather, majestic scenery and getting our share of fly fishing therapy.

One purpose of this post is to serve as a reminder – a reminder for me when we are planning our summer next year. You see, we often hesitate and go back and forth over whether to vacation and if so, for how long. Note to self: Go on vacation! It is well worth the time and money.

The time away from home has been extraordinary. Karen and I have grown closer and enjoyed the extended time together. It seems like the hectic pace of everyday life saps our energy and sometimes our zeal for one another. Pulling away for a vacation allows us to reconnect and rekindle our relationship.

Another benefit of vacation is how I get to thinking bigger. The down-time seems to stoke my future-casting. I start to ask myself deeper questions: What do I want in life? Why am I here?

I start to dream about “what if” scenarios instead of the more limiting “Oh well” type of thinking. Rather than thinking about today, my thoughts drift to five, ten and twenty years in the future.

Vacationing is an excellent time to make memories. Memories from past vacations are one of the strongest bonds that help define our family. We still laugh about the time several years ago that our older three kids got into some hot sauce named “Toxic Waste” at a burrito place in Crested Butte.

After a short while, they all three wound up crying in unison – Ben and Zach with burning mouths and Emma somehow getting it in her eyes. As we consoled the suffering, all Karen and I could do was laugh! A trip to the ice cream store across the street helped to quench the fire.
(The photo below is one that I took this week of the “Wall of Fire” when we strolled into the same burrito place for old times sake.)

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Even today, we made a memory that will last a lifetime. Karen and I were fly fishing and all of a sudden I heard her yelp. I looked up and she had a dry fly stuck into her lip! She was saying, “elp me, elp me” with a little bit of a lisp.

Even though in pain, she had the presence of mind to say “take a picture!” before we proceeded to extract the hook from her lip. The hook didn’t go deep, and we had a great laugh together after the fly was out of her mouth – and we captured the image to share with the rest of our family (see picture below). By the way, she proceeded to out-fish me and caught a really nice 15 inch brown trout on a dry fly!

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I guess what I’m saying is “Vacations are good” – and not just because of fun times and new places. Vacations strengthen our family relationships, expand the horizons of our thinking and create defining memories for years to come.

Survive or Thrive?

June 27, 2013 — Leave a comment

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I was in a conversation lately where one person made the comment that the goal of every business is to survive. That got me to thinking.

Is my goal to survive or thrive?

I think it is an important question. How we answer determines the vision that we cast as leaders.

Survival implies defense. To thrive implies offense.

Survival tends toward reaction. To thrive encourages proactive thinking.

Surviving exists in a context of rations and scarcity.

Thriving exists in a context of options and abundance.

Do you think most often think about surviving or thriving?

Your answer will almost certainly predict the impact of your life and your business.

Dip or Squeeze

June 20, 2013 — Leave a comment

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I was talking with my youngest daughter this morning. We chatted about our recent trip to the new Chick-fil-A in town.

I said something about liking the ketchup packets. She responded – “yeah, you have options – you can dip or squeeze.” If you have encountered this type of ketchup packet, you know what she means.

You can peel up the bottom corner and dip your fries into the container, or you can tear off the ‘neck’ of the packet and squeeze the tomato goodness out the top. The package, and the choices it offers are notable – at least for ketchup lovers.

While “Dip or Squeeze” ketchup packets break new ground in the fast food arena, the concept of options has significant implications for business in general.

Do you give your customers options? Their needs vary. Their circumstances change. What resonates with one customer may totally miss the mark with another.

Starting up a business requires focus and start-ups often benefit from limiting options, rather than creating more. It’s often wise to role out simple products and services. Such decisions decrease our time-to-market and provide a base-line for future changes and growth.

There comes a time, though, when people want a different color — they want baked, not fried – or prefer to dip rather than squeeze – and they want to decide based on their current needs and desires!

Who is walking away from your product or service because they don’t see it meeting their wants or needs?

When we started our prepaid phone card company, we simplified our offering into one flat rate card. The cards sold well, and we added customers and retailers on a monthly basis. Over time, however, the market changed. We heard new and recurring suggestions from our customers. Competitors began to offer other types of calling cards.

We got busy and designed a card that offered two rate plans – one was a flat rate per minute, the other offered a one-time surcharge per call and a much lower price per minute. (shown below) The customer could choose which rate plan that they preferred.

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The guy who used our card to call his girlfriend and talk for two hours was real happy about out our new card and the ability to choose a rate plan that better-met his needs.

Options create opportunity. Opportunity to attract new customers – and keep old ones satisfied. What new options can you offer today?