Life of impact

We make a living by what we get, but we make a life by what we give.  -Winston Churchill

To a member of the military serving in a war zone five, six, or seven days each week, the hardships and the dangers come with the job.   The same can be said for members of law enforcement, or firefighters, or disaster response crews.   Their efforts can often mean preserving themselves or their team and others they are sworn to protect.  But service is not only in times of crisis.  There are professions such as coal miners,  auto mechanics, and shoe sales people who can reliably state they keep industry going, commuters getting to their jobs, and keep people from going shoe-less;  however, these are no less opportunities for personal excellence by helping others achieve their dreams.

Service,  or what Churchill says “making a life by what we give”,  is not exclusive to these times.  Teachers who help struggling students achieve an educational milestone, or a volunteer in a free hospital in an impoverished country aiding someone heal from a disease are other examples.  Others share spiritual understanding and model selflessness by serving others stung by Life’s challenges.   Still others see opportunity in helping our fellow Man to live healthier through education about exercise and proper diet.  Some find opportunity serving others through their talent with investment or protecting and preserving the livelihood of a family through a breadwinner’s recovery from accident or illness.

It is literally true that you can succeed best and quickest by helping others to succeed. – Napoleon Hill

A societal shift in recent years has muddied the understanding of how to raise oneself and those around you through diligent effort.   Many governments in their zeal to protect people from personal weaknesses and to preserve the natural world,  have misunderstood legislatively what it means to achieve those idealistic goals.  They seek to champion the “common Man” yet penalize or stifle individual efforts to find and fill an economic niche.  In order for families to earn a living, someone other than a bureaucracy, through free enterprise,  must create opportunities.

Leadership consists of picking good men and helping them do their best.  – Chester W. Nimitz 

Small businesses make up the majority of the economy of many nations including our own in the United States.  In much of the literature that encourages and teaches entrepreneurs and job seekers to be successful in marketing one’s talents solving others’ problems is key.  To feed a man with free fish for a day is noble.  However, to teach that same Man how to find and catch fish whenever he has need is a much more beneficial solution in the long term.

In the course of history,  many enterprise models have been tried.  Some fail.   Some succeed.  The best of these create a better standard of living for individuals by multiplying their efforts.  No 401k pensioner or mutual fund investor can have the security through only singular investment and a single contributor.  A business owner creates better opportunity for herself  through providing opportunity for others to prosper, and then mentoring those in the team to do the same.    Just like the lessons I learned about servant-leadership as a Chief Petty Officer in the United States Navy.

For more information about the business model I am actively pursuing as a second income stream (domestically and internationally), contact me via email, social media, or this website:

https://mysite.coach.teambeachbody.com/?coachId=1660622&locale=en_US

 

Quotes courtesy of http://www.brainyquote.com

What has “comfort zone” to do with “success”?

In the United States Navy,  and by extension, the other military services,  an individual has fairly equal opportunity to rise up the advancement ladder, and to qualify for challenging assignments.    Leadership, as practiced by some I have had the great fortune to be mentored by, has been recognized by their being awarded positions among the highest authority and responsibility in that service.   By mentorship I mean, demonstrating integrity,  fortitude (in spite of personal hardships), a commitment to excellence and encouraging others to reach beyond “comfort” in doing.

“Every Sailor has the potential to lead. I don’t care if it’s a seaman recruit or someone higher ranking than myself. Where there’s a will, there’s a way. ” (All Hands Call, Norfolk, VA 01 May 2007)

 

“The discipline which makes the soldiers of a free country reliable in battle is not to be gained by harsh or tyrannical treatment. On the contrary, such treatment is far more likely to destroy than to make an army. It is possible to impart instruction and give commands in such a manner and such a tone of voice as to inspire in the soldier no feeling but an intense desire to obey, while the opposite manner and tone of voice cannot fail to excite strong resentment and a desire to disobey. The one mode or the other in dealing with subordinates springs from a corresponding spirit in the breast of the commander. He who feels the respect which is due to others cannot fail to inspire in them respect for himself; while he who feels, and hence manifests, disrespect toward others, especially his subordinates, cannot fail to inspire hatred against himself.”
LTG John M. Schofield, 1879

Ask people whether they have a dream visceral enough they want accomplished.  Material possessions,  security, education, or a deeply-committed and loving marital relationship.   Then ask those same people if they were willing to do whatever it took, in terms of work,  being sleep-deprived, learning difficult lessons, memorizing, practicing, enduring criticism and overcoming obstacles to achieve their dreams.   Fewer might push on.  Of that reduced number,  how many would endure whatever life handed them in the pursuit of that dream, as days became weeks, and weeks became months, and months became years?   Fewer perhaps.  In an article in Forbes,  a contributor has published eight traits to predict future success.  These include delaying gratification, being seriously motivated and organized, believing that they make the choices which affect their outcomes, and having fortitude during adversity.   Predictably, past success leads to future success.

To achieve “success”,  whatever that may be in terms of the dreams one has,  requires steadfast devotion.   Integrity.  Mental and physical toughness.   And determination that there is no “giving up or giving in”.   It may be an enlisted member’s goal to become an Officer or senior Non-Commissioned Officer (NCO).  For others, it might be to earn membership into the ranks of the SEALs.   The few Navy warriors who complete the BUDS training to become SEALs achieve their first qualifier.  Training continues from there.  Other services have their special forces as well.

But it can also be the single mother who is raising three young children,  in school for a professional certification, who then cares for her children,  studies all night, and maintains the family chores all at the same time.  And excels.    Or it can be the aging sailor with a dream to become a Chief Petty Officer who  commits to every training session,  early morning fitness challenge, seeks, finds and puts into practice the guidance from others with decades of leadership expertise.

“Success” can be the married young engineer, father of two, one a newborn, who spends time with his children and wife at those critical “family-building” times.  Yet he is working early or into late hours, and finding innovative and productive solutions to technical challenges simultaneously.

28 Jesus said to them, “Truly I tell you, at the renewal of all things, when the Son of Man sits on his glorious throne, you who have followed me will also sit on twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel. 29 And everyone who has left houses or brothers or sisters or father or mother or wife[a] or children or fields for my sake will receive a hundred times as much and will inherit eternal life. – Matthew 19: 28 -29 (NIV)

And then there are the spiritually-rewarding opportunities that define “success”.  The young graduate of a university with a business degree, sought by several businesses, who voluntarily goes to aid the victims of a natural disaster (Hurricane Katrina, and the Haitian earthquake), as an unpaid volunteer for a charitable organization,  finds a mission and a calling that becomes a career.

“A business is simply an idea to make other people’s lives better.”  –Richard Branson

Many of the most-recognized entrepreneurs today did not find instant reward and acceptance when they began.  Whether it was Ray Kroc and McDonalds,  or  Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak of Apple,  or my company’s CEO, Mark Dankberg and his team,  it took determination, confidence,  a pursuit of excellence, and vision for the people they attracted, and the customers they served.  But each built multi-billion dollar, world-changing enterprise.

Do you have the integrity, the guts, and the desire to improve others with a dream you want to achieve.  Are you willing to get out of your “comfort zone” to achieve them?

deep waters

Anyone who has gone to sea for any length of time – and with a wink to my Coast Guard brothers and sisters I mean out past “ankle deep” (out of sight of the land) – knows the sea is vast.   And it really does not matter whether the vessel taking the mariner out is a sloop, a ketch,  a six-hundred foot Navy cruiser,  a thousand-foot aircraft carrier or nine thousand-passenger and -crew  cruise liner.  At some point, everyone realizes that we are but dots in the ocean.

For poets, scholars, kings, farm boys and  fishermen, the ocean casts a spell beckoning us to it,  and yet the depths and potential hazards have been a metaphor, even among land-lubbers, for danger and despair.  Who today has not heard or used the phrases “in over your head”, “you’re in too deep”, “the deep end”,  or being “out of your depth” to describe discomfort.

I sink in the miry depths,
    where there is no foothold.
I have come into the deep waters;
    the floods engulf me.   Proverbs 69:2 (NIV)

But getting in over my head was never a reason for me to avoid doing something.  I did  venture to sea, most of the eight years I was crew on 3 Navy ships.   Perhaps it was due to my early introduction to water.   I think I was learning to swim almost at the same time I was learning to walk.  My mother used to tell me how, as a toddler, I would venture off the step in the shallows of the community pool –  and her lightning-quick mother’s arm would shoot out to rein me in as my head went under.  I was a budding Jacques Cousteau.   As a young teen,  I took a class in Lifesaving, in order to become a lifeguard, and the instructor- as I recall it- tried to drown me simulating a panicked swimmer.  I punched him.  Later, in the Navy class on treading water, I never understood how some of my peers had never learned to swim.  I never feared putting my head underwater.  And in my twenties I obtained a SCUBA certification and spent some years going diving.

Still, I have a healthy respect for water whether it is gathered in rivers, large lakes, or the ocean. Perhaps it is due to my experience with lakes that appear deceptively shallow, or water that was particularly frigid on a very warm New England May day.  Or with currents in rivers, in saltwater marshes with an ebbing tide where I tried to navigate a little rowboat across.  And I’ve lost my footing in a shallow beach tidal outflow and been sucked out to the bay.

There is a magical quality to looking out at the sea,  and witnessing the deepening blue hue of the deep ocean, turn gray-blackish and whipped into white foam caps.  When a calm sea could become a violent storm in a matter of hours, there were some, myself included, who offered prayers of thanksgiving to Providence for never having been seasick . On a bright sunny day,  as the weather turns into a full-force gale.

The fishermen know that the sea is dangerous and the storm terrible, but they have never found these dangers sufficient reason for remaining ashore. Vincent Van Gogh  / brainyquote.com

In my childhood,  I was fascinated by nautical museums, sea captain’s two hundred year-old homes, touring lighthouses and old ships, steamers, and ferry boats.   And today I am blogging about such things now and again.   At my keyboard now  I remember the first work of fiction I wrote for a college literature class being a blend of all these memories.   And I quite clearly pictured Burgess Meredith as the crusty old Salt protagonist.

Dwellers by the sea are generally superstitious; sailors always are. There is something in the illimitable expanse of sky and water that dilates the imagination. Thomas Bailey Aldrich

Strangely, I never bought a boat after my assignments at sea ended.   While I have been on several since my career in the Navy ended,  I have never wanted to scrape barnacles, chip paint, or clean the salt-corrosion ever again.   But I still know port from starboard, and even on the maritime museum, the MIDWAY at the pier in downtown San Diego, I will still request permission to come aboard.  And I can wish for others a fond  time  getting  “haze gray and underway”.

when the lights go out

Sometimes the best lighting of all is a power failure.  Douglas Coupland / http://www.brainyquote.com

I swear I only measured the voltage of the dead lamp.  I didn’t cause the whole neighborhood at that moment to go dark.

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Determining the reason why that fixture was bad was on my to-do list for six days.  In my garage, I have a cheap light fixture – the one dime-store novels feature in the dingy hotel rooms or corridors – mounted above the kitchen door.  One evening, I switched on the light switch – and the lamp went on.  I turned it off when I was done.  I turned it on again and it immediately went dark.   Seems simple enough but can be easily tested whether the light bulb burned out.   That’s where life steps in and pushes down on the to-do list.    Fast -forward to today.   Motivated,  I finally recalled where I put my digital multimeter (one of three I have) in an accessible tool bag.  I hypothesized  – I am an engineering test guy – the light switch itself went bad.     But just as touched the meter a second time to the fixture, the house and garage and outside went pitch black. Without a sound.

Deep into that darkness peering, long I stood there, wondering, fearing, doubting, dreaming dreams no mortal ever dared to dream before. Edgar Allan Poe
/www.brainyquote.com

Fumbling in the dark to find my cell phone just inside on the dining table a few feet away,  I found the “flashlight” function.  First thing through my head was the thought, were I at sea, I would have myself chewed out by myself for being so ill-prepared and untrained for emergencies.   O brother!   But before I could get all my protective gear,  tool bag and batten down the hatches,  the lights snapped back on.    My mind did not go to all the dark places, when I second-guess my actions.   I mean, really.  I just came home from a bible study group I lead tonight. I was still feeling the glow of good participation and feedback.

I wonder if this was like the last power failure where a guy hit the wrong switch by mistake.  That error a few years ago shut down virtually everything in Southern California for several hours. A “training opportunity.”   Tonight, with everything back up within a minute told me that it was human error again.

It’s a lot like my work right now.  I have a broken device, some confusing email, and my boss has absolute confidence I will determine the problem now that I am back to work.  Can you get it resolved by Thursday? Thanks.    No pressure.  I just need to run through everything myself.  I could sure use a power failure at work about noon tomorrow – maybe for a week?   Thanks.

 

making do with “stone knives and bearskins”

Fifty years ago, I became a fan of galaxy-traveling space technology wielded by an altruistic civilization.  Star Trek seemed to define technology as idealistically and problem-free as Father Knows Best defined the American family; both had stories about  the weaknesses that people possess resolved within a single episode. However, unless it was deliberate sabotage, technology always worked.  Scotty always milked the dilithium crystals to eek more power.  Technology like tri-corders and food processors rarely needed to be tweaked, banged, recharged, or be issued return-to-vendor tickets. In both shows, the fiction was total b.s.  But I didn’t let that rain on my parade.

Having been a technical worker in a military organization, and later in several technical service and engineering firms,  I know the sort of effort it takes to bring something from idea to working product and sustainable.   However, I am still a fan of the fantastic sci-fi shows like Star Trek as well as the real wizardry of the Space Shuttle,  the probe that went past Pluto or the ones now in interstellar space.  The real wizardry is when a bureaucracy – which a large company is – can still produce something that sets the international standard.   And just as I imagine that a “real” transporter or a “real” warp drive would probably have reduced first test objects to unrecognizable goo,  corporate politics,  bureaucracy, budget,  schedule-limits and management missteps would have evaluated that and then spent twice as long  at four times the cost of the original prototype, to then have the transporter redesigned with more rigorous, real-world and far less goo-like results.

Where Spock complains that he is tasked with building a complex device with “stone knives and bear skins”, it suggests that in his future, a lack of tools, materials or supply problems do not occur.  However improbable that may be,  a resourceful worker can work around conditions that hamper progress.  That is where asking for forgiveness is often more expedient than asking for permission.   And that is why, even in the future,  where the Red-Shirt enlisted guy gets eaten by a monster, the senior officer gets the glory,  the crew routinely drink, get drunk, fight, and at the point of certain death, can eek  dilithium crystals to save a galaxy – or   USS Enterprise – from certain destruction.

 

 

Ja-merican

Usain Bolt and Harry Belafonte grew up in my parish – tour bus driver & guide

On a zip-line and rafting tour in Jamaica, the limes, bananas, coconuts, and sugar cane compete with mangroves, towering Hindu bamboo and brightly colored flowering plants for my attention. While zooming through trees up to 40 mph (there are big cushions at the downhill station if the brake and guide fail to stop me) fed my adrenaline-junkie, the afternoon spent on the river was a great way to take in the people and history of Jamaica. The rafting guide explained how various plants have health and medicinal properties – and though Americans sterotypically associated ‘ganja’ with Jamaica, nothing Reginald listed in the average diet included weed.

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Patois is the native Jamaican dialect, and after a brief intro, we were all “ai’-ree” (doing well) and affirming questions with “ya, man”. Jamaicans have a deep pride in their country, and while it is very evident that the poorest Americans are richer than most of the population, I think even the “CJs” -Crazy Jamaicans, (self-named) locals who walk in front of moving trucks and buses – would find much of my complaining young countrymen more than foolish. Though this is my first trip in the Caribbean as a civilian, and a first ever to Jamaica, I can see why people return again and again. For me, the food, grog and Cuban cigars are pleasant but bouncing up and down a rocky and muddy road with a group of laughing fellow travelers and guides on the way to rafting is a lasting adventure.

“Put da lime in de coconut, stir it all up” -Jamaican health tip for lowering blood pressure

Honor, Courage, Commitment

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from DVIDS  CA, UNITED STATES
09.15.2017
Photo by Petty Officer 3rd Class Christopher Veloicaza 
Navy Public Affairs Support Element West

A Senior Chief Petty Officer I had the opportunity to work with during a CPO Selectee training day once asked a Selectee when did he (or she) become a Chief Petty Officer.

” I was selected this year, Senior Chief.”

“Do you know when I became a Chief Petty Officer, Selectee?”, he then asked.

“When I decided to act and take responsibility as a Chief Petty Officer.   I simply waited for the uniform to catch up.”

The article here honors the example and sacrifice of SEAL operator Michael Monsoor, whose example will be remembered in his namesake naval vessel and her crew.

via DVIDS – News – USS Michael Monsoor (DDG 1001) Crew Welcomes Namesake into the Chief’s Mess