Saturday, March 28, 2020

Be....

Quit aspiring to be; Simply Be….


Being disciplined is hard. What’s even more difficult are the consequences of an undisciplined life. Creating and sticking to a plan can be painful. However, having to come up with a plan in the middle of chaos can be downright agonizing. Developing real leadership will certainly test one’s fortitude. On the flipside, having to follow a lackey because you left your fate to another will almost certainly result in an unbearable albatross.

Things are hard right now. Our world’s been flipped on its head and our leaders are struggling to shepherd effectively. Throw in the fact that recent times have observed an unprecedented challenge of authority and bipartisanship of all types, and we appear to be on the brink of anarchy.

However, for what it’s worth, I see something different emerging. A reversion back to the mean of sorts….

It’s sexy to be different. Challenging the status quo has become, well, the status quo. Begging for forgiveness instead of asking for permission has become standard. And, for the most part, this approach works when starting out or creating something new. It especially works when life is easy, simple or a previous path has already been blazed in the direction you are heading.

Nobody wants to be told what to do, especially when they’ve been taught to not respect authority or to only respect those in leadership positions who agree with the way you’ve been trained to think (and yes, you’ve been trained to think that way, regardless of how special or how much smarter you’ve been told you are than the rest of us).

This isn’t a plug for any person, political party or methodology of thinking. Mistakes have been made at the medical, political, world, national and local levels. Some of the best and worst decisions have been made by dictators, presidents, Christians, Muslims, Hindus, republicans and democrats. And despite how bad this situation is, I continue to hear folks on all sides of the aisle support those their trained thought process tell them to, regardless of how bad their ‘leaders’ have performed, as well as condemn those they’ve been trained to disagree with. Political parties are spending billions of dollars on television and internet adds to repute those on the other side at a time when our hospitals don’t have adequate amounts of ventilators and our doctors don’t have vaccines or even a treatment for Covid-19.

I have a personal plan. I’m not saying it’s the best plan, but I’ve found that having one to stick to makes life a lot easier when things gets hard. Every day I wake up and immediately ask my creator for guidance. I look to His word, as well as the words of others (by way of books, podcasts, etc.) who have been successful. I think of 3 things I am grateful for as a way of realizing how good my life really is in a world that continually wants me to think it isn’t. I work out daily and ensure that most of what I put back into my body provides optimal fuel and recovery to keep me healthy and capable of defending and providing for those entrusted to my care (thanks, Chad Howse). I live on less than I make and save/invest the rest (thanks, Dave Ramsey and Chris Hogan). And this gives me the opportunity to do something that gives me an even greater peace of mind: Give. Because much has been given to me, I give of my time and resources to others, including supporting causes I believe in, like Habitat for Humanity, The Mission Continues (Veteran-led), my local American Legion and my Church. I also help out as individual needs arise, whether it’s a Church member moving or a bill that’s causing more stress to someone than it’s worth. I try to make every day a success by noon (thanks, Gary Keller) and I know that the 5 people I hang around most and the last 5 books I’ve read will likely reflect who I am as a person (thanks, Jim Rohn). I tell those I live with and those close to me how much I love them regularly, including Kadar, who calls me early every Saturday morning to hold me accountable. I meet with Lee once a month for our long mountain hikes, but more important, our conversations, which always leave me aspiring to be more like him. The end of each month and quarter also requires me to report to my accountability group via email as to how well (or poorly) I am sticking to my quarterly goals. Each evening ends with self-reflection and thanks to my creator for allowing me to make it through another day. It’s also where I most realize how un-special I am and how questionable what I’ve been taught over the course of my life actually is. I catch myself reaching back to those gone (My father and Grandma the most, although others know who they are) for guidance, as theirs tend to be suited to any time and situation. These are the moments (during evening retrospective moments) where I realize that my being special isn’t about me challenging authority or being different; it’s about the fears, inadequacies (and similarities) I share with the rest of my fellow citizens. It’s when I’m most vulnerable, relying on God and those who have gone before me for future direction. Strangely, it’s also when I feel most powerful, drawing on those same energies for guidance to lead those I’ll someday leave behind, who carry my DNA, making me somewhat immortal.

I spoke earlier about a reversion to a mean….

It’s easy to be an investor during a bull market. And when the economy is good and you’ve been provided a decent upbringing, it's not all that difficult to find your way in a free market, capitalist society. Finally, everyone’s an expert and no one needs help (or leadership) when you’re young, healthy and surrounded by peace and prosperity.

However….

·       There are no atheists in a foxhole (I’ve been there – this axiom is true)
·       You always find out who’s swimming naked when the tide goes out –(thanks, Warren Buffet)
·       Crises don’t build character. Crises reveal character.

Because of this universal tragedy, people are coming back to the middle, where the majority of us actually reside. Political parties, ideologies, etc. are being shown for what they actually are: divisive entities. We have far more in common than is atypical. We all seek shared truths: ‘What do we come from?’, ‘Who are we?’ and ‘Where are we headed?’

I’m seeing a lot more collaboration than disagreement. I’m hearing a lot more discussion than arguing. I’m experiencing a lot more giving than taking.

Our better angels will prevail. They always do. Our collective wisdom always overcomes our trained disagreements. Our Creator is always in control, despite who we think/wish/hope is in charge.

Keep your head up. Remember that people are watching you right now. Be the person you always said you would be when things get tough.





                                                                                                       


Friday, March 27, 2020

Mitch Albom Quote....



“Sacrifice is a part of life. It's supposed to be. It's not something to regret. It's something to aspire to.” ― Mitch Albom

Thursday, March 26, 2020

The Martin Luther Approach...




I totally borrowed this from the Southside Church in Newnan, Georgia (thanks for sharing, Tim!):


Here’s a question many of us are asking these days: 
We certainly aren’t the first generation of Christians to wrestle with that question. In the 14th century, the bubonic plague began its march across Europe. Over 50 percent of Europe’s population would eventually succumb to what is considered by many to be the most devastating pandemic in human history.

During an outbreak in his hometown of Wittenberg, Germany, 
Martin Luther documented his approach to navigating those harrowing days. In a letter to a friend, he wrote:
Martin Luther was practicing social distancing before social distancing was a thing.

But that’s not all he did.
  • He prayed for mercy while acting benevolently.
  • He was available but not careless.
  • He trusted God and loved his neighbor.
As we navigate this season together, let’s keep these three ideas front and center.
Looking forward to Sunday, ONLINE!
Southside Church


Wednesday, March 25, 2020

Teddy Roosevelt Quote....



“It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.” ― Theodore Roosevelt

Tuesday, March 24, 2020

Coolidge Quote....



Knowledge comes, but wisdom lingers. It may not be difficult to store up in the mind a vast quantity of facts within a comparatively short time, but the ability to form judgments requires the severe discipline of hard work and the tempering heat of experience and maturity.” – Calvin Coolidge


Monday, March 23, 2020

Emerson Quote....



“Cultivate the habit of being grateful for every good thing that comes to you and give thanks continuously. And because all things have contributed to your advancement, you should include all things in your gratitude.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson

Sunday, January 26, 2020

Weekly Retrospective....



What I’m Reading: The House of Broken Angels by Luis Alberto Urrea …

What I’m Listening To/Watching: Retirement Starts Today podcasts…

What I’m Working On: Terry College of Business CFP Program Case Study ….



Where I’m Succeeding: Finishing things ….

Where I’m Struggling: My back …

What I’m Grateful For:  Family ….

Quote That Has Me Thinking: “A major challenge in life is for each person to learn the art of standing guard at the doorway of their mind. Carefully examine the credentials and authority of those seeking to enter within that place where your attitudes are formed.”— Jim Rohn



What I’m Excited About: Joining the local American Legion Volunteer Committee .….

What I’ve Been Pondering: The next 1.93 ….


Tuesday, January 14, 2020

Saturday, January 11, 2020

Retrospective....



What I’m Reading: Startup Your Life by Anna Akbari, PhD …

What I’m Listening To/WatchingRetirement Starts Today with Benjamin Brandt podcasts….

What I’m Working On: U.G.A. Certified Financial Planner final case study ….

Where I’m Succeeding: Keto diet…. day 11 of diet and day 6 of being in Ketosis ….

Where I’m Struggling: Staying focused …

What I’m Grateful For:  Family ….

Quote That Has Me Thinking: “Yes, everything you do matters. But everything you don’t do matters just as much. Every little thing you d0 – or don’t do – steers life onto a slightly different course.”— Andy Andrews

What I’m Excited About: Figuring things out .….

What I’ve Been Pondering: The next 2.0 ….

Wednesday, January 1, 2020

2019 Book Review....





1.     Rock Retirement by Roger Whitney: Roger does a great job of explaining how retirement planning has changed since our parent’s time due to the elimination of pensions. He also shares how to plan for market volatility and to avoid getting so caught up in the future that we fail to enjoy life today. An easy read that caused me to adjust my financial belt some to create more memories today just in case I don’t make it till tomorrow.

2.    Super Freakonomics by Steven Levitt and Stephen Dubner: This awesome duo once again shows how peeling back the layers of anything will show you that rarely is anything what it might appear to be on the surface as they take a look at global warming, prostitution, how monkeys can be trained to be capitalists and how safety devices frequently result in more, not less, injuries. Essentially, everything boils down to human incentives. I’m using this newfound understanding to determine the best way to communicate with college students about my nonprofit.

3.    Everyday Millionaires by Chris Hogan: Chris and his team interview more than 10,000 American millionaires and break down various myths to get at what successful wealth-building looks like for most, along with how it’s possible for anyone who puts their mind to it.

4.    The Simple Path to Wealth by J.L. Collins: Mr. Collins has a very simple (and inexpensive) methodology for becoming financially independent: 1. Avoid all debt, 2. Live on less than you earn, and; 3. Invest the difference, mainly in the Vanguard Total Stock Market Index (VSTAX) fund. He gives some great insight along the way, as well as sharing some life lessons he learned the hard way

5.    University of Berkshire Hathaway: 30+ Years of Lessons Learned from Warren Buffet & Charlie Munger at the Annual Shareholders Meeting by Daniel Pecaut and Corey Wrenn: The intelligence and wit shared by Warren and Charlie reflect that both have lived lives of bountiful experiences and learned lessons that only seasoned learners could communicate in such an easily understood manner. Their simple, yet incredibly thought-provoking quotes echo men who understand the impact of their words, yet never take themselves too seriously. And finally, the fearlessness of sharing both success and failures show that the both fully understand how much discipline and resolution is required to duplicate their feats, which very few have.

6.    Side Hustle: From Idea to Income in 27 Days by Chris Guillebeau: A pretty clear outline for bringing a good idea to fruition, but it didn’t really help me generate any money-maker thoughts for a future side gig. I’ll hold this book for when I do get an idea I believe is worth investing in….

7.    The Memo: Five Rules for Your Economic Liberation by John Hope Bryant: Great read about how the system works and how anyone can be successful if they will focus more on the desired outcome and less on where they are starting from. The author really brings forth the psychological aspect of what is keep the ‘have nots’ from moving forward in today’s world.

8.    An Iron Will by Orison Swett Marden: Originally published in 1901, Marden was ahead of his time in seeing the decline of masculinity, along with the recognition that will power is the most important single ingredient for success. The poems, short-stories and quotes included all tie together various formulas that reflect upon what one can accomplish with intentionality and an unforgiving focus on a desired outcome.

9.    48 Days to The Work You Love by Dan Miller: Solid book with regards to planning, creating a resume and, especially, the interview process. However, it’s a little light in the way of truly helping someone figure out the intersection between what one is passionate about and what generates income, which is where I’m at currently. However, despite not really getting what I wanted out of this book, I would HIGHLY recommend it to someone just out of college or anyone looking for a job. The author presents some excellent ideas as to how to get a job you really want, including building a resume, communicating with potential employers, job searches and interviewing.

10.                    The Killers by Ernest Hemingway: Short story about two hired assassins sent to kill a former boxer for not throwing a fight. Written in the very basic, easy to follow prose Hemingway is known for.

11.  Love Does by Bob Goff: The author takes you on a ride from being shot as a child, to sailing across the ocean with friends as a teenager, to pursuing his wife for 3 years before she agreed to go out with him, to sitting on a bench outside the dean’s office for 7 days because his grades weren’t good enough to get him into law school to taking his kids on a worldwide tour to eat ice cream, etc. with heads of state after 9/11 to becoming counsel to Uganda after visiting there and starting a school, all the while sharing metaphors of how each experience is tied to his relationship with Jesus. What a great life and influence Bob Goff has had. We should all aspire to see the world as he does.

12. The Bucket Plan by Jason L. Smith: Great book to help someone close to retirement protect their assets in a way to ensure they have great experiences while not running out of money. His Now, Soon and Later bucket approach really got me thinking about the optimal strategy for my early withdrawal from traditional employment.

13. Stop Doing That $#!% by Gary John Bishop: Gary John is part author/part psychiatrist in this excellent read that takes you back to the root of the suppressive voices from our past that usually prevent us from being all we were meant to be in life. He also offers some solid advice as to how to overcome those voices. The book contains some awesome quotes as well.

14.Mind Hacking by Sir John Hargrave: Excellent read. The author helps us to view our brains like a computer, as well as understanding the importance of developing successful habits, decluttering our mind, celebrating small wins and using meditation and visualization to rewire positive mental loops to rewire our thinking. I’m looking forward to the 21-day exercise at the end of the book.

15.  Set for Life by Scott Trench: Written primarily for a younger person just starting out, this book shares a tried and true (by the author) approach to becoming financially independent quickly. The path he describes is simple: live frugally and save half of what you make, use that money to buy a property that you can house hack (have others pay the note while you continue to maintain a high savings rate), invest wisely, look for every opportunity to increase income while continuously self-educating and putting one’s self in position to get lucky. Well written and full of examples, I recommend to someone just starting a career. This is the first time someone has been able to explain to me why a house isn’t an asset, as well as clarifying why it’s just as important to build wealth inside non-retirement accounts as it is your 401k, IRA, etc.

16. The Prophet by Kahlil Gibran: The mythical story of Almustafa, sage of Orphalese and his parting conversations with the locals on all things life. Great series of poems on all aspects of living with advice obviously drawn from the major world religions. Excellent addition to your library with numerous easy to remember quotes on almost every subject.

17. The Cash Flow Quadrant by Robert Kiyosaki: This book, written by Rich Dad, Poor Dad author, explains the 4 quadrants of cashflow generation: Employee, Self-Employed, Business Owner and Investor, explaining how each make/spend money and which ones leads to wealth generation the quickest (spoiler-alert: it’s not the employee or self-employed). Excellent read for understanding how the system works, as well as how to use self-knowledge to migrate to a quadrant more to your liking.

18.                    The Business School for People Who Like Helping People by Robert Kiyosaki: I’ll admit that I bought this book together with the last one by the same author because they were next to each other at the used bookstore I shop at in Powder Springs. And, wrongly, I thought it had something to do with nonprofits based on the title. Turns out this is a book on multi-level marketing, which I have no interest in. 

19. EntreLeadership by Dave Ramsey: Great tried and true lessons on how to start and create a successful business with integrity from someone with a proven track record. And like his personal finance books, these are just as good LIFE lessons as they are business lessons.

20.                   Strangers to Ourselves by Timothy D. Wilson: Nice read which explains the importance of telling the right stories to yourself, along with ‘Faking it till you make it…’. Also, a good reminder that our nonconscious thoughts frequently result in decisions that befuddle our conscious ones and why it’s important to try to match our nonconscious to our conscious selves through training and focusing less on ourselves and more on the needs of others.

21. Thinking Smarter by Shlomo Benartzi: Thought-provoking read on how to about identify goals, discover blind spots and create realistic retirement goals. This is less a numbers book and more a psychological approach to understand how our minds work, and more importantly – how they do NOT work, when it comes to goal-setting and planning our futures.

22.                    The Little Things by Andy Andrews: Great read about the importance of the ‘’small things,’ like perspective, attention to detail, discipline, introspection, common sense and other principles that enable anyone to be successful.

Sunday, December 15, 2019

Weekly Retrospective ....



What I’m Reading: Strangers to Ourselves by Timothy D. Wilson …

What I’m Listening To/WatchingWes Moss podcasts….

What I’m Working On: Terry College of Business CFP Program ….

Where I’m Succeeding: Planning ….

Where I’m Struggling: Leading …

What I’m Grateful For:  Every Day ….

Quote That Has Me Thinking: “Habits are the compound interest of self-improvement.”— James Clear

What I’m Excited About: The Future .….

What I’ve Been Pondering: The next 2.05 ….

Thursday, December 5, 2019

Kadar Quote....



A shark in a fish tank will grow 8 inches, but in the ocean it will grow to 8 feet or more. The shark will never outgrow its environment and the same is true about you. Many times we're around small thinking people so we don't grow. Change your environment and watch your growth. - Kadar

Monday, December 2, 2019

Lifestyle....



I recently posted our expenditures through the first 3 quarters of the year with a promise to update, by category, what those disbursements entailed. Thanks to paying off all of our debts a couple years ago, we are now in a position to enjoy life considerably more than before, when we owed the majority of our incoming cash to liabilities.

Through the end of September, we have spent about 12% of our bring-home pay on lifestyle expenses, broken down as follows:

·       Vacation/Travel: 47% of our lifestyle expenses went to 3 nice trips this summer, including Colorado where my son and I got to hike some nice trails and visit the MMM headquarters with Carl (Mr. 1500). We also traveled to  Boston and North Carolina.
·       Spending Money: 30% went towards expenses such as hanging out with friends, concerts (Aaron Lewis and The Muckers were both AWESOME!) and other excursions that didn’t fit neatly into other categories.
·       Clothing: We spent just shy of 7% of this category on clothing. We’re not fancy dressers so the majority of this went the basics, like underwear, socks, long johns, etc.
·       Self-Care (mainly the wife): This includes nails, hair (haha for those of you who know me), massages, etc. We spent just shy of 10% of our lifestyle expense here.
·       Gym (YMCA): 6% of our lifestyle costs went to our local YMCA, which we, in fairness, did not use as much as we could have/should have.

What is even more awesome is that the vast majority of these expenses were paid for with a 2% cash-back credit card (through Fidelity, which then allows us to invest directly back into our brokerage account), which paid us a few hundred dollars for traveling, hanging out with friends, going to the gym and taking care of ourselves, without us ever paying a dime of interest.

Next up will be insurance and medical expenses…..