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Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Well...What do you know?

My grandfather used to say “The first time you mess up is not a mistake, it’s a learning experience, the next time you do it...then it’s a mistake.”

I think that I tend to be the hardest critic that there is when it comes to my own life and it has always been that way. Whether it is the drive for success of something I am striving to accomplish or the occasional skepticism of my latest decision, I have historically been pretty hard on myself, especially in retrospect, when I find that a decision of mine was not the right one. I am fortunate that in my early youth my grandfather helped me understand, not only the concept of human error, but the greater fallacy in robbing yourself of the opportunity for knowledge in the name of condemnation.

Think back to the last time that you made a decision that you consider a “mistake”, you know, a miscalculation, a careless error or some moment of poor reasoning that turned out to be the wrong thing to do. When you consider the incident let me ask you a question…did you have the knowledge of the end result, prior to the decision? Did you know beforehand that the decision you made was going to turn out the way that it did? The quick answer is “well of course not, or I wouldn’t have done it!” Maybe...or maybe not... but the “mistake” can have a lot more to do with what you knew more than what you did.

For example, quite a few people made decisions to purchase real estate back in 2006, who would say with the knowledge that they have today, that was a mistake. Now each situation has its own set of specifics, I’m sure, but at that time, the decision was probably made with the best of intentions, who knew that the housing market would suffer the greatest collapse in the history of the United States? Sure, that scenario applies to a particular group of people, but message is the same and there are plenty of other examples out there; everything be it some merchant or service person that ripped you off, to the person you divorced, sometimes we simply don’t know - what we don’t know - but blame ourselves as if we did.

Don’t take this entry as an opportunity to side step the responsibility for your actions - that is not what this is about, you own every decision you make. It is however an opportunity to recognize that we are human and we don’t know everything and sometimes the learning process involves us to having missteps, bad decisions or errors along the way. The key is to learn from the experience and retain that knowledge so that the next time you face a similar scenario, you won’t make a true mistake. There is a two-fold lesson here, first you are not perfect and when errors are made you need to realize it, learn from it, and forgive yourself so you can move on. Second, others are not perfect and when errors are made you need to recognize it, learn from them, and forgive them so you can move on…yes, I said so YOU can move on. Remember, experience is the greatest teacher and unforgiveness is the worst warden. My prayer is that this entry helps you to recognize the differences between a learning experience and a true mistake, to be quick to forgive others...and yourself, but never forget the lesson of the experience. Be Blessed.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

The Human Trap (Part 2)

My Grandfather used to say “It is all black and white until it comes to green.” (Part II)

So, in part I we discussed the complexity in the concept of compromise and identified one of the basic causes of the erosion of moral or ethical integrity…the LOVE of money. This realization brings to mind another saying that affords us the opportunity to take an introspective look at this issue in our own lives. Growing up in “the hood” we had a saying – “Don’t be a Sell Out” and this saying was usually employed challenge someone’s integrity in the very moment of decision. Clearly the term is more than applicable in this scenario, because when you trade your “black and white”, non-negotiable limits for monetary gain of some sort that is what you do…sell out.

Do you have a price point, an amount where you would “sell out?” Is there a dollar amount that would turn you like a public official who sells out their vote to the contributions of some selfish organization? What are you prepared to sacrifice to get that promotion or land that deal? Has your LOVE of money negotiated the surrender of your morals as you face the pressures that you once stood firmly against? I hope that you can answer “NO!” to all of the above. What our future generations need are more shining examples of everyday heroes who truly stand for what they believe, in the face of potential profit. It doesn’t have to be as grand as a protest on the steps of Congress; it can simply start with returning the extra money when the cashier gives you too much change. The truth is, when it is all said and done, no words ring truer than those of Matthew 16:26…”For what is a man profited, if he should gain the whole world and lose his own soul? Or what shall a man give in exchange for his soul?”

Often I refer to a poem that I have previously penned to help me convey a specific thought. I wanted to share this one, because it speaks to the core of this entry. My prayer is that this entry persuades you to remain…priceless! Be Blessed

The Human Trap

Needless greed, senseless greed consumes the world with blinding speed.

Ambition is often the subtle disguise, cloaked in a shroud of well-worded lies.

In a world where moral rules barely exist, like a web, you’re entangled as you try to resist.

This cancerous plague that eats souls alive, and manipulates your will as you fight to survive,

by changing what you want in to what you need, just that quick, your drive has become your greed.

Beginning sly and swift, eating away at your soul, stealing your trust, your peace, and then your control.

Until your friendly face is only a distraction, pursuing your pay off in every interaction.

Your flashy smile becomes a masquerade, like the blinding glimmer of a deadly blade.

Private whispers of malice let secrets slip, the same loose lips that sink friendships.

Yet the role you play is not as much the shame, as is your choice to exist in this futile game.

Be careful as you climb to your treacherous height, because your stepping stones by day,

are your stumbling blocks by night.

Once you reach the top to breathe the crisp clear air, you’re choked by distrust and lonesome despair.

You look back on your life and your heart, so cold. You’ve gained the whole world and yet lost your soul.

Soon reality crashes, as you fall from the sky, into a wretched grave, where your integrity lies.

You struggle to find someone else to blame, the mere users you called friends that now mock your name.

Head in hands, tears flowing, all alone you sit. Abandoned and desolate in a quicksand pit

Now the deeper you get, the more you dig, in a mud hole fit for such a greedy pig.

It is then you understand, in life, what means so much. Success is not measured in what you gain, but in who you touch.

Remember these words til you breathe your last, open your heart to your future and leave your greed in the past.

Copyright 2005 by William T. Holt

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

The Human Trap (Part 1)

My Grandfather used to say "It is all black and white until it comes to green"

I have battled over this particular post for 2 days because it is hard to fit so many thoughts into a few paragraphs. This is a tough subject, bursting with vital wisdom, so I decided to put it into 2 parts. My grandfather's words, in this scenario, was truly a warning for us to put courage and integrity where it counts the most...those situations when it is most profitable to compromise.

One of the most confusing concepts for many people to understand is the concept of compromise. In some cases compromise is a vital component of survival of especially when dealing with others in a co-existing environment. Other cases compromise reveals the failure of integrity, the inability to stand for what is right, moral or fair. Now considering these cases it may appear that the concept of compromise is an easy thing to grasp, but as you know by now, my grandfather’s statements are never that simple.

In most every issue that requires compromise there is a boundary, an imaginary line drawn in the sand, if you will, that should not be crossed for all sides involved. Although this entry is not specifically about those lines (that blog is to come) it is important to understand that they are there and if they are crossed, you have ask yourself… what was the motivation for your compromise?

We have seen so many scenarios where this statement applies, whether it is some rich person who is able to pay their way out of a crime, or the government permitting companies to operate unethically just to keep the money flowing. Maybe it is closer to home, how do you look at your taxes, are some exaggerations permissible because you need the money? Who is it that you are involved with? Do they get away with things that are beyond your “line” because they help pay the bills or provide you with spending money? It is all the same, your morals and ethics are solid (black and white) until you put money before them.

The bible is full of profound statements, but one of the most insightful to me is (I Timothy 6:10) which begins with “the love of money is the root of all evil...” It’s true, especially when you consider the definition of love as explained in my entry “Never fall in love” (last paragraph). But do you notice that it doesn’t say money is the root of all evil? It says that it is the LOVE of money at evil's core. Again, it is a matter of the heart, a matter of your will, the true intention behind your actions.

I know that we have just scratched the surface of this topic and I have some great information for you so please stay tuned for part 2 of this subject, I believe that the next post will really put some things in perspective, or at the least, provoke some deep thought. See you next week...Be Blessed

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Bank on this!!

My grandfather used to say “Everyone has a bank account and for those you love, you should be sure that your deposits outnumber your withdrawals.”

It’s true, everyone has a bank account, but my grandfather was not referring to the brick and mortar bank that most people associate bank accounts to. What he is referring to is the bank account of the heart that we all possess, and his words admonish us to pay attention that our deposits outnumber our withdrawals, especially for those we love. Why is that you ask? Great question, let me explain with three simple points.

First, when it comes to the bank account of our hearts, it is important to remember that deposits and withdrawals happen moment by moment. Every interaction that you have with those you love is either a deposit or a withdrawal, from the first interaction of the day to the last. These deposits and withdrawals do not merely affect your relationship with your loved ones, but can have a profound effect on their entire day, mood or perception. An old saying comes to mind, that a smile is one of the most contagious things in the world…go out and start an epidemic.

Second, we should know that when it comes to our heart banks, the sizes of our withdrawals are usually three times the size of our deposits. Why is that? Well, for most people pain stains the memory and pleasure is like a fleeting moment, so an act of unkindness will linger longer than kindness. Think about it, when someone hurt you last, was it more impactful than their last act of kindness? I imagine it is because we don’t expect unkindness from those we love, so when it happens, it takes more time to deal with it.

Last but certainly not least, it is imperative to remember that we are not the only ones making deposits and withdrawals in the heart bank accounts of our loved ones. Why is that important? Well, sometimes they may have had a withdrawal from someone else that ends up affecting their relationship with you causing a withdrawal from your bank. If we can consider this point at that time, we can actually make a deposit with them, in the midst of their withdrawal. Another reason this is important is that when you are making deposits in the heart account of your loved one the deposits of others are not as significant, but when your withdrawals begin to deplete the account, the deposits of others become much more impressionable and the opportunity for major issues arise…for example, when you continually find fault in your spouse, the compliments of their co-worker have an opportunity to make an impression…think about it.

I know this is a long entry, but the subject is immense in depth and importance. Like our financial back accounts, let’s focus on making deposits in the heart accounts our loved ones, until we become MILLIONAIRES!! Be Blessed.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Dance Lessons

A wise person once said "Life isn't about waiting for storms to's about learning to dance in the rain!"

Although this quote is not specifically accredited to my grandfather it has the depth reminiscent of something he would say. It brought to mind a poem that I published a few years ago while dealing with some baffling challenges of life. I read it again recently, and in retrospect, obviously I understand better what I was going through then, but just couldn't see at that time.

I think there are times in life where God allows us to get into a position where we have no other choice but to trust Him and it is in those times that we grow. I believe that most everyone is in one of three places when it comes to the trials of life, either you are deep in one, coming out of one or headed into one. I am not trying to rain on your parade, just encouraging you to recognize the opportunities you have to learn to dance.

I wanted to share this poem with you in the hope that the next time you are in a trial you can read it, and maybe it will help you as it did me. When you read it and take a moment to consider the gravity the lesson, if you don't mind, leave me a comment with your thoughts, I would really appreciate your feedback. Be Blessed.


Life’s ironies and life’s mysteries,

seem to always travel together.

Floating swift throughout our lives

much like birds of a feather.

Revealing their perplexities

enigma beyond explanation.

Bewilderment that tests your faith,

to the essence of your creation.

The answers to the puzzles they pose

aren’t discovered in any class.

No study guide, no fine print found,

beneath a magnifying glass.

Yet those lessons learned will forge you,

into what your character displays.

Then time will mend you, as you pretend to,

understand their mysterious ways.

You see, to the degree you comprehend,

that much more difficult the tests become.

It seems irony tends to step in again

when the mystery has been performed

Therefore complexities and complications

will manifest without cease.

Let me offer this suggestion,

as you endeavor to find your peace.

Tests and trials will come our way

that’s a fact, no need to doubt it.

Victory isn’t in understanding what was done to you,

but understanding what to do about it.

Copyright © 1999 by William T. Holt