Week 11 Always act as if the future of the universe depends on what you do next, while laughing at yourself for thinking that you can make a difference. - Buddhist sayingRead Now
The focus of my reading this week has been on ---hmm --- our attitudes as well as whether, as entrepreneurs, we are job seekers, or something more.
As for me I never in my life wanted a job. I am grateful to my husband for fulfilling that desire. I did babysit in my younger years in order to have pocket money. That is generally a young girl's first entrepreneurial endeavor and it is something that is always available. But it is not a calling in life for most.
From lesson material provided by the Acton Foundation - Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness ( A Cautionary Tale) I really like the descriptions given, it speaks about those times when you lose all sense of time because you are "in the flow." From there a person can develop mastery over something they love, but the ultimate goal in life is to participate in your own Hero's Journey. In part it states:
From Flow to the Mastery of a Discipline to a Hero’s Journey when it comes to work, you can choose a job, a career or a calling.
A job is something you do from 9 to 5 to pay the bills, as a way of affording the necessities of life and an occasional pleasure once the workday has ended. People with jobs watch the clock, waiting for 5 PM to arrive.
A career is a climb up a predetermined ladder to success at the top. People with careers work long hours for the promise of money, power and security to come. All too often they arrive only to find that it really is lonely at the top.
A calling is finding that special place where your most precious gifts allow you to do something you love, in service to others, in a way that changes the world. People with callings say: “Thank God it’s Friday so I can work the next two days without interruption.”
Long-term studies show those who are most fulfilled sequentially mastered a series of important life tasks. Consistent goals and investments of psychic energy lead to a coherent self. (Acton Foundation)
Even less than a job, the thought of a career sounds horrific for me. But a calling? Yes many things call to me, choosing the one that gives the greatest satisfaction and one I am willing to put effort into is where I am at.
I dreamed for years of owning an ice cream truck, not for the money but just because it seemed so wonderful. I did think it would be possible to make a profit if done well, but I always had too many little kids to take care of that I could not devote time to it. So I never pursued it. . .
I still dream of owning a miniature golf course, with my coveted ice cream store. If I ever had a million dollars and more I would love to develop good, clean, affordable homes and neighborhoods. I would also like to go to old nearly abandoned small towns and revive them with those decent affordable homes. Now that would be a calling AND it would take much effort, but it would give me the greatest satisfaction.
But I am a dreamer without the boldness it takes to do that. But I can write and inspire others. I do not particularly like writing editorials, but when filled with a passion for something it becomes much easier.
I enjoy writing stories and novels, it is a simple thing and something I can pour my whole self into. It may never bring money, but it gives my life meaning. For now that is sufficient.
That said, another part of the reading material states:
We will all experience serious adversity. None of us would seek it, but it is a part of life. Plus, heroes need dragons to slay. Adversity exposes true friends. It changes our focus to the present. Along the journey, learn to embrace mistakes and adversity. Take more chances and suffer more defeats. Extend yourself. Long-term research on aging shows that you are far more likely to regret what you have not done, than to regret your errors and mistakes. You are much stronger and tougher than you think. We fear most what we never experience. Embrace adversity as a lesson in humility. Use it to remind yourself to be grateful for what you have.
Prepare for adversity in advance. Hone your skills. Invest in loving relationships. Practice gratitude and reflection. Connect regularly to the transcendent. Then you will be prepared to be transformed by adversity instead of crushed by it. (Acton Foundation)
Ha, so that challenges me to go after that other dream . . .
And yikes they threw a curveball and asked me to read an extra article and comment on it...
Concerning my attitude on money. I think money is nice. It does allow for a certain degree of comfort which allows happiness to thrive. I am not fixated on it. I spend it so it does mean my husband is fixated on having "enough."
How can my view of money affect the way I live? I have generally lived frugally. I had used credit cards for Christmas and birthdays. But we got rid of credit cards 13 years ago. Debit cards are great. But sadly the more money we make the more I spend. I do need to cut back...doing so would make my husband happier.
S.W. Gibson said:
1) Money is not evil.
2) Money has great power
3) The possession of excess Money often reveals or exposes what kind of a person the individual is
4) Money makes good men better, but on the other hand it usually makes bad men worse.
We are blessed and prosper when we are more giving with what we have.
Week 10 Our needed conversions are often achieved more readily by suffering and adversity than by comfort and tranquillity ~ Dallin H. OaksRead Now
This week the reading material focused a lot on “becoming” and the ideal entrepreneur as being innovative. It was interesting reading for the most part.
One particular assignment The Heart of Entrepreneurship by Howard H. Stevenson and David E. Gumpert was quite dry and weirdly came across like a fortune cookie with passages like, “A close relationship exists between opportunity and individual needs.” Or “Opportunities do not show up at the start of a planning cycle.” It made the reading humorous amidst a rather dry read. But in truth it held many gems of wisdom; the main point being a successful entrepreneur is seeking after opportunities not merely trying to maintain a position of power.
But I found myself thinking that yes, innovation and opportunities to create new paths to pursue are great ways to build a business, but there is nothing wrong with doing something tried and true, something basic. I was of course thinking of my own business as co-owner of a landscaping company I do not see the need for huge amounts of innovation. We provide our customers with consistent, reliable service. My husband is the face and often the muscle of the business. He has personal relationships and interaction with the customers he works with. He prides himself in being efficient and ensuring work is done “right” to his satisfaction. If we were trying to expand and become a large company, he could no longer do that. He would be relegated to manager or training until he could hire a manager to do that for him. In that case, yes, innovative team management practices would come into play. But that is not our goal, we are satisfied with providing a home for ourselves and the basic necessities of life, with a few perks added in from time to time.
Hearkening back to the idea of becoming, Dallin H. Oaks told of a parable:
A wealthy father knew that if he were to bestow his wealth upon a child who had not yet developed the needed wisdom and stature, the inheritance would probably be wasted. The father said to his child:
“All that I have I desire to give you—not only my wealth, but also my position and standing among men. That which I have I can easily give you, but that which I am you must obtain for yourself. You will qualify for your inheritance by learning what I have learned and by living as I have lived. I will give you the laws and principles by which I have acquired my wisdom and stature. Follow my example, mastering as I have mastered, and you will become as I am, and all that I have will be yours.”
Becoming an entrepreneur is not merely opening a business, it really is more about dreaming big and going after those dreams. It is about converting ourselves from one kind of being to another.
Change is growth and growth sometimes hurts but it is always a chance for improvement.
Week 9 It is not the strongest of the species that survives, nor the most intelligent, but those most adaptive to change. ~ Charles DarwinRead Now
At a commencement speech Kim Clark spoke about the qualities that make for great leaders. He listed three qualities:
It is true that a group of workers will work more efficiently when someone takes the lead and shows the way. If a business owner, parent or teacher does not have an end goal in mind it would be very difficult to inspire others to follow. Floundering about happens often and the results are evident in our society.
We have all met that person we just love to be around. They exude sincere kindness and even love. Isn’t that the kind of person you wish all of your teachers had been? Or your bosses? I can hear some disagreeing, claiming the harshness spurred them on. I can see the point of that, still if that harshness was actually sternness out of a real desire to see growth and success then we should be able to agree that the love was still there.
Carly Fiorina spoke about three qualities that help businesses succeed, she said, “I think leadership is about three things: capability, collaboration, and character.”
One of the key points I took from reading the transcript of her speech was the need to be innovative. A business can have a great idea and it will sell well. But if that same business then stops trying new marketing or thinking up ideas for improvement then over time they can expect to see sales slide.
It makes me think of French’s Mustard, it has been around for ages. But they still advertise in ladies magazines. They update their packaging even creating new bottles when the old ones worked just fine.
Jim Collins wrote GOOD TO GREAT Why Some Companies Make the Leap . . . and Others Don’t a long title but certainly descriptive. In the book a key point is to ask who before asking what. Who are we trying to reach?
For me as an author before I start to write I need to consider my audience. I have seen some books meant for children that are intensely long and boring, or with poetry that is clunky and unreadable even by the parent. Some adult books on the market today, now that it is flooded with self-publishers and cheap publishing houses, are too simplistic to hold my attention even though they are meant for adults.
For our BBQ business it would make sense to decide whether we want to focus on the end consumer first or the establishment carrying the product. Who would benefit most? Once we decide on the who then we can decide on the what of marketing.
The real killer concept that I have trouble with is the Hedgehog Concept. This means find what you are excellent at and stick with it. I want to do several things as my website shows I am spread out. I need to tighten it up and focus on less. Still, every other day a new idea captures my attention and I want to do it too. So yes be the hedgehog, Kari, be the hedgehog.
This week the theme appears to be about perseverance. And positivity. Concerning believing in yourself Taylor Richards teaches - "You can do anything" in a lecture segment by the same name. He admonishes that we do not doubt ourselves.
R. and Patricia T. Holland had a good quote in their shared talk from a writer with great advice:
Marilyn Funt, who wrote the book Are You Anybody? did so in response to people’s asking in the Hollywood swirl if she “was anybody.” In answer she said:
I used to think being somebody meant public recognition of one’s efforts. Wrong. I now know that the feeling of being somebody comes from hard work and self-growth. Being in control of my life makes me answer that question with a strong “Yes!” [New York: Pinacle Books, 1981]
It is good to fill our minds with uplifting thoughts and messages. This week in my other business class we are learning to use adwords especially focusing on using great keywords that work. This site is that project. When the words I chose have not caused any monetary success it is disappointing. But looking at the bright side I have had an increased number of visitors...in fact it has doubled.
So continuing my personal heroic journey I will take these minor setbacks as merely lessons and continue on.
I liked this quote from Stephen R. Covey:
The amateur salesman sells products, the professional salesman sells solutions to needs and problems. . . The key to good judgment is understanding. If we judge first, we will never fully understand. (Covey)
Learning what my potential clients want is my current task as well as letting them know I am here. I have much about the need to keep moving forward as well as learning from the past. I do believe that working hard is a great quality to have. Sadly my personality is one that accepts mediocrity.
If I do not succeed I tend to say, "Oh, well. At least I tried."
I think the lesson I am supposed to have learned is that once one has failed they try a new tactic and still strive to reach the goal.
I will keep moving.
I finished reading Mastery by George Leonard. It is a great book with lessons for every aspect of a person's life. Leonard states that mastery is, “The mysterious process during which what is at first difficult becomes progressively easier and more pleasurable through practice.” The main idea is that one needs to be engaged in a goalless endeavor. He writes about his experience in learning aikido. The masters of the martial arts seek to instill in their students the ideals of integrity, humility, and the endless pursuit of improvement. When seen in that light it makes sense to say mastery is without goals.
But Leonard also makes sure the reader understands that as learners we DO need to have goals...the point being once one achieves they must then set a new goal. It's an eternal process and I conclude the sooner we accept that their is no end to learning the better off we will be.
Without this concept in mind people are easily lulled into thinking once I accomplish "this" I can quit. But to quit is akin to agreeing to die.
And how does this relate to being an entrepreneur?
Well in building up a business one must keep up with the times. To become top selling in your niche is great but if you don't keep at it your business will surely fizzle and die.
Integrity and humility also go a long way towards assuring success with repeat customers.
I also liked this quote from Leonard, Mastery is practice. Mastery is staying on the path. Leonard writes, “‘How long will it take me to master Aikido?’ a prospective student asks. ‘How long do you expect to live?’ is the only respectable response.”
The author goes on to point out that practice is both a noun and a verb. In my book report that I wrote this week I said:
We can practice (verb) family harmony through the practice (noun) of family meals.
I then related practice and mastery to the visual imagery below:
Mastery is like hopping from rock to rock across a stream, mastery of life takes us from one plateau to the next, and we should never stop, and yet we should certainly enjoy the view along the way.
I do think we can become complacent and I know that taking the time to stimulate thought and engaging in new activities allows us to continue onward and upward towards greater things . . . and that is what life is really all about.
Week 6 “The first and best victory is to conquer self; to be conquered by self is, of all things, the most shameful and vile.” ~PlatoRead Now
Sadly I failed to write my thoughts for week six. Time and events swept me through the week and suddenly the time was gone. I have been an A student for the past four years (not counting math where I got a B, but that was expected and still a surprise to do so well). But this term in both of my business classes I keep getting erratic grades across the spectrum. It is not that the work is hard either...it is mostly forgetfulness on my part and that sucks.
But this past week we have continued reading Mastery by George Leonard. He has some great insights about what it means to master self. Instruction, Practice, Surrender, Intentionality and The Edge were the titles read this week. Some of those are self explanatory. To surrender means to let go of your own ideas and allow the lesson to unfold in order to really get the message. Intentionality means to enter the arena, or task with a real purpose and goal in mind. The Edge means despite the need for practice and following the rules with precision a person must also push to their limit, to explore the boundaries. To stand on the edge without going over can be good in some things. Of course never as far as morals are concerned.
da Vinci once said: “You will never have a greater or lesser dominion than that over yourself.” Then he goes on to say that “the height of a man’s success is gauged by his self-mastery; the depth of his failure by his self-abandonment. … And this law is the expression of eternal justice. He who cannot establish dominion over himself will have no dominion over others.”
Week 5 Success is usually earned by persevering and not becoming discouraged when we encounter challenges. ~ James E. FaustRead Now
The Secret to Entrepreneurial Success: Skill, Character, or Luck? By Jeff Sandefer is an intriguing write up. The question is one to get a person thinking. He proposed the question to a group of highly successful entrepreneurs without getting a response the first couple iterations. I think the reason it took so long to get an answer is because it is so thought provoking. I agree that character is a main driving force. Without the fortitude to persevere anyone can fail even with skill and a great chance to get a foot in the door (i.e. luck).
Another book entitled Mastery by George Leonard addresses the same topic. Leonard asserts anyone can have a talent but it is a determination to see it through that decides whether one is on their way to mastering whatever it is they are pursuing.
Each of the assigned readings and videos this week relate once more to the idea that we are on a journey. Leonard writes about the learning bumps and plateau, and how to love the steady ride while there. Randy Komisar spoke about the need to not become paralyzed when one is not able to achieve what they have designated as their passion. He says, “ . . .rather than thinking about the passion, free yourself up to think about a portfolio of passions and the task is to marry that portfolio of passions to the opportunities in front of you.”
Sometimes the opportunity to go for things are not there. But other opportunities are. We need to remain open to the promptings of our inner voice, or the spirit, if you will. In my case I have always loved art. But for whatever reason I never have taken any formal lessons after high school. I thought it was my passion, but then I began to write and it consumed me. I was able to tell the stories that my art never could convey.
I chose to attend BYU-I through online courses. I was deeply saddened that art was not offered. And then doubly saddened when an English degree was not an option either. Still this was my first opportunity to get an extended education so rather than quit and take a different path I chose to follow through and get my general studies degree. From there I will have another choice to make…I can pursue a creative writing degree from a local college or take specific classes from writers like Dave Farland. Right now taking Dave’s classes sounds much more engaging and to the point.
So far luck has not smiled upon my writing. My skills are growing through perseverance…which is definitely one of my favorite character traits. So yes, I would say in the end all three are components of success…but stubborn stick-to-itiveness trumps all.
Week 4 Each minute is a little thing and yet, with respect to our personal productivity, to manage the minute is the secret of success. ~ Joseph B. WirthlinRead Now
This week’s lesson material was time intensive. Or so it seemed; I read several talks or essays and watched a few videos. The main focus of our week this time was to find our fears and write ways to overcome them. We also defined our core values and wrote a personal constitution. In addition we wrote an essay describing what is in The Ministry of Business by Steve Hitz.
I enjoyed reading the book by Hitz, it is a great resource for helping a person settle into becoming who they want to be, even if they do not want to be an entrepreneur. The main gist of the book though is that by becoming a charitable person of service to the world we can all make the environments that we live in better.
I had a very hard time coming up with fears to list. Yes I am timid as far as coming forth to speak to people and I do of course have a fear of making phone calls. But as far as a fear regarding starting a business I feel no fear. I encouraged my husband to start the business we own. It is a landscaping business that started in 1997 with maybe ten lawns a mower and a truck.
In order to get him to face his fears I wrote up the numbers for him and let him know I would do the books and in general told him we could do this. The first year was tight but for a while there our numbers doubled each year. We were able to employ four or five young men who were able to then go on missions to share the gospel with others. We never managed to grow very large, but we do have sufficient money to live in a log home on 20 acres. Currently we employ two workers who do pretty much everything. Convincing my husband to hire one more worker is now where we are at. If he trained one more guy and gave the running of the business over to his foreman we could then focus attention on our second business which is a BBQ sauce.
As for my own endeavor it requires less than $500 dollars. I intend to be a copy editor for fiction and will publish a small magazine as well as formatting books for CreateSpace and publish if that is what the client wants. This really does not induce fear.
Here is my Code of Conduct:
I will never:
Lie to customers or government agencies
Skimp on quality of service
Neglect to report income
Pay taxes in a timely manner
Deliver the product paid for
Work harder to learn the best accounting practices
My Personal Constitution is much longer so I will not bore you with that, but here are the key concepts formatted in an “I am” phraseology:
I am kind and thoughtful.
I am blessed with artistic talent.
I am engaged in life.
I am well-educated.
I am an entrepreneur with the ability to bless the lives of others.
Week 3 I feel it is good strategy to stand up for the right, even when it is unpopular. Perhaps I should say, especially when it is unpopular ~Ezra Taft BensonRead Now
I had great lesson material this week in my Entrepreneur class, for example:
Frank Levinson's Top 10 Things You Must Have to Start a Business.
1)Spending everything on a good team and equipment
2) Letting people know the company is in business
3) Raising limited capital
4) Taking stock of a company and determining its needs
5) Being open to opportunities
6) Having a supportive family
7) Targeting mass markets, not just niche markets
8) Having confidence in new ideas
9) Acquiring and selling to real customers
10) Choosing a great partner
Sadly I am missing pretty much everything here. I have no team. We are advised to find a mentor too; I am still wondering how to go about doing that since I rarely relate to others.
I will begin to spend more time on Linkedin, I think. I also rely on the advice from my writing group. Number 7 on the list is not something I can do much about since my content editing service is very much a niche market. BUT adding books widens it up. I am considering using affiliate marketing to sell books.
But the main lesson this week concerns integrity. Integrity is one of my favorite values or virtues. Being able to trust and be trusted goes a long way toward building lasting relationships both in our personal lives as well as growing a great relationship between a business and its clientele, or between workers within a business---should I ever get to that point.
In my mind integrity is the foundation upon which all other virtues sit. Without it faith cannot blossom; how can one have faith without trust? When thinking of this characteristic value I always think of a bridge. If the steel or materials of a structure like a bridge lack integrity, it is inevitable that one day that bridge will fall.
In business, integrity is key to building something which others can rely on to provide that which has been promised. I always want to be counted on; to be known as dependable.
“Till I die I will not remove mine integrity from me.
My righteousness I hold fast, and will not let it go” (Job 27:4-6).
Week 2 It would be a shame to wander aimlessly through a journey we will all take only once. ~ Jeff SandeferRead Now
My second week of classes: The reading assignments have been enlightening. I copied and pasted so many parts I liked that I have too many and now must choose the ones that really resonate. As part of this week's assignment I must respond to these questions:
Randy had dreams that he actively sought. He trained for and became educated in a field of study that he truly cared about. He happened to be in the right time at the right place and was able to capitalize on situations. It may look like luck, or happenstance but as we are reminded repeatedly . . . there are no coincidences.
Dreaming is the only way any innovation ever comes about. Thinking about it dreaming and visualizing with their double meanings shows how very real God’s influence can be. Through the Holy Spirit many people have indeed been inspired by having actual visions of the very thing they were desiring in order to solve some issue they may have been pondering upon.
When asked what I wanted to be when I grew up my first answer was a mother. I married young at 19 and proceeded to have children for the next 20 years. I have eight children, I accomplished my dream. Had I been unable to have children I would have adopted at least as many…my goal was to have ten. I had thought being a hairdresser would be fun, but as I entered my teens I dropped that and wanted to own an art and crafts store. I cannot achieve this goal now because it is no longer my passion. I do not have the energy to want to count inventory. It does not sound fun at all. Without desire it does not matter how much capital one has, eventually the business will fail…unless placed in competent and capable hands.
As for my reading I liked the basic questions posed by Jeff Sandefer in Stars and Stepping Stones, he asks:
“What is important to you? Why do you get out of bed in the morning? What do you want to have accomplished by the time you are seventy?”
So, obviously, parenthood was number one; but, ask my kids and the question - Why do you get out of bed in the morning? - makes my claim ring false. I trained my children early on to take care of themselves and each other so that only now when I have to take my daughter to her early morning seminary class do I suffer the indignity of getting out of bed before 8 am. Sleep in the morning is important to me as I sit here after midnight writing and cringing knowing I have to rise at 6:30.
Eight years ago I found my passion for writing. I fell asleep with a story in my head, dreamed it all night and woke to write sometimes not even eating breakfast or lunch. I wrote four novels in six weeks.
I love the story world I created and now the thing I want to achieve before I am seventy is to have the series published.
Continuing from the theme offered by Sandefer and highlighted in my previous post he says:
The objective is not to craft a perfect plan—life and circumstances change too much for that. You can, however, chart a course toward a meaningful star, set philosophical guardrails to mark the path, and lay steppingstones to mark each step in the right direction. After all, it would be a shame to wander aimlessly through a journey we will all take only once.
I do love that life is a journey; that we are in our very own quest for actualization to make ourselves and our dreams real. That is why I love writing - it makes the dreams within my head more concrete when I can share them with others.
So as they say - Dare to dream - for it is only in the dreaming that you will ever become the "you" you were meant to be.