Monthly Archives: December 2012

The Difference Between Knowing How and Knowing Why

There an old quote that says “If you know how, you can get a job, but if you know why, you can be the boss”. To me, this one subtle little perspective is the main source of burn-out, job frustration, mid-life crisis and other disappointments in life. For the most part we are all trained and equipped to know HOW to do things, but few of us are ever taught the importance of WHY we do things. Or maybe the importance of why we SHOULD be doing things. Have you ever been in the middle of doing something you’re really good at and just stopped and asked yourself; “Why am I doing this”? If so, you’ve just made my point. The crisis of “Why am I doing this?” usually leads to “Maybe I could learn how to do something else!” Notice we seldom answer the question “why” by vowing to discover “why”, but rather we try to resolve “why” by learning a new “how”.

Some very sad “Why’s” include things like: Why do I stay at my job? well, it’s a paycheck! Why do I stay married to my spouse? well there are the kids! Why do I watch TV 20 hours a week? well, there’s nothing better to do! (Which is an average of less than 3 hours a day)Why am I 35 years old and play video games for 20 hours a week? well, if I can reach the next level, I win bonus points! Those kind of answers to the question of “why” we continue to do the things we do only make matters worse. It gives a lame reason “why” that causes us to move the whole issue to the back burner of our minds and just keep doing the “how” that we’ve gotten used to. I’m a huge advocate of providing for the family and you don’t just quit your job. But if the only reason you stay at a job you hate is for a paycheck, it’s really time to ask yourself “Why”.

Determining “Why” you would ever do anything worthwhile is a major key to the future success of that thing. EVEN IF YOU DON’T KNOW HOW TO DO IT! When you have a strong enough “Why” you will somehow figure out “How”. I can teach people how to become a millionaire in real estate investing. I can teach people how to build family wealth. I can teach people how to create a family culture that defines their core values and draws them closer to each other with common and healthy purposes. The problem is that they nearly all want to know “how” but few are willing to take the time to figure out why. The “Why’ is absolutely the most critical element. If you do not establish a good enough why, it doesn’t matter how good you get at it, someday you’ll find yourself asking “Why am I doing this?” And if it’s about building wealth, your answer will likely be, “Well, its good  money!” At that point, you will know that you’ve failed.

There is a magical thing that happens when you take the time to really define why you would attempt anything. Your clarity of purpose becomes acute. Your ability to focus becomes almost subconscious. You can easily prioritize wasteful and non-productive behavior right out of your schedule. EVERYTHING changes!

Our business has three really good “Whys”. One of them is to “Change our future generations from experiencing lack to experiencing abundance, developing the tools, skills and reasons necessary to enhance the lives of all who they come in contact with”. That alone is enough of a why to keep me focused for decades. Maybe even a lifetime.

If you are one of the ones who has asked us “how”, we will show you how. But first ask yourself “why”.  If you come to me with a powerful why, I would say you will succeed at your how!

Wealth, Politics and Core Values

Mostly I’ve tried to avoid getting into politics on my blog posts. However, this is a post were I think the connection can’t be avoided because of the impact we have allowed politics to have on our lives. When I say politics, I’m referring to both policy and politics. This post is about how to reconcile the seemingly opposing components of Wealth Building and our personal Core Values. There is a dominant thought in the country that the pursuit of wealth or the possession of wealth somehow cannot be compatible with one’s core values. I believe there are two reasons for this. The first reason is that Wealth Building is a mystery for almost everyone therefore difficult to attain. It certainly was for me for about 45 years. The second reason is, because it’s a mystery, most of us need a reason to justify why we don’t possess wealth for ourselves. That reason becomes either; “Money’s not important to me”, Money is the root of all evil”, “Rich people are heartless and mean and greedy”, or some other similar stance against wealth. A statement of this kind automatically creates a “Core Value” within the person that causes them to oppose any suggestion of wealth creation for themselves and question the motives and oppose anyone who pursues wealth creation. I personally do not know anyone who would refuse a “no strings attached” gift of $100,000.  This tells me that everyone would take it if it were given to them, but somehow become opposed to creating it for themselves because it doesn’t fit their core values. The truth about core values is that money doesn’t change your core values. Your core values determine and regulate your attitude toward wealth and your utilization of wealth.  If wealth is used in selfish, unproductive or evil ways, it’s only a reflection of your core values on display. If wealth is used in productive, generous and noble ways, It’s only a reflection of your core values on display.

Having said all that, there is a choice each person must make for themselves and it has to do with core values. Are you one who will admit that you would take the $100,000 if it were offered to you, or would you stand on a principle that says “it’s against my values”? I’ve heard hundreds of people declare something to the effect of “If I had a million dollars I would do this or that with it” all reflecting noble gestures of generosity and compassion. That may be true, but the fact is you will never know until the opportunity presents itself. And, if you are fundamentally opposed to wealth, you are safe in the fact you will never likely encounter the opportunity to prove what you would do if you had a million dollars. So I believe there is a fork in the road of our lives that demands we truthfully answer the question “What do I believe regarding wealth?” The only two answers available are; “I believe my core values would make me a responsible steward of wealth” or “I believe my core values are not strong enough to make me a responsible steward of wealth”.

Wealth enhances the scope of what’s possible. Core values determine how that enhancement becomes reality. Core values of greed will always produce more acts of greed. Core values of generosity will always produce more acts of generosity. If one believes they have the core values that lead to acts of generosity, compassion, creativity and good deeds, then there is no reason to be opposed to the creation and accumulation of wealth. For that person, wealth would be used as a tool to build schools, orphanages, museums, homes, women’s shelters and on and on and on. There is no limit to the good that can come of it. Then the question becomes; Will I or will I not learn to master the mysteries of wealth creation?”

Mysteries are only mysteries as long as you don’t have the answers or the knowledge. Mysteries disappear when you gain knowledge. Risk disappears when you gain knowledge. Confidence suddenly appears when you gain knowledge. The mysteries of wealth creation are no longer mysteries to those who have mastered the fundamentals of wealth creation. Just like the mysteries of auto mechanics are no longer mysteries to those who have mastered the fundamentals of auto mechanics. There is no difference. There are  only degrees of willingness to master the mystery.

Finally to the politics and policy. To me, politics is one of the other major outside forces that oppose wealth creation. Regardless of administration or  party, every policy, whether mis-guided or not, is created to have a general effect on the country as a whole. Every policy affects every person to a degree. Some to our benefit and some to our detriment. There are policies that attack and destroy wealth creation and there are policies that enhance and promote wealth creation. We get to choose how to structure our efforts to take advantage of the positivepolicy  forces and avoid the negativepolicy  forces. The state of the economy provides both obstacles and opportunities to wealth creation. There is no question that national debt and spending will continue to make wealth creation more and more difficult to those who choose not to master the process. There are also obvious long-range ramifications to not getting spending and debt under control. Policies will continue to be developed (mis-guided or not) to correct this. Meanwhile, the politics of the process will always, ALWAYS….. create fear, hopelessness and hesitation among those who can not or will not muster up the courage to step forward in their own wealth creation plan. In fact, the politics is increasingly creating an atmosphere that promotes looking to the government for solutions to individual circumstances and choices. This is encouraging a core value of “co-dependant security” from the government. Sadly to say, the poverty group have already succumb to the system, but now the middle-class are also beginning to fall victim of that system as well.

I see a generation developing who feel that a specific lifestyle is their” God-given” or “Government given” right. Just like the ones who oppose wealth building but are not opposed to being given $100,000. They will take whats offered, but not create it for themselves. This is a grossly mis-guided attitude. The fact is God gave us life and the government guarantees that we have the right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. If happiness to one person is poverty, then so be it. If happiness to another is watching your lifestyle diminish due to policy and politics, then so be it. If happiness to another is changing the world around them through the generous and wise use of wealth, then so be it.

Wealth creation is an individual choice and an individual act. My mission is to help remove the mystery of wealth creation and promote development of core values both in the individual and the family group. A family group sharing common core values can change the direction of generations to come. A family groups sharing common wealth creation objectives can also have great impact on the world around them in countless ways. It all starts with core values, knowledge and courage.

A Secret Worth Sharing

Once you have mastered time, you will understand how true it is that most people overestimate what they can accomplish in a year – and underestimate what they can achieve in a decade!

For several years our family has been doing annual planning sessions that are meant to keep our attention focused on the things that we believe have value for us. Regardless of what our outward activities and efforts are, our true goal is to create quality time. Every year that passes is proof to us that our planning has been time well spent. Perhaps the better term would be “time well invested”. I’m continually amazed by the perspective different people have on time. Last year, I made a goal to observe and try to understand this better. Here are a few observations.

One Day at a Time; There are those who live life as a long series of 24 hour events. Somehow they cannot seem to grasp the fact that they are on a timeline that includes things that will happen the next day, the next week and next month. This year, I’ve witnessed a family spending their money on new Halloween costumes one day and the very next day try to figure out how to buy groceries.

Workin’ for the Weekend; This group is easy to spot. Everything revolves around getting to the next TGIF. Whether the job is a good paying job or a poor paying job, it’s the means to the end and the end specifically is the weekend. By Sunday night the whole cycle has run its course and Monday morning it starts all over again.

40 years to Retirement; I kind of feel sorry for this group. They have a long-term plan, but the plan is to work their entire life only to gain their “time” freedom when they are 62, 65, 67, 70 or older. Sure, they generally have enjoyed many bright spots along the way, because they are planners and have made sure to work that in. It’s not a bad plan, I think it’s just not the best plan. Most of my friends who are in this cycle, go through life being frustrated at their jobs, their bosses, effects of recessions or inflation on their income and savings and anything else that diminishes their quality of life that they feel they have no control over.

I guess that is the thing that compels me to maintain an active “Quality of Life” plan. Each year we experience an increased quality of life. Not only us but our kids as well, and its a plan that will continue to affect future generations to come. Probably one of the honorable and noble things that can be said of a man is that he’s a good provider for his family. I believe that all men have a responsibility to provide for their family. My personal idea of providing for my family is to do so in a way that not only continuously increases their quality of life now but does so for generations to come.

The “Secret” is understanding the wise use of time. Things like this do not happen over night, on their own or by accident. They must be planned and executed over a period of time.  If you are young, start now. If you are middle-aged, start now. If you are old, start now. Even if you cannot change your own destiny that much, you can have a profound impact on the legacy you leave for your children.

Developing a plan doesn’t mean you just  stop what you are doing and start something else. It means you develop a course of action that starts to ramp up a new and better plan for a quality of life that will eventually replace your existing one.

December Goodness

Its December, and even though I don’t care much for winter and certainly don’t care much for the fact that December is our biggest “expense” month of the year, I still get a good feeling when December gets here. I seem to always have the sense that things are peaceful. Can’t explain that, but it’s there just the same. As a family we tend to not over-do Christmas. We have only a few traditions we observe, and most of them are not very “traditional”. We have all managed to be together for the holidays for a number of years now. This year that happened in early November so we may not get the Christmas gathering we’ve become used to. But we did have a family gathering to be remembered forever this year as my parents and all their kids and grandkids enjoyed a tropical cruise. That was our “agreed to” Christmas gift to each other. So this Christmas holds little anticipation for us to see family. Although we will probably visit with friends.

Even with Christmas being a low-key event for us this year, December still feels good. What is it that makes this time of year special? We hardly ever do a Christmas tree but we do play Christmas music on the radio non-stop from Thanksgiving through Christmas. I lose track of our work projects over the years, but can remember all of the ones where Christmas music was playing in the background. We enjoy campfires a lot in the back yard and at the cabins. By December they mean more just because the new extra chill in the air makes the campfire warmth that much more important and there’s something different from just watching a fire and being warmed by a fire. In December, there’s a difference between carrying around a cup of coffee and carrying around a hand warmer with coffee in it. I enjoy reading all the time but this time of year I feel like putting away my normal diet of  instructional/educational books and picking up some purely recreational reading. Even our business activities seem different. Depending on the work load we may still work through the holidays, but mostly we spend time reflecting on the past year and looking to the coming year for what our plans might look like.

DecemberEven today at 10 a.m. I’m sitting out on the deck, the trees have now lost their leaves, there’s a cup of hot coffee close by. I can see the lake in the distance with a few brave fishermen. Its cloudy but somewhat mild with just enough cool to make it feel like December. Faint smell of wood smoke from somewhere. And I’m content! I hear geese down by the lake and even a train way over by Branson. Even though it’s not snowing, I feel like I’m in the Robert Frost poem, “Stopping by the Woods on a Snowy Evening”. To me, that’s December.

By January all the warm and fuzzy of the season will be over for me and it will just be winter. But for now, its December and will enjoy every day of winters “poster child” month.