Education is the Foundation for Innovation

Education is the Foundation for InnovationWhen we look at innovations, the new things that come into our life, it is simply a new idea or process that was spawned by all the ideas and processes that preceded the innovation. Every innovation, invention, was the blending of personal experience and the experience of previous generations. When we understand that education is the foundation of all innovation, we have the greatest potential for success.

Birds flew long before man got into the airplane. We had to ask and understand how birds could fly. We developed wings, put them on man and machine and they didn’t work. We had to understand differential air pressure and flow over a surface. Ultimately we had to learn the processes of lift and propulsion. After all that, the Wright brothers combined all that information and designed the wing that could lift the airplane off the ground. The invention of the airplane was the summary of many individuals’ successes and failures. Those who learned from their own and others’ experiences eventually moved forward. They were the innovators.

Two ways to Learn:
We learn things in two ways, by our own experiences and the experiences of others.
This is the basis of all education. It is the learning process. Our own experience is limited to what we can learn during our own lifetime. It is limited by time. Learning from other peoples experience comes from the books we read and our association with family, teachers, coaches and mentors. When we learn from other peoples’ experience, we unlock the greatest potential for success.

Our teachers teach the experience of others through books. Our teachers do not develop mathematical principles, but they share the wisdom of the many people who developed and refined them. The true art of the teacher is to be able to pass on this wisdom to the student. When the student can apply what the teacher has taught, the wisdom has reached the next generation.

Fortunately a student does not have to experience war to understand the causes, implications, and tragedies of war. When we study history, we can learn so much and benefit from the experiences of those who lived it. The advances in medicine and technology that we enjoy today were hardly dreams, fifty years ago. Conversely, if we choose to discount or ignore what we can learn from history or from other peoples’ experience, we limit our potential and compromise our chances for success and innovation.

I did it my way:
Sometimes we believe in our own experience, that we know better, and we miss the benefit of other peoples’ knowledge. Over the years I have spent hours on the practice tee practicing my golf swing. My golf swing is based on my perception of the proper swing and the memory of when and if I ever hit a good shot. That is learning from my experience. I have 50 years of my own golf experience. How’s it working so far? Do I really know more than a pro?

But suppose I engaged a golf professional to help me. I could add his expertise to my personal experience. I’ve been there. The golf pro looked at my swing. Smiled. Then made a few suggestions. I could see it in his eyes. He wondered how I ever hit the ball and more importantly, how I could predict where I should begin to look for the ball when I hit it. Until I made the commitment to add his wisdom and expertise to my personal experience, there was little that he could do.

I spend a lot of time in the tall grass and in the woods. But think of it this way. There are more golfers who try to improve their game based on their own experience rather than from the experts. Because they rely on their own expertise, I find a lot of golf balls in the tall grass and woods while looking for my own ball. There really is a positive.

Know your strength and then grow your strength.
What is your talent or skill?
Everyone has something that they feel they do well. In a job interview, how would you answer the questions?
        1. What do you consider you best talent?
                2. What is your strength?
                        3. How can you help my company?

Hopefully you carry the answers around with you all the time. Your strengths are your strengths. They are personal. They are not what other people prescribe for you or what they think about you. The important thing is to identify your skill set. We cannot be skillful at everything, but the skills that we have are the foundation for success.

Your strengths can change. You can develop new talents. You have to be willing to be bad at something before you can be good at it. Your talents are developed. They become strengths through practice, repetition and refinement.

Measure your strengths by your goals, by what you want to achieve. It does not have to be compared to others but simply something that you do well. When you find something that you do well, you can improve that skill by practice and by coaching.

There will always be someone who can do what you can do just a little bit better. You can only be better at the moment of competition. The players change over time and new players with more and current practice raises the level of competition. Compare the winter Olympic competition fifty years ago with the events and skill levels of the athletes today.

Your personal assets
Your talents, skills, strengths are your personal assets. If you owned a gold mine, you would work to mine the gold. The gold mine would be your asset. The gold would be the foundation for your future. You wouldn’t think twice about doing some mining each day for find some gold. Your strengths are like the gold nuggets. You have to willing to work each day to mine your strengths. When we recognize that our strengths will be the foundation for our future, finding them, refining them and polishing them will be our daily routine.

Education is the Foundation for Innovation.
It all begins with our willingness to learn and grow. Just as you can’t make a plant grow, no one can make us grow. We put a plant in an environment that will promote growth. We must put ourselves in an environment that will facilitate our growth. Note that the operative word is ‘we’. We are responsible for our ability to grow. Our teachers can’t make us learn but they can create an environment to facilitate the process.

Make each day, a day in your gold mine. Learn something new. Mine some gold. And when it is your turn show the next generation how to mine gold, you will be able to tell them where to dig. You be able to tell them how they can grow their way to success.

A Pattern for Success:
1. Personal experience and the wisdom of others is the basis for the best decision.
2. Find your strengths. Refine your strengths. Grow your strengths.
3. Education is the foundation for your success. Learning is a personal decision.

Read: Chapter 5, Growth is a Decision, Grandpa And Andy, by Dr Richard B Liposky at

It’s not where you grow up…it’s where you end up that counts

It’s not where you grow’s where you end up that countsIt’s not where you grow up…it’s where you end up that counts.  It sounds simple but understanding and embracing something that simple can change lives.  Our future will be determined by our response to our environment better known as our circumstances.   We enjoy rags to riches stories because they prove that success can come to anyone who works for it.  Success comes to anyone willing to learn and grow.

Who’s in control?
We have choices.  If we accept that we are a product of our circumstances, then we will be like a leaf floating on a pond.  We will go where the current takes us. When our circumstances over whelm us, liked a soaked leave, we will simply sink to the bottom of the pond.  But, if we believe that we can respond to and change our circumstances, we will determine where life’s current will take us.

You don’t under stand my circumstances.
“But you don’t understand my circumstances.”  We hear that a lot these days  and I simply ask, “What are you doing to change?”  It stops people in their tracks.

I may not understand your circumstances but we can probably find someone with similar circumstances who changed, worked and grew through them.  It’s not so much the how they changed, it is why and what motivated them to change.

You can’t change where you grow up…but you determine where you end up.  Don’t get caught under your circumstances.  You can’t change the past.  The past represents everything that you have learned up until today.  The past can’t be changed but the past determined where you are today.  What you have learned to this day and what you learn today and tomorrow will determine where you will be tomorrow and in the future.

Who has my keys?
That means that you own the keys to your future.  Success or failure will be determined by your willingness to grow and change.  Growth requires energy but change requires an attitude…a vision of what is to come.  Even the perfect flower must go through growth and change.  We see it as a bud, a blossom, a beautiful flower and then the seeds for future flowers.   Some flowers take longer to blossom and produce seeds but the process is the same.  Patience.  Persistence.

The attitude for change
Our desire for change comes from what we have learned to this day about our past and what we might achieve in the future.  Our decision to change will be based on our belief that we can direct changes for our future.  It’s the Attitude for success. Education is the foundation for any success whether it involves the family, our person, our business or our profession.  If we do not embrace education as the foundation for change, we cannot change.

You can’t change where you grow up…but you determine where you end up.
What ever is holding you back, your circumstances, can be changed.  It starts with a decision.

Do I need to change?
Two things are important:

  1. We must recognize that education is mandatory for success.
  2. We must be willing to commit to the education process. Become a student.

Tough Questions:

  1. Are you happy where you are?
  2. Are you willing to change in order to have change? To grow?
  3. Are you willing to make the ultimate commitment to change?

Tough Answers

  1. I’m happy but willing to change.  I learn from everything I do. You see what you are doing as the foundation for future endeavors…and great success. Greatest potential.
  2. I’m unhappy, willing to change and willing to commit to my future.

You will achieve your dreams. Unlimited success.

  1. I’m unhappy, willing to change but I’m too busy right now.  There is too much stuff going on in my life.  Reasons and excuses will dominate the conversation.
  2. I’m unhappy, but I’m not willing to make any changes.    Quit complaining and get ‘happy’!

How do I change?
For change to be beneficial, it must accomplish a goal.  So the first order of business is to set your goal.  Where do you want to be in five years?  What specifically do you want to change and when? Change for the sake of change is fruitless.  It’s like exchanging one fat food for another fat food and expecting to loose weight.  You have altered your diet (change) with no chance of loosing weight (goal).

You can do it but you can’t do it alone.  Surround yourself with an educational support system.  That means books, coaches, mentors and people who will embrace your vision of your success.  Initially your support system may be found in books and education material.  You may have to help the people around you see and understand your vision.

Truly successful people are always willing to help others to become successful.  That is the common trait of successful people.  They surround them selves with successful people, become successful and then reach out to help others. Reach out to successful people, and then listen and learn.  You can do it!

It not how long it takes to reach your goals, it’s that you don’t quit on the journey.  It begins with a decision.  You can’t change where you grow up … but you determine where you end up.  You can do it!

Read: Chapter 12, Circles of Influence, Grandpa And Andy, by Dr Richard B Liposky at

In the next article, let’s explore the four elements that affect change:  Books, People, Time, and Attitude.

Dr R B Liposky

The Skull Session … turning ideas into assets

Grandpa and Andy Chapter 15The Skull Sessions … turning ideas into assets
Brainstorming, skull sessions, or solution sessions are designed to generate multiple options to solving problems or developing growth scenarios.  Team members often have ideas but they never get beyond the thought stage.  Skull session is a tool that can turn ideas into assets.  A skull session is different from a staff meeting.  Staff meetings are agenda driven in order to keep people motivated and focused on the execution of the business plan.  The staff meeting is good for developing and enhancing relationships among the members of the team.

The skull session employs creative and analytical talent in order to develop a business plan.  It is divided into two sessions, a creative and a critical session.  In the creative session, the participants submit ideas without judgment.  It is like throwing a lot of seeds into a garden.  You don’t know what you will get but you’ll see what sprouts and then weed and feed.  In the critical or analytical session, which follows, the participants evaluate the ideas and decide the best idea to solve the problem at hand.  The weeding process: Pick the best sprout and weed out the rest.

Once the participants select the best idea, they develop the plan to implement the idea. This plan may also require a separate or additional creative and analytical session focusing on execution and implementation.  The feeding process: Take the best sprout and provide the best environment to grow.

Every idea spawns both judgmental and creative thought.
Ideas flow from creative juices.  Some thinking energy produces the idea.  It is just an idea until we set judgment upon the idea.   The idea comes from the creative side of the brain while judgments comes from the analytical side of the brain. The judgment will be a function of the information available to make the judgment.

Between the worst bad idea and the ultimate best idea was the seed/foundation for that best idea.

Often, in the creative session, one idea spawns another idea.  Because of the diversification of the participants, a single suggestion can stimulate different responses.   It is important to have a broad foundation in order to spawn the best idea, the best solution.

A skull session is useful when dealing with long range planning or solving problems that have a broad impact on the business.  For example, planning the future direction of a company or product line.  Expansion, diversification, employee motivation, education and retention are some issues.  Skull sessions can be helpful in any business and at any time from start up to scale up.  The size of the business is not important. A new car and an old car still need to fill their fuel tank.  An old business needs to refill its idea and innovation tank on a regular basis.

Personal skull sessions
Personal skull sessions are the personal brainstorming sessions that you have with people in your first circle of influence (family, close friends, spouse, children) or with yourself and your personal board of directors (people with whom you are familiar with their lives and their thinking). Board people answer the question, “how would Lincoln handle this situation” or “what would Jesus say about this decision?”  You can use their wisdom because you have studied their life.  You understand their thinking and how they would deal with the situation that you are now facing.

You can’t choose your family but you can choose friends.  The great thing about a personal board of directors is that you put them on your board.  You determine your sphere of influence (the people around you who influence you). If you need business expertise, study and learn how successful business people think.   If you need life lesson personal growth support, study the lives of people who have overcome life’s challenges.  What you learn from the study becomes the basis for helping you make good decisions.  You will ask yourself, “how would (board member) handle this situation.”

Skull session “how to”
There have been books written on skull sessions and corporate brainstorming.  However, sometimes keeping it simple is a better approach when starting the process.  There are four basics to the skull session:  Mission, Motivation, Participants, and Participation.

               The Mission
The business must determine the problem at hand.  There must be a clear understanding of what you are trying to accomplish with a skull session.  The effectiveness or success of the session will depend on how well the facilitator and the participants understand the goal.  If you don’t have a goalpost, then the best the team can do is move the ball around for exercise.  Skull sessions are to score points not for exercise.

               The Motivation
Once the participants understand the mission, they must be motivated.  Motivation will come from how they relate to the mission.  If the mission is vague distant or not relatable, they may not engage.  If they see themselves as part of the solution, they will engage.  They internalize the mission and this releases their creative energy.

               The Participants
There are two categories of participants in a skull session, the facilitator and the audience.  Choosing the right facilitator can make the difference in the functionality and the ultimate results for the session.  The facilitator brings credibility and integrity to the final outcome of the session.

The facilitator by definition is not a lecturer or teacher.  That’s for the professor.  The facilitator’s job is to keep the audience mission-focused and highly motivated.  The facilitator encourages the creativity of the audience.  He keeps the audience focused on the specific session segment.  The audience is either in the creative thinking or critical thinking segment of the skull session.

It is easy for the audience to quickly and inadvertently judge an idea in the creative session.  Critical thinking in the creative segment will squelch creative energy.  There are no more new ideas.  The facilitator must recognize judgmental thinking and keep the audience focused.  Conversely, in the critical segment, the audience must focus on evaluating existing ideas.  Losing focus creates chaos.  The mission is in jeopardy.

The audience is the second category of participants.  It is important to select participants who have an interest in the mission and are motivated to participate.  Look for players and not spectators.  Participants may represent different philosophies, different skill levels and sometimes totally different or unrelated educational, business or interest levels.  Diversity is good so long as it does not bring agendas into either the creative or critical segments.  Agendas distort, dilute or pollute judgment.

               The Participation
The audience is inspired by the mission and motivated by the hope of accomplishing the mission.  There is no room for spectators in a skull session.  A spectator is an empty seat that should be filled with a player.  Often players will be hesitant to present an idea for fear of what other players might think.   That is personal judgment of the idea.  The individual is not purely in the creative mindset.  One very successful facilitator uses a technique where he asks the players to come up with the worst ideas, thus freeing the players from competitive and judgmental thoughts.  In reality, the best idea is the fruit of the seed planted somewhere between the best and worst idea.

What next?
When the skull session is completed, the best idea is now on the table.  The mission was to come up with an idea to solve a problem or define future goals and strategies.  The next step is to develop the plan to execute the best idea.  This is the business plan.

Now that we know where we want to go and when we want to get there, how do we get there?  You develop a business plan in the same way that you decided on what kind of business to build.  You have a new skull session.  This time the mission is to develop the plan to get there.   You decided where you want to go, when you want to get there and now you need to decide how to get there.  That is the execution or implementation part of a business plan.

Every successful business has a business plan that states where they are going, when they expect to get there and how they will get there. Change is certain in business as it is in life.  Change is nothing more than a detour.  Some businesses embrace change and, like approaching a detour, just find another way to get where they are going.  Businesses that resist change stop when they come to a detour.  They never get to their final destination.  We see these businesses fail over time.  Detours may change the how we get there and modify the when we get there but detours do not affect where we are going.

Successful businesses bring minds together and tap into their creative energy.  Successful people bring minds together through personal growth to energize their creative thinking.  Successful people and successful businesses see challenges as learning experiences and detours as an opportunity to explore new territory.

All assets come from an idea but not all ideas become an asset.   The skull session or brainstorming session is nothing more than a tool to be used to turn an idea into an asset. It is a tool that every business and everyone personally should have in their toolbox.  Check your toolbox.  It will be right next to a bunch of old ideas.

Knowledge vs. Capital – Business 101

Knowledge vs CapitalThere is an old saying that most businesses fail because of lack of knowledge or lack of capital. Capital can be hard to find and easy to lose. Knowledge is easy to find and hard to lose. Knowledge is abundant and available, and once you have it, you can’t loose it. Capital is worthless if not use properly. Knowledge, on the other hand, can be used over and over, even after the capital has been lost. It’s called learning from our failures or from our mistakes.

Knowledge is the critical ingredient for successfully executing a business plan. The learning process involves three phases: Creative Analytical Execution. Each phase requires an investment of time and patience in order to maximize benefits. It is interesting that when we look at a business that is in trouble, the cause and the solution to its problems will be found in one of these three areas. Like planning a trip…decide where you want to go, learn how to get there, and then go. And people who get lost on vacation either didn’t know where they were going, didn’t get directions or didn’t listen to their GPS. They think they know.

Grandpa’s wisdom says ‘when you think that you know, you probably don’t and when you think that you know everything, you don’t.’ The entrepreneur is the innovator and almost by definition likes to do things his way. Because it is his idea, he thinks he knows. But what he really knows is the creative phase. He will often discount the analytical and execution phases. “I know it will work.” “Everyone will buy it.” “We’ll make millions.”

Successful entrepreneurs have learned to surround themselves with talent that can help them implement their idea. The entrepreneur is the creative thinker, but effective use of analytical or critical talent will facilitate the development of a successfully executable business plan. Once the Creative and Analytical phases are complete, then there is a business plan and the entrepreneur needs to bring in business talent to execute his plan. This is the Execution phase.

Statistically, most of the money made from inventions have been made by the businessmen, the implementer and not by the inventor. This is not a bad thing. It just shows that the person with the knowledge has the advantage. So where does the innovator, the entrepreneur, the man or women with the great idea get the knowledge to turn that idea into a dream come true? The information is all around us. There are books, courses, and people available to help. All that we have to do is have patience and willingness to invest the time to learn.

Successful people know that they don’t know and surround themselves with successful people who know and then they listen. Unsuccessful people surround themselves with people who might know and then they talk. We have two ears and one mouth for a reason. Two ears because we have a lot to learn and only one mouth because, when we use it, it interferes with what the ears are trying to do.

In the book, “It’s Not What I Know…It’s How I Learned It” the author talks about his board of directors. His board was made up of people whom he was familiar with how they think and how they made decisions in their lives. Some were biblical and historical figures, some were successful businessmen and women, and some were family members. He said that when he was in the process of making tough decisions, he would simply ask, “What would dad do?” “What would Reagan do?” “What would Jesus do?” He would tap the brains of his board of directors.

How many people do you have on your board? You are the chairman of your board. When you look around your boardroom table, who do you have looking back at you? It could be Mom and Dad, a favorite uncle, grandpa, president Lincoln, Winston Churchill, the pope. It could be the hero of a book that you read or your favorite author. The more people on your board, the more knowledge you have to help you make good decisions. It takes time fill the seats around your table. That is the investment that you make to be the man with the knowledge.

If businesses fail because of lack of capital or lack of knowledge, then conversely, businesses will succeed when there is adequate capital and sufficient brainpower and it is used properly. When the entrepreneur shows that he has the knowledge to implement his idea, a business plan to follow, and the intellectual resources to execute his business plan, then the capital will appear.

The most successful businessmen have many failures but they just don’t quit. They turn every failure into a learning experience. They have a little more knowledge than the man who failed and then quit. The man with the knowledge is the man with the advantage. Have patience. Make learning a habit. Turn failures into an advantage.

Add Some Tools To Your Toolbox

ToolsIs it important to learn something everyday?
As a parent, at what time in your children’s development do you feel that they can quit learning?  We know that our children will have a different opinion.  They go through growth periods when they feel they are topped off.  They know all that they will ever need to know.  With our wisdom, we know that they will need more so we wait for the moment when we can continue to teach, coach and mentor.   But as a parent, when do we know it all?  Would our parents accept that we know everything or would they simply wait for the moment when they could continue to teach, coach and mentor?

We feed our child in order to support physical growth.   We teach our children in order to stimulate mental growth.  When the child matures physically, we continue to feed him, to maintain the integrity of the body.  But when is the child’s mental growth completed?  At what point do we no longer have to teach our children or young adults?  Most people would say that, as a parent, we are always teaching or coaching our children through out their/our lives.  So as parents, when do we no longer have to learn…to add knowledge?  When do we reach the point when we know everything?  I hope the answer is ‘never.’

Where we are today is based on the decisions that we made using what we have learned up until this day.  Where we will be tomorrow is based on what we have learned and will learn today.   If we choose not to learn today, not to add to our foundation, our tomorrows will be the same as our todays.  If we want changes in our tomorrows, we must start today.  Today is the foundation for our tomorrows.

Our Cerebral Toolbox
Knowledge is like the tools in a toolbox.  Each bit of information that we have is a tool.  If we choose the wrong tool (bad information), we get a bad result.  If we choose the right tool, we get the job done.  If everything we know is represented in our cerebral toolbox, then we are limited by our tools…our knowledge, what we have learned to this day.

But what if we keep adding tools to our toolbox?  Some of the tools we may never need.  Some we don’t even know how to use.  Some tools are there just in case.  The fact that the tools are in our toolbox means that we are no longer limited to the things we can fix.  We can fix anything.  A challenge is nothing more than the task at hand.  But the important thing is we can also build anything.

Knowledge is the foundation.
Knowledge is the foundation for all the decisions that we make each day.  It allows us to recognize, understand, accept or reject change.  It supports growth and creativity.  Diversity and creativity is a function of how we use what we have learned.   It we want to enhance the growth process and inspire creativity, we have to continue to add knowledge to our foundation.  We must continue to learn in order to grow.

If we limit the size of the foundation, we limit what we can build on that foundation.  If we continue to add to our foundation, we expand the potential for growth, diversity and creativity.   Therefore, it is important for us to continue to add knowledge…to continue to add to our foundation.

Knowledge is static. It is just information. It’s the facts as we interpret them.  Using the same information over and over is like washing your face with the same water.  Over time, with out any new water, you are washing with dirty water.  Over time, if you don’t add to the knowledge that you already are using, you will be doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results.

Broaden and strengthen our foundation.
There are only two ways to learn.  We learn from personal experiences and from the experiences of others.  Our personal experiences are limited.  The experiences of others are unlimited in potential but limited by one’s desire to learn from them.  We don’t have to jump off a cliff to see if it hurts.  We just have to read the story of how the man felt when he hit the ground.

Other peoples’ experience comes in two forms:  the people whom we meet and the books that we read.  You can only meet so many people.  We must surround ourselves with coaches and cheerleaders and avoid the people who want to keep us in their comfort zone.  Look for the people with the green or checkered flags and avoid the people with the yellow or red flags.

Thirty Minutes for a Dream
Eighty-five percent of the population do not read one book a year.  Less than one percent read more than one book a year.  One hundred percent of the population spends fifteen minutes twice a day in the smallest room in their house.  Thirty minutes a day reading would translate to one book per month or twelve books a year.  Thirty minutes a day reading would distinguish the individual in the top one percent of our population.

If one of the twelve books that you read each year is a self-help book, you are in an even more elite or distinguished group of individuals.  The most successful people focus on growing themselves and growing the people around them.  Success is a function of personal growth.  Success without personal growth is nothing more than a win.  Success with personal growth becomes a lifestyle and a legacy.

Think of your bookshelf as your toolbox.  Each book you read adds a tool to your toolbox.  The more tools that you have, the more things you can build.  The universal tool is personal growth and this tool will build a strong and broad foundation. When a man buys a drill, he is looking to make a hole.  When a man buys a hammer, he is looking for a nail.  But when a man buys a book, he is looking to build the foundation to achieve his dream.  Fifteen minutes twice a day!!!

Seeds: Wheat or Weeds

Wheat or Weeds There are many biblical references to ‘reap what you sow’. But even if your persuasion is not biblically founded, the principle applies in our daily lives. We can reflect on our current circumstances and sometime blame life for dealing us a bad hand…a poor harvest. But if we just stop, catch our breath and think about how we got to where we are today, we would see that we planted a few wrong seeds or planted them in a weed patch.

Coming from the farm, I learned very early that you don’t mess with Mother Nature. You reap what you sow. Planting the right seeds in the right ground at the right time gave us the best chance to harvest the right crop. We seeded clover just after the last spring snowfall. We planted oats before the last frost and planted corn after the last frost. We planted wheat after harvesting the oats in late summer. We spread manure in the winter and spring on the old cornfields and after the last hay was harvested, we spread the manure on the old hay fields before planting the corn in the spring.

Look at something as simple as wheat seeds and weed seeds. Wheat is grown for consumption…to feed us. Weeds grow to consume us. It takes the same amount of energy to plant a wheat seed or a weed seed. What happens after the seed in planted makes the difference as to whether we have food or just a lot of weeds.

Weed seeds are numerous and diverse. There are more varieties of weeds than there are wheat seeds. Weed seeds can lay dormant in soil for years. They adapt to adverse growing conditions and thrive in ideal growing conditions. Weed seeds are resilient and resourceful. If you wanted to quickly cover exposed soil, plant weeds.

The wheat seeds simply don’t grow in poor soil. They like not too much or too little moisture, comfortable temperatures, and adequate sunlight and wheat plants prefer to be surrounded by other wheat plants. Sort of a community affair. But the weeds just don’t care. They grow where they want, when they want and with whom ever they want.

Just like in the soil where there are weed seeds lying dormant, waiting for the opportunity to grow, there are life’s weed seeds that surround us, waiting for the opportunity to consume us. Life’s weeds seeds come in many varieties from dysfunctional family support to misleading or agenda driven social and community environments. The important thing to remember is that you are the fertile ground for life’s wheat or life’s weeds to grow.

There is a saying, ‘where we are today is based on the books we read and the people we know’. We can change it to say, ‘where we are today is based on the type of seeds that we grow’. We can grow life’s wheat seeds in order to consume (have a life style of our choosing) or we can let life’s weeds sow them selves and consume us (have a life style dictated by others).

The farmer has a choice to make. Will he cultivate the wheat and eliminate the harmful effects of the weeds or will he neglect his food crop at the expense of the weeds. He will either enjoy loaves of bread just the way he likes it or he will eat weeds and complain about the taste and not having any bread.

It’s interesting that once the farmer was able to make bread, the weed farmers felt that they should have some of the farmer’s bread.

“You reap what you sow,” he said. “It will take hard work. You will have to sort the wheat seeds from the weed seeds and constantly watch out for new weeds.”

When you harvest your life’s wheat, there will be life’s weed farmers out there who just want a little of your success. Be a good farmer and teach them how to plant their own life’s wheat. If they listen, you perpetuated life’s wheat harvest and they will eat for generations. If they don’t listen, they will find that some weeds are OK if cooked in vinegar and garlic until they are tender.

How can you tell the difference between life’s wheat and life’s weed seeds?
In the new book, Grandpa And Andy, Grandpa talks about five principals to live by and by doing so you will know whether you are growing life’s wheat or life’s weeds. Your personal success and lifestyle will be determined by how you understand and live these principals.

Grandpa’s Legacy
1. Know the difference between right and wrong and always choose right.
2. Be accountable for your actions. Take personal responsibility.
3. Never quit learning. Always be a student but become a teacher.
4. Change the things that can be changed and don’t worry about the things that can’t be changed.
5. Help your neighbor. Help the people who want to be helped and don’t worry about the people who don’t want to be helped.

What do you do when you have weeds in your garden?
You recognize the weeds and pull them out one at a time. Some people find themselves surrounded by life’s weeds. Rather than pull them out, they try to live with in the weeds. Weeds will out grow wheat every time. If you have a bad influence (life weed) in your garden, either get rid of it or move your garden.

There are always people out there to help the people who want to be helped. Like the farmer told the weed farmers, ‘I’ll teach you how to grow wheat…if you want to eat bread (change your life style) but if you just want to eat my bread (don’t change your lifestyle), it’s probably best you learn to like cooked weeds.

You can choose your lifestyle or you can live the lifestyle that someone chooses for you: Wheat or Weeds

Kids ask the tough questions

Grandpa and AndyA little boy asked his grandpa a question. Grandpa smiled and answered the question. The little boy quickly asked another question and grandpa answered it. He immediately followed with another question. This time grandpa looked at his four year old grandson and said, “Matthew, you have a lot of questions, today.”

The little boy looked up at his grandpa and replied, “But Grandpa, I need a lot of answers.”

Kids ask the tough questions. The questions are pure and innocent. They are not couched in political correctness, politeness, or family or social conventions. They come from the child’s observations of us and their environment.

If a four year old asks a question, we give him the information in a way that he can digest and understand. If a fourteen year old asks the same question, again we must give him the information in a way that he can understand. It is the same question requiring the same answer, but the information is modified to the child’s level of understanding. Making that adjustment places a huge responsibility on the parents, on Grandpas and on those who influence our children.

How do children learn?

Children use all their senses to gather information. They see, hear, feel, smell and touch. They process the information which then becomes the foundation for future interactions. A four year old may run from loud noises because he associates the noises with a frightening loud noise as an infant. A fourteen year old turns up the sound so he can feel the vibration and aggravate the neighbors.

Interesting, a child observes how his parents interact. He sees and feels the respect that they have for one another. Years later, that can translate into how the child as an adult, relates to his spouse. The parents may not have even realized that they were teaching without talking.

Who are the teachers?

We are all teachers. We are always on stage. If children learn through their senses, then any interaction with children is a teaching moment. We are teaching without talking. In the book, “Grandpa And Andy”…a grandfather’s handbook, the author talks about the doctor who was raising a fuss at the Home Depot store because he had dandelions in his daffodils. A teenager, standing by his dad, didn’t see an old man with a daffodil issue. He saw his family doctor raising a fuss with the sales clerk. He thought that he would never want to be a doctor because based on what he was seeing, doctors are arrogant and disrespectful to other people. The daffy doctor had a significant affect on the young man’s career decision. Hopefully the young man had other teachers in his life that helped him to choose his career based on good credible information. Did the daffy doctor know he was on stage? Yes. But he thought the audience was made up of all daffodil lovers who supported his protestations against dandelions.

Children do ask the tough questions but so do the people around us every day. We can influence people simply by our presence. Children learn from our actions. Like little Mathew, they need a lot of answers but they often don’t know what question to ask. They watch, listen, and experience their environment. As they learn, their curiosity spawns the questions. The old saying, “when the student it ready, the teacher will appear.” We are all teachers to someone. We just don’t know who is the student or when he will be ready to learn. It’s not too complicated. Our actions can affect children attitudinal and social development. We are always on stage.

Adults judge our actions. Our actions can affect our own personal and career development. If we ignore our responsibility for our personal and career development, it only affects us. But if we abdicate our responsibility to our children, then we not only hurt them, but our action has a generational affect. Our children learn from us and will teach the next generation. We are always on stage. We must take responsibility for our performance. There is always an audience. Give your best performance.

The Lifestyle Stream: The River tells many tales.

Lifestyle StreamIf you want to know what the river will look like when it flows by you, go up stream the day before. If you want to know why you are where you are in life, look to the past and the decisions that you made. If you want to know where you will be in the future, look at the decisions that you are making today.

Upstream is the future, downstream is the past, and what is in front of you is yesterdays’ today and tomorrows’ future. You can’t change what was upstream today, but you can change what will be downstream tomorrow. If life is simply the water flowing down the river, what we see is our today. We can’t change what flows before us today but we can change what will flow before us tomorrow. Go upstream.

Everything we have learned, all our experiences, the decisions, the people in our lives to date, make up how we live today. If you had to drink the water in the river, would you want to know what was upstream? Would you want to know if there were any chemicals leaching into the water? Would you want to know if anyone was dumping sewage into the water that you were about to drink? Of course, you would want to know every detail. We depend on our water authority to watch out for the water that we drink. We want them to filter out all the bad elements that will affect our health. Chemicals, bacteria, little animals, etc. (Where do the fish poop?)

But what about how we live each day? Our Lifestyle Stream. Who filter’s out any of the bad influences and experiences that we have in our Lifestyle Stream? Where we are today, how we live, positive, negative or in between, is based on what we have learned and experienced to this day. It’s what was upstream. We must be our own thought purification plant.

If a man doesn’t like his lifestyle, he is the only person who can make the change. Keep in mind that he may need help, I understand, but the individual who is uncomfortable must initiate, invigorate, facilitate and execute the change.

Some things can’t change but most things that effect our lifestyle can change. If you are falling out of a 20th floor window, it is probably too late to make changes other than some serious spirituality. However, if you are jumping off the same building with a parachute, the important change is to pull the ripcord. The thing to remember is that you have to initiate and execute the change.

Upstream Lessons:
1. Know the difference between right and wrong. Always choose right.
2. Be accountable for your actions. Take responsibility.
3. Never quit learning. Be a student. Strive to be a teacher.

In my latest book, “Grandpa And Andy”…a grandfather’s handbook, Grandpa always has a story to share. They are all upstream stories. Stories about Grandpa’s lessons and experiences. To Andy, they may be just stories but they will help him when the Lifestyle Stream is in front of him.

Like everyone else …

Like everyone else ...If we were all the same, then there would only be one fingerprint on record. If we were all the same, we would not need photo ID’s. If we were all the same, why bother with DNA samples and testing.

Margaret Mead said, “Always remember that you are absolutely unique. Just like everyone else.” We are unique, like everyone else, and that uniqueness allows us to differentiate and distinguish our selves from one another. We distinguish our selves by how we look and how we act. And people make the distinction, they determine who we are and how they will relate to us based on our looks and actions.

You might say that we are always on stage. Whether it is a perfect stranger, our children or friends and acquaintances, they all have an opinion on our performance. It is best to give your best performance.

Some people prefer to distinguish them selves by their looks. They change or enhance their looks to make a statement. They may decide to wear make up or a special shirt and jacket. They may choose to alter their body. Having surgical procedures like liposuction and injectable fillers or just moving, removing or adding parts.

We see a prevalence of tattoos and facial/body jewelry today. It is perfect for a specific environment but can give an undesirable response in another environment. It’s like wearing a bikini to church. Right look, wrong place. The jewelry can be removed but tattoos are forever.

Some people distinguish themselves by their actions. Our actions represent a 24/7 performance. We are always on stage. From snoring at night to snoring during your boss’s presentation, it is the same performance but two different theaters. One performance gets a nudge while the other performance gets you fired.

The action may be the same but the presentation varies. The mood of the day, the emotional state at the moment, will affect the response to your performance. Greeting the kids when you come home may be a little different if you just ran over Johnny’s bike and got a flat tire.

Did you ever hear a young person say that some day I want to be a soldier or a doctor, or a fireman or ‘just like you, dad’ ? They may never have met a soldier, a doctor or a fireman but they see what they do. Those professionals can have a generational affect on peoples lives. And what about parents? What a great compliment to a dad or mom when their children emulate them. That is a generational response from how the parents relate to each other, to the people around them, and most important, to their children. Mom and Dad, you are always on stage. The little eyes see much more that the little ears can hear.

It’s important to remember that we are always on stage and that we want to give our best performance. There is always an audience out there. The actor prepares and practices for every performance. We don’t have that luxury. We get the script and walk on stage. That means we must be ready to perform 24/7.

In the new book, “Grandpa And Andy … a grandfather’s handbook” Grandpa explains to little Andy about being respectful, looking his best, and making Grandpa proud. He says, “Andy, you and I are always on stage.”

Next: America is the place where equality permits us to strive to be unequal.

Under the Circumstances

Under the CircumstancesHow often do we get a chance to read stories of unsuccessful people? Not often. Not too many authors take up the challenge. There is little value to the story other than reading about someone else’s problems with an unhappy ending. Stories written about failure, that we find interesting focus on overcoming failures on the way to success. They have a happy ending.

The most successful people are the people who failed the most, learned from their failures and never quit. They don’t wallow in their circumstances. We listen and may identify with where they have been but we are excited about where they end up. It’s not where you grow up … it’s where you end up that counts. You can’t change where you grow up … but you determine where you end up.

Everyone has circumstances and some people don’t mind telling you all about them.
Circumstances are the descriptions of our past and present. They can’t be changed but they do have value. Circumstances can be used as excuses or reasons. They are excuses to continue on our current path or reasons to choose a new direction. We make the decision.

But you don’t understand my circumstances. My teachers were not very smart. Or did you choose not to study your lessons. But the teachers didn’t tell me to study. But why did you think you were going to school? Because my mom told me I had to go to school. People with out vision live in the past. They know their circumstances.

But you don’t understand my circumstances. I do understand your circumstances. We gave you a free education. We gave you schools, teachers, books, transportation, and meals and you decided not to take advantage of these gifts. I do understand your past. But there is a lesson that you can learn from your circumstances. You can change. Make your circumstances the reason to grow, to focus, to dream and to achieve great things.

There are many stories of people who never had a formal education and still achieved success. They went back to school, learned a trade or developed a skill. They started a business. They raised a family. They taught others that they can achieve their dreams. Success starts with a decision. Success starts by shedding the cloak, the weight, of your circumstances.

It’s not where you grow up…it’s where you end up that counts. You can’t change where you grow up…but you determine where you end up.

In my new book, Grandpa And Andy…a grandfather’s handbook, Grandpa tells Andy that it’s OK to be bad at something so long as you keep learning from your circumstances. You can’t get good at something until you try it once. That’s Grandpa’s logic. He says that circumstances are stories of the past. Write your own story about your future. It will be the roadmap to success.