First Seek to Understand… Stephen R. Covey

I attended a motivational meeting aimed at helping men find their purposes. A discussion was well underway…

Someone raised his hand and asked,

“How would a teenager feel about this…?”

The presenter stumbled over his words, finally saying that teenagers are just teenagers, “they don’t make any sense at all and are not worth the bother.”

One of just a few teens in the audience reached out to me during the break. He felt deflated. He already had doubts about himself and his worth. He wondered why he was even in the seminar…

The best time to plant a tree was twenty years ago. The second best time is now. -Chinese Proverb

A land administrator in Africa went to inspect a row of giant cedar trees that were uprooted and destroyed in a severe storm. When he arrived he told the foreman, “You will have to plant some cedar trees here.” The foreman replied, “It takes 2,000 years to grow cedars of the size these were. They don’t even bear cones until they’re 50 years old.” “Then,” said the administrator, “We must plant them at once.”

This story was shared by Spencer W…

Snow falling soundlessly in the middle of the night will always fill my heart with sweet clarity.” -Novala Takemoto

I was mesmerized, looking out the kitchen window at 5 o’clock in the morning. Snow was falling lightly in the amber tint of the streetlights. After a few moments, a tear came to my eye. But I didn’t know why.

Time Travel

Suddenly the falling snow brought me to a time several decades prior, and a place, 120 miles away. I saw a small airport in the distance. More tears appeared and they began to take on meaning, and to bring…

“Behold also the ships, which though they be so great, and are driven of fierce winds, yet are they turned about with a very small helm, whithersoever the governor listeth.”

Saint James 3:4

As humans we have the freedom, the obligation, to make decisions. One choice we are not given is whether or not to choose. We are constantly faced with countless decisions every day. Looking at a restaurant menu can cause great anxiety for many even if they know that any selection will be satisfying. Selecting a paint color can be challenging even though the worst outcome may be…

“Human beings are naturally cooperative and loving. We enjoy working together.” Peter A. Levine

Photo by Wayne Beck

We know we need to network. We need to connect. We hear it all the time. The truth is that without collaboration and human connection we are bound down, limited, never truly independent. So we gather connections and build relationships. We learn strategies and research how to effectively work with others. We hold networking events, seminars, and group retreats. Online tools provide opportunities to find, filter out and refine contacts worldwide. We are taught how to interact and influence others.

A Lonely Road

I was driving…

Boat builders do more than dream…

Photo by Wayne Beck

A political and administrative shift and department transfers left me in a stupor. I had just been at the peak of job satisfaction. I was hurting, but didn’t want my hurt and irritation to become poison to myself, or toxic to anyone else. I kept quiet and took time to myself. After a few days while in deep contemplation I took a deep breath. I stepped back, searching for perspective. I realized that I was experiencing a form of trauma. I needed some time “away.”

I switched to night shift to avoid the distractions…

Photo by Wayne Beck

“I can go anywhere. I can be anything.” -Reading Rainbow Television Theme Song

Mentors: Santiago (fictional), Paulo Coelho

The Diagnosis and Prescription

At fourteen-years-old I passed a career guidance course on my report card. And yet I was a failure, labelled as indecisive and without purpose. Is that something like being useless?

Problem: I hadn’t picked a career.

Diagnosis: Tools: a lengthy questionnaire, a #2 pencil and a ‘Scantron’ form: I dutifully filled in the little bubbles that corresponded to my answers to a myriad of questions about whether I liked being inside or outside, or talking to people or…


Every moment of life offers us an abundance of choices. Choices matter, and not only to ourselves. No other creature, plant or mineral has the choices that we have as humans. Whichever side of the bed we wake up on, each day is full of choices of how we will interact with and affect the lives of others.

Lost and Alone

I was traveling by train from Santiago to Los Angeles, Chile. For six hours I vigilantly watched out the window for the placard designating the next leg of my journey. Finally I saw the sign I had been…

“Regardless of what you are or what you have been, you can still become what you may want to be.” -W. Clement Stone IARFC Register August 2006

Photo by Wayne Beck

Selling is Hard, Door-to-Door Challenges

I must have been about five years old… My brother opened the front door to greet the Fuller Brush Man, “My mom said to tell you that she’s not home.” Mom sheepishly was hiding in the hallway, just out of view. She just didn’t want to be put on the spot to make a case for not buying. For the salesman, any kind of rejection is tough, then…

Art and Photo by Wayne Beck

My second lesson in the art of imperfection:

Mentors: Arthur Janov, Edvard Munch, Twin Dad, Unidentified School Teacher, Chunks of Clay

“Rule 1: Do not throw clay!”

It was my first day in high school ceramics class. The room looked like a disaster! As the instructor read off the rules for the class, I was taking in the physical environment. Chunks of clay were stuck all over the ceiling. There had to have been at least a hundred, maybe many more. I wasn’t much of a math guy so I didn’t count.

…“Rule 1: Do not throw clay!” Being a…

Wayne Beck

Every encounter builds perspective.

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