Archive for the 'balance' Category

A father’s tough love is the harder job

As the father of an adult daughter and son, and the grandfather of four knucklehead boys (Hurricane, Tornado, Crash and Train Wreck), I’ve learned some things about love.

All the hours logged as Dad and Poppy have often caused me to contemplate how different are the roles of mother and father, especially in the overt demonstration of parental love. It’s fascinating how the manifestation of this love differs between mother and father—biologically, emotionally and experientially.

A mother’s love, at once sweet and fierce, is observed in almost all animals, not just humans. No doubt you’ve heard this metaphor: “… as sweet as a mother’s love,” and this warning: “Don’t get between a momma bear and her cub.” I have been a witness to, and recipient of both of these expressions of love, and there truly is no other force in nature like it.

But it troubles me that there are no corresponding references to a father’s love. In fact, a human father’s love is more often associated with unfortunate references such as, “tough” and “disciplinarian.” And here’s a warning no child has ever heard: “Just wait ’til your mother gets home!”

Could this be why Father’s Day is not quite as big a deal as Mother’s Day? Just sayin’ …

Mothers occupy the pinnacle of parental love – with justification. And not to take anything away from them, but let’s be honest: since a mother’s sweet love is as primal as the miracle of birth, they don’t have to work too hard to deliver it. But there is a uniqueness about a father’s love that deserves a better rap. Here why:

Unlike a mother’s sweet love, a father’s tough love does not exist outside of Homo sapiens.
When a father’s parental toughness is called for, especially when applied to an indignant recipient (read: teenager), it requires a love that has found the courage to at once endure an immediate negative response and a willingness to defer gratification – sometimes for years.
No one is more keenly aware of the distinction between the application of these two demonstrations of love than a single parent (especially single moms), where both kinds are required of the same person, perhaps within minutes.

Mothers, please forgive any bias you may detect, but here’s my conclusion about parental love: The only force in the universe that comes close to a mother’s sweet love is a father’s tough love. But the latter is the harder job, and the return on investment almost always takes longer.

Write this on a rock … Happy Father’s Day, Dads. You’ve earned it.

Are you looking for answers in the wrong places?

This is a story about three small business owners who had one thing in common: a wise man named Luther. Oh, by the way, Luther is their janitor.

On Mondays, Luther cleans the offices at National Supply Co., Inc. Sometimes he talks with the founder, Mr. Gilbert.

One Monday afternoon Mr. Gilbert said, “Luther, I don’t know how long I can survive.”

“What’s wrong, Mr. G?” Luther asked.

“It’s those big-box competitors,” Mr. Gilbert said. “I’ve looked under every rock for ways to lower our prices and increase advertising, but I just can’t compete with those guys.”

“Maybe you’re looking in the wrong place,” Luther offered.

“What do you mean?” Mr. Gilbert asked.

“Those big competitors will always be with us,” Luther reminded him. “Why don’t you emphasize the value of the human connection and customized service that only a small business like yours can deliver? Those two things alone are worth more than anything the Big Boxes offer.”

On Wednesdays, when Luther cleans the offices at Central Data Corp., he often visits with the owner, Sarah.

“Luther, I always assumed my kids would take over my business, but now it doesn’t look like that’s going to happen,” Sarah lamented one day.

“Why aren’t they interested in the business?” Luther asked.

“I’m stumped, she said. “I’ve shown them the opportunity and how profitable the business can be. What else can I do?”

“Maybe you’re asking them to look in the wrong place,” Luther suggested.

“What do you mean?” Sarah asked.

“Sarah, I’ve noticed how much you love what you do,” said Luther, “even when times were tougher and things weren’t so rosy. From what I’ve seen, being an entrepreneur is as much about nourishing the spirit as growing the bank account. Help them think about that.”

On Fridays, Luther cleans the offices at Westco Dynamics, Inc. Mr. West usually talks with Luther for a few minutes, but he seemed pensive today.

“Luther, my family was so poor that we struggled just to survive,” Mr. West said. “When I left home, I vowed to never be that unhappy again.”

“Mr. West, it sounds like you’ve got something stuck in your craw,” Luther observed.

“Aw, it’s nothing,” Mr. West fibbed. “It’s just that, with all my money and stuff, I still can’t stop looking for ways to make sure I’ll never be poor again.”

“Maybe you’re looking in the wrong place,” said Luther.

“What do you mean?” Mr. West asked.

Then Luther said, “You’ve been motivated by the fear of being poor instead of the joy of creating something from nothing. Try finding happiness in knowing that you provide valuable products and services for your customers, and jobs and income for your employees and their families. Remember, money and stuff only give you options, not happiness.”

Write this on a rock … When you’re looking for answers, make sure you look in the right places.

Find Work You Can Love

young_businesswoman.jpgWhether work is a blessing or a curse depends on what you are working on and your attitude about it.  James Matthew Barrie, the Scottish novelist said, “Nothing is really work unless you would rather be doing something else.”

Many hard working entrepreneurs were once unproductive employees, but now, with their wagon hitched to their own star, work is the stuff of their dreams.  Many productive employees — once unsuccessfully self-employed — now understand the blessings of employment, and become the most valuable of resources: the entrepreneurial employee who loves his or her work.
Work feeds our stomachs with food and our spirit with accomplishment. Work creates, produces, energizes and fulfills all things humans need for survival and happiness.
If work is not a blessing for you — whether owner or employee — the problem is not work itself, but the work you are doing. Lebanese novelist, Kahlil Gibran wrote, “Work is love made visible.”
Life is short.  Keep searching until you find work you can love.  I did.

Thanks for being part of my community. I’ll see you on the radio and the Internet.

Entrepreneurs: Keep climbing toward success

In a former life, whenever I felt deficient in my ability to meet a particular challenge, one of my mentors would say to me, “This is no hill for a climber,” followed immediately by, “and you’re a climber.”
Today, whenever I’m feeling deficient in my ability to meet the challenges of my small business, I say these words to myself, “This is no hill for a climber and I’m a climber.”
In an even earlier life, growing up on a farm, we had an old two-ton Studebaker truck. This was a brute of a truck, with a very special feature: one really low gear. My dad called that gear “grandma.”
Whenever we had a heavy load to haul and a steep grade to climb, Dad would say, “Put it in grandma.” In “grandma” that old truck wouldn’t go more than a couple of miles an hour, but it would pull or haul anything, anywhere. Even when the pulling got really tough that truck might jerk and buck, but it never stopped pulling.


Small business owners have a special gear similar to the one on that truck. Our “grandma” gear is made up of the cogs of grit and determination, and the sprockets of courage and passion.

Four reasons you should take a vacation from your business

Could you use a vacation?

Of course you could and most of us know time away gives any leader a better perspective. But polls show less than half of small business owners are likely to take off a whole week for vacation.

Perhaps this is a better question: Could your business use a vacation from you?

Of course it could. Your absence will reveal organizational weaknesses that need attention as well as strengths you may have overlooked.

Regardless of your motivations, here are four ideas to consider to help you take more time off.

1.  Define success.
Webster defines success two ways: 1) a favorable outcome; 2) gaining wealth and fame.
Embracing both definitions as having equal value will help you recognize that living long enough to enjoy the fruits of the second definition—with your loved ones—must be part of your success definition.

2.  Hire quality.
Taking time off requires being able to leave your business with a team that’s trustworthy.
If you’re not comfortable with the idea of leaving your baby in the care of others, your instincts are probably good, but your hiring practices may not be. Part of your interview process should determine whether a prospect is the quality of individual you would trust with your company in your absence.  By the way, this is one of the best times in history to acquire high-quality talent.  It’s a buyer’s (hirer’s) market.

3. Delegate.
If you’ve already assembled that trustworthy team, their usefulness is limited by your ability to delegate.  Delegating isn’t easy for entrepreneurs; you’ve done all of the jobs, and you know how you want them done. But there’s an old saying that successful delegators embrace, “Don’t let the perfect be the enemy of the good.”  If you cringe at the thought of how things won’t be perfect in your absence—get over it.

4. Leverage technology.
No one has to be completely unplugged anymore. There’s plenty of affordable technology that can serve as your security blankie by helping you “mind the store” without actually being there. And if you practice, no one will notice that you checked email on your smart phone while rolling over to tan the other side.

Finally, if you’re not intentional about living a balanced life—that includes vacations—you may accomplish the “wealth and fame” part of success, but the big celebration may involve others toasting you posthumously.

Write this on a rock …

Give yourself—and your business—a vacation.




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