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Category Archives: Relationships

Anatomy of a Cowboys Fan

 

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“How does a young man, born and raised in West Philadelphia, become a lifelong Cowboys fan?” is probably the question that I have been asked more than any other during my lifetime.  I know that they are “America’s Team” and most people who are fans of professional football are a fan of the Cowboys’ but that was not my deal growing up.

My path to Cowboys fandom began in 1977 during the Thanksgiving holiday when I was just 9 years old.  My mother and I took a plane ride to Los Angeles, CA (my first plane ride) to visit with my grandfather during Thanksgiving.  The magical land of palm trees and t-shirt weather was everything that I had viewed on television and I instantly fell in love with LA-LA Land.

The agenda for our visit was awesome to say the least.  After settling in from the six-hour flight, the Thanksgiving meal with my west coast family was a delight to behold with the best of the trip yet to come…yes, a trip to Disneyland on Friday.

Unfortunately, I learned that the day after Thanksgiving is one of the few days of the year that the park was closed.  I was devastated and my grandfather knew it so he thought real fast and took his daughter and grandson to an amusement park that was open; a great little amusement park called Knotts Berry Farm.  Grand pop reached heroic status that day but he had more in store for his grandson.

The day would end with the attendance of my very first college football game.  But I would soon learn that this was not just any game, this was “the USC Trojans vs. UCLA Bruins annual battle for Los Angeles college football supremacy” college football game.

Late in the game, UCLA was down 26-10 and mounted a furious comeback that eventually earned them the 27-26 late fourth quarter lead.  On the line for the Bruins were a Rose Bowl berth and the LA area bragging rights for the next year.  What happened next was this little 9-year-old was treated to a fantastic finish that saw the Trojans boot a winning 36 yard field goal with just “two” seconds left in the game.  UCLA was out of the Rose Bowl and the Washington Huskies were in…amazing.

Instead of heading for the parking lot like most of the 65,000+ fans in attendance my grandfather had us headed to a different destination…the Trojan locker room.  There he introduced me to a young mountain of a man that he was mentoring, Dennis Thurman.  Dennis, still excited from the nail-biting win, greeted me very enthusiastically and my first “man crush” was born.

Dennis Thurman

Of course I had no idea at the time that Dennis Thurman was not just one of the best players on the team but one of the best in all of college football.  What he did not know is that he had just earned a new lifelong fan.  So when he was drafted by the Dallas Cowboys in the 11th round of the 1978 NFL draft a new Cowboys fan was born.

I now loved football because I had actually met someone who now played for the Dallas Cowboys.  What I did not realize was I would learn so many great life lessons by watching a championship team go about their business of winning football games, most notably in the fourth quarter.

Instead of following a team that played not to lose (Philadelphia Eagles), I was now following a general named Roger Staubach who refused to lose.  I marveled at a coach that wore a suit, tie and hat along the sidelines, who when you looked at him you could never tell if he was winning or losing, lead his team to victory after victory.

What Roger and Coach Landry taught me at a young age was that even though the game was in doubt, it was never over until the clock read “0:00”.  In fact, I was never more certain that my team would win than when Roger would break from the huddle, rub his little white towel, bark out the signals and then carve up the opposing defense all the way down the field to the end zone.

Then came Super Bowl XIII, the second meeting of the Cowboys and the Steelers in the big game.  I was not yet a fan when the Steelers beat the Boys in Super Bowl X 21-17 but my appetite was wet for revenge nonetheless.  The game was back and forth and Roger was magnificent until his picture perfect pass was dropped in the end zone by some guy had never heard of named Jackie Smith.

The Cowboys never recovered from that dropped touchdown pass and lost the thriller to the Steelers 35-31.  The following year I watched the greatest quarterback I have ever seen throw his final pass to the other team (LA Rams in the NFC Divisional Playoffs) and then Roger Staubach retired from his NFL Hall of Fame career leaving me with his back up and punter, Danny White.

Danny White provided me with some thrilling regular seasons and then three consecutive NFC title games in which we lost each one to the Eagles, Niners and Redskins respectively.  I loved the Danny White years and in my opinion he never got the credit he deserved but when it was all said and done he didn’t win the big one.  I still had Dennis Thurman to root for no matter what.

So I then entered my first “desert of despair” as a Cowboys fan that would see Dennis Thurman leave, the team get sold and then fire their legendary coach, Tom Landry.  The firing of Landry made me vulnerable to leaving for the hometown team but two things kept me in tow; I liked the new coach’s pedigree and the Eagles were still a team that played not to lose which is a mindset that I can never align with.

Slowly but surely the “Big 3” (Troy, Emmitt & Michael) were assembled and righted the Cowboys’ ship to lead them on an unprecedented championship run that would leave them one pass interference non-call (thank you Deion Sanders) away from 4 straight Super Bowls in the early to mid 1990’s.  That dynasty like performance will never be duplicated in my opinion.

Today the Cowboys are still America’s Team but find themselves in yet another desert of sorts.  They have had good regular seasons since the glory days but they just have not put together a championship run with their current quarterback Tony Romo.  Like him or hate him (I love him), he has been more like Danny White and less like Roger Staubach and Troy Aikman.

As I type this story, Tony Romo is ranked #3 through six weeks of this season only behind Peyton Manning and Drew Brees.  Tony will have his critics until he can put together a nice playoff run and restore the Cowboys back to their proper place in NFL championship royalty with their record tying sixth Lombardi trophy.

I have no doubt that the Cowboys will again be Super Bowl champions, that Tony Romo will be their quarterback when it happens and it will happen very, very soon.  Of course I believe this with every fiber of my being because…I AM A COWBOYS FAN!

And just think if Dennis Thurman would have been drafted by any other team this would never have happened. Thank you Dennis Thurman for getting drafted by the Cowboys and thank you grand pop for introducing me to my first real sports hero back in 1977.

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Posted by on October 15, 2013 in Life, Love, Relationships, Sports, Uncategorized

 

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21st Century Business

Super Opportunity

I thought I would take this post in a different direction with the end of football season upon us.  If you just watched the video above then you know the following words will be meant for those of you who want to win.  Win at career, win at family and win at life.  Since leaving corporate America a few years ago I have found a very lucrative home in the world of consulting and network marketing.  Now I know what you are thinking, “not another pyramid scheme,” but pyramid schemes are illegal so I will not cover those in this post because I do not participate in them personally and do not endorse illegal activities.

What I have found is that network marketing, multi-level marketing, referral marketing and direct selling are all the same as saying that “I sell products or services by word of mouth to friends, family and strangers.”  When you think about what it takes to start, grow and maintain your new business you always have to come back to getting customers.  How are you going to get new customers as well as team members to help you market your products or services?  Well, you could start by advertising all over the place (which is expensive) or you could just spread the word through the infinite amount of communication portals at our disposal in 2013 (e.g. Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, etc.).

Spread The Word

If you watched the Super Bowl last night, I am sure that you saw the dozens of different commercials of companies that were hopeful you would buy their products sometime in the immediate future.  Each 30 second spot went for a whopping $4,000,000 just on the hope that you would remember their clever ad when it was time for you to buy your next car, home, TV etc.  Well just imagine if all of the companies who participated last night decided to keep their money in their pocket and save it for when you bring them and actual customer.  That’s all relationship marketing is…the company pays you instead of a TV station, newspaper, radio or billboard company.

Now when they pay you, they know that they have a customer and they know how they got the customer into their fold.  When one customer wanders in from the outside, the company doesn’t have a clue as to whether it was from the ad on TV or the billboard on the interstate.  Every company would prefer to know just how they reached every consumer of their product because they know the referred consumer is the one that sticks because of the strength of the relationship that steered them to the company in the first place.

So now that we are considering a different approach to financial freedom, the big question comes as to which product or service do you provide to your inner and outer circle of relationships.  That decision is one that is totally yours to make depending on your work ethic and your passion.

Decision Time

The opportunity I chose to pursue was one that would be a win for all who participate in it…deregulated energy. Deregulated energy is a win for the consumer, supplier, incumbent and the marketer of the gas or electricity provider (which could be you).  All you have to do is ask people who you know to consider lowering their utility bills.  If they become your energy customer, you get paid every time they pay their bill.  Simple huh?

Some of the people you have this discussion with may want to join you in this very lucrative business opportunity.  Show them the simple business plan, answer a few questions and send them to your website to join your team.  Keep duplicating the simple business plan on a regular basis and you should be earning thousands of dollars per month in no time.

Lastly, if you are like most people who participated in the New Year’s Resolution phenomenon this year, you have probably given up on some or all of those commitments.  I have found the Top 3 resolutions to normally be lose weight, stop smoking, and save money.  I can help you with the third one and maybe, by knocking out the “save more money” goal, you can get those other ones out of the way because now you will have more time to dedicate to your new disciplines.

If you are interested in joining my team for the next biggest transfer of wealth in the US, just visit my website at http://www.autumnpowerco.igniteinc.biz and view the simple business plan.  The rest is up to you.  Please enjoy the following video as it is one that is both truthful and humorous.

 
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Posted by on February 4, 2013 in Business, Life, Relationships, Sports

 

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Small Gestures

One day, when I was a freshman in high school, I saw a kid from my class was walking home from school.  His name was Kyle.  It looked like he was carrying all of his books.  I thought to myself, “Why would anyone bring home all his books on a Friday?  He must really be a nerd.  I had quite a weekend planned (parties and a football game with my friends tomorrow afternoon), so I shrugged my shoulders and went on.

As I was walking, I saw a bunch of kids running toward him.  They ran at him, knocking all his books out of his arms and tripping him so he landed in the dirt.  His glasses went flying, and I saw them land in the grass about ten feet from him.  He looked up and I saw this terrible sadness in his eyes.  My heart went out to him. So, I jogged over to him and as he crawled around looking for his glasses, and I saw a tear in his eye.

As I handed him his glasses, I said, “Those guys are jerks.  They really should get lives.” He looked at me and said, “Hey thanks!”  There was a big smile on his face.  It was one of those smiles that showed real gratitude.  I helped him pick up his books, and asked him where he lived.  As it turned out, he lived near me, so I asked him why I had never seen him before.

He said he had gone to private school before now.  I would have never hung out with a private school kid before.  We talked all the way home, and I carried some of his books.  He turned out to be a pretty cool kid.  I asked him if he wanted to play a little football with my friends.  He said yes. We hung out all weekend and the more I got to know Kyle, the more I liked him, and my friends thought the same of him.

Monday morning came, and there was Kyle with the huge stack of books again.  I stopped him and said, “Boy, you are gonna really build some serious muscles with this pile of books everyday!”  He just laughed and handed me half of the books.  Over the next four years, Kyle and I became best friends.  When we were seniors, we began to think about college.

Kyle decided on Georgetown, and I was going to Duke.  I knew that we would always be friends, that the miles would never be a problem.  He was going to be a doctor, and I was going for business on a football scholarship.  Kyle was valedictorian of our class.  I teased him all the time about being a nerd.  He had to prepare a speech for graduation.  I was so glad it wasn’t me having to get up there and speak.

On Graduation day, I saw Kyle.  He looked great.  He was one of those guys that really found himself during high school.  He filled out and actually looked good in glasses.  He had more dates than I had and all the girls loved him.  Boy, sometimes I was jealous.  Today was one of those days.

I could see that he was nervous about his speech.  So, I smacked him on the back and said, “Hey, big guy, you’ll be great!”  He looked at me with one of those looks (the really grateful one) and smiled.  “Thanks,” he said.

As he started his speech, he cleared his throat, and began “Graduation is a time to thank those who helped you make it through those tough years.  Your parents, your teachers, your siblings, maybe a coach…but mostly your
friends…I am here to tell all of you that being a friend to someone is the best gift you can give them.  I am going to tell you a story.”

I just looked at my friend with disbelief as he told the story of the first day we met.  He had planned to kill himself over the weekend.  He talked of how he had cleaned out his locker so his Mom wouldn’t have to do it later and was carrying his stuff home.  He looked hard at me and gave me a little smile.  “Thankfully, I was saved.  My friend saved me from doing the unspeakable.”

I heard the gasp go through the crowd as this handsome, popular boy told us all about his weakest moment.  I saw his Mom and Dad looking at me and smiling that same grateful smile.  Not until that moment did I realize it’s depth.  Never underestimate the power of your actions.  With one small gesture you can change a person’s life.  For better or for worse.  God puts us all in each other’s lives to impact one another in some way.  Look for God in others.

“Friends are angels who lift us to our feet when our wings have trouble remembering how to fly.”  There is no beginning or end.  Yesterday is history.  Tomorrow is a mystery.  Today is a gift.

I did not, I repeat, I did not write this story but I did want to share it with each of you because it is one that may touch you or a loved one the way it touched me.  You see, I was that glasses wearing nerd in high school.  And even though I was tall and athletic, I lacked confidence and self-esteem at that time in my life and know that I am not alone in that respect.  It is my sincere hope that you will share this with a friend as my best friend once shared this with me.  Thank you.

 
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Posted by on August 13, 2012 in Life, Love, Relationships, Religion

 

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Routine Commitment

Why do we make the decision to walk away from a commitment?  I believe that most of us are not walking away from the commitment, person, job etc., but instead we are walking away from the routine.  Most of the things that we embark upon in our lifetimes will almost always settle down into some sort of routine and, like it or not, commitment to that routine will need to be made for the relationship to survive and then thrive.

Think about how we start our new job.  We come in to the office for a few interviews at different times of the morning or afternoon and, if we nail it and get the job, we are asked to start the following Monday.  That Monday we get up bright and early, get dressed, grab a quick bite and jump into traffic for what will now be our morning commute.  Traffic is not too heavy that morning so we think that “hey, this is no problem.”  We arrive at the office early and then we get the tour of the various departments and job descriptions of the key people.

This is great but what we haven’t yet established is our daily routine.  Everything is fresh and new and everyone is nice and friendly and it is all coordinated to welcome you in to your new work family.  But in just a few weeks you won’t recognize this set up or remember your first day.  Instead you will now be settled into a daily work routine that you may or may not enjoy.  The key is that committing to that routine will probably determine your success or failure in your new work relationship.

Another great example of the routine is when we decide that we are going to go to the gym and get into better shape.  Once again, we come in at an odd hour and inquire about the costs and benefits of membership at this fitness club.  We are greeted pleasantly and given the tour of the facility and when all of those things feel pretty good we commit and join.  Now because we came in during our lunch hour and used most of it joining the gym, we have to start our workout routine some other day in the immediate future.

Now we have a decision to make.  Do we work out before, during or after work?  Do we go everyday or every other day?  Once we decide when we are going to workout we then have to figure out what equipment we are going to use.  If we just go in there and jump on different machines or just grab some free weights, that is going to get real boring really soon.  We need to develop a workout plan and then we need to commit to staying with the program until our goals are achieved.

If we do not commit to the workout schedule and then the routine we will follow, we will probably not achieve our goal and even stop going all together (gym’s bank on you quitting and continuing to pay by the way).  As we all know, there are literally hundreds, if not thousands, of ways for us to lose weight and get into better shape but none of them will work without committing to their routine.  In sports, like the upcoming Olympics for example, we know that without the years of intense training and commitment to a particular discipline, the athletes have no chance to make the team let alone win a medal.

Years ago I had the pleasure of hearing a motivational speech from Bart Connor, the gold medal winning Olympic gymnast, on what it took to become a world-class athlete.  He told us simply that if you wanted to become a world-class gymnast you just had to do two things…work out when you felt like it and work out when you didn’t feel like it.  He said commitment to his routine was paramount to his success and those unwilling to work extremely hard never had a chance to compete at the Olympic level, let alone score a perfect “10” like he did in 1984.

So we know that if we want an arrangement to last we have to get into a routine that we are committed to, right?  Wrong.  We need to let the routine develop and feel good about that routine and then commit to it.  If not, we end up in the bad boyfriend/girlfriend, fiancée/fiancée and husband/wife relationships that we will eventually walk away from.  The things we initially found attractive about the other person get lost and we settle into a less than exciting routine.

Many men who wandered in their marriage (the exception not the rule) have stated that the sex had become routine and had been reduced in frequency (oral is always the first to go) which caused them to find a “girlfriend.”  A girlfriend always wants to fool around.  In fact, to a married wanderer, the only real reason that their immoral relationship exists is for sexual supplementation.  How can the answer to a successful marriage or long-term relationship be fooling around with someone else?  It isn’t but we lack the courage to commit to the routine, or better yet change the routine, so we set about a course of action that will ultimately destroy our relationship, job, workout regimen etc.

I do not pretend to have all of the answers.  The truth is I do not.  But what I do have is a desire to look at where things went wrong and logically conclude what the best course of action should have been.  By taking responsibility for letting the routine go south and realizing that I am accountable, I can build the successful routine for my health, wealth and my love life and possibly live happily ever after.  I hope that you can too!

 
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Posted by on July 12, 2012 in Business, Life, Relationships, Sports

 

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Whatever You Believe…

Over the course of our lifetimes, we sometimes decide to change careers and in some cases the decision is made for us.  Mine is such a case but I will not get into those details here.  What I want to discuss in this post is about the power of believing.  I have always been a big fan of sports so when my children took a liking to sports competition I was literally in heaven.

I have always wanted to coach my own children in organized sports and with the Jerry Sandusky’s of the world rising up almost everyday it looks like that decision has been made for me as well.  I can’t say where (what state) and I can’t say when (what year of my oldest son’s life) but I promise you that I will be his coach (most likely basketball…his favorite…right now).

In his first year as QB, Tre led his team to the Superbowl. They lost to the undefeated Jaguars by a touchdown.

I was actually introduced to coaching years ago when my daughter was younger and we lived in the DC area.  She joined a local basketball team with her friend and neighbor and her mother decided to join the team as the assistant coach.  We were expecting our second child  so her mother and I agreed that we should pay as much attention to her and her activities before our new family member arrived later next year.

My daughter was blessed with a very good coach that understood the game but also emphasized that all of the girls have fun while competing.  The team lost just two game during the entire regular season.  They were two, close, heart breaking loses to the same team.  That team went undefeated that year and became our chief rival.  They had a tough coach whose regular job was a FBI field agent.  The rival team’s best player was his daughter and no one in the league could defend her.  She played at a different level and her father barked at her from start to finish every game.

My daughter found it tough to play with her dad in the stands and her mother on the sidelines each game but she pushed through and had some stellar performances.  In fact, she was girl who would always defended the other team’s best player and she really shined when she executed the “freeze.”

Freeze was the defensive play that her mom would occasionally yell out during tough stretches of the ball game.  Simply stated if your man scored while the “freeze” was in effect, you had to come out of the game.  Believe it or not, that simple concept worked almost every time when the girls needed to make a comeback.  I just shook my head in the stands and smiled at the simplicity of children playing a game with that tiny threat of having to hit the pines.

The season flew by quickly and the playoffs were upon us.  Our team finished 2nd behind their chief rival who, of course, never lost a game during the regular season.  We knew in order to win it all we would have to face them and win this time.  The playoff format was a Round Robin; which means you play everyone at least once and you are not eliminated until you have lost twice.  What that meant was our girls would have to beat a team that they never had at least once and probably twice…a daunting task to say the least.

The girls got off to a great start and beat every team that they faced until they came upon their rival.  The assistant coach, my spouse, had to go to a nearby army base for some additional training for her job so I was asked to stand in for her.  Boy was I nervous.  The know-it-all dad from the stands was now going to be pacing the sidelines coaching against the undefeated favorites.

I decided that I had to be singularly focused with one message that did not conflict with the head coach’s game plan.  I had to get those girls to believe they could win against a foe that had always beat them.  At every stoppage of the clock I waited for the head coach to say what he needed to say and then I said, “you are going to win this game.”  I got mostly crazy looks at first, even from my daughter.  Why?  Because they did not believe they could win.

With their belief system where it was, they were beaten from the opening tap but I never gave up on trying to convince them otherwise.  We kept it close but in the end we had been dealt our 3rd loss of the season and to the same team.  Now we were one game from elimination and there was more bad news.  We were headed to Vail that weekend for a family ski vacation and there was a game scheduled.  Without the team at full strength we were vulnerable for our second loss and elimination from the tourney.  This was going to be one tense vacation.  We held our breath until we got the call…victory.  Next up, our hated rival.

As luck would have it, I was asked to coach in place of my spouse once again.  This time I was determined get the W for the girls.  The girls came out with a fire in their eyes I had not seen in some time and it showed in their performance and on the scoreboard.  By halftime we were down just a couple of points so we were confident that we could beat this team finally.  I was up to my same trick as before in getting the girls to believe that they were the better team this day.  I ended every time out with the same phrase, “you will win this game.”

Then it happened late in the 4th quarter.  The game was tied with two or three minutes to play.  It was our ball and our last timeout and the head coach gave a spirited talk about how this game was different and we were going to win it and right before we broke I said it again.  “You will win this game.”  Our best player looked right at me and as our eyes met she said, “you’re right coach, we are gonna win this thing.”  I was shocked.  She called me coach.  I was honored and I knew we were going to finish them.

I got animated after every play, every score and every turnover and the rival coach wanted me tossed by the refs.  We scored, we turned them over and scored again and they collapsed under the immense pressure of the moment.  The final buzzer sounded and we were victorious.  I hugged every girl and thanked them for letting me coach them.  It was an unbelievable experience but the work was not finished.  In order for us to be the champs we had to beat them again.  But now we believed!

Unfortunately, I could not attend the championship game because of a previously scheduled engagement out on the west coast.  I hated that I had to miss what I knew would be another great performance but I had to honor my prior commitment.  I called the team to find out the results and learned something that made my jaw drop.  Not only did our team win, but they never trailed in the entire 40 minutes.  The rival coach fell apart in the second half and got numerous technical fouls.  The parents of the rival squad even turned on him.  From all accounts it turned into a real ugly scene.

Two championships and one all-star appearance in 4 seasons. Not too shabby.

Whatever you believe, you can achieve.  That is not just a cliché but the truth.  My daughter would give up basketball for good two seasons later.  See, she won two championships with that head coach but she also suffered through two winless seasons which bracketed the championships.  Can you imagine, she either the whole thing or didn’t win a game?  Too extreme for even her temperament.

As for me, I can’t wait for the day that I can coach my boys in their sport(s) of choice.  Right now I am getting prepared for what I expect to be a charmed life…being a head coach.  I am doing it for me and I am doing it for them.  I am doing it to keep them as safe from predators as I can and I am doing it to give them the best chance to be champions.  I believe that I can be a great coach and that is most of the battle my friends…believing!

 
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Posted by on July 6, 2012 in Life, Relationships, Sports

 

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Check Mate

Many of us grew up playing board games like Monopoly, Sorry and Scrabble and I was no different.  I loved to compete and would always take no prisoners when I played.  If I was going to take the time to set up the game, count out the money or spread out letters then I was going to do everything I could to beat you.  Some of those games actually come in handy later on in life.  They can help you spell, count or even draw.

The game that helps you think though is the age-old game of chess.  Chess takes strategy in order to best your opponent.  You have to be thinking several moves ahead in order to trap the king and ultimately win the game.  One of my favorite clichés is “Checkers vs. Chess” because it differentiates the thinkers.  I have played both games many times and one calls for thinking ahead, several moves ahead, and the other for simply one move at a time.

We hear in sports all of the time how the best players anticipate where the play is going while the average players are playing in the now or where the play is.  Knowing what your next move is going to be, or at the very least what your move options are, will serve you well in this game of life.

I am reminded of a story that I once heard about a very successful preacher in Southern California during the 80’s.  His congregation was growing by leaps and bounds every Sunday and the outside world was really starting to take notice.  One day after another huge Communion Sunday service the pastor was approached by a savvy marketing executive who was interested in purchasing the mailing list of all the church’s members.  Names, addresses and phone numbers were all given a handsome price of $500,000.

Without blinking the pastor told the executive that he had no interest in selling his church members’ personal information to his firm or any other no matter what the price.  This executive would not be denied so he decided to get on the agenda of the church’s next board meeting.  At the meeting the board was furious to learn that the pastor had turned down the rich financial offer without consulting with them first.  They were excited about all of the changes for the better that could be made at the church with that amount of money.  They were not very concerned with the privacy of their members as they were for the enrichment of their coffers.

Unfortunately the board was unable to accept the marketing executive’s offer without the agreement of the sitting pastor.  Some wise board members wrote that into board policy decades ago and now it was keeping the board from moving forward today.  The pastor knew the rules were on his side so he dug in and refused to move from his position.

The fact that the board did not want to share this information with the church membership really upset the pastor because he felt that they had a right to know their personal information was being sold to a third-party for a hefty sum.  The board now found themselves in an unwinnable position.  They could not get the pastor to budge and they certainly did not want the membership to know their plans.

With the board’s frustration mounting daily, a few of them decided to approach the pastor’s wife.  Surely she could convince him to see things their way and let the payoff go forward.  They argued nightly and the pastor shared his disappointment in his wife with her taking the board’s side against him.  She thought that they could benefit financially from the transaction and her greed got the best of her.  She was playing checkers.

The battle between the board and the pastor continued on for weeks until the board decided their only recourse was to have the pastor removed in favor of a sitting pastor that would okay their transaction with the marketing firm.  The entire church membership would participate in this historical vote and just like most elections not all of the members came out to support their pastor.  Most figured he would win in a landslide and then the board would go through a shake up of its own.

Well as luck would have it, the pastor’s detractors came out in full force but his backers were a little less motivated.  They figured he would be fine and he wasn’t.  The vote was very close and, believe it or not, the decision to oust the beloved pastor came down to just one vote…the one cast by his wife.  She sided with the church board and not her husband so now he was out.

What she did not realize immediately was that she was out as well.  There was no financial windfall realized by her betrayal.  In fact, the result was just the opposite.  The church sent someone to retrieve the couple’s beautiful Cadillac as it was paid for by the church.  The pastor’s wife was even more shocked when the sheriff came knocking at her door to inform her that she would have to vacate the premises in a timely manner.  The church paid the mortgage on their home and now that home was there for the new pastor and his family.

Now it all made sense to her that she was out too but it was too late.  Had she stood strong with her husband she would not have lost her home, her car and soon thereafter, her marriage.  The pastor was down for a few months but his faith sustained him while he founded a new church and soon went on to marry again.  He lived another twenty years of church and marital bliss before he died suddenly of a heart attack.

Thousands of people turned out to attend his funeral which was held in of all places, the very church that had ousted him decades ago.  You see, the membership declined under the leadership of the replacement pastor and some members got wind of the church board’s greedy manuever regarding their personal information and went to worship elsewhere.

Everyone lost in that transaction many years ago.  The church lost a charismatic leader and their membership growth.  The marketing firm never converted the data or sold the membership the products and services they had hoped so they lost.  The pastor’s traitorous wife lost most of all and then died alone.  The pastor did recover nicely because he was a pretty good chess player.  He didn’t see wis wife’s betrayal coming but because he knew it was an option her move didn’t sink him.

The pastor often spoke to his church members about strategic thinking with regards to their faith.  If they expected to one day end up in heaven they would have to stay a few moves ahead.  Ahead of the devil.  Ahead of the flesh.  Ahead of their futures sins.  Because if they died while playing checkers, their name was probably not going to be called at those pearly gates.  Think about it…a few moves ahead.

 
 

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The Village

When I reflect on my life soon after my birthday each year, I always come away feeling blessed beyond imagination.  I have been to great destinations like the Super Bowl, the Final Four and I have even been to war-torn countries all because of the relationships that I built in my former life as a financial advisor.  I won’t name names here just because this story will lose the point that I want to bring home but most of you will be able to figure out who the players are in this story.

It happened about five years ago as I was looking forward to taking a trip to Paris to witness a basketball game featuring NBA stars vs. France’s National team.  The game was being played to benefit my friend’s grand opening of his hospital in his village in the DRC (Democratic Republic of Congo).  The guaranteed donation from this event was $6,000,000.00 for the hospital but I was certain that the total would be closer to ten million dollars when the event was over.  I was even working on a seven-figure contribution from my own company since they were headquartered in Paris, France.  I had the chance to help a great cause and create greater name recognition for my own company so I was excited.

One day as I was attending an event for the benefit of the Martin Luther King,Jr. monument in DC, I ran into my friend and asked him where I should stay in Paris and a few more logistical questions when he hit me with a bombshell…the event had been canceled.  I couldn’t believe what he was telling me because he was so calm and matter-of-fact about it but it was true.  So of course I questioned him about what happened and he told me simply that France’s greatest basketball player was getting married the week before and would be on his honeymoon and would not be able to play in the game.  Without him France pulled the plug on the event and the guaranteed donation as well.

This unbelievable conversation takes place while we are in the VIP line to take a photo with the Secretary of State and I’m getting animated while he remains calm and cool as a cucumber.  A man standing behind us in line decides to throw in his two cents and, to my surprise, it is a former heavyweight boxing champion of the world.  He jumps in with both feet and can’t believe what he’s hearing.  All that money that wouldn’t go to my friends hospital was just unacceptable to him.

As we gathered more details we found out that the honeymoon was going to be in nearby Italy.  We wondered why this basketball star couldn’t just fly up for the event, dribble a basketball for 5 minutes and then return to his honeymoon.  Turned out he was willing to do it but his fiancée was not.  He begged her but she wouldn’t budge and so without her flexibility or willingness to compromise the charity basketball game was doomed.

By this time, we had all taken our photos with Mr. Secretary and were off in a corner trying to think of something and who joins in the conversation?  The Secretary of State for the US joins in on the barrage of whys and why nots.  I am sitting there just soaking all this in.  I’m friends with a very popular NBA star and we are joined by a former heavyweight champion and the Secretary of State working on this problem like it’s a world peace summit.  I was one of them.  Just a man with an opinion on how to reach an accord with this charity event.  It was awesome.

I was of the opinion that the fiancée, who is a famous actress on a highly rated TV show, was making a huge mistake right on the heels of her marriage.  I told the guys that even though the player was going along with her wishes, he would always resent her for forcing his hand at backing out of a commitment that effected so many people.  My friend took all of our advice and the ultimate reality of his situation in stride and just said he would get the money from some other sources.  Right then and there I told him “now that Paris is off I guess I will see you in the Congo!”  He smiled and gave me a huge hug for my support and the decision was set in stone.

If you are wondering what happened to the marriage, you guessed correctly.  They divorced after being married about three years.  I am not surprised because I knew the seed of “relationship destruction” was planted way back in May of 2007 when a bride-to-be had an awesome opportunity to be a hero in France and the Congo but instead chose to be selfish and, what some might call, a bridezilla.

In July of 2007, I journeyed to the Democratic Republic of Congo to be present when my buddy’s ribbon cutting ceremony for his hospital took place.  It was a crazy trip and I just cannot go into all the details in this post.  Did I mention that a civil war was ceased for a few weeks so that this event could take place?

I caught several planes after departing on Saturday and finally arriving at my hotel on Monday afternoon.  The ceremony took place the following morning and on Thursday I was back in the air headed for the good old US of A.  Only Tuesday and Wednesday were spent with me not being on an airplane…amazing huh?  Seven day trip and 5 of them I spent traveling to and from.

I enjoyed visiting my friend’s childhood village.  He always wanted to be a doctor and that’s why he came to the US.  Then a championship coach spotted him on campus and gave him a dream that could help another one come true; play basketball and make millions so that you can go home a hero and help those in your village in need of medical care.  He did just that and he’s my hero too.

Me and my buddy in the Congo, July 2007

 
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Posted by on June 26, 2012 in Life, Politics, Relationships, Sports

 

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