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Success Starts Early - Humility

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My dad is not big on watching professional sports, although he'll tolerate some time in front of the TV with me from time to time.  When he does watch, however, I've noticed he really gets sour about the kind of players that celebrate by dancing, posing, or otherwise drawing attention to themselves.  We used to go to business meetings with a friend and mentor who spent several years playing professional football, and he similarly commented that he never liked seeing someone celebrate a touchdown by acting like the other 10 guys on the field didn't help him get there.  The superstar athlete who is willing to go about his work, giving others credit for contributions while not seeking their own celebrity recognition, is rare.  But then again, how often do we see individuals in any field of endeavor avoid seeking the applause of others?  Humility is not usually a natural response to success, but it is certainly an important ingredient.  If you run a search online for "hum

Success Starts Early - Camaraderie is Accountability

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The alarm blares long before the sun rises, and despite being much too tired to get up he somehow crawls out of bed to meet a friend for an early morning run.  The free dessert at the restaurant looks amazing but she makes the choice to resist the urge to eat it because there's going to be a group meeting to discuss everyone's health decisions.  People make decisions all the time that make sense and are good for everyone, but that they wouldn't necessarily have made without someone else holding them accountable .  All of us should develop friendships with others who are chasing similar goals so that we have camaraderie , which gives us companions to help us stretch and grow.  When is the last time you did something just because someone else expected it?  As kids we all do things that our parents or teachers ask or that we know they'd like.  Peer pressure gets blamed for a lot of bad things, but when it comes to keeping us accountable it can often have a major positive i

Success Starts Early - Joy

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"Love what you do and you'll never work a day in your life." Ever heard that line?  I've seen it attributed to several different people throughout history, but honestly have no idea who really said it first.  Do you think it's accurate?  It seems to me that, even when doing the things you love most in life, there are still certain aspects that don't turn out to be all that enjoyable.  Still, the sentiment behind the statement is sound - there is a foolproof way to avoid the drudgery that often comes along with doing the hard work that is necessary, and it's really perfect for the holiday season we're about to experience.  Find the joy ! Growing up we used to watch kid movies that encouraged us to find fun in the chores, and that would turn the work into a game.  You've probably seen a few of these sorts of things as well.  I remember a t-shirt that a friend used to wear that had the phrase "Work is what you make it" along with the picture

Success Starts Early - Communication

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I heard a story about the commanding officer on a naval ship who was awakened one night to be informed that a light was spotted in the path of their vessel during the night.  Irritated at being pulled out of a deep sleep, he went to the communications area on board and sent a message that whoever was ahead should alter their course.  A response soon came back suggesting his own ship needed to steer to avoid a collision.  The officer, quickly becoming angry, sent another message that his ship was one of the most heavily-armed vessels in the navy.  A message came back, "That may be true, but this is a lighthouse."  Obviously that information changed the dynamics of the conversation quickly.  Hopefully the ship's officer did the smart thing by adjusting his course, and maybe he learned an important lesson about communication while he was at it.  Most people believe that they are good communicators.  In a way, they are correct - everyone is constantly sending out messages th

Success Starts Early - Massive Action

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I live pretty close to NASA, just outside of Houston, TX.  Growing up near the same community where famous astronauts like Alan Shepherd, Gus Grissom, Jim Lovell, and Neil Armstrong have lived has always been fascinating to me, and driving past the Johnson Space Center allowed me to see their massive Saturn V rocket as a child.  Recently they have added some of the newer rockets that have been used by groups such as SpaceX to their impressive display.  According to NASA.gov the lift that was required to propel the shuttle missions into space required the burning of some 11,000 pounds of fuel per second during liftoff (roughly the same amount used by all of the cars on the road during Houston's daily rush hour).  In fact, fuel would account for approximately half of the total weight of a shuttle.  But once the shuttle reached its desired altitude and speed outside of Earth's atmosphere, very little thrust is required and most of the fuel tanks are jettisoned and allowed to fall

Success Starts Early - Passion

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"It's better to burn out than rust out.  Set yourself on fire and the whole world will come to watch." A business associate told me this a long time ago before going into a meeting, probably quoting a book he had been reading.  I don't remember much else about our conversation but that word picture has stuck with me through the years.  We've probably all seen rusty old cars that no longer run.  A burning car would be equally useless (perhaps even moreso because there would be no opportunity to scavenge parts), but wouldn't you agree that would attract more curious onlookers?  Now here's the interesting fact: fire and rust are both forms of oxidation, which is a scientific term that describes the reaction of a compound with oxygen.  During oxidation, the original compound loses electrons (the negative part of an atom) and is therefore changed to an ion or a different compound.  In my friend's analogy, therefore, the only difference in the two options wa

Success Starts Early - Abundance Mindset

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I heard a story about some kid who came across a man catching crabs along the beach.  He stored all of the crabs in a bucket, but there was no lid on top.   "Hey mister, you're going to lose all of your crabs!"  The kid was convinced the crabs could easily climb out.  "No, son," the man replied, "because if one tries to get out, the others will always pull him back in." Spend enough time trying to improve yourself and eventually you'll come across someone who doesn't like it, just like those crabs that don't want the other one to escape.  There are various reasons why some people might not want you to do your very best - it might be that they disagree with your priorities, or they think that you'll make them look lazy if you succeed where they haven't.  But many times it's simply because they have the mistaken impression that more for you means less for them.  To really maximize your potential it's critical to develop an abu

Success Starts Early - Comfort vs Growth

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My youngest kid and I are learning martial arts.  At first, my wife and I just thought it would be a good activity for kiddo to get some exercise, discipline, and socialization outside of school.  It's turned into a really positive, exciting journey for both of us!  We're both considered "intermediate" students, which means we've been consistent for a period of 9-18 months, but during sparring season we fight based on height, not skill level.  As such, we've both had to fight much more advanced students, and we've both taken turns getting kicked in the head by our opponents.  That's a problem because those are worth more points, and I don't even have the flexibility to reach my leg that high yet!  But stretching is uncomfortable and it takes time to see any results.  What am I going to do?  Well, in martial arts as in life, I can either remain in my comfort zone or I can push into the growth zone .  People like to be comfortable.  Have you noticed

Success Starts Early - Balance

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Why did the bicycle fall over?  It was two-tired! Let's talk about bikes.  As a dad with three kids myself, I've taken a few turns teaching my girls how to ride without training wheels.  The funny thing to me is that, while each of them learned in different ways or needed me to try different techniques with them, they all had one thing in common: none of them ever wanted to go fast enough.  I guess that's a natural feeling, because the more speed you have the harder you are likely to crash.  But as anyone who has tried to keep a bike standing up on two wheels while not moving will tell you, that's just not going to work.  Movement helps you stay up!  Let's look at the secret behind keeping these leg-powered vehicles upright - balance - and maybe it'll help us learn something about success along the way. The spokes on a bicycle wheel are a good place to start the conversation.  Obviously they all extend from the hub in the center of the wheel to the outer edge w

Success Starts Early - Prioritize

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As an adult, there is nobody to stop me from buying a cake every single day and eating it all.  It sounds good but would quickly make me very fat and exceptionally unhealthy!  There's no law saying I have to do basic chores to keep my house clean.  I don't have someone checking up on me to make sure I get enough sleep, wear sunscreen on trips to the beach, or look both ways before crossing the street.  So what is it that makes me do these things?  The easy answer is that I don't want to get sick or hurt.  But perhaps the better answer is that I've learned that it's important to know what you want MOST should take priority over what you want NOW.  With three daughters growing up in our house, my wife and I spend a lot of time telling children what they can do, what they can't do, and what they should do.  Their ages are a little spread out so the rules for one girl aren't necessarily the same for the others - as they get older we try to grant them increasing

Success Starts Early - Blind Spot

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My oldest daughter recently got her driver's license, although she's technically had a vehicle for a while now.  About a year ago, my in-laws were going to buy a new car and decided to give her their old SUV instead of trading it in.  It was a great gift for her and she quickly set about the process of personalizing the inside to her preferences.  As I taught her to drive, it wasn't uncommon for me to try to convince her to try my car once in a while.  After all, I drive a sports car and I thought she'd leap at the chance to get behind the wheel of something a little more "fun" than a small SUV.  But no, she never wanted to!  One of the reasons she gave was the fact that it was difficult to see all the way around my car, but her SUV had more windows and better visibility behind the wheel when she wanted to change lanes.  In life, sometimes we have a similar issue - there are things around us we don't notice, even though they're obvious to others.  We c

Success Starts Early - Avoid a Reaction

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Have you ever been to the hospital?  I've been to the emergency room once or twice, plus I've had a few "minor" surgeries and procedures over the years.  It seems like a doctor will almost always direct someone to provide medication to the patient, either in a pill or through the point of needle, and then will want to find out how the individual is doing after a certain period of time.  Why?  To see if there has been any improvement, or at least to make sure that nothing has gotten worse.  If I were to have an infection, for instance, and the medicine was helping me, you might expect to hear someone say something about how well I was responding to the treatment.  If something had gone wrong, however, the medical professionals might be concerned that my body was having a reaction .  Notice the difference in those two words!  Today, as we look at how to live a successful life, let's make sure we know how to avoid having a reaction. In the medical example I provided

Success Starts Early - Consistency

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Have you ever played paper, rock, scissors?  I always thought it was a little goofy, because nobody seems to understand how paper beats rock.  My brother and I tried coming up with different items to put into the game, but eventually someone would try to introduce dynamite and to our young minds that beat everything so why continue to play after that?  You know what actually does beat paper, scissors, and rock in real life...without any explosions?  Water!  That's right, it can soak paper, rust away scissors, and erode even the biggest rocks.  In fact, some of the neatest places to visit are natural formations caused by the gradual wearing away of rocks - Grand Canyon and Arches National Park are two of my own favorites.  How does water do it?  Through effort that remains steady, persistent, and consistent  over time. When each of us decides what we want to accomplish and we get help identifying the right actions to take, we must be determined to keep doing what must be done.  It&#

Success Starts Early - No Excuses

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"The dog did it!"  Have you ever blamed a pet for something, maybe a mess that was discovered on the floor or a nasty smell in the air?  It's easy to point fingers at an animal that can't defend itself.  When my kids were babies, I used to jokingly blame them for doing things around the house before they were even big enough to crawl.  While these may be funny examples, you may have noticed that it's not always easy to claim responsibility.  But like it or not, it's a sign of maturity to refuse to give excuses .  I don't really know who said it first, but I used to hear that the definition of an excuse is "the skin of a reason, stuffed with a lie."  When you put it that way, they don't really sound very good!  Then why do they show up so often?  I think the biggest reason is because so many people don't want to admit (or even believe) that they're the cause when something bad happens. I didn't get a good grade?  The teacher didn&#

Success Starts Early - Positively Powerful

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Do you ever think about what you think about?  I don't think my dog spends much time thinking about much besides food and squirrels...and maybe how he'd like to finally catch a squirrel so he could have it for food (and that's never gonna happen).  Do you think it matters if you think about the right things?  I do!  What you think about most tends to affect the things you do, which eventually determines what kind of person you become.  And how do you control your thoughts?  Through words!  Our brains have a lot to do, but fortunately for us they usually do a pretty good job of handling everything.  A mentor of mine once compared the brain to a 3-pound computer that never stopped running as long as a person was alive.  Scientists have shown that even when we're asleep our brains keep working hard - in fact, the important work they do then is one of the big reasons we need to get so much sleep!  If the brain is the computer, then our mouths must be the keyboards.  What we

Success Starts Early - Give Back

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The lowest point on the surface of the earth is also one of the saltiest - the Dead Sea, a lake situated on the border of Israel and Jordan, sits over 1300' below sea level.  Because of its extremely low elevation, no streams or rivers are able to flow out of the lake, creating what scientists call a "closed basin".  That means whatever salt (or any other debris) a stream brings with it will stay in the lake, long after the water itself has evaporated away.  The salt may be valuable to companies that mine and sell the stuff, but it certainly does not lend itself to supporting life...which might have contributed to the name of this famous body of water.  As we each try to figure out how to have our own better life, we can also learn a lesson about how important it is to focus on more than just receiving.  We have to learn how to give back . Up to this point, our topics have been mainly focused on what we can receive.  Mentors and authors, as we have discussed, can provide

Success Starts Early - Reading

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I never enjoyed reading when I was younger.  Why?  Because I'm extremely competitive and my brother was better at it. That's right, I don't like doing things if I'm not able to be the best at it.  My older brother could finish huge novels over a weekend, but I always seemed to fall asleep or get distracted whenever I tried to read for more than 5 minutes at a time.  Imagine how I felt when one of my mentors told me that the saying "readers are leaders" was true!  I remember my dad handing me the book Rich Dad, Poor Dad by Robert Kiyosaki when I was heading back to college after a weekend at home.  When I told him I didn't really like to read, he suggested that the alternative was to "stay stupid".  As someone who had gotten out of high school early and had already finished an associate degree with a perfect 4.0 GPA before the age of 18, that caught my attention.  Clearly my dad did not question my ability to think, but he knew something I hadn&#

Success Starts Early - Mentorship

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Most people, as they get older, can easily remember someone who made a big impact on them as young people.  Often a teacher or a coach from childhood, those who take time to pour a little bit of themselves into others are never forgotten.  But sometimes people don't realize how important it is to have someone help them reach certain personal goals.  For our chat today, let's call all of these helpful people mentors .  I played basketball while growing up.  For eight years I was a part of several teams with various levels of success - for instance, one never won a game and another reached a state championship game.  When playing sports, it's easy to recognize that your coach is the one with the ideas that the team should follow.  The same thing often applies to music directors, school teachers, and church leaders.  When someone has taken time to study the best ways of doing something, they're much easier to follow.  But it's not always that easy to know who you shoul

Success Starts Early - Setting Goals

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When I began writing this blog, do you think I knew all the things that would be included over the years?  No way!  But do you think I had any plans?  Absolutely.  That's because whenever you start a journey it's always a good idea to know where you want to wind up.  The things you want to do are what we call your goals .  My interest in maps began when I was young, as my family used to take a lot of road trips.  A good road map will include your starting point and a destination, as well as different options on how to go from one to the other.  When you start thinking about what you want to do, you'll need to be honest with where you really are, and then have a good idea of where you're going (or what you're doing).  Most success experts agree that there's no point starting without a destination.  It's like playing basketball with no goals - after all the dribbling and passing, how do you know who wins? So we need a destination.  But how do we decide what it

Farewell, Boston!

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I hope each of you have enjoyed our journey through Boston and have gotten something fun or useful out of it, despite the fact that it was so often interrupted along the way.  I've certainly learned a lot about this city, the Cradle of Liberty, over the past several months and have several new places that will definitely be included in a future vacation itinerary.  It seems like it is finally time, however, to officially close out this historical chapter and look forward to the next phase.  So farewell, Boston, it was great getting to know you better and I hope to visit you again sometime in the near future! As I pointed out earlier, I will be writing a series of topics about the basics of successful living.  To be clear, this is not because I consider myself to be an expert on the topic or even because I think I've arrived at any peak that allows me to pause and appreciate the fruits of my efforts.  Instead, it's because there seems to be a distinct lack of focus on the th

Boston: Fenway Park

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In April of 1912, a new baseball stadium was introduced to the city of Boston that would one day become one of the most recognizable venues in sports history: Fenway Park.  The new home of the Red Sox had been constructed hastily on land that had previously been along the swampy edge of the Charles River, and witnessed an incredible season of baseball that culminated with a championship.  Today, well over 100 years later, we'll take a brief look at the oldest remaining professional baseball stadium in existence that has become an historical icon for the city.   Change was in the air for the Boston Red Sox in 1911.  The owners of the team, father-son tandem Charles and John Taylor, had opted not to renew the lease at the stadium they had called home for a decade, opting instead to purchase land farther north in an area along Back Bay known as "The Fens".  Early in the 19th century, Beacon Hill and other high points around the city had been cut down and used to fill in loca

Geographist Plans!

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Big news!  Thanks to each one of you readers, this blog has reached more than 20,000 views!  Thank you so much, it's amazing and humbling to think of that many sets of eyes browsing the various topics we've been through over the life of the site.  Now for what's next!  I'll be wrapping up my overview of Boston soon, and have given some thought to what would be both fun and useful going forward.  The first topic on Geographist.com was "Our Story With God", which was the starting point of a book of the same name I published last year (available on platforms such as  Amazon ,  Barnes & Noble , and  Google ).  That effort, while hopefully useful and interesting to a broad audience, was focused primarily on the 5th grade level that my wife and I teach at our church.  I would like to return to those roots in my next project by taking several decades' worth of studying success principles and working to apply it towards younger minds.  As with "Our Story&

Vacation 2021 - Recap

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After traveling back to Texas from Yellowstone the girls lost their enthusiasm for providing daily overviews of the trip.  Along the way, however, we saw a few more sites (such as Mount Rushmore and Chimney Rock) and had one more big activity (whitewater rafting in Colorado along the Arkansas River).  Here are some final thoughts from each of the girls on what they enjoyed most, as well as what they hope to remember.   Whirly's Recap - My favorite memory was when we rode horses.  It's because I had a nice one. His name was Buck, and not because he bucks us off.  It's because he has a Buck skin. Girly's Recap:  My favorite memory was white water rafting in Colorado, while on our way back home. Although this wasn't my favorite trip, we did a lot of new things and did things not everyone can say they have done. Curly's Recap My favorite memory was white water rafting.  It was very intense.  I got wet.  My most embarrassing thing was sliding in the tree.  This was a

Vacation 2021 - Day 9

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Our ninth day of the trip was spent entirely in Cody, WY.  And it was almost entirely focused on the man who gave the town its name, William F. "Buffalo Bill" Cody.  Let's see what stood out most to the girls.  Whirly Day 9 - We rode horses and my horse's name was Buck.  We saw the museum all day.  We saw a red tail hawk and a turkey vulture so yeah that was day 9. Curly's Day 9- We went to a museum and saw some Indian stuff. We also saw a showcase for raptor birds like a turkey vulture and a red tail hawk then we went on a horse trail. My horse was named Scrappy and he was stubborn. We went back to the museum and looked at animals. The museum was about to close, but we had time to look at firearms and guns it was cool. Then we drove back to the RV park. Girly's Day 9: This was the day we went to the Buffalo Bill museum and rode some horses. After being in Yellowstone for a couple days straight, it was time to do something different for a change. So instead of

Vacation 2021 - Day 8

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We've passed the one-week mark of this trip and are still enjoying Yellowstone.  This was the day we explored most of the park, venturing to both the NE & NW entrances.  I have a feeling I know what the girls remembered best, but let's hear it from them.  Girly's Day 8:  This day we were in Yellowstone almost the whole day. We saw buffalo and some birds. This is when we saw the most buffalo. Like herds and herds of them. Nothing really else happened. We just stayed in Yellowstone almost the whole day, and then we had German food for dinner. We arrived late to our RV park, and went to sleep for the night. Whirly's Day 8 - We went to Yellowstone we saw some bison we saw deer and yeah that was day 8. Curly's Day 8 We went to Yellowstone again and saw a lot of animals we spent the most time in Yellowstone and saw the most buffalo. So yeah that was day eight.

Vacation 2021 - Day 7

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Our first day in Yellowstone!  We entered the west side, then drove across to the west side and into Cody, WY.  There were plenty of amazing things to see, from scenery to animals to geologic features.  Let's see what stuck in the minds of the girls.  Curly's Day 7 We woke up and did laundry in a laundromat, fun right? We had gas station food. Then we went to Yellowstone and saw the geysers. We also got souvenirs - I got a bracelet. We went to Old Faithful, but it was going to blast in an hour so we left. We went to a town called Cody and picked up a rental car.  Girly's Day 7: This day we woke up in Idaho, and the day was already busy. We had to do laundry, so to the laundromat we went. We then went to a nearby gas station, and had some pop tarts, powdered donuts, etc. After that, we were on our way to Yellowstone. We were on the hunt for two main things: buffalo and Old Faithful. We found Old Faithful, but sadly it started raining and we weren't able to see it blow. W