Monthly Archives: November 2014


a47Aesop taught, “Gratitude is the sign of noble souls.” As parents, we want our children to be noble souls.  In order to teach a virtue, we must first have a portion of that virtue.  Sophocles shared the secret to developing gratitude, “Gratitude to gratitude always gives birth.” 

Raising noble souls requires that we be grateful for the life we have, which will lead to being even more grateful.  A good first step is to decide to complain less.  Another suggestion is to recognize that “playing the victim” is not healthy.  Those who act like missile seeking targets have little time for gratitude.

Even though we have been richly blessed, some are still ungrateful.  The seriousness of the sin of ingratitude is perfectly illustrated by W. Eugene Hansen.  “It has been said that the sin of ingratitude is more serious than the sin of revenge.  With revenge, we return evil for evil, but with ingratitude, we return evil for good.”

Expressing gratitude is a great way to reinforce the gratitude we feel.  John F. Kennedy explained that words of appreciation are not enough, “As we express our gratitude, we must never forget that the highest appreciation is not to utter words, but to live by them.”  His words remind me of a poem by Grace Noll Crowell entitled “Because of Thy Great Bounty.”  These stanzas have a wonderful message:

“Because I have been given much, I too must give.

Because of thy great bounty, Lord, each day I live.

Because I have been sheltered, fed by thy good care,

I cannot see another’s lack and I not share.

Because I have been blessed by thy great love, dear Lord,

I’ll share thy love again, according to thy word.”

The following is my Top Ten List of Things for Which I Am Grateful.

1)         Waking up each morning next to my wife, realizing that I have one more day with her.  I have been on the brink of death with a heart that was dying.  Receiving a heart transplant gave me more time with my wife and helped me to understand how much I cherish her.

2)         Knowing that my children walk in truth.  We are surrounded by the enemy of truth.  Too many intelligent people substitute their arrogance-driven opinions for true wisdom.  Having children that “choose the right” has been a wonderful blessing for us, as parents.

3)         Having a loving family and friends.  The support of my family and true friends has helped me with every problem I have experienced.  Nothing is more important to me than to love and be loved in return.

4)         Feeling the hope, peace and joy that come from the Lord, Jesus Christ.  Without God, life has no meaning and loving earthly relationships are fleeting.  He is the light of life.

5)         Working on meaningful projects with good people.  My life has been blessed by being involved in meaningful work, both as a professional and as a volunteer.  Humans need to work and to be engaged in meaningful activities to feel fulfillment.

6)         Living in a country that allows me life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.  The United States of America is a nation established and blessed by God.  It is my obligation to protect this nation from destructive politics and those who ignore the Constitution and the purpose of our country.

7)         Seeing the beauties of nature.  We have travelled the world and found beauty everywhere we have gone. 

8)         Lifting and being lifted by others.  An anonymous family gave me the heart that now beats in my chest.  I show my gratitude by serving others and working to ensure that people understand how they can Donate Life.

9)         Learning new and interesting things.  We are privileged to live in a world where knowledge is ubiquitous.  It is a miracle that I have almost immediate answers to almost any question on my smart phone.

10)       Enjoying each new day and the promise it brings.  Every new day offers the possibility of a new experience, a new friend, a new understanding, a better me. 

I am grateful for a life that gives me the opportunity to be a more noble soul and share that gratitude with my posterity.

This article was also published on

The 10 Best Practices of Strategic Planning

connect-316638_640There are hundreds of approaches to strategic planning.  These range from the auto mechanic who ponders how he is going to buy more sophisticated diagnostic equipment to a Fortune 500 consumer goods company that pays McKinsey & Company hundreds of thousands of dollars to create a plan that will allow them to outperform their competitors.  For most companies, the first approach is too little and the latter approach is way too much.

As I explained in Strategic Planning is NOT Dead,” a strategic plan is indispensable for companies that want to:

a.    Improve the bottom line

b.    Give employees a focus and purpose

c.    Tap into the creative ideas of management

d.    Create a methodology to achieve performance excellence

I have used a strategic planning tool with my clients that has consistently achieved those goals when management follows through.  However, there are many very good approaches to create a successful strategic plan.  I share the following 10 Best Practices of Strategic Planning that should be in every approach.

  1.  Advance preparation – I give my clients a Balanced Approach questionnaire that reminds management of potential areas of improvement regarding:
    • The Mind – Education and Training
    • The Market – Customer Needs
    • The Machine- Internal Processes
    • The Money – All Things Financial 
  2. Open-minded CEO/President – A persuasive leader, that values his/her employees and their input, is necessary to make the process work. 
  3. Engaged team – A core group of dedicated managers is key to maximizing the benefit of the strategic plan. A team that is prepared to share ideas will always create a more beneficial plan than a team that is reticent to share. 
  4. Facilitator – The planning process is typically more effective if there is an outside facilitator to lead the process, step-by-step. A facilitator is usually better able to get all managers to share their ideas since they will be less likely to think that they are going to offend the boss.
  5. Off-site location – A planning session held in a comfortable place outside of the office helps managers to disengage from their day-to-day battles and to think strategically. 
  6. SWOT – An analysis of the organization’s Strengths, Weakness, Opportunities and Threats (SWOT) allows managers to freely discuss the things that concern them or the improvements that they have been pondering. There are many ways to do this evaluation but they should include the essence of the four SWOT elements. 
  7. Share Financial Information – Managers must understand the numbers of a company to develop strategy, including number of units sold or produced, gross sales, net income, etc. 
  8. Brainstorm – Encourage all ideas without verbal criticism or reward. It is like mining for gold.  Hundreds of tons of dirt must be mined to extract the valuable nuggets.  Narrow the strategic choices to a manageable few after they have all been evaluated.
  9. Make assignments – For each task in the strategic plan, the team will agree who will do it, what they will do, and when it will be done. These assignments are captured in writing and distributed to all team members. 
  10. Quarterly follow up – Nothing prompts action as much as knowing that your team will hold you accountable for the things you said you would do. Quarterly follow-up meetings are the best motivator to ensure that the strategic plan doesn’t just collect dust.

My final thought on strategic planning is to share a quotation from Thomas A. Edison, “Being busy does not always mean real work. The object of all work is production or accomplishment and to either of these ends there must be forethought, system, planning, intelligence, and honest purpose, as well as perspiration. Seeming to do is not doing.”