Tuesday, December 28, 2010

It's About Time...

"Time is the coin of your life. It is the only coin you have, and only you can determine how it will be spent. Be careful lest you let other people spend it for you." --Carl Sandburg, US Biographer and Poet (1878-1967)

Time is a constant in our lives. The minutes and hours pass before us and can never be returned or regained. Much wisdom has been offered about the asset of time that we often take for granted. Consider the following:

"The great dividing line between success and failure can be expressed in five words: “I did not have time.” --Franklin Field
"Time is what we want most, but what we use worst." --William Penn

"Dost thou love life? Then do not squander time, for that is the stuff life is made of." --Benjamin Franklin

"One thing you can't recycle is wasted time" --Unknown

We all like to have fun and seek a good time. There is nothing inherently wrong with this. Problems occur when we place the pursuit of temporary pleasures before those things that bring lasting fulfillment. Yes, opportunity comes to those who use and invest time rather than race with it. Yes, it requires hard work, service, and sacrifice. Yes, the results are real. If we do things just for fun we will stay everlastingly bored. Rather, we should have fun at what we do and be the pilot of all the time that flies ahead.

Saturday, December 04, 2010

Social Media and Your Job

"By the work one knows the workmen."
--Jean De La Fontaine
The following was written for a policy letter assignment for my Persuasion class this semester. Let me know what you think!
It is clearly known that we are in the information age. It is an age that continues to move forward at full-throttle speed! We live in a time when we can perform comprehensive research in seconds at the same time that we can read our friend’s “tweet” about what he had for breakfast. Social media is a mainstay in our interaction and in our presentation of self.

It is my purpose to discuss the relationship between our social media interactions and our jobs and networking. Social media is now a widely used tool in recruiting talent and obtaining viable job candidates.  According to a recent Jobvite Social Recruiting Survey, the following information was collected:
  • 73% of respondents currently use online social networks or social media sites to support their recruiting efforts.
  • 92% of respondents hiring in 2010 currently use or plan to recruit via social networks.
  • 78% of respondents use LinkedIn for recruiting; 55% use Facebook (up 15% since over 2009); and 45% use Twitter (up 32% over 2009).
  • One-third of respondents always check out candidates’ social media profiles when screening them.
  • 58% of respondents have successfully hired candidates through social networking websites. 1
To put this in simpler terms, this means that most of the people that are looking to hire you are also looking at your Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter accounts. Over half of the companies surveyed have found people to work for them online. These numbers continue to increase.
Let us examine, then, our social network activity. What are we posting and what does it declare about us and those we represent? This examination should cause us to ask a few simple questions about how we are presenting ourselves.

1.     Are there posts or comments on my profile that are derogatory toward my current employer?
2.     Are there pictures or posts on my profile that would look unappealing to a future employer or recruiter?
3.     Am I respectful and honest in the things I post?

Asking these questions of ourselves—and others similar to it—is now a necessity in our online social life. Have you ever typed your name into Google? Try it and see what you can find. Whether we like it or not, what we post on a profile becomes public information. Indeed, it is the World Wide Web.
Consider the Vancouver bus driver who was fired for the blog he was publishing. It began in his training as a new driver when he made daily entries about transit and bus operations. Eventually his readership expanded. The posts continued into comments about his company’s reaction during local snowstorm problems. These comments were deemed critical towards the bus company and this driver was contacted and terminated just hours later. 2

What about the schoolteacher whose job was placed in jeopardy for the display of a photo of her drinking alcohol that was posted on her Facebook page? It turns out this photo was taken during a European vacation. The teacher claimed, “I visited the Guinness Brewery, I went to Italy and had wine. I went to the Temple Bar District of Dublin and drank some alcohol there like any normal adult would.” The school district didn’t agree and the teacher was forced to resign. 3

Disregarding if these examples are fair or not, the fact stands that these examples actually took place. With virtually no employment law and policy in place regarding the use of social media by management it needs to be our prerogative to be watchful of how we present ourselves. If we talk about work on our Facebook page or blog about our personal views of our unruly boss, we are doing so as an agent of that company. This material may or may not be used against us. We are what we post.

Our online social persona can transform into either a friend or a foe. Let us focus on the fact that outside of the pitfalls of social media and employment, our profiles and posts can become an effective asset—an extension of our current resume. Here, we can display our involvement in community ventures, our knowledge and understanding of cutting-edge technology in our field, and a portfolio that exhibits workable skills and abilities. What recruiter would want to miss out on this? Yes, we are what we post. Post wisely.


1.      The Fordyce Letter, “Social Media + Legal Reality & Perspective = Caution for Recruiters”


2.     Vancouver Bus Driver Fired Over Blog”


3.     “Ashley Payne, Former Teacher Fired for Facebook Pictures”


Thursday, November 25, 2010

Gratitude: The Lens Cleaner of Life

"That ye contend no more against the Holy Ghost, but that ye receive it, and take upon you the name of Christ; that ye humble yourselves even to the dust, and worship God, in whatsoever place ye may be in, in spirit and in truth; and that ye live in thanksgiving daily, for the many mercies and blessings which he doth bestow upon you." --Alma 34:38

As I stated in last year's Thanksgiving day post, gratitude is the lens cleaner of life; it helps us see past the spots. It takes effort to remain always grateful but it is a work worth engaging in. Happy Thankgiving!

I leave you with some words of the living prophet: 
"We can lift ourselves and others as well when we refuse to remain in the realm of negative thought and cultivate within our hearts an attitude of gratitude. If ingratitude be numbered among the serious sins, then gratitude takes its place among the noblest of virtues. Someone has said that “gratitude is not only the greatest of virtues, but the parent of all others”  (Oct. 2010, General Conference).

Monday, October 11, 2010

It's Columbus Day...

“That men do not learn very much from the lessons of history is the most important of all the lessons that history has to teach”--Aldous Huxley, English Novelist and Critic

Today is the second Monday in October. Annually, this constitutes the observation of Columbus day. We remember him. Christopher Columbus. In grade school we probably learned about his voyage ships: Nina, Pinta, and Santa Maria. We probably understood in fourth grade that he discovered America. Most likely, we learned of his voyage and have since forgotten. For me, this history has been archived in dusty corners of my mind and can be simply summed up with the familiar rhyme: 

"In fourteen hundred and ninety two, Columbus sailed the ocean blue."

Yet, if we grasp onto the spade of curiosity and hollow out a bit of historical excavation there is more to be had. A little "Google-ing" lead me to a few facts about Columbus previously unknown. We should be aware that Columbus really wasn't the first explorer to navigate to "the Americas." He was preceded by the Vikings, led by Leif Ericson, who built a temporary settlement there 500 years previous. So, why do we remember Mr. Columbus? 

Columbus' voyage and discovery came at a time of economic competition between nations and kingdoms when each were developing viable trade routes. In short, Columbus and his voyages had a spreading effect that created European awareness of the American continents in the west. Second, he stayed in contact. Historian, Martin Dugard, writes, "Columbus' claim to fame isn't that he got there first, it's that he stayed."

Here are a few other facts of interest:

1. The Europeans showed little interest at the time of Columbus' discoveries in the west.
2. Columbus did not believe in the flat earth. The round shape of the earth had already been known.
3. Columbus was highly venerated in America dating back to Colonial times with America often being called Columbia (beginning in 1738), Columbia being the capital city of both Ohio and South Carolina, a river named Columbia, and the federal capital named The District of Columbia in the latter end of the 18th century.

So, it is Columbus day and here is the bottom line: the men and women of history probably didn't know they were making history in their present time. They simply lived their lives and pursued their daily doings. Second, the meaningless moments of today could become the priceless memories of yesterday. The great things of history often go unrecognized by those nearest to them. We never know until we take a look!

Happy Columbus Day! 

Friday, October 08, 2010

"Oh, What an Atmosphere Encircles That Stranger"

We are like chameleons, we take our hue and the color of our moral character, from those who are around us." --John Locke, English Philosopher (1632-1704)

Think of the word atmosphere. It not only describes the layers of vapor and gases that surround the orb on which we live; it also illustrates the places we enter into and perhaps even the attitudes and habits we choose to entertain. This can be coupled with influence. Each day we are both an influence and are influenced. This is an immutable truth. Yes, we are who we are. I have my influence and you have yours but there is a component of interaction that allows our personal atmospheres of thought and being to interrelate, to give and take, to change and develop.

This influence coupled with the gift of the Holy Ghost leads me to a powerful quotation by Elder Parley P. Pratt. It has been on my mind and I wished to share it. Speaking of the Holy Ghost he says:

"It quickens all the intellectual faculties, increases, enlarges, expands and purifies all the natural passion and affections; and adapts them, by the gift of wisdom, to their lawful use. It inspires, develops, cultivates and matures all the fine-toned sympathies, joys, tastes, kindred feelings and affections of our nature. It inspires virtue, kindness, goodness, tenderness, gentleness and charity. It develops beauty of the person, form and features. It tends to health, vigor, animation and social feeling. It invigorates all the faculties of the physical and intellectual man. It strengthens, and gives tone to the nerves. In short, it is, as it were, marrow to the bone, joy to the heart, light to the eyes, music to the ears, and life to the whole being."

"In the presence of such persons, one feels to enjoy the light of their countenances, as the genial rays of the sunbeam. Their very atmosphere diffuses a thrill, a warm glow of pure gladness and sympathy, to the heart and nerves of others who have kindred feelings, or sympathy of spirit. No matter if the parties are strangers, entirely unknown to each other in person or character; no matter if they have never spoken to each other, each will be apt to remark in his own mind, and perhaps exclaim, when referring to the interview– “Oh, what an atmosphere encircles that stranger! How my heart thrilled with pure and holy feelings in his presence! What confidence and sympathy he inspired! His countenance and spirit gave me more assurance than a thousand written recommendations, or introductory letters.” Such is the gift of the Holy Ghost, and such are its operations, when received through the lawful channel—the divine, eternal priesthood."
We each have an influence. We emanate that which we admire the most in regard to attitude, discipline, and outlook on life. So, no matter how the weather looks outside, may we all create an atmosphere of goodness and gladness. If we do, none will be a stranger.


Friday, October 01, 2010

The Participatory Prerogative

"Far better it is to dare mighty things, to win glorious triumphs even though checkered by failure, than to take rank with those poor spirits who neither enjoy much nor suffer much, because they live in the grey twilight that knows neither victory nor defeat" 
--Theodore Roosevelt

Moments to volunteer with raised hand come and go. There have been times when I've raised my hand at the request for a volunteer and times when I haven't.  Those opportunities either prosper or perish. It is interesting to look back upon the times that I have volunteered to make a statement, make an estimate, or make a fun-loving fool of myself. Not once have I said, "Oh, I wish I would've just shut my mouth or remained partners with my seat in the corner." Not once have I thought, "Dang, I shouldn't have given my buddy a ride or helped mom with the dishes." We get more than we give. It's a strong equation. 

This morning my accounting professor asked for a volunteer to put up the solution to a problem we had worked on in class. I had the numbers and I was ready. My hand was raised. I went to the front of the room with my notes, grabbed the dry-erase marker, and promptly forgot any morsel of how I had gotten my answers. Great. Yet, with the promptings of my professor help was offered. Problem solved--eventually. My voluntary performance was less than stellar but I wasn't bothered in the least by it. This is why: I was up and doing rather than down and stewing. 

There is great power in participation. It is powerful beyond the chapter's theory or the current methods. The key lies in the question: can one put the theory into practice and make it live? It begins with action followed by heightened understanding. 

Yes, there will be failure but we must use that for better tomorrows. After this morning's accounting encounter, I am a lot more familiar with contribution margin income statements than I was while sitting in the background. Any man can hear and see, many can come to know, but find a man (or woman) who can apply and do and he will be a victor. 

So, with Mr. Roosevelt's reminder, let us remember that we are not meant to dwell among the "poor spirits" as we do mighty things. We are built to triumph over suffering and "enjoy much" and gray is not our color! 

Stay the Course

Thursday, September 16, 2010

I Suppose...

"The true spirit of conversation consists in building on another man's observation, not overturning it." --Edward G. Bulwer-Lytton (British politician, poet, critic, and novelist (1803-1873))

I think a lot about Moses and his face-to-face encounter with the Lord in the Pearl of Great Price  . The Lord tells Moses that He has a work for Him to do and that He would show him the workmanship of His hands. Upon seeing the world upon which we live, Moses "greatly marveled and wondered" (Moses 1:8). Upon God's presence leaving Moses, he was "left unto himself" and discovered that "man is nothing, which thing [he] never had supposed" (Moses 1:9-10) . I am sure Moses was not going to try to overturn any of these observations with his own.

 Notwithstanding a lack of grand and galactic encounters, we should ask ourselves how we  feel about the things that we "never have supposed" in our lives. As I do so, I realize that all of mine could be encapsulated in a paper-bent pamphlet while my collection of "Here's what I think" could be gathered in a hard-bound volume, footnotes included! I don't feel that this is a positive divide. Perhaps, I need an editor!

Each has his or her views on life. We all know what we know. Persuasion is part of our existence (just ask my Comm 352 class). Constantly,  we look at life with personal view finders. Often, we share our personal interests in an effort to influence others or express our feelings. This is a natural and healthy activity. Persuasion puts us on the offensive but what is the other side of the balance? 

I was conversing with a co-worker the other day. He is from Iowa; I am from Idaho. He has his views and I have mine. The conversation turned to politics. We skirted over some of the current "issues" throwing in a few " I thinks" along with the occasional shoulder shrug. It was healthy and non-violent. As the conversation went on, I realized that some of my co-workers thoughts were things that I never "had supposed." He shared similar sentiment with my views. Yes, persuasion was involved but there was nothing to defend. In the end, my co-worker and I were asking questions in unison about things neither of us "had supposed." Nothing was lost in a war-like effort to overturn ideas; rather, all was built upon in an effort to see more.

I submit that we need to find the other side of the offense. If we continue on the offensive too long we eventually turn defensive. The anecdote lies in humility and meekness. It is recognizing that we really do know what we know and that is never enough!

A great talk on meekness:

Saturday, July 24, 2010


"Prayer gives a man the opportunity of getting to know a gentleman he hardly ever meets. I do not mean his maker, but himself." --William Inge

Amidst the visscissitudes of life, proper guidance should be accepted and welcomed. Prayer is the vital link between man and his maker. We can't get too far on our own.
Johnathan Edwards, in his article "Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God" writes:
"But the foolish children of men miserably delude themselves in their own schemes, and in confidence in their own strength and wisdom; they trust to nothing but a shadow. "
Often we may be housing feelings that the following poem offers:

"With thoughtless and impatient hands

We tangle up the plans

The Lord hath wrought.

And when we cry in pain He saith,

“Be quiet, man, while I untie the knot.”
Believer or not, we have taught to "counsel with the Lord in all thy doing, and He will direct thee for good" (Alma 37:37). He knows what He is doing--we need Him.

p.s. God is not angry.

Sunday, June 20, 2010


"Father! - to God himself we cannot give a holier name." ~William Wordsworth

They say it takes a real man to be a dad. In my short 24 years watching my father, I'd have to agree. It takes a real man to work and earn and save in order to give provide and bless his house. It takes a real man to watch his sons and daughters make their choices both for good or ill. It takes a real man to love and teach without raising his voice or losing his temper. My dad is a real man. He's not in it for himself; he's in it for the good of his family. He's never had to tell me how to be a good man. I've simply had to watch him. That is power.

To you, dad, I thank you for being my father and friend. A father and a son--what a combination. Its definitely a type and shadow of Those we worship. They work together and become even better.

"In life they were not divided, in death they are not separated."

Happy Father's Day! Love ya Davey!

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Hope in the Light

"Hope is like the sun, which, as we journey towards it, casts the shadow of our burden behind us.’ … Hope sweetens the memory of experiences well loved. It tempers our troubles to our growth and our strength. It befriends us in dark hours, excites us in bright ones. It lends promise to the future and purpose to the past. It turns discouragement to determination.” --Samuel Smiles

Scripture continually empowers hope. It is called an anchor to the soul as we "see the promises afar off" (Heb. 11:13). We are commanded to "plow in hope" and walk in a "perfect brightness" thereof (see 1 Cor 9:10; 2 Nep. 31:20).

What do we do when we are hopeless? We believe in it! Abraham was promised to be the father of nations;  his wife, Sarah, was barren. Ironic. Abraham "against hope believed in hope" and was "fully persuaded" that God would fulfill his promises (Rom 4:18-21).

Hope is more than a wish. It is a faith-fueled assurance of good things to come. It is the power to go and be awesome. It is the power to move against the grain of circumstance, to enable the power of faith, to walk toward eternity, and be lifted beyond the veil of death and imperfection.

We must hope in the light. Christ is that light. If you find no hope in this, just believe!

Tell me what hope is for you?

Monday, May 10, 2010


"Simplicity is the key to brilliance" --Bruce Lee

The great American thinker, Ralph Waldo Emerson, said: 
"A man should learn to detect and watch that gleam of light which flashes across his mind from within....Yet he dismisses without notice his thought, because it is his. In every work of genius we recognize our own rejected thoughts: they come back to us with a certain alienated majesty. Great works of art have no more affecting lesson for us than this. They teach us to abide by our spontaneous impression with good-humored inflexibility then most when the whole cry of voices is on the other side. Else, to-morrow a stranger will say with masterly good sense precisely what we have thought and felt all the time, and we shall be forced to take with shame our own opinion from another." 
"There is a time in every man's education when he arrives at the conviction that envy is ignorance; that imitation is suicide;...The power which resides in him is new in nature, and none but he knows what that is which he can do, nor does he know until he has tried" (Emerson, "Self-Reliance").
The mind of man is a most powerful instrument. It is incredibly demanding of fuel and fire. It abhors the idle moment and has no use for mediocre mental equivalents of empty calories. Embedded in the mind of man is the propensity to create and see and understand. Emerson gives this caution, "We but half express ourselves, and are ashamed of that divine idea which each of us represents" (Ibid).

Marvel with me at the fact that you and I have had or will have ideas that are completely our own in their beauty, their display, and their consequence. None but ourselves will see in just the same way we might see. What one man sees, another man sees differently. What one man  cannot see, another will grasp as an impression forever upon him. You and I are draped in brilliance that, too often, we keep folded up in our back pocket as a dejected handkerchief. In reality, it stands as the light of our eye and the voice of our heart. No idea ever shared will be wasted. And, believe me, there is "enough and to spare" (D&C 104:17).

Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Can You Sense It?

"Humor is the great thing, the saving thing. The minute it crops up, all our irritations and resentments slip away and a sunny spirit takes their place."
--Mark Twain

I wonder often at the strange phenomenon of laughter. It "cracks me up." A person's laugh is as unique as one's set of fingerprints. I'd put money on the fact that no one can laugh quite like me. What about those around you? Do you remember the laugh of your grandmother or an uncle? It is just part of who they are! Humor helps us see more clearly the jewels and gemstones of the day. 

Recently, I came home to a living room of people I love who were concerned and perhaps a bit discouraged. I could sense it. It was heavy. With nothing else in mind, I said, "What we need in here is a good joke!" Smiles emerged and the cloud lifted. It works! Yes, it can even work in the most dire of circumstances.  The example is given of a man condemned to be shot by a firing squad: "the head of the firing squad asked the condemned man, "Before we shoot you, would you like a last cigarette?"

And the prisoner replied, "No thanks, I'm trying to quit smoking!"

Humor has great power. Chuck Gallozzi (personal-development.com) wrote:
"Genuine humor points out the weaknesses of humanity, but without contempt. It is a commentator of life, not a critic of it. Its purpose is to uplift, not tear down, and to lighten the burdens of others, not add to them. Good humor does not belittle or promote stereotypes, for it springs from the heart, not the mind. It is a shock absorber that helps us get over the bumps in life. Those with a good sense of humor have a good sense of life."
It is of interest to look back on some of the great figures in history who were well acquainted with the medicine of laughter. Victor Frankl, Holocaust survivor, said that laughter was the element that would make things liveable if even for a moment. Through it he survived. Abraham Lincoln was known for his telling of humourous stories. Mel brooks called humor one of the defenses against the universe. It has been used well through the ages, no doubt.

So, the next time you find humor, laugh. The next time somebody laughs at you, laugh with them. Genuine humor is the sign of a happy spirit and a bright outlook. Oh, and there is nothing wrong with laughing at your own jokes.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Prophets in the Land

"I will raise them up a Prophet from among their brethren, like unto thee, and will put my words in his mouth; and he shall speak unto them all that I shall command him" --Deut. 18:18).

I just came across this image of President Hinckley and a flood of thoughts and feelings came forward. He was the President of the LDS Church from the time I was 10-22 years old. His influence upon me as a living prophet will last forever. This picture shows a lot of that for me.

This is another powerful image of President Monson, today's living Prophet. I love the candle that stands next to him. I'll leave that to you to look at, appreciate, and see as a symbol of who this man is for the Lord. President Monson is a witness of the attributes of Christ that we must strive toward. Also, he is a man fully devoted to the Lord, Jesus Christ and His work. 

His recent message in this month's Ensign (see www.lds.org) included these words:
“In the search for our best selves, several questions will guide our thinking: Am I what I want to be? Am I closer to the Savior today than I was yesterday? Will I be closer yet tomorrow? Do I have the courage to change for the better? …

“The years have come and the years have gone, but the need for a testimony of the gospel continues paramount. As we move toward the future, we must not neglect the lessons of the past."
Thank you, President Monson, for asking these meaningful questions. Thanks be to prophets who continually point us to the Holy One.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

My Mom is Magic

Mother's amaze me. They just seem to know. Sometimes, in their own humble way, they know that they know. My mom has always told me, "I'm not always right, but I'm never wrong." Well, I haven't proved that one wrong yet. I've quit trying. It's a losing battle.

I remember one instance when I was headed out the door to go with some friends. Mom said, almost in passing, "Don't you need a jacket?"

"No, the weather is fine," I said.

She was right. I needed a jacket that night. Didn't have one. Better luck next time.

Mothers are also magic. Would you agree? Remember those times when she used her fingers to clean your face when you were four? I always wondered how she did it.Somehow those fingers had the ability to become damp enough to shine my face up at just the right moment! The results were impeccable. Jeff Foxworthy compared it to the power of 409 cleaner. How'd she do it?! Magic of course!

I've since learned that this maternal magic is quite practical. The timely dampness and resulting shine is a product none other than mom's saliva. Hmmm. Now that is something only a mom could pull off. Dad just can't make that kind of smoke-and-mirrors maneuver. Yes, my mom is magic; don't tell!

Mom! Love ya!

Saturday, February 13, 2010

"Circle of Fire"

The following is a article written by Sterling W. Sill a General Authority in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. This article was given to me by my first Mission President in Northern California, a great leader and teacher. It has always been a favorite of mine. It  is a thoughtful message on life, work, and the price of achievement. Enjoy!

The Circle of Fire
Sterling W. Sill, The Way Of Success, pp. 35-40

Sometime ago, I re-read that interesting fairy tale entitled, “The Sleeping Beauty.”  It told of a beautiful princess asleep in an enchanted castle surrounded by a protecting circle of fire.  The legend said that whoever awakened the sleeping princess would have her as his bride and would also be entitled to rule the kingdom.  The problem came from the fact that no one could win the prize without making his way through the forbidding circle of flames.

Another version of this story had the castle guarded by a hedge of cruel thorns which grew thicker and more dangerous as the intruder tried to cut through them.

Our literature is filled with this important idea that the great prizes are always kept under a heavy guard.  The Golden Fleece sought by Jason was protected by a sleepless dragon.  Hercules was required to overcome impossible obstacles before obtaining his status with the Gods on the top of Mt. Olympus.

To some, these accounts may appear to be just interesting stories, but they are much more than that.  And while our day is not especially noted for its belief in sleepless dragons or walls of living fire, yet before anyone goes very far in this life, he discovers that life is a testing, and all of the most worthwhile prizes are still encircled by some kind of protection, designed to frighten away the timid and discourage the unworthy.  The ancient law of success is still in effect, that the sleeping princess can only be awakened by one with endurance enough to get through the flames, and manhood enough to clear out all the obstacles placed in his way.  It is still a standard requirement, that one must kill the dragon before he can rule the kingdom.

Sometime ago a potentially capable young man told me about his ambition.  He said that someday he wanted to be a United States Senator.  He is now 25 years of age and he had set the date for his accomplishment at age 50.  This allowed him a quarter of a century to make himself into the kind of man he needed to be, to make his dream come true.  He knew that to gain the prize, he must first earn a substantial measure of personal independence and financial success.  He would need to be a man of leadership ability and skill in getting along with other people.

A good character and a stable personality would also be indispensable.  To help him develop these traits he quit his routine job and accepted one with greater challenge.  He was very enthusiastic about his ambition, and felt that he knew where he was going and how he was to get there.  His situation reminded me of the inspiring story of John F. Kennedy.

As a young man, John Kennedy idolized his older brother Joe.  It was Joe, not John, who was the outgoing member of the family and the one most likely to succeed in public life.  Father Kennedy, out of his long experience in political life had encouraged Joe in the thought that someday he could be the President of the United States. Joe had accepted his father’s challenge and had begun working in that direction, willing to make any reasonable sacrifice.  But in the process of completing this military service Joe was killed.

Then, the senior Kennedy felt that this responsibility properly fell upon John, the next son in line.  But John was an introvert and it would be much more difficult for him to become president.  But he had great respect for his father.  He also loved his brother Joe and felt that there could be no price too high, if only he could complete Joe’s unfulfilled dreams.  John knew that he would have to change many things about himself and that the process would be difficult.  Substantial personal growth would be necessary.  He knew that he would be required to pass through the fire.  But he wholeheartedly accepted the challenge and said to his father, that he would take Joe’s place and become President of the United States.

A high and holy ambition tightly held, can of itself produce a tremendous power in human life.  And what a thrill even in retrospect to watch John Fitzgerald Kennedy make his way toward his high objective.  He became the leader of the world’s most powerful nation, at a younger age than any of his predecessors in that exalted office.

I could see no reason why my young friend should not also be successful in his ambition.  However, in this I was doomed to disappointment.  Six months later this young man came to see me again.  His enthusiasm had disappeared, his ambition had almost been forgotten.  The industry and courage necessary to qualify him for his high objective were now nowhere in evidence.  To him success was too difficult.  He didn’t get very close to the circle of fire before he decided the heat was too great.

Then almost eagerly he gave up the quest and seemed completely content with the slow moving tempo of his former routine work.  His old job lacked challenge, but it produced no strain on his muscles and made no difficult demands on his personality.  He now preferred a less valuable prize where the heat was not so great nor the obstacles so difficult.  My friend had discovered that the growth process, which requires hardening in the fire, can sometimes be a little bit painful.  In trying to encourage him I told him of an experience I had had many years previously.

One spring, following a winter of school, I got a job helping to clean out an irrigation canal. I was put down in the bottom of the canal on the business end of a shovel handle.  It was not very long before my hands began to feel tender and sore.  They were quite literally encountering their circle of fire.  Naturally I did not enjoy this discomfort, and so a decision had to be made about what should be done about it.

When anyone is confronted with a problem, life usually allows him a choice between a number of alternatives.  No one who cringes and runs away from his problem is ever permitted to marry the princess.  It is also true that if we stop working every time we get sore hands or tired feet or aching hearts, we can never rule the kingdom.  But it is a very interesting fact that if one keeps on using his hands, the skin will not all come off, but instead the soreness will eventually disappear and the hands will become firm and strong, and able to handle the most difficult tasks without discomfort.

I tried to point out to my young friend that the personality, and even the spirit itself, sometimes get such sore hands that they want to put down the shovel.

We sometimes use an interesting word called “tenderfoot.”  I recently looked this word up in the dictionary, and strangely enough it has nothing whatever to do with the feet.  The dictionary explained that a “tenderfoot” is one who is too delicate to endure hardship.  A “tenderfoot” is one who is so sensitive that when the skin of his hands, or the muscles of his personality or the determination of his spirit gets a little sore, he is unable to finish the job.  Very often a “tenderfoot” has great ideas and wonderful ambitions, but because he is not tough enough, to hang on, he turns his back on the thorns, refuses the fire, and loses the princess and the kingdom.

I think that my young friend personifies one of the most threatening problems standing between us and success.  Everyone wants the good things in life—a fine family, an honored name and a sufficient measure of material success.  We fail in so many cases only because we are unwilling to pay the price, or endure the pain involved in growing up.  Someone has said that the Lord always fits the back to the burden.  Under pressure the skin always firms up so that it can pleasantly meet any demands that are made upon it, and so does the personality and so does the spirit.

Jack Dempsey made himself famous for the effective use of his hands.  He made them into fists and then put them under the direction of a fighting spirit.  On one occasion he said that there are two qualities required for any outstanding success as a prizefighter.  One was the ability to give a big punch and the other was the ability to take a big punch.  Assuming one had the greatest ability as a slugger, he would yet be a miserable failure if he couldn’t take a regular diet of punishment.

No one will ever get very far in the prize ring or in life itself who is demoralized by an occasional good punch on the nose.  So frequently in life we hear people say, “I just can’t take it any longer.”  A few discouragements and they drop their ideals, a few disappointments and they abandon their ambitions.  But the great men and women are those who can take it on the chin occasionally without losing their rhythm.

Elbert Hubbard said of Socrates. “He accepted every fact, circumstance and experience of life, and counted them all as gain.”  The bumps we get along the way are all intended for our benefit.  Occasionally life will give us a good kick in the pants merely to wake us up and get us going.  The problems and trials of Socrates were actually wonderful privileges and he was anxious to take full advantage of them.  A very wise man once said, “He who succeeds in evading the unpleasant experiences, cheats himself out of so much life.”

And one reason that my young friend will never be a senator is that he dislikes too many things, and therefore he cheats himself out of too much of life.  He has too great an aversion to hard work, he is unable to make continuous effort on his own power.  He goes down in a heap before too small a blow.  Difficulty was designed as a means of challenging us, it was never intended to remain with us as a permanent condition.  Because my friend is so severely allergic to sore hands and doesn’t enjoy feeling the fire on his face, the sleeping princess will have a long nap ahead of her is she is depending on him to wake her.

Whenever the thermostat regulating the temperature of the circle of fire is set low, it means that that which it protects is of inferior value.  Life has never been known to lessen the guard around the really big rewards.  The little sleepy dragons are only assigned to protect the mediocre prizes.  And seldom does one ever develop the stong firm hands of accomplishment if he never takes them out of his pockets.   How can one be properly advanced above the office of “tenderfoot” before he gets rid of the tenderness not only from his feet but also from his ambition and purpose.  More than about anything else we need some hard jobs to do.  A tough challenge eagerly accepted is better than anything else to raise us to first class rank.  Life has no occupations where limited hours, slow motion effort and mental absenteeism will not cut down our progress in proportion.

For the effect of contrast, just imagine that you were twins.  Suppose that one of you got the easiest possible job, with the lowest standard of accomplishment involving no problems or preparation or ability.  On the other hand suppose that your other self was suddenly placed in the office of President of the United States.  That job would be far too big for you.  You would meet the most severe criticism and the most difficult problems.  The President of the United States can’t turn off his thinking powers just because the whistle blows.  But suppose that ten years later you look on your own situation.  Very likely the “self” that does the easy unchallenging job will still be acting like a “tenderfoot.”  As there is nothing about softness that builds up strength.  Each of your selves will look and act the part of the role he has been playing.  Your worrying, hardworking self may still be too small to adequately fill his assignment but he will be a long way ahead of where he would have been.

Challenge, struggle, and worry, conscientiously and intelligently done, cannot help but make a wonderful change in the one who does them.  And just as steel must be heated to be hardened, so all good men are stronger for having passed through life’s circle of fire.  Even the greatest prizes of eternal life and eternal happiness are won by our conquering the difficulties that lie in the way.  The temptations must be overcome and the dragons of sin and ignorance must be eliminated.  Salvation itself means the overcoming of all our enemies and the last enemy to be overcome is death.  The gospel teaches that God himself dwells in “everlasting burnings” and to attain his presence we must pass through the circle of flames.  The poet was speaking for God when he said:

When through fiery trials thy pathway shall lie,
My grace, all sufficient, shall be thy supply.
The flames shall not hurt thee; I only design
Thy dross to consume and thy gold to refine.

The term fire is used in the scripture to indicate a purifying agent that cleanses us of our sins.  The bestowal of the Holy Ghost is referred to as “the baptism of fire.”  The sin and iniquity must be burned out of our souls.  Paul said, “God is a consuming fire.”  And those who become like him must make their way against all difficulties if they would be worthy to rule the kingdom.