Monday, January 24, 2011

Cheating, the key to attainment

Well now that the 2010 NCAA Division 1 football season is behind us I feel compelled to blather about the principal of cheating. I am of the generation that espouses the little couplet “ Cheaters never win.”

Well, I have to take somewhat of a “ what the heck ?? “ position on this. All through my life I have always been of the position that I will play honestly even if it means losing. All the while I sat back and watched those who were ill prepared for the test, devise a way to cheat and succeed.

We have watched the interplay between the handlers of Cameron Newtron at Auburn University and the NCAA this season. There was a pretty solid case and evidence presented that led most of us to the conclusion that ole Cam and his Pappy, the preacher man, stepped over the line. What did this cost Cameron? Nothing. Unless you have been under a rock in the forest you know that he won the Heisman and led his team to the national championship. His Daddy tried to peddle him to Ole Miss for $80k and it is presumed that Auburn out bid Ole Miss.

I remember back in the day when my Alabama Crimson Tide won a national championship under Gene Stallings. Lo and behold the football program was placed on serious probation thereafter for recruiting violations on a player out of Tennessee. The sanctions imposed by the NCAA blasted ‘Bama out of the water for 10-plus years. They have only recently returned to national prominence.

I used to lobby the legislatures in three southern states. One of my allies was the dean of a pretty prominent science program at a well known university. I supported him with numerous grants, honorariums, etc. and he helped me on a major issue I had before the legislature. One of his associate deans called me and asked to meet with me. I did so and found out that this “friend” I had fostered had recently taken a large pay out to take the polar opposite position on this issue with my competition. He stabbed me in the heart. I successfully rallied my other support and beat him and the reptilian competition in the end. However, this cheater was recently in the news for obtaining a heavy duty major position with another university. I keep waiting for him to get caught but he continues to win over the 20 year interim since this experience.

I used to be heavily involved in Little League baseball. I found that other coaches flat out cheated to load their teams and recruit out of boundary players. They won all their games and went on to compete at the state level and to this day have never been caught.

I have known people in all walks of life who cheat on their wives. They never get caught and they live seemingly pristine and happy lives with their unsuspecting families.

I had people to whom I reported in business and other venues who ignored their wedding vows. In business I always used a common logic that hit people in the midst of their mindset. They would extol the person to whom we mutually reported as a stalwart good guy. They were ready to believe that in the inner circles of corporate life that this person always had our backs. I always said: “ I and you know that this person cheats on his wife. If he does not live by the sacred vows he took in front of witnesses and betrays his life partner who has given him children, just how likely is he to stand up for you and I ?” That always caught the listener off guard and I never got an argument returned.

Cheating is a common matter. I see it constantly in the current world in which I make a living. There are people at all levels who bend and/or break the rules to bring the business advantage to themselves. They do not care about you and I, only themselves.

We might therefore conclude that cheating is a symptom of a very serious illness called selfishness.

I always liked the following poem:

When you get where you want in your struggle for self
and the world makes you king for the day.
Go to the mirror and look at yourself and
See what that man has to say.

For it isn’t your father or mother or wife,
Upon you whose judgement must pass.
The person whose opinion matters most in this life,
Is the one looking back out from the glass.

You may be like Jack Horner,
And chistle a plum.
And think you’re a wonderful guy.
But the man in the mirror says you’re a bum.
If you can’t look him square in the eye.

He’s the one you must please, forget all the rest
For he’s with you clear to the end.
You have passed the most dangerous and difficult task,
If the man in the glass is your friend.

Now you may fool the world,
Down the pathway of years,
Getting pats on the back as you pass.
But the final reward is heart ache and tears,
If you’ve cheated the man in the glass.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Theft aborts child's prayer

I had a closing scheduled today for a sweet young family. As we sat in the office the Mother retold how her 8 year old son had asked the Lord, in his prayers the evening before to not allow anything to postpone their getting into their new house. Such was the level of excitement in the household.

About 15 minutes later, my phone rang and it was the other agent. He told me that he was in the home to be purchased and that someone had stolen the brand new stove/range and dishwasher. That put a sudden halt to our closing and was in direct conflict with the prayer of this innocent little boy.

Last week I was showing property and the buyer I was with said, " My, that air conditioning unit certainly looks strange." Upon closer examination we could see that it had been disassembled and the copper tubing stolen. About a month ago I was called by a lady in the northeast about selling a piece of rental property she owned in Tallahassee. As I took the time to go and look at it for her I learned that her outside a/c compressor had been completely removed by some low life thief.

Every story has a comparable that escalates the previous one. My daughter and many others went to church over in Pensacola back in the summer. The air conditioner had been completely removed from the building the night before. These air conditioner thefts have to be done by someone who knows what they are doing elsewise you would hear of many more electrocutions in peoples back yards. Premeditated acts of opportunity they are.

I think back in my memory to reading an autobiography of a lady I knew named Gladys Wilson. She was a registered nurse and many years prior had worked for one of the big oil companies in Iran. She had pictures of human hands hanging at the gateway entrance to a town. These hands had been amputated and hung to provide a message to those who would contemplate stealing another's property. The occurrence of theft was very low, almost unchartable.

I have always felt that thieves are at the very bottom of the criminal food chain. They usually go uncaught. Do you realize that retail chains lose as much as 10% of thier merchandise at the hands of the very people to whom they grant a paycheck and provide benefits? Now that is low. A person who would steal from the person that puts groceries on his table is definitely a low life.

Of course this cost is added back into the cost of doing business and you and I end up paying for these criminal acts.

It is a sad reality that thieves have always been with us and very likely always will be. Just the same as cockroaches, slugs and fungus.

Saturday, January 1, 2011

10 Things I learned in 2010

Lesson 1:

Anyone who holds a conversation with you and tells you with every other breath what a great Christian they are, watch your back. I had a client this past year with whom I had that experience. They tried to throw me under the bus on a deal, yet all the while telling me how close they were to Jesus. Don't listen so much to what they say. Just watch what they do.

Lesson 2

If you are healthy then give mucho thanks. My wife came within 24 hours of the pearly gates this past spring. After almost 6 weeks in the hospital at a cost of $250,000 and now many months of trying to come back she is still not where she was before. She is trying hard and is still here. Life is very, very hard without your health.

Lesson 3

I saw a great bumper sticker this year. It said "Wag more, bark less." Isn't that a wonderful idea? We naturally like to grouse and complain, at least I do. We should try very hard to be a bit more positive and way less negative.

Lesson 4

There is still independence in the citizenry of this country. The tea party movement was a real deal. We sent a 24 year vetted Congressman home here in North Florida because he got on the wrong side of the tea party. That scenario was replicated all over America. The will of the people is still something to be reckoned with.

Lesson 5

Friends are hard to find. I discovered this year that people who I would have thought would stand up and fight with me over nearly any issue that was important to me can toss you aside and never even return your phone calls. You are lucky if you have 2 or 3 people whom you can call friend. Most of those you can truly count on come from the midst of your own family. Be nice to people in general but lean on those 2 or 3 that are closest.

Lesson 6

Hang out with 2 and 3 year olds more. I was having a particularly hard day this past year. I went to see my 2 year old grandson, Benjamin. I found him out in his driveway playing with his cars. His favorite is 'Mater from the movie "Cars". I was telling him about my bad day and he looked at me and said, " Go fast, Pop." He then roared off down the driveway pushing 'Mater as fast as he could. He was consumed with enthusiasm and happiness. Nothing seemed to worry him. I have tried to remember that attitude when the sledding gets rough.

Lesson 7

This recession we are in is seriously real. In my business I have seen more and more people who have had to reinvent themselves and move on to something new. I know dozens of people who have lost their homes, jobs, life savings and their joy and happiness. This recession is real.

Lesson 8

Things change. That beautiful young lady you knew back in college is just as old and wrinkled and most likely as unattractive as you are. She has changed. If you have not kept up with technology you are out of touch and unless you make some herculean adjustments you will remain out of touch. The music that young people like nowadays is not going to do it for you. Roy Orbison, Ricky Nelson and Elvis are dead. Things change. Adopt it or get run over by it.

Lesson 9

Sometimes you have to die to get better. I lost one of the best friends I ever had this past year to cancer. He was just shy of 60. I had known him for 6 years. He was
a soulmate. I and others stayed with him as the cancer began to eat him away. He fought it as courageously as is possible. In the end he labored for every breath and groaned in agony. The only way for him to get better was for him to die. I was in his presence after he died. He was peaceful and serene. Sometimes you have to die to get better.

Lesson 10

You need to go on vacation. Two of the high points of this past year were a trip to Savannah with my wife back in January. It was record cold. We were about the only people there and had Savannah almost to ourselves. We stayed 4 nights in a bed and breakfast before she got so sick. We watched 'Bama win the national football Championship from that B&B. Into the summer the whole family spent a week on the banks of the Tuckaseegee river in a mountain home in Sylva North Carolina. It was a week of playing with the little ones, laughing and watching movies and playing board games and of course eating lots of chow. This was after my wife's illness and it was restorative for all of us, especially her.